53992719

History, circa 1841, fair copy

I was born in the Town of Sharon, Windsor Co. Vt, on  the 23d day of Dec. in the year of our Lord, 1805.  When I was 10 years old, my father, Joseph Smith Sen  emigrated to Palmyra, Ontario, (now Wayne) County,  New York. After residing there, about four years,  he removed with his family to Manchester of the  Same County.
His family at this time, consisted of eleven Souls,  Viz Joseph Smith Senr, his consort Lucy, whose  maiden name was Mack (daughter of Soloman Mack [Sr.]  of [blank],) my brother, Alvin, (now dec[e]ased,)  Hyrum. Myself, Samuel Harrison, William, and  Don Carlos, my sisters, Sophronia. Catherine [Katharine], and  Lucy. During the second year of our residence  in this place; I being about 14 years old there was  an unusual religious excitement, commencing in the Methodst  Society, <and> soon becoming <became> general among all the sects in that  vicinity. The results of which were that many united  with the different sects; causing much strife and division  among the people. Some crying lo here, and some lo  lo there. Some contending for one faith and some for  another. And notwithstanding the love they expressed at  the time of their conversion, and the Zeal of the respective  Clergy, who had been active in getting up, th and promoting  this excitements with the avowed object of “converting  every body,” professing to care but little, with what society  the converts united: Yet when the converts began to  unite with the different sects, it became evident that  the professed love and zeal of both Clergy and Converts.  and Clergy Converts and Clergy, were more pretended than  real. And a scene of great confusion and bad feelings,  ensued. Priest at war with Priest— Convert with Convert,  convincing an unprejudiced mind that their professed  love [p. 1]
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Howard Coray was a recent convert to Mormonism when he visited Nauvoo in 1840. There he was immediately engaged by JS as a clerk at his office. Coray later reminisced in his autobiography that after he completed his initial assignment, JS requested that he “undertake, in connection with E[dwin] D. Woolley, the compilation of the Church History.”
At the time Coray received his charge, JS’s and the church’s “history” had been an ongoing project for a decade. Several early attempts had apparently fallen short and been abandoned. However, JS and Sidney Rigdon’s 1838 effort initiated with George W. Robinson, and JS’s ensuing collaboration with James Mulholland, had begun to bear fruit. Unfortunately, Mulholland had died 3 November 1839 after inscribing fifty-nine pages of text in a large record book subsequently designated as volume “A-1” of the manuscript history of the church. Robert B. Thompson was appointed “general church clerk” in October 1840 and succeeded Mulholland as scribe for A-1.
Meanwhile, JS assigned Woolley and Coray to draft additional historical material, using sources JS provided. Woolley eventually withdrew from the project and was replaced by a “Dr. Miller,” who remains unidentified. Their work evidently resulted in two different kinds of drafts. According to Coray’s later reminiscences, the first grew out of instructions “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.” No manuscript matching this description has survived, but their work may have provided the basis for material subsequently copied into the history by other scribes.
Coray did, however, produce an edited version of the narrative inscribed in the large history volume (A-1). According to Coray’s later account, JS was directly involved in this reworking of the history, reading aloud and dictating revisions from the large volume. Two drafts of this work have survived. However, the main history endeavor continued in the large history volume, and there is no indication that either draft was used in subsequent compiling or in publication of the history. Though a short-lived effort, Coray’s manuscript represents the intention to revise the history, suggesting that JS had not yet settled on a final historical product even after he had directed scribes to begin inscribing the history in the large, more permanent volume in 1839.
Coray’s history draft includes departures from the material recorded in A-1 which, though minor, show an intention to refine the story. 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 and employed more moderate language in describing opposition, avoiding the word “mob” and glossing over accounts of violence.
Coray’s work on JS’s history was not 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 lightly edited draft of the material Mulholland and Thompson had written in the large history volume, and a fair or clean copy of that material that incorporated the revisions Coray made in his earlier draft. The first draft was published in volume 1 of the Histories series of the The Joseph Smith Papers. (See History Drafts, 1838—ca. 1841.) The second or “fair copy” of the two drafts is the document herein featured. An inscription in Coray’s handwriting at the bottom of the first page of this document identifies it as the second copy. In 1869 Coray signed a statement that was later attached to the paper wrapper that enclosed the 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.”
For more information about the relationship between the history drafts, see Introduction to Early Drafts of History, 1838–1856.

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