43991218

Letterbook 1

for the salvation of the nations, for the Lord will have a place from whence his word will goforth in these last days in purity, for if Zion, will not purify herself so as to be approved of in all things in his sight he will seek another people for his work will go on untill Isreal is gathered

As directed by early revelations, church members “gathered” in communities. A revelation dated September 1830, for instance, instructed elders “to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect” who would “be gathered in unto one place, upon the face of this land...

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& they who will not hear his voice must expect to feel his wrath, Let me say unto you, seek to purefy yourselves, & also all the inhabitants of Zion lest the Lords anger be kindled to fierceness, repent, repent, is the voice of God, to Zion, & yet strange as it may appear, yet it is true mankind will presist in self Justification until all their eniquity is exposed & their character past being redeemed, & that which is treasured up in their hearts be exposed to the gaze of mankind, I say to you— (& what I say to you, I say to all) hear the warning voice of God lest Zion fall, & the Lord swear in his wrath the inhabiteints of Zion shall not enter into my rest, The Brethren 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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pray for you unceasingly, for knowing the terrors of the Lord, they greatly fear— for you; you will see that the Lord commanded us 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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to build an house of God

JS revelation of Jan. 1831 directed Latter-day Saints to migrate to Ohio, where they would “be endowed with power from on high.” JS Revelation of Dec. 1832 directed Saints to “establish . . . an house of God.” JS Revelation of 1 June 1833 chastened Saints...

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, & establish a school for the Prophets

A term occasionally used to refer to a Protestant seminary; specifically used by JS to refer to a school to prepare elders of the church for their ministry. A December 1832 revelation directed JS and the elders of the church in Kirtland, Ohio, to establish...

View Glossary
, this is the word of the Lord to us, & we must— yea the Lord helping us we will obey, as on conditions of our obedience, he has promised us great things, yea even a visit from the heavens to honor us with his own presence, we greatly fear before the Lord lest we should fail of this great honor which our master proposes to confer on us, we are seeking for humility & great faith lest we be ashamed in his presence, our hearts are greatly greaved at the spirit which is breathed both in your letter & that of Bro G----s [Sidney Gilbert’s]

28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...

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the very spirit which is wasting the strength of Zion like a pestalence, and if it is not detected & driven from you it will ripen Zion for the threatened Judgments of God, remember God sees the secret springs of human action, & knows the hearts of all living, Br suffer us to speak plainly for God has respect to the feelings of his saints & he will not let them be tantalized with impunity. tell Br. G- t [Gilbert]

28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...

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that low insinuations God hates, but he rejoices in an honest heart and knows better who is guilty than he does, we send him this worning [warning] voice & let him fear greatly for himself lest a worse thing overtake him, all we can say by way of conclusion is, if the fountain of our tears are not dried up we will still weep for Zion, this from your brother who trembles greatly for Zion,— and for the wrath of heaven which awaits her if she repent not,— — P.S. I am not in the habit of crying peace, when there is no peace, and knowing the threatened Judgments of God, I say Wo,— unto them who are at ease [p. 19]
for the salvation of the nations, for the Lord will have a place from whence  his word will goforth in these last days in purity, for if Zion, will not purify  herself so as to be approved of in all things in his sight he will seek  another people for his work will go on untill Isreal is gathered

As directed by early revelations, church members “gathered” in communities. A revelation dated September 1830, for instance, instructed elders “to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect” who would “be gathered in unto one place, upon the face of this land...

View Glossary
& they  who will not hear his voice must expect to feel his wrath, Let me say  unto you, seek to purefy yourselves, & also all the inhabitants of Zion  lest the Lords anger be kindled to fierceness, repent, repent, is the  voice of God, to Zion, & yet strange as it may appear, yet it is true  mankind will presist in self Justification until all their eniquity is  exposed & their character past being redeemed, & that which is treasured  up in their hearts be exposed to the gaze of mankind, I say to you—  (& what I say to you, I say to all) hear the <warning> voice of God lest Zion fall, & the  Lord swear in his wrath the inhabiteints of Zion shall not enter into  my rest, The Brethren 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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pray for you unceasingly, for know ing the terrors of the Lord, they greatly fear— for you; you will see that the  Lord commanded us 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...

More Info
to build an house of God

JS revelation of Jan. 1831 directed Latter-day Saints to migrate to Ohio, where they would “be endowed with power from on high.” JS Revelation of Dec. 1832 directed Saints to “establish . . . an house of God.” JS Revelation of 1 June 1833 chastened Saints...

More Info
, & establish a  school for the Prophets

A term occasionally used to refer to a Protestant seminary; specifically used by JS to refer to a school to prepare elders of the church for their ministry. A December 1832 revelation directed JS and the elders of the church in Kirtland, Ohio, to establish...

View Glossary
, this is the word of the Lord to us, & we must—  yea the Lord helping us we will obey, as on conditions of our obedience, he  has promised <us> great things, yea <even> a visit from the heavens to honor us with  his own presence, we greatly fear before the Lord lest we should fail of this great honor  which our master proposes to confer on us, we are seeking for humility & great  faith lest we be ashamed in his presence, our hearts are greatly greaved  at the spirit which is breathed both in your letter & that of Bro G----s [Sidney Gilbert’s]

28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...

View Full Bio
 the very spirit which is wasting the strength of Zion like a pestalence, and if  it is not detected & driven from you it will ripen Zion for the threatened  Judgments of God, remember God sees the secret springs of human action, & knows  the hearts of all living, Br suffer us to speak plainly for God has respect to the  feelings of his saints & he will not let them be tantalized with impunity.  tell Br. G- t [Gilbert]

28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...

View Full Bio
that low insinuations God hates, but he rejoices in an honest heart  and knows better who is guilty than he does, we send him this worning [warning] voice  & let him fear greatly for himself lest a worse thing overtake him, all we can  say by way of conclusion is, if the fountain of our tears are not dried up we  will <still> weep for Zion, this from your brother who trembles greatly for Zion,—  and for the wrath of heaven which awaits her if she repent not,— —  P.S. I am not in the habit of crying peace, when there is no peace, and  knowing the th[r]eatened Judgments of God, I say Wo,— unto them who are at ease [p. 19]
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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