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Biographical sketches of Joseph Smith

Smith, Lucy Mack. Biographical sketches of Joseph Smith the prophet, and his progenitors for many generations. By Lucy Smith, mother of the prophet. Liverpool, Published for Orson Pratt by S. W. Richards 15, Wilton Street. London, Sold at the Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 35, Jewin Street; and by all booksellers, 1853.
xii, [13]-297, [1] p. 16 cm.

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In 1845, Lucy Mack Smith, mother of the prophet, dictated her memoirs to Martha Jane Coray, who in collaboration with her husband Howard Coray produced two finished manuscript drafts of Lucy’s memoirs. The first manuscript was given to Brigham Young and was brought to Utah. The second was left with Lucy Smith. Seven years later, in the course of his trip to Washington, D.C., Orson Pratt purchased the second manuscript from Almon W. Babbitt, who had obtained it from Isaac Sheen, a former associate of William Smith, Lucy’s youngest son. Without further authorization, Orson Pratt proceeded to publish the manuscript in Liverpool with the title Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet. Brigham Young, however, objected to the published book on the grounds that it contained too many significant errors; and a large part of the edition was ultimately destroyed. It seems clear that equally irritating to Brigham Young was Lucy Smith’s favorable treatment of William Smith, who had become an outspoken opponent of the Utah church.

Despite a small number of minor errors, Lucy Smith’s history–the first Mormon biography–remains an invaluable source for the life of Joseph Smith.

Excerpted and edited from Peter Crawley and Chad J. Flake, A Mormon Fifty: an exhibition in the Harold B. Lee Library in conjunction with the annual conference of the Mormon History Association. (Provo, Utah, Friends of the Brigham Young University Library, 1984). Item 41, p. [30–31].

Used by permission of the authors.

British and American Commercial Joint Stock Company

The British and American Commercial Joint Stock Company. Capital £10,000, with power to increase the same; in shares of one pound each. Provisionally registered according to the act of Parliament 7th and 8th vict. c. 110. Applications for shares, must be made to the provisional directors, at the office of the company, addressed to Mr. Thomas Ward, Stanley Buildings, Bath Street, Liverpool. [Liverpool? 1845?]
Broadside 25 x 20.5 cm

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The British and American Commercial Joint Stock Company was a lofty dream that married business and religion, and ended in disaster. The germ of the idea was contained in the Epistle of the Twelve of March 20, 1842, which proposed sending manufactured goods from England to Nauvoo with payment to be made in Nauvoo land and the proceeds from the sale of the goods to be used to bring English Saints to America. Although this was never implemented, the idea undoubtedly remained in the minds of some and helped spawn the Joint Stock Company.

The Joint Stock Company seems to have been the brainchild of Reuben Hedlock. On February 25, 1844, five months after he replaced Thomas Ward as president of the British Mission, Hedlock wrote to Brigham Young, Willard Richards, and Theodore Turley, proposing that they form a company to manufacture woollen and cotton goods in Nauvoo, financed by stock offered at £10 per share, which he would use to purchase the machinery. Brigham Young’s letter to Hedlock of May 3, 1844, appears to have supported the idea.

Wilford Woodruff reached Liverpool on January 3, 1845, and assumed the leadership of the British Mission, with Hedlock and Ward as his counselors. Two months later the Millennial Star in the “General Conference,” of March 1845 (see this digital collection)ran an article signed by Woodruff, Hedlock, and Ward, which proposed that a joint stock company be organized among the British Saints along the lines suggested by Hedlock thirteen months earlier.

Woodruff returned to the United States on January 22, 1846, leaving Hedlock and Ward to preside again over the British Mission. During the next eight months Ward promoted the Joint Stock Company in the pages of the Millennial Star. In the issue of March 15, for example, he wrote that the purpose of the company was to relieve the poverty of the Saints so they could gather with the main body of the Church, and in the issue of June 15 he claimed, “the Joint Stock Company is fully appreciated by the Twelve, and has been a daily subject of their prayers, and that they consider it one of the greatest things that has ever been devised for carrying out the great purposes of God.” (see the digital collection)

The Twelve, of course had been preoccupied with evacuating Nauvoo since September 1845. Had they not, the Joint Stock Company certainly would not have progressed to the point it did. But in July 1846, at Council Bluffs, they disfellowshipped Hedlock and Ward and dispatched Orson Hyde, John Taylor, and Parley Pratt to investigate the enterprise. A complete financial statement of the Joint Stock Company was published in the Millennial Star of December 6. It shows that the company took in £1644, but a mere £266 remained which could be returned to the shareholders. (see digital collection)

This broadside is a prospectus, required by the act of Parliament on joint stock companies, which was issued provisionally while the company was seeking registration. The prospectus states, “the purposes of the above-named Company are for Trading as Merchants between the United Kingdom and America, and for Manufacturing the produce of those countries, or either of them.” It goes on to say that it is the intention of the directors to increase the capitalization of the company to £30,000, “if practicable.”

Excerpted and edited from Peter Crawley, A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. Volume One, 1830–1847. (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, Religious Studies Center, [1997]). Item 273, p. 313–315.

Used by permission of the author and the Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University