Letter to Oliver Cowdery, 22 October 1829
- Source Note
JS wrote this letter from , Pennsylvania, to , who was overseeing the printing of the Book of Mormon in , New York. Four months earlier, on 11 June 1829, JS had obtained a copyright for the book, and after he and negotiated with local printers, Harris mortgaged his farm on 25 August to cover the cost of printing. By early September, , publisher of Palmyra’s Wayne Sentinel, began printing the pages, assisted by compositor John H. Gilbert. Oliver Cowdery made a second copy of the Book of Mormon manuscript and, assisted by , delivered the copied pages to the printer in twenty-four-page bundles. Just weeks after printing began, JS left Palmyra for his home in Harmony, arriving on 4 October.This may have been JS’s first trip back to since late May, though he may have visited in July or August to tend to planting and harvesting on his farm. His journey from in October may have been undertaken in order to tell others about the publication of the Book of Mormon. This letter explained that his trip to Harmony was “prosperous” and that many were requesting books once they were printed. JS explained that the “minds of the people are very much excited” at his obtaining a copyright and at the prospect of having an actual book in their hands. His news about a copyright and progress on the printing may also have appealed to individuals interested in purchasing the books in bulk. For instance, , who according to the letter was interested in purchasing five or six hundred dollars’ worth of books, needed the copyright to protect his potential investment. The copyright protected the book’s market value by legally barring printers from publishing the manuscript without JS’s permission.JS also urged to be faithful in the “discharge of evry duty,” the principal of which involved overseeing the printing of the book. JS no doubt expected Cowdery’s response to contain an update on the publication process. Followers of JS in the area welcomed the letter, and Cowdery wrote JS that “it was gladly received by us all[.] we rejoice to hear that you are well and we also rejoice to hear that you have a prospect of obtaining Some mony.”
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.
Albany Evening Journal. Albany, NY. 1830–1863.
Gilbert, John H. Memorandum, 8 Sept. 1892. Photocopy. CHL. MS 9223.
Skousen, Royal, ed. The Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Entire Text in Two Parts. Part 1, Copyright, 1830 Preface, 1 Nephi 1:0–Alma 17:26. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University, 2001.