An Autobiography

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(This is an excerpt from Joseph Smith's First Vision by Steven C. Harper.

Joseph’s 1832 autobiography is the least polished of all his accounts. Here, with his own pen for much of the document, he poured his experience onto the pages, reflecting as nearly as possible what God’s condescending visit meant to Joseph’s sinful fourteen-year-old self. Later accounts are more conscious of the vision’s significance for all mankind, but none surpasses this earliest known account at revealing what it meant personally to young Joseph Smith.

This 1832 account is part of Joseph’s earliest autobiography, a rough, six-page statement of epic themes expressed in what Joseph called a “crooked broken scattered and imperfect Language.” It declares, “A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Ch[r]ist the son of the living God of whom he beareth record and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brough forth and established by his hand.”

Joseph Smith and Frederick Williams wrote this document in 1832, probably between July and November. Joseph’s first counselor, Sidney Rigdon, declared on July 5 that year, among Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, that authority had been taken from the Church. When Joseph addressed the Saints in Kirtland on 8 July, he confiscated President Rigdon’s preaching license and asserted, “I myself hold the Keys of this last dispensation and I forever will hold them in time and in eternity.” Soon after, Frederick G. Williams, Joseph’s second counselor, assumed President Rigdon’s role as Joseph’s scribe.3 Williams then began to pen Joseph’s autobiography until, partway down the first page, Joseph picked up the pen himself and wrote much of the rest.

Joseph Smith’s First Vision, Steven C. Harper, pp. 33-4 1832 Account.

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