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tember, 1833.1 On April 23, 1834, the concern was constituted a stewardship and given to F. G. Williams and Oliver Cowdery: On June 7, 1836, Oliver Cowdery gave out the information that he had purchased the entire establishment, but a few months later when he severed his connection with the firm, it was Oliver Cowdery & Co. who went out of business. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon finally took it over on Feb. 1, 1837.4

During the four years of its continuance the second church printing establishment was constantly in debt. Borrowing was early resorted to. Instead of business prospects picking up, the firm encountered increasing obstacles, Loans were made with difficulty." Private individuals assisted with

loans. One of the church branches made a loan. Recourse was also had to

banks. 8 But money could not be borrowed fast enough from Peter to pay for loans that had been made from Paul and conditions went from bad to worse. In May, 1837, the “office and contents”were transferred to Wm. Marks of Portage, Allegheny County, the office being continued by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, by power of attorney from Marks, with the hope that threatening attachment could be warded off. But the bad times which the panic of 1837 brought on were too much for the ill-nourished firm and it was attached for debt10 and was soon after burned to the ground. The Parrish party were blamed for the burning 11

Thus ended the second determined, but troubled, effort of Joseph Smith and his associates to get Mormon literature before the world.


IV. THE LITERARY FIRM Just as the Storehouse and the Mercantile concern were closely connected, so were the Printing business and the Literary Firm. So close was the connection between the latter two that one is led to wonder at times, if they were not one and the same business unit. Opposed to this, however, is the fact that the

1 Chief reliance for this conclusion is the name of the firm, F. G. Williams & Co. For an account of the firm's organization see Millennial Star, vol. 14, p, 504.

2 Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 104:29-30.
3 Messenger and Advocate, June, 1836, p. 329.
4 Millennial Star, vol. 15, p. 845.

5. Millenial Star, vol. 15, pp. 23, 25; also, D. S. Leonard, “Mormon Sojourn in Ohio.”Ohio Church Hist. Society Papers, vol. 1, p. 57, et.seq.

6 Millennial Star, vol. 15, p. 368. 7 Ibid., vol. 15, pp. 202-03. 8 Ibid., vol. 15, p. 503. 9 Ibid., vol. 16, p. 11. 10 J. H. Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism, p. 170. 11 Millennial Star, vol 16, pp. 109, 130.


printing establishment was at one time considered a stewardship and later belonged to one man. During this same period the Literary Firm was an active organization. This makes it certain

. that the two are distinct concerns:

The Literary Firm was organized in November, 1831, when by “revelation” the “revelations and commandments” were constituted a joint stewardship for Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, John Whitmer and W. W. Phelps.* Whatever returns could be had through the publication and sale of the “sacred writings” were to go to these men, except, that should the income be more than was necessary for their support, the surplus should go into the Storehouse. In other words, the Literary Firm was simply an enlarged or joint stewardship in which a number of men were included, but which in other respects, was subject to the same conditions as the ordinary single stewardship. It does not appear that the Firm was to be limited to the publishing of the revelations or commandments only, but was to engage in the business of printing and selling any sacred writ


The men whose special, Lusiness it thus became to get sacred literature before the church, were chiefly those who had had part in the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Commandments. They were not all able writers themselves, nor were some of them particularly well fitted to select good literature, but with the exception of W. W. Phelps they had all assister materially with one or both of the books above mentioned. W. W. Phelps, as printer for the church, was a logical member. These men were considered to be entitled to a share in the returns from the sale of the books. It was not the intention, therefore, to bring into the Literary Firm all of the alle writers in the church, nor was it the intention that the Firm should exercise a monopoly on the production of all church literature, even of what might be termed the sacred class of writings. The Pratt brothers were never members of the Literary Firm, although they were among the ablest of early church writers. It is of interest to observe also that the traveling elders were early encouraged to contribute accounts of their efforts and experiences to the Evening and Morning Star. So, general encouragement was given to all to write. But it was the particular business of the Literary Firm to engage in the publication and sale of sacred literature, and to make their living out of that business,

1 Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 104:29-30.
2 Messenger and Advocate, June, 1830, p. 329.

3 See account of meeting of members published in Millennial Star, vol. 15, pp. 728-29.

4 Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 70:1-11. 5 Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 0:7.

6. This view was taken by the members of the Firm as is seen in the early decision to print hymn books.

7 See Evening and Morning Star, vol. 1, p. 112; vol. 2, p. 24. passim.

The special conference, held at Hiram, Ohio, November 1, 1831, which had decided to publish 10,000 copies of the Book of Commandments," made this decision shortly before the Literary Firm was organized. A majority of the Firm who had made their homes at Independence, during the fall of that year, felt that such an edition would be too large, so it was decided, in April, 1832, to reduce the number to 3,000 copies, but also to print a first edition of hymn books.

When the “press and book work” were demolished at Independence, just as these two editions were about to be completed, both the Printing Company and the Literary Firm suffered considerable loss. The former losing more than the entire value of the plant since the $300 which was recovered from the old settlers was less than one third enough to pay the lawyers' fees; while the latter firm saw the results of all their work and waiting, since they began to operate in November, 1831, go for almost nothing through the destruction of host of the "book work."

After the new printing firm, Frederick G. William & Co., was established in Kirtland, in the fall of 1834, it was possible to recommence work on the Book of Commandments and the hymn books. The Literary Firm found it necessary to wait some time, however, before these books could be published. In the meantime the hard pressed Printing Co., required assistance from whatever sources were available. The Literary Firm, while more interested in the welfare of the Printing Company, than any others

1 Joseph Smith, op.cit., vol. 1, p. 222, footnote.

2 The For West Record of April 30 ,1832, contains the minutes of this meeting which are herewith reproduced : MINUTES OF A COUNCIL OF THE LITERARY FIRM, ZION, APRIL 30, 1832

Joseph Smith, Jr.

Oliver Cowdery
Sidney Rigdon

William W. Phelps
John Whitmer

Jesse Gauss,

(One of the President's Counsellors) Ordered by the council that three thousand copies of the Book of Commandments be printed the first edition.

Secondly: Ordered by the council that the printing of an almanac for Zion this season be left at the option of Brothers William, Oliver, and John.

Thirdly: Ordered by the council that all revelations be limited to the parties concerned until printed.

Fourthly: Ordered by the council that Brothers William, Oliver and John be appointed to review the Book of Commandments and select for printing such as shall be deemed by them proper, as dictated by the Spirit and make all necessary verbal corrections.

Fifthly: Ordered by the council that the hymns selected by Sister Emma be corrected by Brother William W. Phelps.

Closed.” 3 The Second Edition was published in 1335 and contains the “revelations" to Nov., 1834; copies of both the first and second editions are to be found at the New York Public Library.

4 See the account of the Second Priting Establishment in the footnote of the preceding section.

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for the reason that they could not operate their stewardship unless the printing office were kept going, were not in a position to render much help. They needed help themselves badly, for their stewardship was very slow in bringing in any returns. In the meantime expenses and debts began to grow in importance. On September 16, 1835, the Literary Firm decided to conduct its business affairs through a committee. David Whitmer and Samuel H. Smith were appointed “the committee and general agents, to act in the name of, and for, the Literary Firm."3 On April 2, 1836, the Firm, being very sorely pressed, met and decided that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery should try to raise means to purchase land in Missouri for the benefit of the "council.” The Council mentioned here probably refers to the Central United Order Board, four-fifths of which as we have already seen were also members of the Literary Firm. Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams were also appointed at this meeting to try, with the available stock on hand, claims due, and by such other means as they deem proper to discharge the company's debts.” It was also agreed that W. W. Phelps, John Whitmer and David Whitmer have 500 books of Doctrine and Covenants and 500 hymn books and that "Messrs. Phelps and John Whitmer be released from the responsibility of all claims on them or either of them as joint partners in the


The Literary Firm continued to function long after the United Order had ceased to operate in a comprehensive way. This is clear from the incidents just referred to and also from a resolution passed at a general meeting held in Far West, Mo., about the last of May, 1837, in which the Literary Firm was "sanctioned" and it was “resolved to give them our voice and prayers, to manage all concerns of the same, as far as it concerns this place, according to the revelations in the book of Doctrine and Covenants." But the firm was not very productive and several members of it became increasingly dissatisfied primarily because of their large losses in Jackson County and their later inability to recuperate themselves at Kirtland. Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer and W. W. Phelps engaged in transactions in Far West, Mo., where they were then living, which the church at that place could not tolerate, and they were dropped from their church offices, and a little later, were excommunicated. Martin Harris, dissatisfied also, remained in Kirtland, when the church removed from that place, and, to all intents and purposes, left the church. The summer of 1838, therefore, found only two members left, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, of the original members of the firm. Sidney Rigdon became less and less active, perhaps because of serious illness particularly after the settlement of the Mormons at Nauvoo in 1839. W. W. Phelps on rejoining the church in July, 1840, took up again the same kind of work with Joseph Smith and assisted him in compiling the Doctrine and Covenants and a History of the Church frequent reference to whch has been made in this book. Less and less is heard of the Literary Firm and very little information as to the manner in which it was handled in the later years, is available.

1 For references showing the financial condition of these men see Millenial Star, vol. 15. Pp. 23-25, 342-43, 368, 610. 2 Ibid., vol. 15, pp.

368, 610. 3 Ibid., vol. 15, p. 308. 4 Ibid., vol. 15, pp. 728-29. 5 Millennial Star, vol. 16, pp. 9-10. 8 Ibid., vol. 16, pp. 116-17, 133.

The Literary firm outlasted all of the other United Order undertakings. It is of particular interest from the standpoint of the present study for the reason that it was a joint stewardship. The corporation type of organization with its charter and shares of stock was-not used in the United Order, neither was the partnership used. The single enterpriser type predominated.

In some respects the joint stewardship resembled a partnership, since all were equal and all were supposed to share alike.? But in a partnership, each partner is liable for all the debts of the firm, and in the Literary Firm some of the members were released from all liability. There is no reason why a joint stewardship could not include any number of members. While its exact status was not worked out, some of its features may be contrasted with the modern corporation.

A corporation derives its powers from a charter, but the joint stewardship had no charter. Stock in a corporation may be owned by an individual in any amount; in the joint stewardship, however, each one was considered to be equally interested. Control of a corporation is dependent on the amount of stock owned, whereas, each member had an equal voice in the joint stewardship. A corporation operates through a definite organization which is provided for in the charter, while a joint stewardship possessed no definte organization, but conducted its business through certain of its members who were selected as agents. A corporation gives to owners of stock limited liability ordinarily amounting to the value

1 Ibid., vol. 16, p. 57.

2 A limitation was placed on the control of the Literary Firm by its members shortly after the expulsion from Jackson County when, by revelation, it was specified that the contents of the “sacred treasury” (Literary Firm treasury) were not to be used except “by common consent or by commandment.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 104.) This meant that through Joseph Smith ultimate control of this treasury was to be exercised. Since, however, the Literary Firm was to engage exclusively in the business of publishing “sacred" literature and since Joseph Smith had been reponsible for these "writings” it seems reasonable that he should retain considerable control over the returns from their publication. Had other joint-stewardships been established, it is safe to infer that they would not have been subject to such an arrangement.

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