Revelation, 25 December 1832 [D&C 87]

A Prophecy given Decm. 25th 1832
Verily thus saith the Lord, concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass begining at the rebellion of South Carolina which will eventually terminate in the death and missery of many souls, and the days will come that war will be poured out upon all Nations begining at this place for [p. 32]
A Prophecy given Decm. 25th 18321

This heading may have been part of the original inscription. John Whitmer’s copy of the revelation in Revelation Book 1 contained a similar heading, “Prophecy or Commandments given Decem. 25. 1832.” (Revelation Book 1, p. 157, in JSP, MRB:291.)  

Verily thus saith the Lord, concerning the wars  that will shortly come to pass begining at the rebellion  of South Carolina which will eventually terminate  in the death and missery of many souls, and the  days will come that war will be poured out  upon all Nations2

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 34 [1 Nephi 14:15].  

begining at this place for [p. 32]
On Christmas Day, 25 December 1832, JS dictated this revelation warning of the outbreak of war across all nations, beginning in South Carolina. Remarking on the context of this revelation, a later JS history states: “Appearances of troubles among the nations, became more visible, this season, than they had previously done, since the church began her journey out of the wilderness.”1 The Painesville Telegraph of 21 December 1832 highlighted some of these problems. It contained an article titled “Revenge and Magnanimity. A Tale of the Cholera” about the worldwide cholera epidemic, as well as information about a plague in India that was killing 150 to 200 people a day.2

“Revenge and Magnanimity,” Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 21 Dec. 1832, [1]; “The Plague in India,” Painesville Telegraph, 21 Dec. 1832, [2].  

The newspaper also included extensive coverage of the passage of a resolution by a Nullification Convention held in November in South Carolina. This resolution declared the federal tariff acts of 1828 and 1832, which levied high duties against imports, “null and void” in the state. Many South Carolina residents believed the acts were passed solely to protect northern manufacturing at the expense of the South. Not only did South Carolinians claim the right to nullify the law, they also stated their willingness to “organize a separate Government” should the federal government try to enforce the tariffs in the state. The governor called for two thousand men to form a militia “for the defence of Charleston and its dependencies.”3

“South Carolina Convention,” Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 21 Dec. 1832, [2]; “Nullification,” Painesville Telegraph, 21 Dec. 1832, [2]–[3].  

President Andrew Jackson responded quickly to this resolution, stating, according to the Telegraph, “that the laws and the Union must be maintained, at all events.”4

News Item, Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 21 Dec. 1832, [3]. For more information on what is known as the Nullification Crisis, see Ellis, Union at Risk, chap. 9.  

Because Painesville

Located on Grand River twelve miles northeast of Kirtland. Created and settled, 1800. Originally named Champion. Flourished economically from harbor on Lake Erie and as major route of overland travel for western emigration. Included Painesville village; laid...

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, Ohio, was only about ten miles from 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, it is probable that JS saw or heard about the articles in the 21 December Telegraph within a day or so. These developments troubled JS, who saw in them the threat of the “immediate dissolution” of the United States.5 Indeed, the 25 December revelation predicted that rebellion on the part of South Carolina would lead not only to civil war and war among nations but also to slave rebellions and an uprising of remnants of the house of Israel. This violence, combined with plague and other natural disasters, would ultimately lead to the “full end of all Nations.” Using millenarian language, the revelation cast such events as portents of the return of Jesus Christ to the earth.6

Although it is unlikely that William W. Phelps saw this revelation before publishing the January 1833 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star, that issue contained an article titled “Signs of the Times.” Some of the signs Phelps listed included the trouble in South Carolina and the cholera epidemic. “Such strange movements of men; such dreadful sickness; oh! such fearful looking for the wrath of God to be poured out upon this generation,” Phelps declared, “ought to convince every man in the world, that the end is near; that the harvest is ripe, and that the angels are reaping down the earth!” (“Signs of the Times,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1833, [6].)  

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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wrote the revelation as JS dictated it, but the original manuscript is no longer extant. Probably between late January and late February 1833, Williams copied the revelation into Revelation Book 2, titling it “Prophecy given Dec 25— 1832 concerning concerning the wars” in that book’s index.7

See Revelation Book 2, Index, [1]. Other manuscript copies of the revelation were also made around that same time, including one by John Whitmer in Revelation Book 1. The revelation was not published in the 1835 or 1844 editions of the Doctrine and Covenants, in part, according to Brigham Young, because “it was not wisdom to put that . . . in private escritoire.” In 1851, Franklin D. Richards published the revelation in England in a pamphlet titled The Pearl of Great Price: Being a Choice Selection from the Revelations, Translations, and Narrations of Joseph Smith, First Prophet, Seer, and Revelator to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Revelation Book 1, p. 157, in JSP, MRB:291; Brigham Young, Discourse, 20 May 1860, in George D. Watt, Discourse Shorthand Notes, 20 May 1860, George D. Watt, Papers, as transcribed by LaJean Purcell Carruth, copy in editors’ possession; “A Mormon Prophecy,” Philadelphia Sunday Mercury, 5 May 1861, [2]; see also Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 2:234–238.)