43991218

Letterbook 1

attend an unorganised band in Journeying in the last days and again those in debt should in all cases pay their debts and the rich are in no wise to cast out the poor or leave them behind for it is said that the poor shall inherit the earth you quoted a passge in Jeremiah with regard to Journey to Zion the word of God stands sure so let it be done
There are two paragraphs in your letter which I do not commend as they are writen blind speaking of the Elder

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

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being sent like lightning from the bow of Judah the second, no secret in the councils of Zion you mention this as if fear rested upon your mind otherwise we cannot understand it and again we never enquire of the hand of God for special revelation only in case of ther being no previous revelation to suit the case and that in a court of high Priests

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. Christ and many ancient prophets, including Abraham, were described as being high priests. The Book of Mormon used the term high priest to denote one appointed to lead the church. However, the Book of Mormon also discussed...

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for further information on the subject you have writen I will refer you to the Elders who have recently left here for the east by commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

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some of whom you will probably see soon you may depend on any information you receive from them that are faithful you may expect to see Bro Orson [Pratt]

19 Sept. 1811–3 Oct. 1881. Farmer, writer, teacher, merchant, surveyor, editor, publisher. Born at Hartford, Washington Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Moved to New Lebanon, Columbia Co., New York, 1814; to Canaan, Columbia Co., fall...

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& Lyman [Johnson]

24 Oct. 1811–20 Dec. 1859. Merchant, lawyer, hotelier. Born at Pomfret, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of John Johnson and Alice (Elsa) Jacobs. Moved to Hiram, Portage Co., Ohio, Mar. 1818. Baptized into LDS church by Sidney Rigdon, Feb. 1831. Ordained an elder...

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for whom we have great fellowship, it, is a great thing to enquire at the hand of God or to come into his presence and we feel fearful to approch him upon subjects that are of little or no consequence to satisfy the enqueries of individuals especially about things the knowledge of which men aught to obtain in all cencerity before God for themselves in humility by the prayer of faith, and more especially a teacher

Generally, one who instructs, but also an ecclesiastical and priesthood office. The Book of Mormon explained that teachers were to be ordained “to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end...

View Glossary
or a high Priest in the Church of Christ

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

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I speak these things not by way of reproach [p. 31]
attend an unorganised band in Journey[ing] in the last  days and again those in debt should in all cases pay  their debts and the rich are in no wise to cast out the  poor or leave them behind for it is said that the  poor shall inherit the earth you quoted a passge  in Jeremiah with regard to Journey to Zion the  word of God stands sure so let it be done
There are two paragraphs in your letter which  I do not commend as they are writen blind speak ing of the Elder

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

View Glossary
being sent like lightning from the  bow of Judah the second, no secret in the  councils of Zion you mention this as if fear  rested upon your mind otherwise we cannot  understand it and again we never enquire of  the hand of the Lord God for special reve lation only in case of ther being no previous  revelation to suit the case and that in a  court of high Priests

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. Christ and many ancient prophets, including Abraham, were described as being high priests. The Book of Mormon used the term high priest to denote one appointed to lead the church. However, the Book of Mormon also discussed...

View Glossary
for further informa tion on the subject you have writen I will  refer you to the Elders who have recently  left here for the east by commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

View Glossary
 some of whom you will probably see soon  you may depend on any information you  receive from them that are faithful you may  expect to see Bro Orson [Pratt]

19 Sept. 1811–3 Oct. 1881. Farmer, writer, teacher, merchant, surveyor, editor, publisher. Born at Hartford, Washington Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Moved to New Lebanon, Columbia Co., New York, 1814; to Canaan, Columbia Co., fall...

View Full Bio
& Lyman [Johnson]

24 Oct. 1811–20 Dec. 1859. Merchant, lawyer, hotelier. Born at Pomfret, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of John Johnson and Alice (Elsa) Jacobs. Moved to Hiram, Portage Co., Ohio, Mar. 1818. Baptized into LDS church by Sidney Rigdon, Feb. 1831. Ordained an elder...

View Full Bio
for whom  we have great fellowship, it, <is> a great thing to  enquire at the hand of God or to come into  his presence and we feel fearful to approch  him upon subject[s] that are of little or no  consequen[ce] to satisfy the enqueries of individ uals especially <about> things the knowledge of which  men aught to obtain in all cencerity before  God for themselves in humility by the prayer  of faith, and more especially a teacher

Generally, one who instructs, but also an ecclesiastical and priesthood office. The Book of Mormon explained that teachers were to be ordained “to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end...

View Glossary
or  a high Priest in the Church of Christ

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
 I speak thes[e] things not by way of reproach [p. 31]
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On 27 November 1832, while residing at 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, JS wrote a lengthy 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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, who earlier that year had settled at Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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, Missouri. JS’s missive included a reminder stressing the importance of record keeping and history writing to the young church. Portions were later added to the Doctrine and Covenants, the church’s official collection of commandments and revelations. JS began by noting that he wished “to communicate some things which . . . are laying great with weight upon my mind.” He then went on to observe, “Firstly, it is the duty of the lord’[s] clerk whom he has appointed to keep a hystory and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion . . . and also the[ir] manner of life and the[ir] faith and works.” (JS, Kirtland, OH, to William W. Phelps, Independence, MO, 27 Nov. 1832, JS Letterbook 1, pp. 1–4 [D&C 85:1–2].)
JS’s dispatch to 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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reminding those in Missouri of the importance of record keeping coincided with a new record-keeping initiative in Ohio. This letter became the first entry, identified as “Letter first” and “Letter 1,” recorded in what was subsequently designated Letter Book A or Letterbook 1. This record of ninety-three manuscript pages, now published in the Administrative Records series on the Joseph Smith Papers website, preserves copies of early church-related communications dated 14 June 1829 through 4 August 1835. The transcribed text is in the handwriting of JS, 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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, Orson Hyde

8 Jan. 1805–28 Nov. 1878. Laborer, clerk, storekeeper, teacher, editor, businessman, lawyer, judge. Born at Oxford, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Nathan Hyde and Sally Thorpe. Moved to Derby, New Haven Co., 1812. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, ...

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, and 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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.
Correspondence captured in Letterbook 1 includes six early letters composed or received 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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, four from 1829 and two from 1831. Other letters reflect ongoing communications between the two centers of the early church located in 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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and Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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. Two entries describe the plat of the proposed “City of Zion” to be built at Independence and the dimensions of the “house of the Lord” to be erected there. The concluding item in the collection is a letter that incorporates a set of minutes from a council held in Kirtland on 4 August 1835 censuring the Twelve Apostles for failing to fully comply with their fund-raising responsibilities as they conducted a mission among the branches of the church in the East. Note that letters from Letterbook 1 written to or from JS will also appear with individual introductions in the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers.
Letterbook 1 was initiated during a remarkable surge in record keeping, beginning with the calling 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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and later 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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as church historians in 1830 and 1831. Revelations and commandments recorded in Revelation Book 1 were sent to 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 late 1831 to be published on the church’s first press, and Revelation Book 2 was in use in 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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by February 1832. Sometime in 1832, probably between July and September, 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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worked together on a brief history of JS’s early visionary experiences. JS purchased the small volume that contains his first journal in November 1832 and began penning entries that same month. That fall another record, containing the minutes of early church conference and council meetings and now designated Minute Book 1, was commenced. In January of the following year, in another epistle recorded in Letterbook 1, JS again wrote to 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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encouraging him as editor of the church’s first periodical, The Evening and the Morning Star, then printed in Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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, to set “forth the rise and progress and faith of the church,” that is, to begin publishing items on the history of the church.
This upwelling in record keeping was unusual for the time. As scholar Dean C. Jessee has observed, “So primitive were some aspects of record keeping in nineteenth-century America that much of the early Latter-day Saint experience was a pioneering effort. . . . Although Mormon record keeping was inaugurated by [an] 1830 revelation, details for carrying out that commandment were largely hammered out on the anvil of experience in the years that followed.” (Dean C. Jessee, “The Reliability of Joseph Smith’s History,” Journal of Mormon History 3 [1976]: 27.) Thus, during a brief span in the early 1830s, JS, along with those working under his direction, commenced the systematic collection and recording of critical documents pertaining to church governance and administration. Throughout the remainder of JS’s lifetime, correspondence-copying, revelation-recording, minute-taking, journal-keeping, and history-writing activities would remain imperative commitments.

Facts