53992717

History, circa June 1839–circa 1841 [Draft 2]

to assist us in our affliction,31

According to Lucy Mack Smith, JS asked her to approach Harris for financial assistance to enable JS to continue translation work. JS was preparing to move to Harmony when Harris met him and Alva Hale at a “public house” and gave him a bag of silver valued at fifty dollars “to do the Lords work with.” In a later interview, Harris was quoted as saying that he encouraged JS to move to Harmony, paid JS’s debts, and “furnished him money for his journey.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 6, [3], [6]; “Mormonism—No. II,” Tiffany’s Monthly, Aug. 1859, 170.)  


Mr Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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was a resident of Palmyra township

First permanent white settlers arrived, ca. 1789. Included village of Palmyra. Erie Canal opened, 1825, in southern portion of township. Population in 1810 about 2,200. Population in 1830 about 3,400. Home of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family, beginning...

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Wayne County in the State of New York and a farmer of respectability. By this timely aid was I enabled to reach the place of my destination in Pensylvania

Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...

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, and immediately after my arrival there I commenced copying the characters of the plates. I copyed a considerable number of them and by means of the Urim and Thummin I translated some of them which I did between the time I arrived at the house of my wife

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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’s father

21 Mar. 1763–11 Jan. 1839. Farmer, hunter, innkeeper. Born in Waterbury, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Reuben Hale and Diantha Ward. Member of Methodist church. Moved to Wells, Albany Co., New York (later in Rutland Co., Vermont), ca. 1771, to live with...

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in the month of December, and the February following. Some time in this month of February the aforementioned Mr Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off of the plates and started with them to the City of New York

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

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.32

Although this account does not indicate why Harris took the sample to New York City, other narratives suggest that his errand was to explore the possibilities for obtaining a translation and that JS began translating only after Harris returned without finding a translator. (Knight, Reminiscences, 3; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 6, [7]; JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 6.)  


For what took place relative to him and the characters I refer to his own account of the circumstances as he related them to me after his return which was as follows. “I went to the City of New York

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

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and presented the Characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Anthony Charles Anthon

17 Nov. 1797–29 July 1867. College professor, lawyer. Born in New York City. Son of George Christian Anthon and Genevieve Judot. Attended Columbia College, 1811–1815, in New York City. Studied law; admitted to bar, 1819. Adjunct professor of Greek and Latin...

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a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthony

17 Nov. 1797–29 July 1867. College professor, lawyer. Born in New York City. Son of George Christian Anthon and Genevieve Judot. Attended Columbia College, 1811–1815, in New York City. Studied law; admitted to bar, 1819. Adjunct professor of Greek and Latin...

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stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian.
I then shewed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldeak, Assyriac, and Arabac, and he said that they were true characters. He gave me a certificate certifying to the people of Palmyra

First permanent white settlers arrived, ca. 1789. Included village of Palmyra. Erie Canal opened, 1825, in southern portion of township. Population in 1810 about 2,200. Population in 1830 about 3,400. Home of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family, beginning...

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that they were true characters and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct.
I took the Certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr Anthony

17 Nov. 1797–29 July 1867. College professor, lawyer. Born in New York City. Son of George Christian Anthon and Genevieve Judot. Attended Columbia College, 1811–1815, in New York City. Studied law; admitted to bar, 1819. Adjunct professor of Greek and Latin...

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called me back and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an Angel of God had revealed it unto him. He then said to me, let me see that certificate, I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministring of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him, he would translate them.* I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them, he replied “I cannot read a sealed book”. I left him and went to Dr Mitchel Samuel Mitchill who sanctioned what Professor Anthony

17 Nov. 1797–29 July 1867. College professor, lawyer. Born in New York City. Son of George Christian Anthon and Genevieve Judot. Attended Columbia College, 1811–1815, in New York City. Studied law; admitted to bar, 1819. Adjunct professor of Greek and Latin...

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had said respecting both the Characters and the translation.”33

The origin of the Harris account quoted here is unknown. In none of the earlier accounts of this episode was there an indication that Harris took a copy of JS’s translation of the characters to Anthon or Mitchill. Journalist James Gordon Bennett produced the earliest known written account of what Harris said about his trip to New York. According to Bennett, Harris told lawyer Charles Butler that Anthon “said that he did not know what language they were” and referred Harris to Mitchill. The latter “compared them with other hieroglyphics—thought them very curious—and they were the characters of a nation now extinct which he named.” Harris then revisited Anthon, “who put some questions to him and got angry with Harris.”a According to two later accounts by Anthon, Mitchill referred Harris to Anthon, who concluded that the story of the gold plates was “a scheme to cheat the farmer of his money” and declined to give Harris a written statement.b  


aArrington, “James Gordon Bennett’s 1831 Report on ‘the Mormonites,’”355; see also [James Gordon Bennett], “Mormon Religion—Clerical Ambition—Western New York—The Mormonites Gone to Ohio,” Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer [New York City], 1 Sept. 1831 [2]; and Bennett, “Read This I Pray Thee,” 212–216.

bCharles Anthon, New York, to Eber D. Howe, Painesville, OH, 17 Feb. 1834, in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 270–272; Charles Anthon, New York, to Thomas Winthrop Coit, New Rochelle, NY, 3 Apr. 1841, in Clark, Gleanings by the Way, 233–238.

Mr Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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having returned from this tour he left me and went home to Palmyra

First permanent white settlers arrived, ca. 1789. Included village of Palmyra. Erie Canal opened, 1825, in southern portion of township. Population in 1810 about 2,200. Population in 1830 about 3,400. Home of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family, beginning...

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, arranged his affairs, and returned again to my house about the twelfth of April, Eighteen hundred and twenty eight, and commenced writing for me while I translated from the plates, which we continued untill the fourteenth of June following, by which time he had written one hundred and sixteen pages of manuscript on foolscap paper.34

Emma Smith later stated that she also served as a scribe for the translation of the Book of Mormon, as did her brother Reuben Hale. Their inscriptions were likely included in this earliest manuscript, along with Harris’s. (Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289–290.)  


Some time after Mr Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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had began to write for me, he began to tease me to give him liberty to carry the writings home and shew them, and desired of me that I would enquire of the Lord through the Urim and Thummin if he might not do so. I did enquire, and the answer was that he must not. However he was not satisfied with this answer, and desired that I should enquire again. I did so, and the answer was as before. Still he could not be contented but insisted that I should enquire once more. After much solicitation I again enquired of the Lord, and permission was granted him to have the writings on certain conditions, which were, that he shew them only to his brother. Preserved Harris

Ca. 1785–18 Apr. 1867. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s Landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married Nancy Warren. One of five to whom JS gave Martin...

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, his own wife Lucy Harris Harris

1 May 1792–summer 1836. Born at Swift’s Landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York. Daughter of Rufus Harris and Lucy Hill. Affiliated with Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Married Martin Harris, 27 Mar. 1808, in Palmyra. Partially deaf, by ...

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, his father Nathan Harris, and his mother Rhoda Lapham Harris, and a Mrs Mary (Polly) Harris Cobb a sister to his wife

1 May 1792–summer 1836. Born at Swift’s Landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York. Daughter of Rufus Harris and Lucy Hill. Affiliated with Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Married Martin Harris, 27 Mar. 1808, in Palmyra. Partially deaf, by ...

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. In accordance with this last answer I required of him that he should bind himself in a covenant to me [p. 9]
to assist us in our affliction,31

According to Lucy Mack Smith, JS asked her to approach Harris for financial assistance to enable JS to continue translation work. JS was preparing to move to Harmony when Harris met him and Alva Hale at a “public house” and gave him a bag of silver valued at fifty dollars “to do the Lords work with.” In a later interview, Harris was quoted as saying that he encouraged JS to move to Harmony, paid JS’s debts, and “furnished him money for his journey.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 6, [3], [6]; “Mormonism—No. II,” Tiffany’s Monthly, Aug. 1859, 170.)  


Mr Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

View Full Bio
was a resident of Palmyra township

First permanent white settlers arrived, ca. 1789. Included village of Palmyra. Erie Canal opened, 1825, in southern portion of township. Population in 1810 about 2,200. Population in 1830 about 3,400. Home of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family, beginning...

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Wayne County  in the State of New York and a farmer of respectability. By this timely aid was I enabled  to reach the place of my destination in Pensylvania

Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...

More Info
, and immediately after my arrival  there I commenced copying the characters of all the plates. I copyed a considerable number  of them and by means of the Urim and Thummin I translated some of them which I did  between the time I arrived at the house of my wife

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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’s father

21 Mar. 1763–11 Jan. 1839. Farmer, hunter, innkeeper. Born in Waterbury, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Reuben Hale and Diantha Ward. Member of Methodist church. Moved to Wells, Albany Co., New York (later in Rutland Co., Vermont), ca. 1771, to live with...

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in the month of December, and  the February following. Some time in this month of February the aforementioned Mr  Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off of the plates  and started with them to the City of New York

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

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.32

Although this account does not indicate why Harris took the sample to New York City, other narratives suggest that his errand was to explore the possibilities for obtaining a translation and that JS began translating only after Harris returned without finding a translator. (Knight, Reminiscences, 3; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 6, [7]; JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 6.)  


For what took place relative to him  and the characters I refer to his own account of the circumstances as he related them  to me after his return which was as follows. “I went to the City of New York

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

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and presented  the Characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Anthony [Charles Anthon]

17 Nov. 1797–29 July 1867. College professor, lawyer. Born in New York City. Son of George Christian Anthon and Genevieve Judot. Attended Columbia College, 1811–1815, in New York City. Studied law; admitted to bar, 1819. Adjunct professor of Greek and Latin...

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a  gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthony

17 Nov. 1797–29 July 1867. College professor, lawyer. Born in New York City. Son of George Christian Anthon and Genevieve Judot. Attended Columbia College, 1811–1815, in New York City. Studied law; admitted to bar, 1819. Adjunct professor of Greek and Latin...

View Full Bio
stated that the trans lation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian.
I then shewed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were  Egyptian, Chaldeak, Assyriac, and Arabac, and he said that they were true charac ters. He gave me a certificate certifying to the people of Palmyra

First permanent white settlers arrived, ca. 1789. Included village of Palmyra. Erie Canal opened, 1825, in southern portion of township. Population in 1810 about 2,200. Population in 1830 about 3,400. Home of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family, beginning...

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that they were true char acters and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct.
I took the Certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when  Mr Anthony

17 Nov. 1797–29 July 1867. College professor, lawyer. Born in New York City. Son of George Christian Anthon and Genevieve Judot. Attended Columbia College, 1811–1815, in New York City. Studied law; admitted to bar, 1819. Adjunct professor of Greek and Latin...

View Full Bio
called me back and asked me how the young man found out that there were  gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an Angel of God had  revealed it unto him. He then said to me, let me see that certificate, I accordingly took  it out of my pocket and gave it [to] him when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that  there was no such thing now as ministring of angels, and that if I would bring the plates  to him, he would translate them.<*> <I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them, he replied  “I cannot read a sealed book”.> I left him and went to Dr Mitchel [Samuel Mitchill] who sanction ed what Professor Anthony

17 Nov. 1797–29 July 1867. College professor, lawyer. Born in New York City. Son of George Christian Anthon and Genevieve Judot. Attended Columbia College, 1811–1815, in New York City. Studied law; admitted to bar, 1819. Adjunct professor of Greek and Latin...

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had said respecting both the Characters and the translation.”33

The origin of the Harris account quoted here is unknown. In none of the earlier accounts of this episode was there an indication that Harris took a copy of JS’s translation of the characters to Anthon or Mitchill. Journalist James Gordon Bennett produced the earliest known written account of what Harris said about his trip to New York. According to Bennett, Harris told lawyer Charles Butler that Anthon “said that he did not know what language they were” and referred Harris to Mitchill. The latter “compared them with other hieroglyphics—thought them very curious—and they were the characters of a nation now extinct which he named.” Harris then revisited Anthon, “who put some questions to him and got angry with Harris.”a According to two later accounts by Anthon, Mitchill referred Harris to Anthon, who concluded that the story of the gold plates was “a scheme to cheat the farmer of his money” and declined to give Harris a written statement.b  


aArrington, “James Gordon Bennett’s 1831 Report on ‘the Mormonites,’”355; see also [James Gordon Bennett], “Mormon Religion—Clerical Ambition—Western New York—The Mormonites Gone to Ohio,” Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer [New York City], 1 Sept. 1831 [2]; and Bennett, “Read This I Pray Thee,” 212–216.

bCharles Anthon, New York, to Eber D. Howe, Painesville, OH, 17 Feb. 1834, in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 270–272; Charles Anthon, New York, to Thomas Winthrop Coit, New Rochelle, NY, 3 Apr. 1841, in Clark, Gleanings by the Way, 233–238.

Mr Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

View Full Bio
having returned from this tour he left me and went home to Palmyra

First permanent white settlers arrived, ca. 1789. Included village of Palmyra. Erie Canal opened, 1825, in southern portion of township. Population in 1810 about 2,200. Population in 1830 about 3,400. Home of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family, beginning...

More Info
, arranged  his affairs, and returned again to my house about the twelfth of April, Eighteen hundred and  twenty eight, and commenced writing for me while I translated from the plates, which we  continued untill the fourteenth of June following, by which time he had written one  hundred and sixteen <pages> of manuscript on foolscap paper.34

Emma Smith later stated that she also served as a scribe for the translation of the Book of Mormon, as did her brother Reuben Hale. Their inscriptions were likely included in this earliest manuscript, along with Harris’s. (Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289–290.)  


Some time after Mr Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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 had began to write for me, he began to tease me to give him liberty to carry the writings  home and shew them, and desired of me that I would enquire of the Lord through the Urim  and Thummin if he might not do so. I did enquire, and the answer was that he must  not. However he was not satisfied with this answer, and desired that I should enquire  again. I did so, and the answer was as before. Still he could not be contented but insis ted that I should enquire once more. after After much solicitation I again enquired  of the Lord, and permission was granted him to have the writings on certain condit ions, which were, that he shew them only to his brother. Preserved Harris

Ca. 1785–18 Apr. 1867. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s Landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married Nancy Warren. One of five to whom JS gave Martin...

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, his own wife [Lucy Harris Harris

1 May 1792–summer 1836. Born at Swift’s Landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York. Daughter of Rufus Harris and Lucy Hill. Affiliated with Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Married Martin Harris, 27 Mar. 1808, in Palmyra. Partially deaf, by ...

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],  his father [Nathan Harris], and his mother [Rhoda Lapham Harris], and a Mrs [Mary (Polly) Harris] Cobb a sister to his wife

1 May 1792–summer 1836. Born at Swift’s Landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York. Daughter of Rufus Harris and Lucy Hill. Affiliated with Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Married Martin Harris, 27 Mar. 1808, in Palmyra. Partially deaf, by ...

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. In accordance with this  last answer I required of him that he should bind himself in a covenant to me [p. 9]
PreviousNext
In addition to working on an initial draft of JS’s history in summer 1839, James Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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devoted some of his time to inscribing the history compiled to that point into a large manuscript book. He began this new draft of the history in the back of the volume in which the 1834–1836 history had been inscribed, turning it over so the back cover became the front cover. Serving as principal sources for this version of the history were the manuscript that JS, Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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, and George W. Robinson

14 May 1814–10 Feb. 1878. Clerk, postmaster, merchant, clothier, banker. Born at Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont. Baptized into LDS church and moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1836. Clerk and recorder for Kirtland high council, beginning Jan. 1836. Married...

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had created in Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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in 1838, and Draft 1. Textual evidence that the nonextant 1838 material was used when composing Draft 2 is found in the second paragraph of the latter, which situates the composition in “the eighth year since the [1830] organization of said Church,” and a later passage that gives the date of composition as “the Second day of May, One thousand Eight hundred and thirty eight.”1

JS History, vol. A-1, 1, 8.  


Starting at 15 May 1829, the remainder of the text in Mulholland’s handwriting is a copy of Draft 1. Although the first seven pages of Draft 1 match Draft 2 quite closely, the two versions are markedly less similar after that point. This contrast may indicate that an intermediate draft of the history was made beginning at about page 7 of Draft 1 and that Mulholland copied the text from this intermediate draft, not directly from Draft 1.
Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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inscribed pages 1–59 in the large history volume. After his death in November 1839, Robert B. Thompson

1 Oct. 1811–27 Aug. 1841. Clerk, editor. Born in Great Driffield, Yorkshire, England. Member of Methodist church. Immigrated to Upper Canada, 1834. Baptized into LDS church by Parley P. Pratt, May 1836, in Upper Canada. Ordained an elder by John Taylor, 22...

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served as scribe for the history. Little is known about the circumstances surrounding Thompson’s inscription, totaling only sixteen pages, in the large history volume. The transcript of Draft 2 presented herein ends on page 61 of the manuscript volume, after the first two pages of Thompson’s inscription, to correspond with the end of Draft 3; the other fourteen pages in his hand give a biographical sketch of Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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, including a brief narrative of his conversion to Mormonism. Because the majority of the pages in Thompson’s hand deal with Rigdon’s life before joining the church, Rigdon was likely consulted for this portion of the narrative.
The opening statement of the draft in the large manuscript volume refers to defamation and persecution to which the Latter-day Saints and JS in particular had been subjected, and it characterizes such maltreatment as one motivation for telling the story of the church and its founder: “Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil disposed and designing men,” JS proclaimed, the history was designed to “disabuse the publick mind, and put all enquirers after truth into possession of the facts” and set the record straight “in relation both to myself and the Church.” This introduction was written not long after JS had fled Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, Ohio, for Far West

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...

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, Missouri, under threat of several lawsuits; thus, when he began the history in summer 1838 he was especially motivated to justify himself and the church in light of what he considered a long history of persecution. Such an introduction may also have been written as a more general response to the accumulated negative reports transmitted orally and in the press beginning in JS’s youth and continuing throughout the 1830s.2

Although the history was begun in 1838, it is possible that the preamble in the first paragraph was added in 1839 when James Mulholland wrote Draft 2. If so, the concern with negative publicity may also have been a reaction to the widespread news of the Mormon conflict in Missouri in fall 1838 andJS’s imprisonment, or to the growing number of publications critical of JS and the church since 1838. See, for example, Origen Bacheler, Mormonism Exposed, Internally and Externally (New York, 1838), and La Roy Sunderland’s eight-part series published in the Methodist Zion’s Watchman from 13 January to 3 March 1838 and republished in pamphlet form as Mormonism Exposed and Refuted (New York: Piercy & Reid, 1838).  


After briefly narrating JS’s birth and early years, Draft 2 proceeds immediately to the circumstances that culminated in his first vision of Deity in the spring of 1820, followed closely by the visitations of an angel in 1823 and JS’s commission to retrieve a sacred record buried nearby. JS’s religious mission is the primary focus; his personal affairs, like his marriage to Emma Smith

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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, whom he met while employed in digging for a rumored silver mine, are discussed only briefly and in the context of that mission.
Following JS’s recitation of his retrieval of the ancient record, the beginnings of his translation thereof, and the loss of the translation manuscript, James Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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began including the full texts of JS’s revelations, which became a major element of the account. The revelations were integrated into the history starting with July 1828, and they generally appear in chronological order. Mulholland copied the revelations into the history from the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, rather than from earlier versions. Many of JS’s early revelations underwent significant updating and expansion in order to suit rapidly changing circumstances after the organization of the Church of Christ in 1830, so the inclusion of the 1835 version of revelations into a narrative covering events before 1835 introduced numerous anachronisms. Significant instances of anachronism are identified in the annotation of the text herein.
Additionally, the narrative itself, composed beginning in 1838, necessarily reflects the perspective of JS and his collaborators at the time of its production, thus inadvertently introducing terminology and concepts that were not operative a decade earlier in the period the narrative describes. Examples include using later priesthood nomenclature such as “Aaronic” and “Melchizedek” and calling the church JS established “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” a name not designated until 1838. Such usage makes it difficult to trace the details of the unfolding of church governance and doctrine in the faith’s dynamic early years. Readers wishing to more fully understand these issues may consult the revelation texts and other documents found in the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers.
While much of the narrative is anchored by documents, particularly published revelations, JS and his associates were dependent upon unrecorded memories for the balance of the historical account found in Draft 2. JS used collective memory and oral recollections of fellow participants, such as Newel Knight

13 Sept. 1800–11 Jan. 1847. Miller, merchant. Born at Marlborough, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Knight Sr. and Polly Peck. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, ca. 1809. Moved to Windsor (later in Colesville), Broome Co., New...

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, to reconstruct the events of early church history. Such reminiscences formed the basis for not only factual details in the history but likely for quotations as well, such as long portions of the report of the 1830 trial proceedings in South Bainbridge and Colesville

Area settled, beginning 1785. Formed from Windsor Township, Apr. 1821. Population in 1830 about 2,400. Villages within township included Harpursville, Nineveh, and Colesville. Susquehanna River ran through eastern portion of township. JS worked for Joseph...

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, New York. JS evidently had to rely on his own memory and that of others to provide some extensive quotations, such as the words of the angel Moroni during his first appearance to JS and the remarks scholars in New York City

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

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made to Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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when he showed them characters copied from the gold plates. Lists of persons baptized may have come from records no longer extant or possibly from eyewitnesses consulted for the production of the history.
The manuscript itself was a dynamic text, emended at several times by various scribes. Revisions made in the hand of James Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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at the time of inscription or shortly after are included in the transcript herein. Later changes in the hand of Willard Richards

24 June 1804–11 Mar. 1854. Teacher, lecturer, doctor, clerk, printer, editor, postmaster. Born at Hopkinton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Joseph Richards and Rhoda Howe. Moved to Richmond, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts, 1813. Moved to Chatham, Columbia...

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, made beginning in December 1842, are not incorporated into the transcript, although substantial changes are described in annotation. Thus, the transcript of Draft 2 presents the history in an early stage, before changes were made by Richards and others, and it approximates the state of the history when Howard Coray

6 May 1817–16 Jan. 1908. Bookkeeper, clerk, teacher, farmer. Born in Dansville, Steuben Co., New York. Son of Silas Coray and Mary Stephens. Moved to Providence, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania, ca. 1827; to Williams, Northampton Co., Pennsylvania, by 1830; and...

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used it for a new history draft in about 1841.
For more information about the relationship between this draft and Drafts 1 and 3, see Introduction to Early Drafts of History, 1838–1856.

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