Hey guys. So after the martyrdom of the
Latter-day Saint Prophet Joseph Smith in 1844, the members didn’t really know who
was going to lead the church. This problem was exacerbated by the fact that
before Joseph died he made as many as eight different references to who should
succeed him. In this episode we’re gonna specifically look at the claims of the
last surviving member of the First Presidency after the martyrdom, Sidney
Rigdon. Let’s check it out. Sidney Rigdon is an important figure in
Latter-day Saint history. He was originally a Baptist preacher, a great
public speaker who was introduced to our church by my man Parley P Pratt in 1830.
Rigdon was baptized and was soon called as spokesman for Joseph Smith and the
church. Things started out great but as time went on, he grew increasingly
unstable. In 1832 while Joseph was out of town Sidney claimed he’d received a
revelation that the keys of the kingdom had been taken from Joseph and the church.
Joseph had to come back and say “uh, no.” Joseph was quick to forgive but by 1843 he
tried to have Sidney Rigdon removed from his position as a counselor in the First
Presidency. “I feel confident a situation will create
a strong sympathy vote for us.” When put to a vote, though, the members allowed
Sidney to keep his position. “Everything is proceeding as I had foreseen.” Joseph formally accepted the outcome but said concerning Sidney, “I have thrown him off my shoulders and you have again
put him on me. You may carry him but I will not.” In 1844 Joseph was running for
president. His first and second choices for Vice President didn’t work out, his
third choice was Sidney Rigdon who, despite their differences, was a great
orator “a surprise to be sure, but a welcomed one.” Joseph sent Sidney to live
in Pennsylvania to establish residency because back then you couldn’t vote for
a president and vice president who were both from your home state. It’s my
opinion that Joseph was totally okay with that. But sure enough, after Joseph’s
death, Sidney rushed back to Nauvoo to assert his claim to leadership. But while
Joseph’s relationship with Sidney had deteriorated, his relationship with the
quorum of the twelve had only been growing stronger. “This turn of events is
unfortunate. We must accelerate our plans.” Only four
members of the quorum were in Nauvoo when Sydney arrived. They wanted to meet
in Council and not make any hasty decisions
but Sydney tried to organize a meeting to choose a new leader as soon as
possible with or ideally without the twelve. In his journal, William Clayton
wrote, “Brother Marx had notified the public that next Thursday there would be
a meeting to choose a guardian in as much as Mr. Rigdon was in a hurry to go
home again, I do not feel satisfied with this move because it is universally
understood that the twelve have been sent for and are expected here every day
and it seems a plot laid for the Saints to take advantage of their situation.” “I
sense a plot to destroy the Jedi.” Luckily Brigham Young and four more
apostles arrived in time for the meeting which took place on August 8 1844. “I must
say you’re here sooner than expected.” The Saints gathered and once again Sydney claimed
he’d received a revelation, this time that nobody could replace Joseph Smith
but that he, Sydney, should become the church’s Guardian. “It is with great reluctance that I have agreed to this calling.” He taught
that this church must be built up to Joseph and that all the blessings we
receive must come through him. Elder William W Phelps later said, “There’s no
such thing written in the Bible or the Book of Mormon or the book of Doctrine
and Covenants. This church has been built up to Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith
always taught us that there is no other name whereby we can be saved but in and
through the name of Jesus Christ.” Brigham Young believed that authority to direct
the church fell upon the quorum of the twelve. He pled his case and then allowed
Sidney the opportunity to speak again. Sidney declined but asked William W
Phelps to speak for him. Bad move. Phelps told the Saints, “If you
want to do right, uphold the twelve” which the overwhelming majority of the saints
voted to do. Joseph Smith once wrote, “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from
progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny
made defame but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent till
it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country,
and sounded in every ear till the purposes of God shall be accomplished
and the great Jehovah shall say, “The work is done.”
Sydney was soon excommunicated and established his own church in 1845. That
church collapsed by 1847. One of his previous followers, William Bickerton,
tried to resurrect Rigdon’s Church in 1862 which Rigden must have disagreed
with because he previously authorized a man named Stephen Post in 1856 to
resurrect the Rigdonite sect with Rigdon as their prophet until his death
in 1876. Post’s Rigdonite organization disbanded in 1882. So if you’re wondering
whether the church should have fallen into the hands of Sidney Rigdon after
Joseph’s death, it may be comforting to know that the churches Ridgon led
after the martyrdom absolutely failed. His work did stop progressing, something
Joseph taught would not happen to Christ’s restored church. That’s a quick
summary of Sidney Rigdon’s role in the Latter-day Saint succession issue,
There’s a ton more that could be said about this topic so if you want to dive
deep, please check out the resources in the description and go have a great day.