The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (Jedediah Rogers)












We are very excited to announce that Jedediah S. Rogers, editor of the much anticipated Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (published by Signature Books), will be here on Wednesday, Dec 17th to speak about and sign his book. Please note that this event will be slightly different from our other events:

The publisher, Signature Books, has generously provided for the acclaimed Chow Truck to serve complimentary gourmet sliders and beverages. The food will be served in our parking lot (to the east of the building) from 5:30 to 6:30. (We will have some chairs in our east lobby and in the hall for those who wish to eat inside). We then invite you to come upstairs to the store where Jed will speak beginning at 6:30.  Following his remarks and Q&A, the editor will then be available again to chat and sign books. We hope you will be able to make it to this memorable night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

One of the more intriguing developments in Mormon history during Joseph Smith’s lifetime came only a scant few months before his death. In March 1844, the Council of Fifty was formed—council member John D. Lee proclaimed it would replicate the “councils of the gods” in heaven. The intent was to have an organization that would supervise political campaigns and send explorers out in search of locations where the church could establish satellite colonies. As events unfolded, their scouting forays into Oregon and Texas proved useful when tensions mounted in Illinois and Mormons began looking for a new home base.

In the Great Basin the council oversaw everything from water rights to the regulation of hunting and grazing during the first few years in the valley. The council later appointed a Committee of Seven to monitor the federal “Board of Registration and Election in the Territory of Utah” and to approve candidates for elections, typically only allowing one candidate per office.

Among the council’s more notable practices was how it anointed its leader their temporal king. “After listening to some current items of news” in 1885, council president John Taylor “directed [someone] to read a revelation which [Taylor] said he [had] received … requiring him to be anointed & set apart as a king [and] priest and ruler over Israel on the earth,” upon which they “proceed[ed] to obey the requirement of the revelation.”

Council members clearly felt an inseparable bond, writing about how they spent hours together in “sweet conversation.” One council member described one of the meetings as “a long session but pleasant and harmonious,” while another wrote that “much precious instructions were given, and it seems like heaven began on earth and the power of God is with us.”

Entries in this documentary history are taken from contemporary diaries and letters—in some cases, excerpts or entire sets of meeting minutes are taken from the research notes of Michael Quinn. Helpful annotation from Rogers gives biographical details on members of the council, fleshes out references and provides contextual historical information.

“Some may think the forthcoming Nauvoo minutes are the all-important and sufficient record of the council, but I suspect not. Context is equally important. We don’t yet know exactly what the contents of the minutes might be, but I believe the church’s editors will find themselves hard-pressed to produce anything as thorough and fine as the present volume.”

–from the foreword by Klaus J. Hansen, author of the pioneering study Quest for Empire: The Political Kingdom of God and the Council of Fifty in Mormon History

“This is an extraordinary compendium of information having to do with the foundation of Mormonism and early Utah. It contains virtually every document, outside of church vaults, pertaining to the operation of the Council of Fifty, the secretive and powerful group that worked for forty years to bring about Joseph Smith’s political vision. Rogers sets a new high standard for a documents collection.”

–Gene A. Sessions, professor and author of Mormon Thunder: A Documentary History of Jedediah Morgan Grant

Jedediah S. Rogers is co-editor of the Utah Historical Quarterly. He is the author of the 2012 Wallace Stegner Prize-winning book, Roads in the Wilderness: Conflict in Canyon Country, and editor of In the President’s Office: The Diaries of L. John Nuttall, 1879-1892, winner of the Mormon History Association’s 2008 Best Documentary Book Award and Utah State University Evans Handcart Award.


The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History. Signature Books, 2014. 480pp. Hardback. $49.95.

Also by Jedediah Rogers:

Roads in the Wilderness: Conflict in Canyon Country. University of Utah Press, 2013. 278pp. Paperback–$24.95/Hardback–$39.95

In the President’s Office: The Diaries of L. John Nuttall, 1879-1892 (Significant Mormon Diaries Series, limited to 500 copies). Signature Books, 2007. 511pp. Hardback. $125.00.


Shipping: $4.50 for the first book, $1 for each additional (USPS)–Priority/FedEx/UPS options available–inquire for details.

Utah residents–add 7.05% sales tax

2 Responses to Evening with the Editor–Jedediah Rogers (Council of Fifty)–Dec 17th

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