Succession of Church President

© 2002 by H. Michael Marquardt. All Rights Reserved.

Brief Summary

On 6 April 1830 at the organization of the church in the Township of Manchester, Ontario County, New York Joseph Smith, Jr. was ordained the first elder in the church and Oliver Cowdery became the second elder. Cowdery would later be ordained Assistant President in the presidency of the church, next to Joseph Smith.

Basic Law of Succession

In February 1831 at Kirtland, Ohio, the church was given the following instructions by Joseph Smith:

And this ye shall know assuredly - that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he [Joseph Smith, Jr.] be taken, if he abide in me. But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.

And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.1

In January 1832 Joseph Smith was ordained President of the High Priesthood. In March he established the Presidency of the High Priesthood with Jesse Gause and Sidney Rigdon. Later after Gause left the church he reorganized the presidency with Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams in March 1833. A revelation to Smith stated, "Verily I say unto you, the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world, neither in the world to come; Nevertheless, through you shall the oracles be given to another, yea, even unto the church."2 Rigdon and Williams were told, "they are accounted as equal with thee in holding the keys of this last kingdom."3

Ordination of David Whitmer

On 3 July 1834 priesthood members were called to form a Presidency and High Council for Missouri. Four days later the Far West Record (which included a copy of the minutes kept by Frederick G. Williams) has the minutes of the 7 July 1834 meeting at the house of Lyman Wight in Clay County, Missouri. Williams recorded concerning Joseph Smith "He also informed them if he should now be taken away that he had accomplished the great work which the Lord had laid upon him . . . Br. Joseph Smith, jr. then proceeded and ordained the three Presidents, David Whitmer as President and William W. Phelps & John Whitmer assistants."4 At this council meeting the ordination of the Presidency and High Council of Zion (Missouri) was accomplished. It was at this meeting that David Whitmer was ordained successor to Joseph Smith. The minutes do not state that Smith ordained David Whitmer as a Prophet, Seer, Revelator and Translator to the church.

Reed C. Durham, Jr. and Steven H. Health jointly wrote, "It should be perfectly clear that in July 1834, to both the Lord and Joseph Smith, David Whitmer was to succeed Joseph as the President of the Church."5

Two years after Joseph Smith's death in June 1844 William E. McLellin remembered this 1834 ordination. He wrote a letter on 2 December 1846 to David Whitmer which appeared in the second issue of his publication Ensign of Liberty. McLellin wrote:

You will remember, he appointed a special conference at L. Wight's, on the 8th [sic] of July, 1834. Benj. Winchester and Leonard Rich have both told me that he laid his hands on you, in that conference, and appointed and ordained you to be the Lord's Seer, 'in his stead,' provided anything should befal himself, so as to remove him from time. I was at that conference part of the day, and well remember that I saw you ordained. . . . Brother David, inasmuch as you were ordained by Joseph, and that was sanctioned in Heaven, then no man can lead this church, out of her present distress, and then onward to triumph, but yourself, unless you refuse and fall, through unbelief and hardness of heart.6

The third issue of the Ensign of Liberty contained a "Testimony of Three Witnesses" concerning Whitmer's 1834 ordination as successor to Joseph Smith:7

We cheerfully certify, to all whom it may concern, that we attended a general conference, called at the instance of Joseph Smith, in Clay county, Mo., on the 8th [sic] of July, 1834, at the residence of Elder Lyman Wight. And while the conference was in session, Joseph Smith presiding, he arose and said that the time had come when he must appoint his Successor in office. Some have supposed that it would be Oliver Cowdery; but, said he, Oliver has lost that privilege in consequence of transgression. The Lord has made it known to me that David Whitmer is the man. David was then called forward, and Joseph and his counsellors laid hands upon him, and ordained him to his station, to succeed him. Joseph then gave David a charge, in the hearing of the whole assembly. Joseph then seemed to rejoice that that work was done, and said, now brethren, if any thing should befal[l] me, the work of God will roll on with more power than it has hitherto done. Then, brethren, you will have a man who can lead you as well as I can. He will be Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and Translator before God.

Martin Harris,
Leonard Rich,
Calvin Beebe.

Max H. Parkin wrote, "This appointment appeared to be a temporary one" as almost five months later on 5 December 1834 Smith ordained Oliver Cowdery to rank next to him.8 Wilford Woodruff added to his journal at an unknown date: "I attended the Meeting at Lyman Wight[']s at which time Joseph Smith the Prophet Organized the High Council. Joseph was Clothed with the power of God. He Chastised David Whitmore [Whitmer] & others for unfaithfulness. Said their hearts were not set upon the building up the Kingdom of God as they should be. After He was chastised He was set apart under the hand of Joseph to Preside over the Land of Zion."9 Woodruff like the minutes in the Far West Record omits any reference to Joseph Smith choosing David Whitmer as his prophetic successor.

The minutes of 7 July 1834 meeting mentions that Joseph Smith ordained David Whitmer as President in Missouri and his two counselors, his brother John Whitmer and William W. Phelps but they do not state that Joseph Smith ordained him to be a prophet though it states that those present "covenanted with uplifted hands to heaven that they would uphold Brother David Whitmer as President, head and leader in Zion (in the absence of br. Joseph Smith jr.)." 10

On 10 March 1838 the High Council at Far West excommunicated from the church William W. Phelps and John Whitmer, counselors to David Whitmer. 11 On 15 March a day after Joseph Smith arrived from Kirtland to Far West the minutes of the High Council were read and he approved the proceedings. At this meeting Joseph Smith mentioning this ordination of David Whitmer:

President Joseph Smith[,] Jr gave a history of the ordination of David Whitmer, which took place in July 1834, to be a leader, or a prophet to this Church, which (ordination) was on conditions that he (J. Smith jr) did not live to God himself. 12

Place of Associate President

Oliver Cowdery was the second elder in the church arrived in Kirtland from Missouri in August 1833. The Presidency of the High Priesthood (Joseph Smith with counselors Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams) had been reorganized in March. Cowdery in February 1834 became a member of the Kirtland High Council. Then on 5 December Oliver Cowdery was ordained "a President of the high and holy priesthood, to assist in presiding over the Church, and bearing the keys of this kingdom." 13

This position was as Assistant President being an office above the two counselors to Joseph Smith. As Cowdery explained: "The office of Assistant President is to assist in presiding over the whole Church, and to officiate in the abscence [absence] of the President, according to his rank and appointment, viz: President Cowdery, first; President Rigdon Second, and President Williams Third, as they were severally called. The office of this Priesthood is also to act as Spokesman - taking Aaron for an ensample [example]." 14 Shortly afterwards in 1835 the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was organized.

Resignation from the Church

At Far West, Missouri there were problems in the church. This lead to the withdrawl from the church of Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer. Cowdery withdrew from the church on 12 April 1838. and on the next day, 13 April, David Whitmer wrote a letter withdrawing "from your fellowship and communion." 15

Influence of William E. McLellin on Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer

Nine years later, in July 1847, William E. McLellin visited Oliver Cowdery at Elkhorn, Wisconsin Territory. Cowdery was evidently persuaded by McLellin that David Whitmer's 1834 ordination was still in force. Cowdery wrote to Whitmer:

True it is that our right gives us the head. It is no matter of pride with me, but an anxious desire to do all that the Lord may require of us. We may not live to see the day, but we have the authority, and do hold the keys. It is important, should we not be permitted to act in that authority, that we confer them upon some man or men, whom God may appoint, that this priesthood be not taken again from the earth till the earth be sanctified. 16

McLellin traveled to Nauvoo, Illinois and then to Richmond, Missouri to confer with David Whitmer. A council was held with David Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, John Whitmer and Hiram Page attending. David Whitmer was rebaptized, reordained a high priest and reordained as Joseph Smith's successor early in September 1847.

David Whitmer on 8 September wrote to Oliver Cowdery that God had appointed Cowdery to be a counselor to him. 17 During this period the Whitmer's and Hiram Page's beliefs changed. This led to their rejection of the priesthood office of high priest. 18 Whitmer still regarded his ordination as valid over twenty years later.

Hyrum Smith (older brother of Joseph Smith)

On 6 December 1834 Hyrum Smith was ordained to the Presidency of the High Priesthood. He later was a member of the First Presidency before he became church patriarch. In early 1835 the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was organized. This was one of the priesthood quorums that was to hold equal authority to the First Presidency. 19

In a revelation given through Joseph Smith on 19 January 1841 the following was said of his brother Hyrum:

And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph [Smith]; That he may act in concert also with my servant Joseph; and that he shall receive counsel from my servant Joseph, who shall show unto him the keys whereby he may ask and receive, and be crowned with the same blessing, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery 20

This evidently refers to position Cowdery received on 5 December 1834 as previously discussed. While Hyrum functioned in the office of Patriarch he appears to have not functioned as described above until about 1843. In a speech given by Joseph Smith after Hyrum Smith accepted plural marriage Joseph Smith "stated that Hyrum held the office of prophet to the church by birth-right & he was going to have a reformation and the saints must regard Hyrum for he has authority." 21

Hyrum Smith signs documents jointly with Joseph Smith and as one of the Church Presidents. The following are four documents that shows Hyrum's authority as Assistant President to Joseph Smith:

1. Greeting relative to the mission of George J. Adams to Russia by Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith. 22
2. Notice concerning the preaching of Hiram Brown, circa 1 Feb. 1844 by Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith, Presidents of said church. 23
3. A request dated 1 June 1844 by Hyrum Smith, President of the Church. 24
4. Letter dated 4 June 1844 by Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith to Mr. Tewkesbury of Boston advising him to be rebaptized.25
5. License of George J. Adams dated 7 June 1844 by Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith concerning Adams's special calling. 26

At the conference held on 6 October 1844 Apostle Brigham Young asked, "Did Joseph ordain any man to take his place? He did. Who was it? It was Hyrum, but, Hyrum fell a martyr before Joseph did." 27 It is not clear if a priesthood ordination that took place or only a designation relating to the January 1841 revelation.

Appointments in Smith Family

It appears that Joseph Smith may have said something relating to Samuel H. Smith (his younger brother) or his son Joseph Smith III succeeding him in case he died. Joseph Smith III did receive a blessing relating to church leadership from his father. Young Joseph III was only eleven years old at the time of the death of his father. His age would certainly been a consideration also his lack of experience in church government.

Keys and Shoulders: Meeting of the Council of Fifty

After Joseph Smith's death some members of the Twelve considered words that Smith spoke in a private council as authorizing them with special keys. It appears that this occurred at a meeting of the Council of Fifty in March 1844. All members of the Quorum of the Twelve were not in attendance. Apostles William Smith, John E. Page and Lyman Wight were not in Nauvoo at the time. In May William Smith and Lyman Wight received their endowments. They did not receive their second anointing in the lifetime of Joseph Smith. Apostle John E. Page was doing church missionary work and did not return to Nauvoo until the fall of 1844. Page did not receive the priesthood endowment until January 1845. There were nine apostles who received their endowments and second anointing during the lifetime of Joseph Smith. These apostles, the majority, settled in what became Utah Territory under the leadership of senior apostle Brigham Young.

After the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith many questions were asked about a successor to the offices of Prophet-President and Patriarch to the church. William Clayton in his important Nauvoo journal reported on 12 July 1844:

Friday 12th. A.M. at the Temple measuring Lumber. Preset. [William] Marks came up to enquire which was best to do about appointing a Trustee. We concluded to call a meeting of the several presidents of Quorums & their council this P.M. at 2 o clock. As I returned to dinner bro. [Newel K.] Whitney came down with me & stated his feelings about Marks being appointed Trustee. He referred me to the fact of Marks being with [William] Law & Emma [Smith] in opposition to Joseph [Smith] & the quorum. -- And if Marks is appointed Trustee our spiritual blessings will be destroyed inasmuch as he is not favorable to the most important matters The Trustee must of necessity be the first president of the Church & Joseph has said that if he and Hyrum were taken away Samuel H. Smith would be his successor.

After dinner I talked with [Alphas] Cutler & [Reynolds] Cohen on the subject & they both agreed in the same mind with bro. Whitney & myself. At 3 [P.M.] we went to meeting. Emma was present and urged the necessity of appointing a Trustee immediately. But on investigation it was considered we could not lawfully do it. Another meeting was appointed for Sunday Evening] Dr. [Willard] Richards & [William W.] Phelps seem to take all the matters into their own hands & wont tell us anything what they intend or have thought to do. 28

Evidently Bishop Newel K. Whitney and/or William Clayton had heard before the death of Joseph Smith that "if he [Joseph] and Hyrum were taken away Samuel H. Smith would be his successor." Whether this would be until Joseph Smith III becomes of age is not mentioned. Samuel H. Smith died on 30 July 1844. 29

Soon after the majority of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles arrived from the east to Nauvoo a special conference was held regarding the church leadership. Amara M. Lyman, who had been ordained an apostle in 1842 in place of Orson Pratt who was later reinstated, was not a member of the quorum until a later date. The members of the full quorum were as follows:

1. Brigham Young (President of the Quorum of the Twelve)
2. Hebert C. Kimball
3. Parley P. Pratt
4. Orson Pratt
5. Orson Hyde
6. William Smith
7. John Taylor
8. John E. Page
9. Milford Woodruff
10.Willard Richards
11. George A. Smith
12. Lyman Wight

8 August 1844 Meeting in Nauvoo, Illinois

William Clayton recorded the following in his journal of the meeting held on 8 August 1844:

Thursday 8th. AM I went to council with the Twelve. Brother [Hebert C.] Kimball concluded to pay the $1000 to Emma [Smith]. I went home to get it & while there Brigham]. Young came & said they were going to have their conference this afternoon and wanted I should notify the brethren. I then went with brothers Kimball and [Willard] Richards to see Emma. Kimball]. paid her the $1000 and bore testimony to her of the good feelings of the Twelve towards her. She seemed humble and more kind. P.M. attended conference. The Church universally voted to sustain the Twelve in their calling as next in presidency and to sustain Er [Elder] Rigdon and A[masa] Lyman as councillors to the Twelve as they had been to the First Presidency. The ch[u]rch also voted to leave the regulation of all the church matters in the hands of the Twelve. There was a very good feeling prevailed except amongst a few who were disappointed. 30

At the 8 August 1844 conference "the question was put, 'all in favor of supporting the Twelve in their calling, (every quorum, man and woman,) signify it by the uplifted hand;' and the vote was unanimous, no hand being raised in the negative." 31 The Times and Seasons reported, "every saint could see that Elijah's mantle had truly fallen upon the 'Twelve,'..." 32

Conference of October 1844

When the 7 Oct. 1844 conference was held, "Elder W.W. Phelps moved that we uphold Brigham Young the president of the quorum of the Twelve, as one of the Twelve and first presidency of the church[.] This motion was duly seconded, and put to the church by Elder John Smith and carried unanimously." 33

Brigham Young organized the First Presidency

Almost three and a half years had passed since the death of Joseph Smith before a First Presidency was again established. Brigham Young has called meetings previously but it was "On 5 December 1847 at Orson Hyde's home near Miller's Hollow, the nine apostles assembled there sustained Brigham Young as president with Heber C. Kimball first counselor and Willard Richards second counselor." 34


Current Succession in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

On 28 March 1887, Wilford Woodruff, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave it as his opinion that the President of the Twelve should succeed to the office of President of the Church after the death of the church president. He wrote a letter to Apostle Hebert J. Grant who had been a member of the Twelve for four years. The following are excerpts from the letter:

You asked me if I knew of any reason in the case of the death of the President of the Church why the Twelve Apostles should not choose some other person than the president of the Twelve to be the President of the Church. I think I do know of several good sound reasons which I will now give you. In the first place there are two or three plain truths which are eternal, everlasting, unchangeable and immovable as the pillars of heaven (as far as this dispensation is concerned) which have been established by the revelations of God through the mouth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. These truths stare us in the face. First, when the President of the Church dies, who then is the presiding authority of the Church? It is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (ordained and organized by the revelations of God and none else). Then while these Twelve Apostles preside over the Church, who is the President of the Church? It is the President of the Twelve Apostles. And he is virtually as much the President of the Church while presiding over Twelve men as he is when organized into the President of the Church and presiding over two men. And this principle has been carried out now for 57 years, ever since the organization of the Church. When Joseph Smith the Prophet was martyred, the Twelve Apostles stepped forth as the presiding authority of the Church, as ordained of God, with Brigham Young at their head to preside over the Church and direct its affairs. And when the Twelve Apostles came to organize the First Presidency, which of the Twelve stepped forth to claim the right to preside over Brigham Young? Not one, nor any other man except Sidney Rigdon, an apostate. Why did Brigham Young claim the right of Presidency? Because he was the President of the Twelve Apostles, and he was virtually as much the President of the Church while presiding over Twelve men as two men. When President Young died who was the presiding authority of the Church? The Twelve Apostles and none else. And who was the President of the Church? Brother Taylor. Why? Because he was the President of the Twelve Apostles. And when the Twelve Apostles came to organize the First Presidency again, which of the Twelve Apostles was moved upon to claim the right to preside over the Church above John Taylor? Such a thing did not enter into the heart of one of the Twelve Apostles ....

Now, Brother Grant, I have given you one of the reasons why I consider the President of the Twelve should be the President of the Church in the case of the death of the President. If the President of the Twelve Apostles is not fit to be the President of the Church, he is not fit to be the President of the Twelve Apostles.35


March 1904 Testimony of Joseph F. Smith, Sixth Church President

At the Reed Smoot hearing church president Joseph F. Smith responded to questions on church government:

Senator BAILEY. ... As a matter of fact, the apostles nominate the president and the church elects him. Do I understand that to be the case?
Mr. [Joseph F.] SMITH. Well, yes, sir; that has been the case. And then, again, the senior apostle, through custom of the church since the death of Joseph Smith, has been recognized on the death of the president as the legitimate successor to the president.

Senator BAILEY. It is a question of succession rather than of election?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.

Senator BAILEY. Has that the force of law?
Mr. SMITH. Still he is elected, just the same.

Senator BAILEY. Has that the force of law or has it merely the persuasion of custom?
Mr. SMITH. Merely a custom. There is no law in relation to it. It does not of necessity follow that the senior apostle would be or should be chosen as the president of the church.

Senator BAILEY. And if they did not elect him it would do no violence to the church or the organization?
Mr. SMITH. No, sir; not in the least. 36

. . .

Mr. WORTHINGTON. I wish you would explain a little more fully than you have about this matter of promotion - how it was you came to take the place of Lorenzo Snow. I think you have told us there has been a custom, at least, of promotion.
Mr. SMITH. It has been the custom, since the death of Joseph Smith that the president of the twelve succeeded to the presidency of the church.

Mr. WORTHINGTON. That has been from the beginning - that has been a rule that has been followed?
Mr. SMITH. It was the case with Brigham Young and his successors.

Mr. WORTHINGTON. How is the apostle who becomes president of that quorum selected? Is that by selection or seniority, or how?
Mr. SMITH. It is by seniority.

Mr. WORTHINGTON. So that the last apostle takes the foot of the list?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.

Mr. WORTHINGTON. And as vacancies occur he moves up?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.

Mr. WORTHINGTON. Has there, so far as you know, from the beginning been any other rule followed?
Mr. SMITH. No.

Mr. WORTHINGTON. Or has that been universally followed?
Mr. SMITH. That has been universally followed.

Mr. WORTHINGTON. So that all the rewards that have come in that way have been by simply following the custom of the church?
Mr. SMITH. That is correct, sir.

Mr. WORTHINGTON. I understand you to say, however, that there is no law - no revelation or command - of the church in any way which requires that.
Mr. SMITH. No; it is just simply a custom.

Mr. WORTHINGTON. And that if a vacancy should occur to-morrow it would be competent for any member of the church to be selected as president?
Mr. SMITH. That is quite right. 37


18 June 1940 Amendment to Article of Incorporation of the Corporation of the President 38

HEBER J. GRANT, being first duly sworn, deposes and says:

That he is now and for more than twenty years last past has been the duly chosen and appointed President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and as such President has been since on or about the 26th day of November, 1923, and now is, the legally constituted Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a corporation sole; that under and pursuant to Section 18-7-5 R.S.U. 1933 he hereby amends Article "Fourth" of said Articles of Incorporation as now of record in the proper offices of this and other states, said article as amended to read as follows:

ARTICLE FOURTH

Fourth: The title of the person making these articles of incorporation is "President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." He and his successor in office shall be deemed and are hereby created a body politic and corporation sole with perpetual succession, having all the powers and rights and authority in these articles specified or provided for by law. But in the event of death or resignation from office of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or in the event of a vacancy in that office from any cause, the President or Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of said Church, or one of the members of said Quorum thereunto designated by that Quorum, shall, pending the installation of a successor President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, be the corporation sole under these articles, and the laws pursuant to which they are made, and shall be and is authorized in his official capacity to execute in the name of the corporation all documents or other writings necessary to the carrying on of its purposes, business and objects, and to do all things in the name of the corporation which the original signer of the articles of incorporation might do; it being the purpose of these articles that there shall be no failure in succession in the office of such corporation sole.

[Signed] Heber J. Grant

President of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints,
corporation sole.

[Seal]


Succession to be Church President

All present members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have been ordained Apostles. When the church president dies the Quorum of Twelve will consist of the first twelve men by date of ordination when entered into the Quorum of the Twelve. They will then appoint the 17th church president. The following are the current quorum members and when a church president dies those in the First Presidency who have been ordained Apostles will return to their respective positions in the Quorum of the Twelve.

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

1. Russell M. Nelson, age: 92 (President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles)
2. Dallin H. Oaks, age: 84
3. M. Russell Ballard, age: 88
4. Jeffrey R. Holland, age: 76
5. David A. Bednar, age 64
6. Quentin L. Cook, age 76
7. D. Todd Christofferson, age 71
8. Neil L. Andersen, age: 65
9. Ronald A. Rasband, age 65
10. Gary E. Stevenson, age 61
11. Dale G. Renlund, age 64

NOTE: Ages will be updated in December of each year.


NOTES

1. LDS Doctrine and Covenants section 43:3-6, hereafter as LDS D&C. See also H. Michael Marquardt, The Joseph Smith Revelations: Text and Commentary (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1999), 115-16.

2.LDS D&C 90:3-4, 8 March 1833.

3.LDS D&C 90:6.

4. Donald Q. Cannon and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., Far West Record: Minutes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1844 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983), 71-72.

5. Reed C. Durham, Jr. and Steven H. Health, Succession in the Church (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970), 10.

6. McLellin to David Whitmer, 2 Dec. 1846 in The Ensign of Liberty 1 (April 1847):18-19, Kirtland, Ohio.

7. Ensign of Liberty 1 (Dec. 1847):43-44, testimony not dated.

8. Max H. Parkin, "Kirtland, A Stronghold For The Kingdom," in F. Mark McKiernan, Alma R. Blair and Paul M. Edwards, eds., The Restoration Movement: Essays in Mormon History (Lawrence, Kansas, 1973), 70.

9. Wilford Woodruff Journal, entry at close of 1834, original in LDS archives, as cited in Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff's Journal (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983), 1:14.

10. Cannon and Cook, Far West Record, 72-73.

11. Ibid., 149.

12. Ibid., 151.

13. Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989), 1:24; see also Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith: Journal, 1832-1842 (1992), 2:36.

14.Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith 1:21.

15.Cannon and Cook, Far West Record, 165, 177.

16. Cowdery to David Whitmer, 28 July 1847 in Ensign of Liberty 1 (May 1848):92, emphasis omitted.

17. David Whitmer to Cowdery, 8 Sept. 1847 in Ensign of Liberty 1 (May 1848):93.

18. Hiram Page to Alfred Bonny, Isaac N. Aldrich, and M.C. Ishem, 24 June 1849 in The Olive Branch, or Herald of Peace and Truth to all Saints 2 (Aug. 1849):27-29, Springfield, Illinois.

19. LDS D&C 107:23-24.

20. LDS D&C 124:94-95; also in Times and Seasons 2 (1 June 1841):428, Nauvoo, Illinois.

21. William Clayton Journal, entry of 16 July 1843 as cited in Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1980), 232-33.

22. Times and Seasons 4 (1 Oct. 1843):347, Greeting not dated.

23. Times and Seasons 5 (1 Feb. 1844):423, Notice not dated.

24. Request of 1 June 1844 in Times and Seasons 5 (1 June 1844):559.

25. Letter of 4 June 1844 in B.H. Roberts, ed., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1959), 6:427, hereafter as History of the Church.

26. License of 7 June 1844 in Voree Herald 1 (Oct. 1846):[2], emphasis omitted.

27.Times and Seasons 5 (15 Oct. 1844):683; see also History of the Church 7:288.

28. William Clayton Journal, 12 July 1844, typescript, original in LDS First Presidency Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah. See also George D. Smith, ed., An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton (Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1991), 138-39, cited hereafter as Intimate Chronicle. For a discussion of "the quorum" see Andrew F. Ehat, "Joseph Smith's Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question" (Master's thesis, Brigham Young University, 1982), 12-17.

29. Times and Seasons 5 (1 Aug. 1844):606.

30. William Clayton Journal, 8 Aug. 1844, typescript. See Intimate Chronicle, 142.

31. Times and Seasons 5 (2 Sept. 1844):638.

32. Times and Seasons 5 (2 Sept. 1844):637.

33. Times and Seasons 5 (1 Nov. 1844):692.

34. Richard E. Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri, 1846-1852 "And Should We Die ..." (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987), 212. See also Wilford Woodruff's Journal 3:294-95, entry of 5 Dec. 1847.

35. Woodruff to Grant, LDS archives as quoted in Reed C. Durham, Jr. and Steven H. Heath, Succession in the Church (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970), 97-98. See also Gary James Bergera, Conflict in the Quorum: Orson Pratt, Brigham Young, Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002), 274n33. Joseph Smith was ordained President of the High Priesthood (President of the Church) on 25 January 1832. Smith was a high priest at the time. Woodruff would be more accurate if he had said 55 years. It should be remembered that the Twelve Apostles were not chosen and ordained until 1835.

36. Proceedings Before the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the United States Senate in the Matter of the Protests Against the Right of Hon. Reed Smoot, A Senator from the State of Utah, to Hold his Seat, 4 vols. (Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1906), 1:93, date of testimony 2 March 1904.

37. Ibid., 1:368; date of testimony 5 March 1904. President Smith's response would not mean any member but any man in the church who holds the priesthood. That person would need to hold the office of high priest in the church in order to be in the Presidency. Joseph Smith said: "Of the Melchizedek Priesthood three Presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the [First] Presidency of the Church" (LDS D&C 107:22). It should be noted that Brigham Young the second president of the church was not an high priest but was an apostle and said that the presidency was an extension of the apostleship. Heber C. Kimball who became a counselor to Brigham Young in 1847 was also not ordained a high priest but was an apostle.

38. Original Amendment in State of Utah Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.


Joseph Smith | LDS Temples | Book of Mormon


Return to Church Organization