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17 March 1842


Female Relief Society of Nauvoo; Red Brick Store, Nauvoo, Illinois

A two-story brick structure with windows surrounding the main entrance

Joseph Smith’s Red Brick Store in Nauvoo, Illinois. Image taken circa 1885 by B. H. Roberts. (Courtesy Church History Library.)

[. . .]

Prest. J. [Joseph] Smith—Benevolent is a popular term—and the term Relief is not known among popular Societies—Relief is more extended in its signification than Benevolent and might extend to the liberation of the culprit—and might be wrongly construed by our enemies to say that the Society was to relieve criminals from punishment &c. &c.—to relieve a murderer, which would not be a benevolent act—

Prest. Emma Smith, said the popularity of the word benevolent is one great objection—no person can think of the word as associated with public Institutions, without thinking of the Washingtonian Benevolent Society which was one of the most corrupt Institutions of the day—do not wish to have it call’d after other Societies in the world—

Prest. J. Smith arose to state that he had no objection to the word Relief—that on[e] question they ought to deliberate candidly and investigate all subjects.

Counsellor [Sarah M.] Cleveland arose to remark concerning the question before the house, that we should not regard [p. 11] the idle speech of our enemies—we design to act in the name of the Lord—to relieve the wants of the distressed, and do all the good we can—

Eliza R. Snow arose and said that she felt to concur with the President, with regard to the word Benevolent, that many Societies with which it had been associated, were corrupt,—that the popular Institutions of the day should not be our guide—that as daughters of Zion, we should set an example for all the world, rather than confine ourselves to the course which had been heretofore pursued—one objection to the word Relief is, that the idea associated with it is that of some great calamity—that we intend appropriating on some extraordinary occasions instead of meeting the common occurrences—

Prest. Emma Smith remark’d—we are going to do something extraordinary—when a boat is stuck on the rapids with a multitude of Mormons on board we shall consider that a loud call for relief—we expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls—

Elder [John] Taylor arose and said—I shall have to concede the point—your arguments are so potent I cannot stand before them—I shall have to give way—

Prest. J. S. said I also shall have to concede the point, all I shall have to give to the poor, I shall give to this Society—

Counsellor [Elizabeth Ann] Whitney mov’d, that this Society be call’d The Nauvoo Female Relief Society—second. by Counsellor Cleveland—

E. R. Snow offer’d an amendment by way of transposition of words, instead of The Nauvoo Female Relief Society, it shall be call’d the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo—Seconded by Prest. J. Smith and carried— [p. 12]

The previous question was then put— Shall this Society be call’d The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo?—carried unanimously.— [. . .] [p. 13]

Source Note

Relief Society Minute Book (1842–1844), pp. 11–13, CHL (MS 3424); Eliza R. Snow, Secretary.