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

But except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. This eternal truth settles the question of all man’s religion. A man may be saved after the judgment in the terrestrial kingdom, or in the Telestial kingdom, but he can never see the Celestial kingdom

Highest kingdom of glory in the afterlife; symbolically represented by the sun. According to a vision dated 16 February 1832, inheritors of the celestial kingdom “are they who received the testimony of Jesus, & believed on his name, & were baptized,” “receive...

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of God, without being born of water and the Spirit. He may receive a glory like unto the moon, or a star, but he can never come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, and to the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of the new Covenant

Generally referred to the “fullness of [the] gospel”—the sum total of the church’s message, geared toward establishing God’s covenant people on the earth; also used to describe individual elements of the gospel, including marriage. According to JS, the everlasting...

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, unless he becomes as a little child, and is taught by the Spirit of God. Wherefore, we say again, search the revelations of God, study the prophecies, and rejoice that God grants unto the world, seers and prophets, they are they who saw the mystery of Godliness; they saw the flood before it came; they saw angels ascending and descending upon a ladder that reached from earth to heaven; they saw the stone cut out of the mountain that filled the whole earth; they saw the Son of God come from the regions of bliss and dwell with men on earth; they saw the Deliverer come out of Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the focus ...

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, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob: they saw the glory of the Lord when he shewed the transfiguration of the earth on the Mount; they saw every mountain laid low and every valley exalted when the Lord was taking vengeance upon the wicked; they saw truth spring out of the earth, and righteousness look down from heaven in the last days, before the Lord came the second time, to gather

As directed by early revelations, church members “gathered” in communities. A revelation dated September 1830, for instance, instructed elders “to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect” who would “be gathered in unto one place, upon the face of this land...

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his elect; they saw the end of the wickedness on the earth, and the sabbath of creation crowned with peace; they saw the end of the glorious thousand years, when satan was loosed for a little season; they saw the day of Judgment when all men received [p. 228]
But except a man be born again he cannot see the king dom of God. This eternal truth settles the truth question of  all man’s religion. A man may be saved after the  judgment in the terrestrial kingdom, or in the Telestial  kingdom, but he can never see the Celestial kingdom

Highest kingdom of glory in the afterlife; symbolically represented by the sun. According to a vision dated 16 February 1832, inheritors of the celestial kingdom “are they who received the testimony of Jesus, & believed on his name, & were baptized,” “receive...

View Glossary
 of God, without being born of water and the Spirit.  He may receive a glory like unto the moon, or a star, but  he can never come unto Mount Zion, and unto the  city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,  and to an innumerable company of angels,  and to the general assembly and church of the first  born, which are written in heaven, and to God  the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men  made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of the  new Covenant

Generally referred to the “fullness of [the] gospel”—the sum total of the church’s message, geared toward establishing God’s covenant people on the earth; also used to describe individual elements of the gospel, including marriage. According to JS, the everlasting...

View Glossary
, unless he becomes as a little child,  and is taught by the Spirit of God. Wherefore,  we say again, search the revelations of God, study the  prophecies, and rejoice that God grants unto the  world, seers and prophets, they are they who saw the  mystery of Godliness; they saw the flood before it  came; they saw angels ascending and descending upon  a ladder that reached from earth to heaven; they  saw the stone cut out of the mountain that filled  the whole earth; they saw the Son of God come  from the regions of bliss and dwell with men on  earth; they saw the Deliverer come out of Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the focus ...

View Glossary
, and  turn away ungodliness from Jacob: they saw the  glory of the Lord when he shewed the transfiguration  of the earth on the Mount; they saw every mountain  laid low and every valley exalted when the Lord  was taking vengeance upon the wicked; they saw  truth springing out of the earth, and righteousness  look down from heaven in the last days, before  the Lord came the second time, to gather

As directed by early revelations, church members “gathered” in communities. A revelation dated September 1830, for instance, instructed elders “to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect” who would “be gathered in unto one place, upon the face of this land...

View Glossary
his elect;  they saw the end of the wickedness on the earth,  and the sabbath of creation crowned with peace;  they saw the end of the glorious thousand years,  when satan was loosed for a little season; they  saw the day of Judgment when all men received [p. 228]
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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

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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to Kirtland

Located in Newel K. Whitney store in northwest Kirtland on northeast corner of Chardon and Chillicothe roads. Whitney appointed postmaster, 29 Dec. 1826. JS and others listed “Kirtland Mills, Geauga County, Ohio” as return address for letters mailed, 1833...

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, 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

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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. George W. Robinson

14 May 1814–10 Feb. 1878. Clerk, postmaster, merchant, clothier, banker. Born at Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont. Baptized into LDS church and moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1836. Clerk and recorder for Kirtland high council, beginning Jan. 1836. Married...

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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

Located near middle of western boundary of state, bordering Mississippi River. European Americans settled area, 1820s. From bank of river, several feet above high-water mark, ground described as nearly level for six or seven blocks before gradually sloping...

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, Illinois, JS once again began dictating his “history.” James Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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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

14 May 1814–10 Feb. 1878. Clerk, postmaster, merchant, clothier, banker. Born at Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont. Baptized into LDS church and moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1836. Clerk and recorder for Kirtland high council, beginning Jan. 1836. Married...

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’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

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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recorded the first fifty-nine pages in the volume. Subsequently, his successor, Robert B. Thompson

1 Oct. 1811–27 Aug. 1841. Clerk, editor. Born in Great Driffield, Yorkshire, England. Member of Methodist church. Immigrated to Upper Canada, 1834. Baptized into LDS church by Parley P. Pratt, May 1836, in Upper Canada. Ordained an elder by John Taylor, 22...

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, contributed about sixteen more pages before his death in August 1841. William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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then added a little over seventy-five pages. However, it was not until Willard Richards

24 June 1804–11 Mar. 1854. Teacher, lecturer, doctor, clerk, printer, editor, postmaster. Born at Hopkinton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Joseph Richards and Rhoda Howe. Moved to Richmond, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts, 1813. Moved to Chatham, Columbia...

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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

1 June 1801–29 Aug. 1877. Carpenter, painter, glazier, colonizer. Born at Whitingham, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of John Young and Abigail (Nabby) Howe. Brought up in Methodist household; later joined Methodist church. Moved to Sherburne, Chenango Co., New...

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, Heber C. Kimball

14 June 1801–22 June 1868. Blacksmith, potter. Born at Sheldon, Franklin Co., Vermont. Son of Solomon Farnham Kimball and Anna Spaulding. Married Vilate Murray, 22 Nov. 1822, at Mendon, Monroe Co., New York. Member of Baptist church at Mendon, 1831. Baptized...

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, George A. Smith

26 June 1817–1 Sept. 1875. Born at Potsdam, St. Lawrence Co., New York. Son of John Smith and Clarissa Lyman. Baptized into LDS church by Joseph H. Wakefield, 10 Sept. 1832, at Potsdam. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, 1833. Labored on Kirtland temple...

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, 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

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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, Pennsylvania

Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...

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, Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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, and Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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. 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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