George Miller (Latter Day Saints)
|Second Bishop of the Church|
|October 7, 1844– Latter end of 1846|
|Called by||Brigham Young|
|End reason||Dropped due to opposition to Brigham Young's leadership|
November 25, 1794|
Standardville, Virginia, United States
|Died||August 27, 1856
Marengo, Illinois, United States
Miller was born at Standardville, Virginia and was raised in Virginia and Kentucky. He was trained as a carpenter and worked in Ohio, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Virginia. Miller assisted in building a number of buildings on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. By 1834 he had purchased a 300-acre (1.2 km2) farm in McDonough County, Illinois. Sometime before 1827 Miller married Mary Catherine Fry.
Conversion to Mormonism
In 1839, Miller learned of Latter Day Saint refugees arriving in Illinois from Missouri. He allowed some of these exiles to temporarily reside on his farm. Miller eventually converted to Mormonism and was baptized by John Taylor on August 12, 1839.
Shortly after his conversion, Miller moved to Lee County, Iowa. By September 1840 he had become a high priest in the Latter Day Saint church. He assisted many Latter Day Saints in settling Nauvoo, Illinois, and he moved there himself in November 1840. In late 1840 and early 1841, Miller served as a church missionary in Lee County, Iowa and Hancock County, Illinois.
Bishop and other service
On January 19, 1841, Joseph Smith, Jr. received a revelation that stated that Miller should be made the second bishop of the church and a member of the committee charged with organizing the construction of the Nauvoo House. In 1841, Miller became the Worshipful Master of the Nauvoo Masonic lodge.
In 1843, Miller served a mission to Mississippi and Alabama with Peter Haws. He became a member of the Council of Fifty on 11 March 1844, and later that year was sent to Kentucky to campaign for the election of Joseph Smith to the office of President of the United States.
Succession crisis and break with Brigham Young
Upon hearing about the death of Joseph Smith, Miller returned to Nauvoo. A succession crisis ensued whereby a variety of men vied for the leadership of the Latter Day Saints. The majority of Latter Day Saints accepted the leadership of Brigham Young and the Quorum of the Twelve, and Miller provided luke-warm support for this decision. Because he was one of two bishops in the church, Miller was appointed by Young to be a legal trustee-in-trust for the church on 9 August 1844, Miller was sustained as the president of Nauvoo high priests quorum and the "Second Bishop of the Church" on 7 October 1844.
In 1845, Miller submitted to Young a proposal to construct a building for the high priests quorum in Nauvoo. Young, who by then had plans to lead the Latter Day Saints away from Nauvoo, rejected Miller's plan outright. This signalled the start of cool relations between Miller and Young which eventually led to Miller's abandonment of the organization led by Young. Although Miller left Nauvoo under Young's instructions in 1846 and came as far as Winter Quarters, Nebraska, Miller informed Young in January 1847 that he would not follow him to the Salt Lake Valley, as Young had planned. Rather, Miller accepted the leadership claims of Apostle Lyman Wight and emigrated with Wight and his followers to the Republic of Texas. Brigham Young disfellowshipped Miller from the church on 3 December 1848, but he was never formally excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
By 1849, Miller had become convinced that Lyman Wight and his "Wightite" church were apostate. He became convinced that James J. Strang was the true successor to Joseph Smith, and in 1849 he left to join Strang's followers Wisconsin. Miller arrived in Voree, Wisconsin on 4 September 1850, and shortly thereafter moved with Strang and his followers to Beaver Island, Michigan. In Beaver Island he was an active member of Strang's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. When Strang was assassinated in 1856, Miller left Beaver Island with the other departing "Strangites". Miller died in the second half of 1856 in Marengo, Illinois; he was en route to California at the time.
Miller's first wife, Mary Fry, was sealed to him in the Nauvoo Temple on 13 January 1846. Miller practiced plural marriage, and he was sealed to Elizabeth Bouton and Sophia Wallace on 25 January 1846.
Status in LDS Church: Presiding Bishop?
There is debate as to whether Miller should today be accepted as a former presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The office of presiding bishop was not established as such in the church until the tenure of Edward Hunter. Nevertheless, Edward Partridge, the first bishop of the Latter Day Saint movement, is usually regarded as the first presiding bishop of the LDS Church. On the same day that MIller was sustained as the "Second Bishop" of the church, Newel K. Whitney—who was the second ordained bishop in church history—was sustained as the "First Bishop" of the church; therefore, Whitney is usually recognized by the LDS Church as the de facto presiding bishop until his death in 1850, with Miller as a subordinate or assistant to Whitney until his break with the LDS Church in 1848.
- Doctrine and Covenants 124:20–21. In 1831, Edward Partridge and Newel K. Whitney had been ordained as the first bishops of the church. Patridge had died in 1840, and Miller's call was intended to fill this hole in the church hierarchy.
- Doctrine and Covenants 124:22–23. The others on this committee were Lyman Wight, John Snider, and Peter Haws.
- This phrase does not mean that Miller was the second-ever bishop of the church. Rather, it refers to his then-existing place in church hierarchy. On the same date, Newel K. Whitney, who was the second ordained bishop in church history, was sustained as the "First Bishop of the Church".
- Joseph Smith (B.H. Roberts ed.) (1902). History of the Church.
- Bennett, Richard E. (Spring 1989). "'A Samaritan had Passed By': George Miller—Mormon Bishop, Trailblazer, and Brigham Young Antagonist". Illinois Historical Journal 82 (1): 2–16.