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"A Revelation Given to Oliver Hyram Josiah & Joseph . . . Ye Shall Go to Kingston"
Title"A Revelation Given to Oliver Hyram Josiah & Joseph . . . Ye Shall Go to Kingston"
Publication TypeUnpublished
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsEhat, Stephen Kent
KeywordsCanadian Copyright; Early Church History; Hiram Page; Joseph Smith; Legal; Revelation
Abstract

Sometime in late 1829 or early 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation for Oliver Cowdery, Hiram Page, Josiah Stowell, and Joseph Knight. The revelation was given in Manchester, Ontario County, New York and directed Cowdery, Page, Stowell and Knight to “secure” the Book of Mormon copyright “upon all the face of the Earth” and to go to Kingston in Upper Canada where they might “sell a copyright . . . for the four Provinces if the People harden not their hearts against the enticings of my spirit & my word . . . .” The four emissaries went to Kingston and, according to the only account written by one of the participants, Hiram Page (in an 1848 letter to “Wm” —apparently William McLellin), “there was no purchaser” in Kingston. I believe Page meant there was no purchaser in Kingston willing to purchase a copyright; I do not believe that Page meant that there was no possible purchaser in Kingston. Clearly, there were publishers in Kingston at the time who were active in the publishing trade. Page also stated in his letter that no one was “authorized at Kingston to buy rights for the province” and that “little York was the place where such business had to be done.” I believe that by this phraseology, Page may possibly have been reporting a mere “thanks-but-no-thanks” reception printers, publishers or others in Kingston gave to the Prophet’s emissaries; I believe the statement otherwise neither accurately reflects what copyright law applicable to Upper Canada provided at the time nor accurately reflects what the act of selling and buying a copyright in Upper Canada at that time would entail.

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