History, circa 1841, fair copy

Elijah unto whom I have committed the Keys of the power  of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and  the hearts of the children to the fathers that the whole earth  may not be smitten with a curse and also with Joseph  and Jacob and Isaac and Abraham your fathers  by whom the promises remain and also with Michael  or Adam the father of all the prince of all, the  ancient of days
3 And also with Peter and James and John whom  I have sent unto you and confirmed you to be apostles  and especial witnesses of my name and bear the  Keys of your ministry and of the same things which  I revealed unto them unto whom I have committed  the Keys of my Kingdom and a dispensation of the  gospel for the last times and for the fullness  of times in which I will gather together in one all  things both which are in heaven and which are on  earth and also with all those whom my father hath giv en me out of the world wherefore lift up your hearts and  rejoice and gird up your loins and take upon you  my whole armour that you may be able to withstand  the evil day having done all ye may be able to stand.
Stand therefore having your loins girt about with  truth having on the breast plate of righteousness  and your feet shod with the preparation of the gos pel of peace which I have sent mine angel to  commit unto you taking the shield of faith where with ye shall be able to quench the firey darts of [the]  wicked and take the helmet of salvation and the  sword of my spirit which I will pour out upon  you and my word which I reveal unto you  and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever  ye ask of me and be faithful until I come  and ye shall be caught up that where I am ye  shall be also Amen [p. 88]
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.