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

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

and carried, by the vote of all present. Council then adjourned  by prayer and thanksgiving.
Orson Hyde and)Clerks. page 441.
Oliver Cowdery)

Addenda, Note E • 22 January 1834

Charles Wesley Wandell handwriting ends; Willard Richards begins.  

<Note E.> In the my trial referred to in the foregoing letter the merits of  the case were entirely overlooked by the Courts, (as has  been the case in all other trials of mine) in their extreme  anxiety to investigate my religion, or learn how I procured  my wife. 421. 7th. line.

Addenda, Note F • 2 January 1834

Willard Richards handwriting ends; Thomas Bullock begins.  

<Note F> * The threats of the mob about Kirtland through the Fall and Winter  had been such, as to cause the brethren to be on the constant lookout;  and those who labored on the Temple, were engaged at night, watching  to protect the walls they had laid during the day, from threatened  violence. On the morning of the 8th. of January, about one o’clock, the  inhabitants of Kirtland were alarmed by the firing of about thirteen  rounds of cannon, by the mob, on the hill about half a mile  north-west of the village. page 413. second line from bottom.

Addenda, Note G • 12–17 May 1834

<Note G> This evening there was quite a difficulty between some of the  brethren and Sylvester Smith, on occasion of which I was called to decide  the matter. Finding quite a rebellious spirit in Sylvester Smith, and  to some extent in others; I told them they would meet with misfortunes,  difficulties and hindrances, and said, “and you will know it before you  leave this place”; exhorting them to humble themselves before the Lord and  become united, that they might not be scourged. A very singular  occurrence took place that night, and the next day concerning our teams.  On the following <Sunday> morning when we arose, we found almost every horse  in the camp so badly foundered, that we could scarcely lead them  a few rods to the water. The brethren then deeply realized the effects of  discord. When I learned the fact, I exclaimed to the brethren, that for a  witness that God overruled and had his eye upon them, that all those  who would humble themselves before the Lord, should know that  the hand of God is was in this misfortune, and their horses should be  restored to health immediately; and by twelve o’clock the same day  the horses were as nimble as ever, with the exception of one of  Sylvester Smith’s which soon afterwards died. page 480

Addenda, Note H • 30 May–3 June 1834

<Note H> I then proposed that some of the brethren should set forth  different portions of the gospel in their discourses, as held by the religious  world. He called upon brother Joseph Young, to preach upon the principles  of free salvation. He then called upon brother Brigham Young to speak, [p. 4 [addenda]]
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.