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

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

with a loud voice, that it is not of God; not with railing accusation,  that ye be not over come; neither with boasting, nor rejoicing, lest  you be seized therewith: he that receiveth of God, let him account  it of God, and let him rejoice that he is accounted of God worthy to re ceive; and by giving heed, and doing these things, which ye have  received, and which ye shall hereafter receive; and the kingdom is  given you of the Father, and power to over come all things, which is  not ordained of him: and behold, verily I say unto you, blessed are  you who are now hearing these words of mine from the mouth  of my servant, for your sins are forgiven you.
8. Let my servant Joseph Wakefield, in whom I am well pleased,  and my servant Parley P. Pratt, go forth among the churches, and  strengthen them by the word of exhortation; and also my servant  John Corrill, or as many of my servants as are ordained unto this  office, and let them labor in the vineyard; and let no man hin der them of doing that which I have appointed unto them: wherefore,  in this thing my servant Edward Partridge, is not justified, nev ertheless let him repent and he shall be forgiven. Behold ye are  little children, and ye can not bear all things now: ye must  grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the truth. Fear not lit tle children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and  you are of them that my Father hath given me; and none of them  that my Father hath given me shall be lost; and the Father and I  are one; I am in the Father, and the Father in me: and in as much as ye have received me, ye are in me, and I in you;—  wherefore I am in your midst, and I am the good Shepherd,  (and the stone of Israel; He that buildeth upon this Rock Shall  never fall.) And the day cometh that you shall hear my voice  and see me, and know that I am. Watch, therefore, that  ye may be ready; even so: Amen.

20 May 1831 • Friday

Not long after the foregoing was received; and the saints  from the state of New York began to come on, and it seemed  necessary to settle them, at the solicitation of Bishop [Edward] Partridge,  I inquired and received the following
Revelation, given May, 1831. <To Joseph Smith Jn>
1 Hearken unto me, saith the Lord your God, and I will speak  unto you my servant Edward Partridge, and give unto him  directions; for it for it must needs be that he receive directions  how to organize this people: for it must needs be that they [p. 116]
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.