31772

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

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

6 April 1830 • Tuesday

Whilst the Book of Mormon was in the hands of the printer, we still continued to  bear testimony, and give information, as far as we had opportunity; and also made  known to our brethren, that we had received commandment to organize the Church  And accordingly we met together for that purpose, at the house of the above mentioned  Mr Whitmer [Peter Whitmer Sr.] (being six in number) on Tuesday the sixth day of April, AD One  thousand, eight hundred and thirty.
Having opened the meeting by solemn prayer to our Heavenly Father  we proceeded, (according to previous commandment) to call on our brethren to know  whether they accepted us as their teachers in the things of the Kingdom of God, and  whether they were satisfied that we should proceed and be organized as a Church  according to said commandment which we had received. To these they consent ed by an unanimous vote. I then laid my hands upon Oliver Cowdery and  ordained him an Elder of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” after  which he ordained me also to the office of an Elder of said Church. We then took  bread, blessed it, and brake it with them, also wine, blessed it, and drank it with  them. We then laid our hands on each individual member of the Church present  that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be confirmed members of the  Church of Christ. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us to a very great  degree. Some prophesied, whilst we all praised the Lord and rejoiced exceed ingly. Whilst yet together I received the following commandment.
Revelation to Joseph Smith Jr, Given at Fayette, Seneca Co N Y. April 6th 1830.
1 Behold there shall be a record kept among you, and in it, thou shalt be  called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the  Church through the will of the Father God the Father, and the grace of your Lord  Jesus Christ; being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build  it up unto the most holy faith; which church was organized and established, in the  year of <y>our Lord, eighteen hundred and thirty, in the fourth month, and on the sixth  day of the month, which is called April.
2 Wherefore, meaning the Church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words, and  commandments, which he shall give unto you, as he receiveth them, walking in all  holiness before me: for his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all  patience and faith; for by doing these things, the gates of hell shall not prevail aga inst thee you: yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from  before you; and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.—
For thus saith the Lord God, him have I inspired to move the cause of  Zion in mighty power for your good; and his diligence I know, and his prayers I  have heard: yea, his weeping for Zion <I> have I seen, and I will cause that he  shall mourn <for her> no longer, for his days of rejoicing are come unto the remission of his sins [p. 37]
PreviousNext
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.

Facts