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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]

dom in me: wherefore marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit  of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you, to reveal  the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of the my everlasting gospel; to whom  I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim; and also with Elias,  to whom I have committed the keys of bringing to pass the restoration of all things,  or the restorer of all things spoken by the mouth of <all> the holy prophets since the world  began, concerning the last days: and also John the son of Zach arias, which Zacharias he (Elias) visited and gave promise that he should have a son, and his  name should be John, and he should be filled with the spirit of Elias; which John  I have sent unto you my servants, Joseph Smith Jr, and Oliver Cowdery, to ordain  you unto this first Priesthood which you have received, that you might be called  and ordained even as Aaron: And also Elijah, unto whom I have committed  the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the  hearts of the children to the fathers, that the whole earth may not be smitten with  a curse: and also, with Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, your  fathers; by whom the promises remain: and also with Michael, or Adam,  the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days:
3 And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by  whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles and especial witnesses  of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry: and of the same things which  I revealed unto them: unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom,  and a dispensation of the gospel for the last days times; and for the fulness of  times, in which I will gather together in one all things, both which are in Heaven  and which are on earth: and also with all those whom my father hath given  me out of the world: wherefore lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up  your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that you may be able to with stand the evil day, having done all ye may be able to stand. Stand therefore,  having your loins girt about with truth; having on the breast plate of righteousness;  and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace which I have sent  mine angels to commit unto you, taking the shield of faith wherewith ye  shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked, and take the helmet of  salvation, and the sword of my spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and  my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever  ye ask of me, and be faithful untill I come, and ye shall be caught up that  where I am ye shall be also. Amen.
In obedience to the above commandment we prepared some  wine of our own make, and held our meeting, consisting only of five viz: Newel  Knight and wife, myself and my wife, and John Whitmer. We partook together  of the sacrament, after which we confirmed these two sisters into the church, and  spent the evening in a glorious manner. The Spirit of the Lord was poured out [p. 52]
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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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