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.
to receive your reply. We would further remark, that under existing circumstances, we hope to receive our arms on this side of the , and we would name a place near one of the ferries for your convenience, As the arms are few in number, we request that they may be delivered with as little delay as possible.
, , , .
P.S. We will thank you for a written communication, in answer to this letter, and the accompanying order,” [HC 1:492]
We forded the Miami River with our baggage waggons and <most of> the men waded through the water. (<addenda> no. 2 page 7)
On Saturday the 17th.of May we crossed the state line of , and encamped for the sabbath just within the limits of Indiana, having travelled <about> forty miles that day; Our feet were very sore and blistered, our stockings wet with blood, the weather being very warm. This <At> night one <of> our enemies spies <a spy> attempted to get into our camp, but was prevented by our guards. We had our sentinels <posted> every night on account of spies who were continually striving to harass us.— <by attempting to steal our horses &c> Note G Addenda page 4 [HC 2:68]
About this time The saints in , Missouri, established an armory, where they commenced manufacturing Swords, dirks, & pistols, stocking rifles, and repairing arms in general for their own defence against mob violence: Many arms were purchased, for the leading men in rendered every facility in their power, in order, as they said “to help the mormons settle their own difficulties, and pay the Mob in their own way.”
Sunday 18th. We had preaching as usual and the administration of the . Monday 19th . <Travelled 31 miles and encamped in Franklin township, Henry county> <we encamped in an open place in the Beech Woods. On Tuesday 20th we encamped near Greenfield having travelled about 25 miles, some part of the way being so Bad, I waded over the tops of my boots in mud, and helped to pull thro the waggons with ropes (Note 3 page 7)> [HC 2:69] Although threatened by our enemies that we should not, we passed through Vandalia quietly and <Indianapolis on the 21st> unmolested; all the inhabitants were silent <quiet>. & appeared as though possessed with fear. At night we encamped on an eminencewherewelostonehorse, <a few miles west of Indianapolis. <Since the 18th. We had followed the National road where it was passable, frequently we had to take bye roads which were miry and led through thick woods.> There had previously been so many reports that we should never be permitted to pass thro’ that place, and that the would have us broken up, <dispersed> that some of the brethren were afraid we might have a difficulty there, but I <had> told them in the name of the Lord, we should not be disturbed and that>