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Harris convinced Smith to let him take the existing 116 pages of manuscript to Palmyra to show a few family members, including his wife.Harris lost the manuscript, of which there was no other copy.

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In 1844, Smith and the Nauvoo city council angered non-Mormons by destroying a newspaper that had criticized Smith's power and practice of polygamy.After Smith was imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois, he was killed when a mob stormed the jailhouse.Smith published many revelations and other texts that his followers regard as scripture.Harris said Anthon initially authenticated the characters and their translation, but then retracted his opinion after learning that Smith claimed to have received the plates from an angel.Anthon denied Harris's account of the meeting, claiming instead that he had tried to convince Harris that he was the victim of a fraud.Members of the church were later called "Latter Day Saints", or "Mormons", and in 1838, Smith announced a revelation that renamed the church as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

In 1831, Smith and his followers moved west, planning to build a communalistic American Zion.

In February 1828, Martin Harris arrived to assist Smith by transcribing his dictation.

Harris also took a sample of the characters to a few prominent scholars, including Charles Anthon.

In 1830, Smith published what he said was an English translation of these plates, the Book of Mormon.

The same year he organized the Church of Christ, calling it a restoration of the early Christian church.

In 1816–17, after an ill-fated business venture and three years of crop failures, the Smith family moved to the western New York village of Palmyra, and eventually took a mortgage on a 100-acre (40 ha) farm in the nearby town of Manchester.