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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]

would repent, but if they would not repent, they must suffer even as I: which suffer ing caused myself, even God, the greatest of all to tremble because of pain, and to bleed  at every pore, and to suffer both body and Spirit: and would that I might [not] drink the  bitter cup and shrink: nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished  my preparations unto the children of men: wherefore I command you again to repent  lest I humble you by my almighty power, and that you confess your sins lest you  suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even  in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit. And I  command you that you preach nought but repentance; and show not these things unto  the world untill it is wisdom in me; for they cannot bear meat now, but milk they  must receive: wherefore, they must not know these things lest they perish: learn of me,  and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace  in me: I am Jesus Christ: I came by the will of the Father, and I do his will.
3 And again: I command thee, that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. Nor  seek thy neighbor’s life. And again: I command thee, that thou shalt not covet thine  own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the book of Mormon, which contains  the truth and the word of God, which is my word to the Gentile, that soon it may go to  the jew, of whom the Lamanites are a remnant: that they may believe the gospel, and  look not for a Messiah to come who has already come.
4 And again I command thee, that thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart:  yea, before the world, as well as in secret; in public as well as in private. And thou  shalt declare glad tidings: yea, publish it upon the mountains, and upon every  high place, and among every people that thou shalt be permitted to see. And thou  shalt do it with all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers. And  of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior  and remission of sins of by baptism and by fire; yea, even the Holy Ghost.
5 Behold this is a great, and the last commandment which I shall give unto you concerning  this matter: for this shall suffice for thy daily walk even unto the end of thy life. And  misery thou shalt receive, if thou wilt slight these counsels; yea, even destruction of thyself and  property. Impart a portion of thy property; yea, even part of thy lands and all save the  support of thy family. Pay the debt thou hast contracted with the printer. Release thyself  from bondage. Leave thy house and home, except when thou shalt desire to see thy  family. And Speak freely to all; yea, preach, exhort, declare the truth, even with a  loud voice; with a sound of rejoicing, crying hosanna! hosanna! blessed be the name  of the Lord God.
6 Pray always and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your bless ing: yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of the earth, and corruptibleness  to the extent thereof. Behold, canst thou read this without rejoicing and lifting up thy heart  for gladness: or canst thou run about longer as a blind guide, or canst thou be meek and  humble and meek, and conduct thyself wisely before me; yea, come unto me thy Saviour.
Amen. [p. 36]
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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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