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 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 the Speaker, when one “Squire Cook <-[as I was called]-> immediately took the stand and professing to be a most liberal free thinker spoke to the people very freely about one hour on his particular views, his manner and style were very unassuming and affable, he was listened to with great attention, and those present remarked he was one of the greatest reasoners they ever heard,” the free thinker was followed by Elder who delivered a very eloquent discourse “on practical piety”— spoke on the principle of free salvation, followed by Elder who set forth as necessary for Salvation— after a few moments recess, at 2 oclock P.M. the trumpet again sounded, and a large congregation from and the surrounding country appeared again in the grove, many of whom expressed a desire to hear “that Methodist man” again— so I called brother into my tent and requested him to preach an animated sermon on free grace, and told him he should have the Spirit— I then sent for Elder to my tent, as he [2 words illegible] <and> said to him I understand you are a restorationer, “Yes said he “I believe in that doctrine” well said I, I wish you would make a few remarks to the people on that subject after has done— I also sent for Elder to come in my tent, and said to him “ when these brethren get thro’ speaking to the people, I want <wish> you to make a few remarks, reasoning on the importance of a Union of all the different sects and denominations, these brethren complied with my request, and the congregation was also addressed by Elder on baptism for the remission of sins— by Hiram Stratton exhorting the people to obey the gospel, and Eleazer Miller gave a powerful exhortation— after the services of the day were closed, many strangers made remarks on the preaching they had heard— they thought was a Methodist, and were anxious he should stay in that country and preach, they supposed was a close Communion Baptist, a Campbellite or reformed Baptist— a Presbyterian— a Restorationer; a Unionist, and enquired very earnestly if we all belonged to one denomination— the brethren replied, some of us were Methodists, some Baptists— Campbellites— Restorationers &c &c at the close of the meeting, Sacrament was administered, and all professing Christians of every— denomination present were invited to partake— came down from with the people, attended meeting, and returned with them in the evening— after Supper he left , returned to the and reported that the people universally who had visited the Camp, expressed the highest satisfaction of <with> their treatment, <and entertainment> and the good order that prevailed in our midst,— that one gentleman said “he had visited the Camp and presumed he had questioned <about> one hundred of the men, that he <and> had <received> polite answers to all his questions, from every individual, but could not ascertain who they were, where they were going, or what was their business, and believed them a fine set of fellows, or a pack of damd knaves, and I can’t tell for my life which,”another intelligent gentleman remarked that he did not believe there was a College in the that could turn out such an eloquent set of preachers, as he had heard that day in the Camp said he had heard hundreds of such like remarks at , and the most perfect good humor prevailed throughout the Town—
Monday 2nd. We passed through , they undertook to count us, and I heard one man say, who stood in the door of a Cabinet Shop, that he had counted a little rising of 500, but he [p. 11 [addenda]]