Mormon History 1830-1844

United Firm
The United Firm (1832–1834) was a private partnership of church leaders established to generate income for them as well as benefit of the church. It is sometimes confused with the United Order of the Brigham Young era, which was a communitarian economic system intended to accomplish the same general ends but operated differently.
The United Firm had its roots in the appointment of certain church leaders as stewards of "the revelations, and commandments" on November 12, 1831. During its lifetime included the Gilbert, Whitney & Company in Zion, and Newel K. Whitney & Company in Kirtland, W. W. Phelps & Co., and F. G. Williams & Co.
In 1834 the United Firm was divided into the United Firms of Kirtland and Zion, and most Kirtland members were given title to land and homes in Kirtland.
 
 
  November 12, 1831
Stewards Named
 
Members Joseph Smith, Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, Sidney Rigdon, and W. W. Phelps named stewards. 1835 D&C 26 // D&C 70
Stewards of revelations 3 … to be stewards over the revelations, and commandments … 1  
Manage revelations and profits 5 … this is their business in the church of God, to manage them and the concerns thereof, yea, the benefits thereof:  
Don't tell church or world 6 Wherefore a commandment I give unto them, that they shall not give these things unto the church, neither unto the world, 2 these things: this revelation or the benefits (above), the excess of which are to go into the Lord's storehouse (below)?
Excess profits to Lord's storehouse 7 nevertheless, inasmuch as they receive more than is needful for their necessities, and their wants, it shall be given into my storehouse,    
Profits for Zion 8 and the benefits shall be consecrated unto the inhabitants of Zion, and unto their generations, inasmuch as they become heirs according to the laws of the kingdom.   the benefits: the "more than is needful" benefits or all of the benefits?
Copensate spiritual leaders 12 He who is appointed to administer spiritual things, the same is worthy of his hire, even as those who are appointed to a stewardship, to administer in temporal things;  
More (than temporal administrators?) 13 yea, even more abundantly, which abundance is multiplied unto them through the manifestations of the Spirit:  
Equal in temporal things 14 nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.  
 
 
 

December 4, 1831
Bishops to Support Literary Stewards

 
Bishops support Literary Firm stewards and again let my servants who are appointed as stewards of over the literary concerns of my church have claim for assistance upon the Bishop or Bishops in all things that the revelations may be published & go forth unto the ends of the Earth that they also may attain funds which Shall benefit the church in all things {5} & be accounted as wise Stewards BC, Book A, {4–5} // D&C 72:20–22.
 
 
March 1, 1832 Organize as Equals  
Literary and mercantile firms The time has come and is now at hand and behold & lo it must needs be that there be an organization of the Literary and Merchantile establishments of my church both in this place and in th[e] land of Zion … that you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things yea and earthly things also … for if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly thing[s] … organize yourselves by an everlasting covenant that cannot be broken that you may come up unto the crown prepared for you, and be made rulers over many kingdoms saith the Lord God the holy one of Israel ¶ D&C 78 Sources
 
   
Firm organized in Independence April 26, 1832 at the conference of high priests and elders in Independence, Jackson County, Joseph is acknowledged as President of the High Priesthood, Joseph receives D&C 82, establishing a "firm" among Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, A. Sidney Gilbert, Edward Partridge, N. K. Whitney, John Whitmer, W. W. Phelps, and Martin Harris. Partners are to be:   ¶ D&C 82
  bound together by a bond and covenant that cannot be broken by transgression except judgment shall immediately follow, in your several stewardships, to manage the affairs of the poor, and all things pertaining to the bishopric both in the land of Zion and in the land of Shinehah [Kirtland] … This order I have appointed to be an everlasting order unto you and unto your successors, inasmuch as you sin not: and the soul that sins against this covenant, and hardeneth his heart against it, shall be dealt with according to the laws of my church, and shall be delivered over to the buffitings of satan until the day of redemption. … make unto yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, and they will not destroy you.  
 
 
April 27, 1832 Firm Companies  
Kirtland, Independence branches April 27, 1832 in a continuation of the conference, branches of the firm are to be known as Gilbert, Whitney & Company in Zion, and Newel K. Whitney & Company in Kirtland. ¶ Minutes of April 26–27, 1832
 
 
April 30, 1832 United Firm in Zion  
 
 
April 1832 Literary meeting

Select revelations, make verbal corrections
April 30, 1832 Literary Firm authorizes Oliver Cowdery, W. W. Phelps, and John Whitmer to review the manuscripts for the Book of Commandments and "select for printing such as shall be deemed by them proper, as dictated by the Spirit & make all necessary verbal corrections." William is also to "correct" hymns selected by Emma.   Minutes of April 30, 1832 (Literary Firm)
 
 
April 30, 1832   United Firm in Zion    
April 1832 United meeting   Present:   Minutes of April 30, 1832 (United Firm)
Members  

Joseph Smith jr., President of Conference & also of the Highpriesthood
Oliver Cowdery, Clerk of Conference, and printer to the Church
Edward Partridge Bishop
Newel K. Whitney Bishop of Kirtland
Sidney Gilbert Agent in Zion
Sidney Rigdon, Counsillor of President.
John Whitmer, Lord's Clerk.
W. W. Phelps, printer to the Church
Jesse Gause Counsillor to the President (denied the faith).

  Original: Gauss
Agents

Borrow $15,000
Sidney Gilbert and Newel K. Whitney are appointed agents; N. K. Whitney & Co. is authorized to borrow $15,000 for five years or longer at 6% annually or semi-annually.  
 
 
April 30, 1832   Literary Firm in Zion    
April 1832 Literary meeting   On the same day, the Literary Firm meets in Zion:   Minutes of April 30, 1832 (Literary Firm)
Present   Joseph Smith Jr., "Prisident."
Sidney Rigdon
John Whitmer
Oliver Cowdery
William W. Phelps
"Jesse Gause, one of the President's councillors."
  Original: Gauss
Print 3,000 Book of Commandments   Decide to print 3,000 copies of the Book of Commandments. W. W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery, and John Whitmer are free to print an almanac.   Original print run was to be 10,000. ¶ Minutes of November 1–2, 1831 
Restrict access to manuscripts   [A]ll Revelations be limited to the parties concerned until printed.    
Select and edit the revelations   William, Oliver, and John to review the Book of Commandments and "select for printing such as shall be deemed by them proper, as dictated by the Spirit & make all necessary verbal corrections."   At first, Joseph resisted the idea of anyone editing the revelations. ¶ All in Favor?
Edit Emma's hymns   W. W. Phelps to correct hymns selected by Emma for publication.   Emma to select hymns, July 1830 (¶ D&C 25:11).
 
 
July 31, 1832 Revelations Coming Soon (But Not Bible)  
Will send revelations for editing but not Bible translation Joseph writes W. W. Phelps that he has not sent the revelations for editing yet but will soon. He admonishes William "not to alter the sense of any of them for he that adds or diminishes to the propecies must come under the condemnation written therein." As for his translation of the Bible, "they will not go from under my hand during my natural life for correction, revisal or printing" even though "we have finished the translation of the New testament great and {marvilous} glorious things are revealed" and is "making "rapid strides" on the Old Testament." ¶ Joseph to W. W. Phelps, July 31, 1832
 
 
January 9, 1833 Frederick G. Williams, Scribe  
United firm of N. K. Whitney &c.

Frederick G. Williams scribe
"[M]embers of the united firm of N. K. Whitney &c" hire Frederick G. Williams as assistant scribe for $300/year. Minutes of January 9, 1833
 
 
January 11, 1833 Pray for Deliverance from Debt  
Pray for protection, financial relief, wisdom Joseph, Frederick, Newel, John Johnson, Oliver, and Orson Hyde pray that the Lord will protect the lives of firm members; that the bishop will be able to pay the debts; that the printing press will be protected "from the hands of evil men;" that they will have the means to print "the scriptures;" and that the Lord will "give those who were appointed to conduct the press, wisdom sufficient that the cause may not be hindered, but that men's eyes may thereby opened to see the truth."
Joseph Smith diary &#40;Nov. 27, 1832&#45;Dec. 5, 1834&#41;. <i>Selected Collections</i>, 1:20 // <i>Personal Writings of Joseph Smith</i>, rev. ed., 10&#45;81. Original, Church Archives, MS 155.
')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">Diary-1, 44–47 //
<i>Personal Writings of Joseph Smith</i>, rev. ed., compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee &#40;Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002&#41;.
')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">PWJS, 34–35.
 
 
March 15, 1833 Frederick G. Williams  
Frederick G. Williams joins "[T]he united order" is instructed to receive Frederick G. Williams into "the United firm in full partnership agreeable to the specification of the bond" and he is to be "a lively member."
Kirtland Revelations Book, <i>Selected Collections</i> 1:19.
')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">KRB, 55 // D&C 92  
  June 4, 1833 French Farm, John Johnson   John Johnson joins A council of high priests cannot agree on who should manage the French farm. It is revealed to Joseph that N. K. Whitney should take charge, and that John Johnson should be admitted to the United Firm "that he may assist in bringing forth my word unto the children of men: therefore ye shall ordain him unto this blessing: and he shall seek diligently to take away incumbrances that are upon the house named among you, that he may dwell therein." "Accordingly he was ordained unto the High Priesthood and admitted."

Minutes of June 4, 1833

<i>Times and Seasons</i>')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">TS 6:785 does not mention the firm: "And Zombre [John Johnson] was ordained by the conference to the high priesthood, and admitted according to the revelation."

¶ D&C 96

 
  June 25, 1833   More Revelations Coming   Don't bind Book of Commandments

Get Books of Mormon for firm

John Johnson moved to Kirtland
  Sidney, in behalf of the presidency, writes W. W. Phelps and others in Zion: No need to bind the Book of Commandments. Get Books of Mormon from Brother Burket for the Literary Firm, and have A. S. Gilbert pay Chapin. Will send recent revelations. John Johnson, now member of the firm by revelation, has moved to Kirtland. <i>Times and Seasons</i>')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">TS 6, no. 2 (Feb. 4, 1845), 785 // HC 1:362–364.  
  September 11, 1833   Publishing Arrangements   W. W. Phelps & Co. to publish Messenger and Advocate

F. G. Williams & Co. to continue Evening and Morning Star in Kirtland
  Joseph Smith, Frederick G. Williams, Sidney Rigdon and N. K.Whitney, acting on behalf of the United Firm in Kirtland, meet with Oliver Cowdery, "delegate to represent the residu[e] of the said firm residing in Independence Jackson County Missouri," agree to establish a press in Kirtland "under the firm of FG.W & Co" to publish "The Latter day Saints messenger and advocate." The Evening and Morning Star, published in Independence by "W W. Phelps & Co." until the press was destroyed, will now be published in Kirtland by "F.G. Williams & Co" under Oliver's direction "untill it is transfered to it former Location." Minutes of September 11, 1833 (Kirtland)  
  January 31, 1834 Pray for Subscribers     it is my prayer to the Lord that three thousand subscriber[s] may be added to the Star in the term of three yea[rs] Joseph Smith diary &#40;Nov. 27, 1832&#45;Dec. 5, 1834&#41;. <i>Selected Collections</i>, 1:20 // <i>Personal Writings of Joseph Smith</i>, rev. ed., 10&#45;81. Original, Church Archives, MS 155.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">Diary-1, 53 // <i>Personal Writings of Joseph Smith</i>, rev. ed., compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee &#40;Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002&#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">PWJS, 35.  
  April 7, 1834 Pray for Relief   Pray for debt relief Joseph, Frederick G. Williams, Oliver Cowdery, N. K. Whitney, and Heber C. Kimball pray for the Lord to furnish means to save the United Firm from debt and that Joseph will prevail against Hurlbut. Joseph, Frederick, and Oliver write Orson Hyde in New York pleading for him to raise some money. Joseph Smith diary &#40;Nov. 27, 1832&#45;Dec. 5, 1834&#41;. <i>Selected Collections</i>, 1:20 // <i>Personal Writings of Joseph Smith</i>, rev. ed., 10&#45;81. Original, Church Archives, MS 155.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">Diary-1, 71 // <i>Personal Writings of Joseph Smith</i>, rev. ed., compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee &#40;Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002&#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">PWJS, 42–43.  
  April 23, 1834 Break-Up   Covenant breakers

Firm dissolved
Those who have broken the covenants of the United Firm are cursed; the United Firms of Kirtland and Zion are to be separated. Stewardships are assigned to Joseph, Sidney Rigdon, Martin Harris, John Johnson, Frederick G. Williams, Oliver Cowdery, and N. K. Whitney. D&C 104 Sources

¶ Common Consent

Covenant breakers are not identified. Only Sidney Gilbert does not receive a stewardship in this revelation.
 
  April 28, 1834 Extra Set-Aside for Kirtland   Kirtland gets (extra?) $3,000 Set aside $3,000 "for the right and claim of the Firm in Kirtland for inheritances in due time." Then the Kirtland and Zion branches of the firm are independent of one another. Revelation of April 28, 1834

<i>History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter&#45;day Saints</i>, edited by B. H. Roberts, 7 vols. &#40;Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1902&#45;1912, 1932&#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">HC 2:49.
 
  September 16, 1835   Literary Agents     Presidency appoints Literary Firm agents   Church presidency appoints David Whitmer and Samuel H. Smith as a committee and general agents for the Literary Firm.   Minutes of September 16, 1835  
Beliefs & Practices




Home | Joseph | Bios | Beliefs & Practices | Chron | NY | Ohio | Missouri | Missions | Sources | Top

Dale R. Broadhurst | Far West | JS Writings | BYU Mormon Studies | More
Dialogue | JWHA | LDS Church | MHA | Signature Books | Sunstone

Saints Without Halos has no official connection with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
© 2001-2009 Saints Without Halos. All rights reserved.