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

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

the Lord was angry with him who was my servant Ezra Booth: and  also, my servant Isaac Morley: for they kept not the law, neither the  commandment: they sought evil in their hearts, and I the Lord with held my spirit. They condemned for evil, that thing in which there  was no evil; nevertheless, I have forgiven my servant Isaac Morley.  And also my servant Edward Partridge, behold he hath sinned, and  Satan seeketh to destroy his soul: but when these things are made  known unto him them and they repent of evil the evil, they shall be  forgiven.
4 And now verily I say, that it is expedient in me that my servant  Sidney Gilbert, after a few weeks, should return upon his business, and  to his agency in the land of Zion: and that which he hath seen and  heard, may be made known unto my disciples, that they perish not.  And for this this cause have I spoken these things. And again, I  say unto you that my servant Isaac Morley may not be tempted  above that which he is able to bear, and counsel wrongfully to your hurt,  I gave commandment that this farm should be sold. I willeth not that  my [servant] Frederick G. Williams should sell his farm, for I the Lord willeth to  retain a strong hold in the land of Kirtland, for the space of five  years, in the which I will not overthrow the wicked, that thereby  I may save some; and after that day, I the Lord will not hold  any guilty, that shall go, with an open heart, up to the land of Zion; for  I the Lord requireth the hearts of the children of men.
5 Behold now it is called to day, (until the coming of the Son of man,)  and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of  my people; for he that is tithed shall not be (at his coming) for after  to day cometh the burning: this is speaking after the manner of the Lord;  for verily I say, to morrow all the proud and they that do wickedly  shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lords of hosts,  and I will not spare any that remaineth in Ba[b]ylon. Wherefore, if ye be lieve me, ye will labor while it is called to day. And it is not meet that  my servants, Newel K. Whitney and Sidney Gilbert should sell their store,  and their possessions here, for this is not wisdom until the residue of  the church, which remaineth in this place, shall go up unto the land of  Zion.
6 Behold, it is said in my laws, or forbidden to get in debt to thine en emies; but behold it is not said at any time, that the Lord should not  take when he please, and pay as seemeth him good: wherefore as ye  are agents, and ye are on the Lord's errand: and whatever ye do [p. 152]
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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 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.

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