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

multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir  and division among the people, Some Crying, “Lo here” and some Lo there. Some were  contending for the Methodist faith, Some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist;  for notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the  time of their conversion, and the great Zeal manifested by the respective Clergy who were  active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling in order to  have every body converted as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased[.]6

TEXT: The right edge of the page is damaged, obscuring end punctuation.  

 
 Yet when the Converts began to file off some to one party and some to another, it was seen  that the seemingly good feelings of both the Priests and the Converts were mere pretence  more pretended than real, for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued;  Priest contending against priest, and convert against convert so that all their good  feelings one for another (if they ever had any) were entirely lost in a strife of words  and a contest about opinions.
I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My Fathers family was proselyted  to the Presbyterian faith and four of them joined that Church, Namely, My Mother  Lucy, My Brothers Hyrum, Samuel Harrison, and my Sister Sophonia.7

Lucy Mack Smith and three of her children, Hyrum, Sophronia, and Samuel, attended the Western Presbyterian Church in Palmyra. Lucy wrote that their affiliation began following the death of son Alvin in November 1823, or near the end of JS’s eighteenth year. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 4, [7]–[8]; see also “Records of the Session of the Presbyterian Church in Palmyra,” 10 Mar. 1830.)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Smith, Lucy Mack. History, 1844–1845. 18 books. CHL. Also available in Lavina Fielding Anderson, ed., Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001).

“Records of the Session of the Presbyterian Church in Palmyra, New York.” 1830. CHL.

During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection  and great uneasiness, but though my feelings were deep and often pungent, still I  kept myself aloof from all these parties though I attended their several meetings as  occasion would permit. But in process of time my mind became somewhat partial  to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them, but so great was the  confusion and strife amongst the different denominations that it was impossible for a person  young as I was and so unacquainted with men and things to come to any certain con clusion who was right and who was wrong.
My mind at different times was greatly  excited for the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most  decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all their powers of either reason  or sophistry to prove their errors, or at least to make the people think they were in error.  On the other hand the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally Zealous in  endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.
In the midst of this war of words, and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself, what  is to be done? Who of all these parties are right? Or are they all wrong together? and  if any one of them be right which is it? And how shall I know it?8

In his circa summer 1832 history, JS recounted that by the time of his vision he had already concluded that the world lay in apostasy and that “there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament.” (JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 2.)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

JS History, ca. Summer 1832 / Smith, Joseph. “A History of the Life of Joseph Smith Jr,” ca. Summer 1832. In Joseph Smith, “Letter Book A,” 1832–1835, 1–[6] (earliest numbering). Joseph Smith Collection. CHL.

While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties  of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, First Chapter and fifth verse  which reads, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men  liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.[”] Never did any passage  of scripture come with more power to the heart of man that this did at this time to  mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected  on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did,  for how to act I did not know and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had  [I] would never know, for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same [p. 2]
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In addition to working on an initial draft of JS’s history in summer 1839, James Mulholland 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, and George W. Robinson had created in Missouri 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.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). CHL. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.

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 inscribed pages 1–59 in the large history volume. After his death in November 1839, Robert B. Thompson 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, 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, Ohio, for Far West, 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, 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 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, 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, 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 made to Martin Harris 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 at the time of inscription or shortly after are included in the transcript herein. Later changes in the hand of Willard Richards, 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 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.

Facts