31772

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

and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavoured in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me) I was left to all kinds of temptations, and mingling with society I frequently fell into many foolish errors and displayed the weakness of youth and the foibles of human nature which I am sorry to say led me into divers temptations offensive in the sight of God. See Note C. P. 133 In consequence of these things I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections; when on the evening of the above mentioned twenty first of september, after I had retired to my bed for the night I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me that I might know of my state and standing before him. For I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation as I had previously had one. While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in the room which continued to increase untill the room was lighter than at noonday when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside standing in the air for his feet did not touch the floor. He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen, nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedinly white and brilliant, His hands were naked and his arms also a little above the wrists. So also were his feet naked as were his legs a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe as it was open so that I could see into his bosom. Not only was his robe exceedingly white but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. When I first looked upon him I was afraid, but the fear soon left me. He called me by name and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me and that his name was Nephi.* Moroni *Evidently a clerical error; see Book Doc & Cov., Sec 50, par 2; Sec 106, par 20; also Elder’s Journal Vol. 1, page 43. Should read Moroni. That God had a work for me to do, and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations kindreds and tongues. or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people. He said there was a book deposited written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fullness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it as delivered by the Saviour to the ancient inhabitants. Also that there were two stones in silver bows and these ( stones fastened to a breast plate) constituted what is called the Urim & Thummin

A term applied to a device used to translate and receive revelation. In the Old Testament, priests were to use such a device to discern God’s will for Israel. The Book of Mormon gives an account of an ancient prophet, Mosiah, who translated records into his...

View Glossary
deposited with the plates, and the possession and use of these stones was what constituted seers

The Book of Mormon identified a seer as a “revelator, and a prophet also,” specifying, however, that a seer was “greater than a prophet.” A seer could “know of things which has past, and also of things which is to come.” The work of a seer included translation...

View Glossary
in ancient or former times and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating

To produce a new text through a revelatory, rather than scholarly, process, by the “gift and power of God.” In the Book of Mormon, the ancient prophet Mosiah translated records into his own language using “interpreters,” or “two stones which was fastened ...

View Glossary
the book. After telling me these things he commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old testament, he first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as reads in our books he quoted it thus, “For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud yea and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble, for the day that cometh shall burn them saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” And again he quoted the fifth verse thus, “Behold I will reveal unto you the Priesthood

Power or authority of God. The priesthood was conferred through the laying on of hands upon adult male members of the church in good standing; no specialized training was required. Priesthood officers held responsibility for administering the sacrament of...

View Glossary
by the hand of Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” He also quoted the next verse differently, [p. 5]
and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavoured in a proper and affectionate  manner to have reclaimed me) I was left to all kinds of temptations, and mingling <with> all kinds  of society I frequently <fell> into many foolish errors and displayed the weakness of youth and  the corruption <foibles> of human nature which I am sorry to say led me into divers temptations  to the gratification of many appetites offensive in the sight of God. <See Note C. P. 133> In consequence of  these things I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections; when on the evening  of the above mentioned twenty first of september, after I had retired to my bed for the night  I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my  sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me that I might know of my state and standing  before him. For I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation as I had previously  had one. While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in  the room which continued to increase untill the room was lighter than at noonday and <when>  immediately a personage <appeared> at my bedside standing in the air for his feet did not touch the  floor. He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond any<thing>  earthly I had ever seen, nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear  so exceedinly white and brilliant, His hands were naked and his arms also a little above the  wrist<s>. So also were his feet naked as were his legs a little above the ankles. His head and neck  were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe as it was open  so that I could see into his bosom. Not only was his robe exceedingly white but his  whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning.  The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person.  When I first looked upon him I was afraid, but the fear soon left me. He called me by  name and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me  and that his name was Nephi.<* Moroni> <*Evidently a clerical error; see Book Doc & Cov., Sec 50, par 2; Sec 106, par 20; also Elder’s Journal Vol. 1, page 43. Should read Moroni.> That God had a work for me to do, and that my <name> should  be had for good and evil among all nations kindreds and tongues. or that it should be both  good and evil spoken of among all people. He said there was a book deposited written upon  gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent and the source  from whence they sprang. He also said that the fullness of the everlasting Gospel was con tained in it as delivered by the Saviour to the ancient inhabitants. Also that there were  two stones in silver bows and these (put into <stones fastened to> a breast plate) which constituted what is  called the Urim & Thummin

A term applied to a device used to translate and receive revelation. In the Old Testament, priests were to use such a device to discern God’s will for Israel. The Book of Mormon gives an account of an ancient prophet, Mosiah, who translated records into his...

View Glossary
deposited with the plates, and <the possession and use of these stones> that was what constituted  seers

The Book of Mormon identified a seer as a “revelator, and a prophet also,” specifying, however, that a seer was “greater than a prophet.” A seer could “know of things which has past, and also of things which is to come.” The work of a seer included translation...

View Glossary
in ancient or former times and that God <had> prepared them for the purpose of translating

To produce a new text through a revelatory, rather than scholarly, process, by the “gift and power of God.” In the Book of Mormon, the ancient prophet Mosiah translated records into his own language using “interpreters,” or “two stones which was fastened ...

View Glossary
 the book. After telling me these things he commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old testa ment, he first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi and he quoted also the fourth  or last chapter of the same prophecy though with a little variation from the way it reads  in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as reads in our books he quoted it thus, “For  behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud <yea> and all that do wick edly shall burn as stubble, for <they day> that cometh shall burn them saith the Lord of hosts, that it  shall leave them neither root nor branch.” And again he quoted the fifth verse thus, “Behold  I will reveal unto you the Priesthood

Power or authority of God. The priesthood was conferred through the laying on of hands upon adult male members of the church in good standing; no specialized training was required. Priesthood officers held responsibility for administering the sacrament of...

View Glossary
by the hand of Elijah the prophet before the coming  of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” He also quoted the next verse differently, [p. 5]
PreviousNext
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

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

More Info
to Kirtland

Located in Newel K. Whitney store in northwest Kirtland on northeast corner of Chardon and Chillicothe roads. Whitney appointed postmaster, 29 Dec. 1826. JS and others listed “Kirtland Mills, Geauga County, Ohio” as return address for letters mailed, 1833...

More Info
, 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

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

View Full Bio
. George W. Robinson

14 May 1814–10 Feb. 1878. Clerk, postmaster, merchant, clothier, banker. Born at Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont. Baptized into LDS church and moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1836. Clerk and recorder for Kirtland high council, beginning Jan. 1836. Married...

View Full Bio
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

Located near middle of western boundary of state, bordering Mississippi River. European Americans settled area, 1820s. From bank of river, several feet above high-water mark, ground described as nearly level for six or seven blocks before gradually sloping...

More Info
, Illinois, JS once again began dictating his “history.” James Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

View Full Bio
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

14 May 1814–10 Feb. 1878. Clerk, postmaster, merchant, clothier, banker. Born at Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont. Baptized into LDS church and moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1836. Clerk and recorder for Kirtland high council, beginning Jan. 1836. Married...

View Full Bio
’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

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

View Full Bio
recorded the first fifty-nine pages in the volume. Subsequently, his successor, Robert B. Thompson

1 Oct. 1811–27 Aug. 1841. Clerk, editor. Born in Great Driffield, Yorkshire, England. Member of Methodist church. Immigrated to Upper Canada, 1834. Baptized into LDS church by Parley P. Pratt, May 1836, in Upper Canada. Ordained an elder by John Taylor, 22...

View Full Bio
, contributed about sixteen more pages before his death in August 1841. William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

View Full Bio
then added a little over seventy-five pages. However, it was not until Willard Richards

24 June 1804–11 Mar. 1854. Teacher, lecturer, doctor, clerk, printer, editor, postmaster. Born at Hopkinton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Joseph Richards and Rhoda Howe. Moved to Richmond, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts, 1813. Moved to Chatham, Columbia...

View Full Bio
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

1 June 1801–29 Aug. 1877. Carpenter, painter, glazier, colonizer. Born at Whitingham, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of John Young and Abigail (Nabby) Howe. Brought up in Methodist household; later joined Methodist church. Moved to Sherburne, Chenango Co., New...

View Full Bio
, Heber C. Kimball

14 June 1801–22 June 1868. Blacksmith, potter. Born at Sheldon, Franklin Co., Vermont. Son of Solomon Farnham Kimball and Anna Spaulding. Married Vilate Murray, 22 Nov. 1822, at Mendon, Monroe Co., New York. Member of Baptist church at Mendon, 1831. Baptized...

View Full Bio
, George A. Smith

26 June 1817–1 Sept. 1875. Born at Potsdam, St. Lawrence Co., New York. Son of John Smith and Clarissa Lyman. Baptized into LDS church by Joseph H. Wakefield, 10 Sept. 1832, at Potsdam. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, 1833. Labored on Kirtland temple...

View Full Bio
, 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

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

More Info
, Pennsylvania

Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...

More Info
, Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

More Info
, and Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

More Info
. 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.

Facts