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Perspectives

on Church History

“Unusual Excitement”: The 1820 Setting for the First Vision


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Joseph Smith’s 1838 account of the First Vision claims there was an “unusual excitement on the subject of religion” in the area near his Manchester, New York, home in 1820. This excitement led Joseph to seek forgiveness of his sins and pray for direction on which church he should join. Stephen C. Harper discusses the evidence for this revival in religious feeling that was such an important part of the setting for the First Vision.