53992719

History, circa 1841, fair copy

let him thrust in his sickle with his might  and reap while the day lasts that he may treasure up  for his soul everlasting Salvation in the kingdom  of God. Yea 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 knock it shall  be opened unto you
3 Now as you have asked behold I say unto you keep my  commandments and assist seek to bring forth and  establish Zion the cause of of Zion
4 Behold I speak unto you and also all those who have  desires to bring forth and establish this work; and  no man can assist in this work except he shall be  humble and full of love having faith hope and  charity being temperate in all things whatsoever shall  be entrusted to his care
5 Behold I am the light and the life of the world that speak eth these words therefore give heed with your might and then  you are called Amen
In the beginning of June a son  of Peter Whitmer [Sr.] of Fayette, Seneca, Co, NY with  whom I had formed an acquaintance shortly after  commencing the translation: came to the place where  I was residing we were residing living; with a carriage  to take us to the his fathers residence there to remain  until we should finish the work He proposed to  gratuitously give us our board and the assistance  of one of his brothers to write as well as his own  when convenient Having need of such timely aid  and being informed that the people of that the  neighborhood were anxious to enquire into these things,  we accepted the invitation and accompanied  him home where we remained [p. 40]
PreviousNext
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.

Facts