165 years ago today, Joseph Smith addressed the band of Sisters who had organized a female society:
The meeting was address’d by Prest. Smith, to illustrate the object of the Society- that the Society of Sisters might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor–”searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants- to assist by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the
femalecommunity, and save the Elders the trouble of rebuking; that they may give their time to other duties &c: in their public teaching.
Prest. Smith further remark’d that an organization to show them how to go to work would be sufficient. He propos’d that the Sisters elect a presiding officer to preside over them, and let that presiding officer choose two counsellors to assist in the duties of her office- that he would ordain them to preside over the Society- and let them preside just as Presidency, preside over the church: and if they need his instruction ask him, will give it from time to time.
Let this Presidency serve as a constitution- all their decisions be considered law, and acted upon as such.
If any Officers are wanted to carry out the designs of the institution, let them be appointed and set apart, as Deacons, Teachers, &C. are among us.
The minutes of your meetings will be precedent for you to act upon- your Constitution- and law.
He then suggested the propriety of electing a Presidency to continue in the office during good behavior, or so long as they shall continue to fill the office with dignity &C.,- like the first Presidency of the Church.
Motioned by Sister Whitney and seconded by Sister Packard that Mrs. Emma Smith be chosen President-passed unanimously.
Mov’d by Prest. Smith, that Mrs. Smith proceed to choose her Counsellors, that they may be ordain’d to preside over this Society, in taking care of the poor, administering to their wants, and attending to the various affairs of this Institution.
The Presidentess Elect, then made choice of Mrs. Sarah M. Cleveland and Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Whitney for Counsellors.
President Smith read the Revelation to Emma Smith, from the book of Doctrine and Covenants; and stated that she was ordain’d at the time the Revelation was given, to expound the scriptures to all; and to teach the female part of community; and that not she alone, but others, may attain to the same blessings.-
The 2d Epistle of John, 1st verse, was then read to show that respect was there had to the same thing, and that why she was called an Elect lady is because elected to preside. (Eliza R. Snow Smith, Relief Society Minutes, 17 March 1842)
John Taylor then ordained the presidency.