Date of Award:

5-2009

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)

Department:

History

Advisor/Chair:

Philip Barlow

Abstract

A charismatically created organization works to tear down the routine and the norm of everyday society, replacing them with new institutions. Max Weber has stated that a charismatic organization can only exist in the creation stage, after which it will either collapse under the weight of the changes it has made, or begin a move towards the routine, making it as well-established and routinized as the society it sought to replace.

The changes to the seniority of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints demonstrate the movement of the church from charismatic to routinized leadership. They also show how the charismatic attributes of the first leader of the church were institutionalized in the office of President of the Church.

The first change occurred in 1861, reversing the seniority of John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff. The second change occurred in 1875, making Taylor and Woodruff senior to two original members of the Quorum of the Twelve, Orson Hyde and Orson Pratt. The final change occurred in 1900, making Joseph F. Smith senior to Brigham Young, Jr.

The few scholars who have addressed these changes tend to focus on either the official explanations or personal relationships and motives of those involved. This thesis moves beyond these to explore the broader institutional motives. It also discusses the effects of changing the rules determining who would succeed to the presidency of the church. The 1861 and 1900 changes have not been examined in any substantial way before. All three changes affected who became president of the church, thus changing the direction of the church. More than satisfying personal vendettas or righting obvious problems in the rules of seniority, the three changes highlight difficult choices church leaders made that moved The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a charismatically led organization to a highly routinized bureaucracy.

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