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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]

trust in that spirit which leadeth to do good: yea, to do justly; to walk humbly;  to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.
7 Verily, verily I say unto you, I will impart <unto> you of my spirit, which shall enlight en your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy, and then shall you know, or  by this shall ye know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which is pertaining  unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.
8 Behold I command you, that you that you need not suppose that you are called  to preach untill you are called: wait a little longer, untill you shall receive <have> my  word, my rock, my church, and my gospel, that you may know of a surety my  doctrine; and then behold, according to your desires, yea, even according to your  faith; shall it be done unto you.
9 Keep my commandments; hold your peace; appeal unto my spirit: yea, cleave  unto me with all your heart, that you may assist in bringing to light those things of  which have been spoken: yea, the translation of my work: be patient untill you shall  accomplish it.
10 Behold this is your work, to keep my commandments: yea, with all your might, mind  and strength: seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and  then shall your tongue be loosed; then if you desire, it you shall have my Spirit, and  my word: yea the power of God, unto the convincing of men: but now hold your peace;  study my word, which hath gone forth among the children of men; and also study my word  which shall come forth among the children of men; or that which is now translating;  yea, untill you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in  this generation; and then shall all things be added thereunto.
11 Behold thou art Hyrum; my son, seek the kingdom of God, and all things shall  be added according to that which is just. Build upon my rock, which is my  gospel; deny not the spirit of revelation, nor the spirit of prophecy, for wo unto  him that denieth these things: therefore treasure up in your hearts untill the time  which is in my wisdom, that you shall go forth: behold I speak unto all who have  good desires, and have thrust in their sickles to reap.
12 Behold I am Jesus Christ, the son of God: I am the life and the light  of the world: I am the same who came unto my own, and my own received  me not: but verily, verily I say unto you, that as many as receiveth me, them  will I give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on my  name. Amen.
About the same time came an old Gentleman to visit  us, of whose name I wish to make honorable mention; Mr Joseph Knight Senr.  of Colesville, Broom County, Penn [New York]; who having heard of the manner in which  we were occupying our time, very kindly and considerately brought us, a  quantity of provisions, in order that we might not be interrupted in the work  of translation, by the want of such necessaries of life: and I would just [p. 20]
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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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