JS, “Latter Day Saints,” pp. 404–410 in (ed.), He Pasa Ekklesia [The whole church]. An Original History of the Religious Denominations at Present Existing in the United States. Containing Authentic Accounts of Their Rise, Progress, Statistics and Doctrines. Written Expressly for the Work by Eminent Theological Professors, Ministers, and Lay-Members, of the Respective Denominations. Projected, Compiled and Arranged by I. Daniel Rupp, of Lancaster, Pa. Author of “Der Maertyrer Geschichte,” Etc. Etc.; Philadelphia: James Y. Humphreys; Harrisburg, PA: Clyde and Williams; printed by C. Sherman; 1844; i–viii, 9–734 pp. The copy used for transcription is held at CHL; includes redactions and archival marking.
The history is the twenty-second of forty-three chapters in the volume. It comprises seven pages that measure 9⅛ x 5⅝ inches (23 x 14 cm) within a book measuring 9½ x 6½ x 2 inches (24 x 17 x 5 cm). The copy used for transcription has apparently been in continuous church custody since its purchase in 1905.
This copy was purchased 21 June 1905 from a Salt Lake City bookstore for the Church Historian’s Office. The lower right corner of the inside front cover bears a sticker of the bookstore, “Shepard Book Company”, and the upper left corner bears a sticker of the “Historian’s Office Library”. Several “Historian’s Office” stamps are found throughout the book, including on the first page of the essay on the Latter-day Saints. A notation on the recto of the blank leaf preceding the title page indicates the day of purchase and a library number, “3493”, written in ink and later erased. “3493” corresponds to an entry made sometime after 1930 in an early Church Historian’s Office catalog book. (“Library Record,” book no. 3493.)
“Library Record for the Listing or Cataloguing of Books.” Historian’s Office, Library Accession Records, ca. 1890–ca. 1930. CHL. CR 100 429.
In July 1843, JS received a letter from Clyde, Williams & Co. of , Pennsylvania, announcing the planned publication of a volume of articles “written expressly for the Work, by distinguished Divines” from various religious denominations in the . The letter invited JS or “some other competent person” representing the Latter-day Saints to submit an “impartial account of the Rise and Progress, Faith and Practice” of the church. On behalf of JS, prepared a letter in reply, promising that an article would be “matured and forwarded in season to meet your anticipations.”
The resulting essay, published as “Latter Day Saints,” was a revised version of “Church History,” an overview of Latter-day Saint history and doctrine recently written in response to a similar request and published in the church newspaper. Taken as a whole, the revisions highlight JS’s emphasis on revelation, with a new opening paragraph explaining the revelatory foundations of the church and JS’s prophetic calling. The revised essay, composed in September 1843, also expanded on the achievements of the hardworking Latter-day Saints, noting the progress of , Illinois, during the eighteen months since the publication of “Church History.” Whereas the earlier version noted simply, “We have commenced to build a city called ‘Nauvoo’” and alluded only briefly to the city charter, the Nauvoo Legion, and the Saints’ missionary outreach, “Latter Day Saints” elaborated on these now-implemented plans. The Nauvoo Legion was growing in numbers, and the University of Nauvoo was to be a place “where all the arts and sciences will grow.” The newly begun received a descriptive paragraph of its own. While “Church History” emphasized the departure of missionaries to many parts of the world, the updated version announced that “thousands have already gathered with their kindred saints, to this the cornerstone of Zion.”
“Latter Day Saints” was written on behalf of JS and appeared under his name. JS approved of and may have collaborated on the content, but apparently it was who wrote the additions to “Church History.” Phelps’s handwriting appears in a three-page document containing drafts of passages that correspond to the changes to “Church History,” including both the initial paragraph of the revised text and the new section that precedes the concluding list of beliefs. The verso of the document’s second page reads, “Additions to an article in the Times & Seasons. Sent to Clyde Williams and Co. Publishe[r]s——September—1843.” In early April 1844, JS’s essay was published in the volume He Pasa Ekklesia [The whole church], edited by German-American author and translator . The text presented herein is a transcription of the published version, with notes indicating textual variations from Phelps’s draft and from “Church History.”
On 5 June 1844, JS wrote to acknowledging receipt of a copy of He Pasa Ekklesia: “I feel very thankful for so valueable a treasure. The design, the propriety, the wisdom of letting every sect tell its own story; and the elegant manner in which the work appears, have filled my breast with encomiums upon it, wishing you God’sspeed.” He continued, “I shall be pleased to furnish further information, at a proper time, and render you such service as the work, and vast extension of our church may demand for the benefit of truth, virtue, and holiness.” He then assured Rupp that “your work will be suitably noticed in our paper, for your benefit.” On 26 June, the day before JS was killed, the promised endorsement appeared in the Mormon-owned community newspaper, the Nauvoo Neighbor, noting that “every sect is its own witness” and declaring, “Such a work is actually worth its weight in gold. The author has our blessing for his success.”
JS per William W. Phelps, Nauvoo, IL, to Clyde, Williams & Co., Harrisburg, PA, 1 Aug. 1843, JS Collection, CHL. Volumes describing various religious denominations were not uncommon in this time period. In addition to John Hayward’s 1836 Religious Creeds and Statistics, Robert Baird published A View of Religion in America in Glasgow in 1842, with a revised edition, titled Religion in America, printed in the United States two years later and reprinted many times thereafter. Other examples are P. Douglas Gorrie, The Churches and Sects of the United States, (New York: Lewis Colby, 1850), and Joseph Belcher, The Religious Denominations in the United States, (Philadelphia: J. E. Potter, 1854). Rupp’s volume is distinctive in that it is a collection of essays written by representatives of the respective denominations.
Smith, Joseph. Collection, 1827–1846. CHL. MS 155.
The book was published in or shortly after April 1844, the date found in its preface. (Rupp, He Pasa Ekklesia, vi.)
Rupp, Israel Daniel, ed. He Pasa Ekklesia [The Whole Church]: An Original History of the Religious Denominations at Present Existing in the United States, Contains Authentic Accounts of Their Rise, Progress, Statistics and Doctrines. Written Expressly for the Work by Eminent Theological Professors, Ministers, and Lay-Members, of the Respective Denominations. Projected, Compiled and Arranged by I. Daniel Rupp, of Lancaster, Pa. Philadelphia: J. Y. Humphreys; Harrisburg: Clyde and Williams, 1844.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was founded upon direct revelation, as the true church of God has ever been, according to the scriptures (Amos, iii. 7, and Acts i. 2.) And through the will and blessings of God, I have been an instrument in his hands, thus far, to move forward the cause of Zion. Therefore, in order to fulfil the solicitation of your letter of July last, I shall commence with my life.
I was born in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, Vermont, on the 23d of December, A. D. 1805. When ten years old, my parents removed to , New York, where we resided about four years, and from thence we removed to the town of , a distance of six miles.
My was a farmer, and taught me the art of husbandry. When about fourteen years of age, I began to reflect upon the importance of being prepared for a future state; and upon inquiring the place of salvation, I found that there was a great clash in religious sentiment; if I went to one society they referred me to one place, and another to another; each one pointing to his own particular creed as the “summum bonum” of perfection. Considering that all could not be right, and that God could not be the author of so much confusion, I determined to investigate the subject more fully, believing that if God had a church, it would not be split up into factions, and that if he taught one society to worship one way, and administer in one set of ordinances, he would not teach another principles which were diametrically opposed. Believing the word of God, I had confidence in the declaration of James, “If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.”
I retired to a secret place in a grove, and began to call upon the [p. 404]
Joseph Smith Sr. left Vermont in late summer or early fall 1816, when JS was ten years old. The rest of the Smith family joined him in Palmyra in early 1817, shortly after JS turned eleven. (Palmyra, NY, Record of Highway Taxes, 1817, Copies of Old Village Records, 1793–1867, microfilm 812,869, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 3, –; JS History, vol. A-1, 131nA.)
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.