LDS Books – Thoughts of a Mormon Bookseller: Parley P. Pratt’s 1837 “A Voice of Warning”

By: Ryan T. Roos

Deemed by historian Peter Crawley to be “the most important of all non-canonical Mormon books,” the 1837 publication A Voice of Warning represents an historical landmark in its bringing together for the first time under the covers of a book the scriptural arguments for the Biblical validity of the Mormon movement; arguments from the mind of a true master that have become the standard for Latter-day Saint missionaries to date. Additionally, A Voice of Warning served to bring into being a consciousness of religious identity heretofore largely unknown to those outside the Latter-day Saint communities of Kirtland, Ohio and Far West, Missouri. Fleeing the upheaval brought about by the recent apostasies in Kirtland, Parley P. Pratt accepted a mission to New York, where he devoted himself to the putting together of a text that for the first time would clearly contrast the position of the Latter-day Saints from that of their religious contemporaries. In October, 1837, the 1st edition of A Voice of Warning came off the New York press in a limited print run of 3,000 copies. The powerfully written Mormon treatise immediately drew the ire of local ministers and clergy and sparked vigorous debate across the pages of neighboring newspapers. A classic was born. Republished in a second American edition in 1839, and a subsequent European edition in 1841, A Voice of Warning would see translation into 8 languages and over 30 printings before the close of the 19th century.

A Voice of Warning and Instruction to All People, containing a Declaration of the faith and doctrine of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, commonly called Mormons. Pratt, Parley Parker.  New-York: Printed by W. Sandford, 29 Ann-St. MBCCXXXVII x[11]-216 pp. 15 cm. Auction Price: $24,995.95