Joseph Smith, originally Joseph Smith, Jr., (born December 23, 1805, Sharon, Vermont, U.S.—died June 27, 1844, Carthage, Illinois), American prophet and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to Joseph Smith, he told the story of the vision immediately after it happened in the early spring of 1820. [23] As quoted in Cheesman, “An Analysis of the Accounts,” 29. They had eleven children (two adopted), only five of whom lived past infancy. [16]. 3 (Autumn 1966): 29–45. Additional accounts by people close to the Mormon prophet would undoubtedly reveal similar variations and amplifications. The most unusual statement, however, is Joseph’s declaration that he saw many angels in this vision. . Brother Joseph, as I said, startled the world. In what other respects has the Mormon mind been modified since the 1830s? The writing of the “Manuscript History” was personally supervised by Joseph Smith, beginning in 1838, although it is not known who actually transcribed each part of the work. A At that meeting, Smith proclaimed that God had designated him as His mouthpiece: Precisely when these revival periods occur… [2] It is probable that Professor Turner had not seen Joseph Smith’s written account of the vision when he was preparing his book, for both were published the same year. Nibley takes the point of view that the story of the vision was not told in those early years because of its sacred nature. Smith established the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . [13] Edward Stevenson, Reminiscences of Joseph, the Prophet (Salt Lake City, 1893), 4–5. We were proud, indeed, to entertain one who had conversed with the Father and the Son, and been under the tuition of an angel from heaven. Perhaps the closest one may come to seeing a contemporary diarist’s account of the story is in the journal of Alexander Neibaur, which is located in the LDS Church Historian’s Office. No one had seen any one who had seen an angel. Joseph married Emma Hale on January 18, 1827, and was described as a loving and devoted husband. On April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and became its first president. It is curious in several ways. In that same year, 1834, in the midst of many large congregations the Prophet testified with great power concerning the visit of the Father and the Son, and the conversation he had with them. Non-Mormon accounts of the rise of the Church written in the 1830s made no mention of the story of the vision. Evidence indicates, however, that they were rare in these early days and that only gradually did this use of the story find place in the traditions of the Church. It is noted by some that in 1838 he declared that his basic reason for telling it even then, eighteen years after it happened, was in response to “reports which have been put in circulation by evil-disposed and designing persons” who had distorted the facts. On April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and became its first president. When it was first told, the story of the vision was used primarily to demonstrate the concept that Joseph Smith had been visited by Deity and that he had been told that all contemporary churches were wrong. [15] T. Edgar Lyon, Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price (Salt Lake City: LDS Department of Education, 1955), 209; James R. Clark, The Story of the Pearl of Great Price (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955), 186–221. As quoted by the editor, Joseph Smith said, While thinking of this matter, I opened the New Testament promiscuously on these words, in James, “Ask of the Lord who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.” I just determined I’d ask Him. [1] The earliest anti-Mormon literature attacked the Book of Mormon and the character of Joseph Smith but never mentioned the First Vision. It has been demonstrated that an understanding of the story of Joseph Smith’s vision dawned only gradually upon the membership of the Church during his lifetime, and that new and important uses were made of the story after his death. Smith came from an unremarkable New England family. During the thirty-nine years of his life, Joseph established thriving cities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois; produced volumes of scripture; sent missionaries throughout the world; orchestrated the building of temples; served as mayor of Nauvoo, one of the largest cities in Illinois, and as general of its militia, the Nauvoo Legion; and was a candidate for the presidency of the United States. A more difficult question to answer concerns the various utilitarian functions of the story. This volume was accepted as one of the standard works of the Mormon Church in 1880. In Joseph Smith’s 1838 account, he said it happened in the fifteenth year of his age. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1946), 1:1; Paul R. Cheesman, “An Analysis of the Accounts Relating Joseph Smith’s Early Visions” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1965), 4–7. When was it first published? When reading the statement in context, however, it will be immediately noted that Snow did not say that he heard Joseph tell the actual story—only that he heard him testify that he had conversed with the Son and heard the voice of the Father. These were the days before Inauguration Day fell on January 20, and the term of the outgoing president, James K. Polk, ended at noon on Sunday, March 4, 1849, at which time his successor, Zachary Taylor, was to be sworn into office. [6] The first important missionary pamphlet of the Church was the Voice of Warning, published in 1837 by Parley P. Pratt. In about 1833, however, Joseph Smith apparently made a preliminary attempt to write the story, but this account was never published. "3 The resulting manuscript, the Book of Mormon, was published in March 1830. Grant Building A pillar of fire appeared above my head; which presently rested down upon me, and filled me with unspeakable joy. [2] Apparently not until 1843, when the New York Spectator printed a reporter’s account of an interview with Joseph Smith, did a non-Mormon source publish any reference to the story of the First Vision. When he was 24, Smith published the Book of Mormon. Can we fully understand our heritage without understanding the gradual development of ideas, and the use of those ideas, in our history? In 1833 the Church published the Book of Commandments¸ forerunner to the present Doctrine and Covenants, and again no reference was made to Joseph’s First Vision, although several references were made to the Book of Mormon and the circumstances of its origin. [19] For a transcribed copy of the handwritten manuscript, see Cheesman, “An Analysis of the Accounts,” appendix A. James E. Talmage, for example, in his Articles of Faith, used the story to illustrate the Godhead doctrine, and Joseph Fielding Smith, in his Essentials in Church History, makes a major point of this doctrinal contribution. He told, however, of seeing two personages while he was “enwrapped in a heavenly vision” and said that “they” told him that all religious denominations believed incorrect doctrines. As far as the vision is concerned, the only possible allusion to it is in section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which reads, “Wherefore I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jr. and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments; and also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world.” The same statement is in the 1833 Book of Commandments, but most would agree that it hardly constitutes a direct reference to the First Vision. The force of opposition was not mentioned, and the description of the visitation was shorter than in Joseph’s earlier account. A religion, newly established by Joseph Smith, who claimed to have had a revelation from angel. One of the earliest recorded sermons to make this use of the story was given by George Q. Cannon on October 7, 1883. The only way to keep it from changing is to write it only once and then insist that it be read exactly that way each time it is to be repeated. [16] George Q. Cannon, in Journal of Discourses, (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book depot, 1854–86), 24:340–41. In the back of the book, however, is a most curious and revealing document. This also contained an elaborate account of the vision. It is apparent, furthermore, that belief in the vision was not essential for conversion to the Church, for there is no evidence that the story was told to prospective converts of the early 1830s. In 1843 Joseph Smith told the story to a non-Mormon editor, who later quoted him in an article in the New York Spectator. Affected by the great religious excitement taking place around his home in Manchester, New York, in 1820, fourteen-year-old Joseph was determined to know which of the many religions he should join. What is needed, simply, is the sympathetic historian who can approach his tradition with scholarship as well as faith and who will make fresh appraisal of the development of the Mormon mind. Other reminiscences may be found which would indicate that the story was being told in the 1830s, but at this point the extent of the telling is not clear, and the weight of evidence would suggest that it was not a matter of common knowledge, even among Church members, in the earliest years of Mormon history. Smith wrote the Book of Mormon in 1830. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. . The significance of Doniphan’s intervention in behalf of the Mormon leaders cannot be overstated. In 1839, John Corrill, another Mormon apostate, published a history of the Mormons, but he made no reference at all to Joseph Smith’s claim to having conversed with the members of the Godhead. Nor do the pages of the Latter-day Saints Messenger and Advocate, printed in Kirtland, Ohio, from October 1834 to September 1836. As 1849 dawned, America prepared for a change in presidential administrations. The person who would understand the history of any institution must be concerned not only with chronology but also with an understanding of what the people in that institution were thinking, what they were being taught, and how these ideas compare with present-day thought. [4] The Times and Seasons began publication in 1839, but, as indicated above, the story of the vision was not told in its pages until 1842. While not specifically named in the story, the two personages have been identified by Latter-day Saints as God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ; Joseph Smith indicated that the one said of the other, “This is My Beloved Son. The several variations in these and other accounts would seem to suggest that, in relating his story to various individuals at various times, Joseph Smith emphasized different aspects of it and that his listeners were each impressed with different things. [6] Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1961), 136–51. It contained no mention of the First Vision. Yet God remains, and He remains faithful. In 1830, Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon and founded what became the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Throughout most of the 1830s, the story was not circulated in either Church periodicals or missionary literature. A possible explanation for the fact that the story of the vision was not generally known in the 1830s is sometimes seen in Joseph Smith’s conviction that experiences such as these should be kept from the general public because of their extremely sacred nature. Joseph Smith was the founder of mormanism. On April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith, a 24 year old farmer in western New York, gathered a few friends together to form the "only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth." In 1842, J. Before 1880, Orson Pratt relentlessly shared and re-shared the vision in various publications. The First Vision, according to the Mormon prophet, came as a result of his prayerful inquiry concerning which church to join. It is evident, then, that in the early 1840s the story of Joseph Smith’s First Vision took its place alongside the story of the Book of Mormon as a missionary message, and it is possible that Joseph Smith’s decision to write it in 1838 was a sort of go-ahead for this action. One of the most significant documents of that period yet discovered was brought to light in 1965 by Paul R. Cheesman, a graduate student at Brigham Young University. Joseph Smith taught that “all the spirits that God ever sent into this world are susceptible of enlargement.” 27 In the Doctrine and Covenants, he said that the Spirit gives light to everyone who is born and that it enlightens everyone who hearkens to its voice. [22] New York Spectator, September 23, 1843, as quoted in Preston Nibley, Joseph Smith the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1946), 31. In 1893, Edward Stevenson published his reminiscences. Joseph Smith Jail This was very well done and you learned what jail conditions were like at the time, as well as the beliefs of Joseph Smith/LDS. Introductory material to the Book of Mormon, as well as publicity about it, told of Joseph Smith’s obtaining the gold plates and of angelic visitations, but nothing was printed that remotely suggested earlier visitations. 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