McClellin Notebook

William McLellin (or M’Lellin) is an interesting figure in LDS church history. He was called as an original member of the Quorum of 12 Apostles, and was excommunicated for apostasy in 1838. At this point, he became a vocal critic of the church.

Mormon Times recently published an article about a recently discovered McClellin notebook, and more information can be found here.

McLellin is mentioned at least 4 times in the Doctrine and Covenants, generally all of which deal with missionary work:  (1) D&C 66: 1, (2) D&C 68: 7, (3)  D&C 75: 6, (4)  D&C 90: 35.  All of these revelations date between 1831 and 1833.

Due to a banking crisis in 1837-8, McLellin declared that he had no confidence in the presidency of the Church. He was excommunicated on May 11, 1838 and subsequently actively worked against the LDS Church and its leaders.  Some believe he may have participated in robbing Joseph Smith’s home and stable while Smith was being held in jail.  Joseph had been jailed on charges relating to the banking institution known as the Kirtland Safety Society.

Even though McLellin became a critic of the church, he always had a testimony of the Book of Mormon.  The Mormon Times article quotes from one of his notebooks,

McLellin then recounts a story of meeting two of the witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, in July 1833 in Missouri. McLellin and the two were in danger of their lives from anti-Mormon mobs. McLellin wrote:

“I said to them, ‘Brethren, I never have seen an open vision in my life, but you men say you have, and therefore you positively know. Now, you know that our lives are in danger every hour, if the mob can only catch us. Tell me, in the fear of God, is that Book of Mormon true?’ Cowdery looked at me with solemnity depicted in his face and said: ‘Brother William, God sent his holy angel to declare the truth of the translation of it to us, and therefore we know. And though the mob kill us, yet we must die declaring its truth.’ David said: ‘Oliver has told you the solemn truth, for we could not be deceived. I most truly declare to you its truth!!’ Said I: ‘Boys, I believe you. I can see no object for you to tell me falsehood now, when our lives are endangered.’ ” (punctuation modernized)

McLellin experimented with some other Mormon offshoots, such as RLDS and Strangite branches.  He unsuccessfully tried to persuade David Whitmer to lead a movement as well.

So what do you make of McLellin?  Did Joseph put too much trust in him?


9 comments on “McClellin Notebook

  1. I have alwys been fascinated by the early Church members who left the Church and perhaps even denounced Jospeh, yet maintained a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I know more about Emma Smith and David Whitmer than McLellin. I would like to find out more about him. I recall that his papers were supposed to be pretty controversial, back in the Mark Hoffman days. How much of that was Hoffman’s hype, do you know?

    On another note, I cannot get into your recent post on Mormon Matters. Am I the only one, or is there a problem with their site?

  2. Yes, the link above addresses the Hoffman forgeries. Hoffman claimed to have found this lost notebook, and claimed it was devastating to the church. He was a pretty good forger, but finally he was caught. This notebook has been authenticated, because the RLDS church had photos of the original notebook, and this notebook matches the photographs.

    I haven’t posted today, but it seems to be working for me over at Mormon Matters. It worked very well yesterday for posting comments–I don’t think anything is wrong.

  3. I’m also having trouble with the Mormon Matters site. Can’t see MH’s post either. And the whole page is kind of jumbled. It was like that last night and hasn’t changed this morning. So you’re not the only one, Teacher. Must be having some technical difficulties.

  4. Here’s a link to my guest post over at Mormon Matters. I just posted a comment, and it worked for me, so I don’t know what the problem might be.


  5. That link doesn’t work for me on Internet Explorer, but it does on Firefox. Strange. I’ve never had problems with IE on MM before.

  6. I use firefox about 90% of the time.

  7. Still not working for me in IE. I will try firefox, if I can figure it out. Should someone tell MM? The odd thing is, I can get into stuff posted after yours, Heretic.

  8. Hoffman’s story is so fascinating. If you are into true-crime reading, then pick up this book about the Hoffman murders and investigation. Very interesting.

  9. […] church, and joined with the anti-mormon forces, including high church officials, such as apostle William McClellin.  It got so bad, that the mormons pretty much deserted Kirtland, and headed for Independence, […]

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