Question: What did Joseph Smith's contemporaries say regarding the persecution of the Smith family after the First Vision?

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Question: What did Joseph Smith's contemporaries say regarding the persecution of the Smith family after the First Vision?

Thomas H. Taylor said that some people "ducked him in the pond that you see over there, just because he preached what he believed and for nothing else"

Thomas H. Taylor, was asked, ""What did the Smiths do that the people abused them so?" He replied:

They did not do anything. Why! these rascals at one time took Joseph Smith and ducked him in the pond that you see over there, just because he preached what he believed and for nothing else. And if Jesus Christ had been there, they would have done the same to him. Now I don't believe like he did; but every man has a right to his religious opinions, and to advocate his views, too; if people don't like it, let them come out and meet him on the stand, and shew his error. Smith was always ready to exchange views with the best men they had. [Why didn't they like Smith?, asked the interviewer.]

To tell the truth, there was something about him they could not understand; someway he knew more than they did, and it made them mad. [1]

The raw notes for the Taylor interview likewise mention Joseph Smith being "ducked in the creek in Manchester" despite the fact that the Smiths "did nothing" and "nothing has been sustained [a]gainst [Joseph] Smith". [2]

Here too, then, we see an element of physical persecution, though the gossip and slander identified by William and Lucy was likely far more common.

Notes

  1. William H. Kelley, "The Hill Cumorah and the Book of Mormon," Saints' Herald 28 (1 June 1881): 167-68; reproduced in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents 2:83. Also in Milton V. Backman, Jr., Joseph Smith's First Vision: Confirming Evidences and Contemporary Accounts, 2d ed., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980 [1971]), 119.
  2. William Kelley, Notebook, No. 5, 1; in William H. Kelley Papers, RLDS Church Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri; reproduced in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents 2:83.