43990868

Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book

Epistle • 31 March 1842

The following Epistle was read before the Society, early after its organization— but was not forwarded to be recorded; the Secretary not being present at the time of its reading; else it would have appear’d in its proper place.
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To the Hon., the President

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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, Greeting:
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Can the “Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

More Info
” be trusted with some important matters that ought actually to belong to them to see to, which men have been under the necessity of seeing to, to their chagrin & mortification, in order to prevent iniquitous characters from carrying their iniquity into effect; such, as for instance, a man who may be aspiring after power and authority, and yet without principle,— regardless of God, man, or the devil, or the interest or welfare of man, or the virtue or innocence of woman?
Shall the credulity, good faith, and stedfast feelings of our sisters, for the cause of God or truth, be impos’d upon by believing such men, because they say they have authority from Joseph, or the First Presidency

The highest presiding body of the church. An 11 November 1831 revelation stated that the president of the high priesthood was to preside over the church. JS was ordained as president of the high priesthood on 25 January 1832. In March 1832, JS appointed two...

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, or any other Presidency

An organized body of leaders over priesthood quorums and other ecclesiastical organizations. A November 1831 revelation first described the office of president over the high priesthood and the church as a whole. By 1832, JS and two counselors constituted ...

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of the Church

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

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; and thus, with a lie in their mouth, deceive and debauch the innocent, under the assumption that they are authoriz’d from these sources? May God Forbid!
A knowledge of some such things having come to our ears, we improve this [p. [86]]

Epistle • 31 March 1842

The following Epistle was read before  the Society, early after its organization— but was  not forwarded to be recorded; the Secretary not  being present at the time of its reading; else it  would have appear’d in its proper place.
[1 line blank]
To the Hon., the President

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

View Full Bio
of the Female  Relief Society of Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

More Info
, Greeting:
[1 line blank]
Can the “Female Relief Society of  Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

More Info
” be trusted with some important  matters that ought actually to belong to them  to see to, which men have been under the necess ity of seeing to, to their chagrin & mortification,  in order to prevent iniquitous characters from  carrying their iniquity into effect; such, as for  instance, a man who may be aspiring after power  and authority, and yet without principle,—  regardless of God, man, or the devil, or the interest  or welfare of man, or the virtue or innocence of  woman?
Shall the credulity, good faith, and stedfast  feelings of our sisters, for the cause of God or truth, be  impos’d upon by believing such men, because they say  they have authority from Joseph, or the First Presidency

The highest presiding body of the church. An 11 November 1831 revelation stated that the president of the high priesthood was to preside over the church. JS was ordained as president of the high priesthood on 25 January 1832. In March 1832, JS appointed two...

View Glossary
,  or any other Presidency

An organized body of leaders over priesthood quorums and other ecclesiastical organizations. A November 1831 revelation first described the office of president over the high priesthood and the church as a whole. By 1832, JS and two counselors constituted ...

View Glossary
of the Church

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
; and thus,  with a lie in their mouth, deceive and debauch  the innocent, under the assumption that they  are authoriz’d from these sources? May God  Forbid!
A knowledge of some such things  having come to our ears, we improve this [p. [86]]
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On 17 March 1842, JS first formally organized Latter-day Saint women in a group with distinct responsibilities and authority. At JS’s invitation, twenty women assembled in the large room above his dry goods store in Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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, Illinois, to be organized, as one woman recalled his description, “under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood” (Sarah M. Kimball, “Auto-biography,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Sept. 1883, 51). Priesthood quorums—units of men assembled according to priesthood office and usually headed by a president and two counselors—had been organized previously. The women assembled on 17 March elected JS’s wife Emma Hale Smith

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

View Full Bio
president, and she selected two counselors; a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles ordained or set apart the three-member presidency to their new callings or offices. These were the first ecclesiastical positions in the church for women.
The name the women selected for their institution, the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, paralleled that of contemporaneous women’s benevolent societies in the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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. Two or three weeks prior to the 17 March meeting, a group of Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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women had met to form a “ladies society” to sew shirts for temple workmen, an effort probably informed by the broader benevolent movement. When JS invited these women to be organized as part of the church structure, they abandoned their plans for an independent society with a constitution and bylaws. JS told them at the initial meeting, “The minutes of your meetings will be precedents for you to act upon—your Constitution and law” (Minutes, 17 Mar. 1842). This record of Relief Society “organization and proceedings” includes minutes for seventeen meetings in 1842, thirteen in 1843, and four in 1844. By the last recorded meeting in March 1844, a total of 1,331 women had enrolled as members, most of them joining the first year (Maureen C. Ward, “‘This Institution Is a Good One’: The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, 17 March 1842 to 16 March 1844,” Mormon Historical Studies 3 [Fall 2002]: 87–203).
JS attended nine Relief Society meetings in 1842 and addressed six of them. These minutes document his instructions regarding women’s new responsibilities, authority, and forthcoming temple blessings—the only record of teachings JS directed specifically to women. The minutes detail donations for and visits with the poor, contributions for temple

JS revelation, dated Jan. 1841, commanded Saints to build temple and hotel (Nauvoo House). Cornerstone laid, 6 Apr. 1841. Saints volunteered labor, money, and other resources for temple construction. Construction directed by committee, which included Reynolds...

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construction, and women’s efforts at moral reform and civic activism. Discussions reported in this record refer explicitly or implicitly to tensions mounting in Nauvoo over JS’s political influence and threatened extradition to Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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, the defection of prominent church and civic leader John C. Bennett

3 Aug. 1804–5 Aug. 1867. Physician, minister, poultry breeder. Born at Fairhaven, Bristol Co., Massachusetts. Son of John Bennett and Abigail Cook. Moved to Marietta, Washington Co., Ohio, 1808; to Massachusetts, 1812; and back to Marietta, 1822. Married ...

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, and the tumult surrounding the introduction of plural marriage. The record of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo ends on 16 March 1844; a decade passed before Relief Society meetings resumed in the Salt Lake Valley.

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