September 22nd 1827: Smith finds the golden plates
On this day in 1827, Joseph Smith Jr. claimed to have found the golden plates on which the third book of the Bible is written. Smith said he was visited by an angel called Moroni who told him where they buried. Joseph Smith translated the golden plates and had them published as ‘The Book of Mormon’ and thus founded the Latter Day Saint movement. Smith never allowed anyone to see the golden plates, and thus many question whether they ever existed. Mormons believe that Jesus came to America and the Book tells the history of an ancient Judeo-Christian civilisation in America. Smith led his followers West, but along the way encountered much hatred from Christians and Smith was eventually killed by a mob in 1844 aged 38.
March 26th 1830: The Book of Mormon is published
On this day in 1830, the Book of Mormon was first published at E.B Grandin’s New York bookstore. The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith Jr, claimed that he had been visited by an angel called Moroni who told him of ancient writings on golden plates which described people who God led to the Western hemisphere before the birth of Jesus Christ. Smith said he was told by Moroni to translate the plates into English and publish them. Smith initially struggled to find someone to publish the book as many considered it risky, fraudulent and blasphemous. Smith and his friend Martin Harris began work on translating the Book of Mormon, but when Harris’s wife stole some pages, work halted. Translation recommenced in 1829 and was soon finished and ready for publication in March 1830. It had taken eight men and boys working 12 hours a day, six days a week, for almost eight months to print the 5,000 copies. Upon the book’s publication Smith said he returned the plates to Moroni. The building in New York where the Book of Mormon was first published and sold is now the Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site.
June 27th 1844: Joseph Smith murdered
On this day in 1844, the founder of Mormonism Joseph Smith Jr and his brother Hyrum were killed by an anti-Mormon mob in Carthage, Illinois. They were attacked at the prison where he was held on charges of conspiracy and treason. Smith claimed to have had visions telling of Golden Plates which contained the true gospel, which he translated and published as the Book of Mormon in 1830. Many feared his power and criticised his practice of polygamy. Tensions came to a head when, in 1844, a mob repeatedly shot Smith at the prison, and he died when he fell from his window. The Church of the Latter Day Saints consequently saw the brothers as martyrs.
"Oh Lord, my God!"
- Joseph Smith’s last words