The Joseph Smith Revelations
by H. Michael Marquadt
Six Additional Revelations
Given through Joseph Smith
1. Canadian copyright revelation received ca. January 1830
[p.372] One incident which occurred while the Book of Mormon was at the printer throws light on the importance Joseph Smith placed on his copyright to that book. Hiram Page, one of the eight witnesses to the book, states that Smith sent Oliver Cowdery, himself, and two others to Canada to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon in that country. However, they returned empty-handed. It is not known if the text of this revelation is extant.1
Page related his experience to William E. McLellin in 1848, eighteen years later. In his letter Page criticized Joseph Smith because the expected outcome of their trip was unfulfilled. Page wrote (original spelling retained):
Joseph [Smith, Jr.] he[a]rd that there was a chance to Sell a copyright in canada for any useful book that was used in the States Joseph thought this would be a good opertunity to get a handsom[e] Sum of money which was to be (after the expencis [expenses] were taken out) for the exclusive benefit of the Smith famaly [family] and was to be at the disposal of Joseph accordingly Oliver Cowdery Joseph Knights, Hiram Page and Joseah Stoel [Josiah Stowell] were chosen ([illegible words] by revilation) to do the buisaness [business]; we were living some 30 to 100 miles apart the neces[s]ary preperation was made (by them) in a Sly manor [manner] So as to keep martin Har[r]is from drawing a Share of the money, it was told me we were to go by revilation but when we assembled at father Smiths; there was no revilation for us to go but we were all anctious [anxious] to get a revilation to go; and when it came we were to go to kingston where we were to Sell if they would not harden their hearts; but when we got their [there]; there was no purcheser neither were they authorized at kingston to buy rights for the provence [province]; but little york was the place where Such buisaness [business] had to be done; we were to get 8,000 dollars we were treated with the best of respects by all we met with in kingston — by the above we may
Seelearn how a revilation may be rece[i]ved and the oneperson rece[i]ving it not be benefited2
Eight thousand dollars was a great deal of money in Smith’s time. It is unlikely that anyone would have invested such a large amount of money for a copyright. Page said they went to Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and “were treated with the best of respects.” He indicated, however, that Smith was “not benefited.”
[p.373] Page did not see anything wrong with Smith wanting to sell the copyright. David Whitmer, who recounted the event many years later, did not seem concerned either, but was disturbed because Smith received a revelation through the seer stone that did not come to pass.3 The revelation to sell the copyright in Canada was written down and recorded but never published. McLellin, who joined the church in August 1831, wrote in 1872 the following:
But again, Joseph [Smith, Jr.] had a revelation for Oliver [Cowdery] and friends to go to Canada to get a copy-right secured in that Dominion to the Book of Mormon. It proved so false that he never would have it recorded, printed or published, I have seen and read a copy of it, so that I know it existed. So do all those connected with him at the time. … But in the spring of 1830 the revelation relative to the Canada mission was certainly untrue.4
McLellin’s comment that the revelation was not recorded evidently refers to its being recorded for the BC manuscript. There was no plan to have it published in that compilation. McLellin also mentioned that he read the revelation in manuscript form. He wrote in 1877, “J[oseph] Smith’s revelation for Cowdery to go to Canada was never printed. M[artin]. Harris had the copy that I read in Manuscript.”5 Additionally, McLellin commented:
When the Book [of Mormon] was translated, and at the printer’s with the copy-right secured, Joseph [Smith, Jr.] delivered a long revelation for O[liver]. Cowdery and others to go to Kingston in Canada, and get a copy-right in that dominion to the book, in order to sell it and make money out of its sale. They went, but, did not succeed, and the revelation proved so false, that Joseph never would have it printed or put with his other revelations either.6
David Whitmer in 1887 also mentioned the Canadian revelation. He wrote:
Joseph [Smith, Jr.] looked into the hat in which he placed the stone, and received a revelation that some of the brethren should go to Toronto [sic], Canada, and that they would sell the copy-right of the Book of Mormon. Hiram [P]age and Oliver Cowdery went to Toronto [sic] on this mission, but they failed entirely to sell the copy-right, returning without any money. Joseph was at my father’s house [in Fayette] when they returned. I was there also, and am an eye witness to these facts. Jacob Whitmer and John Whitmer were also present when Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery returned from Canada. Well, we were all in great trouble; and we asked Joseph how it was that he had received a revelation from the Lord for some brethren to go to Toronto [sic] and sell the [p.374] copy-right, and the brethren had utterly failed in their understanding. Joseph did not know how it was, so he enquired of the Lord about it, and behold the following revelation came through the stone: “Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of man: and some revelations are of the devil.”7 So we see that the revelation to go to Toronto [sic] and sell the copy-right was not of God, but was of the devil or of the heart of man.8
John L. Traughber had information from both McLellin and Whitmer concerning the revelation. He wrote:
Dr. William E. McLellan, who was one of the original Mormon “Twelve,” has stated to me time and again that he saw and read a long revelation which Joseph Smith delivered to Oliver Cowdery and Hiram Page to go to Kingston, Canada and get out a copyright for the Book of Mormon under that dominion, and sell it for the purpose of paying E.B. Grandin of Palmyra, New York, for printing the first edition of the Book of Mormon. Dr. McLellan stated emphatically that the revelation promised complete success to Cowdery and Page in their mission to Canada. In September, 1879, I closely questioned David Whitmer as to the facts concerning the revelation on the copyright. He stated that it was delivered in January, 1830, and that Cowdery and Page crossed the lake on the ice and went to Kingston, and did just as the revelation required them to do; but they completely failed in their endeavor to get a copyright.9
2. Revelation received west of Jackson County, Missouri, on 17 July 1831
In July 1831 after the arrival of Joseph Smith, Jr., and others in Jackson County, Missouri, plans were made to preach to the Native Americans. Smith received a directive on intermarriage with the Indians. At a later date William W. Phelps wrote, evidently from memory, what he claimed was part or the substance of this revelation:
Part — of a revelation by Joseph Smith Jun. given over the boundary, west of Jackson Co. Missouri, on Sunday morning, July 17, 1831, when Seven Elders, viz: Joseph Smith Jun. Oliver Cowdery, W.W. Phelps, Martin Harris, Joseph Coe, Ziba Peterson and Joshua Lewis united their hearts in prayer, in a private place, to inquire of the Lord who should preach the first sermon to the remnants of the Lamanites and Nephites, and the people of that Section, that should assemble that day in the Indian country, to hear the gospel, and the revelations according to the Book of Mormon.
Among the company, there being neither pen, ink or paper, Joseph [Smith, Jr.] remarked that the Lord could preserve his words as he had ever done, till the time appointed, and proceeded:
Verily, verily, saith the Lord your Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, the light and the life of the world, ye can not discerne [discern] with your natural eyes, the design and the purpose of your Lord and your God, in bringing you thus far into the wilderness for a trial of your faith, and to be especial witnesses, to bear testimony of this land, upon [p.375] which the zion of God shall be built up in the last days, when it is redeemed.
Verily, inasmuch as ye are united in calling upon my name to know my will concerning who shall preach to the inhabitants that shall assemble this day to learn what new doctrine you have to teach them, you have done wisely, for so did the prophets anciently, even Enoch, and Abraham, and others: and therefore, it is my will that my servant Oliver Cowdery should open the meeting with prayer; that my servant W. W. Phelps should preach the discourse; and that my servants Joseph Coe and Ziba Peterson should bear testimony as they shall be moved by the Holy Spirit. This will be pleasing in the sight of your Lord.
Verily I say unto you, ye are laying the foundation of a great work for the salvation of as many as will believe and repent, and obey the ordinances of the gospel, and continue faithful to the end: For, as I live, saith the Lord, so shall they live.
Verily I say unto you that the wisdom of man in his fallen state, knoweth not the purposes and the privileges of my holy priesthood. but ye shall know when ye receive a fulness by reason of the anointing: For it is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome and Just, for even now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles.
Gird up your loins and be prepared for the mighty work of the Lord to prepare the world for my second coming to meet the tribes of Israel according to the predictions of all the holy prophets since the beginning; For the final desolation, and decrees upon Babylon: For, as the everlasting gospel is carried from this land, in love for peace, to gather mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, for Zion,— even so shall rebellion follow after speedily, with hatred for war until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all the kingdoms and nations that strive to govern themselves by the laws and precepts, and force and powers of men under the curse of sin, in all the world.
Verily I say unto you, that the day of vexation and vengeance is nigh at the doors of this nation, when wicked, ungodly and daring men will rise up in wrath and might, and go forth in anger, like as the dust is driven by [a] terrible wind; and they will be the means of the destruction of the government, and cause the death and misery of man[y] souls, but the faithful among my people shall be preserved in holy places, during all these tribulations.
Be patient, therefore, possessing your souls in peace and love, and keep the faith that is now delivered unto you for the gathering of scattered Israel, and lo, I am with you, though ye cannot see me, till I come: even so. Amen.
Reported by W.W.P. [William W. Phelps]
About three years after this was given, I asked brother Joseph [Smith, Jr.] privately, how “we,” that were mentioned in the revelation could take wives from the “natives”—as we were all married men? He replied instantly “In th[e] same manner that Abraham took Hagar and Katurah [Keturah]; and Jacob took Rachel Bilhah and Zilpah: by revelation—the saints of the Lord are always directed by revelation.”10
While the text of this revelation was not written in July 1831, intermarriage with the Indians was discussed. Four months later Ezra Booth wrote:
[p.376] 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.11
Phelps included a copy of this revelation in a letter to LDS church president Brigham Young. Commenting on the letter to Young, David J. Whittaker wrote:
Several things are apparent: (1) While the Book of Mormon strongly teaches that God removes the curse of the dark skin, this document implies that intermarriage can; (2) Some scholars think that this revelation was the initial impetus for plural marriage, as some of the missionaries had wives in Ohio; and (3) This document seems to have begun the Mormon practice of marrying native Americans. Some of the contents of the document better fit an 1861 context and it is possible that Phelps added his own understanding thirty years later. Ezra Booth confirms early talk about marrying Indians, but the reasons for doing so probably did not include polygamy or even changing skin color, but rather facilitating entrance into the reservation for missionary work …12
3. Revelation received at Kirtland, Ohio, ca. November 1836 for Ira Ames
Joseph [Smith, Jr.] received the Word of the Lord about as follows. Verily thus saith the Lord unto my servant Ira [Ames] it is not my will that you should go up to the land of Missouri until the residue of my church go.13
4. Revelation received at Kirtland, Ohio, on 5 January 1837 regarding the Kirtland Safety Society
Wilford Woodruff, an elder in the church, wrote:
I visited the office of the Kirtland Safety Society & saw the first money that was issued by the Treasurer or Society. It was given to Brother [Jacob] Bump (in exchange for other notes) who was the first to Circulate it.
I also he[a]rd President Joseph Smith jr. declare in the presence of F[rederick G.] Williams, D[avid]. Whitmer, S[ylvester?]. Smith, W[arren]. Parrish, & others in the Deposit Office that he had received that morning the Word of the Lord upon the Subject of the Kirtland Safety Society. He was alone in a room by himself & he had not ownly [only] the voice of the Spirit upon the Subject but even an audable [audible] voice. He did not tell us at that time what the LORD said upon the subject but remarked that if we would give heed to the Commandments the Lord had given this morning all would be well.14
[p.377] Joseph Smith wrote the following in the January 1837 issue of the Messenger and Advocate:
In connexion [connection] with the above Articles of Agreement of the Kirtland Safety Society, I beg leave to make a few remarks to all those who are preparing themselves, and appointing their wise men, for the purpose of building up Zion and her Stakes. It is wisdom and according to the mind of the Holy Spirit, that you should call at Kirtland, and receive counsel and instruction upon those principles that are necessary to further the great work of the Lord, and to establish the children of the Kingdom, according to the oracles of God, as they are had among us. And further, we invite the brethren from abroad, to call on us, and take stock in our Safety Society.15
5. Revelation received at Kirtland, Ohio, on 4 June 1837 for Heber C. Kimball
Heber C. Kimball wrote in his journal:
June the 4- 1837 Kirtland The word of the Lord to me through Joseph [Smith] the prophet [was] that I should gow [go] to England to open the dore [door] of procklamation [proclamation] to that nation and to hed [head] the same16
6. Revelation received at Nauvoo, Illinois, ca. 27 August 1842 concerning preaching against statements made by John C. Bennett
Wilford Woodruff recorded:
During my sickness [10 August to 19 September 1842] there was some important things transpired in the Church. We received the word of the Lord Concerning the Elders of the Church (through Joseph the Seer). The Lord manifested that it was his will that the first presidency, the Twelve, The High Council The quorum of High Priest[s], and the Elders quorum as a general thing Should go into the vineyard. The instructions were for the Elders to confine themselves to the free States & mostly to New England & the canidas [and] not to go to any of the indians or Slave States.17
This word of the Lord related to problems caused by disaffected church member John Cook Bennett’s letters published in the Sangamo Journal (Springfield, Illinois) exposing Nauvoo iniquities. To counter his charges, a broadside was published titled AFFIDAVITS AND CERTIFICATES, Disproving the Statements and Affidavits Contained in John C. Bennett’s Letters. Nauvoo[.] Aug. 31, 1842.
Eliza R. Snow establishes the approximate date of the revelation:
Last evening [27 August] Prest. S. [Joseph Smith] was at home and met in the large drawing room with a respectable number of those considered trustworthy – counsel’d them to go out forthwith to proclaim the principles of truth.18
[p.378] Hyrum Smith spoke at a church conference on 29 August 1842:
the people abroad had been excited by John C. Bennett[‘]s false statements and that letters had frequently been received inquiring concerning the true nature of said reports; in consequence of which it is thought wisdom in God that every Elder who can, should now go forth to every part of the United States, and take proper documents with them stating the truth as it is and also preach the gospel, repentance, Baptism & salvation and tarry preaching untill they shall be called home.19