Letterbook 2

whether we shall proceed to publish it immediately or not  or whether we shall do according to our feelings. If I should  act according to my feelings I should hand the Book of Mor mon to this people as quick as I could. The people ar[e]  very different in this country to what the Americans are; they say  it cannot be possible that men should leave their homes and  come so far, unless they were truly the servants of the Lord; they  do not seem to understand argument, simple testimony  is enough for them, they beg and plead for the book of  mormon and were it not for the priests of the  the people would follow after the servants of the Lord and  enquire what they should do to be saved: The priests feel  just as they did in the days of the Saviour. If they let “this sect alone  all men will believe on them and the Romans will come and  take away our place and Nation. I wish you would tell me  how cousin Lemuel gets along with his business and all the boys  on the half breed tract— and the whole breed. I think a great  deal about our friends, families and possessions. I look for  the time when the Lord will speak so that the hearts of the  rebellious will be pierced, you will remember the words of the  Saviour to his disciples, he says to you is given to know the mysteries  of the Kingdom of heaven, but to them that are without all things  in parables. The brethren here are very anxous to emigrate  to that country, some want to come this fall, where shall  they go. Their customs are different to ours and it would  be more pleasant for them to settle by themselves.
Almost without exception it is the poor that receive  the gospel: I think there will be some over this fall, my  counsel to such as intend to come is, that they go to the  western states where you can live among the farmers and  wait for orders from the Authorities of the Church, and all will  be well. You must excuse my bad writing, I have only catched at ideas. I want  to know about the Brethren’s coming over this fall I think some of us will come  we shall send our papers to you and to a number of the rest of the brethren
I wish you would have the goodness to give me a pretey general know ledge of the Church for I feel for them and pray for them continually
We need help very much in this Country, one American [can] do more  here than a number of the Elders who are raized up here by  the preaching of the Gospel, we have sent for some to come. I wish you  would encourage them to come as quick as they can [p. 152]
On 27 November 1832, while residing at Kirtland, Ohio, JS wrote a lengthy letter to William W. Phelps at Independence, Missouri. JS’s missive emphasized the importance of record keeping and history writing in the young church. JS began by noting that he wished “to communicate some things which . . . are laying great with weight upon my mind.” He then observed, “Firstly, it is the duty of the lord[’s] clerk whom he has appointed to keep a hystory and a general church reccord of all things that transpire in Zion . . . and also there manner of life and the faith and works.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 27 Nov. 1832.)
This emphasis on record keeping was not widespread at the time. 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.) During a brief span in the early 1830s, JS and those working under his direction commenced the systematic collecting and recording of critical documents pertaining to church governance and administration. From that time to the end of JS’s life, correspondence-copying, revelation-recording, minute-taking, journal-keeping, and history-writing activities remained imperative commitments.
Items of correspondence were first recorded in what was subsequently designated Letterbook 1. Created from circa November 1832 to circa August 1835, it consisted of ninety-three pages preserving a record of early church-related communications dated 14 June 1829 through 4 August 1835. A second letterbook, featured here, was apparently begun in 1839 and continued to circa summer 1843. It became a repository primarily for letters, but also other items dated from 17 June 1829 through 9 February 1843. Items were copied into the volume, later designated Letterbook 2, by JS-appointed scribes including James Mulholland, Robert B. Thompson, Howard Coray, Willard Richards, William Clayton, John Fullmer, and George Walker. Letterbook 2 contains over 150 items of correspondence and other documents, arranged primarily in chronological order. An index created at the time outlines the contents of the 246 pages of letters and other documents. Previously, the volume had been used as a business ledger for the Rigdon, Smith and Company store in Chester, Ohio.
A title page designates the volume as “Copies of Letters, &c. &c. 1839, AD.” The first entry in the letterbook, labeled “Speech of General Clarke, To the Saints at Far West. 6th. Novr 1838,” contains the text of General John B. Clark’s oration on that occasion. Among its varied contents, the volume includes copies of a letter from JS to Emma Smith in June 1834; four letters written by Emma to JS from 1837 and 1839; three letters from Edward Partridge, Sidney Rigdon, and Elias Higbee, respectively, written in March and April 1839 to JS and other prisoners confined in the jail in Liberty, Missouri; two letters sent by JS and Elias Higbee while in Washington DC in December 1839 to Hyrum Smith and others in Nauvoo, Illinois; a letter sent from England by Brigham Young in May 1840 to JS in Nauvoo; a poignant exchange of letters between William W. Phelps, who had been cut off from the church, and JS in summer 1840; and an exchange in June and July 1842 between JS and Illinois governor Thomas Carlin. The ledger also preserves nine sets of minutes from various meetings, five petitions concerning the Saints’ treatment in Missouri, an 1840 memorial ascribed to JS, and an 1841 inventory of the contents of the Nauvoo House cornerstone, among other miscellaneous documents.
The last document copied into Letterbook 2 appears on manuscript page 245, a letter from JS to Richard M. Young, U.S. senator from Illinois, dated 9 February 1843. Though there are a substantial number of blank pages preceding the index beginning on manuscript page 369, it is not known why the copying of documents into Letterbook 2 ceased. However, the following circumstances regarding JS’s clerks may have been factors: James Mulholland died in December 1839, Robert B. Thompson died in August 1841, and Howard Coray served a mission to Pennsylvania during 1842–1843. Willard Richards and William Clayton began extensive work on Joseph Smith’s history in early 1843 while continuing to perform other clerical and secretarial duties. Documents dated after 9 February 1843 that might have been expected to be copied into the letterbook were, in many instances, recorded in JS’s history. In any event, the record closed with the 9 February 1843 letter, and there is no evidence that a third letterbook was either contemplated or begun.