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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]

for lo, I am with you, even unto the end of thy days. And in temporal labours  thou shalt not have strength, for this is not thy calling. Attend to thy calling and  thou shalt have wherewith to magnify thine office, and to expound all scriptures.  And continue in laying on of the hands, and confirming the churches.
5 And thy brother Oliver shall continue in bearing my name before the  world; and also to the church. And he shall not suppose that he can say  enough in my cause; and lo I am with him to the end. In me he shall  have glory, and not of himself, whether in weakness or in strength, whether in  bonds or free: And at all times and in all places, he shall open his mouth  and declare my gospel as with the sound <voice> of a trump, both day and night. and  I will give unto him strength, such as is not known among men.
6 Require not miracles, except I shall command you; except casting out devils,  healing the sick; and against poisonous serpents; and against deadly poisons;  and these things ye shall not do, except it be required of you, by them who desire  it, that the scriptures might be fulfilled, for ye shall do according to that which  is written. And in whatsoever place ye shall enter, and they receive you  not, in my name, ye shall leave a cursing instead of a blessing, by casting off  the dust of your feet against them as a testimony, and cleansing your feet by  the way side.
7 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall lay their hands upon you  by violence, ye shall command to be smitten in my name, and behold I  will smite them according to your words, in mine own due time. And  whosoever shall go to law with thee shall be cursed by the law. And thou  shalt take no purse, no scrip, neither staves, neither two coats, for the Church  shall give unto thee in the very hour, what thou needest for food, and for raiment  and for shoes, and for money, and for scrip: For thou art called to prune my  vineyard with a mighty pruning, yea, even for the last time. Yea, and also,  all those whom thou hast ordained. And they shall do even according to  this pattern. Amen.
Revelation given at Harmony, Penn. July 1830.
1 Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you, Emma Smith  my daughter, for verily I say unto you, all those who receive my gospel are sons  and daughters in my kingdom. A revelation I give unto you concerning my  will, and if thou art faithful and walk in the paths of virtue before me, I will pre serve your <thy> life, and thou shalt receive an inheritance in Zion. Behold  thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called.  Murmur not because of the things which thou hast not seen, for they are with held from thee, and from the world, which is wisdom in me in a time to come.
2 And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant Joseph  Smith Jr. thy husband, in his afflictions with consoling words, in the spirit [p. 49]
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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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