, “Brief History,” Manuscript, ca. 6 April 1838– ca. 26 January 1839; handwriting of and an unidentified scribe; seventy pages numbered 20–90, plus three unnumbered pages; John Fletcher Darby Papers, Missouri History Museum Archives, St. Louis.
, a careful observer, had enjoyed a close association with Mormon leaders, and consequently his account provides valuable insights into the development and structure of the early church. He summarized many of the doctrines taught by JS and provided a detailed description of the conflict between the Latter-day Saints and other settlers. But his chronicle also related the story of a personal spiritual journey into and then out of the church as came to disapprove of the church’s course in 1838 in Missouri. Yet despite his estrangement from the church and his excommunication in 1839, he retained a degree of sympathy for the Saints and maintained some contact.
apparently began compiling portions of his account while serving as an officially appointed church historian in . He probably completed his narrative by 11 February 1839, when he secured a copyright with the district federal copyright office. He arranged for Thomas Watson & Son of to print A Brief History. The entire print run may have included up to twelve hundred copies.
The document presented here, ’s circa 1838–1839 rough draft of his history, is incomplete. It includes the title page, copyright notice, and preface but is missing twenty-one pages, including the nineteen pages that constitute chapters 1 through 6. The manuscript is almost entirely in Corrill’s handwriting, though some of the chapter summaries (added after he drafted the narrative) were written in a different hand, possibly that of the printer.
’s published version of A Brief History receives comprehensive treatment in volume 2 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers and is available on this website as part of the history series.
In a short time become a majority, and of course rule the . The church kept increasing, and the old citizens became more and more dissatisfied, and from time to time offered to sell their farms and possessions. But the Mormons, though desirous, were too poor to purchase them. The feelings of the people were became greatly exasperated in consequence of the many falsehoods and evil reports that were in constant circulation against the church. Thus matters grew worse and worse, untill the people arose in their fury; and on the 20th. day of July AD 1833, the citizens met at the in , and appointed a committe[e] who called upon six or seven of the leading Mormons, and required them to shut up all their work shops, their , and their , and <agree to> leave the . The Mormons required time to give them an answer, but <they> would grant but fifteen minutes. The Mormons then refused to comply with their proposals, and the committe then returned to the where the people were assembled, <and> related to them the answer of the Mormons. They then took a vote to demolish the , which they did immediately, and tar[r]ed and feathered the and two one or two others, and appointed the 23d to meet again and carry on the work of destruction. The day arrived and the [p. 28]