One of the things the historian learns when he begins to delve deeply into historical sources is that the great men of the past have always been the subject of bitter controversy. While these men have had their defenders, they have had their critics too.
Like other great Americans, the Prophet Joseph Smith was not exempt from such disparagement. He had friends who spoke well of him, and he had critics who were often embittered. A review of Joseph’s personal appearance, the first impressions he made on others, his treatment of people, his linguistic and oratory skills, and his financial integrity allows the reader to consider the reasons for such broad disagreement about the Prophet’s character.