, Minutes, “” [, Jackson Co., MO], 30 Apr. 1832. Featured version, titled “Minutes of a Council of the litterary Firm, Zion April 30. 1832,” copied [between ca. 6 Apr. and 19 June 1838] in Minute Book 2, pp. 25–26; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 2.
On 30 April 1832, JS and others who were designated as “ over the revelations” gathered in , Jackson County, Missouri, for the first recorded meeting of the . The roots of this new firm reached back to late 1831 in . At a series of held in , Ohio, in November 1831, church leaders decided to publish JS’s revelations in a compilation titled the Book of Commandments and to have ten thousand copies of the book printed. They instructed and to take manuscript copies of the revelations to , where was establishing the church’s printing works. On 12 November 1831, a revelation instructed JS, Cowdery, Whitmer, Phelps, , and to be “stewards over the revelations & ” and “to manage them & the concerns thereof.” After JS and other Ohio leaders traveled to Missouri, a 26 April 1832 revelation instructed three groups of individuals to join themselves together in the management of these “stewartships.” The three groups included those responsible for publishing the church’s revelations; those responsible for maintaining the church stores in Independence and , Ohio; and the two in charge of the church’s temporal affairs.
After spending 28–29 April visiting church members in , Missouri, JS returned to , and on 30 April he presided over the first known meeting of the Literary Firm. The firm apparently had a broader scope than just supervising the production of the Book of Commandments; the minutes also discuss the possible publication of an almanac and the preparation of a hymnal. As clerk of the meeting, recorded the minutes. In 1838, copied the minutes into Minute Book 2.
The minutes of the Literary Firm meeting bear a 30 April date. A later JS history recounts, however, that the meeting was held 1 May. A United Firm meeting that followed the meeting of the Literary Firm may have been held on 1 May, and in his history JS may have confused the date of the United Firm meeting with the date of the Literary Firm meeting. (JS History, vol. A-1, 214.)
The minutes of 30 April 1832 are the first known instance in which the appointed stewards were referred to as the Literary Firm. Since Whitmer and Cowdery left for Independence soon after the November 1831 conferences ended, and since this April trip was the first time JS and Rigdon traveled to Missouri after those conferences, the firm likely did not meet before this meeting.
It is possible that the identification of Gause as one of JS’s counselors was added at a later time. Because Gause was apparently excommunicated within a few months of this meeting, the position he had held in the church may have been added to the record for the benefit of later readers to whom he would be increasingly unfamiliar.a Minutes of other meetings copied by Ebenezer Robinson include such redactive identifications.b However, the explicit designation of Gause as one of JS’s counselors may have been included in the original minutes because church members in Missouri at the time were unfamiliar with Gause, who had apparently only recently been baptized in Ohio.c For example, John Whitmer described Gause as “one Jesse Gause” in the historical record he was keeping, which suggests that church members were unfamiliar with Gause.d It is also possible that Gause was designated as a counselor in the original minutes because he attended the meeting in that capacity. There is no record that Gause was ever appointed to the Literary Firm. In contrast, Rigdon, who was previously appointed as one of the “stewards” of the revelations, is listed in attendance but not designated as one of JS’s counselors. Gause may also have been standing in for Martin Harris, who was one of the stewards over the revelations.e A 20 March 1832 revelation indicated that Harris should not travel to Missouri with JS in the spring of 1832.f
In a January 1832 letter to JS, Cowdery reported that the plan to print ten thousand copies would require twice “the amount of the first mentioned Ream[s].” This calculation probably factored into the firm’s new plan for a reduced print run of the “first edition,” while allowing for the prospect of one or more subsequent editions. (Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 28 Jan. 1832.)