Revelation, 7 August 1831 [D&C 59]
Revelation, “land of Zion” , 7 Aug. 1831; copied [ca. 30 Aug. 1831]; handwriting of ; one page; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. Includes dockets and archival marking.One loose leaf, possibly cut from a bound book, measuring 12½ × 7½ inches (32 x 19 cm). The document was kept folded for filing by with a conventional filing folding. Dockets on verso in graphite in Whitney’s handwriting: “How to Spend the day | Calld Sunday &c &c” and “Sunday”.This and several other revelations, along with many other personal and institutional documents kept by Whitney, were inherited by his daughter Mary Jane Whitney, who married Isaac Groo. This collection was passed down in the Groo family and donated by members of the family to the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University during the period 1969–1974.
Andrus, Hyrum L., Chris Fuller, and Elizabeth E. McKenzie. “Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers, 1825–1906,” Sept. 1998. BYU.
On 7 August 1831, JS dictated a revelation in “instructing the sa[i]nts how to keep the sabath & how to fast and pray.” The revelation was specifically addressed to those “who have come up unto” Missouri, in fulfillment of the commandment to gather there and build up the city of Zion. Some of the instruction in the revelation probably came in response to the conduct of the inhabitants of , Jackson County, Missouri, among whom these Saints were living. Many of those already in had migrated there from southern states, whereas most church members entering the area were from the Northeast. As , who traveled with JS to Missouri, explained in a July 1831 letter, Jackson County residents were “emigrants from Tennessee, Kentucky, , and the Carolinas, &c., with customs, manners, modes of living and a climate entirely different from the northerners.” One custom that was especially different was Sabbath day observance. A later JS history characterizes many of the residents as “the basest of men” who “had fled from the face of civilized society, to the frontier country to escape the hand of justice, in their midnight revels, their sabbath breaking, horseracing, and gambling.” A traveler to western Missouri in 1833 made a similar observation, stating that “the only indications of its being Sunday” in the area was “the unusual Gambling & noise, & assemblies around taverns.” Sabbath day observance, however, was an important component of worship to many members of the . Perhaps because of the general nonobservance of the Sabbath among the inhabitants of Jackson County, the 7 August revelation emphasized the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy, outlining what church members should do on that day. These guidelines filled a void that neither the “Articles and Covenants” of the church nor the February 1831 revelation giving the “Laws of the Church of Christ” had addressed, thereby providing direction to those who would be building up the without the benefit of JS’s in-person leadership.The revelation may have also been a response to the concerns of those who had gone to and felt daunted by the task of building up Zion in a region described by one observer as containing only “two or three merchants stores, and fifteen or twenty dwelling houses, built mostly of logs hewed on both sides.” The writer Washington Irving, who traveled through in 1832 on an expedition with federal Indian commissioners, also commented on the “rougher and rougher life” he encountered as he got closer to the town, while his traveling companion Charles Latrobe described Independence as “full of promise” but containing “nothing but a ragged congeries of five or six rough log huts, two or three clapboard houses, two or three so-called hotels, grogshops; [and] a few stores.” Perhaps to encourage the Saints in such conditions, the revelation promised the bounties of the earth to church members and reminded them to express gratitude to God.The revelation assured heavenly rewards for the obedient who would die in Zion—prompted, perhaps, by the death on the morning of 7 August of , the fifty-seven-year-old wife of , and a friend of JS and his family. Polly Knight had traveled to with the Saints, but after falling ill she became “the first death in the church in this land.” It is unclear whether this revelation was dictated before or after JS was informed of her death.served as the scribe for the original inscription of this revelation. The copy featured here belonged to and is also in Cowdery’s handwriting. Whitney’s copy may be the original but is more likely a fair copy. It was likely made for him sometime after Cowdery returned to at the end of August. Around that same time, copied the revelation into Revelation Book 1. That there are few differences between the two copies suggests they were made around the same time or from the same copy.
Ontario Phoenix. Canandaigua, NY. 1828–1832.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Irving, John Treat. Indian Sketches, Taken During an Expedition to the Pawnee Tribes , ed. John Francis McDermott. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1955.
Hartley, William G. My Fellow Servants: Essays on the History of the Priesthood. Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 2010.
Ohio Star. Ravenna. 1830–1854.
Irving, Pierre M. The Life and Letters of Washington Irving. Vol. 3. New York: G. P. Putnam, 1863.
Latrobe, Charles Joseph. The Rambler in North America, MDCCCXXXII—MDCCCXXXIII. Vol. 1. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1835.
Knight, Joseph, Sr. Reminiscences, no date. CHL. MS 3470.
Partridge, Edward. Letters, 1831–1835. CHL. MS 23154.
Hyde, Orson, and Samuel Smith. Notebook of Revelations and Missionary Memoranda, ca. Oct. 1831–ca. Jan. 1832. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583, box 1, fd. 2.
Partridge, Edward. Letters, 1831–1835. CHL. MS 23154.