New Light on the nature of the Council of Fifty and Joseph Smith’s “Last Charge”

While traditionally understood to be a political organization, a variety of sources in the aftermath of the succession crisis indicate that the Council of Fifty was to be a new governing priesthood body—Kings and Priests—holding priesthood authority that “no tribunal in the church could control.” Though new evidence has come to light in the Nauvoo-era Council of Fifty minutes, released in 2016, the question still remains: What event or actions caused this belief to arise among almost every breakoff of Nauvoo Mormonism? This presentation explores new evidence, and gives a possible explanation for this historical mystery.

Jacob Vidrine