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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 common remark was, they are “lost books”; but it seems  the apostolic churches had some of these writings, as Jude mentions  or quotes the prophecy of Enoch the seventh from Adam. To  the joy of the little flock, which in all, from Colesville to Canandai gua, numbered about seventy members, did the Lord reveal the  following doings of olden time from the prophiciy of Enoch.
<Prophecy  of  Enoch>Extract from the prophecy of Enoch.
<Given by Revelation to Joseph Smith Jun.>
And it came to pass that Enoch continued his speech  saying, Behold our father Adam taught these things, and many were have  believed and become the sons of God, and many have believed  not and have perished in their sins, and are looking forth [with]  fear, in torment for the fiery indignation of the wrath of  god to be poured out upon them. And from that time forth  Enoch began to prophesy, saying unto the people, That, as  I was journeying and stood upon the place Mahujah, and I  cried unto the Lord, there came a voice out of heaven, saying:  Turn ye and get ye upon the Mount Simeon. And [it] came to pass  that I turned and went upon the mount, and as I stood upon  the mount, I beheld the heavens open, and I was clothed upon  with glory, and I saw the Lord; he stood before my face, and  he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another  face to face; and he saith unto me, Look, and I will show  unto thee the world for the space of many generations. And  it came to pass that I beheld in the valley of Shum, and lo! a  great people which dwelt in tents, which were the people of  Shum. And again the Lord said unto me, Look! and I looked  towards the north, and I beheld the people of Canaan, which  dwelt in tents. And the Lord said unto me prophesy; and I  prophesied saying:— Behold the people of Canaan, which are  numerous, shall go forth in battle array against the people  of Shum, and shall slay them, that they shall utterly be  destroyed; and the people of Canaan shall divide them selves in the land, and the land shall be barren and un fruitful, and none other people shall dwell there but the people  of Canaan: for behold the Lord shall curse the land with  much heat, and the barrenness there of shall go forth for ever: And there was a blackness come upon <all> the chil dren of Canaan, that they were despised among all people.  And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me, Look, and [p. 81]
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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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