History, circa 1841, fair copy

A great and marvellous work is about to come  forth among the children of men; behold I am  God, and give heed unto my word which is quick  and powerful sharper than a two edged sword to the  dividing assunder of both joints and marrow; Therefor  give heed to my word
2 Behold the field is white already 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 everlas ting salvation in the kingdom of God; yea whoso 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 commandments and seek to bring forth and  establish the cause of Zion Seek not for riches but  for wisdom, ask and behold the mysteries of God  shall be unfolded unto you and then shalt thou you  be made rich behold that he that hath eternal  life is rich
4 Verily, verily, I say unto you, even as 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 gener ation. Keep my commandments and assist to bring  forth my work according to my commandments and  you shall shall be blessed
5 Behold thou hast a gift, or thou shalt have a gift if  thou wilt desire it of me in faith with on honest heart believing  in the power of Jesus Chist or in my power who speaketh  unto you unto thee for behold it is I that speaketh  behold I am the light that which shineth in <the> darkness  and by my power I give these words unto thee [p. 37]
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.