Mormon History, 1844

-- During 1844
(John Taylor) In Nauvoo, Taylor received his second anointings, became a member of the Council of Fifty (1844), served on the city council (1841-1844) and the board of regents for the university, and was judge advocate of the Nauvoo legion. (1)

(Joseph Smith) 1840s. During the Prophet's five years in Illinois, he served as trustee-in-trust for the Church, receiving, managing, and conveying Church property; married several plural wives; edited the Times and Seasons (1842); received a Master Mason Degree "on sight" from Illinois Grand Master Abraham Jonas (1842); organized the Relief Society (1842); organized the Council of Fifty (1842); instituted the full endowment ceremony in the second story of his "red brick store" (1842); became mayor of Nauvoo (1842); dictated the revelation on plural marriage (1843); and became a U.S. presidential candidate: "When I get hold of the Eastern papers, and see how popular I am, I am afraid myself that I shall be elected" (1844). (1)

(Joseph Smith) Aroet Hale, a Nauvoo acquaintance, wrote, "Joseph was always goodnatured and full of fun. I have seen him sit down on the carpet in his office in the Mansion and pull sticks with the Nauvoo Police. … The Prophet would … pull the stoutest man up with one hand." (1)

(Joseph Smith) During his last days the Prophet reported a revelation which instructed him to leave Nauvoo and promised his life would be preserved. He planned a trip to Washington, D.C., to seek federal aid for the Saints. But nervous followers in Nauvoo accused him of cowardice, begging him to return to Nauvoo from his haven across the Mississippi. Despite the revelation, he returned, declaring shortly before his death, "I have heard to [sic] the brethren, & gone to Carthage contrary to the council of the spirit & I am now no more than another man." (1)

(Lucy Mack Smith) After her husband died, Lucy moved into the Mansion House with Joseph and Emma. To provide income, a small museum was established under her care in a lower room. Josiah Quincy, one-time mayor of Boston, wrote of an 1844 tour of the mansion with Joseph Smith, who introduced Mother Smith: "This is my mother, gentlemen. The curiosities we shall see belong to her. They were purchased with her own money at the cost of six thousand dollars." After disclosing four mummies, Joseph closed the cabinet with, "Gentlemen, those who see these curiosities generally pay my mother a quarter of a dollar." (1)

(Sam Brannan) He was called to help found the Prophet in New York City with Joseph Smith's brother William. Following Joseph's death, Brannan, William Smith, and George J. Adams were charged with using the Prophet for personal gain. According to Wilford Woodruff, "Their whole influence has gone throughout the eastern Churches to gratify their own propensities, rob the Churches for themselves, set up as great men, to gain influence unto themselves."

They were also accused of teaching "a principle that they call the spiritual wife doctrine If any one says anything against practising or preaching it, they think he is an old granny and weak in the faith." Brannan was disfellowshipped for marrying a plural wife in Massachusetts, but the woman died shortly thereafter. When he asked for forgiveness from the Council of the Twelve, he was quickly reinstated and sent back to New York City to assist New England Mission President Parley P. Pratt in publishing a new Church periodical, the Messenger. (1)

(Sam Brannan) Though he had been ordained an elder in 1838 and served a mission to Ohio, his chief contributions to the Church were as a newspaperman. (1)

(Sidney Rigdon) After the death of Joseph Smith, Rigdon presented himself to the Church as its "guardian." He was rejected in favor of the leadership of the Quorum of the Twelve under Quorum President Brigham Young. Rigdon's continued efforts to make himself a rallying standard for the Church resulted in his excommunication in September. (1)

(W. W. Phelps) While living in Nauvoo, W. W. Phelps came to be recognized as a supreme toastmaster. New Years Day, 1845, he made a memorable toasting of the Twelve by giving each a descriptive sobriquet: (1)

(Willard Richards) A few hours after the murders, Richards sent the first message to Nauvoo: "CARTHAGE JAIL, 8:05 o'clock, p.m., June 27th, 1844: Joseph and Hyrum are dead. Taylor wounded, not very badly. I am well. Our guard was forced, as we believe, by a band of Missourians from 100 to 200. The job was done in an instant, and the party fled towards Nauvoo instantly. This is as I believe it. The citizens here are afraid of the Mormons attacking them. I promise them no!" (1)

A struggle for the leadership of the Mormon movement follows, in which the Saints are divided over whether to follow (a) the Council of the Twelve; (b) the surviving members of the Smith family; (c) the remaining members of the First Presidency; or (d) a variety of other potential leaders such as James J. Strang or Lyman Wight. During these two years many of the Mormons who had settled in Nauvoo leave the area, but most remain. (2)

1 - Van Wagoner, Richard and Walker, Steven C., A Book of Mormons,
2 - Whitney, Helen, Timeline: The Early History of the Mormons, A Frontline and American Experience Co-Production, //

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