31847

Minutes, 8 November 1831

July 20, 1831.4

According to the 20 July 1831 revelation, Cowdery was to assist William W. Phelps “in Whatsoever place I shall appoint unto him to copy & to correct & select” writings for printing. (Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:13].)  


Closed in prayer by br 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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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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[p. 17]
July 20, 1831.4

According to the 20 July 1831 revelation, Cowdery was to assist William W. Phelps “in Whatsoever place I shall appoint unto him to copy & to correct & select” writings for printing. (Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:13].)  


Closed in prayer by br 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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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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[p. 17]
Previous
On 8 November 1831, JS and seven elders

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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held a special conference

A meeting where ecclesiastical officers and other church members could conduct church business. The “Articles and Covenants” of the church directed the elders to hold conferences to perform “Church business.” The first of these conferences was held on 9 June...

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in Hiram

Area settled by immigrants from Pennsylvania and New England, ca. 1802. Located in northeastern Ohio about twenty-five miles southeast of Kirtland. Population in 1830 about 500. Population in 1840 about 1,100. JS lived in township at home of John and Alice...

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, Ohio—probably in an upstairs room in John

14 Apr. 1779–30 July 1843. Farmer, innkeeper. Born at Chesterfield, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Johnson and Abigail Higgins. Married Alice (Elsa) Jacobs, 22 June 1800. Moved to Pomfret, Windsor Co., Vermont, ca. 1803. Settled at Hiram, Portage...

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and Alice (Elsa) Jacobs Johnson’s house—to discuss the planned publication of the Book of Commandments. The conference addressed the need to correct errors in some of the revelations before publication. A later JS history notes that the 1–2 November conference, which decided to print ten thousand copies of the Book of Commandments,1 also discussed “Revelations and language,” though the history does not provide the details of that conversation.2

JS History, vol. A-1, 161.  


However, JS dictated two revelations at that conference that touched on the subject of language. A revelation called the “preface” to the Book of Commandments declared that the “commandments

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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. . . were given unto my Servents in their weakness after the manner of their Language.”3 Another revelation asserted that some of the elders knew the “imperfections” of JS’s language and “sought . . . knowlege that you might express beyond his language.”4
In discussions at the 8 November conference, 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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attributed whatever mistakes existed in the revelations to the tedious process of transcribing them and to scribal errors. William E. McLellin

18 Jan. 1806–14 Mar. 1883. Schoolteacher, physician, publisher. Born at Smith Co., Tennessee. Son of Charles McLellin and Sarah (a Cherokee Indian). Married first Cynthia Ann, 30 July 1829. Wife died, by summer 1831. Baptized into LDS church by Hyrum Smith...

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, who was present at this conference and who had served as the scribe for a JS revelation just ten days earlier, later described the process of recording at least some of the dictated revelations.5

See Revelation, 29 Oct. 1831 [D&C 66].  


“The scribe seats himself at a desk or table, with pen, ink and paper,” McLellin explained, while JS “enquires of God.” Receiving the words “spiritually,” McLellin continued, JS “speaks as he is moved upon by the Holy Ghost,” pausing “for his amanuenses to write and then read aloud each sentence.” By this process of dictation and recital, McLellin reported, the revelations were composed.6

[William E. McLellin], “Revelations,” Ensign of Liberty, Aug. 1849, 98–99.  


Although seemingly slow and careful, this process apparently still failed to prevent transcription errors from occurring, at least according to the minutes of this conference.
The conference resolved that JS review the revelations and make any necessary corrections to them. McLellin

18 Jan. 1806–14 Mar. 1883. Schoolteacher, physician, publisher. Born at Smith Co., Tennessee. Son of Charles McLellin and Sarah (a Cherokee Indian). Married first Cynthia Ann, 30 July 1829. Wife died, by summer 1831. Baptized into LDS church by Hyrum Smith...

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remembered several decades later that around November 1831, JS, 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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, 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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spent hours revising the revelations.7

William E. McLellin, “From a Letter Dated Dec. 14th, 1878,” John L. Traughber Papers, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.  


However, the manuscripts of the revelations show Rigdon made only minor changes before Cowdery and 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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left for 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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with Revelation Book 1 on 20 November; it is unclear whether JS or Cowdery was involved in that process.8

Some redactions made by Rigdon in Revelation Book 1 were included in copies of revelations made by Whitmer for Zebedee Coltrin in January 1832. (see, for example, Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20]; and Coltrin, Diary and Notebook, 12 Jan. 1832, [1]–[18].)  


A few months after Cowdery and Whitmer arrived in Missouri with the revelation book, a council that included JS authorized Cowdery and Whitmer, together with 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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, “to review the Book of Commandmants . . . & make all necessary verbal corrections.”9 JS’s journal from December 1832—over a year later—indicates that he also “corrected revelations” that month.10

JS, Journal, 1 Dec. 1832.  


As clerk of the 8 November 1831 conference, 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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kept the minutes. Ebenezer Robinson

25 May 1816–11 Mar. 1891. Printer, editor, publisher. Born at Floyd (near Rome), Oneida Co., New York. Son of Nathan Robinson and Mary Brown. Moved to Utica, Oneida Co., ca. 1831, and learned printing trade at Utica Observer. Moved to Ravenna, Portage Co....

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later copied the minutes into Minute Book 2.

Facts