Revelation, “Zion” [, MO], 1 Aug. 1831. Featured version, titled “61 Commandment August 1st. 1831,” copied [ca. Sept. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 94–98; handwriting of ; CHL. Includes redactions. For more complete source information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1.
On 1 August 1831, JS dictated this revelation to the elders of the church who had joined him in western . Just a few days earlier, a revelation had designated , Missouri, as the location at which to build the “.” Upon arriving in Jackson County, however, some of the expressed disappointment with what they found. , , , and had been preaching to white settlers in and the vicinity since they were ejected from Indian Territory west of Missouri by February 1831. Despite their efforts, those arriving in Missouri in July found fewer than ten converts, whereas some had expected a burgeoning community of believers and perhaps a settlement that would soon be able to accommodate the migration of church members. Meanwhile, tension arose between and JS. The revelation of 20 July called Partridge to manage the properties of the church and “see to all things as it shall be appointed” by God’s “Laws,” with the assistance of , who had been appointed “an agent unto the church to buy lands.” According to one observer, Partridge argued with JS about the quality of the land selected for purchase. The disagreement apparently generated hard feelings on both sides. Partridge considered JS abusive, while accused Partridge of “having insulted the Lord’s prophet.”
In the wake of this incident and faced with the daunting prospect of actually building the , JS dictated this 1 August revelation, probably at . After addressing the “unbelief & blindness of heart” of and others, the revelation gave “further directions” for the establishment of , as had been promised in the 20 July revelation. The revelation instructed JS to return to , directed those appointed to build up Zion to take the initiative in moving their families to , and encouraged the elders to look beyond the land’s undeveloped condition and focus on its prophesied glory. The revelation also anticipated a major migration to and provided information about the key roles that the and the would play in regulating that migration by making known “from time to time” the “priveliges of the lands,” or the number of individuals that the church community could accommodate. Conferences of elders were to help control the migration as well, providing counsel on who should move.
The original manuscript of this revelation is not extant. later copied the version featured here into Revelation Book 1, the revelation book he was keeping in . Several copies were made in addition to Whitmer’s; , for example, indicated in a 5 August letter to his wife that copies of this and other Missouri revelations were to be carried to Ohio by “our brethren” returning from , and Elizabeth Van Benthusen Gilbert later showed a copy to after Hancock arrived in . also had a copy of the revelation, and it is likely that others made personal copies.
, editor of the Painesville Telegraph, denounced JS and the church in his 1834 book Mormonism Unvailed, which published a version of the revelation “as a specimen of the manner in which the Prophet governs and rebukes his dupes.” Howe’s copy differs somewhat from ’s copy in Revelation Book 1: several phrases included in Whitmer’s copy do not appear in Howe’s, suggesting that Howe’s copy may be derived from an earlier text. Howe also dated the revelation 3 August 1831, which differs from Whitmer’s date of 1 August. Whitmer’s copy, however, was inscribed much earlier than Howe’s copy was published, and it is not known when or from whom Howe obtained a copy of the revelation, nor is it known what textual changes may have been made to Howe’s copy, whether intentional or unintentional. Because Howe’s version may have been copied from an earlier text than the Whitmer version, significant differences between the versions are noted in the annotation that follows.
According to Ezra Booth, the arriving elders “expected to find a large Church, which Smith said, was revealed to him in a vision, Oliver had raised up there.” Instead, they found a congregation consisting of only “three or four females.” For Booth, who left the church in fall 1831, this disappointment was difficult to overcome. Apparently, seven people had actually been baptized in Jackson County by this time, including Joshua Lewis and other members of his family. (Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. V,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 10 Nov. 1831, ; Knight, Reminiscences, 9; Whitmer, Journal, Dec. 1831, .)
Ohio Star. Ravenna. 1830–1854.
Knight, Joseph, Sr. Reminiscences, no date. CHL. MS 3470.
Whitmer, Peter, Jr. Journal, Dec. 1831. CHL. MS 5873.
Minute Book 2, 10 Mar. 1832; Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII,” Ohio Star (Ravenna), 24 Nov. 1831, . In March 1832, Partridge admitted in a conference in Missouri that he had a disagreement with JS sometime prior to “a Conference held on this land at which our brs. Edward & Sidney were present face to face”—most likely the 4 August 1831 conference. “If Br. Joseph has not forgiven him he hopes he will,” the minutes of this meeting state, “as he is & has always been sorry.” (Minute Book 2, 10 Mar. 1832.)
Booth, who had become disaffected from the church, quoted a portion of the revelation pertaining to Partridge word for word in a 20 September 1831 letter to Partridge, which indicates that Booth possessed a copy. (Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 24 Nov. 1831, .)
Howe, Eber D. Mormonism Unvailed: Or, A Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion, from Its Rise to the Present Time. With Sketches of the Characters of Its Propagators, and a Full Detail of the Manner in Which the Famous Golden Bible Was Brought before the World. To Which Are Added, Inquiries into the Probability That the Historical Part of the Said Bible Was Written by One Solomon Spalding, More Than Twenty Years Ago, and by Him Intended to Have Been Published as a Romance. Painesville, OH: By the author, 1834.
A Revelation given to the who were assembeled in on the land of Directions what to do &c &c &c
Hearken oh ye Elders of my & give ear to my word & learn of me what I will concerning you & also concerning this land unto which I have sent you for verily I say unto you blessed is he that keepeth my commandments whether in life or in death & he that is faithfull in tribulation the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven ye cannot behold with your natural eyes for the present time the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter & the glory which shall follow after much tribulation for after much tribulation cometh the blessings Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory the hour is not yet but is nigh at hand remember this which I tell you before that you [p. 94]