26081

Covenant of Oliver Cowdery and Others, 17 October 1830

Manchester

Settled 1793. Formed as Burt Township when divided from Farmington Township, 31 Mar. 1821. Name changed to Manchester, 16 Apr. 1822. Included village of Manchester. Population in 1825 about 2,700. Population in 1830 about 2,800. JS reported first vision of...

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, Oct. 17, 1830.
I, 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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, being commanded of the Lord God, to go forth unto the Lamanites

A term used in the Book of Mormon to refer to the descendants or followers of Laman, as well as those who later identified themselves as Lamanites because they did not believe in the religious traditions of their ancestors. According to JS and the Book of...

View Glossary
, to proclaim glad tidings of great joy unto them, by presenting unto them the fulness of the Gospel,1

The recently adopted “Articles and Covenants” of the church declared that the Book of Mormon contained “the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:9].)  


of the only begotten son of God; and also, to rear up a pillar as a witness where the Temple of God shall be built, in the glorious New-Jerusalem

The Book of Mormon indicated that, in preparation for Jesus Christ’s second coming, a city should be built on the American continent and called the New Jerusalem. The Book of Mormon further explained that the remnant of the seed of Joseph (understood to be...

View Glossary
;2

An Ohio correspondent for the Palmyra Reflector claimed that upon the missionaries’ arrival in the West, “Indians followed Cowdery daily, and finally saw him enter the promised land, where he placed a pole in the ground, with a light on its top, to designate the site of the New Jerusalem.” It is uncertain how the reporter would have obtained this knowledge, and none of the participants related such an event. (“Book of Mormon,” Reflector [Palmyra, NY], 14 Feb. 1831, 102, italics in original.)  


and having certain brothers with me, who are called of God to assist me, whose names are 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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, Peter Whitmer Jr.

27 Sept. 1809–22 Sept. 1836. Tailor. Born at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, in Seneca Lake, Seneca Co. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Among six...

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and Ziba Peterson

Ca. 1810–1849. Teacher, farmer, law officer. Born in New York. Lived in Macedon, Wayne Co., New York, ca. 1830. Baptized into LDS church. Ordained an elder, by 9 June 1830. Served mission to Ohio and Missouri, 1830–1831. Stripped of office of elder, Aug. ...

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, do therefore most solemnly covenant before God, that I will walk humbly before him, and do this business, and this glorious work according as he shall direct me by the Holy Ghost; ever praying for mine and their prosperity, and deliverance from bonds, and from imprisonments,3

See Hebrews 11:36.  


and whatsoever may befal us, with all patience and faith.— Amen.
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...

View Full Bio
.
We, the undersigned, being called and commanded of the Lord God, to accompany our Brother 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...

View Full Bio
, to go to the Lamanites, and to assist in the above mentioned glorious work and business. We do, therefore, most solemnly covenant before God, that we will assist him faithfully in this thing, by giving heed unto all his words and advice, which is, or shall be given him by the spirit of truth, ever praying with all prayer and supplication, for our and his prosperity, and our deliverance4

This language echoes the revelation commanding Peter Whitmer Jr. to accompany Cowdery on the Lamanite mission. (See Revelation, Sept. 1830–D [D&C 30:5–6].)  


from bonds, and imprisonments, and whatsoever may come upon us, with all patience and faith.—Amen.
Signed in presence of
JOSEPH SMITH, Jun.
DAVID WHITMER

7 Jan. 1805–25 Jan. 1888. Farmer, livery keeper. Born near Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Raised Presbyterian. Moved to Ontario Co., New York, shortly after birth. Attended German Reformed Church. Arranged...

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,5

The first two signatories, JS and David Whitmer, were apparently witnesses to the two covenants. Although the newspaper listed their signatures together with those of the other three, who signed the covenant as additional missionaries to the Lamanites, the separation between the two groups was probably clear in the original document.  


P. 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....

View Full Bio
,
ZIBA PETERSON

Ca. 1810–1849. Teacher, farmer, law officer. Born in New York. Lived in Macedon, Wayne Co., New York, ca. 1830. Baptized into LDS church. Ordained an elder, by 9 June 1830. Served mission to Ohio and Missouri, 1830–1831. Stripped of office of elder, Aug. ...

View Full Bio
,
PETER WHITMER Jr

27 Sept. 1809–22 Sept. 1836. Tailor. Born at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, in Seneca Lake, Seneca Co. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Among six...

View Full Bio
. [p. [1]]
Manchester

Settled 1793. Formed as Burt Township when divided from Farmington Township, 31 Mar. 1821. Name changed to Manchester, 16 Apr. 1822. Included village of Manchester. Population in 1825 about 2,700. Population in 1830 about 2,800. JS reported first vision of...

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, Oct. 17, 1830.
I, 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...

View Full Bio
, being commanded of the Lord God, to go  forth unto the Lamanites

A term used in the Book of Mormon to refer to the descendants or followers of Laman, as well as those who later identified themselves as Lamanites because they did not believe in the religious traditions of their ancestors. According to JS and the Book of...

View Glossary
, to proclaim glad tidings of  great joy unto them, by presenting unto them the ful ness of the Gospel,1

The recently adopted “Articles and Covenants” of the church declared that the Book of Mormon contained “the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:9].)  


of the only begotten son of God;  and also, to rear up a pillar as a witness where the  Temple of God shall be built, in the glorious New-Je rusalem

The Book of Mormon indicated that, in preparation for Jesus Christ’s second coming, a city should be built on the American continent and called the New Jerusalem. The Book of Mormon further explained that the remnant of the seed of Joseph (understood to be...

View Glossary
;2

An Ohio correspondent for the Palmyra Reflector claimed that upon the missionaries’ arrival in the West, “Indians followed Cowdery daily, and finally saw him enter the promised land, where he placed a pole in the ground, with a light on its top, to designate the site of the New Jerusalem.” It is uncertain how the reporter would have obtained this knowledge, and none of the participants related such an event. (“Book of Mormon,” Reflector [Palmyra, NY], 14 Feb. 1831, 102, italics in original.)  


and having certain brothers with me, who  are called of God to assist me, whose names are Par ley [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....

View Full Bio
, Peter [Whitmer Jr.]

27 Sept. 1809–22 Sept. 1836. Tailor. Born at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, in Seneca Lake, Seneca Co. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Among six...

View Full Bio
and Ziba [Peterson]

Ca. 1810–1849. Teacher, farmer, law officer. Born in New York. Lived in Macedon, Wayne Co., New York, ca. 1830. Baptized into LDS church. Ordained an elder, by 9 June 1830. Served mission to Ohio and Missouri, 1830–1831. Stripped of office of elder, Aug. ...

View Full Bio
, do therefore most solemnly cov enant before God, that I will walk humbly before  him, and do this business, and this glorious work ac cording as he shall direct me by the Holy Ghost; ev er praying for mine and their prosperity, and deliver ance from bonds, and from imprisonments,3

See Hebrews 11:36.  


and what soever may befal us, with all patience and faith.—  Amen.
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...

View Full Bio
.
We, the undersigned, being called and commanded  of the Lord God, to accompany our Brother 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...

View Full Bio
, to go to the Lamanites, and to assist in the  above mentioned glorious work and business. We  do, therefore, most solemnly covenant before God, that  we will assist him faithfully in this thing, by giving  heed unto all his words and advice, which is, or shall  be given him by the spirit of truth, ever praying with  all prayer and supplication, for our and his prosperi ty, and our deliverance4

This language echoes the revelation commanding Peter Whitmer Jr. to accompany Cowdery on the Lamanite mission. (See Revelation, Sept. 1830–D [D&C 30:5–6].)  


from bonds, and imprison ments, and whatsoever may come upon us, with all  patience and faith.—Amen.
Signed in presence of
JOSEPH SMITH, Jun.
DAVID WHITMER

7 Jan. 1805–25 Jan. 1888. Farmer, livery keeper. Born near Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Raised Presbyterian. Moved to Ontario Co., New York, shortly after birth. Attended German Reformed Church. Arranged...

View Full Bio
,5

The first two signatories, JS and David Whitmer, were apparently witnesses to the two covenants. Although the newspaper listed their signatures together with those of the other three, who signed the covenant as additional missionaries to the Lamanites, the separation between the two groups was probably clear in the original document.  


P. 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....

View Full Bio
,
ZIBA PETERSON

Ca. 1810–1849. Teacher, farmer, law officer. Born in New York. Lived in Macedon, Wayne Co., New York, ca. 1830. Baptized into LDS church. Ordained an elder, by 9 June 1830. Served mission to Ohio and Missouri, 1830–1831. Stripped of office of elder, Aug. ...

View Full Bio
,
PETER WHITMER [Jr]

27 Sept. 1809–22 Sept. 1836. Tailor. Born at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, in Seneca Lake, Seneca Co. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Among six...

View Full Bio
. [p. [1]]
In September and October 1830, a series of revelations directed 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...

View Full Bio
, Peter Whitmer Jr.

27 Sept. 1809–22 Sept. 1836. Tailor. Born at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, in Seneca Lake, Seneca Co. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Among six...

View Full Bio
, 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....

View Full Bio
, and Ziba Peterson

Ca. 1810–1849. Teacher, farmer, law officer. Born in New York. Lived in Macedon, Wayne Co., New York, ca. 1830. Baptized into LDS church. Ordained an elder, by 9 June 1830. Served mission to Ohio and Missouri, 1830–1831. Stripped of office of elder, Aug. ...

View Full Bio
to serve a mission “among the Lamanites

A term used in the Book of Mormon to refer to the descendants or followers of Laman, as well as those who later identified themselves as Lamanites because they did not believe in the religious traditions of their ancestors. According to JS and the Book of...

View Glossary
”—understood by them to be the American Indians.1

Revelation, Sept. 1830–B [D&C 28:8–10, 14]; Revelation, Sept. 1830–D [D&C 30:5–6]; Revelation, Oct. 1830–A [D&C 32:1–3].  


In the following signed statement, Cowdery committed himself to follow the 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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he had received, and Whitmer, Pratt, and Peterson promised to assist Cowdery. This is the earliest extant document following the establishment of 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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in which individuals covenanted in writing to obey commandments of God.2

Lucy Mack Smith described a similar type of document created in 1828 when Martin Harris took what JS later called the “Book of Lehi” to show his wife. Smith explained that Harris “bound himself in a written covenant of the most solemn nature, that he would strictly comply with the injunctions which he had received.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 127.)  


The original revelation calling 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...

View Full Bio
to preach among the Indians stated that the site of the prophesied gathering was “not Revealed & no man knoweth where the City shall be built,” but that it would be “among the Lamanites” and that the specific location would be “given hereafter.”3 The signed covenant

A binding agreement between two parties, particularly between God and man. The term covenant was often associated with “commandments,” referring to revelation texts. The gospel as preached by JS—including the need for faith, repentance, baptism, and reception...

View Glossary
indicates that Cowdery, Whitmer

27 Sept. 1809–22 Sept. 1836. Tailor. Born at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, in Seneca Lake, Seneca Co. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Among six...

View Full Bio
, 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....

View Full Bio
, and Peterson

Ca. 1810–1849. Teacher, farmer, law officer. Born in New York. Lived in Macedon, Wayne Co., New York, ca. 1830. Baptized into LDS church. Ordained an elder, by 9 June 1830. Served mission to Ohio and Missouri, 1830–1831. Stripped of office of elder, Aug. ...

View Full Bio
were to not only preach the gospel among the Lamanites but also “rear up a pillar as a witness where the Temple of God shall be built” in the New Jerusalem

The Book of Mormon indicated that, in preparation for Jesus Christ’s second coming, a city should be built on the American continent and called the New Jerusalem. The Book of Mormon further explained that the remnant of the seed of Joseph (understood to be...

View Glossary
. Jesus Christ explained in the Book of Mormon that the New Jerusalem was to be a city for “my people that they may be gathered in, which are scattered upon all the face of the land.”4

Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 501 [3 Nephi 21:23–24].  


The Book of Mormon also prophesied that the New Jerusalem “should be built up upon this land,” referring to the Americas.5

Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 566 [Ether 13:6].  


Although revelations in September 1830 referred to the place of gathering,6

See Revelation, Sept. 1830–A [D&C 29:7–8]; and Revelation, Sept. 1830–B [D&C 28:9].  


this document contains the first recorded use of the term New Jerusalem following the establishment of the church. Cowdery and his companions reportedly preached to others about the founding of the New Jerusalem during their travels through Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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and taught that those who believed and were baptized

An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of...

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would need to “stand in readiness to go to some unknown region where God will provide a place of refuge for his people.”7

“The Book of Mormon,” Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 7 Dec. 1830, [3]. The Palmyra, New York, Reflector reported that Cowdery and his companions “had been directed to locate the site for the New Jerusalem, which they should know, the moment they should ‘step their feet’ upon it.” (“Book of Mormon,” Reflector [Palmyra, NY], 14 Feb. 1831, 102, italics in original.)  


The text featured here was included in a letter from Ezra Booth

14 Feb. 1792–before 12 Jan. 1873. Farmer, minister. Born in Newtown, Fairfield Co., Connecticut. Admitted on trial to Methodist ministry, 4 Sept. 1816, and stationed in the Ohio District in Beaver, Pike Co. Admitted into full connection and elected a deacon...

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to Ira Eddy. Eddy and Booth were two of the earliest Methodist preachers in Geauga

Located in northeastern Ohio, south of Lake Erie. Rivers in area include Grand, Chagrin, and Cuyahoga. Settled mostly by New Englanders, beginning 1798. Formed from Trumbull Co., 1 Mar. 1806. Chardon established as county seat, 1808. Population in 1830 about...

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and Portage

Located in northeastern Ohio. Settled by 1799. Established June 1807. Bordered by Geauga Co. on north. Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal ran through county; completed 1825. Population in 1830 about 19,000. Population in 1840 about 23,000. Included Portage and Hiram...

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counties in Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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.8

History of Portage County, Ohio, 533; Pioneer and General History of Geauga County, Ohio, 295. The relationship between the two was close enough that in 1829 Eddy named his newborn son Ezra Booth Eddy. (Eddy, Eddy Family in America, 408–409.)  


Booth embraced JS’s message in May 1831, but he became disillusioned and left the church a few months later.9

Hayden, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, 250–252. Booth’s disaffection from the Church of Christ followed a disappointing journey he made to Missouri shortly after his conversion, “for the purpose of exploring the promised land—laying the foundation of the City of Zion, and placing the corner-stone of the Temple of God.” He later wrote, “On our arrival in the western part of the State of Missouri, the place of our destination, we discovered that prophecy and visions had failed, or rather had proved to be false.” Booth further explained to Eddy, “A journey of 1000 miles to the west, has taught me far more abundantly, than I should probably have learned from any other source. It has taught me quite beyond my former knowledge, the imbecility of human nature, and especially my own weakness. It has unfolded in its proper character, a delusion to which I had fallen a victim, and taught me the humiliating truth—that I was exerting the powers both of my mind and body, and sacrificing my time and property to build up a system of delusion, almost unparalleled in the annals of the world.” (Ezra Booth, Nelson, OH, to Ira Eddy, 12 Sept. 1831, in Ohio Star [Ravenna], 13 Oct. 1831, [3], italics in original.)  


Soon after, he began writing his grievances, accompanied by this and other documents, in a series of letters to Eddy that were later printed in the Ravenna newspaper, the Ohio Star. The text of the covenant appeared in the 8 December 1831 edition of the Star, accompanying the eighth letter, and was later published in the 20 December 1831 issue of the Painesville Telegraph.10

Ezra Booth, “Mormonism No. VIII,” Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 20 Dec. 1831, [2]–[3].  


Even though Booth published this document in an effort to discredit the church, the fact that he accurately quoted other Mormon documents gives this text credibility as a legitimate copy of a nonextant document.11

As published in the Ohio Star, Booth’s letter paired the missionary covenant with an accurate copy of the September 1830 revelation that called Cowdery on the mission to the Lamanites. Booth also accurately referenced portions of other revelations, such as Revelation, July 1830–C [D&C 25], and Revelation, 1 August 1831 [D&C 58]. (Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. II,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 20 Oct. 1831, [3]; Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. V,” Ohio Star, 10 Nov. 1831, [3].)  


Facts