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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]

the hills, and flourish; and Israel shall be saved in mine  own due time. And by the keys which I have given, shall they  be led, and no more be confounded at all. Lift up your hearts  and be glad: your redemption draweth nigh. Fear not  little flock the kingdom is yours until I come. Behold  I come quickly; even so: Amen.
<A Revelation  to  E Partridge> And the voice of the Lord to Edward Partridge was,
A Revelation to Edward Partridge given December 1830.
1. Thus saith the Lord God, the mighty One of Israel, behold  I say unto you, my servant Edward, that you are blessed,  and your sins are forgiven you, and you are called to  preach my gospel, as with the voice of a trump; and I will  lay my hands upon you by the hand of my servant Sidney Rigdon,  and you shall receive my Spirit, the Holy Ghost, even the Comfor ter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom: and  you shall declare it with a loud voice, saying hosanna, bles sed be the name of the most high God.
2. And now this calling and commandment give I unto you con cerning all men, that as many as shall come before my servants,  Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith Jr, embracing this calling and  commandment, shall be ordained and sent forth to preach the  everlasting gospel among all nations, crying repentance, saying,  Save yourselves from this untoward generation, and come forth  out of the fire, hating even the garments spotted with flesh.
3. And this commandment shall but be given unto the elders  of my church, that every man which will embrace it with sin gleness of heart, may be ordained and sent forth, even as I  have spoken. I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God: wherefore  gird up your loins and I will suddenly come to my temple;  even so; Amen.
<Miscella neous> It may be well to observe here, that the Lord greatly en couraged, and strengthened the faith of his little flock which had  embraced the fulness of the everlasting gospel, as revealed to  them in the book of Mormon, by giving some more extended  information upon the Scriptures; a tran[s]lation of which  had already commenced. Much conjecture and conversation  frequently occurred among the saints, concerning the books  mentioned and referred to, in various <places> in the old and new  testaments, which were now no where to be found. [p. 80]
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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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