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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]

number, one of their converts, Dr Frederic[k] G. Williams, bid  an affectionate farewell, and went on their way rejoicing.
The Lord, who is ever ready to instruct such as diligently  seek in faith, gave the following revelation at Fayette New York.
<Octo.  1830 Reve lation  to  N Sweet  and  E Thayr>A revelation to Ezra Thayre [Thayer] and Northrop Sweet given October, 1830
1. Behold I say unto you, my servants Ezra and Northrop, open  ye your ears and hearken to the voice of the Lord your God  whose word is quick and powerful, sharper than a two edg ed sword, to the dividing asunder of the joints and marro  soul and spirit; and is a discerner of the thoughts and  intents of the heart. For verily, verily I say unto you,  that ye are called to lift up your voices as with the sound  of a trump, to declare my gospel unto a crooked and perverse  generation: for behold the field is white already to harvest; and  it is the eleventh hour, and for the last time that I shall call  laborers into my vineyard. And my vineyard has become cor rupted every whit; and there is none which doeth good save  it be a few; and they err in many instances, because of  priestcrafts, all having corrupt minds.
2. And verily, verily I say unto you, that this church have I estab lished and called forth out of the wilderness: and even so will  I gather mine elect from the four winds quarters of the earth,  even as many as will believe in me, and hearken unto my  voice; yea, verily, verily I say unto you, that the field is white  already to harvest; wherefore thrust in your sickles, and rea[p]  with all your might, mind and strength. Open your mou[ths]  and they shall be filled. And you shall become even as  Nephi of old, who Journied from Jerusalem in the wilder ness: yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall  be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with  you: yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled  saying, Repent, repent and prepare ye the way of the Lord,  and make his paths straight: for the Kingdom of heaven  is at hand: yea, repent and be baptized every one of you,  for the a remission of your sins; yea, be baptized even by  water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the  Holy Ghost.
3 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gos pel, and remember that they shall have faith in me, [p. 76]
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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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