Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57]


John Whitmer assigned this number to the revelation when recording it in Revelation Book 1.  

Given in Missorie Independence Jackson Co July 20th. 1831  giving directions <to the Bishop & Agent> how to preceed concerning purchuseing Lands &c. &c.2

This heading likely did not appear in the original manuscript; John Whitmer likely added it when he copied the revelation into Revelation Book 1. It is not included in other manuscript copies of the revelation. At some point, Whitmer added “Not to be printed at present” to the copy in Revelation Book 1, and the revelation was not printed until the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. (Revelation Book 1, p. 93, in JSP, MRB:159; Gilbert, Notebook, [34]; Revelation Book 2, p. 89, in JSP, MRB:595 [D&C 57]; Doctrine and Covenants 27, 1835 ed.)
Comprehensive Works Cited



Gilbert, Algernon Sidney. Notebook of Revelations, 1831–ca. 1833. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL.

Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God. Compiled by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams. Kirtland, OH: F. G. Williams, 1835. Also available in Robin Scott Jensen, Richard E. Turley Jr., Riley M. Lorimer, eds., Revelations and Translations, Volume 2: Published Revelations. Vol. 2 of the Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011).

Hearken Oh ye Elders of my Church, saith the Lord your God,  Who have assembelled yourselves together, according to my commandment  in this land which is the land of Missorie which is the Land which I,  have appointed & consecrated for the gethering of the Saints.3

A September 1830 revelation announced that Jesus Christ would “gether his People even as a hen gethereth her Chickens under her wings.” It also appointed the elders “to bring to pass the gethering of mine Elect.” (Revelation, Sept. 1830–A [D&C 29:1–2, 7].)  

Wherefore,  this is the land of promise4

See Hebrews 11:9; see also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 9 [1 Nephi 2:20]. A January 1831 revelation stated that God would lead church members to “a land of promise.” Later that month, Sidney Rigdon was reported to have proclaimed that the “land of promise” extended from Ohio to the Pacific Ocean. (Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831 [D&C 38:18]; Waterloo, NY, 26 Jan. [1831], Letter to the Editor, Reflector [Palmyra, NY], 1 Feb. 1831, 95; see also Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 110–111.)
Comprehensive Works Cited



The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. Palmyra, NY: E. B. Grandin, 1830.

Reflector. Palmyra, NY. 1821–1831.

Howe, Eber D. Mormonism Unvailed: Or, A Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion, from Its Rise to the Present Time. With Sketches of the Characters of Its Propagators, and a Full Detail of the Manner in Which the Famous Golden Bible Was Brought before the World. To Which Are Added, Inquiries into the Probability That the Historical Part of the Said Bible Was Written by One Solomon Spalding, More Than Twenty Years Ago, and by Him Intended to Have Been Published as a Romance. Painesville, OH: By the author, 1834.

& the place for the City of Zion. yea  thus saith the Lord your God, If ye will receive wisdom here is wisd om. Behold the place which is now called Independence is the centre  place, & the spot for the Temple is lying westward upon a lot which  is not far from the court-house.5

This courthouse was an almost-completed brick structure built in the center of Independence’s public square. The public square, on which the town of Independence was centered, was situated on the highest point of the gentle-sloped bluffs on the southern side of the Missouri River between the Blue and Little Blue rivers. (Parkin, “Courthouse Mentioned in the Revelation on Zion,” 451–456; U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey Topographic Map: Missouri, Independence, Quadrangle, 7.5 Minute Series, 1996.)
Comprehensive Works Cited



Parkin, Max H. “The Courthouse Mentioned in the Revelation on Zion.” BYU Studies 14 (Summer 1974): 451–457.

U.S. Department of the Interior. Geological Survey Topographic Maps. 7.5 Minute Series. 1996.

Wherefore it is wisdom that the  land should be purchased by the saints6

The spot for the temple was on a western promontory of the same bluff as the courthouse but outside the town’s boundaries. Ezra Booth, who arrived in Missouri shortly after JS, wrote that the temple spot was “one half of a mile out of the Town” on “a rise of ground, a short distance south of the road.” The spot was marked at this time during JS’s stay in Missouri, and by the end of the year Bishop Edward Partridge purchased a parcel of land including the spot. (Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VI,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 17 Nov. 1831, [3]; see also Richard P. Howard, “The Spot for the Temple,” Saints’ Herald, June 1987, 9–10; and Romig, Early Independence, Missouri, 15–18.)
Comprehensive Works Cited



Ohio Star. Ravenna. 1830–1854.

Saints’ Herald. Independence, MO. 1860–.

Romig, Ronald E. Early Independence, Missouri: “Mormon” History Tour Guide. Independence, MO: Missouri Mormon Frontier Foundation, 1994.

& also every tract lying west ward even unto the line runing directly betwen Jew & gentile7

This apparently refers to the border between Missouri and land to the west occupied by American Indians. An earlier revelation referred to this boundary as “the borders of the Lamanites.”a Both the Book of Mormon and JS’s revelations sometimes identified the “Lamanites” (the name by which JS and his followers referred to American Indians) as Jews.b The Book of Mormon also refers to those Europeans who would colonize the Americas as “gentiles,” as do some of JS’s revelations.c Prophecies in the Book of Mormon stated that, in the last days, those Gentiles who accepted the “fulness of the gospel” would be “numbered” with the “remnant of Jacob”—believed by the Saints at that time to be the American Indians—and would help them build the New Jerusalem. The Book of Mormon also taught that the New Jerusalem “should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph.”d
Comprehensive Works Cited


aRevelation, 10 June 1831 [D&C 54:8].

bSee, for example, Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 117 [2 Nephi 30:4]; and Revelation, ca. Summer 1829 [D&C 19:27].

cSee, for example, Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 29 [1 Nephi 13:13–19]; and Revelation, June 1829–A [D&C 14:10].

dBook of Mormon, 1830 ed., 36, 501, 566 [1 Nephi 15:13; 3 Nephi 21:22–24; Ether 13:6].


The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. Palmyra, NY: E. B. Grandin, 1830.

 And also every tract bordering by the Prairies8

Likely a reference to the land west of Missouri. Early church member Elizabeth Godkin Marsh reported that those who went with JS to Missouri said that “a little beyond Jackson Co[unty] . . . there is one continued prairies to the rocky and shining Mountain.” Likewise, gazetteers portrayed the Indian lands—especially those bordering Missouri—as “fertile prairie land.” The commandment to purchase additional tracts “bordering by the Prairies” apparently meant to purchase not only a strip of land between the temple lot and the border between Jackson County and the Indian lands but additional land along the border. (Elizabeth Godkin Marsh, Kirtland Mills, OH, to Lewis Abbott and Ann Abbott, East Sudbury, MA, Sept. [1831], Abbott Family Collection, CHL; Baldwin and Thomas, New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States, 522; Goodrich, World as It Is, 125.)
Comprehensive Works Cited



Abbott Family Collection, 1831–2000. CHL.

Baldwin, Thomas, and J. Thomas. A New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States; Giving a Full and Comprehensive Review of the Present Condition, Industry, and Resources of the American Confederacy. . . . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co., 1854.

Goodrich, S. G. The World as It Is, and as It Has Been; or, A Comprehensive Geography and History, Ancient and Modern. New York: J. H. Colton, 1855.

in as much as my  Deciples are enabled to buy lands. Behold this is wisdom that they  may obtain it for an everlasting inheritance & let my Servent Sidney  Gilbert stand in the office which I have appointed to receive moneys  to be an agent unto the church to buy lands in all the regions round  about in as much as can be in righteousness, & as wisdom shall direct.9

A June 1831 revelation appointed Gilbert as an agent to the church. (Revelation, 8 June 1831 [D&C 53:4].)  

 And let my servent Edward [Partridge] stand in the office which I have appointed him  to [divide]10

Missing text supplied from versions of this revelation in Gilbert, Notebook, [35]; and Revelation Book 2, p. 90, in JSP, MRB:597. Whitmer also later added “divide” to the manuscript in Revelation Book 1. (Revelation Book 1, p. 93, in JSP, MRB:159.)
Comprehensive Works Cited



Gilbert, Algernon Sidney. Notebook of Revelations, 1831–ca. 1833. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL.

unto the saints their inheritance even as I have commanded & also  them whom he has appointed to assist him11

Revelation, 20 May 1831 [D&C 51:3]; see also Numbers 33:54. Those previously “appointed to assist” Partridge were Isaac Morley and John Corrill, who were “ordained assistants to the Bishop” in a June 1831 conference. (Minutes, ca. 3–4 June 1831.)  

And again verily I say unto  you let my servent Sidney Gilbert plant himself in this place, & estab lish a store that his he may sell goods without frauds that he may  obtain money to buy lands for the goods of the Saints & that he may [p. 93]
A 6 June 1831 revelation instructed JS, Sidney Rigdon, and certain elders to travel to “the land of Missorie,” which God would “consecrate” to his people. It further stated that if JS and Rigdon remained faithful, God would reveal to them the land of their inheritance.1

Revelation, 6 June 1831 [D&C 52:3, 5]. An earlier revelation indicated that land purchased for “an inheritance . . . shall be called the New Jerusalem.” The Book of Mormon contains references to God establishing the New Jerusalem, or the city of Zion, on the American continent. Nearly a year had passed since a September 1830 revelation had declared, “No man knoweth where the City shall be built But it shall be given hereafter Behold I say unto you that it shall be among the Lamanites.” (Revelation, ca. 7 Mar. 1831 [D&C 45:65–66]; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 497, 566 [3 Nephi 20:22; Ether 13:3–6]; Revelation, Sept. 1830–B [D&C 28:9].)
Comprehensive Works Cited



The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. Palmyra, NY: E. B. Grandin, 1830.

Leaving Kirtland, Ohio, on 19 June 1831, JS reached Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, on 14 July.2

William W. Phelps, “Extract of a Letter from the Late Editor,” Ontario Phoenix (Canandaigua, NY), 7 Sept. 1831, [2]; JS History, vol. A-1, 126.
Comprehensive Works Cited



Ontario Phoenix. Canandaigua, NY. 1828–1832.

After arriving in Independence, JS dictated this revelation on 20 July 1831 identifying “the land of Missorie” as the “land of promise.” John Whitmer recorded it in Revelation Book 1 as the “first Revelation given in Missorie.”3

Revelation Book 1, p. [208], in JSP, MRB:387.  

In Independence, JS and his group—Martin Harris, Edward Partridge, William W. Phelps, and Joseph Coe4

Revelation, 20 July 1831, in Gilbert, Notebook, [34]–[36] [D&C 57]; JS History, vol. A-1, 126; William W. Phelps, “Extract of a Letter from the Late Editor,” Ontario Phoenix (Canandaigua, NY), 7 Sept. 1831, [2].
Comprehensive Works Cited



Gilbert, Algernon Sidney. Notebook of Revelations, 1831–ca. 1833. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL.

Ontario Phoenix. Canandaigua, NY. 1828–1832.

—met Oliver Cowdery, Ziba Peterson, Peter Whitmer Jr., and Frederick G. Williams, who had reached Missouri by January 1831 to proselytize among the American Indians living just west of the Missouri state line.5

See Covenant of Oliver Cowdery and Others, 17 Oct. 1830; Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 8 Apr. 1831; Knight, Reminiscences, 9; and Jennings, “First Mormon Mission to the Indians,” 288–299. A 29 January 1831 letter from Cowdery states that they had arrived “a few days since.” Peter Whitmer Jr.’s later account, however, says the group arrived on 13 December 1830. Accounting for the travel time to Independence in the winter, it is highly unlikely that the group, which left Kirtland by 22 November, could have arrived in mid-December, which suggests that Cowdery’s contemporary account is more accurate. (Oliver Cowdery, Independence, MO, to the Church in Ohio, 29 Jan. 1831, in Letter to Hyrum Smith, 3–4 Mar. 1831; Whitmer, Journal, Dec. 1831, [1]; Givens and Grow, Apostle Paul of Mormonism, 42; see also Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 24 Nov. 1831, [1].)
Comprehensive Works Cited



Knight, Joseph, Sr. Reminiscences, no date. CHL.

Jennings, Warren A. “The First Mormon Mission to the Indians,” Kansas Historical Quarterly 38 (Autumn 1971): 288–299.

Whitmer, Peter, Jr. Journal, Dec. 1831. CHL.

Givens, Terryl L., and Matthew J. Grow. Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Ohio Star. Ravenna. 1830–1854.

Some of the others assigned by the 6 June revelation to travel to Missouri arrived later in the month—apparently after the dictation of the 20 July revelation.6

Sidney Rigdon and Sidney and Elizabeth Van Benthusen Gilbert, for example, had decided to go by water from St. Louis to Independence, rather than overland, which delayed their arrival. (JS History, vol. A-1, 126–127.)  

According to a history JS initiated in 1838, JS spent time upon his arrival in Independence ruminating on the situation of the American Indians living in the “wilderness” across the border. Perhaps because an earlier revelation explained that the city of Zion was to be built “among the Lamanites,”7

Early church members sometimes referred to American Indians as “Lamanites.” The history of the people called the Lamanites is told in the Book of Mormon.  

these meditations prompted him to ask questions about when and where the city would be built: “When will the wilderness blossom as the rose; when will Zion be built up in her glory, and where will thy Temple stand unto which all nations shall come in the last days?”8 In another account, JS remembered “viewing the country” before “seeking diligently at the hand of God”; according to that account, God “manifested himself unto me, and designated to me and others, the very spot upon which he designed to commence the work of the gathering, and the upbuilding of an holy city, which should be called Zion.”9

JS, “To the Elders of the Church of Latter Day Saints,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Sept. 1835, 1:179. The “others” noted by JS may have referred to Harris, Partridge, Coe, Phelps, Cowdery, Whitmer, Peterson, and Williams. Sidney Gilbert’s copy of the revelation bears the notation “1st Commandment recd at Missouri after the arrival of Joseph Smith Jnr=M. Harris Edwd. Partridge=Joseph Coe & W.W. Phelps”—without mentioning himself or any of the others, who may not yet have arrived in Missouri at this point. (Gilbert, Notebook, [34].)
Comprehensive Works Cited



Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

Gilbert, Algernon Sidney. Notebook of Revelations, 1831–ca. 1833. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL.

The revelation designated Missouri as the “Land of Zion,” Independence as the place at which to build the city of Zion, and the spot on which to build the temple.10

When embarking on his mission to preach to the Indians, Cowdery promised “to rear up a pillar as a witness where the Temple of God shall be built, in the glorious New-Jerusalem.” But it was this 20 July revelation that gave the first clear designation of the temple’s location. (Covenant of Oliver Cowdery and Others, 17 Oct. 1830.)  

It also provided instruction to Partridge, who was appointed a bishop in February 1831, and Sidney Gilbert, who was designated in June 1831 as an agent to the church, on purchasing lands and distributing them to church members so that the members could gather in Missouri.11

Revelation, 4 Feb. 1831 [D&C 41:9]; Revelation, 8 June 1831 [D&C 53:4].  

It further assigned Gilbert to open a store and Phelps to establish a printing operation.
The original manuscript of this revelation is not extant. John Whitmer, who did not go to Missouri at this time, later copied it into Revelation Book 1, probably sometime after JS returned to Ohio from Missouri.12

See Historical Introduction to Revelation Book 1, in JSP, MRB:5.  

In August 1831, Partridge wrote to his wife that “the commandments” given in Missouri would be “carr[ied] home” to Ohio by “our brethren.”13

Edward Partridge, Independence, MO, to Lydia Clisbee Partridge, 5–7 Aug. 1831, Edward Partridge, Letters, 1831–1835, CHL.
Comprehensive Works Cited



Partridge, Edward. Letters, 1831–1835. CHL.