History, circa 1841, fair copy

Messenger who gave me the following Revelation
1 Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ your  Lord and your God and your Redeemer whose  word is quick and powerful For behold  I say unto you that it mattereth not what ye  shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye  partake of the sacrament if it so be that ye  do it with an eye single to my glory remem bering unto the Father my body which was  laid down for you and my blood which  was shed for the remission of your sins where fore a commandment I give unto you that  you shall not purchase wine neither strong  drink of your enemies wherefore ye shall par take of none except it be made new among  you yea in this way my Fathers. Kingdom  which shall be built upon the earth
2 Behold this is wisdom in me wherefore  marvel not for the hour cometh that I will  drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the  earth and with Maroni Moroni whom  I have sent unto you to reveal the book of  Mormon containing the fullness of my everlasting  gospel to whom I have committed the Keys of the  record of the stick of Ephraim and also with  Elias to whom I have committed the Keys of  bringing to pass the restoration of all things or  the return of all things spoken by the mouth by <of> all  the holy Prop[h]ets since the world began concerning  the last days and also John [the son of] Zacharias which  Zacharias he (Elias) visited and gave a promise  that he should have a son and his name should  be John and he should be filled with the spirit  of Elias which John I have sent unto you my  servant Joseph Smith Jr. and Oliver Cowdry  to ordain you unto this first priesthood which  you have received that you might be called  and ordained even as Aaron and also [p. 87]
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.