10. Publication Book Mormon

In June of 1829, the translation of the Book of Mormon was nearly complete. Joseph Smith decided that he should apply for a copyright. The copyright was given on June 11, 1829, by the Northern District of New York and protected the Book of Mormon from being plagiarized.By the end of June, negotiations began with Egbert B. Grandin, a publisher in Palmyra, to publish the book, but Grandin and his business partners were hesitant to publish it. Joseph, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer decided to talk to some other publishers. In Rochester, they met with Thurlow Weed, who would not print it because he did not believe Joseph’s account of how the book was translated. They also visited Elihu F. Marshall, who was willing to print the book but at a huge price. The men spoke to Egbert B. Grandin again, and he finally decided to print the book, as long as Martin Harris signed a mortgage on his farm that guaranteed payment for the printing of the Book of Mormon, even if part of his farm had to be sold. On July 1, 1829,Book of MormonJoseph Smith completed the translation of the Book of Mormon.On August 17, 1829, an agreement was made to print five thousand copies of the Book of Mormon at a cost of three thousand dollars. At the time this was a huge job for such a small printer. Joseph assigned Oliver Cowderyand Hyrum Smith to oversee the printing of the book. This was done to prevent any tampering with the text. Joseph also asked them to create a second manuscript and keep the original at the Smith home for safekeeping. Oliver wrote out a second manuscript and called it the printer’s copy. This copy was taken piece by piece to the publisher as the printing proceeded. The first pages were taken just a few days after the agreement for publishing had been made. Hyrum took almost daily trips to the printing office to supervise the work.The original manuscript had no punctuation or paragraphs, and with permission from Hyrum, one the typesetters at the printing office, John H. Gilbert, added punctuation and paragraphs. With this system there were a few errors that got into the text, but the book was carefully looked over and revised by Joseph Smith for a new 1840 edition, which removed most of the original printing errors.There was still considerable opposition during the printing of the Book of Mormon. A man named Abner Cole used the Grandin printing building on Sundays to publish a paper called the Palmyra Reflector. He thought the Book of Mormon was a fake and took some of the publisher’s copy and began printing it in installments in his paper. Hyrum and Oliver caught him doing this and told him to stop, because the book was copyrighted, but Abner did not stop and printed the page anyway. Joseph Smith’s father immediately went to get Joseph. Joseph spoke with Abner Cole who wanted to fight him, but Joseph finally got him to listen to reason, and no more extracts from the Book of Mormon were printed in the Palmyra Reflector. In January of 1830, many people in Palmyra held meetings and signed petitions stating that they would not purchase the Book of Mormon when printing was complete. Egbert B. Grandin was concerned that he would not receive payment for the printing and stopped the printing. Joseph had to come back to Palmyra to encourage Grandin to complete the job. In April of 1831, 151 acres of Martin Harris’ farm were auctioned off to pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon. Despite the fact that Joseph and Martin had made a contract stating that all proceeds from sales of the book would go to Martin, so that he would not have to sell his farm. The Book of Mormon went up for sale on March 26, 1830. The sale of the book was advertised in The Wayne Sentinel. At the time of its printing 5,000 copies seemed an optimistic number, but today more than 5,000,000 books are distributed every year and it is printed in more than 100 languages.

See the next article in the timeline series.

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