Seniority in the Twelve : The 1875 Realignment of Orson Pratt
Journal of Mormon History
Salt Lake City, UT
Mormon History Association
In April 1875, the positions of seniority of Orson Pratt and Orson Hyde in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were readjusted. Where formerly they had been the most senior members of the quorum, they were demoted to third and fourth in seniority behind John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff. The traditional reason given for Orson Pratt's demotion is that he had been formally excommunicated in 1842 in Nauvoo. Due to losing his standing in the quorum, he had thereafter forfeited his rights to seniority. However, under scrutiny, this standard explanation does not stand up well under examination. It appears that Pratt was neither officially excommunicated nor legally dropped from the quorum. Bergera concludes that the causes underlying his 1875 realignment need to be accounted for by factors other than solely his excommunication. The real reasons Church leaders may have been unwilling to see Pratt become president was because of his disagreements with Joseph Smith over the secret practice of plural marriage in Nauvoo and his protracted doctrinal disagreements with Brigham Young.