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History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834]

to speak, and the lame to walk: and the time speedily cometh that great things are to be shown forth unto the children of men: but without faith shall not any thing be shown forth except desolations upon Babylon, the same which has made all nations [drink] of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And there are none that doeth good except those who are ready to receive the fulness of my gospel which I have sent forth to this generation:
4 Wherefore I have called upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised to thresh the nations by the power of my Spirit: and their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their shield and their buckler, and I will gird up their loins and they shall fight manfully for me: and their enemies shall be under their feet: and I let fall the sword in their behalf; and by the fire of mine indignation will I preserve them. And the poor and the meek shall have the gospel preached unto them, and they shall be looking forth for the time of my coming, for it is nigh at hand; and they shall learn the parable of the fig-tree, for even now already summer is nigh, and I have sent forth the fulness of my gospel by the hand of my servant Joseph: And in weakness have I blessed him, and I have given unto him the keys

Authority or knowledge of God given to humankind. In the earliest records, the term keys primarily referred to JS’s authority to unlock the “mysteries of the kingdom.” Early revelations declared that both JS and Oliver Cowdery held the keys to bring forth...

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of the mystery of those things which have been sealed

To confirm or solemnize. In the early 1830s, revelations often adopted biblical usage of the term seal; for example, “sealed up the testimony” referred to proselytizing and testifying of the gospel as a warning of the approaching end time. JS explained in...

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, even things which were from the foundation of the world, and things which shall come from this time until the [time] of my coming, if he abide in me, and if not, another will I plant in his stead.
5. Wherefore watch over him that his faith fail not, and it shall be given by the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, that knoweth all things; and 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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I give unto thee, that thou shalt write for him; and the scriptures shall be given even as they are in mine own bosom, to the salvation of mine own elect: for they will hear my voice, and shall see me, and shall not be asleep, and shall abide the day of the day of my coming, for they shall be purified even as I am pure. And now I say unto you, tarry with him and [he] shall journey with you; forsake him not, and surely these things shall be fulfilled. And in as much as ye do not write, behold it shall be given unto him to prophesy: and thou shall preach my gospel and call on the holy prophets to prove his words, as they shall be given him.
6. Keep all the commandments and covenants by which ye are bound, and I will cause the heavens to shake for your good, and Satan shall tremble, and Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

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shall rejoice upon [p. 79]
to speak, and the lame to walk: and the time speedily  cometh that great things are to be shown forth unto the children  of men: but without faith shall not any thing be shown forth ex cept desolations upon Babylon, the same which has made all  nations [drink] of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And there  are none that doeth good except those who are ready to  receive the fulness of my gospel which I have sent forth  to this generation:
4 Wherefore I have called upon the weak things of the  world, those who are unlearned and despised to thresh the nations  by the power of my Spirit: and their arm shall be my arm, and I will  be their shield and their buckler, and I will gird up their loins and  they shall fight manfully for me: and their enemies shall be under their  feet: and I let fall the sword in their behalf; and by the fire of  mine indignation will I preserve them. And the poor and the meek  shall have the gospel preached unto them, and they shall be looking  forth for the time of my coming, for it is nigh at hand; and they  shall learn the parable of the fig-tree, for even now already summer  is nigh, and I have sent forth the fulness of my gospel by the hand of  my servant Joseph: And in weakness have I blessed him, and I have  given unto him the keys

Authority or knowledge of God given to humankind. In the earliest records, the term keys primarily referred to JS’s authority to unlock the “mysteries of the kingdom.” Early revelations declared that both JS and Oliver Cowdery held the keys to bring forth...

View Glossary
of the kingdom mystery of those things which  have been sealed

To confirm or solemnize. In the early 1830s, revelations often adopted biblical usage of the term seal; for example, “sealed up the testimony” referred to proselytizing and testifying of the gospel as a warning of the approaching end time. JS explained in...

View Glossary
, even things which were from the foundation of the  world, and things which shall come from this time until the [time] of my com ing, if he abide in me, and if not, another will I plant in his stead.
5. Wherefore watch over him that his faith fail not, and it shall be  given by the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, that knoweth all things; and 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...

View Glossary
I give unto thee, that thou shalt write for him; and  the scriptures shall be given even as they are in mine own bosom,  to the salvation of mine own elect: for they will hear my voice, and  shall see me, and shall not be asleep, and shall abide the day  of the day of my coming, for they shall be purified even as I am  pure. And now I say unto you, tarry with him and [he] shall journey  with you; forsake him not, and surely these things shall be  fulfilled. And a in as much as ye do not write, behold it shall be given  unto him to prophesy: and thou shall preach my gospel and  call on the holy prophets to prove his words, as they shall be given him.
6. Keep all the commandments and covenants by which ye  are bound, and I will cause the heavens to shake for your  good, and Satan shall tremble, and Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

View Glossary
shall rejoice upon [p. 79]
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This document, volume A-1, is the first of the six volumes of the “Manuscript History of the Church.” The collection was compiled over the span of seventeen years, 1838 to 1856. Volume A-1 encompasses the period from JS’s birth in 1805 to 30 August 1834, just after the return of the Camp of Israel (later known as Zion’s Camp) from Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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to Kirtland

Located in Newel K. Whitney store in northwest Kirtland on northeast corner of Chardon and Chillicothe roads. Whitney appointed postmaster, 29 Dec. 1826. JS and others listed “Kirtland Mills, Geauga County, Ohio” as return address for letters mailed, 1833...

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, Ohio. For a fuller discussion of the entire six-volume work, see the general introduction to the history.
In April 1838 JS renewed his effort to draft a “history” with the aid of his counselor 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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. George W. Robinson

14 May 1814–10 Feb. 1878. Clerk, postmaster, merchant, clothier, banker. Born at Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont. Baptized into LDS church and moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1836. Clerk and recorder for Kirtland high council, beginning Jan. 1836. Married...

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served as scribe. JS’s journal for late April and early May 1838 notes six days on which JS, Rigdon, and Robinson were engaged in “writing history.” Though not completed and no longer extant, that draft laid the foundation for what became a six-volume manuscript eventually published as the “History of Joseph Smith,” and at least a portion of its contents are assumed to have been included in the manuscript presented here.
On 11 June 1839 in Commerce

Located near middle of western boundary of state, bordering Mississippi River. European Americans settled area, 1820s. From bank of river, several feet above high-water mark, ground described as nearly level for six or seven blocks before gradually sloping...

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, Illinois, JS once again began dictating his “history.” James Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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now served as scribe. Apparently the narrative commenced where the earlier 1838 draft left off. When work was interrupted in July 1839, Mulholland inscribed the draft material, including at least some of Robinson

14 May 1814–10 Feb. 1878. Clerk, postmaster, merchant, clothier, banker. Born at Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont. Baptized into LDS church and moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1836. Clerk and recorder for Kirtland high council, beginning Jan. 1836. Married...

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’s earlier material, into a large record book already containing the text of an incomplete history previously produced over a span of two years, 1834–1836. For the new history, Mulholland simply turned the ledger over and began at the back of the book. The volume was later labeled A-1 on its spine, identifying it as the first of multiple volumes of the manuscript history.
Prior to his untimely death on 3 November 1839, Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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recorded the first fifty-nine pages in the volume. Subsequently, his successor, Robert B. Thompson

1 Oct. 1811–27 Aug. 1841. Clerk, editor. Born in Great Driffield, Yorkshire, England. Member of Methodist church. Immigrated to Upper Canada, 1834. Baptized into LDS church by Parley P. Pratt, May 1836, in Upper Canada. Ordained an elder by John Taylor, 22...

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, contributed about sixteen more pages before his death in August 1841. William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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then added a little over seventy-five pages. However, it was not until Willard Richards

24 June 1804–11 Mar. 1854. Teacher, lecturer, doctor, clerk, printer, editor, postmaster. Born at Hopkinton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Joseph Richards and Rhoda Howe. Moved to Richmond, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts, 1813. Moved to Chatham, Columbia...

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was appointed JS’s “private secretary and historian” that substantial progress was made on the compilation of the history. Richards would contribute the remainder of the text inscribed in the 553-page first volume. The narrative recorded in A-1 was completed in August 1843. Thomas Bullock and Charles Wandell subsequently added sixteen pages of “Addenda” material, which provided notes, extensive revisions, or additional text to be inserted in the original manuscript where indicated. For instance, several of the addenda expanded on the account of the Camp of Israel as initially recorded.
JS dictated or supplied information for much of A-1, and he personally corrected the first forty-two pages before his death. As planned, his historian-scribes maintained the first-person, chronological narrative format initially established in the volume. When various third-person accounts were drawn upon, they were generally converted to the first person, as if JS was directly relating the account. After JS’s death, Brigham Young

1 June 1801–29 Aug. 1877. Carpenter, painter, glazier, colonizer. Born at Whitingham, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of John Young and Abigail (Nabby) Howe. Brought up in Methodist household; later joined Methodist church. Moved to Sherburne, Chenango Co., New...

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, Heber C. Kimball

14 June 1801–22 June 1868. Blacksmith, potter. Born at Sheldon, Franklin Co., Vermont. Son of Solomon Farnham Kimball and Anna Spaulding. Married Vilate Murray, 22 Nov. 1822, at Mendon, Monroe Co., New York. Member of Baptist church at Mendon, 1831. Baptized...

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, George A. Smith

26 June 1817–1 Sept. 1875. Born at Potsdam, St. Lawrence Co., New York. Son of John Smith and Clarissa Lyman. Baptized into LDS church by Joseph H. Wakefield, 10 Sept. 1832, at Potsdam. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, 1833. Labored on Kirtland temple...

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, and others modified and corrected the manuscript as they reviewed material before its eventual publication.
Beginning in March 1842 the church’s Nauvoo periodical, the Times and Seasons, began publishing the narrative as the “History of Joseph Smith.” At the time of JS’s death only the history through December 1831 had been published. When the final issue of the Times and Seasons, dated 15 February 1846 appeared, the account had been carried forward through August 1834—the end of the material recorded in A-1. The “History of Joseph Smith” was also published in England in the church periodical the Millennial Star beginning in June 1842. Once a press was established in Utah and the Deseret News began publication, the “History of Joseph Smith” once more appeared in print in serialized form. Beginning with the November 1851 issue, the narrative picked up where the Times and Seasons had left off over five years earlier.
Aside from the material dictated or supplied by JS prior to his murder, the texts for A-1 and for the history’s subsequent volumes were drawn from a variety of primary and secondary sources including JS’s diaries and letters, minutes of meetings, the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, church and other periodicals, reports of JS’s discourses, and the reminiscences and recollections of church members. The narrative in A-1 provides JS’s personal account of the foundational events of his life as a prophet and the early progress of the church. It also encompasses contentions and disputations that erupted between the Latter-day Saints and their neighbors in New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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, Pennsylvania

Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...

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, 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 Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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. While it remains difficult to distinguish JS’s own contributions from composition of his historian-scribes, the narrative trenchantly captures the poignancy and intensity of his life while offering an enlightening account of the birth of the church he labored to establish.

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