Mormon Reform Project
"Joseph Smith." - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2014.
Relevance of Joseph Smith picture: The Prophet Joseph Smith (shown above) transcribed the Book of Mormon and led a group of Mormons to the west
“The first thing that I can recollect was a voice speaking unto me, calling me by name. I looked up, and beheld the same messenger standing over my head, surrounded by light as before. He then again related unto me all that he had related to me the previous night, and commanded me to go to my father and tell him of the vision and commandments which I had received.“I obeyed; I returned to my father in the field, and rehearsed the whole matter to him. He replied to me that it was of God, and told me to go and do as commanded by the messenger. I left the field, and went to the place where the messenger had told me the plates were deposited; and owing to the distinctness of the vision which I had had concerning it, I knew the place the instant that I arrived there.“Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario county, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box. This stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thin- ner towards the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all around was covered with earth.“Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bot- tom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them.“I made an attempt to take them out, but was forbidden by the messen- ger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it, until four years from that time; but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates.“Accordingly, as I had been commanded, I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruc- tion and intelligence from him at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days. . . ."
--Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Book of Mormon
This excerpt from the Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith explains, in detail from Smith's point of view, how he spoke to God and acquired the golden plates with the ancient writings on them. This is what initially sparked the Mormon movement.
"Utah." - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2014
Relevance of Utah: The Mormons settled here in the Utah territory after they were pushed further west by the intolerance of other religions
The Mormon people, led by the prophet Joseph Smith, were on their way west, similar to most other pioneers who were also heading west during this time after the They were thrown out of territory after territory because of their new, strange ideas about religion and lifestyle. The public despised polygamy, and disapproved of any practice of it. In Illinois, Joseph Smith was killed by an angry mob, so Brigham Young stepped in to fill his shoes. The group of Mormons were able to settle in the Utah territory, soon to be a state. However, statehood of Utah was delayed because of the controversy of polygamy. Still today, Mormonism is the predominant religion in Utah and prevalent across the United States.
Joseph Smith lived in Manchester, New York. He claimed god told him there were gold plates buried in his backyard. He supposedly copied the words onto paper, and then refused to show anyone the gold plates. He convinced a group of people to follow him west, to the promised holy land. However, because of their different lifestyles and newfound religion, they were continually pushed out of the territories they entered. In fact, an angry mob was formed in Illinois, where they killed Joseph Smith and his brother. Brigham Young took over the leadership role and led the Mormons to what became the Utah territory. However, people were still unhappy with the Mormons, mostly because of polygamy. This controversy delayed Utah's admission as a state. President James Buchanan sent an army to Utah, which began the relatively-peaceful Utah War. It ended when Young agreed to step down as Utah governor and was replaced with a non-mormon. Still today, Mormonism is the dominant religion in Utah.