Revelation, , Jackson Co., MO, 20 July 1831. Featured version, titled “60 Commandment,” copied [ca. Sept. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 93–94; handwriting of ; CHL. Includes redactions. For more complete source information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1.
A 6 June 1831 revelation instructed JS, , and certain elders to travel to “the land of ,” which God would “consecrate” to his people. It further stated that if JS and Rigdon remained faithful, God would reveal to them the land of their inheritance. Leaving , Ohio, on 19 June 1831, JS reached , Jackson County, Missouri, on 14 July. After arriving in Independence, JS dictated this revelation on 20 July 1831 identifying “the land of Missorie” as the “land of promise.” recorded it in Revelation Book 1 as the “first Revelation given in Missorie.” In Independence, JS and his group—, , , and —met , , , and , who had reached Missouri by January 1831 to proselytize among the American Indians living just west of the Missouri state line. Some of the others assigned by the 6 June revelation to travel to Missouri arrived later in the month—apparently after the dictation of the 20 July revelation.
According to the history JS initiated in 1838, JS spent time upon his arrival in ruminating on the situation of the American Indians living in the “wilderness” across the border. Perhaps because an earlier revelation explained that the city of Zion was to be built “among the Lamanites,” these meditations prompted him to ask questions about when and where the city would be built: “When will the wilderness blossom as the rose; when will Zion be built up in her glory, and where will thy Temple stand unto which all nations shall come in the last days?” In another account, JS remembered “viewing the country” before “seeking diligently at the hand of God”; according to that account, God “manifested himself unto me, and designated to me and others, the very spot upon which he designed to commence the work of the gathering, and the upbuilding of an holy city, which should be called Zion.” The revelation designated as the “Land of Zion,” established as the place at which to build the , and designated the spot on which to build the . It also provided instruction to , who was appointed a in February 1831, and , who was designated in June 1831 as an agent to the church, on purchasing lands and distributing them to church members so that the members could gather in Missouri. It further assigned Gilbert to open a store and to establish a printing operation.
The original manuscript of this revelation is not extant. , who did not go to at this time, later copied it into Revelation Book 1, probably sometime after JS returned to from Missouri. In August 1831, wrote to his wife that “the commandments” given in Missouri would be “carr[ied] home” to Ohio by “our brethren.”
Revelation, 20 July 1831, in Gilbert, Notebook, – [D&C 57]; JS History, vol. A-1, 126; William W. Phelps, “Extract of a Letter from the Late Editor,” Ontario Phoenix (Canandaigua, NY), 7 Sept. 1831, .
Gilbert, Algernon Sidney. Notebook of Revelations, 1831–ca. 1833. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583, box 1, fd. 2.
See Covenant of Oliver Cowdery and Others, 17 Oct. 1830; Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 8 Apr. 1831; Knight, Reminiscences, 9; and Jennings, “First Mormon Mission to the Indians,” 288–299. A 29 January 1831 letter from Cowdery states that they had arrived “a few days since.” Peter Whitmer Jr.’s later account, however, says the group arrived on 13 December 1830. Accounting for the travel time to Independence in the winter, it is highly unlikely that the group, which left Kirtland by 22 November, could have arrived in mid-December, which suggests that Cowdery’s contemporary account is more accurate. (Oliver Cowdery, Independence, MO, to the Church in Ohio, 29 Jan. 1831, in Letter to Hyrum Smith, 3–4 Mar. 1831; Whitmer, Journal, Dec. 1831, ; Givens and Grow, Apostle Paul of Mormonism, 42; see also Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 24 Nov. 1831, .)
Knight, Joseph, Sr. Reminiscences, no date. CHL. MS 3470.
Jennings, Warren A. “The First Mormon Mission to the Indians,” Kansas Historical Quarterly 38 (Autumn 1971): 288–299.
Whitmer, Peter, Jr. Journal, Dec. 1831. CHL. MS 5873.
Givens, Terryl L., and Matthew J. Grow. Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Rigdon and Sidney and Elizabeth Van Benthusen Gilbert, for example, had decided to go by water from St. Louis to Independence, rather than overland, which delayed their arrival. (JS History, vol. A-1, 126–127.)
When embarking on his mission to preach to the Indians, Cowdery promised “to rear up a pillar as a witness where the Temple of God shall be built, in the glorious New-Jerusalem.” But it was this 20 July revelation that gave the first clear designation of the temple’s location. (Covenant of Oliver Cowdery and Others, 17 Oct. 1830.)
Obtain provisions & whatsoever things the Deciples may need to plant them in their & also let my servents obtain license (behold here is wisdom & whoso readeth let him understand) that he may send goods also unto the even by whom he will as clerks employed in his service & thus the gospel may be preached unto them And again verily I say unto you let my servent also be planted in this place & be established as a Printer unto the Church & lo. if the world receiveth his writings (behold this is wisdom) let him obtain whatsoever he can <obtain> in righteousness for the good of the saints. And let my servents assist him even as I have commanded in Whatsoever place I shall appoint unto him to copy & to correct & select &c that all things may be right before me as it shall be proved by the Spirit through him & thus let those of whom I have spoken be planted in the Land of Zion as speedily as can be with their families to do these things even as I have spoken And concerning the let the & the make preperations for th◊se families which have been commanded to come to this land as soon as posible & plant them in their inheritance & unto the residue of both & members further directions shall be given hereafter even So Amen—— [p. 94]
A May 1831 revelation directed that an agent be appointed to take money consecrated to the church and “provide food & raiment according to the wants of this people.” (Revelation, 20 May 1831 [D&C 51:8].)
Oliver Cowdery and the others appointed to preach the gospel to the American Indians had been ordered off Indian lands; this revelation therefore provided another means for proselytizing. Ezra Booth, who arrived in Missouri just a few days after JS, later explained this provision as follows: “‘the Lord’s store-house,’ is to be furnished with goods suited to the Indian trade, and persons are to obtain license from the government to dispose of them to the Indians in their own territory; at the same time, they are to disseminate the principles of Mormonism among them.” Booth further claimed, “In addition to this, and to co-operate with it, it has been made known by revelation, that it will be pleasing to the Lord, should they form a matrimonial alliance with the Natives; and by this means the Elders, who comply with the thing so pleasing to the Lord, and for which the Lord has promised to bless those who do it abundantly, gain a residence in the Indian territory, independent of the agent.” Three decades later, William W. Phelps also recounted that JS dictated a revelation to this effect. (Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—Nos. VIII–IX,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 8 Dec. 1831, ; William W. Phelps to Brigham Young, 12 Aug. 1861, Revelations Collection, CHL.)
Ohio Star. Ravenna. 1830–1854.
Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583.
A June 1831 revelation instructed Phelps, who had previously worked as a newspaper editor, to “assist my servent Oliver to do the work of Printing & of Selecting & writing Books for Schools in this Church.” (Van Orden, “‘By That Book,’” 208; Revelation, 14 June 1831 [D&C 55:4].)
Van Orden, Bruce A. “‘By That Book I Learned the Right Way of God:’ The Conversion of William W. Phelps.” In Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: Ohio, edited by Larry C. Porter, Milton V. Backman Jr., and Susan Easton Black, 203–213. Provo, UT: Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, 1992.