Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57]

Obtain provisions12

A May 1831 revelation directed that an agent be appointed to take money consecrated to the church and “provide food & raiment according to the wants of this people.” (Revelation, 20 May 1831 [D&C 51:8].)  

& whatsoever things the Deciples may need to  plant them in their inheritance13

See Exodus 15:17.  

& also let my servents Sidney  obtain license (behold here is wisdom & whoso readeth let him under stand) that he may send goods also unto the lamanites  even by whom he will as clerks employed in his service & thus  the gospel may be preached unto them14

Oliver Cowdery and the others appointed to preach the gospel to the American Indians had been ordered off Indian lands; this revelation therefore provided another means for proselytizing. Ezra Booth, who arrived in Missouri just a few days after JS, later explained this provision as follows: “‘the Lord’s store-house,’ is to be furnished with goods suited to the Indian trade, and persons are to obtain license from the government to dispose of them to the Indians in their own territory; at the same time, they are to disseminate the principles of Mormonism among them.” Booth further claimed, “In addition to this, and to co-operate with it, it has been made known by revelation, that it will be pleasing to the Lord, should they form a matrimonial alliance with the Natives; and by this means the Elders, who comply with the thing so pleasing to the Lord, and for which the Lord has promised to bless those who do it abundantly, gain a residence in the Indian territory, independent of the agent.” Three decades later, William W. Phelps also recounted that JS dictated a revelation to this effect. (Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—Nos. VIII–IX,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 8 Dec. 1831, [1]; William W. Phelps to Brigham Young, 12 Aug. 1861, Revelations Collection, CHL.)
Comprehensive Works Cited



Ohio Star. Ravenna. 1830–1854.

Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL.

And again verily I say unto  you let my servent William [W. Phelps] also be planted in this place & be  established as a Printer unto the Church & lo. if the world receiveth  his writings (behold this is wisdom) let him obtain whatsoever  he can <obtain> in righteousness for the good of the saints. And let my  servents Oliver [Cowdery] assist him even as I have commanded in Whatsoever  place I shall appoint unto him to copy & to correct & select &c15

A June 1831 revelation instructed Phelps, who had previously worked as a newspaper editor, to “assist my servent Oliver to do the work of Printing & of Selecting & writing Books for Schools in this Church.” (Van Orden, “‘By That Book,’” 208; Revelation, 14 June 1831 [D&C 55:4].)
Comprehensive Works Cited



Van Orden, Bruce A. “‘By That Book I Learned the Right Way of God:’ The Conversion of William W. Phelps.” In Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: Ohio, edited by Larry C. Porter, Milton V. Backman Jr., and Susan Easton Black, 203–213. Provo, UT: Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, 1992.

that  all things may be right before me as it shall be proved by the  Spirit through him & thus let those of whom I have spoken be  planted in the Land of Zion as speedily as can be with their  families to do these things even as I have spoken And concer ning the gethering let the bishop & the agent make preperations  for thse families which have been commanded to come to this  land as soon as posible & plant them in their inheritance16

Aside from the Partridge, Gilbert, and Phelps families, the only families who had been commanded to migrate to this point were church members originally from Colesville, New York, who had relocated to Ohio. A June 1831 revelation instructed these members to continue to the western Missouri border. (Revelation, 10 June 1831 [D&C 54:8].)  

& unto  the residue of both Elders & members further directions shall be  given hereafter even So Amen—— [p. 94]
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.