Scripture Roundtable 33: D&C Gospel Doctrine Lesson 29, “Building the Kingdom of God in Nauvoo, Illinois”

(Originally published on 1 July 2013.)

This is Scripture Roundtable 33 from The Interpreter Foundation, in which we discuss Doctrine & Covenants Gospel Doctrine Lesson #29, “Building the Kingdom of God in Nauvoo, Illinois,” focusing on D&C 124, and 126, bringing in various insights to help us better understand the scriptures. These roundtables will generally follow the 2013 Gospel Doctrine schedule of scriptures, a few weeks ahead of time.

Some of the interesting discussion in this roundtable includes:

  • At 2,500 men under arms, the Nauvoo Legion was the largest military force in the western United States, and second only to the United States Army (8,500 men) in the entire country.
  • Of the 18,000 British converts who joined the Church between 1840 and 1846, about 4,700 immigrated to Nauvoo. One in three Nauvoo residents was a British convert immigrant.
  • John Taylor wanted to call the women’s organization the Female Benevolent Society. Emma Smith expressed her belief that it be called the Relief Society because “We are going to do something extraordinary…we expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls.”
  • Joseph Smith’s decision to send many of his most loyal associates to England was counterintuitive, seemingly foolish, yet, arguably, it saved the Church. Certainly it marked the culture of Mormonism in indelible ways.
  • The Mormonism that entered into Nauvoo was, in many ways, a Protestant-like faith that had an extra book. Nauvoo is crucial because much that is distinctive in the Latter-day Saint form of Christianity developed during the Church’s relatively brief sojourn there.
  • Many of the old leaders dropped away before Nauvoo, and a new group — notably Brigham Young and the Council of the Twelve — came to the fore.

Panelists for this roundtable include Ben McGuire, Bryce Haymond, Daniel Peterson, and Mike Parker.

This roundtable is also available as an audio podcast, and will be included in the podcast feed. You can listen by pressing the play button or download the podcast below:


2 thoughts on “Scripture Roundtable 33: D&C Gospel Doctrine Lesson 29, “Building the Kingdom of God in Nauvoo, Illinois”

  1. The Nauvoo Legion was not the first militia unit composed of LDS militia. Both Missouri and Illinois required all non-exempted able-bodied men from 18-45 to serve in the militia. The militia were organized on a county basis and grouped into brigades and further into divisions.
    When Caldwell County was created in Missouri in 1836, the 59th Missouri Infantry was created as the militia from the county. Lyman Wight served as Colonel, George Hinkle as Lieutenant Colonel, and Seymour Brunson as Major. One of its captains in command of a company was David W Patton of the 12. He led the rescue attempt that cost him his life because of his position as a company commander in the 59th Missouri, with orders from Country Presiding Judge Elias Higby. The 59th Missouri was in Brigadier General Alexander Doniphan’s brigade of Major General David Atkinson’s division of Missouri Militia. The fight in October-November 1838 was a fight between regularly established militia.
    When the Nauvoo Legion was chartered by the Illinois legislature, there were already 6 LDS companies in the Hancock County militia.
    I think way too much is said about the autonomy of the Nauvoo Legion. All the officers were commissioned by the governor (just like any militia in the state) and there were a few appropriations for arms for the Legion by the state legislature. In the fall of 1844, Governor Ford commissioned Brigham Young as Lieutenant General of the Nauvoo Legion.
    When the saints flowed into Quincy and surrounding areas, the state quartermaster general–John C Bennett–conducted a personal investigation and reported favorably to the state on the character and need of the Mormons. He wrote the charters of the City, the University, and the Legion, and secured their passage. He was the first mayor of the City, chancellor of the University, and major general of the Nauvoo Legion. At the time, lieutenant general was unheard of in militia ranks. Bennett wrote the charter to have a chief commanding officer in the grade of major general and two brigade commanders in the grade of brigadier generals. When Joseph Smith announced his intention to enlist in the legion (he was exempt for multiple reasons), Bennett fearing Joseph would be elected to the top post established the position of chief reviewing officer as a lieutenant general and nominated Joseph to the post. The primary duty of the chief reviewing officer was to preside over reviews of the legion, which otherwise was not much different than any of several militia divisions in most states, at least not legally.
    The US Military was small in 1840 (12,330 in the Army, 8,017 in the Navy, and 1,269 in the Marine Corps). But, the US had small professional forces deliberately, and relied on an ability to call into state or federal service hundreds of thousands of militia if needed.

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