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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]

be done in order and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.
5 And thou shalt assist to settle all these things, according to the covenants of  the church before thou shalt take thy journey among the Lamanites. And it  shall be given thee from the time that thou shalt go, untill the time that thou shalt  return, what thou shalt do. And thou must open thy mouth at all times, decla ring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing. Amen.
Revelation given in the presence of six elders, in Fayette, N,Y. September 1830.
Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, the Great I, AM, whose  arm of mercy hath atoned for your sins; who will gather his people even as a hen  gathereth her chickens under her wings, even as many as will hearken to my  voice, and humble themselves before me, and call upon me in mighty prayer.  Behold, verily, verily I say unto you, that at this time your sins are forgiven you,  therefore you receive these things: but remember to sin no more, lest perils  shall come upon you.
2 Verily I say unto you, that you are chosen out of the world to declare my  gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump: lift up your  hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the  father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom; and as it is written,  Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my  command, ye shall receive; and ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of  mine elect, for mine elect hear my voice, and harden not their hearts: where fore the decree hath gone forth from the Father, that they shall be gathered in  unto one place, upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts, and be prepared  in all things, against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth  upon the wicked: for the hour is nigh, and the day soon at hand, when the  earth is ripe: and all the proud, and all <they> that do wickedly, shall be as stubble, and  I will burn them up, saith the lord of hosts, that wickedness shall not be upon the  earth: for the hour is nigh, and that which was spoken by my hol mine apostles  must be fulfilled; for as they spoke so shall it come to pass; for I will reveal myself  from heaven with power, and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell  in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall  not stand.
3 And again, verily, verily I say unto you, and it hath gone forth in a  firm decree, by the will of the Father, that mine apostles, the twelve which  were with me in my ministry at Jerusalem, shall stand at my right hand  at the day of my coming in a pillar of fire, being clothed with robes of righteous ness, with crowns upon their heads, in glory even as I am, to judge the whole  house of Israel, even as many as have loved me and kept my commandments, [p. 55]
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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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