Joseph Smith Documents from February 1833 through March 1834

On 20 July 1833, over four hundred residents of , Missouri, and the surrounding area demanded that members of the evacuate the county immediately and resolved that the Mormons’ “printing office should be razed to the ground.” Mormon described the scene that followed: “In a short time, hundreds of the mob gathered around the , (which was a, two story brick building,) which they soon threw down. The press was thrown from the upper story, and the aparatus, book work, paper, type, &c. &c. scattered through the streets.” Among the paper strewn about the streets by the crowd of self-appointed arbiters of the public good was the nearly completed work titled A Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ, which would have contained as many as seventy-eight of Joseph Smith’s revelations. Printing the Book of Commandments was the first attempt to publish a collection of Joseph Smith’s papers—an attempt that was abruptly ended by this act of destruction. The leveling of the printing office in marked the beginning of an era of concerted and sometimes violent opposition to the Church of Christ and its members.
The documents of Joseph Smith featured in this volume of The Joseph Smith Papers cover this formative, and at times chaotic, period between February 1833 and March 1834. The volume features primarily minutes of meetings, letters, and revelations but also includes city plats, , a warrant, a deed, and an attempt to classify the scriptures by topic. All the documents were created during a time when hundreds of church members were gathering to the newly designated in and dozens of others were continuing to move to , Ohio, where, as an 1831 revelation declared, the Lord wanted the church “to retain a strong hold . . . for the space of five years.” In Kirtland, the growth of church membership necessitated the purchase of new lands, the cost of which became a major concern, as did beginning construction on the . In , problems gathering church members to Jackson County were compounded by the vast distance separating Missouri members from Joseph Smith, resulting in intermittent and delayed communication. As membership grew in the separate locales, Joseph Smith and other church leaders had to make decisions regarding how best to accommodate the expansion through the purchase and distribution of lands. In addition, the growing complexity of church governance gave rise to new religious questions. The documents featured in this volume reflect Joseph Smith’s desire to construct an orderly society in both and Missouri before the imminent second coming of Christ.
Many of the documents in this volume are minutes of meetings led by Joseph Smith. Nearly all of these minutes were created in the area, where Joseph Smith lived throughout this period. The meetings Smith led or attended ranged from of or to disciplinary courts that determined the membership status of those who were believed to have seriously transgressed. Though regular church worship services were also held during this period, there are no surviving minutes of those meetings, and it is unknown if any were ever taken. The minutes that do exist reflect many of the concerns and ideas, both temporal and spiritual, that occupied Joseph Smith and other church leaders during these often-tumultuous months. These concerns included various organizational and administrative matters that confronted the Church of Christ in as its membership increased.
Many of the minutes directly relate to the growth of the church in . For instance, in March 1833, Joseph Smith and his fellow leaders undertook a major effort to expand the church’s landholdings in Kirtland to accommodate the increasing numbers of church members arriving in . The first large group of church members migrated to Ohio from in early 1831. For the next two years, Mormon holdings in Kirtland were primarily limited to ’s farm and ’s property. In 1833, ’s property, especially his , became the central location of Smith’s activities in Kirtland. Smith, along with his wife and two young children, lived in the upper level of the small store. There he dictated revelations, held meetings with other church leaders, conducted a school known as the to educate members of the ministry, and completed his years-long work of making inspired corrections to various portions of the Old and New Testaments.
To expand the church’s landholdings, church leaders focused on obtaining properties adjacent to or near ’s . Though Joseph Smith endorsed the plan to purchase several of the expensive farms in the area, the primary property acquired in 1833 was the 103-acre farm owned by , located just north of ’s land and west of Whitney’s store. To help pay the farm’s $5,000 purchase price, church leaders sent over a dozen men on missions to raise funds as well as proselytize. The acquisition of, payment for, and administration over this farm and other lands were major concerns for Joseph Smith in in mid-1833 and led to the creation of multiple documents featured in this volume.
While the minutes of various meetings in which Joseph Smith participated provide insights into the administrative function of the young church, they also have certain limitations. They are usually brief, with hours of meetings often distilled into a few short sentences. When inscribing the minutes, the clerk summarized what he considered to be the major points of the meeting generally, without elaboration on the conversations, ideas, and disagreements incident to the discussion. Though meeting attendees are sometimes listed, the minutes usually reference a participant only if he or she took an active role in some part of the meeting. The minutes are generally a bare-bones, matter-of-fact commentary on the actions and decisions made during the meetings rather than a descriptive, inclusive account of events.
For example, minutes from a March 1833 meeting of the School of the Prophets, held just over a month after the school was organized, briefly refer to a shared visionary experience. , the clerk, recorded, “Many of the brethren saw a heavenly vision of the saviour and concourses of angels.” Without elaborating, the minutes close by simply stating that the participants each had “a reccord of what they saw.” Unfortunately, no extant contemporary records describe this shared vision. Nevertheless, , one of the attendees at the meeting, later described the experience in great detail. He remembered that while the group was praying, “a personage walked through the room from east to west, and Joseph asked if we saw him. I saw him and suppose the others did, and Joseph answered that is Jesus, the Son of God, our elder brother.” Coltrin continued: “Afterwards Joseph told us to resume our former position in prayer; which we did. Another person came through; He was surrounded as with a flame of fire. . . . The Prophet Joseph said this was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I saw Him.”
One of the more notable exceptions to the usual brevity of the minutes is the record of a meeting held on 19 February 1834. Here Joseph Smith presented his revision to an earlier document that established the high council of the church and that outlined the duties of high counselors. This newly formed administrative and judicial body played a major role in church governance and was also an ecclesiastical precursor to the “traveling high council,” or the , which was organized the following year. The relatively detailed record of the revised document presented at this 19 February meeting was later published as one of the first sections of the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.
While minutes make up a substantial portion of this volume, nearly three dozen of the documents featured herein are letters. In these letters Joseph Smith corresponded with various of the church, whose members sought explanations on church disciplinary matters, clarification of doctrine, or instructions regarding a pending migration to or . For instance, when wrote to expressing concern about a revelation purportedly received for the church by one of the members in where he lived, Smith wrote back with counsel and instruction. He told Carter, “As it respects the vision you speak of we do not consider ourselves bound to receive any revelation forom [from] any one man or woman without being legally constituted and to that authority and given sufficien[t] proof of it.” Smith expounded further: “I will inform you that it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church or any one to receive instruction for those in authority hig[h]er than themselves, therefore you will see the impropriety of giving heed to them.” Most of Smith’s letters directed to members in the various branches of the church contained similar types of counsel on religious matters.
Like the minutes, the majority of the letters in this volume originated in . The letters were often directed to church members and leaders approximately one thousand miles away in . Between 1831 and 1833, hundreds of Mormons had moved to , a place that previous revelations had designated as Zion and the future site of the , a temple-centered city of refuge whose construction would precede the second coming of the Messiah. Following the violence directed at church members and the destruction of the in , Jackson County, Smith carried on an increasingly regular correspondence with the church members in Missouri. This long-distance correspondence presented some difficulties, however. In the early 1830s a letter sent via regular mail service between Independence and Kirtland took approximately three to four weeks to arrive. Thus, for the Kirtland-based (the highest governing body of the church, composed of Joseph Smith, , and ), advising and interacting with church leaders in Missouri in a timely manner was a significant obstacle, especially in times of crisis. In some cases, events moved so rapidly that by the time letters arrived in either place, the information contained on their pages was mostly obsolete.
Even so, Joseph Smith’s letters to were important, providing vital information and reflecting his concern for those gathering there. The letters contained announcements of new revelations, references to events in , plans for the construction of the city of Zion, instructions for church leaders and members living in Missouri, and explanations of key doctrines. In turn, the letters Smith received from detailed the difficulties of building a city as a gathering place on the frontier of organized territory, far removed from the headquarters of the church in Kirtland.
The revelations Joseph Smith dictated to his scribes during this period are the third-most prevalent type of document found in this volume. While the letters and minutes of meetings give insight into Smith’s personal views and reactions to events, Smith maintained, and his followers believed, that the revelations were from Jesus Christ and represented the Lord’s will and instruction rather than Smith’s. In many cases these revelations led to the creation of other documents. For instance, after a revelation instructed Joseph Smith to take on new responsibilities as soon as he completed his translation of the Old and New Testaments, he inquired whether he should translate the Apocrypha as well. In response, another revelation informed him it was “not needful that the Apocrypha should be translated.” He therefore made no revisions to the text of those books and wrote to members of the church in informing them of the direction to leave the Apocrypha untranslated.
Many of the revelations dictated by Joseph Smith in the early 1830s concerned his efforts to revise, or , the Bible. This project—begun in 1830 and completed on 2 July 1833—was not a translation in the traditional sense. Rather than attempting to create a more accurate English text of the Bible by retranslating early Hebrew, Greek, or Latin manuscripts into English, Smith revised the text of the King James Bible as he felt inspired to do so. Smith’s changes were sporadic and often minor; he passed over some of the smaller books in the Old Testament without making any revisions at all. At times, however, revisions substantially changed and expanded the King James text. By early February 1833, Smith had completed his revision of the New Testament and was working on the books in the latter half of the Old Testament. His intensive study of the Bible may have also influenced his personal writing: most of Smith’s letters in this volume contain phrases and words from the Bible.
Some of the instructions contained in the revelations immediately influenced the way and the city of Zion in were being planned and organized. In December 1832, for instance, a revelation called on members of the Church of Christ to “establish, an house, even an house of prayer an house of fasting, an house of faith, an house of Learning, an house of glory, an house of order an house of God.” This house eventually became the church’s first , later known as the Kirtland temple. Though a conference of high priests had appointed a building committee to begin work on the house in May 1833, a 1 June revelation chided members in the voice of the Lord for having “sinned against me a verry grievous sin in that ye have not considered the great . . . concerning the building of mine house.” The revelation promised members that if “ye keep my commandments ye shall have power to build it” but also warned, “If ye keep not my commandments the love of the father shall not continue with you therefore ye shall walk in darkness.” This revelation also provided information essential for the planning and construction of the temple.
Building the became a top priority thereafter for church members living in . The 1 June revelation declared to members that it was the “wisdom and the mind of the Lord” that the “house be built not after the manner of the world.” Instead, the revelation directed, “Let it be built after the manner which I shall show unto three of you whom ye shall appoint and ordain unto this power.” In early June 1833, a conference of high priests appointed the three members of the presidency of the high priesthood— Joseph Smith, , and —as those to whom God would reveal the architectural plan for the temple. As the men collectively prayed, the building reportedly appeared to them in a vision, and they viewed the exterior and interior, which allowed them to craft their plans. The work on the House of the Lord commenced and progressed, with some interruption, throughout the period covered in this volume.
Not long after seeing the in a vision, drafted detailed plans for the expansive in and for another House of the Lord to be built in . On 25 June 1833, the presidency sent the plans to Missouri and directed church leaders to build the House of the Lord “immediately in Zion” according to the patterns sent. Shortly thereafter, another revelation called for Kirtland to be developed as the “city of the stake of Zion,” according to “the pattern which I have given unto you,” which referred to the plats and plans previously sent to Missouri in late June. The creation of these plats and plans represented the Church of Christ’s first organized efforts to physically build the kingdom of God through urban development.
In addition to having immediate application to church members in the 1830s, the revelations in this volume have also become some of the most widely recognized documents relating to Mormon culture and theology. The revelation dictated on 27 February 1833, for example, provided dietary instructions that eventually became a distinguishing characteristic of church membership. The revelation, given “not by commandment or Constraint, but by Revelation & the word of wisdom,” provided “a principle with promise” as it instructed members to abstain from tobacco, alcoholic beverages, and “hot drinks,” as well as to limit their consumption of meat. In addition, members were counseled to consume grain and “every herb in the season thereof & every fruit in the season thereof,” all of which were “to be used with prudence & thanksgiving.” In return, the revelation promised that “all saints who remember to keep & do these sayings” would be blessed with health, wisdom, and knowledge, and “shall run & not be weary & walk & not faint. And I the Lord give unto them a promise that the destroying Angel shall pass them by as they did by the Children of Israel & not slay them.”
Another revelation, dictated in May 1833, provided a distinct theology in its explanation of the nature of Christ and the relationship between God and humankind. Rather than embracing the Protestant and Catholic belief “that in Christ two distinct natures were united in one person, without any change, mixture, or confusion,” this revelation described Jesus as having “received not of the fulness [of the Father] at the first but received grace for grace and he received not of the fulness but continued from grace to grace until he received a fulness.” In an even more radical teaching, this revelation challenged traditional Christian notions of humankind’s relationship to God. Instead of accepting an ex nihilo creation of humanity, the revelation asserted that men and women not only possess premortal spirits but also were “in the begining with God.” Furthermore, it explained that the “elements are eternal” and “inteligence or the Light of truth was not created or made neith[er] indeed can be.” Joseph Smith later expanded upon these teachings, and belief in a premortal, coeternal existence of humankind with God became a central tenet of the religion’s theology.
All the documents in this volume were written during a time of expansion and transition in both and , but the documents created after midsummer 1833 were also composed at a time of growing opposition to members of the Church of Christ that took various forms in the two communities. In the area, soon after the first missionaries arrived in fall 1830, multiple newspaper articles antagonistic toward Joseph Smith and the church were published, and their frequency increased as more people embraced Smith’s teachings and revelations. Foremost among the publishers printing diatribes against Mormons was , the editor of the Painesville Telegraph. Howe—who may have had some personal animosity toward the religion because his sister had joined the Church of Christ by 1832, as did his wife by early 1834—generally denigrated what he termed “Mormonism” for being farcical, illogical, and invented. When members of the church from , New York, arrived in the Kirtland area in May 1831, Howe mused, “It is surely a melancholy comment upon human nature to see so many people at this enlightened age of the world, truckling along at the car of a miserable impostor, submitting themselves, both soul and body, to his spiritual and temporal mandates, without a murmur, or presuming to question that it is all a command direct from Heaven.”
Despite continuing rhetorical attacks from antagonists like , in 1833 no violent altercations or mobbings took place in like the brutal tarring and feathering and apparent attempt to poison Joseph Smith that had occurred in the previous year. Even so, the growing Mormon presence in caused considerable alarm. When he later reflected on the circumstances that led to confrontations between Mormons and other residents of Kirtland, Howe explained that the conflict was primarily political, rather than religious, in nature. Because of Mormon “boasts that in a short time they would control all the county offices and elect a member of Congress from their own ranks . . . many of our citizens thought it advisable to take all the legal means within their reach to counteract the progress of so dangerous an enemy in their midst, and many law suits ensued.” One of the “legal means” used was an apparent attempt to delay granting or indefinitely deny legal residency and accompanying voting rights in the township to immigrating Mormon settlers. Multiple warrants were issued to local constables to “warn out” members of the Church of Christ on the pretext that they were liable to be a financial burden on the township’s poor fund.
These substantial antagonisms notwithstanding, perhaps the greatest threat to the progress of the church in and the surrounding areas came from a disgruntled religionist within its ranks rather than from secular forces without. was ordained an elder in March 1833 and was then sent on a mission to eastern Ohio and western . By 3 June, however, a bishop’s court tried Hurlbut in absentia for “unchristian conduct with the female sex while on a mission to the east.” The court “decided that his commission be taken from him and that he be no longer a member of the Church of Christ.” A few weeks later Hurlbut petitioned Joseph Smith and the other members of the presidency of the high priesthood for reinstatement into the church. Though the presidency upheld the previous decision to excommunicate him, they granted Hurlbut clemency and reinstated him into the church after he importuned for mercy. This second chance at membership, however, proved short lived. Only days later reports reached that Hurlbut had publicly flaunted his reinstatement, claiming that he had made a false confession of contrition for his guilt. In consequence of these new allegations, another trial was held and Hurlbut was again excommunicated.
Following this second expulsion, immediately undertook an aggressive effort to discredit the Church of Christ in general and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon in particular. He began a sporadic lecture circuit condemning the religion as fraudulent. Joseph Smith’s journal recorded that Hurlbut “saught the distruction of the sainst [Saints] in this place and more particularly myself and family.” Hurlbut’s efforts were supported financially by others eager to stem the expanding influence of Mormons in the area. later explained that during 1833 and 1834, “many leading citizens of and employed and defrayed the expenses of Doctor Philastus Hurlbut,” sending him to , New York, and , Pennsylvania, “to obtain affidavits showing the bad character of the Mormon Smith Family.” In January 1834, Howe’s newspaper published a notice from a self-appointed committee of Kirtland residents who had determined to “take measures to avert the evils which threaten the Public by the location in this vicinity, of Joseph Smith Jun. otherwise known as the Mormon Prophet—and who is now, under pretence of Divine Authority, collecting about him an impoverished population, alienated in feeling from other portions of the community, thereby threatening us with an insupportable weight of pauperism.” The committee funded Hurlbut’s endeavors and, as a result of the affidavits he collected, concluded that the Book of Mormon was “a work of fiction and imagination, and written more than twenty years ago, in Salem, Ashtabula County, Ohio, by Solomon Spalding, Esq.” This attempt to provide an alternative explanation for the origin of the Book of Mormon endured for decades among detractors after Howe published many of Hurlbut’s anti-Smith affidavits in an 1834 book titled Mormonism Unvailed.
Even before ’s trip to and , his efforts to discomfit the church were effective enough that on 18 August 1833 Joseph Smith wrote to that the members in were “suffering great persicution on account of one man by the name of Docter Hurlburt who has been expeled from the chirch for lude and adulterous conduct and to spite us he is lieing in a wonderful manner and the peapl [people] are running after him and giveing him mony to b[r]ake down mormanism which much endangers our lives at preasnt [present].” Four months later, on 21 December 1833, Smith filed a complaint with a justice of the peace saying he feared Hurlbut “would wound, beat or kill him, or destroy his property.” The judge sustained the complaint, ordering Hurlbut to pay court fees and a bond guaranteeing he would keep the peace with Smith for six months.
In , the opposition against the growing Mormon community came solely from forces outside the church and was more violent than the difficulties encountered in . By 1833 church members living in and around numbered over one thousand and had reportedly accumulated more than two thousand acres of land. Not only did most local Missourians reject the Church of Christ’s religious beliefs, but they also hailed primarily from the slave-holding upper South while Mormon migrants to Missouri generally came from northern free states. A clash of cultures between Mormons and other Missouri residents was manifested as early as spring 1832 when Missourians vandalized Mormon property and harassed individual church members. Antagonists committed sporadic acts of hostility—such as stoning houses, breaking windows, shooting into houses, burning hay, and lobbing insults—against church members throughout 1832 and early 1833. By spring 1833, however, organized and widespread efforts to expel members of the Church of Christ from the materialized. In July 1833, the Mormons’ continued population growth and potential for increased political power in the county contributed to the further deterioration of relations between the two groups. In particular, the Mormons were accused of encouraging insubordination among Missouri slaves. , editor of the church’s newspaper, The Evening and the Morning Star, published an article in July 1833 that opponents trumpeted as proof that Mormons intended to encourage free people of color to move to Missouri. The idea that Mormons were undermining delicate master-slave relations in Missouri, on top of the general irritation over the growing Mormon political and economic presence, brought matters to a decisive head.
Hundreds of citizens held a series of meetings in mid- to late July that resulted in the creation of two important documents. The first, circulated on 18 July 1833, enumerated the citizens’ grievances against members of the Church of Christ and outlined a plan to remove them from the county, either through the purchase of their properties or, more ominously, by “such means as may be sufficient to remove them.” The document stated the citizens’ intentions “to rid our society ‘peacably if we can, forcibly if we must’” and defended the possibility of using violence if needed. The citizens complained that Mormons “were of the very dregs of that society from which they came” and expressed dismay that “they declare openly that their God has given them this County of land, and that sooner or later they must and will have the possession of our lands for an inheritance.” The angry residents stated that they owed it to themselves, their families, and the public good “to remove” the Mormons.
When hundreds of residents again convened on 20 July at the , they adopted five resolutions listing specific actions to be taken against the Mormons and appointed a committee that presented their demands to local leaders of the Church of Christ. The resolutions insisted that immediately cease operations at the offending , that the be shuttered permanently, and, most sweeping, that all Mormons precipitously leave the county altogether. The committee immediately presented their demands to church leaders, granting them only fifteen minutes to reply. The church leaders demurred, unwilling to submit to so drastic a proposal without receiving instructions from Joseph Smith in . The gathering mob, unwilling to wait for the Mormons in to counsel with one another, let alone conduct a months-long inquiry with leaders in Ohio, rejected the Mormons’ request for more time. The committee returned to the courthouse where the assembled Missourians voted to immediately demolish the print shop. In the ensuing violence, they also damaged the printing press and type, destroyed the printing furniture, and threw the pages of the unfinished Book of Commandments into the street. Not satisfied with this extralegal action alone, some of the group then tarred and feathered Bishop and . Members of the mob then gave notice that they would return on 23 July to expand their work of destruction, reportedly declaring that “the mormons must leave the county, or they or the mormons must die.
In an effort to prevent further violence, Mormon leaders agreed, in a document signed on 23 July 1833, that most of the church leaders and half of the Mormon population would leave by the first of January 1834 and the remainder would leave by the first of April 1834. In return for the Mormons’ submission, the mob pledged “themselves to use all their influence to prevent any violence being used so long as a compliance with the foregoing terms is observed by the parties concerned.”
Despite initially acquiescing to the mob’s demands to vacate the county, church members living in hoped that with time the antagonism toward them would abate, allowing them to remain on their religiously consecrated and legally purchased lands as Joseph Smith instructed them to do. They petitioned local and state officials, including governor , for protection and guidance in resolving their differences with the non-Mormon inhabitants of the county. Aside from being advised by Dunklin to take legal action, however, they received little assistance. Rather than leaving as they had previously agreed, on 20 October 1833 church leaders publicly announced their intentions to remain on and defend their lands in Jackson County. The next day, “the mob, or at least some of the leaders began to move.” Renewed acts of violence, beginning on 31 October and lasting through early November, resulted in the successful expulsion of Mormons from the county by armed forces. By 19 November, most members of the Church of Christ had been disarmed by the Jackson County militia and forced to flee to surrounding areas, though they congregated primarily to the north, in .
These events in directly affected decisions made by Joseph Smith in . For instance, in response to the destruction of the church-owned , he decided to transfer printing operations from Missouri to Ohio, where would manage the press until it could be reestablished in at some future date. was dispatched to in October to purchase a new printing press and accompanying type, and in December 1833, church leaders began printing The Evening and the Morning Star again, this time in .
Though Joseph Smith addressed the practical considerations related to future publications, he was far more concerned with the dispossessed Mormon families in . Shortly after the forced eviction of church members from , church leaders sought to obtain redress and protection from the Missouri state government. Still, the prospects for government assistance seemed grim. Although Mormons remained hopeful that the government would restore them to their lands, and though a few authorities in the Missouri justice system were encouraging and supportive, neither the executive nor the judicial branch of the Missouri government ultimately seemed willing to protect the rights of this particular minority. and other Missouri church leaders maintained a faint hope that they would receive justice through the state courts but believed the standard legal process would take so long that it might be years before they could return to their confiscated lands, if they ever did. Joseph Smith directed the church leaders in Missouri to maintain ownership of their lands and to continue to seek redress and protection from all levels of government, promising them that if such help was not forthcoming, God would “not fail to exicute Judgment upon your enemies and to avenge his own elect.” A mid-December 1833 revelation gave further direction to church members about obtaining redress, restoration, and redemption.
Even before church members were violently expelled from the county—indeed, perhaps as early as ’s arrival in from on 9 August 1833—Joseph Smith and other church leaders began discussing the merits of sending an armed body of men to protect church members’ rights, homes, and properties in . On 16 August, the Painesville Telegraph reported on the dictated treaty between “the mobors and the mobees.” The Telegraph’s editor, , opined that the citizens of Jackson County had “no doubt brought disgrace upon themselves by interfering with the legal rights of their fanatical neighbors” and reported that he had received information that “some Davids or Golia[t]hs are to be dispatched immediately by the prophet to the relief of the brethren in the wilderness.” Two days after that report was published, Joseph Smith wrote to church leaders in Missouri and declared that “the chirch in Kirtland concluded with one accord to die with you or redeem you.” Smith’s 18 August letter also counseled the beleaguered Missouri members to “wait patiently until the Lord come[s] and resto[res] unto us all things.” At the end of August, the Painesville Telegraph again reported that church members planned to send reinforcements to Missouri.
Though Joseph Smith and other church leaders may have begun discussing the idea of raising an armed relief force in early August 1833, only after the Mormons were violently expelled from did church leaders begin recruiting and preparing for an expedition to assist in the “redemption of Zion.” A 24 February 1834 revelation instructed church leaders that “the redemtion of Zion must needs come by power.” Smith and seven other men were appointed to recruit between one hundred and five hundred men and to solicit funds to restore church members to their homes and properties in . On 26 February 1834 Joseph Smith “started from home to obtain volenteers for Zion.” He returned to in late March 1834, and early the next month he resolved to go to Missouri; the armed expeditionary force, called the and later known as Zion’s Camp, departed on 5 May 1834.
While no documentary edition can fully illuminate the events of the past, the documents contained in this volume provide insights into Joseph Smith’s thoughts, demeanor, and especially his reaction to the growing problems that stemmed from presiding over a church whose members spanned distances of over a thousand miles. These records demonstrate Smith’s efforts to establish the church more completely—in terms of both property and organizational complexity—in while at the same time settling and developing the New Jerusalem in preparatory to what church members believed to be the impending second advent of the Messiah. All of the documents were, to a greater or lesser degree, created amid the dual anxieties of responding to the temporal needs of the church and its membership and to the spiritual concerns incident to the belief that the coming of Jesus Christ was “at the doors.” While the apostasies of men like and the violent eviction of church members from caused great upheavals in the young church, these documents reflect Joseph Smith’s undaunted faith in the religious movement he founded and his belief that God would eventually prevail and deliver to him and his followers their promised Zion.
  1. 1

    “Mormonism,” United States Telegraph (Washington DC), 21 Aug. 1833, [2].  

    United States Telegraph. Washington DC. 1826–1837.

  2. 2

    [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:18.  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  3. 3

    See “Proposed Sixth Gathering of the Book of Commandments.”  

  4. 4

    Although some of the printed pages were later collected and bound into incomplete volumes, it was not until 1835—when the Doctrine and Covenants was published in Kirtland, Ohio—that a collection of Smith’s revelations was readily available to readers.  

  5. 5

    Revelation, 11 Sept. 1831 [D&C 64:21].  

  6. 6

    Minutes, 23 Mar. 1833–A.  

  7. 7

    Minutes, 23 Mar. 1833–A.  

  8. 8

    Minutes, 18 Mar. 1833.  

  9. 9

    School of the Prophets Salt Lake City Minutes, 3 Oct. 1883.  

    School of the Prophets Salt Lake City Minutes, Apr.–Dec. 1883. CHL.

  10. 10

    Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834, in Doctrine and Covenants 5, 1835 ed. [D&C 102]; see also Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102].  

    Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God. Compiled by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams. Kirtland, OH: F. G. Williams, 1835. Also available in Robin Scott Jensen, Richard E. Turley Jr., Riley M. Lorimer, eds., Revelations and Translations, Volume 2: Published Revelations. Vol. 2 of the Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011).

  11. 11

    Letter to John S. Carter, 13 Apr. 1833.  

  12. 12

    Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 2 July 1833.  

  13. 13

    For more on the nature of Joseph Smith’s revelations, see “Joseph Smith as Revelator and Translator.”  

  14. 14

    Revelation, 9 Mar. 1833 [D&C 91:3]; Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 25 June 1833.  

  15. 15

    Minute Book 1, 2 Feb. 1833.  

  16. 16

    Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:119].  

  17. 17

    Minutes, 4 May 1833; Revelation, 1 June 1833 [D&C 95:3, 11–12].  

  18. 18

    Revelation, 1 June 1833 [D&C 95:13–14]; Minutes, ca. 1 June 1833.  

  19. 19

    Angell, Autobiography, 14–15; Plan of the House of the Lord, between 1 and 25 June 1833.  

    Angell, Truman O. Autobiography, 1884. CHL. MS 12334. Also available in Archie Leon Brown and Charlene L. Hathaway, 141 Years of Mormon Heritage: Rawsons, Browns, Angells—Pioneers (Oakland, CA: By the authors, 1973), 119–135.

  20. 20

    Minutes, 6 June 1833; Hyrum Smith, Diary, 7 June 1833, [15]; Johnson, “A Life Review,” 11; Millet, Reminiscences, 3; JS, Journal, 15–17 Apr. 1834.  

    Smith, Hyrum. Diary, Mar.–Apr. 1839, Oct. 1840. CHL. MS 2945.

    Johnson, Benjamin Franklin. “A Life Review,” after 1893. Benjamin Franklin Johnson, Papers, 1852–1911. CHL. MS 1289 box 1, fd. 1.

    Millet, Artemus. Reminiscences, ca. 1855 and ca. 1872, as copied in 1936. CHL. MS 1600.

  21. 21

    Plat of the City of Zion, ca. Early June–25 June 1833; Plan of the House of the Lord, between 1 and 25 June 1833.  

  22. 22

    Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 25 June 1833.  

  23. 23

    Revelation, 2 Aug. 1833–B [D&C 94:1–2]; Plat of the City of Zion, ca. Early June–25 June 1833; Plan of the House of the Lord, between 1 and 25 June 1833; Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 25 June 1833.  

  24. 24

    Revelation, 27 Feb. 1833 [D&C 89:2–3, 9, 11, 18, 20–21].  

  25. 25

    “Eutychians,” in Ecclesiastical Cyclopaedia, 260; “Chalcedon,” in Encyclopaedia Americana, 3:49–50.  

    The Ecclesiastical Cyclopaedia; or, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities and Sects, Comprising Architecture, Controversies, Creeds, Denominations, Doctrines, Government, Heresies, History, Liturgies, Rites, Monastic Orders, and Modern Judaism. Edited by John Eadie. London: Griffin, Bohn, 1862.

    Encyclopaedia Americana. A Popular Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature, History, Politics and Biography, Brought Down to the Present Time; Including a Copious Collection of Original Articles in American Biography; on the Basis of the Seventh Edition of the German Conversations-Lexicon. Edited by Francis Lieber, Edward Wigglesworth, and Thomas G. Bradford. 13 vols. Philadelphia: Carey and Lea, 1829–1833.

  26. 26

    Revelation, 6 May 1833 [D&C 93:12–13, 29, 33].  

  27. 27

    Arthur B. Deming, “About Spaulding,” Naked Truths about Mormonism (Oakland, CA), Jan. 1888, 2; Record of Donations, in JS, Journal, 1832–1834.  

    Naked Truths about Mormonism: Also a Journal for Important, Newly Apprehended Truths, and Miscellany. Oakland, CA. Jan. and Apr. 1888.

  28. 28

    “Mormon Emigration,” Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 17 May 1831, [3].  

    Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1822–1986.

  29. 29

    See “Joseph Smith Documents Dating from July 1831 through January 1833.”  

  30. 30

    Howe, Autobiography and Recollections, 44–45.  

    Howe, Eber D. Autobiography and Recollections of a Pioneer Printer: Together with Sketches of the War of 1812 on the Niagara Frontier. Painesville, OH: Telegraph Steam Printing House, 1878.

  31. 31

    Warrant, 21 Oct. 1833.  

  32. 32

    Minutes, ca. 1 June 1833.  

  33. 33

    Appeal and Minutes, 21 June 1833.  

  34. 34

    Minutes, 23 June 1833.  

  35. 35

    JS, Journal, 28 Jan. 1834; see also “Mormon Trial,” Chardon (OH) Spectator and Geauga Gazette, 12 Apr. 1834, [3].  

    Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette. Chardon, OH. 1833–1835.

  36. 36

    Eber D. Howe, Statement, 8 Apr. 1885, Collection of Manuscripts about Mormons, 1832–1954, Chicago History Museum.  

    Collection of Manuscripts about Mormons, 1832–1954. Chicago History Museum.

  37. 37

    “To the Public,” Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 31 Jan. 1834, [3], italics in original.  

    Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1822–1986.

  38. 38

    Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 18 Aug. 1833.  

  39. 39

    Geauga Co., OH, Court of Common Pleas, Court Records, 1807–1904, Final Record Book P, pp. 431–432, 31 Mar. 1834, microfilm 20,278, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  40. 40

    One of the documents in this volume particularly associated with the Hurlbut affair is a note penned by Joseph Smith to Newel K. Whitney. (Note to Newel K. Whitney, ca. Oct. 1833–Early 1834.)  

  41. 41

    By late 1833, the number of church members residing in Jackson County had risen to around twelve hundred. (Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 25; Corrill, Brief History, 20–21; Edward Partridge, Petition for Redress, 15 May 1839, copy, Edward Partridge, Papers, CHL; “The Elders Stationed in Zion to the Churches Abroad,” The Evening and the Morning Star, July 1833, 110.)  

    Pratt, Parley P. History of the Late Persecution Inflicted by the State of Missouri Upon the Mormons, In Which Ten Thousand American Citizens were Robbed, Plundered, and Driven From the State, and Many Others Imprisoned, Martyred, &c. For Their Religion, and All This by Military Force, by Order of the Executive. By P. P. Pratt, Minister of the Gospel. Written During Eight Months Imprisonment in that State. Detroit: Dawson and Bates, 1839.

    Corrill, John. A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, (Commonly Called Mormons;) Including an Account of Their Doctrine and Discipline; with the Reasons of the Author for Leaving the Church. St. Louis: By the author, 1839.

    Edward Partridge, Papers, 1818–1839. CHL. MS 892.

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  42. 42

    According to JS’s history, in April 1833 the “first regular mob,” numbering about three hundred people, met together in Independence “to consult upon a plan, for the removal, or immediate destruction, of the church in Jackson county.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 290; see also [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:17.)  

    JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). Historian’s Office, History of the Church, 1839–ca. 1882. CHL. CR 100 102, boxes 1–7. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  43. 43

    See Whitmer, History, 40–42; see also Letter from John Whitmer, 29 July 1833. John Corrill recalled that “the old citizens . . . saw their county filling up with emigrants, principally poor. They disliked their religion, and saw also, that if let alone. they would in a short time become a majority, and, of course, rule the county.” (Corrill, Brief History, 19.)  

    Whitmer, History / Whitmer, John. “The Book of John Whitmer Kept by Commandment,” ca. 1838–1847. CCLA. Available at

    Corrill, John. A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, (Commonly Called Mormons;) Including an Account of Their Doctrine and Discipline; with the Reasons of the Author for Leaving the Church. St. Louis: By the author, 1839.

  44. 44

    See Letter from John Whitmer, 29 July 1833; see also [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:17–19.  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  45. 45

    In summer 1831, several revelations indicated that western Missouri was the land of “inheritance” for Mormons. David Whitmer later remembered that “there were among us a few ignorant and simpleminded persons who were continually making boasts to the Jackson county people that they intended to possess the entire county.” (“Mormonism,” Kansas City Daily Journal, 5 June 1881, 1; see also Revelation, 6 June 1831 [D&C 52:2, 5]; Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:4]; and Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:49–53].)  

    Kansas City Daily Journal. Kansas City, MO. 1878–1891.

  46. 46

    Letter from John Whitmer, 29 July 1833.  

  47. 47

    “‘Regulating’ the Mormonites,” Missouri Republican (St. Louis), 9 Aug. 1833, [3].  

    Daily Missouri Republican. St. Louis. 1822–1869.

  48. 48

    “To His Excellency, Daniel Dunklin,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 114, italics in original; Corrill, Brief History, 19; see also Whitmer, History, 42–43; and [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:17–18.  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

    Corrill, John. A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, (Commonly Called Mormons;) Including an Account of Their Doctrine and Discipline; with the Reasons of the Author for Leaving the Church. St. Louis: By the author, 1839.

    Whitmer, History / Whitmer, John. “The Book of John Whitmer Kept by Commandment,” ca. 1838–1847. CCLA. Available at

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  49. 49

    Letter from John Whitmer, 29 July 1833.  

  50. 50

    [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:19; Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 18 Aug. 1833; Letter to Edward Partridge, 5 Dec. 1833.  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  51. 51

    “To His Excellency, Daniel Dunklin,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 114–115; Daniel Dunklin, Jefferson City, MO, to Edward Partridge et al., 19 Oct. 1833, William W. Phelps, Collection of Missouri Documents, CHL; see also Edward Partridge, Petition for Redress, 15 May 1839, copy, Edward Partridge, Papers, CHL.  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

    Phelps, William W. Collection of Missouri Documents, 1833–1837. CHL. MS 657.

    Edward Partridge, Papers, 1818–1839. CHL. MS 892.

  52. 52

    Letter, 30 Oct. 1833.  

  53. 53

    “From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 124–126.  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  54. 54

    Minutes, 11 Sept. 1833; JS, Journal, 18 Dec. 1833.  

  55. 55

    Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 10 Dec. 1833.  

  56. 56

    Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101].  

  57. 57

    Report, Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 16 Aug. 1833, [3], italics in original. Frederick G. Williams wrote, “Immediately after the arrival of bro Oliver we sat in councel to know what should be done, the decission of the councel was that measurs should be immediately taken to seek redress by the Laws of our country.” No minutes from this council are extant. (Frederick G. Williams, Kirtland, OH, to “Dear Brethren,” 10 Oct. 1833, in JS Letterbook 1, p. 56.)  

    Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1822–1986.

    JS Letterbook 1 / Smith, Joseph. “Letter Book A,” 1832–1835. Joseph Smith Collection. CHL. MS 155, box 2, fd. 1.

  58. 58

    Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 18 Aug. 1833.  

  59. 59

    Editorial, Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 30 Aug. 1833, [3].  

    Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1822–1986.

  60. 60

    Revelation, 24 Feb. 1834 [D&C 103:15]; Minutes, 24 Feb. 1834.  

  61. 61

    JS, Journal, 26–28 Feb. 1834.  

  62. 62

    JS, Journal, 7–9 Apr. 1834; JS History, vol. A-1, 477–478.  

    JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). Historian’s Office, History of the Church, 1839–ca. 1882. CHL. CR 100 102, boxes 1–7. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.

  63. 63

    See Matthew 24:33; and Vision, 3 Apr. 1836, in JS, Journal, 3 Apr. 1836 [D&C 110:16].