Question: Was the Prophet's mother Lucy Mack Smith silent about Joseph's history?

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Question: Was the Prophet's mother Lucy Mack Smith silent about Joseph's history?

Joseph's mother was not silent about Joseph's history, and there is nothing in Lucy's history (either the 1845 manuscript or the 1853 edition) which prove that the First Vision did not occur

In fact, Joseph's reaction to Lucy's desire to obtain comfort in church following Alvin' death in 1823 is completely consistent with the First Vision having occurred prior to that time.

Critics try to prove that the silence of Joseph's mother and siblings prove that the First Vision did not take place, and is a later fabrication by Joseph, and not well known to the early members of the church. The Wikipedia article on the First Vision, for example, states that almost none of the first generation of members knew of it or spoke of it, and only in the second generation did it become well known. We know that Lucy was working on her manuscript in 1844-5 period. Note the following references—particularly the one from Wandle Mace.

1845—Lucy Mack Smith, to William Smith, January 23, 1845

“People are often enquiring of me the particulars of Joseph’s getting the plates, seeing the angels at first and many other things which Joseph never wrote or published. I have told over many things pertaining to these matters to different persons to gratify their curiosity indeed have almost destroyed my lungs giving these recitals to those who felt anxious to hear them. I have now concluded to write down every particular as far as possible and if those who wish to read them will help me a little they can have it all in one piece to read at their leisure".... [1][NOTE: see below, November “Extract from letters”, Jemima Hough]

1845—Extracts from Letters, Millennial Star 6. 10 (November 1, 1845): 153.

Sister Jemima Hough, June 5, 1845, says… “Mother Smith spends much of her time in relating to visitors an account of the rise and progress of the church, which is highly interesting.”

1845 General Conference, October 8, 1845, Times and Seasons 6. 16 (November 1, 1845): 1013-4.

[also in DHC 7. 470-72; Searle, 378]

“Mother Lucy Smith, the aged and honored parent of Joseph Smith, having expressed a wish to say a few words to the congregation, she was invited upon the stand. She spoke at considerable length and in an audible manner, so as to be heard by a large portion of the vast assembly…. She gave notice that she had written her history, and wished it printed before we leave this place….”

1845 Wandle Mace Autobiography, typescript, BYU Special Collections, 45-6

[File Diary Wandle Mace] [dictated to his wife, ends with departure from Nauvoo, 1846] [Born Feb. 19, 1809]

Almost as soon as the father [Joseph Smith, Sr.] and mother [Lucy Smith] of the Prophet Joseph Smith set their feet upon the hospitable shore of Illinois, I became acquainted with them. I frequently visited them and listened with intense interest as they related the history of the rise of the Church in every detail.

With tears they could not withhold, they narrated the story of the persecution of their boy, Joseph, which commenced when he was about fourteen years old, or from the time the angel first visited him. Not only was the boy, Joseph, persecuted but the aged father was harassed and imprisoned on false charges until finally driven from Missouri in the depth of winter he contracted disease from exposure, from which he never recovered.

In these conversations, mother [Lucy] Smith, as she was familiarly called, related much of their family history. She told how their family would all be seated around the room while they all listened to Joseph with the greatest interest as he taught them the pure principles of the gospel as revealed to him by the angels, and of his glorious vision of the Father and the Son, when the father said to him as he pointed to his companion, "This is my beloved Son, hear Him." (emphasis added)

Notes

  1. Lucy Smith, Lucy's Book: Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith's Family Memoir, edited by Lavina Fielding Anderson and Irene M. Bates, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 2001), 88. ISBN 1560851376.