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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]

little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world, through mine Only begot ten: Wherefore they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little  children, untill they begin to become accountable before me; for it is given unto them  even as I will, according to mine own pleasure, that great things may be required  at the hand of their fathers.
14 And again I say unto you, that whoso having knowledge, have I not  commanded to repent, and he that hath no understanding, it remaineth in  me to do according as it is written. And now I declare no more unto you at  this time. Amen.
At length, our conference assembled; the  subject of the stone above mentioned, was discussed, and after considerable  investigation, Brother Page, as well as the whole church who were present,  renounced the said stone, and all things connected therewith, much to our  mutual satisfaction and happiness. We now partook of the sacrament,  confirmed, and ordained many, and attended to a great variety of Church  business on that and the following day; during which time we had much of  the power of God manifested amongst us; the Holy Ghost came upon us, and  filled us with joy unspeakable; and peace, and faith, and hope, and charity  abounded in our midst. Before we separated we obtained the following,
1 Behold I say unto you, David, that you have feared man, and not relied on  me for strength, as you ought: but your mind has been on the things of the earth more  than on the things of me, your Maker, and the ministry whereunto you have been  called; and you have not given heed unto my Spirit, and to those who were set  over you, but you have been persuaded by those whom I have not commanded:  wherefore you are left to enquire for yourself at my hand, and ponder upon the things  which you have received. And your home shall be at your father’s house, un till I give unto you further commandments. And you shall attend to the minis try in the Church, and before the world, and in the regions round about. Amen.
2 Behold I say unto you, Peter, that you shall take your journey with your  brother Oliver [Cowdery], for the time has come, that it is expedient in me, that you shall  open your mouth to declare my gospel: therefore, fear not but give heed unto  the words and advice of your brother, which he shall give you.— And be you  afflicted in <all> his afflictions, ever lifting up your heart unto me in prayer, and faith  for his and your deliverance: for I have given unto him power, to build up my  church among the Lamanites: and none have I appointed to be his coun sellor, over him, in the church, concerning church matters, except it is his [p. 58]
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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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