As much as the pioneers had to rely on each other and act as a team to make it to the Salt Lake Valley, they didn’t always see eye to eye. We are human and so shouldn’t be surprised that there were arguments and fights on the trail west. The first recorded fight happened in Brigham Young’s group and involved Thomas Bullock and George Brown. What was the nature of the fight?
a. Words only
d. A whip
B. Oliver Cowdery and Hyrum Smith
In accordance with the Lord’s requirement that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established,” the Lord instituted the office of assistant (sometimes called associate) president of the Church. Although various counselors to the Prophet Joseph Smith were referred to as “assistant presidents,” only two men in this dispensation have held the specific calling to preside over the Church jointly with the president. These men were Oliver Cowdery and Hyrum Smith.
On 5 December 1834 Oliver Cowdery was ordained assistant president of the Church. He had been a participant in many of the great events of the Restoration and from Peter, James, and John had received, jointly with Joseph Smith, the priesthood keys necessary to preside over the Lord’s kingdom on earth. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explains that “as the Assistant President, Oliver ranked second in authority to the Prophet. He stood ahead of the counselors in the first Presidency and ahead of the Council of the Twelve. . . Thus is the Prophet had died, Oliver Cowdery would have been the President of the Church.”
Following President Cowdery’s apostasy from the Church, the Lord revealed that Hyrum Smith was to succeed him as a joint witness with Joseph: “And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph; that he may act in concert also with the my servant Joseph.”
President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “I am firmly of the opinion that had Oliver Cowdery remained true to his covenants and obligations as a witness with Joseph Smith, and retained his authority and place, he, and not Hyrum Smith, would have gone with Joseph Smith as a prisoner and to martyrdom at Carthage. The sealing of the testimony through the shedding of Blood would not have been complete in the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith alone; it required the death of Hyrum Smith who jointly held the keys of this dispensation.”
Because the Church was fully established and the two witnesses had left their binding testimony of its truth, the necessity for the office of assistant president of the Church had been fulfilled. Thus this office is no longer found in the Church organization.
Flake, Lawrence R., Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation, (Provo, Utah: Religious Study Center, Brigham Young University, 2001), 4-5.