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History, circa 1841, draft [Draft 3]

A great and marvellous work, is about to come  forth among the children of men; behold I am God  and give heed to my word, which is quick and pow erful. sharper than a two edged sword, to the divid ing asunder of both joints and marrow: therefore give  heed to my word
2 Behold the field is white allready to harvest;  therefore whoso desireth to reap, let him thrust in  his sickle. with all his might and reap while the day  lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting  salvation in the kingdom of God: yea whoso will  whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is  called of God: therefore if you will ask of me you shall  recieve; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.
3. Now as you have asked, behold I say unto you, keep  my comandments, and seek to bring forth, and establish,  the cause of Zion. Seek not for riches, but for wis dom. and behold the mysteries of God shall be unfolded  unto you, and then shall you be made rich; behold he that  hath eternal life is rich
4 Verily verily I say unto you. even as I desire you desire of  me, shall it be done unto you: and if you desire, you shall  be the means of doing much good in this generation. Keep my  commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, accor ding to my, work, according to my commandments, and you  shall be blessed
5 Behold thou hast a gift. or thou shalt a have a gift,  if thou wilt desire of me with faith in faith with an honest  heart, believing in the power of Jesus Christ; or in my  power who speaketh unto thee: for behold it is I that  speaketh; behold I am the light which Shineth in <the> dark ness. and by my power. I give these words unto thee.
6 6 And now, verily, verily. I say unto thee put your trust  in that spirit which leadeth to do good; yea, to do justly,  to walk humbly, to Judge righteously; and this is my spirit
7 Verily verily I say unto you, I will impart unto you  of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which Shall [p. 37]
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Howard Coray, a recent convert to Mormonism from Perry, Illinois, met JS while visiting Nauvoo in April 1840. In his autobiography, written in the early 1880s, Coray recalled the clerical work he undertook after meeting JS:
The Prophet, after looking at me a little and asking me some questions, wished to know whether it would be convenient for me to come to Nauvoo, and assist, or rather clerk for him. As this was what I desired, I engaged at once to do so; and, in about 2 weeks thereafter, I was busily employed in his office, copying a huge pile of letters into a book—correspondence with the Elders as well as other persons, that had been accumulating for some time. [. . .]
I finished the job of copying letters. I was then requested by bro. Joseph to undertake, in connection with E[dwin] D. Woolley, the compilation of the Church History. This I felt to decline, as writing books was something, in which I had had no experience. But bro. Joseph insisted on my undertaking it, saying, if I would do so, it would prove a blessing to me as long as I should live. His persuasive arguments prevailed; and accordingly in a short time, bro. Woolley and myself, were busily engaged in compiling the church history. The Prophet was to furnish all the materials; and our business, was not only to combine, and arrange in cronological order, but to spread out or amplify not a little, in as good historical style as may be. Bro. Woolley’s education, not being equal to mine, he was to get the matter furnished him in as good shape as he could; and my part was to go after him, and fix his up as well as I could, making such improvement and such corrections in his grammar and style as I might deem necessary. On seeing his work, I at once discovered, that I had no small job on my hands, as he knew nothing whatever of grammar; however, I concluded to make the best I could of a bad job, and thus went to work upsetting and recasting; as well a[s] casting out not a little. Seeing how his work was handled, he became considerably discouraged; and rather took offence at the way and manner in which I was doing things, and consequently soon withdrew from the business.
Immediately after bro. Woolley left, I succeeded in obtaining the services of Dr. Miller, who had written for the press, and was considerably accustomed to this kind of business. Now I got on much better. I continued until we used up all the historical matter furnished us by the Prophet. And, as peculiar circumstances prevented his giving attention to his part of the business we of necessity discontinued our labors, and never resumed this kind of business again.1

Coray, Reminiscences, 17, 19–20.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Coray, Howard. Reminiscences, ca. 1883. BYU.

Although Coray’s copying work in JS’s 1838–1843 letterbook and other records has long been noted,2

See Jessee, “Writing of Joseph Smith’s History,” 452–453, 463.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Jessee, Dean C. “The Writing of Joseph Smith’s History.” BYU Studies 11 (Summer 1971): 439–473.

no manuscript evidence of his work on JS’s history was located until 2005, when two manuscripts in Coray’s hand were identified among documents in the possession of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These two manuscripts consisted of a new draft (here designated Draft 3) of the material Mulholland and Thompson had written in the first sixty-one pages in JS’s large history volume, and a fair copy that incorporated the revisions Coray made in his earlier draft.
However, Coray’s autobiographical recollection of his work on JS’s history does not seem to match the two manuscripts identified in 2005. Whereas the autobiography refers to “writing books” and to assembling in chronological order a “compilation” of “materials” furnished by JS, the two extant Coray manuscripts are lightly edited copies of work already drafted by James Mulholland and Robert B. Thompson in a single original source. Furthermore, the existing manuscripts do not contain the handwriting of Edwin D. Woolley. In producing Draft 3, Coray made some editorial changes to the history, but his work could not be described as “writing books” and certainly not as a “compilation.” Coray’s autobiographical account of his work more likely refers to a different, probably earlier assignment for which no related document has been located. Perhaps the assignment given to Coray, Woolley, and “Dr. Miller” was to create rough draft notes comparable to the outline prepared by Mulholland in Draft 1 and those later prepared by William W. Phelps and successors as work on the multivolume manuscript history continued. Coray indicated that work began on the compilation task in about December 1840 and terminated when they exhausted their supply of documents from JS.3

Coray, Reminiscences, 19. In Coray’s account, he was assigned to the history after he completed an assignment to copy correspondence. The last two items in Coray’s handwriting found in JS’s letterbook were a 19 October 1840 letter and an undated letter most likely written in early December 1840. (JS Letterbook 2, pp. 188–196.)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Coray, Howard. Reminiscences, ca. 1883. BYU.

JS Letterbook 2 / Smith, Joseph. “Copies of Letters, &c. &c.,” 1839–1843. Joseph Smith Collection. CHL.

In 1869 Coray signed a statement that was later attached to the paper wrapper that enclosed his two drafts: “These hundred pages of History were written by me, under Joseph the Prophet’s dictation. Dr Miller helped me a little in writing the same. (Historians office, 1869).”4

The identity of “Dr. Miller,” mentioned in this note and in Coray’s autobiography, is unknown. It is possible Coray misidentified the “doctor” who assisted in writing the history. (Coray, Reminiscences, 19.)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Coray, Howard. Reminiscences, ca. 1883. BYU.

If by “dictation” Coray meant that he transcribed as JS spoke, it seems more likely to be a description of JS’s involvement in the history draft presented here than of the role JS played in the compilation project Coray described in his autobiography. In the latter project, according to Coray, JS only supplied materials and gave general instructions. If the statement was accurate in that sense, it suggests that JS read aloud from Draft 2 in the large manuscript volume, directing editorial changes as he read. Several passages of Draft 3 contain evidence of dictation, but the history itself includes no indication of who was dictating the text.
Coray’s history draft includes departures from the earlier drafts which, though minor, show an intention to refine the story by imposing certain editorial preferences. Coray deleted passages that seemed to be defensive, to plead the cause of the Saints, or to play on the reader’s sympathies—a list of grievances, for example, or complaints against individuals. The draft often softened wording about the persecution of JS, as can be seen in the omission of the first paragraph of Draft 2. Also, whereas the latter specifies that Methodists and Presbyterians treated JS and other Saints without respect, Coray’s draft avoided naming the denominations. Additionally, Draft 3 employs more moderate language in describing opposition to JS in New York, avoiding the word “mob” and glossing over accounts of violence. Many times narrative details that added verisimilitude to previous versions were deleted. For example, when Coray copied the section recounting Martin Harris’s carrying a sample of Book of Mormon characters to New York City, he omitted details such as Harris placing the certificate of authenticity from Charles Anthon in his pocket, then retrieving it at Anthon’s request.
The document presented in this volume is the first of two manuscripts Coray completed. This earlier draft shows the original creation as well as revisions Coray made before inscribing the second, cleaner copy. A four-page partial copy, corresponding to text on pages 13–16 of the draft and the fair copy, is also extant.5

See Revelation, July 1828, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 3]. The four-page fragment implements corrections made to both the draft and fair copies, but the punctuation more closely matches the latter. Unlike page endings in the fair copy, the page endings in the fragment do not match those of the draft copy.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL.

The Coray manuscripts exhibit notable variations in handwriting style. A careful comparison of the style shifts, spelling idiosyncrasies, and letter formations, however, reveal that both the earlier draft and fair copy are entirely in Coray’s handwriting. His work is clearly based on Draft 2; Coray’s versions could not have been written before Draft 2 because he incorporated emendations made in the latter.6

Examples of emendations made in the large history volume that also appear in Coray’s adaptation include revisions regarding JS’s marriage to Emma Hale; Martin Harris’s explanation to Anthon that the plates were sealed and that he was forbidden to bring them, and Mulholland’s loose note, later pinned into the large history volume, giving JS’s description of the hill where the gold plates were obtained.  

 
The fair copy of Coray’s work includes few changes other than those Coray marked in his rough draft, and none are of a substantive nature.
For more information about the relationship between this draft and Drafts 1 and 2, see Introduction to Early Drafts of History, 1838–1856. Note that the transcript includes only annotation that relates to textual aspects of this draft; Draft 2 carries the historical annotation.

Facts