The following comes from a meeting of a “Special Council” held in Salt Lake on 21 March 1858. It is evidence, among other things, of Brigham Young’s contrarian streak. I’m sure it raised eyebrows 150 years ago, although probably not as many as it would raise today:
I will deviate from my subject a little, and say a few words with regard to br. Joseph that some, perhaps, have not undrestood. If Joseph Smith, jun., the Prophet, had followed the Spirit of revelation in him he never would have gone to Carthage. Do you understand that? A great many do, and some do not….[Joseph] said ‘I can see life and liberty and salvation in that course [fleeing Nauvoo and heading west], but if I return to give myself up, it is death and darkness to the full; I am like a lamb led to the slaughter,’ and never for one moment did he say that he had one particle of light in him after he started back from Montrose to give himself up in Nauvoo. This he did through the persuasion of others. I want you all to understand that.
With regard to myself I cannot say what I will do. I do not know precisely in what manner the Lord will lead me, but were I thrown into the situation Joseph was, I would leave the people and go into the wilderness, and let them do the best they could. Will I run from the sheep? No. Will I forsake the flock? No. But if Joseph had followed the revelations in him he would have ben our earthly shepherd today, and we would have heard his voice and followed the shepherd instead of the shepherd following the sheep. When the shepherd follows the sheep it reverses the natural order, for the sheep are to follow the shepherd.
I find this interesting on many, many levels. I personally doubt very seriously that Joseph Smith ever said what Young attributes to him. I think it tells us a great deal about Brigham Young’s difficult position that he maintained in the Shadow of Joseph, even 14 years after Joseph’s murder.