The Word of God
Dan Vogel, ed.

Chapter 7
Early Nineteenth-Century America and the Book of Mormon
Susan Curtis

[p.81]In 1830 as Palmyra, New York, experienced a spring season of new life, few of its citizens realized that in addition to nature’s fresh start, a new religion was about to be born. Since August 1829, John Gilbert had been setting the type for a manuscript brought to him by a young New Yorker. By late March 1830 the Book of Mormon was completely printed and ready for distribution. Joseph Smith was its “Author and Proprietor,” and the book was to become the basis for Mormonism, an indigenous American religion.1

Palmyra in 1830 was part of a rapidly growing area in western New York. Families from New England had been trekking westward in search of land, farms, opportunities, and security since the late 1780s. They brought with them the cultural baggage of Puritan piety and hard work, as well as a new competitive ethos and market capitalist exchange.2 It is no accident that a young Palmyran would capture the socio-economic and cultural turmoil of the 1820s in a Book of Mormon. He and other western New Yorkers, transplanted from Puritan New England, felt acutely the dramatic transformation of their values, expectations, material condition, and community. The colonial consensus of deference, community, hierarchy, and agrarian economy was giving way to individualism, democracy, and competitive market capitalism in the last [p.82] decades of the eighteenth century and early years of the nineteenth century, and not everyone prospered.3

The Book of Mormon offers modern-day readers one view of the values and ideas that prevailed in the early nineteenth century. In the years between 1780 and 1830, Americans adjusted to a vastly changed world dominated by a capitalist economy, fierce individualism, and liberal democratic political institutions, which emerged from the disintegration of colonial society, the weakening of paternalistic bonds in the eighteenth century, and the erosion of community by the increase in commercialism in the late seventeenth century and beyond. The Book of Mormon was one of many early nineteenth-century texts that addressed the anxiety arising from this dramatic reordering of American life. It offered advice and opinions on the proper American and Christian relationship to democratic practice, capitalistic exchange, and Protestant ideology.4

When the Book of Mormon appeared in March 1830, many readers realized that its author was offering his opinion on a variety of problems that confronted them in the anxious years of the early nineteenth century. One of the work’s first critics, Alexander Campbell, complained that the Book of Mormon dealt with “every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years.”5 Because the Book of Mormon is considered scripture by members of the Latter Day Saint faith and on the whole ignored by the rest of American society, it is seldom scrutinized as a piece of nineteenth-century literature. Such an examination of the Book of Mormon within the literary, intellectual, and social context of the 1820s and 1830s helps illuminate Joseph Smith’s “jeremiad” as a cultural artifact and adds a new dimension to our understanding of some Americans’ response to an emerging liberal order.

Standing alone as a piece of literature, the Book of Mormon is a creative attempt to uncover the origins of Indians on the North American continent.6 Smith suggested in the book that the North American Indians descended from Israelites who sailed to the new world after the fall of Jerusalem in the sixth century B.C. Among the Hebrews who fled Jerusalem were Nephi and Laman. Nephi and his descendants were cultured, ambitious, and clever people. Laman and his people were “led by their evil nature, that they became wild, ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey, dwelling in tents, and wandering about [p.83] in the wilderness with a short skirt girded about their loins and their heads shaven” (pp. 144-45; LDS Enos 1:20; RLDS Enos 1:31-32).7 The Nephites were eventually destroyed by the Lamanites, leaving the “savages” to roam the North American continent.

Smith was not alone in writing about the origins of Indians. Ethan Smith’s 1823 View of the Hebrews; or The Tribes of Israel in America was a cumbersome story of the fall of Jerusalem and the escape of some Jews to this continent. Solomon Spaulding authored a “Manuscript Story,” in which massive and destructive wars between his characters—Indians and Romans—helped explain to readers the vast number of dead found in the mounds of the Ohio River Valley.8

Ethan Smith, Solomon Spaulding, and Joseph Smith were among the few early American writers to write on subjects unique to New World experience and aimed at American readers. Others advocated expanding this literary agenda. James Fenimore Cooper, for example, noted in Notions of the Americans (1828), “Compared to the books that are printed and read, those of native origin are few indeed.”9 He encouraged more Americans to speak to their own experience. Three years earlier in 1825, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had urged writers to look for literary subjects in North America. Instead of “panting after classical allusions to the Vale of Temple and the Etrurian River,” Longfellow told his audience that “our native hills” would become “chronicles of storied allusions; and the tomb of the Indian prophet … as hallowed as the sepulchres of ancient kings.”10 Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon used an imaginative story about Indians to speak to his contemporaries.

The Book of Mormon, however, must be understood as more than a story about Indians or a response to Longfellow’s and Cooper’s call for a native American literature. Smith went beyond explaining the origins of Indians to make a statement about and to American society of 1830. The Book of Mormon reflected many of the concerns of the American society out of which it first emerged. For historians of the early national period it is evidence of the social, economic, political, and intellectual transformation of the early years of the republic. It is literature of and for its time.

That period—the 1830s—marks the culmination of a dramatic era of social change. Scholars of early national history have come increasingly to recognize that the years between 1780 and 1830 represent a period of transition from virtue and deference, [p.84] traditional social relations, and household production to liberal democracy, egalitarian society, and market capitalism.11 America of the 1820s and 1830s was increasingly dominated by “bourgeois” or “Victorian” imperatives of hard work, self-control, individual responsibility, and domesticity, an ideal that separated the home from the primary locus of production.

Historians have shown that the Second Great Awakening provided an ideology of individual responsibility and moral free agency that was perfectly compatible with emerging market capitalism in America. Western New York, of course, lay in the midst of this religious turmoil. Not far from Palymra in Rochester, New York, for example, Charles Grandison Finney brought the message of moral free agency to townsmen of various Protestant denominations. As the revival progressed, individuals accepted responsibility for their spiritual condition and their socioeconomic condition as well. Shopkeepers embraced the individualistic ideology in spiritual and economic matters and became defenders of the trend.12 Reform movements of the 1830s were informed by the same attachment to individual responsibility and by an acceptance of human perfectibility.13 Belief that individuals could change and that society would thereby be improved provided impetus for penitentiaries, asylums for the insane, temperance, reform of prostitutes, and the dozens of other reform movements inaugurated to perfect American society.

Individualism was the cornerstone upon which the economic structure of market capitalism was based. Competition between individual entrepreneurs defined the enterprise of early market capitalism. Americans believed that individuals rose and fell according to their abilities, diligence, self-control, and dedication to their business. Those who fell through the cracks, they argued, undoubtedly deserved it.14

The great transformation of the early nineteenth century also engendered a shift from the politics of deference to greater democratic participation. Various laws and state constitutional amendments expanding the electoral franchise added to a belief that men could participate in the decision-making process. The destruction of deference made way for egalitarian politics in Jacksonian America. The rhetoric of anti-privilege and anti-monopoly spouted by Jacksonian politicians accompanied the age of the “common man.” If we can accept the word of the French [p.85] observer Alexis de Tocqueville, then many of the traditional social distinctions had faded by the 1830s.15

Denominationalism is but one more example of competition and voluntary association in nineteenth-century America. After revivals, converts were free to choose their own religious affiliation, which prompted denominations to compete with one another for members. Within the voluntary communities, congregations reinforced the ideal of individual responsibility by expecting exemplary Christian behavior and by enforcing moral discipline.16 The voluntary nature of church membership thus contributed to fluid social relations, competition, and individualism in America.

American society in the midst of such vast changes produced anxiety as well as opportunities for its members. Pursuing the main chance could mean success and comfort or failure and poverty. Striking out on one’s own into the wilderness could liberate one from the strictures of urban life, but it also left one isolated in a hostile frontier. Even the deterioration of social distinctions celebrated by Americans in de Tocqueville’s day had a dark side. Individuals were equally free to earn the respect of their neighbors and peers, but such fluid social relations prompted the embrace of manners and bearing that artificially distinguished the middle class from their social inferiors. In short, freedom in a liberal society required individual responsibility for success and failure but made no guarantees of success.

Joseph Smith’s work was informed by such fears and cultural imperatives. The Book of Mormon addresses market capitalism, individual responsibility, liberal democracy, and a Protestant sensibility. Alexander Campbell’s indictment is accurate, but how can we expect Smith to operate outside his social, cultural, and intellectual milieu? Furthermore, the Book of Mormon offered ways of surviving in liberal society without being destroyed by its corrosive potential. Thus it should be read as advice and warning to Smith’s contemporaries. The historical dimension and ancient setting, it could be argued, served to legitimize his voice among the many raised in concern in these anxious decades.

In the following examples from nineteenth-century America and the Book of Mormon, it should be clear that Smith’s message to his contemporaries drew on ideas, idioms, and experiences with which they likely were familiar. In each case, the subject is not nearly [p.86] as important as Smith’s opinion of or on it. For he wanted to offer what he believed were truths that would help his countrymen to adjust to the vagaries of liberal society and to remain true to God’s plan for the United States.

Other Christians also hoped to preserve godliness and community in liberal America. Revivals served simultaneously to reinforce individualism and to create temporary communities. Revival experiences in the large camp meetings at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, or in the “Burned-Over District” of western New York, captured both the yearning for community in the wilderness and the commitment to religious individualism. At these revivals, where hundreds or thousands gathered, evangelists exhorted Americans to accept the concept of moral free agency, take their lives in their own hands, and experience religious conversion.17 In 1802 James Finley, a Presbyterian preacher, described a typical conversion experience: “When a person is struck down he is carried by others out of the congregation, when some minister converses with and prays for him; afterwards a few gather around and sing a hymn suitable to the case.”18 The experience while intensely personal and representing acceptance of responsibility for one’s own spiritual condition, took place within the context of community.

Joseph Smith’s Nephites in the Book of Mormon echoed the evangelists of the nineteenth century. Their revivalists preached to Nephites and Lamanites, demanded repentance, and converted hundreds of people in the name of Jesus Christ, “who will come,” centuries before Jesus’ birth. Mass gatherings, colorful exhorters, and dramatic emotional conversions characterized the revival camp meetings in the Book of Mormon. Just like nineteenth-century revivalists, Book of Mormon preachers reminded the masses that individuals can and must change their lives if they wanted to see God: “Therefore, if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of Divine Justice doth awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth fill his breast with guilt and pain and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flames ascendeth up forever and ever. And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment… For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on [p.87] the Lord Jesus Christ” (pp. 159-61; LDS Mos. 2:38-39, 3:13; RLDS Mos. 1:83-85, 108).19

Their conversion experiences were also similar to the ones James Finley and others recounted in the early 1800s. After one moving sermon by King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon, his people “fell to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them; and they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state” (p. 162; LDS Mos. 4:1; RLDS Mos. 2:1). They begged for mercy, calling on God for forgiveness and pointed out that they believed in Jesus Christ, the son of God. A testimony of one Nephite related that he struggled with the “pains of a damned soul” for three days and nights until a “marvellous light” shone on him and he was saved (pp. 324-35; LDS Al. 36; RLDS Al. 17:1-30).20 Smith could offer no clearer statement of moral free agency than he did early in his narrative, in the Second Book of Nephi. Lehi declared that “men are free… They are free to choose liberty and eternal life… or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the Devil” (p. 65; LDS 2 Ne. 2:27; RLDS 2 Ne. 1:119-20).

Through the example of the Nephites, Smith could endorse evangelical Protestantism with its mass gatherings and individualistic conversions. That he imagined revivals of Christian commitment before the coming of Christ suggests that he used them as a vehicle to address his contemporaries in the nineteenth century rather than as an attempt to write the faithful history of an ancient community.

Likewise, Smith wrote enthusiastically about market exchange in a society that theoretically predated the emergence of a capitalistic ethos in the western world. Exemplary characters in Smith’s Book of Mormon were fundamentally market capitalists engaged in commerce and seeking profits. As Smith put it, the people were “exceeding industrious and they did buy and sell, and traffic with one another, that they might get gain” (p. 560; LDS Eth. 10:22; RLDS Eth. 4:70). Implicit in the statement are assumptions about hard work, regularity, commerce, and accumulation sustained by a Victorian sensibility. Getting individual “gain” through industry and commodification drew Smith’s praise. And like capitalists in nineteenth-century America, Smith’s ancient Nephites found it necessary to establish a system of transportation, cities, and machines to support capitalism as it developed. The Nephites’ industrial revolution, urban expansion, and improved transportation [p.88] undergirded their economic system that promised individual reward. “And it came to pass that there were many cities built anew,” Smith wrote, “and there were many old cities repaired; and there were many highways cast up, and many roads made, which led from city to city, and from land to land” (p. 465; LDS 3 Ne. 6:7-8; RLDS 3 Ne. 3:8). They also constructed “machinery,” manufactured weapons of war, and built houses of “cement” (pp. 147, 412; LDS Jar. 1:8; LDS He. 3:7-11; RLDS Jar. 1:19; RLDS He. 2:7-16).

But like individualism, voluntarism had an unappealing underside as well. Voluntarism bred intense competition between Protestant denominations, for instance. Revivals saved souls; afterward each denomination tried to attract those saved souls into its ranks. In Wayne County, New York, where Palmyra is located, forty churches represented nine different denominations by 1850.21 In the early 1820s when Joseph Smith’s family moved to Manchester, New York, they realized that the intense interest in religion forced the various denominations to struggle against one another for numerical strength. As Smith noted in his history of the church, his family found “priest contending against priest, and convert against convert.”22 Looking back on his adolescent years in Palmyra, Smith also noted: “The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all their powers of either reason or sophistry to prove their errors… On the other hand the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.”23 This welter of religious voices eventually sent Joseph Smith on his quest for religious certainty and inner peace.

Although Smith accepted the ideology of individual responsibility, he rejected the consequences of voluntarism and denominationalism. The Book of Mormon condemned the proliferation of Protestant sects: “For it shall come to pass in that day, that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other, Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the other shall say, I, I am the Lord’s. And thus shall every one say, that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord; and they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another” (p.112; LDS 2 Ne. 28:3-4; RLDS 2 Ne. 12:3-5). “And the Gentiles,” he wrote, “have stumbled because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; … there are many [p.89] churches built up which causeth envying, and strife, and malice” (p. 108; LDS 26:20-21; RLDS 2 Ne. 11:90-92).24 Smith’s opinions in the Book of Mormon promised to settle the doctrinal differences that divided Protestant America in the 1830s—to end the religious confusion.

Despite Smith’s warning against splintering denominationalism, the Book of Mormon is Protestant in orientation. In addition to embracing the new formulations of moral free agency and individual responsibility and endorsing the Protestant ethic of hard work, Smith also demonstrated antipathy toward Catholics, as did Protestants in the nineteenth century. In the 1830s, American Protestants could read anti-Catholic diatribes in such periodicals as the Boston Recorder, Christian Watchman, New York Observer, and The Protestant.25 Some Americans took direct, violent action against Catholics. For example, after hearing a sermon by Lyman Beecher, an incensed crowd set fire to Catholic property, causing much damage and personal injury. At other times the antagonism was more subtle, as in the case of the Methodist Doctrine and Discipline. “The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory … is but repugnant to the word of God,” according to the Methodists, and the “sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon or carried about, and sacrifices of masses in the which it is commonly said that the priest doth offer Christ for the quick and the dead to have remission of pain or guilt, is a blasphemous fable, and dangerous deceit.”26

American Protestants believed that the church of the Inquisition and Roman Pope was powerful and authoritarian. Americans worried that Catholic immigrants would be tools of the Pope instead of loyal American citizens. Americans based their concern on stories about priests seducing young, vulnerable maidens at confession and on sordid tales about cemeteries full of illegitimate children fathered by “celibate” priests and borne by “chaste” nuns. Suspicion of Catholics deepened when Protestants in the American Bible Society tried without success to distribute Bibles among Catholics. Because the Catholic Douay Bible differs in some details from the Protestant Bible, Catholic Americans chose not to accept the free scriptures. American Bible Society members, however, interpreted the Catholics’ refusal to accept their Bibles as a total rejection of God’s word.27

[p.90]In the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith also expressed concern about “a church which is most abominable above all other churches.” This church had a history of an Inquisition similar to the Roman Catholic Church in that it “slayeth the Saints of God, yea and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron and bringeth them down into captivity” (p. 28; LDS 1 Ne. 13:5; RLDS 1 Ne. 3:140). The people involved with this depraved organization wore finery similar to priestly vestments; their church structures were ornate; and women in their church, like nineteenth-century Catholic nuns, were accused of sexual misconduct. Smith’s Nephi reported in the Book of Mormon that he “saw gold, silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots” (p. 28; LDS 1 Ne. 13:8; RLDS 1 Ne. 3:142). Smith went on to assert that this abominable church “whose foundation is the Devil” and who is “the whore of all the earth” would pervert the scriptures entrusted to people by God. A book was to come from the Jews which would contain the gospel. The writer claimed this book eventually would fall into the “hands of the Great and abominable church” after which are “many plain and precious things taken away from the Book” (p. 30; LDS 1 Ne. 13:26-29; RLDS 1 Ne. 3:167-175). The Book of Mormon also predicted the sale of indulgences. “Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say, come unto me and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins” (p. 534; LDS Morm. 8:32; RLDS Morm. 4:41).28

In the United States of the 1830s anti-Catholic diatribes often included republican critiques of the splendor and extravagance of the Roman church like the one offered by Joseph Smith in the Book or Mormon.29 But part of the American concern about Catholicism stemmed from political fears. Politics in the age of Jackson became increasingly open, egalitarian, and democratic. If individual responsibility and voluntarism fragmented Protestantism, they also eroded the basis for traditional social distinctions based on birth and wealth. If all people could rise economically or be saved through initiative and merit, then in theory at least nineteenth-century Americans believed that all people (except blacks, Indians, women, and children) were equal. And all should have access to the political process. Part of the transformation from 1790 to 1820 included competition between political parties and [p.91] greater popular participation. Richard Hofstadter argues that in this period the idea of an opposition party became legitimized.30 In New York in 1820, delegates to the state’s constitutional convention abolished virtually all property qualifications, permitting nearly universal white male suffrage.31 In response to increased voter participation, ward politics replaced at-large elections in places like Rochester, New York.32 And, as Alan Dawley has argued, the concomitant rise of a factory system also furthered democratic politics by destroying older patterns of deference and paternalism.33

In the Book of Mormon, Smith applauds achievements of liberal democracy by endorsing the power of the people to rule themselves. In words reminiscent of Jacksonian rhetoric, the Book of Mormon affirmed that “it is not common that the voice of the people desireth any things contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore, this shall ye observe, and make it your law to do your business by the voice of the people” (p. 219; LDS Mos. 29:26; RLDS Mos. 13:35-36). The Nephites followed King Mosiah’s advice and “assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their voices concerning who should be their judges” (p. 220; LDS Mos. 29:39; RLDS Mos. 13:56).34 This story served as a parable of the virtues of egalitarian rule and the obliteration of privilege.

Smith feared that democracy could be subverted by powerful secret organizations that promoted the special interests of its privileged members. This fear must have struck a familiar and powerful chord among New Yorkers in the late 1820s when many believed that Masonry presented such a threat to democratic institutions. In 1826, William Morgan, a Mason who had decided to write an exposé of the secret order, disappeared never again to be seen alive.35 Various anti-Masonic newspapers in New York, including the Ontario Phoenix and Anti-Masonic Review, claimed that judges and jurors, who were supposed to mete out justice in the case against Morgan’s abductors, were Masons themselves and would refuse to punish their brothers who had done the murderous deed. The Anti-Masonic Review, for example, warned readers that the “organization, the power, and the secret operation” of the Masons would undermine the processes of government and justice if left unchecked.36 In addition to an anti-Masonic press, an anti-Masonic political party emerged from the paranoia.37

[p.92]Smith expressed his fear of the Masons’ subversion of democracy by creating a similar secret order called the Gadianton Robbers in the Book of Mormon. Like their nineteenth-century counterparts, the Gadianton Robbers “filled the judgement seats; having usurped the power and authority of the land; laying aside the commandments of God … letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished, because of their money; and moreover, to be held in office at the head of government” (p. 426; LDS He. 7:4-5; RLDS He. 3:3). Furthermore, the Gadianton Robbers had “their secret signs, and their secret words, and this that they might distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenant, that whatsoever wickedness his brother should do, he should not be injured by his brother, nor by those who did belong to his band” (p. 424; LDS He. 6:22; RLDS He. 2:146). Nephites feared that this secret order hoped to “obtain the sole management of the government,” a fear shared by many New Yorkers in the 1820s. The Gadianton Robbers, as thinly disguised Masons, allowed Smith to comment on the threat to democratic institutions posed by privileged members of secret orders.

Indeed, Joseph Smith spoke directly to his fellow Americans through the Book of Mormon. It was a jeremiad—a warning that if Americans failed to guard their hard-won democracy and swerved from “Protestant” imperatives, the result would be disastrous. Americans, like Nephites, would lose their dominion over the entire continent. Moreover, the Book of Mormon appeared at a critical moment of social and cultural change. As Marvin Meyers noted more than three decades ago, Americans in the age of Jackson looked anxiously around them and tried simultaneously to cling to a reassuring past and to participate in the opportunities emerging in a liberalizing society.38 Joseph Smith spoke to both the national pride and the personal fears. He added his voice to the various conversations on religion, work, politics, and social relations. Many heard his voice, and some followed when he organized a church, because his words answered a need for direction in the swirl of confusion.

The Book of Mormon offered ideas that were familiar to New Yorkers and other Americans in 1830 when distribution of the book began. The Book of Mormon illuminates some of the key ideas and experiences that affected the generation of 1830. By ignoring the Book of Mormon as a piece of nineteenth-century literature, we [p.93] miss a good opportunity to appreciate a response by an obscure New Yorker to the rapidly changing world of the 1820s and 1830s. Since others shared or were persuaded by his views, Smith’s Book of Mormon is more than the lone cry of a marginalized man. The book gives modern-day readers a glimpse at one aspect of the socio-intellectual context of the United States in the 1820s and 1830s.

Susan Curtis is assistant professor of history at Purdue University. “Early Nineteenth-Century America and the Book of Mormon” first appeared in the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 2 (1982): 21-31 as “Palmyra Revisited: A Look at Early Nineteenth-Century America and the Book of Mormon.”


1. Joseph Smith and Heman C. Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1805-1835 (Lamoni, IA: Board of Publication of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1908), 81; hearafter Church History.

2. Willard Bean, The A.B.C. History of Palmyra and the Beginning of “Mormonism” (Palmyra, NY: Palmyra Courier Co., 1938), 8-11; Whitney R. Cross, The Burned-Over District (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1950), 4-5. Some of the newspapers to which I had access were the Palmyra Register, the Palmyra Herald, and the Wayne Sentinel.

3. Kenneth Winn, Exiles in a Land of Liberty (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989), 6-17. See also Marvin S. Hill, Quest for Refuge: The Mormon Flight from American Pluralism (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989).

4. Steven A. Watts, The Republic Reborn: War and the Making of Liberal America, 1790-1820 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1987); Paul E. Johnson, A Shopkeeper’s Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1978); Robert Gross, The Minutemen and Their World; and Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, Salem Possessed (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974).

5. Alexander Campbell, Delusions: An Analysis of the Book of Mormon (Boston: Benjamin H. Greene, 1832), 13.

6. For a good discussion of the Book of Mormon and the American Indians, see Dan Vogel, Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon: Religious Solutions from Columbus to Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986).

7. All page references to the Book of Mormon are from the 1830 edition.

8. Solomon Spaulding’s manuscript was written in 1811, and Ethan Smith’s work was first published in 1823, with a second edition appearing in 1825.

9. James Fenimore Cooper, Notions of the Americans (Philadelphia, 1828), in Robert Spiller, The American Literary Revolution, 1783-1837 (New York: New York University Press, 1967), 392.

[p.94]10. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Our Native Writers” (1825), in Spiller, 392. The Book of Mormon was stylistically eclectic. It reflected the quasi-biblical prose of

other common works, whose authors were undoubtedly influenced by school books such as A Philosophical and Practical Grammar of the English Language, by Noah Webster, who quotes the King James Bible over one hundred times, and The American Preceptor, which condensed Bible stories for fourth- and fifth-year readers. Smith also relied heavily on the Book of Isaiah and usually mentions in the text when this is done. Other passages do not refer to specific Bible stories but still have a familiar ring. The following references include Book of Mormon characters, their biblical counterparts, and the page of the Book of Mormon on which the incident occurs: Nephi and family, Noah and family, pp. 42-43 (LDS 1 Ne. 17:1-18; RLDS 1 Ne. 5:55-89); Nephi, Jonah, p. 48 (LDS 1 Ne. 18:9-16; RLDS 1 Ne. 5:182-99); Nephi stills the water, Jesus Christ stills the water, p. 49 (LDS 1 Ne. 18:21; RLDS 1 Ne. 5:210); Alma’s conversion, Paul’s conversion, pp. 212-13 (LDS Mos. 27:10-22; RLDS Mos. 11:162-84); Ammon slaying the enemy, David against the Philistine, p. 272 (LDS Al. 17:36-37; RLDS Al. 12:52-58); Zoramites and Alma on the manner of prayer, parable of the Pharisee and Publican, p. 311 (LDS A1. 31:12-23; RLDS Al. 16:88-99); destruction of the City Moronihah, destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, p. 471 (LDS 3 Ne. 8:10; RLDS 3 Ne. 4:9).

11. The most persuasive synthesis of the early republic I have seen is by Steven Watts, The Republic Reborn.

12. Johnson, A Shopkeeper’s Millennium.

13. See, for example, David Rothman, Discovery of the Asylum (Boston: Little, Brown, 1971); Alyce Felt Tyler, Freedom’s Ferment (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1944); Carol Rosenberg, Rise of the American City (Ithaca: Cornell, 1971).

14. Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (New York, 1944). Polanyi argues that the emergence of a market economy in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century called into existence a market society.

15. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835).

16. T. Scott Miyakawa, Protestants and Pioneers: Individualism and Conformity on the American Frontier (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1964); Susan Curtis Mernitz, “Church, Class, and Community: The Impact of Industrialization on Lexington, Missouri, 1850-1900,” M.A. thesis, University of Missouri, Columbia, 1981.

17. Bernard Weisberger, They Gathered at the River (New York: New York Times Book Company, 1958); William Warren Sweet, The Story of Religion in America (New York: Harper, 1950); Cross, The Burned-Over District; John Boles, The Great Revival, 1787-1805 (Lexington, 1972); Donald Mathews, “The Second Great Awakening as an Organizing Process, [p.95] 1780-1830,” American Quarterly 21 (Spring 1969).

18. Sweet, The Story of Religion in America, 229.

19. See Mark D. Thomas, “Revival Language in the Book of Mormon,” Sunstone 8 (May-June 1983): 19-25.

20. Other Book of Mormon conversion stories can be found on pages 143, 144, 166, 213-14, 276, 422, 453 (LDS Enos 1:1-8; LDS Mos. 27:10-31; LDS Al. 18:40-43, 22:12-18; LDS 3 Ne 1:17-18; RLDS Enos 1:1-11; RLDS Mos. 11:162-99; RLDS Al. 12:121-25, 13:44-54; LDS 3 Ne. 1:19-20).

21. Edwin Scott Gaustad, Historical Atlas of Religion in America (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), 56-105. Many revivals were held in or near Palmyra, New York; typical newspaper announcements of revivals appeared in the following places: Wayne Sentinel, 19 May 1826, 12 March 1825, 15 Sept. 1824; Western Farmer, 30 Jan. 1822; (Palmyra) Register, 13 Sept. 1820.

22. Church History, 7.

23. Ibid., 8.

24. Additional signs of denominationalism in the Book of Mormon can be found on pages 58, 67, 193, 438, 516, 517, 534 (LDS 1 Ne. 22:23; LDS 2 Ne. 3:12; LDS Mos. 18:18-29; LDS 4 Ne. 1:27-29; LDS Morm. 8:32-37; RLDS 1 Ne. 22:50; RLDS 2 Ne. 2:21; RLDS Mos. 9:51-64; RLDS 4 Ne. 29-33; RLDS Morm. 4:41-50).

25. Gaustad, 107.

26. Thomas McAvoy, A History of the Catholic Church in the United States (South Bend: Notre Dame, 1969), 134; The Doctrine and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church (Cincinnati: J. F. Wright & L. Swormstedt, 1841), 14-17; Ray Allen Billington, The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860 (New York: Rinehard, 1952), 43.

27. See Billington and McAvoy.

28. Other anti-Catholic sentiment can be found on pages 34, 57, 114 (LDS 1 Ne. 14:15-26, 22:13; LDS 3 Ne. 28:18; RLDS 1 Ne. 3:232-50, 7:26; RLDS 2 Ne. 12:22).

29. Winn, Exiles in a Land of Liberty, 18-39; cf. Hill, Quest for Refuge.

30. Richard Hofstadter, The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States, 1780-1840 (Berkeley, 1969); Marvin Meyers, The Jacksonian Persuasion (Stanford, 1957).

31. Gerald Grob and Robert Beck, eds., American Ideas (New York: The Free Press, 1963), 274.

32. Johnson, A Shopkeeper’s Millennium, 62-78.

33. Alan Dawley, Class and Community: the Industrial Revolution in Lynn (Cambridge: Harvard, 1976).

34. Other references to democracy can be found on pages 72, 84, 168, 203, 218, 268, 344, 368, 417, 465 (LDS 2 Ne. 5:18-19, 10:11; LDS Mos. [p.96]23:6-9, 29:12-31; LDS Al. 2; RLDS 2 Ne. 4:28-29, 7:18; RLDS Mos. 11:6-9, 13:16-46; RLDS Al. 53-97).

35. Wayne Sentinel, 13, 26 Oct. 1827; Wayne Ham, “Problems in Interpreting the Book of Mormon as History,” Courage 1 (Sept. 1970): 17.

36. Charles McCarthy, “The Antimasonic Party: A Study of Political Antimasonry in the United States, 1827-1840,” Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1903), 371; Wayne Sentinel, 18 Feb. 1828. See also Dan Vogel, “Mormonism’s ‘Anti-Masonick Bible,'” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 9 (1989): 17-30.

37. McCarthy, 372, 375-76.

38. Meyers, The Jacksonian Persuasion, 3-15.