JS, History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, created 11 June 1839–24 Aug. 1843; handwriting of , , , and ; 553 pages, plus 16 pages of addenda; CHL. This is the first volume of a six-volume manuscript history of the church. This first volume covers the period from 23 December 1805 to 30 August 1834; the remaining five volumes, labeled B-1 through F-1, continue through 8 August 1844.
This document, “History, 1838–1856, volume A-1, [23 December 1805–30 August 1834],” is the first of the six volumes of the “Manuscript History of the Church” (in The Joseph Smith Papers it bears the editorial title “History, 1838-1856”). The completed six-volume collection covers the period from 23 December 1805–8 August 1844. 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 to , Ohio. For a fuller discussion of the entire six-volume work, see the general introduction to the history.
In April 1838, with the aid of his counselor , JS renewed his efforts to draft a “history”. 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 the 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 , Illinois, JS once again began dictating his “history.” 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 ’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, recorded the first fifty-nine pages in the volume. Subsequently, his successor, , contributed about sixteen more pages before his death in August 1841. then added a little over seventy-five pages. However, substantial progress on the history was not made until December 1842 when assumed responsibility for the compilation and was appointed JS’s “private secretary and historian.” 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. 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 were directly relating the account. After JS’s death, , , , 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 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 death, 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 , , , and . 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.
of religion, and who were not backward to maintain this privilege for themselves; though they thus wantonly could deny it to us. For instance Cyrus McMaster a Presbyterian of high standing in his church was one of the chief instigators of these persecutions, and he at one time told me personally, that he considered me guilty without judge or jury. The celebrated , also a presbyterian, was another instigator to those deeds of outrage: Whilst a young man named , of the same religious faith swore out the first warrant against me. [HC 1:97] I could mention many others also, but for brevity’s sake, will make these suffice for the present. <-[☞Here insert the sheet marked A.1.]-> [HC 1:98] [HC 1:99] [HC 1:100]
Mean time, notwithstanding all the rage of our enemies, still we had much consolation, and many things occurred to strengthen our faith, and cheer our hearts. After our return from , the church there,were <at >, as might be expected, <were> very anxious concerning our again visiting them, during which time, , (wife to ) had a dream, which enabled her to say that we would visit them that day, which really came to pass, for a few hours afterwards we arrived, and thus was our <the> faith much <of the saints> strengthened, concerning dreams and visions in the last days, foretold by the ancient Prophet Joel: And although we, this time, were forced to seek safety from our enemies by flight, yet did we feel confidence that eventualy we should come off victorious, if we only continued faithful to Him who had called us forth from darkness, into the marvellous light of the Everlasting Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Shortly after our return home, we received the following .
Revelation given to Joseph Smith Jr, and , Given at , Pennsylvania, July, 1830.
1 Behold thou wast called and chosen to write the Book of Mor[HC 1:101]mon, and to my ministry; and I have lifted thee up, out of thy afflictions, and have counselled thee, that thou hast been delivered from all thine enemies, and thou hast been delivered from the powers of Satan, and from darkness! Nevertheless, thou art not excusable in thy transgressions; nevertheless, go thy way, and sin no more.
2 Magnify thine office; and after thou hast sowed thy fields, and secured them, go speedily unto the which is in , and , and they shall support thee; and I will bless them both spiritually and temporally; but if they receive thee not, I will send upon them a cursing instead of a blessing.
3 And thou shalt continue <in> calling upon God in my name, and writing the things which shall be given thee by the comforter, and expounding all scriptures unto the church, and it shall be given thee in the very moment, what thou shalt speak and write; and they shall hear it, or I will send unto them a cursing instead of a blessing:
4 For thou shalt devote all thy service in . And in this thou shalt have strength. Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many: but endure them, [p. 48]
TEXT: Insertion in the handwriting of William W. Phelps. A three-page manuscript, also in Phelps’s hand, is preserved with volume A-1 at the CHL. It was apparently written in preparation for publication in the Times and Seasons and its text is printed in the portion of JS’s history printed in the 16 January 1843 issue. The manuscript begins, “I will say, however, that amid all trials and tribulations we had to wade through, the Lord, who well knew our infantile, and delicate situation, vouchsafed for us a supply, and granted us ‘line upon line, here a little and there a little[’]; of which the following was a precious morsel.” There follows a copy of Visions of Moses, June 1830 [Moses 1].