The Law of Consecration Timeline

6 April, 1830Church founded.

End of April, 1830Joseph Smith leads mission to Colesville to Joseph Knight, casts devil out of Newel Knight who is floating on the ceiling.  Colesville saints feel special, being the only members converted directly by the prophet.

Fall 1830Edward Partridge, Lydia Partridge, and Isaac Morely converted by Sydney Rigdon in Mentor, Ohio.

December 1830 – Edward Partridge baptized and ordained an Elder (ibid).

January 1831John Corrill joins the church.

4 February, 1831Edward Partridge called as bishop.

9 February, 1831 – Smith receives another revelation detailing the Law of Consecration.

May 1831 – Colesville saints arrive in Kirtland. Leman Copley converted to the church,  giving it 59 acres.  Colesville saints live the Law of Consecration on these acres.

27 May, 1831 – Edward Partridge writes letter identifying land/convert ratios.  D&C 48 is the reply.

May 1831 – Edward again writes prophet for guidance.  Section 51 of the Doctrine and Covenants is the reply.

It became obvious that the most difficult task faced by Edward was that of determining how and to whom the consecrated properties were to be allocated, in granting an inheritance, or stewardship, to every family based on its wants and needs. The amount allocated under the stewardship was, in theory, to be determined through some kind of negotiation process between the bishop and the prospective steward. In conjunction with this process, the bishop would also have to make some determination as to the vocation of each member, and would also have to develop some kind of budgetary guidelines under which individual families could operate, so that some agreement could be reached regarding the calculation of an annual surplus to be contributed to the Bishop’s Storehouse.

3 June, 1831 - Kirtland Conference where High Priesthood first ordained. Melchizedek priesthood not yet mentioned.  Visions, seeing angels, and members acting like wild Indians reported.  Edward Partridge ordained a High Priest at this meeting.

6 June, 1831 - Isaac Morley and John Corrill appointed counselors to the Bishop because members who had consecrated land and items had withdrawn and disputes about the definition of “surplus” had arisen.

7 June, 1831Revelation to go to Missouri, later to be named Zion, where Law of Consecration would be fully lived.

Summer 1831Leman Copley has second thoughts and is excommunicated ( June 1831). He demands the Colesville saints residing in Thompson to leave his land.  Edward refuses.  Copley turns to the civil Geauga County where his suit was upheld and the church is directed to return the title to him.

“At this time the Church at Thompson, Ohio, was involved in difficulty because of the rebellion of Leman Copley, who would not do as he had previously agreed, which thing confused the whole Church.” – John Whitmer

19 June, 1831 – Colesville saints inquire of Joseph being poor and without farmland.   Section 54 of the D&C is revealed in response. Newel Knight is appointed the leader of this company and they moved from Thompson, Ohio to Missouri.  After this point, legal deeds of ownership were transferred as part of the Law of Consecration. Edward leaves family with measles and is so exhausted, he fell off his horse while travelling with the company.

20 July, 1831 - Joseph Smith arrives in Independence Missouri. D&C section 57 given. Note that God quotes part of W.W. Phelps‘ journal in this revelation.  Joseph Smith quotes more of W.W. Phelps’ journal in a letter back to the Saints in Kirtland.

Shortly after arriving, Joseph received a revelation in which the leadership of the United Order was declared to be a group of seven High Priests: Edward and his two counselors, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, W. W. Phelps, and Sidney Gilbert. This council of seven High Priests had imposed upon it the general task of “building up Zion,” but it was rather
poorly led by Oliver Cowdery and never did function very well.

During travel- 1831 - Quarrel develops about Joseph taking too much power in the church.

Independence Consecration – Deeds for personal property were given to Edward Partridge.  He then gave back the property as a lease or loan to the members.  This was tried in court and found also wanting.  All deeds given to property holders.

1 August 1831D&C 58 given, reprimanding Edward Partridge.

2 August, 1831First dwelling built by the Mormons in Jackson County, Missouri.

3 August, 1831 – Temple Lot identified.

4 August, 1831Special conference in which saints are charged with staying in Missouri.

5 August, 1831Edward Partridge explains to his wife in a letter that he will not be coming home.

8 August, 1831Prophet and other church leaders get revelation to return to Kirtland, leaving saints with Edward in charge.

11 September, 1831 – The prophet, safely at home in Kirtland, has revelation reprimanding Edward and his counselors for being too lenient on those who do not contribute to the Law of Consecration.  D&C 64 

Fall 1831 –  The members of the Seven High Priests Council are all living in Missouri and the Law of Consecration begins to function in earnest. The basic plan was to obtain land for the new immigrants from either of two sources: from the old settlers who could be induced to sell their land at reasonable prices, or from government land already set aside for sale to settlers, when it should be offered.

Federal government offers land at cheap prices at this time, but many saints begin to squat on the land.

11 November, 1831 – Bishop becomes part of the authority of the calling of “High Priest.”  D&C 68 given. There in no First Presidency in the Church yet.

November 1831Oliver Cowdery takes $3,000 from Kirtland to Missouri on his person to help the saints there (funds raised by Kirtland, Ohio saints).

12 November, 1831 – Special Conference.  Joseph Smith reveals that in order to enter the Law of Consecration, the bishop must recommend members.  This is the earliest incarnation of “The Recommend” that would later become a “Temple Recommend.”

4 December, 1831D&C 72 revealed.  Second bishopric called to manage affairs.  Newel K. Whitney is called.

19 December, 1831 - Partridge buys temple lot in Independence, Missouri (63.27 acres).

23-24 January, 1832 – Conference presided over by Edward.  Letter sent requesting “blacksmith” and other artisans from Kirtland.  Sidney Rigdon writes letters to Joseph complaining that Edward Partridge was left in charge.

January 1832Joseph Smith ordained President of the Church.

February 1832 - Members, convinced that Joseph and Sidney were trying to cheat them out of all their possessions drink a barrel of whiskey, and then follow the Luke and Lyman Johnson (And their Uncle Eli) who were angry at Joseph for making sexual advances on their sister Miranda (who would later become Joseph’s plural wife).  The mob stopped to fetch Dr. Dennison, in order to perform a castration.  When the doctor refused to operate the mob tarred and feathered Joseph and Sidney.  After the mob departed Sidney cried out that he’d slit Joseph and Emma’s throats (Source: Mormon Enigma).  Joseph preaches to the same members of the church and mob that Sunday

10 February, 1832 Hyrum Smith and Reynolds Cahoon called as Kirtland Bishop’s counselors.

1 March, 1832 - Revelation instructs the Prophet, Sidney Rigdon, and Newel K. Whitney to “sit in council” with the saints in Jackson County.

8 March, 1832Jesse Gause and Sidney Rigdon ordained to the first, First Presidency. D&C 81 revealed and recorded in the Kirtland Book of Revelations. Smith may have chosen Jesse Gause, a recent convert, for such a high position due to Gause’s experience with the Shaker communal society. Rigdon also had experience living communally.

1832 -  If the properties consecrated and the surplus developed were to be disposed of by revelation through Joseph Smith, no one could be completely sure as to what would become of such property. Some thought that under these circumstances, Joseph Smith would have “monarchical powers.” As the system developed and it turned out that the proceeds of the Order were only to be used “by the voice and common consent of the people,”  fears that funds would be abused arose.

Spring 1832 – A feeling of discontent had grown among both the leadership and the people at Independence.  Violence against a member’s house happens.

26 April, 1832 – Sidney and Edward reconcile differences.  Section 82 revealed, wherein the Lord says, “inasmuch as you have forgiven one another your trespasses, even so I, the Lord, forgive you.”

30 April, 1832A meeting of the United Firm was held with the Prophet Joseph presiding and Oliver Cowdery as clerk. All members of the Central Council were present. The actions taken during the meeting were to appoint Gilbert and Whitney agents to act in the name of the firm, and to resolve that the firm loan $15,000 to accomplish its mission as agreements could be made.

About this time 1832 -  the Central Council organized to manage consecration. Whether this third body – in addition to the Bishopric and the Council of High Priests – made for better control is arguable. Joseph Smith, Newel K. Whitney, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris were members of this board, and they were to manage the affairs of the poor, all things pertaining to the Bishopric, both in the Land of Zion and the Land of Shinehah (Kirtland).

These men operated as a board of directors (somewhat like a corporate board) and administered the funds at their disposal to support various church programs. Sharing the responsibilities of holding properties in trust, directors of the United Firm cared for the poor, supervised the bishop’s storehouse, purchased land for those who gathered in Kirtland and Missouri, and assisted in the construction of the Kirtland Temple.

Three members of the board lived in Kirtland, two in Missouri.  This is the time where Missouri saints try to get Joseph to move to Missouri.

The first action of the Central Council was to create a “United Firm” or “united Order,” which was a joint stewardship of the members of the Council with the responsibility of holding properties in trust, assisting the poor, and supervising the establishment of merchandising stores in Ohio and Missouri. From this point on, the Law of Consecration, The United Firm, The United Order and The Order of Enoch, became more or less interchangeable terms used in describing church-run cooperative arrangements organized for the purpose of generating revenue for the financial operation of church economic programs.

26 May, 1832Special conference held to review Oliver Cowdery’s conduct in proposing marriage to a girl two years earlier whom he had married in January 22, 1832 on her 17th birthday.

29 May, 1832 – Printing press in Missouri dedicated. First paper advises against hasty relocation to Zion.

… the work of the gathering will be accomplished, we believe, in a speedy manner, yet the Lord has commanded that it shall not be done in haste, nor by flight, but that all things shall be prepared before you. And for this purpose he has made it the duty of the bishop or agent in the land of Zion to make known, from time to time, the privileges of the land, to the conferences, which may determine and make known how many can be accommodated. — Evening and Morning Star

7 July, 1832Brother Rigdon preaches something about Edward Partridge.  It is declared false doctrine.  The prophet takes his license to preach.

8 July, 1832 - Brother Rigdon reinstated in the first presidency and forgiven.

31 July, 1832 - Joseph writes letter to W.W. Phelps about the previous two entries.

Fall 1832 –  Partridge begins leasing land rather than conveying deeds of the land to stewards. This arrangement provided that if participants left the church, their land would return to the church, and thus apostates would have little ability to seriously harm the church by leaving it.  What Edward did was to transfer ownership of all property to the church and turn the individual participants into cogs in a machine.

October 1832 - Leman Copley rebaptized.

November 27, 1832 – Joseph writes letter correcting Partridge and instructing that titles should be deeded back to the contributors (D&C 85).  Section 51 modified: a transgressor who leaves the church has the right to retain the property deeded to him, but has no right to recover any surplus that he might have contributed to the church.

3 Dec, 1832 - Jesse Gause excommunicated because he “denied the faith” possibly over polygamy (Note, the only case of Polygamy at this time period was Fanny Alger, who’s wedding occurred in 1836, according to Eliza R. Snow, detailed in Brian Hale’s book. meaning that he might have left over what he saw as pure adultery)

5 Jan, 1833 - Frederick G. Williams appointed to the first presidency to replace Jesse Gause. D&C 81 retroactively modified to replace Jesse’s name with Frederick’s name.

2 May, 1833 – Joseph writes letter about consecrated properties wherein those who left the church were going to state courts to get them back.

25 June, 1833 - Letter from Joseph stating that “surplus” and “excess” are to be determined by the individual working with the bishop.

Summer 1833 - Partridge prints rules for the United Order:

  • Members would deed their property to the Bishop.
  • Members received back a stewardship to which they held title from which they could support their families.
  • The individual inheritances were determined through a process of negotiation between the member and the Bishop and were based on wants, needs, and abilities.
  • If the Bishop and member could not agree on the nature of the inheritance, the Bishop was to have nothing to do with receiving the consecration, but was to lay the case before a council of twelve high priests for resolution.
  • Surpluses beyond the needs of families were to be turned into the Bishop’s storehouse to help the poor and provide funds for church projects.
  • Those who left the order kept their inheritances but could not get back the surplus they had given the church.

15-20 July, 1833The great haystack, common property of the church, set on fire. During the next few days dissension arose within the church between those who argued that the haystack was God’s and He had allowed it to burn, and those who argued that if God couldn’t protect his own haystack, what was the use of the members praying to Him for protection? As a consequence, some left the church.

20 July, 1833 - Meeting between anti-mormons and mormons in Jackson County:

They demanded that we should immediately stop the publication of the Evening and Morning Star and close printing in Jackson County; and that we, as Elders of said Church, should agree to remove out of the county forthwith. We asked for three months for consideration. They would not grant it. We asked for ten days. They would not grant it, but said fifteen minutes was the longest, and refused to hear any reasons. Of course the conversation broke up. (Millennial Star)

Mobs followed. Printing press destroyed and Book of Commandments gathered by 15 year old Mary Elizabeth Rollins and her 13 year old sister Caroline. The Prophet had proposed marriage to Mary three years earlier when she was 12. She later became a shared polyandrous wife to the Prophet (later married Brigham Young). Elders in church caught, tied to trees, and whipped. Edward Partridge tarred and feathered.

23 July, 1833 - 500 members of the mob enter independence looking for the elders of the church:

We will rid Jackson County of the Mormons peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must. If they will not go without, we will whip and kill the men; we will destroy their children, and ravish their women. (Historical Record, Volumes 7-9)

The Bishopric in Zion, along with John Whitmer, W. W. Phelps, and A. S. Gilbert, offered themselves as hostages for the lives of their friends.

Outnumbered and outgunned by the mob, yet believing in the commandments given with regard to the choice of western Missouri as the site for the City of God, he was reluctantly led to the conclusion that there was no alternative for them except to leave the county. After this decision was conveyed to the leaders of the mob, a new committee was chosen to meet with the Mormon leaders. In the words of Edward himself:

Bros. Morley, Corrill, Marsh, E. Higby myself and a few others met the committee appointed at the Liberty Meeting. We gave them to understand that we wanted peace, and were willing to make sacrifices to keep it, if it were necessary. (Journal of Edward Partridge)

The saints left.

1834 - Doctor Phineus Hurlbut returns to Palmyra and obtains affidavits about the Smith Family. Leman Copley testifies in conjunction with this. Copley joined the Church of Christ (Brewsterite) which was led by Hazen Aldrich, and then left this church in 1849 to join a Latter-Day Saint denomination led by Austin Cowles, about which little is known (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leman_Copley).

July 1834 - Mob offers to allow saints to sell property.  Saints respond:

To sell our land would amount to a denial of our faith, as that land is the place where the Zion of God shall stand, according to our faith and belief in the revelations of God, and upon which Israel will be gathered according to the prophets. (Zion’s Camp Disbanded, and an appeal made)

July 1835 – Church members pooled their money together and raised $2,400 ($51,500 in today’s dollars) to purchase four Egyptian mummies and papyri from the travelling showman Michael Chandler. Joseph finished translating the Book of Abraham scroll, but was killed before translating the Book of Joseph scroll. In 1880, the Book of Abraham, by unanimous vote of LDS authorities, was “canonized” as official scripture of the LDS Church.

1 August, 1837 - John Corril released as counselor, drifts away from church.

3 September, 1837 – Revelation that W.W. Phelps and David Whitmer were fallen for selling their lands in Missouri is given in Kirtland.

6 December, 1837 - Law of Consecration no longer in effect. Council decides bishops are to be paid $1.50 a day to cover expenses.

22 January, 1838 - Joseph and Sidney leave Kirtland for last time.

5 February, 1838 - “[Joseph Smith] A general assembly of the Church is held at Far West, Mo., to decide whether or not David Whitmer, John Whitmer, and W. W. Phelps should continue as the (stake) presidency of the Church in Missouri. The assembly is repeated at other Mormon settlements for the next four days. After lengthy arguments, there is an almost unanimous vote to reject these three as presidents. Whitmer and Phelps are accused of having used $1400 of Church funds to buy Missouri lands and then selling them to the Saints for a profit. They are also accused of having sold lands in Jackson County, which constituted a denial of the faith (because of the prophecies concerning the eventual return to Jackson County). David Whitmer has also been charged with breaking the Word of Wisdom” (Conkling, Christopher J., Joseph Smith Chronology).

Elder Lyman Wight stated that he considered all other accusations of minor importance compared to Brothers Phelps and Whitmer selling their lands in Jackson County; that they had set an example which all the Saints were liable to follow…

Elder John Corrill then spoke against the proceedings of the High Council, and labored hard to show that the meeting was illegal, and that the Presidency ought to be had before a proper tribunal, which he considered to be a bishop and twelve high priests.  He labored in favor of the presidency, and said that he should not raise his hands against them at present, although he did not uphold the Presidents in their iniquity (TRIAL OF THE FAR WEST PRESIDENCY OF THE CHURCH Minutes of the proceedings of the Committee of the whole Church in Zion. in General Assembly at the following places, to-wit: At Far West February 5, 1838).

8 July, 1838 – Joseph introduces inferior revelation in place of the Law of Consecration (D&C 119). The members were not required to transfer all their property to the church before receiving back a portion, but simply eliminated the double transfer by keeping that property they felt was necessary to support themselves and their family, and transferred the surplus to the church.  The effect of the two systems was exactly the same. Payment of 1/10 annual increase to the church was introduced at this point.

1839 - Partridge writes a letter to redress the wrongs upon the saints, while Joseph is in Liberty Jail.

10 February, 1839Stake Presidency in Missouri released. David Patten and Thomas B. Marsh put in as presidency.

14 March, 1839 - Joseph arrives in Far West, approves of Stake Presidency removal.

March, 1839  - John Corril excommunicated.  He later writes a fifty page pamphlet outlining a history of the church from his viewpoint, and explaining his reasons for leaving it.

6 April, 1839Thomas B. Marsh was appointed president pro tempore of the church in Missouri, with Brigham Young and David W. Patten as counselors.

7 April, 1839 - Trial of Oliver Cowdery.  Cowdery declined to attend the court informing the bishop of his desire to withdraw from the church.

27 May, 1840Edward Partridge dies.

1855 to 1858 - Brigham Young institutes United Order again, in Utah.  During this time, Deseret secedes from the United States, the Mountain meadows massacre occurs, and the Utah War commences. Church members were instructed to prepare deeds of consecration, but these deeds were never acted upon.

May 1862Leman Copley dies.

1870 – United Order of Kenab established.

That year John R. Young and the local bishop, Levi Stewart, began colonization of this area and twelve families followed to begin this endeavor. However, there was confusion as to who was the leader of this society. LDS Church authorities appointed the bishop and only they could revoke his status. But many wanted to elect John R. Young as president because he was related to the prophet Brigham Young. This conflict of power lasted until January 5, 1875 when Levi Stewart became the president. Eventually, Stewart resigned from his position and John Nuttall of Provo took his place.

Eventually other families followed that were either unhappy in their own lives or were from other failing colonies. By 1874 there were eighty-one families and about seventeen percent of the men that lived in this community practiced polygamy

The main source of income for the community was by raising livestock. Most of their wealth was in livestock, vehicles, and shares of stock in corporate enterprises. The land and the improvements made up the rest of their wealth. This particular United Order was very wealthy but within the society there were major gaps. Everyone owned property but some pieces of land were better than others. Eventually Brigham Young ordered the community to diminish the financial gap that set them apart from the other communities…

By the year 1880, the United Order at Kanab had greatly decreased. Only thirty-two families were left out of the original eighty-one families that came within the first year of it being established (wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Order).

9 February, 1874 - Young initiates the United Order of Enoch in Saint George:

Producers would generally deed their property to the Order, and all members of the order would share the cooperative’s net income, often divided into shares based on the amount of property originally contributed. Sometimes, the members of the Order would receive wages for their work on the communal property.

The cooperative plan was used in at least 200 Mormon communities, most of them in rural areas outlying the central Mormon settlements near the Great Salt Lake. Most of the communities held out for only two or three years before returning to a more standard economic system. One of the last United Order corporations established the new community of Bunkerville, Nevada in 1877. The Bunkerville cooperative dissolved, under pressure from limited water and a lack of individual dedication and initiative, in 1880 (wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Order).

1875 – Orderville established in Kane, Utah:

Orderville was settled primarily by destitute refugees from failed settlements on the Muddy River in Nevada. The extreme poverty of these settlers likely contributed significantly to their devotion to the principles of the United Order…

Orderville was unique in both the level of success it experienced under the communal living style, and in the duration of the experiment. In the course of a few years, Orderville grew into a thriving, self-sufficient community. The success and relative wealth of the community attracted more settlers and Orderville grew to about 700 people. Orderville not only provided for the needs of its population, but produced a significant surplus for sale to other communities, which was used to purchase additional land and equipment.

The Order continued in Orderville for approximately 10 years. During the early 1880s, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lost interest in the experiment, but Orderville attempted to continue it. In 1885, the enforcement of the Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act of 1882 effectively ended the Order by jailing many of the Order’s leaders and driving many of the others underground (wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orderville,_Utah).

1877Brigham Young dies. Most United Order areas have failed by this point.

1900 – All official United Order efforts have failed.

This entry was posted in Timelines. Bookmark the permalink. Last edited by Mithryn on July 15, 2013 at 10:13 pm

3 Responses to The Law of Consecration Timeline

  1. Goldarn says:

    I had no idea Consecration became such a mess. Thanks for all your research!

  2. Pingback: Exploring Mormon Institute 2013 - D&C Lesson 14: The Law of Consecration – An Economist’s Evaluation | Exploring Mormonism

  3. Pingback: Bishop’s Interview Timeline | Exploring Mormonism

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