History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834]

History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834]

then ye shall begin to be gathered with your families, every man ac  cording to his family, according to his circumstances, and, as is appoin ted to him by the presidency, and an the bishop of the [church], according to  the laws and commandments, which ye have received, and which  ye shall hereafter receive; even so: Amen.
About this time came Leman Copley, one of the sect called  Shaking Quakers, and embraced the fulness of the everlasting gos pel, apparently honest hearted, but still retained ideas that the  Shakers were right in some particulars of their faith; and, in  order to have more perfect understanding on the subject, I  inquired of the Lord and received the following revelation:

7 May 1831 • Saturday

1 Hearken unto my word, my servant Sidney, and Parley, and Leman,  for behold, verily I say unto you, that I give unto [you] a commandment, that  you shall go and preach my gospel, which ye have received, even  as ye have received it, unto the shakers. Behold I say unto  you, that they desire to know the truth in part, but not all, for  they are not right before me, and must needs repent; wherefore I send  you, my servants, Sidney and Parley, to preach the gospel unto them;  and my servant Leman shall be ordained unto this work, that he may  reason with them, not according to that which he has received  of them, but according to that which shall be taught him by you,  my servants, and by so doing I will bless him, otherwise he  shall not prosper; thus saith the Lord, for I am God and have  sent mine everlasting only Begotten Son into the world, for the redemption  of the world, and have decreed that he that receiveth him shall  be saved, and he that receiveth him not, shall be damned.
2. And they have done unto unto the Son of man even as they listed;  and he has taken his power on the right of his glory, and now  reigneth in the heavens, and will reign till he descends on the  earth to put all enemies under his feet; which time nigh at hand;  I the Lord God have spoken it; but the hour and the day no man  knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until  he comes; wherefore I will that all men shall repent, for all are  under sin, except them which I have reserved unto myself, holy  men that ye know not of; wherefore I say unto you, that I  have sent unto you mine everlasting covenant, even that which was  from the beginning, and that which I have promised I have fulfilled, [p. 112]
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.