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History, circa 1841, fair copy

A few days afterwards I learned from Newel  Knights who came to visit me that very shortly  after we left our enemies collected about his house  demanding with much clamor if we were there  threatning the bretheren and causing them much  uneasiness during all that night day.
Mr. Whitmer [Peter Whitmer Sr.] having heard of the persecutions  which raged in Harmony invited us to  remove to Fayette N.Y. Accordingly Bro,  Knight removed my family he having his wa ggon with him. Our friends at Fayette  evinced much pleasure and satisfacttion when  we arrived among them.
To our greaf [great] grief we found that satan had  been lying in wait to deceive and seeking whom  he might devour even among our friends at Fayette.
Bro. Hiram Page had got possession of a  stone by which he had obtained several revel ations relative to the building up of Zion the  order of the Church &c &c all of which were  at variance with the order of Gods. house as laid  down in the New Testament as well as in our  late revelations. I thought it wise to do  nothing more than to converse with the bretheren  on that subject until conference which was  to meet on the first of Sept. following. Finding  however that many (especially the Whitmer family  and O. Cowdry [Oliver Cowdery]) were believing the things set  forth by this stone we thought it best to  inquire of the Lord concerning it and obtained  the following revelation
1 Behold I say unto thee Oliver that it  shall be given unto thee that thou shalt be  heard by the church in all things whatsoever  thou shalt teach them by the comfo[r]ter concer[n]ing  the revelations and commandments which I  have given
2 But behold verily verily I say unto thee [p. 90]
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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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