140 years ago today - October 6-9, 1880

[Moses Thatcher]
... Regarding some things, however, which transpired among the Apostles, in reference particularly to the Organization of the Quorum of the 'First Presidency,' I will record a few items. The subject was presented to the twelve present, Elder Erastus Snow and Brigham Young [Jr.] being absent, south, by Pres[ident]: [John] Taylor himself who evidenced a desire that that Quorum (ie 'the first presidency') be organized, during the present conference. I think the subject was first presented in a meeting of the Council of the Apostles, on the 7th of October. There was not much said about it at this meeting as it was a matter of very weighty importance, but one at the same time, upon which few of the Quorum I think had seriously pondered; indeed the majority seemed to be like myself almost wholy unprepaired for its consideration. Elder [Orson] Pratt referred in a few remarks to the advanced age of many of the Apostles and expressed the bilief that the Quorum could if theythought propper choose a young man to fill the highest office in the Church, that is to be president of the Church. Upon this subject others made no remark. At a subsiquent meeting the matter of the Organization being again brought forward, (this I believe was on the 8th) one of the brethren I think Elder Wilford Woodruff expressed the view that it was Elder John Taylors right if he choose to claim it, to be president of the Church, by virtue of his calling and position as the Chief and oldest Apostle. The question which seemed to be in the minds of the brethren, at this time, was not as to who was entitled to Nomenation for the office of president, but as to the wisdom or non-wisdom of Organizing at the present time the Quorum of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And in reference to it, many of the brethren seemed unsettled, that is, the Spirit of God had not up to this time specially impressed all that it was a duty, the performance of which was now required at our hands. It was evident however, that our esteemed president Elder Taylor was very anxious to have the Organization perfected at this Conference. He was asked by one of the brethren if he (Elder Taylor) had the mind of the Lord on the matter; to which he declined an answer, saying it should be left with the Quorum of th Twelve to decide'-it rested upon them. Elder Orson Pratt said it would be folly to seek the mind of the Lord upon a subject upon which we already have his mind'-referring to that contained in the Book of Doctrine & Covenants relating to the Organization of the First Presidency ... The brethren expressed themselves in turn according to age, not upon the point touched by Elder Pratt, particularly but upon what should be done at this time. Some expressed the belief that the organization should be perfected at this Conference, not knowing but that the Lord would hold us responsible for neglect of duty if we failed. Among those who entertained these views was, I think, Elders [Albert] Carrington [Wilford] Woodruff, [Charles c.] Rich, [George Q.] Cannon and [Albert] Carrington. Elders Lorenzo Snow, [Franklin D.] Richards wanted to do just what was right, though did not feel the presure that others perhaps did, at this time for a movement in this direction. Elder D[aniel] H Wells thought it should have been done long ago. Elder Joseph F. Smith expressed doubt, saying that the Spirit had not impressed on him that the organization at this time was either very important or required: thought that every thing in the church was moving harmoneously and that the Saints were not only satisfied but happy under the administration of the Twelve. He for one did not want to live to see repeated what had occurred in the Church, in ignoring the quorum of Apostles and other quorums of the Church. Referred to a prediction which was said to have been made, by our late president Brigham Young, when he was last at the Saint George [Utah] Temple. He had been credibly informed that president Young said, referring to the Saints 'You think I have been hard in many things but I want to say to you that the little finger of my successor will rest more heavily upon this people, than my whole body has ever done.' Elder Smith asked the brethren present if any of them had heard that uttered by president Young. None appeared to have done so: Elder Cannon thought he had heard him say that 'John Taylor would be his successor.' Elder Wells said that he did not believe that any man ever heard president Young say that,'-for he knew, that he never thought so. President Taylor observed that we had nothing to do with what president Youngs successor might or might not do. It was our place to do our duty and leave the consequences with God. Being the youngest member of the quorum I spoke last; not however until I was asked direct for an expression of my views. I gave them honestly; saying that if the 'necessity' referred to in the Book of Covenants, had arisen there was but one course to persue and that was to organize the quorum now. But I must honestly confess, though I had most earnestly sought in prayer for light, since the subject had been introduced, that I was not impressed with any necessity for such a move at this time; for I did not believe that the people either expected it, or desired it now. ... On the following day the subject again being brought up, was further discussed and finallyon motion of Elder C[harles]. Rich Elder John Taylor was nomenated and sustained as president by the vote of all present. He chose Elders George Q Cannon and Joseph F Smith as his counsellers. Proceeding at once to a general priesthood meeting being held in the Assembly Hall (Evening) the brethren wee also voted for there and unanimously sustained; it having been explained by Elder Pratt, that the Twelve had taken action on the matter. Two of the vacancies made thus in the Quorum were filled by the choice of Francis Marion Lyman and John Henry Smith. May the blessings of the Almighty rest upon the moves made by us in this direction this day; that Israel may rejoice and be glad under the approval of our Heavenly Father, is my earnest prayer in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord Amen.

[Moses Thatcher Diary, as quoted in Minutes of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1910-1951, Privately Published, Salt Lake City, Utah 2010]

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