Religious Educator: Perspectives on the Restored Gospel


review, Council of Fifty, Joseph Smith Papers

Document Type

Book Review


The Council of Fifty, a clandestine organization founded by Joseph Smith in the final months of his life, has remained one of the most controversial episodes in LDS history. Created during Smith’s 1844 presidential run and while internal and external tensions in Nauvoo were reaching a boiling point, the council embodied both the Church’s growing anxiety and its desperate attempts to find some path to resolution. And because the written records of the council have been restricted from scholars since their origin, the many historians who have tried to reconstruct these meetings were forced to do the equivalent of seeing a picture through its negative: tracing all the contours, purposes, and activities simply through outlining everything taking place around it. But despite these valiant efforts, there remained a poignant hole at the center of Nauvoo’s history.