Negative stories and boycott didn't derail Book of Mormon

On that day in August 1829, while watching printers lift the first sheet of the Book of Mormon off the press, Joseph Smith was well aware of the growing antagonism toward the book.

Negative stories about the "golden Bible" were spreading across the area.Still, Joseph knew of the significant role this book was designed to play in establishing a kingdom that would fill the whole earth, and without hesitation, had ordered 5,000 copies.

Such an order was ambitious. Considering the effort of printing just one page - where a team of several printers was required to ink, set and press each sheet - only the large printing houses in major cities like New York and Rochester were equipped to handle such orders.

But Joseph persuaded Egbert B. Grandin to print the book. Grandin was a young businessman about the same age as the prophet and was one of the few rural printers of the day with a press large enough to print such a project.

Criticism continued to mount during the next months. One of the more prominent critics was Abner Cole, an ex-justice of the peace, who was editor and proprietor of the Palymra Reflector. Grandin granted him access to the building on Sundays and evenings to publish his newspaper, which was printed on the same press used to print the Book of Mormon. He evidently found printed sheets of the Book of Mormon and published portions in his paper titled Dogberry Paper on Winter Hill under the fictitious name of Obediah Dogberry.

His intentions, no doubt, were to increase circulation of his newspaper. He originally opposed the Book of Mormon, but his tone mellowed while printing the work in his paper. But when Joseph Smith confronted him and insisted that Cole discontinue printing portions of the book because he was using the material in violation of copyright laws, Cole returned to a negative outlook of the book and denounced the prophet for interfering and urged the public not to buy the book.

The boycott nearly stopped the publication. Grandin feared that he would not receive payment and complained to Joseph. The Prophet assured him that the contract would be honored and work continued until the book was released to the public, according to Milton V. Backman Jr. in Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration.

The decade from the spring of 1820 until the spring of 1830 was a time of preparation and development for the Prophet - and the Church. On Sept. 22, 1827, Joseph rode with his wife, Emma, in the dark of night in a horse-drawn wagon to Cumorah. Emma waited while Joseph went alone to receive the plates from Moroni, according to several accounts by the prophet's mother, Lucy Mack Smith, in Biographical Sketches.

Translation came slowly at first. According to accounts of those close to the translation, much of the Book of Mormon was translated during the three months from April through July 1829.

Still, less than three years after receiving the plates in 1827, Joseph Smith translated the plates and had copies of the Book of Mormon printed, bound and ready for public distribution by March 26, 1830.

The incredible events surrounding the coming forth of the book did not end with its publication, but have continued through the years as missionaries and members bear testimony and the flames of testimony are kindled.

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