53992717

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

passage of Scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible. At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion or else I must do as James directs, that is, Ask of God. I at last came to the determination to ask of God, concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally and not upbraid, I might venture. So in accordance with this my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful clear day early in the spring of Eightteen hundred and twenty.9

JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 3, indicates that this event occurred “in the 16th year of my age,” or 1821.  


It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
After I had retired into the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God, I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was siezed upon by some power which entirely overcame me and had such astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had siezed upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction, not to an imaginary ruin but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world who had such a marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being. Just at this moment of great alarm I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually untill it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two personages (whose brightness and glory defy all description) standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me calling me by name and said (pointing to the other) “This is my beloved Son, Hear him.”
My object in going to enquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner therefore did I get possession of myself so as to be able to speak, than I asked the personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right, (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong, and the Personage who addressed me said that all their Creeds were an abomination in his sight, that those professors were all corrupt, that “they draw near to me with their lips but their hearts are far from me, They teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of Godliness but they deny the power thereof.”10

See Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:9; and 2 Timothy 3:5.  


He again forbade me to join with any of them and many other things did he say unto me which I cannot write at this time.12

For JS’s other accounts of this vision of Deity, see JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 3; JS, Journal, 9–11 Nov. 1835; JS, “Church History,” 706–707; and JS, “Latter Day Saints,” 404–405.  


When I came to myself again I found myself lying on my back looking up into Heaven.13

A later redaction here by Willard Richards points to note “B,” which he penned on pages 132–133 of the manuscript book on 2 December 1842. The note describes JS’s interaction with his mother following the vision, when he told her, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.” (Richards, Journal, 2 Dec. 1842.)  


Some few days later after I had this vision I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist Preachers who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement14

In an 1834 account, Oliver Cowdery mentioned Methodist preacher George Lane in connection with religious excitement in Palmyra and vicinity in “the 15th year” of JS’s life. Cowdery subsequently revised the dating to “the 17th” year. Although there is no recorded statement from JS mentioning Lane specifically, the latter’s assignments and travels between July 1819 and July 1825 placed him in close enough proximity to Palmyra and Manchester that he would have had numerous opportunities for contact with JS. (Oliver Cowdery, “Letter III,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1834, 1:42; Oliver Cowdery, “Letter IV,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Feb. 1835, 1:78 [; Porter, “Reverend George Lane,” 328–339.)  


and conversing with him on the subject of religion I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behaviour, he treated my communication not only lightly but with great contempt, saying it was all of the Devil, that there was no such thing as visions or revelations in these days, that all such things had ceased with the [p. 3]
passage of Scripture so differently as <to> destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to  the Bible. At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion  or else I must do as James directs, that is, Ask of God. I at last came to the determination to  ask of God, concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give  liberally and not upbraid, I might venture. So in accordance with this my determination to ask  of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful clear day  early in the spring of Eightteen hundred and twenty.9

JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 3, indicates that this event occurred “in the 16th year of my age,” or 1821.  


It was the first time in my life that I had  <made> such an attempt, for amidst all <my> anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
After I had retired into the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked  around me and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my  heart to God, I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was <siezed> upon by some power which  entirely overcame me and <had> such astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so  that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me and it seemed to me for a time  as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But exerting all my powers to call upon God to de liver me out of the power of this enemy which had siezed upon me, and at the very moment  when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction, not to an im aginary ruin but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world who had such a  marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being. Just at this moment of great alarm  I saw a pillar <of> light exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun, which descended  gracefully gradually untill it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself  delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw  two personages (whose brightness and glory defy all description) standing above me in the air.  One of <them> spake unto me calling me by name and said (pointing to the other) “This is my  beloved Son, Hear him.”
My object in going to enquire of the Lord was to know  which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner therefore  did I get possession of myself so as to be able to speak, than I asked the personages who  stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right, (for at this time it had never  entered into my heart that all were wrong) and which I should join. I was answered that  I must join none of them, for they were all wrong, and the Personage who addressed me said  that all their Creeds were an abomination in his sight, that those professors were all  corrupt, that “they draw near to me to with their lips but their hearts are far from me, They  teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of Godliness but they deny  the power thereof.”10

See Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:9; and 2 Timothy 3:5.  


He again forbade me to join with any of them and many other thing[s]11

TEXT: “thing[edge worn]”.  


 did he say unto me which I cannot write at this time.12

For JS’s other accounts of this vision of Deity, see JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 3; JS, Journal, 9–11 Nov. 1835; JS, “Church History,” 706–707; and JS, “Latter Day Saints,” 404–405.  


When I came to myself again I  found myself lying on <my> back looking up into Heaven.13

A later redaction here by Willard Richards points to note “B,” which he penned on pages 132–133 of the manuscript book on 2 December 1842. The note describes JS’s interaction with his mother following the vision, when he told her, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.” (Richards, Journal, 2 Dec. 1842.)  


Some few days later after I had this  vision I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist Preachers who was very  active in the before mentioned religious excitement14

In an 1834 account, Oliver Cowdery mentioned Methodist preacher George Lane in connection with religious excitement in Palmyra and vicinity in “the 15th year” of JS’s life. Cowdery subsequently revised the dating to “the 17th” year. Although there is no recorded statement from JS mentioning Lane specifically, the latter’s assignments and travels between July 1819 and July 1825 placed him in close enough proximity to Palmyra and Manchester that he would have had numerous opportunities for contact with JS. (Oliver Cowdery, “Letter III,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1834, 1:42; Oliver Cowdery, “Letter IV,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Feb. 1835, 1:78 [; Porter, “Reverend George Lane,” 328–339.)  


and conversing with him on the subject  of religion I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had.  I was greatly surprised at his behaviour, he treated my communication not only  lightly but with great contempt, saying it was all of the Devil, that there was no such  thing as visions or revelations in these days, that all such things had ceased with the [p. 3]
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JS, History, [ca. June 1839–ca. 1841]; handwriting 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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and 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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; sixty-one pages; in JS History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, CHL. Includes redactions, use marks, and archival marking.
Large blank book composed of ruled paper printed with forty horizontal lines in (now faint) blue ink. The text block includes thirty gatherings of various sizes, each about a dozen leaves per gathering, and originally had 384 interior leaves cut to measure 13⅝ × 9 inches (35 × 23 cm). The text block, which was conserved in the late twentieth century, was probably originally sewn on recessed cords and was apparently also glued on leather tapes. The binding features false bands. The endpapers were single-sided marbled leaves featuring a traditional Spanish pattern with slate blue body and veins of black and red. The block was bound to pasteboard covers, probably with a hollow-back ledger binding, making a book measuring 14¼ × 9½ × 2½ inches (36 × 24 × 6 cm). The boards were bound in brown suede calfskin. At some point, blind-tooled decorations were made around the outside border and along the board edges and the turned-in edges of the inside covers.
The volume was originally used for JS’s 1834–1836 history, comprising 154 pages.1

See Source Note for 1834–1836 history.  


It was subsequently turned upside down so the back cover became the front cover, and on the new first page, 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 copying the history that had been begun by the church presidency in 1838. He left the first seventeen lines blank, presumably to create a large title when the work was complete, although a title was never added. Because the volume had been turned upside down, the unlined top margin became the bottom margin and there was no longer any top margin. Mulholland inscribed pages 2–19 beginning at the head of the page; then, beginning with page 20, he left the line at the top of the page blank, effectively creating a top margin. He also inscribed one line of text below the lowest printed line at the foot of the page, in the original top margin. Starting on page 13, he penciled in a horizontal line at the bottom of each page to ensure straight text on this last line. Mulholland inscribed 59 pages in all. 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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, who replaced Mulholland as scribe, commenced on page 60 and wrote for sixteen pages, the first two pages of which are included in the transcript herein. Thompson maintained the blank upper margin, but instead of filling in the lower margin as Mulholland had done, he left the space blank. In addition, he created a left margin on each page by penciling in a vertical line. Both Mulholland and Thompson numbered the pages as they inscribed them. At a later time, 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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inserted headings giving the year, or the month and year, narrated on each page.2

Of the excerpt transcribed here, manuscript pages 1–9, 18, 19, and 36 do not have a heading.  


The volume includes 553 pages of the history inscribed beginning in 1839, followed by sixteen pages of addenda that were recorded by Charles Wandell and Thomas Bullock. Four blank pages separate the addenda from the end of the 1834–1836 history. Multiple layers of emendations and other later marks accumulated as the history was created, revised, and published. The transcript here presents the initial text, along with only those revisions made to it by the first two scribes, Mulholland and Thompson.
With the later history’s side of the book upward, the spine of the book was at some point in time labeled as volume “A | 1” of the multivolume history. Archival stickers were also added at some point to the spine and inside front cover. Two interior leaves are now missing from the initial gathering of the volume and one leaf is missing from the final gathering. The original flyleaves and pastedowns were also removed.3

See JS History, vol. A-1, microfilm, Dec. 1971, CHL. Only one leaf of the original pastedowns and flyleaves is extant. The pastedowns were replaced with undecorated paper in 1994, according to a conservation note on the verso of the extant marbled leaf archived with the volume.  


The volume shows moderate wear, browning, water staining, and brittleness. It has been resewn, rebound, and otherwise conserved.
In the first half of the 1840s, the volume was in the possession of church scribes and printers while JS’s history was updated and prepared for publication, which was begun in the church newspaper in Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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, Illinois, in the 15 March 1842 issue. JS maintained custody of the volume through his later life, as indicated by a note he inscribed memorializing his deceased brother Alvin Smith

11 Feb. 1798–19 Nov. 1823. Farmer, carpenter. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; returned to Tunbridge, before May 1803. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804, and to...

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, which was attached to the verso of the front flyleaf. The volume is listed in the first extant Historian’s Office inventory, made in Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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in February 1846 by clerk Thomas Bullock, and it is listed in inventories of church records made in Salt Lake City in the second half of the nineteenth century.4

“Schedule of Church Records. Nauvoo 1846,” [1]; “Historian’s Office Catalogue 1858,” 2, Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.  


These and later archival records, as well as archival marking on the volume, indicate continuous institutional custody.

Facts