26015

History, circa Summer 1832

A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Christ the son of the living God of whom he beareth record and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brought forth and established by his hand firstly he receiving the testamony from on high seccondly the ministering of Angels thirdly the reception of the holy Priesthood

Power or authority of God. The priesthood was conferred through the laying on of hands to adult male members of the church in good standing; no specialized training was required. Priesthood officers held responsibility for administering the sacrament of the...

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by the ministring of—Aangels to adminster the letter of the Gospel— —the Law and commandments as they were given unto him— and the ordinencs

A religious rite. JS taught that ordinances were covenants between man and God, in which believers could affirm faith, gain spiritual knowledge, and seek blessings. Some ordinances were considered requisite for salvation. The manner in which ordinances were...

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, forthly a confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God power and ordinence from on high to preach the Gospel in the administration and demonstration of the spirit the Kees

Authority or knowledge of God given to mankind. In the earliest records, the term keys primarily referred to JS’s authority to unlock the “mysteries of the kingdom.” Early revelations declared that both JS and Oliver Cowdery held the keys to bring forth “...

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of the Kingdom of God confered upon him and the continuation of the blessings of God to him &c——
I was born in the town of Charon [Sharon] in the State of Vermont North America on the twenty third day of December AD 1805 of goodly Parents who spared no pains to instructing me in the christian religion. at the age of about ten years my Father Joseph Smith Seignior

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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moved 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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Ontario County in the State of New York and being in indigent circumstances were obliged to labour hard for the support of a large Family having nine chilldren and as it required the exertions of all that were able to render any assistance for the support of the Family therefore we were deprived of the bennifit of an education suffice it to say I was mearly instructtid in reading writing and the ground rules of Arithmatic which constituted my whole literary acquirements. At about the age of twelve years my mind become seriously imprest [p. 1]

Frederick G. Williams handwriting begins.  


A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account  of his marvilous experience1

In contemporaneous religious writing, “experience” often denoted personal enlightenment through divine communication. (“Experience,” in Oxford English Dictionary, 3:430.)  


and of all the mighty acts  which he doeth in the name of Jesus Ch[r]ist the son  of the living God of whom he beareth record  and also an account of the rise of the church of  Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brought  forth and established by his hand <firstly> he receiving  the testamony from on high seccondly the min istering of Angels thirdly the reception of  the holy Priesthood

Power or authority of God. The priesthood was conferred through the laying on of hands to adult male members of the church in good standing; no specialized training was required. Priesthood officers held responsibility for administering the sacrament of the...

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by the ministring of— Aangels to adminster the letter of the Law <Gospel—>  <—the Law and commandments as they were given unto him—>  and in2

TEXT: “it” changed to “in” and then “in” canceled.  


<the> ordinencs

A religious rite. JS taught that ordinances were covenants between man and God, in which believers could affirm faith, gain spiritual knowledge, and seek blessings. Some ordinances were considered requisite for salvation. The manner in which ordinances were...

View Glossary
, forthly a confirmation  and reception of the high Priesthood after  the holy order of the son of the living God pow er and ordinence from on high to preach  the Gospel in the administration and demonstra tion of the spirit the Kees

Authority or knowledge of God given to mankind. In the earliest records, the term keys primarily referred to JS’s authority to unlock the “mysteries of the kingdom.” Early revelations declared that both JS and Oliver Cowdery held the keys to bring forth “...

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of the Kingdom of God  confered upon him3

See Matthew 16:19; Revelation, 30 Oct. 1831, in Doctrine and Covenants 24:1, 1835 ed. [D&C 65:2]; and Revelation, 15 Mar. 1832, in Doctrine and Covenants 79:1, 1835 ed. [D&C 81:2].  


and the continuation of the  blessings of God to him &c——
I was born in the town of Charon [Sharon] in the <State> of Vermont  North America on the twenty third day of December  AD 1805 of goodly Parents4

Compare Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 5 [1 Nephi 1:1].  


who spared no pains  to instruct<ing> me in <the> christian religion[.] at the age of  about ten years my Father Joseph Smith Seignior

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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 moved 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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Ontario County5

Palmyra was part of Ontario County until April 1823, when it became part of newly created Wayne County. (An Act to Erect a New County, from Parts of the Counties of Ontario and Seneca, by the Name of Wayne, and For Other Purposes [11 Apr. 1823], Laws of the State of New-York [1823], chap. 138, pp. 158–162.)  


in the State of  New York and being in indigent circumstances were  obliged to labour hard for the support of a large  Family having nine chilldren6

When the Smith family moved to Palmyra there were only eight children (two children had died in infancy). Lucy, the ninth child, was born 18 July 1821, when JS was fifteen.  


and as it require d their exertions of all that were able to render  any assistance for the support of the Family  therefore we were deprived of the bennifit of an  education suffice it to say I was mearly instruct tid in reading and writing and the ground <rules> of  Arithmatic which const[it]uted my whole lite rary acquirements.7

The Smith family embarked on a new effort to clear land and establish a family farm in New York after years of financial misfortune in Vermont and New Hampshire. JS and his siblings did, however, receive some formal schooling in their youth and probably received some rudimentary education at home. (See Palmyra, NY, Attendance record, first school district, Sept.–Nov. 1817, Macedon Historical Society, Macedon, NY; see also Marquardt, Rise of Mormonism, 33–34.)  


At about the age of twelve  years my mind become seriously imprest [p. 1]
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JS’s circa summer 1832 history is the only narrative of the foundational spiritual events of JS’s early life that includes his own handwriting. It begins in an imposing manner, announcing “A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Ch[r]ist . . . and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time.” Following this introduction, JS started with his own birth and then quickly moved to the events that marked the beginning of his career as a prophet: his study of the Bible, his early visions, the reception of the gold plates, the financial and scribal assistance of 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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at the beginning of JS’s translation of the plates, and Harris’s loss of the early translation manuscript. Then, following a brief mention of Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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, who in the account had not yet met JS but would soon provide him desperately needed scribal and financial assistance, the document ends abruptly after only six pages. The introductory prospectus to the history refers to four foundational events in JS’s life: “the testamony from on high,” later explained as his first vision of Deity; “the ministering of Angels,” or the angel Moroni’s revelation of the gold plates of the Book of Mormon; the “reception of the holy Priesthood

Power or authority of God. The priesthood was conferred through the laying on of hands to adult male members of the church in good standing; no specialized training was required. Priesthood officers held responsibility for administering the sacrament of the...

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”; and “a confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood.” JS related the first two events in some detail, providing a firsthand account of his childhood and early religious experiences, but this history includes nothing further about the reception of priesthood authority.
It is not clear why JS ended his earliest history before completing his stated intentions. Some of his other documentary endeavors, including the journal he began the same year, are similarly incomplete, perhaps indicating that other activities simply took precedence.1

Although JS began his first journal with the explicit intention “to keep a minute acount of all things that come under my obsevation,” there were substantial gaps in his journal keeping. (JS, Journal, 27 Nov. 1832.)  


It is possible, however, that JS deliberately ended the history where he did, viewing it as part of a larger historical record that would include the work of others assigned as record keepers. Even though JS wrote his own history in about summer 1832, he continued to affirm John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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’s role as church historian, demonstrating that JS’s historical venture did not relieve Whitmer of the responsibility to continue the church history.2

See JS, Hiram, OH, to William W. Phelps, [Independence, MO], 31 July 1832, JS Collection, CHL; JS, Kirtland, OH, to William W. Phelps, [Independence, MO], 27 Nov. 1832, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 1–4; Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–A, in Doctrine and Covenants 28:1, 1835 ed. [D&C 69:3]; and JS and Sidney Rigdon, Far West, MO, to John Whitmer, Far West, MO, 9 Apr. 1838.  


For his part, Whitmer viewed his history as continuing work begun by Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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, whom he replaced as church record keeper.3

Minute Book 2, 9 June 1830; Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–B, in Book of Commandments 50 [D&C 47]; Whitmer, History, 25; see also the Historical Introduction to Whitmer, History.  


The question of whether JS expected Cowdery’s or Whitmer’s work to fit together with the account begun in his own history cannot be settled for certain; JS’s narrative does, however, cover only earlier history for which JS alone could provide a firsthand account, and it concludes just before Cowdery enters the scene.4

Although no narrative history by Oliver Cowdery predating JS’s first history is known, Cowdery wrote a series of historical letters in 1834–1835 that were published in the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate and later copied into JS’s 1834–1836 history. Cowdery may have taken JS’s history into account when he began the first letter, as he picked up the story just where JS had left off—when the two first met in Harmony, Pennsylvania, on 5 April 1829. Cowdery went on to describe the receipt of the lower (Aaronic) priesthood. Thus, whether by design or coincidence, Cowdery detailed the third event outlined in the prospectus to JS’s history (“the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministring of—Aangels”). In chapter 7 of his history, Whitmer covered the fourth event (the “confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood”). (Oliver Cowdery, Norton, OH, to William W. Phelps, 7 Sept. 1834, LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:13–16 [also in JS History, 1834–1836]; JS History, ca. summer 1832; Whitmer, History, 27.)  


The circa summer 1832 history came about as part of a new phase in JS’s record-keeping practices. During the first four years of Mormon record keeping (1828–1831), JS focused primarily on preserving his revelatory texts. The records surviving from the early period of his prophetic career are almost exclusively sacred texts, including the Book of Mormon manuscripts, JS’s revision of the Bible, and his own contemporary revelations. Scriptural record keeping overshadowed personal and institutional record keeping. This focus changed in 1832, when JS began documenting his personal life in detail for the first time, both in his history and in the journal he began on 27 November 1832. He and his scribes also began compiling a minute book and a letterbook, providing material recording day-to-day events. With this broader record-keeping focus, JS began to document his role as revelator and church leader in addition to preserving the texts of revelations and visions.
In the early 1830s, when this history was written, it appears that JS had not broadcast the details of his first vision of Deity. The history of the church, as it was then generally understood, began with the gold plates. John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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mentioned in his history “the commencement of the church history commencing at the time of the finding of the plates,” suggesting that Whitmer was either unaware of JS’s earlier vision or did not conceive of it as foundational.5

Whitmer, History, 25.  


Records predating 1832 only hint at JS’s earliest manifestation. The historical preamble to the 1830 “articles and covenants,” for example, appears to reference JS’s vision in speaking of a moment when “it truly was manifested unto this first elder, that he had received a remission of his sins.”6

Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Book of Commandments 24:6–7 [D&C 20:5–8]. In the circa summer 1832 history, Christ’s first message to JS is “thy sins are forgiven thee.”  


Initially, JS may have considered this vision to be a personal experience tied to his own religious explorations. He was not accustomed to recording personal events, and he did not initially record the vision as he later did the sacred texts at the center of his attention. Only when JS expanded his focus to include historical records did he write down a detailed account of the theophany he experienced as a youth. The result was a simple, unpolished account of his first “marvilous experience,” written largely in his own hand. The account was not published or widely circulated at the time, though in later years he told the story more frequently.
Understanding the production of the circa summer 1832 history is complicated by the possibility that it was copied from an earlier manuscript, a possibility suggested by the known record-keeping practices of JS and Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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, in whose alternating handwriting the history is inscribed. In the same time period, they jointly copied six revelations from 1831 and 1832, some of which JS originally dictated to Williams, into the beginning of a compilation of revelations.7

See Revelation Book 2, 1–10, 12–15, 18–31.  


They also divided inscription work when they copied JS’s 27 November 1832 letter to William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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, which JS originally dictated, into JS’s first letterbook (begun in the same volume that contains the circa summer 1832 history). Thus, the other extant 1832 documents inscribed in both JS’s and Williams’s handwriting are all copies.8

See Vision, 16 Feb. 1832, in Revelation Book 2, pp. 1–10 [D&C 76]; Revelation, 4 Dec. 1831, in Revelation Book 2, pp. 12–15 [D&C 72]; Revelation, 7 Mar. 1832, in Revelation Book 2, pp. 18–19 [D&C 80]; Revelation, 22 and 23 Sept. 1832, in Revelation Book 2, pp. 20–31 [D&C 84]; and JS, Kirtland, OH, to William W. Phelps, [Independence, MO], 27 Nov. 1832, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 1–4. A small section of JS inscription among his Bible revisions may be an exception; it was made in either 1832 or 1833. (Faulring et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 72.)  


In their early record-keeping efforts, JS and his scribes established the practice of copying loose minutes, letters, and revelations into more permanent blank books. In fact, the large blank books used in church record-keeping through 1832 were filled entirely or almost entirely with material copied from loose leaves.9

Later JS documents, however, such as his journals for 1835–1836, March–September 1838, and 1841–1842, provide examples of original material inscribed directly into large blank books. Frederick G. Williams evidently also began inscribing topical indexes of scriptural references directly into several blank books beginning 17 July 1833. (See Jensen, “Ignored and Unknown Clues of Early Mormon Record Keeping,” 136–139.)  


Thus, the fact that the extant history exists in a record book and not as loose leaves suggests it is a copy.
Textual clues also indicate that the extant 1832 history may not be an original composition. The handwriting of Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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and JS passes back and forth with little or no correspondence to the narrative progress of the history; the two sometimes alternate inscription mid-sentence. In JS’s writing, moreover, the disruptions to inscription caused by changing or sharpening a quill and dipping it in ink occur in the middle of a thought and even in the middle of a word, suggesting he was copying rather than composing.10

On the second page of the manuscript, for example, the quill sharpness changes between the u and the r of “courses” in the phrase “the stars shining in their courses.”  


Other textual evidence, however, indicates that the circa summer 1832 history may be the original inscription. In their work on the history, neither JS nor Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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made inscription errors that one might expect to find if it were a copy, errors that both men made in contemporary copying work. For example, when copying a 27 November 1832 letter into his first letterbook, JS inadvertently repeated a phrase from a line above and then struck the phrase after realizing his error.11

JS, Kirtland, OH, to William W. Phelps, [Independence, MO], 27 Nov. 1832, in JS Letterbook 1, p. 4.  


Similarly, in copying a December 1833 letter into the same volume, Williams apparently skipped a line of the original before catching himself and fixing the mistake.12

JS, Kirtland Mills, OH, to Edward Partridge et al., Liberty, MO, 10 Dec. 1833, in JS Letterbook 1, p. 71.  


Errors like these do not appear in the 1832 history.
The history also contains several significant contemporaneous revisions in JS’s handwriting, which may indicate that JS was composing original narrative. For instance, at the bottom of page 3 he wrote, “about that time my mother and,” but then apparently decided he did not want to include this detail and canceled the passage. Such revisions, however, could have been made during copying, not during composition. JS and his scribes made similar revisions as they copied drafts and other antecedent documents into the 1834–1836 history and the multivolume manuscript history initiated in 1838. Likewise, JS and Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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may have been modifying the circa summer 1832 history as they copied it from an earlier text.
Although JS’s earliest history bears no date, its approximate creation date can be determined by considering the language of the text, the volume in which it is found, and the larger historical context. Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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first met JS in summer 1831, but there is no evidence that he began work as a scribe before 16 February 1832, the date of the first item he copied into JS’s second revelation book.13

Williams, “Frederick Granger Williams,” 245–247; see also Revelation Book 2, pp. 1–10.  


Although none of the revelations he transcribed into the book bears a transcription date, the inconsistent copying styles of the various transcripts and the interspersed transcripts of older revelations that appear among the March 1832 revelations suggest that the book had become the active record-keeping repository for the revelations by March 1832.14

See Revelation Book 2, pp. 1–20. John Whitmer had earlier inscribed revelations into a blank book, Revelation Book 1, but because Whitmer took this book to Missouri in late November 1831, another book was needed for copying revelations. Revelation Book 2 filled this need, and it was apparently begun in February or March 1832.  


If JS and Williams were copying revelations in March 1832, it is not implausible that they created the history around the same time.
The volume containing the history provides clues to determine the latest date by which the history was written. Sometime after the history was inscribed, the volume was repurposed as a letterbook, beginning with a letter dated 27 November 1832. The uneven copying styles of the letters from January to April 1833 indicate that the letterbook was being used as an active copy book during that period, with letters being transcribed into the volume in chronological order as they were written, prior to mailing them.15

See JS Letterbook 1, pp. 14–36.  


JS probably followed this same pattern the previous fall, making a contemporaneous copy of the 27 November 1832 letter in the letterbook before sending the original. If indeed the volume that contains the circa summer 1832 history was repurposed as a letterbook at the end of November, the history must have been written before then.
The date range for likely composition of the history can be narrowed even further. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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took on increasing clerical work in July 1832 during a suspension 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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’s position as JS’s principal counselor and scribe.16

At the Sunday meeting held in Kirtland on 8 July 1832, JS demanded that Rigdon surrender his priesthood license because Rigdon had declared three days earlier that the “keys of the kingdom” had been taken from the church and that he alone retained them.a Three weeks later JS reinstated Rigdon in the church presidency.b  


a“History [of] Charles Coulson Rich,” 3–4, Historian’s Office, Histories of the Twelve, ca. 1858–1880, CHL; Cahoon, Diary, 5–17 July 1832; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 13, [6]; Dibble, “Philo Dibble’s Narrative,” 79–80.

bHyrum Smith, Diary and Account Book, 28 July 1832; JS, Hiram, OH, to William W. Phelps, [Independence, MO], 31 July 1832, JS Collection, CHL.

In a later statement, Williams wrote, “I commencd writing for Joseph Smith Jr July 20th 1832 as may be seen by S Rigdon permission dated as above.”17

Frederick G. Williams, Statement, no date, Frederick G. Williams, Papers, CHL. Although the cited permission is not extant, the language of this undated statement indicates that Williams was basing his information not on memory but on contemporaneous documentation.  


Following this 20 July appointment, Williams’s clerical duties expanded and he recorded revelations, Bible revisions, and letters as JS dictated.18

See, for example, Revelation Book 2, pp. 19–31; Faulring et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 59, 70–72; JS, Hiram, OH, to William W. Phelps, [Independence, MO], 31 July 1832, JS Collection, CHL; and JS, Kirtland OH, to Vienna Jaques, Independence, MO, 4 Sept. 1833, JS Collection, CHL. Williams later wrote that from the time of his employment on 20 July 1832 until January 1836, he “was constantly in said Smiths employ.” (Frederick G. Williams, Statement, no date, Frederick G. Williams, Papers, CHL; compare “Account on Farm,” no date, Frederick G. Williams, Papers, CHL.)  


JS’s earliest history was probably inscribed between the 20 July appointment and 22 September 1832, the date of a revelation that changed JS’s lexicon regarding priesthood. The history refers to the first priesthood JS received as the “holy priesthood,” which was then followed by the reception of the “high priesthood,” but the September 1832 revelation reserved the adjective “holy” for the higher priesthood.19

Revelation, 22 and 23 Sept. 1832, in Doctrine and Covenants 4:2–3, 1835 ed. [D&C 84:6, 18–19]. For examples of pre–September 1832 use of “holy” to describe both the higher and lower priesthoods, see Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 73–74, 258–260 [2 Nephi 5:26, 6:2; Alma 13:1–19]; Elder’s license for John Whitmer, 9 June 1830, JS Collection, CHL; Teacher’s license for Christian Whitmer, 9 June 1830, Western Americana Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT; Priest’s license for Joseph Smith Sr., 9 June 1830, JS Collection, CHL.  


JS’s subsequent writings and revelations consistently reserved the word “holy” to describe the greater priesthood only.20

See, for example, Plat of City of Zion, 1833, CHL; JS to Oliver Cowdery, Blessing, 18 Dec. 1833, in Patriarchal Blessings, 1:12; Instruction on priesthood, ca. Apr. 1835, in Doctrine and Covenants 3:1, 8, 10, 1835 ed. [D&C 107:3, 14, 20].  


The terminology of the existing documentary record, therefore, coupled with the date of Williams’s appointment as scribe, suggests that the history was most likely composed between 20 July and 22 September 1832.
Regardless of when it was created, the circa summer 1832 history provides the most personal, intimate account of JS’s early visions available and preserves details of those visions not recorded elsewhere.

Facts