Joseph Smith as an American Restorationist

Richard Bushman’s wonderfully expansive paper “Joseph Smith’s Many Histories” reminds us in forceful ways of the historical complexity that helped create the Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith. Bushman also reminds us that while historical complexity is embedded in history, it embeds itself as well in the hearts and minds of human beings who discover the various realities of history and then appropriate those realities for their own purposes. As an illustration of this point, Bushman tells the story of Christopher Columbus—how his standing as the grandfather of the United States was neither acknowledged nor celebrated until after 1776.

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