26104

Revelation, 7 May 1831 [D&C 49]

51st. Commandment May 7th. 1831
A Revelation given to Sidney [Rigdon]

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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& Parley [P. Pratt]

12 Apr. 1807–13 May 1857. Farmer, editor, publisher, teacher, school administrator, legislator, explorer, author. Born at Burlington, Otsego Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Traveled west with brother William to acquire land, 1823....

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& Leman [Copley]

Ca. 1781–20 Apr./May 1862. Born in Connecticut. Son of Samuel Copley. Moved to Pittsford, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married Sally Cooley. Joined United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (Shakers). Moved to Thompson Township, Geauga Co...

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Received at Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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Geauga Ohio their mission to the Shakers & thus saith the Lord unto them as follows
Hearken unto my word my Servent Sidney

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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& Parley

12 Apr. 1807–13 May 1857. Farmer, editor, publisher, teacher, school administrator, legislator, explorer, author. Born at Burlington, Otsego Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Traveled west with brother William to acquire land, 1823....

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& Leman

Ca. 1781–20 Apr./May 1862. Born in Connecticut. Son of Samuel Copley. Moved to Pittsford, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married Sally Cooley. Joined United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (Shakers). Moved to Thompson Township, Geauga Co...

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for Behold verily I say unto you that I give unto you a commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

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that you shall go & preach my Gospel which ye have received even as ye have received it unto the Shakers. Behold I say unto you that they desire to know the truth in Part but not all for they are not right before me & must needs repent wherefore I send you my Servents sidney

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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& Parley

12 Apr. 1807–13 May 1857. Farmer, editor, publisher, teacher, school administrator, legislator, explorer, author. Born at Burlington, Otsego Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Traveled west with brother William to acquire land, 1823....

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to preach the Gospel unto them & my servent Leman

Ca. 1781–20 Apr./May 1862. Born in Connecticut. Son of Samuel Copley. Moved to Pittsford, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married Sally Cooley. Joined United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (Shakers). Moved to Thompson Township, Geauga Co...

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shall be ordained

The conferral of power and authority; to appoint, decree, or set apart. Church members, primarily adults, were ordained to ecclesiastical offices and other responsibilities by the laying on of hands by those with the proper authority. Ordinations to priesthood...

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unto this work that he may reason with them not according to that which he hath received of them but according to that which shall be taught him by you my Servents & by so doing I will bless him otherwise he shall not prosper thus saith the Lord for I am God & have sent mine only begotten Son into the world for the redemption of the world & have decreed that he that receiveth him shall be saved & he that receiveth him not shall be damned & they have done unto the Son of man even as they listed & he hath taken his power on the right hand of his glory & now reigneth in the Heavens till he decends on the Earth to put all enemies under his feet which time is nigh at hand I the Lord hath spoken it but the hour & the day no man knoweth neither the angels in Heaven nor shall they know untill he come wherefore I will that all men shall repent for all are under sin except them which I have reserved unto myself Holy men that ye know not of wherefore I say unto you that I have sent unto you mine everlasting Covenant

Generally referred to the “fulness of the gospel”—the sum total of the church’s message, geared toward establishing God’s covenant people on the earth; also used to describe individual elements of the gospel, including marriage. According to JS, the everlasting...

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even that which was [p. 80]
51st. Commandment May 7th. 1831
A Revelation given to Sidney [Rigdon]

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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& Parley [P. Pratt]

12 Apr. 1807–13 May 1857. Farmer, editor, publisher, teacher, school administrator, legislator, explorer, author. Born at Burlington, Otsego Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Traveled west with brother William to acquire land, 1823....

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& Leman [Copley]

Ca. 1781–20 Apr./May 1862. Born in Connecticut. Son of Samuel Copley. Moved to Pittsford, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married Sally Cooley. Joined United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (Shakers). Moved to Thompson Township, Geauga Co...

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 Received at Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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Geauga Ohio th[e]ir mission to the  Shakers & thus saith the Lord unto them as follows1

John Whitmer likely created this heading when he copied the text into Revelation Book 1. The heading is not found in the version from Ashbel Kitchell’s account.  


Hearken unto my word my Servent Sidney

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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& Parley

12 Apr. 1807–13 May 1857. Farmer, editor, publisher, teacher, school administrator, legislator, explorer, author. Born at Burlington, Otsego Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Traveled west with brother William to acquire land, 1823....

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& Leman

Ca. 1781–20 Apr./May 1862. Born in Connecticut. Son of Samuel Copley. Moved to Pittsford, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married Sally Cooley. Joined United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (Shakers). Moved to Thompson Township, Geauga Co...

View Full Bio
 for Behold verily I say unto you that I give unto you a comm andment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

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that you shall go & preach my Gospel which ye have  received even as ye have received it unto the Shakers. Behold  I say unto you that they desire to know the truth in Part but  not all for they are not right before me2

Instead of “not right before me,” the copy of this revelation that originated with Ashbel Kitchell has only “not right.” (“Mormon Interview,” 7 [D&C 49:2].)  


& must needs repent  wherefore I send you my Servents sidney

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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& Parley

12 Apr. 1807–13 May 1857. Farmer, editor, publisher, teacher, school administrator, legislator, explorer, author. Born at Burlington, Otsego Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Traveled west with brother William to acquire land, 1823....

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3

Rigdon and Pratt were, aside from Copley, probably the two elders most familiar with the Shakers. Rigdon had long been a proponent of communalism, and the communal “family” set up by some of his followers in Kirtland may have traded with the Shaker “families” in North Union, Ohio. Pratt grew up near the Mount Lebanon Shaker Society in New Lebanon, New York, the largest and most important Shaker community; in addition, Shaker records list several of Pratt’s extended family members among the Harvard, Massachusetts, community. (De Pillis, “Development of Mormon Communitarianism,” 56–62, 65–66.)  


to preach the  Gospel unto them & my servent Leman

Ca. 1781–20 Apr./May 1862. Born in Connecticut. Son of Samuel Copley. Moved to Pittsford, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married Sally Cooley. Joined United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (Shakers). Moved to Thompson Township, Geauga Co...

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shall be ordained

The conferral of power and authority; to appoint, decree, or set apart. Church members, primarily adults, were ordained to ecclesiastical offices and other responsibilities by the laying on of hands by those with the proper authority. Ordinations to priesthood...

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unto  this work that he may reason with them not according to that  which he hath received of them but according to that which shall  be taught them him by you my Servents & by so doing I will  bless him otherwise he shall not prosper thus saith the Lord  for I am God & have sent mine only begotten Son into the  world for the redemption of the world4

Early Shakers tended to reject Christ’s vicarious atonement and saw “the role of Christ as an example for Believers.” (Stein, Shaker Experience, 75.)  


& have decreed that he that  receiveth him shall be saved & he that receiveth him not shall  be damned & they have done unto the Son of man even as they  listed5

See Mark 9:13.  


& he hath taken his power on the right hand of his  glory & now reigneth in the Heavens <& will> till he decends on the  Earth to put all enemies under his feet6

See 1 Corinthians 15:25.  


which time is nigh  at hand I the Lord hath spoken it but the hour & the day no  man knoweth neither the angels in Heaven nor shall they know  untill he come7

See Mark 13:32; and Matthew 24:36.  


wherefore I will that all men <shall> repent for all  are under sin except them which I have reserved unto myself Holy  men that ye know not of wherefore I say unto you that I have  sent unto you mine everlasting Covenant

Generally referred to the “fulness of the gospel”—the sum total of the church’s message, geared toward establishing God’s covenant people on the earth; also used to describe individual elements of the gospel, including marriage. According to JS, the everlasting...

View Glossary
even that which was [p. 80]
Next
This revelation directed Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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, Parley P. Pratt

12 Apr. 1807–13 May 1857. Farmer, editor, publisher, teacher, school administrator, legislator, explorer, author. Born at Burlington, Otsego Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Traveled west with brother William to acquire land, 1823....

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, and Leman Copley

Ca. 1781–20 Apr./May 1862. Born in Connecticut. Son of Samuel Copley. Moved to Pittsford, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married Sally Cooley. Joined United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (Shakers). Moved to Thompson Township, Geauga Co...

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to visit a community of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (popularly called Shakers) in North Union, Ohio. Copley, a recent convert to the Church of Christ

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

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and a former Shaker himself,1

See Revelation, 4 Feb. 1831 [D&C 41]. The Copley name was associated with the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing from as early as 1803. (De Pillis, “Development of Mormon Communitarianism,” 124.)  


“was anxious that some of the elders

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

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should go to his former brethren and preach the gospel.”2

Whitmer, History, 26. Shaker elder Ashbel Kitchell also indicated that Copley had told the Mormons living in Thompson, Ohio, that the Shakers would be converted by the missionary effort. (“Mormon Interview,” 15.)  


JS’s history characterized Copley as one who was “apparently honest hearted, but still retained ideas that the Shakers were right in some particulars of their faith.” Copley’s retention of some Shaker beliefs was apparently the catalyst for discussions that prompted this revelation. JS’s history explained, “In order to have more perfect understanding on the subject, I [JS] inquired of the Lord and received the following revelation.”3

JS History, vol. A-1, 112.  


The visit mandated by this revelation was not the first contact between the two religious societies. The previous fall, Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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and his missionary companions made initial contact with the community of Shakers living in North Union.4

Shaker leader Richard McNemar left an account of Cowdery’s visit with Shakers living in another Ohio community at Union Village, near present-day Lebanon in Warren County, on his way to preach to American Indian communities west of Missouri. McNemar described Cowdery’s preaching and said that he left a copy of the Book of Mormon with one of their members. (Goodwillie, “Shaker Richard McNemar,” 138–145.)  


That interaction had unsettled the Shaker presiding elder, Ashbel Kitchell, who was uncertain what to make of the new faith. Despite his uneasiness, Kitchell reported that the Shakers “continued on friendly terms” with the Mormons “in the way of trade and other acts of good neighborship untill the spring of 1831.”5

“Mormon Interview,” 4.  


Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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and Leman Copley

Ca. 1781–20 Apr./May 1862. Born in Connecticut. Son of Samuel Copley. Moved to Pittsford, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married Sally Cooley. Joined United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (Shakers). Moved to Thompson Township, Geauga Co...

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apparently responded the revelation by immediately departing for the Shaker settlement at North Union, approximately eighteen miles from Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, Ohio. It appears Parley P. Pratt

12 Apr. 1807–13 May 1857. Farmer, editor, publisher, teacher, school administrator, legislator, explorer, author. Born at Burlington, Otsego Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Traveled west with brother William to acquire land, 1823....

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departed Kirtland the next day. The revelation is dated 7 May, a Saturday, and Kitchell recorded that the Mormon company arrived “on saturday evening.”6

“Mormon Interview,” 4.  


Mormon sources report only briefly the Shakers’ reaction to this revelation and other teachings by the missionaries. John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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, for instance, later wrote that the assigned elders

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

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“went and proclaimed according to the rev[e]lation given to them, but the shakers hearkened not to their words, and receivd not the gospel at that time.”7

Whitmer, History, 26.  


Kitchell, by contrast, recorded a detailed account of the visit. He reported that the group “tarried all night, and in the course of the evening, the doctrines of the cross and the Mormon faith were both investigated.” The next day, 8 May, Pratt arrived from Kirtland, and the Mormon delegation spoke to congregated Shakers after their morning Sabbath meeting. Rigdon reportedly declared to the congregation that “he had a message from the Lord Jesus Christ to this people” and explained to his hearers that it was a written message. When he obtained leave of the Shakers, he commenced to read aloud, apparently verbatim, this revelation. According to Kitchell, the Mormon preachers—Rigdon, Pratt, and Copley—asked permission to hear how the congregated Shakers felt about their message. Kitchell wrote that his people indicated “they were fully satisfied with what they had, and wished to have nothing to do with either them or their Christ.— On hearing this Rigdon professed to be satisfied, and put his paper by; but Parley Pratt arose and commenced shakeing his coattail; he said he shook the dust from his garments as a testimony against us, that we had rejected the word of the Lord Jesus.”8

Pratt’s actions roused Kitchell, who recorded, “Before the words were out of his mouth, I was to him, and said;— You filthy Beast, dare you presume to come in here, and try to imitate a man of God by shaking your filthy tail; confess your sins and purge your soul from your lusts, and your other abominations before you ever presume to do the like again, &c. . . . I then turned to Leman who had been crying while the message was reading, and said to him, you hypocrite, you knew better;— you knew where the living work of God was; but for the sake of indulgence, you could consent to deceive yourself & them . . . This struck him dead also, and dryed up his tears;— I then turned to the Believers and said, now we will go home and started.” (“Mormon Interview,” 13–14.)  


After this contentious exchange, Pratt departed immediately for Kirtland, while Rigdon stayed for supper before departing and Copley spent the night in North Union.9

“Mormon Interview,” 4, 6–7, 12–14.  


This encounter apparently fulfilled Pratt’s commission to preach to the Shakers because a revelation dated the following Monday assigned Pratt a different missionary companion and directed him to “go forth among the Churches & strengthen them by the word of exhortation.”10
Copley

Ca. 1781–20 Apr./May 1862. Born in Connecticut. Son of Samuel Copley. Moved to Pittsford, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married Sally Cooley. Joined United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (Shakers). Moved to Thompson Township, Geauga Co...

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returned shortly thereafter to North Union and asked to be readmitted into the Shaker society. Kitchell and Copley then went to Copley’s farm in Thompson

Located about twenty miles northeast of Kirtland, Ohio. Settled 1800. Surveyed 1809. Incorporated 1817. Population in 1830 about 700. Population in 1840 about 1,000. Latter-day Saints from Colesville, New York, were directed to settle in area on 759 acres...

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and confronted the Mormons who had recently settled there from Colesville

Area settled, beginning 1785. Formed from Windsor Township, Apr. 1821. Population in 1830 about 2,400. Villages within township included Harpursville, Nineveh, and Colesville. Susquehanna River ran through eastern portion of township. JS worked for Joseph...

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, New York, at Copley’s invitation. Copley reportedly ordered the Mormons off of his land.11

“Mormon Interview,” 15; Knight, Autobiographical Sketch, 2–3; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation, 10 June 1831 [D&C 54].  


Following the failed attempt to convert the Shakers at North Union, Mormon missionary interactions with Shakers were apparently rare.
The 1833 Book of Commandments and the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants both erroneously date this revelation to March 1831. When John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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copied it into Revelation Book 1, likely in May or June 1831, he dated it to 7 May 1831. Ashbel Kitchell copied the revelation into his pocket journal and also listed its date as 7 May 1831, so his copy likely originated from the same text that was copied into Revelation Book 1. Kitchell probably either asked to copy the revelation after Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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recited it to the congregation or obtained a copy prepared for and left with the Shakers by the missionaries. The first published version of the revelation, in The Evening and the Morning Star, listed only May 1831 as the date.12

“Revelation, Given May, 1831,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Nov. 1832, [7].  


Facts