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History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834]

History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834]

thee, thou art not called to go into the eastern countries, but thou  art called to go to the Ohio. And inasmuch as my people shall  assemble themselves to the Ohio, I have kept in store a blessing  such as is not known among the children of men; and it shall  be poured forth upon their heads. And from thence men  shall go forth into all nations.
5. Behold, verily, verily I say unto you, that the people in Ohio, call  upon me in much faith, thinking I will stay my hand in Judg ment upon the nations, but I cannot deny my word: wherefore  lay to with your might and call faithful laborers into my  vineyard, that it may be pruned for the last time. And inasmuch  as they do repent and receive the fulness of my gospel, and  become sanctified, I will stay mine hand in judgment: where fore go forth, crying with a loud voice, saying: The kingdom of heaven  is at hand: Crying,— hosanna! blessed be the name of the most high  God! Go forth baptizing with water preparing the way before my  face, for the time of my coming: for the time is at hand: the day nor  the hour no man knoweth, but it surely shall come, and he that  receiveth these things receiveth me; and they shall be gathered unto  me in time and in eternity.
6. And again, it shall come to pass, that on as many as ye shall bap tize with water, ye shall lay your hands, and they shall receive the  gift of the Holy Ghost, and shall be looking forth for the signs of  my coming, and shall know me. Behold I come quickly: even  so; amen.

6 January 1831 • Thursday

As James Covill rejected the word of the Lord, and returned to  his former principles and people, the Lord gave unto me and Sidney  Rigdon the following revelation, explaining why he obeyed not  the word; given at Fayette N.Y. January, <6,> 1831.
1 Behold, verily I say unto you, that the heart of my servant James  Covill was right before me, for he covenanted with me that he  would obey my word. And <he> received <the> word with gladness, but  straightway Satan tempted him; and the fear of persecution and  the cares of the world, caused him to reject the word; wherefore  he broke my covenant, and it remaineth in me to do with him as  seemeth me good. Amen.

January–February 1831

The latter part of January, in company <with> Brother Sidney Rigdon and  Edward Partridge, I started with my wife for Kirtland, Ohio, where  we arrived about the first of February, and were kindly received [p. 92]
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This document, volume A-1, is the first of the six volumes of the “Manuscript History of the Church.” The collection was compiled over the span of seventeen years, 1838 to 1856. Volume A-1 encompasses the period from JS’s birth in 1805 to 30 August 1834, just after the return of the Camp of Israel (later known as Zion’s Camp) from Missouri to Kirtland, Ohio. For a fuller discussion of the entire six-volume work, see the general introduction to the history.
In April 1838 JS renewed his effort to draft a “history” with the aid of his counselor Sidney Rigdon. George W. Robinson served as scribe. JS’s journal for late April and early May 1838 notes six days on which JS, Rigdon, and Robinson were engaged in “writing history.” Though not completed and no longer extant, that draft laid the foundation for what became a six-volume manuscript eventually published as the “History of Joseph Smith,” and at least a portion of its contents are assumed to have been included in the manuscript presented here.
On 11 June 1839 in Commerce, Illinois, JS once again began dictating his “history.” James Mulholland now served as scribe. Apparently the narrative commenced where the earlier 1838 draft left off. When work was interrupted in July 1839, Mulholland inscribed the draft material, including at least some of Robinson’s earlier material, into a large record book already containing the text of an incomplete history previously produced over a span of two years, 1834–1836. For the new history, Mulholland simply turned the ledger over and began at the back of the book. The volume was later labeled A-1 on its spine, identifying it as the first of multiple volumes of the manuscript history.
Prior to his untimely death on 3 November 1839, Mulholland recorded the first fifty-nine pages in the volume. Subsequently, his successor, Robert B. Thompson, contributed about sixteen more pages before his death in August 1841. William W. Phelps then added a little over seventy-five pages. However, it was not until Willard Richards was appointed JS’s “private secretary and historian” that substantial progress was made on the compilation of the history. Richards would contribute the remainder of the text inscribed in the 553-page first volume. The narrative recorded in A-1 was completed in August 1843. Thomas Bullock and Charles Wandell subsequently added sixteen pages of “Addenda” material, which provided notes, extensive revisions, or additional text to be inserted in the original manuscript where indicated. For instance, several of the addenda expanded on the account of the Camp of Israel as initially recorded.
JS dictated or supplied information for much of A-1, and he personally corrected the first forty-two pages before his death. As planned, his historian-scribes maintained the first-person, chronological narrative format initially established in the volume. When various third-person accounts were drawn upon, they were generally converted to the first person, as if JS was directly relating the account. After JS’s death, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, and others modified and corrected the manuscript as they reviewed material before its eventual publication.
Beginning in March 1842 the church’s Nauvoo periodical, the Times and Seasons, began publishing the narrative as the “History of Joseph Smith.” At the time of JS’s death only the history through December 1831 had been published. When the final issue of the Times and Seasons, dated 15 February 1846 appeared, the account had been carried forward through August 1834—the end of the material recorded in A-1. The “History of Joseph Smith” was also published in England in the church periodical the Millennial Star beginning in June 1842. Once a press was established in Utah and the Deseret News began publication, the “History of Joseph Smith” once more appeared in print in serialized form. Beginning with the November 1851 issue, the narrative picked up where the Times and Seasons had left off over five years earlier.
Aside from the material dictated or supplied by JS prior to his murder, the texts for A-1 and for the history’s subsequent volumes were drawn from a variety of primary and secondary sources including JS’s diaries and letters, minutes of meetings, the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, church and other periodicals, reports of JS’s discourses, and the reminiscences and recollections of church members. The narrative in A-1 provides JS’s personal account of the foundational events of his life as a prophet and the early progress of the church. It also encompasses contentions and disputations that erupted between the Latter-day Saints and their neighbors in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Missouri. While it remains difficult to distinguish JS’s own contributions from composition of his historian-scribes, the narrative trenchantly captures the poignancy and intensity of his life while offering an enlightening account of the birth of the church he labored to establish.

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