Selling the copyright
for the Book of Mormon

Book of Mormon Copyright

11 June 1829

Joseph Smith obtained the copyright on 11 June 1829, shortly before finishing his "translation" of the book. 

[Copyright for the Book of Mormon]

Revelation to Sell the Copyright

23 Commandment AD 1830

A Revelation given to Joseph, Oliver [Cowdery], Hyram [Hiram Page], Josiah [Stowell] &Joseph Knight [Sr.] given at Manchester Ontario C[ounty] New York

Behold I the Lord am God I Created the Heavens & the Earth & all things that in them is wherefore they are mine & I sway my scepter over all the Earth & ye are in my hands to will & to do that I can deliver you out of evry difficulty & affliction according to your faith & dilligence & uprightness Before me & I have covenanted with my Servent that earth nor Hell combined against him shall not take the Blessing out of his hands which I have prepared for him if he walketh uprightly before me neither the spiritual nor the temporal Blessing & Behold I also covenanted with those who have assisted him in my work that I will do unto them even the same Because they have done that which is pleasing in my sight (yea even all save Martin only it be one only)

Wherefore be dilligent in Securing the Copy right of my Servent work upon all the face of the Earth of which is known by you unto unto my Servent Joseph & unto him whom he willeth accordinng as I shall command him that the faithful & the righteous may retain the temperal Blessing as well as the Spirit[u]al & also that my work be not destroyed by the workers of iniquity to their own distruction & damnation when they are fully ripe & now Behold I say unto you that I have covenanted & it Pleaseth me that Oliver Cowderey Joseph Knight Hyram Page & Josiah Stowel shall do my work in this thing yea even in securing the <​Copy​> right & they shall do it with an eye single to my Glory that it may be the means of bringing souls unto me Salvation through mine only Begotten Behold I am God I have spoken it & it is expedient in me Wherefor I say unto you that ye shall go to Kingston seeking me continually through mine only Begotten & if ye do this ye shall have my spirit to go with you & ye shall have an addition of all things which is expedient in me. & I grant unto my servent a privelige that he may sell <​a copyright​> through you speaking after the manner of men for the four Provinces if the People harden not their hearts against the enticeings of my spirit & my word for Behold it lieth in themselves to their condemnation & or to their salvation Behold my way is before you & the means I will prepare & the Blessing I hold in mine own hand & if ye are faithful I will pour out upon you even as much as ye are able to Bear & thus it shall be Behold I am the father & it is through mine only begotten which is Jesus Christ your Redeemer amen.

[Revelation, circa early 1830; 23 Commandment AD 1830]

Hiram Page

Hiram Page letter to William E. McLellin, 
2 February 1848

Fishingriver [Missouri], Feb. 2, 1848

Brother Wm: 

I feel it my duty at least to answer your letter of Dec. 30th which I have had the pleasure of perusing and another directed to me and David of Jan. 16th, 1848 but I feel it my duty to answer that of Jan. 16th as that is of the most importance. I received your last the 12th of Feb. and we held council on the 13th[,] it was solemn and the powers of darkness were dispersed and the subject of your letter was fairly investigated.

... when Joseph was first visited by the angel and had the promise of the plates, it was told him no one should have them to get gain and in concequence of not being satisfied with wisdom from on high by the mouth of the angel he was deprived of the privilege of obtaining those plates for 2 years. here we find Joseph erred by his over anxious desire for filthy lucre, again we find in consequence of the same caus[e] he lost the 116 pages of the first of his translating, he did not think of the Savors admonition; take no thought what ye shall eat or drink, &c Matt 6:25. 

This was an error in him altho[ugh] it was a permit [was permitted] by revelation as also that of going to Canada. here it may be necesary to look at the way and manor in which revelation [s] are received, it was said to Oliver that he should not seek for riches of this world but for wisdom (book of commandments 5—3) [D&C 6:6-7] the same was said to Hyram Smith [D&C 11:7]; it was said to Joseph that in temporal labor thou shalt not have strength[,] for this is not thy calling; (B.C. 25—14) [D&C 24:9] we see that he was not to medle with temporal affairs except being steward over his own; for the church was to provide for him for food, for rament for shoes, &c. his calling was not to act in temporal labor; but we find a degression from this in the case of the Canada affair

Joseph 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 were taken out) for the exclusive benefit of the Smith famaly and was to be at the disposal of Joseph[.] accordingly Oliver Cowdery[,] Joseph Knights, Hiram Page and Joseah Stoel [Josiah Stowell] were chosen (as I understood by revilation) to do the buisaness; we were living some 30 to 100 miles apart[.] the necesary preporation was made (by them) in a Sly manor 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 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 was no purcheser neither were they authorized at kingston to buy rights for the provence; but little york was the place where Such buisaness 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 See learn how a revilation may be rece[i]ved and the one person receiving it not be benefited...

This letter is to be continued in ano[t]h[e]r w[h]ich I think will fill 2 sheats we say [w]e think it advisable that the [b]rether[in] [-] not [-] of the sacrement till you rece[i]ve the n[e]xt letter; pleas[e] read this to all the bretharin & in peticular to brother Martin Haris he can testafy to the truth of some things here in mentioned which perhaps you may be ignorant of, you need not be disapointed if in our next there should be a mistory [mystery] revealed which [ha]s serpased anything that has ever been made known to the church in these last days, our fr[i]ends are all well the[y] would like to see bro. Wm. and bro. Martin Sc all of our friends in Kirtland.

In gospel ties 

Hiram Page

[Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, vol 5, pg. 257-259; also cited on the church's website under "Printing and Publishing the Book of Mormon"]

David Whitmer

An Address to All Believers in Christ, 1887

When the Book of Mormon was in the hands of the printer, more money was needed to finish the printing of it. We were waiting on Martin Harris who was doing his best to sell a part of his farm, in order to raise the necessary funds. After a time Hyrum Smith and others began to get impatient, thinking that Martin Harris was too slow and under transgression for not selling his land at once, even if at a great sacrifice. Brother Hyrum thought they should not wait any longer on Martin Harris, and that the money should be raised in some other way. Brother Hyrum was vexed with Brother Martin and thought they should get the money by some means outside of him, and not let him have anything to do with the publication of the Book, or receiving any of the profits thereof if any profits should accrue

He was wrong in thus judging Bro. Martin, because he was doing all he could toward selling his land. Brother Hyrum said it had been suggested to him that some of the brethren might go to Toronto, Canada, and sell the copy-right of the Book of Mormon for considerable money: and he persuaded Joseph to inquire of the Lord about it. Joseph concluded to do so. He had not yet given up the stone. Joseph looked into the hat in which he placed the stone, and received a revelation that some of the brethren should go to Toronto, Canada, and that they would sell the copy-right of the Book of Mormon. Hiram page and Oliver Cowdery went to Toronto on this mission, but they failed entirely to sell the copy-right, returning without any money. Joseph was at my father's house 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 and sell the copy-right, and the brethren had utterly failed in their undertaking. 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." So we see that the revelation to go to Toronto and sell the copy-right was not of God, but was of the devil or of the heart of man. When a man enquires of the Lord concerning a matter, if he is deceived by his own carnal desires, and is in error, he will receive an answer according to his erring heart, but it will not be a revelation from the Lord. This was a lesson for our benefit and we should have profited by it in future more than we did. Without much explanation you can see the error of Hyrum Smith in thinking evil of Martin Harris without a cause, and desiring to leave him out in the publication of the Book; and also the error of Brother Joseph in listening to the persuasions of men and enquiring of the Lord to see if they might not go to Toronto to sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon, when it was made known to Brother Joseph that the will of the Lord was to have Martin Harris raise the money.

[David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, 30-31]

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