In publishing the History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is felt that a solemn duty is being performed to the Saints and to the world. The events which make up the history of the Church in this age are the most important that history can chronicle. It is due therefore both to the Saints themselves and to the world that a faithful and complete history of the facts in which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had its origin, together with the events through which it was subsequently developed, and all the circumstances, experiences and trials through which it passed be made known to mankind. It is important, too, that so far as possible the events which make up the history be related by the persons who witnessed them, since such statements give the reader testimony of the facts at first hand; and there is placed on record at the same time the highest order of historical evidence of the truth of what is stated. It was these considerations which induced the Church authorities, under whose auspices this history is published, to take the narrative of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as found in the manuscript History of the Church-now in the archives of the Historian’s office–for the body of the work, rather than to authorize the writing of a history in the ordinary way. The editors of the work are not oblivious to the fact that to proceed in the manner followed in these volumes has its disadvantages; that it renders it impossible to correlate the facts, and give unity to the work; that it makes the body of the work more of the nature of annals than of history; with the accompanying result that the conclusion of an event, or even a series of events, is frequently postponed indefinitely, and each reader is left to be his own “philosopher of history” while perusing these pages; that is, to form his own conclusions upon the data here presented to him. To overcome, at least in some small degree, the obvious disadvantages of the style in which it has been determined to publish this history, marginal notes relating to important matters are given, which, while it is not claimed that they overcome the difficulties of the annalistic style of the main body of the work, will nevertheless, be of great service to the reader both in this respect and also in here and there enlarging upon the Prophet’s narrative where that narrative does not include all the facts known upon the subject.
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