OLIVER COWDERY: The Elusive Second Elder of the Restoration

by Phillip R. Legg

It is not the intent of this work to present Joseph Smith, Jr., as a Machiavellian character and Oliver as a victim, but rather to investigate the life of Oliver Cowdery and his interaction with other prominent figures of the Restoration movement. In doing so, it will be necessary to view Oliver as a "devout dissenter" toward the end of his association with the Church. “Devout dissenters” are individuals who are sincere and earnest in their beliefs although their opinions and feelings differ from those of the leadership.

Although Oliver differed with leadership in some areas of Church administration, he continued to be a devout believer in the Restoration movement all his life. There is nothing to suggest that he felt anything other than love for Joseph. Long after Joseph's death, Oliver still referred to him as "our beloved brother." His dissent came from his deep commitments and concern for the Church body.

Oliver Cowdery in his "Sketch Book" wrote, "The man that keeps the commandments of the Lord will never be forsaken; his soul shall be filled with the Holy Spirit." Oliver believed this with all the intensity of a devout Christian.