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

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

and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation and  of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the sum mer ended, and my soul is not saved! Wo unto you poor  men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not con trite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands  are not stayed from laying hold upon other men’s goods,  whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor  with their hands.
6. But blessed are the poor, who are pure in heart, whose hearts  are broken, and whose spirits are contrite, for they shall see the  kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their  deliverance: for the fatness of the earth shall be theirs: for behold  the Lord shall come, and his recompense shall be with him, and  he shall reward every man, and the poor shall rejoice; and  their generations shall inherit the the earth from generation  to generation, forever and ever. And now I make end of  speaking unto you; even so: Amen.

19 June–July 1831

On the 19th of June, in company with Sidney Rigdon,  Martin Harris, Edward Partridge, W[illiam] W. Phelps Joseph Coe, A. S[idney]  Gilbert and his wife, I started from Kirtland, Ohio, for the land  of Missouri, agreeable to the commandment before received,  wherein it was promised, that if we were faithful the land  of our inheritance, even the place for the city of the New Jeru salem, should be revealed. we went by wagon, canal boats  and stages to Cincinnati, where I had an interview with  the Rev. Walter Scott, one of the fathers of the Campbellite,  or Newlite church. Before the close of our interview, he  manifested one of the bitterest spirits against the doc trine of the New Testament, (“that these signs shall follow them  that believe,” as recorded in the 16th chapter of the gospel ac cording to St. Mark,) that I ever witnessed among men.
We left Cincinnati in a steamer and landed at Louisville,  Ky. where we were detained three days in waiting for a Steamer  to convey us to St. Louis. At St. Louis, myself, Br. Harris, Phelp,  Partridge and Coe, went on foot by land to Independence Jack son county, Missouri, where we arrived about the middle of  July; and the residue of the company came by water a few  days after. Notwithstanding the corruptions of and abominations  of the times, and the evil spirit manifested towards us on— [p. 126]
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.