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

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

they may not know your works until ye have accomplished  the thing which I have commanded you; that when they shall  know it, that they may consider these things, for when the Lord  shall appear he shall be terrible unto then, that fear may seize  upon them, and they shall stand afar off and tremble; and all  nations shall be afraid because of the terror of the Lord, and  power of his might; even so; Amen.

8 March 1831 • Tuesday

The next day after the above was received, I also receiv ed the following revelation relative to the gifts of the Holy  Ghost.
Given at Kirtland, March 8, 1831. <To Joseph Smith Jn—>
1. Hearken, O ye people of my church, for verily I say unto you,  that these things were spoken even unto you for your profit and lear ning; but notwithstanding those things which are written, it al ways has been given to the elders of my church, from the beginning,  and ever shall be, to conduct all meetings as they are directed  and guided by the Holy spirit Spirit: nevertheless ye are commanded  never to cast any one out from your public meetings, which  are held before the world; ye are also commanded not to cast  any one, who belongeth to the church, out of your sacrament  meetings: nevertheless, if any have trespassed, let him not par take until he makes reconciliation.
2. And again, I say unto you, ye shall not cast any one out of  your sacrament meetings, who is earnestly seeking the king dom: I speak this concerning those who are not of the church.
3. And again I say unto you, concerning your confirmation meetings, that if there be any that is not of the church, that is  earnestly seeking after the kingdom, ye shall not cast them  out, but ye are commanded in all things to ask God, who  giveth liberally; and that which the spirit testifies unto you, even  so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking  uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation,  doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be  seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the com mandments of men, for some are of men, and others of  devils.
4. Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived! and that ye may  not be deceived, seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always re membering for what they were given; for verily I say unto you,  they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep [p. 109]
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 to Kirtland, 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. George W. Robinson 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, Illinois, JS once again began dictating his “history.” James Mulholland 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’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 recorded the first fifty-nine pages in the volume. Subsequently, his successor, Robert B. Thompson, contributed about sixteen more pages before his death in August 1841. William W. Phelps then added a little over seventy-five pages. However, it was not until Willard Richards 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, Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, 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, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Missouri. 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.