53992719

History, circa 1841, fair copy

until the translations was completed and copy  right secured. In the mean time, David, John,  and Peter Whitmer Jr. sons of Peter became our zeal ous friends and assistants in the work and  being very anxious to know the will of the Lord con cerning them after much solicitation I inquired of  the Lord through the Urim & Thummin and rec eived the following Revelations
1 A great and marvelous work is about to come  forth unto 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 ma rrows therefore give heed unto my word
2 Behold the field is white already to harvest  therefore whoso desireth to reap 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 receive if you will knock  it shall be opened unto you.
3 Seek to bring forth and establish my Zion. Keep  my commandments and endure to the end and you shall  have eternal life which gift is the greatest of all the  gifts of God. 4 And it shall come to pass that if you  shall ask the father in my name in faith beleiving  you shall receive the Holy Ghost which giveth utter ance that you may stand as a witness of the things  which you shall both have and see, and that  you may declare repentance unto this generation
5 Behold I am Jesus Christ the son of the living God who  created the heavens and the earth, light which cannot be  hid in darkness, wherefore I must bring forth the fullness  of my Gospel from the Gentiles unto the house of Israel  and behold thou art David and thou art called to assist [p. 41]
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