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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]

he was ordained <an> elder. As will be seen by the foregoing revela tions, he went up to Missouri as a companion of Elder [Isaac] Morley;  but when he actually learned that faith, humility, patience and  tribulation, were before blessing; and that God brought low  before <he> exalted; that instead of “the Savior’s granting him power  to smite men and make them believe”, (as he said he wanted God  to do him,) he found he must become all things to all men, that  he might peradventure save some, and that too, by all dil igence, by perils by sea and land. As was the case in the  days of Jesus, which appears in the 6th chapter of St. John’s gospel,  he said, verily, verily I say unto you, ye seek me, not because  ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and  were filled; so was it <with> Booth, and when he was disappointed by  his own evil heart, he turned away, and as said before  became an apostate, and wrote a series of Letters which  by their coloring, falsity, and vain calculations to overthrow  the work of the Lord, exposed his weakness, wickedness and  folly, and left him a monument of his own for shame for the  world to wonder at.
A conference was held in which brother W[illiam] W. Phelps was instruc ted to stop at Cincinnati, on his way to Missouri, and purchase  a press and types, for the purpose of establishing and publishing  a monthly paper at Independence, Jackson county, Missouri,  to be called “The Evening and Morning Star.” The first Sunday  in October Orson Hyde, a clerk in Brothers Sidney Gilbert and  Newel K. Whitney’s store, <in Kirtland,> was baptised, and became a member  of the church. As he was soon after designated as one of the  chosen men of the Lord to bear his word to the nations, I feel a  desire to notice him as he was and as he is. He was <in his own words> left in  his infancy an orphan, with none to look upon him with a  father’s eye, and feel for him with a mother’s heart. The hand  that wiped my his infant tears was still; the breasts that gave  his him suck, was cold, and slumbered in the arms of death. He  was thrust abroad upon the cold and friendless bosom of an  unfeeling world, so that for twenty long years, he saw no one  in whose veins flowed a drop of kindred blood, and conse quently grew up as a wild and uncultivated plant of nature,  and now had come into the new and everlasting cov enant to be renewed and receive grace for grace, [p. 154]
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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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