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.
same is forgiven & I the Lord remembereth them no more by this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins behold he will confess them & forsake them & now verily I say concerning the residue of the of my the time has not yet come for many years for them to receive their in this land except they desire it through prayer only as they it shall be appointed unto them for Behold they shall push the people together from the ends of the Earth wherefore assemble yourselves together & he that is not appointed to stay in this land let them preach the gospel in the regions round about & after that let them return to their homes let them preach by the way & bear testimony of the truth in all places & call upon the rich the high & the low & the poor to repent & let them build up churches in-as-much as the inhabitants of the Earth will repent & let there be an agent appointed by the voice of the Church & I give unto my servent a that he shall write a discription of the Land of & a statement of the will of God as it shall be made known by the spirit unto him and an Epistle & subscription to be presented unto all the Churches to obtain money to be put into the hands of the to purchase lands for an inheritance for the children of God of himself or the agent as seemeth him good or as he shall direct for behold verily I say unto you the Lord willeth that the deciples & the children of men should open their hearts even to purchase this whole region of country as soon as time will permit behold here is wisdom let them do this lest they reserve none inheritance save it be by the sheding of blood & again in as much as there is lands obtained let there be workmen sent forth of all kinds unto this land to labour for the saints of God let all these things be done in order & let the priveliges of the lands be made known from time to time by the or the of the Church & let the work of the be not in haste nor by flight but let it be done as it shall be councelied by the Elders of the Church at the according to the knoweledge which they receive from time to time & let my servent consecrate & dedicate this land & the spot of the unto the Lord & let a conference meeting be called & after that let my servent & Joseph return & also with them to [p. 97]
Apparently, not all elders were appointed to move to Missouri at this time. Later in this revelation, the elders were told to supervise the gathering, while a later revelation clarified that JS would have “power that he shall be enabled to descern by the spirit those who shall go up unto the land of Zion & those of my Desiples that shall tarry.” (Revelation, 30 Aug. 1831 [D&C 63:41].)
This directive, which immediately followed the instruction to build up churches betweenMissouri and Ohio, apparently called for the appointment of a new financial agent, because Sidney Gilbert, the previously appointed agent, was now permanently stationed in Missouri. When this revelation was published in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, the phrase “unto the church in Ohio, to receive moneys to purchase lands in Zion” was added at this point in the text. Shortly after returning to Ohio, Newel K. Whitney was appointed as a church agent. (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10, 1835 ed.; Revelation, 30 Aug. 1831 [D&C 63:42–45].)
A later JS history recounts that after this revelation’s dictation, “we sought for all the information necessary” to compose “a description of the land of Zion.” However, the description that Rigdon composed was not acceptable because he had “received not counsel but grieved the spirit.” A 30 August 1831 revelation instructed him to try again, warning that “if the Lord receive it not behold he standeth no longer in the office which he hath appointed him.” His second attempt was apparently accepted. (JS History, vol. A-1, 137; Revelation, 30 Aug. 1831 [D&C 63:55–56]; Sidney Rigdon, Kirtland, OH, to “the Saints,” 31 Aug. 1831, copy, Sidney Rigdon Collection, CHL.)
Rigdon, Sidney. Collection, 1831–1858. CHL. MS 713.
A revelation dictated later in August explained that the Saints were to purchase the lands so that they could have legal claim to them. Without such legal claim, the revelation stated, people would be “stired up unto anger” against the church, even unto “the shedding of blood.” (Revelation, 30 Aug. 1831 [D&C 63:27–29].)
Phelps later explained that this meant determining and making known “how many can be accommodated” in Missouri. (“The Elders in the Land of Zion to the Church of Christ Scattered Abroad,” The Evening and the Morning Star, July 1832, .)
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.
On 2 August in Kaw Township, Missouri, Rigdon “consecrated and dedicated” the land “for the gathering of the Saints.” On 3 August, JS laid a cornerstone for the temple and Rigdon pronounced the ground “dedicated unto the Lord forever.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 137, 139; Whitmer, History, 32.)