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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]

things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in  your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto  you, by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your  ears, with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but  if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.
7. And that ye might escape the power of the enemy, and be gath ered unto me a righteous people, without spot and blameless: where fore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment, that  ye should go to the Ohio: and there I will give unto you my law;  and there you shall be endowed with power from on high,  and from thence whomsoever I will shall go forth among  all nations, and it shall be told them what they shall do: for  I have a great work laid up in store: for Israel shall be saved,  and I will lead them whithersoever I will, and no power  shall stay my hand.
8. And now I give unto the church in these parts, a command ment, that certain men among them shall be appointed and they  shall be appointed by the voice of the church: and they shall  look to the poor and the needy, and administer to their relief,  that they shall not suffer; and send them forth to the place  which I have commanded them; and this shall be their work,  to govern the affairs of the property of this church. And they  that have farms that cannot be sold, let them be left, or rented as  seemeth them good. See that all things are preserved, and when  men are endowed with power from on high, and sent forth, all  these things shall be gathered unto the bosom of the church.
9. And if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father  to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people; for ye shall  have the riches of eternity: and it must needs <be> that the riches of  the earth is mine to give; But be ware of pride, lest ye become  as the Nephites of old. And again I say unto you, I give unto  [you] a commandment, that every man, both elder, priest, teacher, and  also member, to go to with his might, with the labor of his hands, to  prepare and accomplish the things which I have commanded.  And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man  to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness. And go ye  out from among the wicked. Save yourselves. Be ye clean  that bear the vessels of the Lord: even so: Amen. [p. 90]
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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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