30696

Copyright for Book of Mormon, 11 June 1829

Northern District of)To wit:
New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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)
[embossed seal]
Be it remembered, That on the Eleventh day of June in the fifty third year of the Independence of the United States of America, A. D. 1829 Joseph Smith Junior of the said District, hath deposited in this Office the title of a book the right whereof he claims as author in the words following, to wit:1

According to JS’s history, the title page of the Book of Mormon was “a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 34; see also Title Page of Book of Mormon, ca. Early June 1829.)  


The Book of Mormon; an account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates

A record engraved on gold plates, which JS translated and published as the Book of Mormon. The text explained that the plates were an abridgement of other ancient records and were written by an American prophet named Mormon and his son Moroni. The plates ...

View Glossary
taken from the plates of Nephi. Wherefore it is an abridgement of the record of the people of Nephi

A term used in the Book of Mormon to refer to the descendants and followers of Nephi, as well as those who later identified themselves as Nephites for religious reasons. According to JS and the Book of Mormon, Lehi and Sariah, Nephi’s parents, and their family...

View Glossary
and also of the Lamanites

A term used in the Book of Mormon to refer to the descendants or followers of Laman, as well as those who later identified themselves as Lamanites because they did not believe in the religious traditions of their ancestors. According to JS and the Book of...

View Glossary
, written to the Lamanites,2

When Richard R. Lansing copied the title page in the retained copyright record, he left out the phrase “written to the Lamanites,” even though it was included in the printed version attached to the record. (Copyright for Book of Mormon, 11 June 1829, clerk’s copy, New York North District, Copyright Book, vol. 116, p. 107, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress, Washington DC; Title Page of Book of Mormon, ca. Early June 1829.)  


which are a remnant of the House of Israel

Members of the church and the posterity of Jacob, or Israel, in the Old Testament. The people in the Book of Mormon were described in the text as a “remnant of the house of Israel,” descended from the Israelites of the Bible. JS revelations stated that the...

View Glossary
; and also to Jew & Gentile

Those who were not members of the House of Israel. More specifically, members of the church identified gentiles as those whose lineage was not of the Jews or Lamanites (understood to be the American Indians in JS’s day). Certain prophecies indicated that ...

View Glossary
, written by way of commandment; and also by the spirit of prophesy & of revelation written & sealed & hid up unto the Lord that they might not be destroyed to come forth by the gift & power of God unto the interpretation thereof, sealed up by the hand of Moroni & hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile, the interpretation thereof by the gift of God; an abridgement taken from the book of Ether. Also, which is a record of the people of Jared

A term used in the Book of Mormon to refer to descendants and followers of Jared who departed for a “land of promise” (which JS later identified as the Americas) at the time language was confounded at the Tower of Babel. The brother of Jared was the first...

View Glossary
, which were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to Heaven; which is to shew unto the remnant3

Illegible text supplied from Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., title page.  


of the House of Israel how great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; & that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever; and also to the convincing of the Jew & Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations. And, now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men; wherefore condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgement seat of Christ. By Joseph Smith Junior author & Proprietor.
In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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, entitled “An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned;” and also, to the act entitled “An act supplementary to an act entitled ‘An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned,’ and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of Designing, Engraving and Etching historical and other prints.”
Richard R. Lansing

July 1789–29 Sept. 1855. U.S. district court clerk, attorney, merchant, business executive. Born in New York. Son of Gerrit G. Lansing and Maria Antill. Resided at Utica, Oneida Co., New York, by 1812. Served as U.S. district court clerk for Northern District...

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—Clerk of the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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Dist. Court for the Northern Dist. of New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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[p. [1]]

Underlining with leading and trailing spaces indicates handwritten portions of this preprinted form. Handwriting probably that of Richard R. Lansing.  


Northern District of)
To wit:
New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

More Info
)
[embossed seal]
Be it remembered, That on the Eleventh  day of June in the fifty third year of  the Independence of the United States of America, A. D.  1829 Joseph Smith Junior  of the said District, hath deposited in this Office the  title of a book the right whereof he claims  as author in the words following, to wit:1

According to JS’s history, the title page of the Book of Mormon was “a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 34; see also Title Page of Book of Mormon, ca. Early June 1829.)  


The Book of  Mormon; an account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates

A record engraved on gold plates, which JS translated and published as the Book of Mormon. The text explained that the plates were an abridgement of other ancient records and were written by an American prophet named Mormon and his son Moroni. The plates ...

View Glossary
taken from  the plates of Nephi. Wherefore it is an ab[r]idgement of the record of the people of Nephi

A term used in the Book of Mormon to refer to the descendants and followers of Nephi, as well as those who later identified themselves as Nephites for religious reasons. According to JS and the Book of Mormon, Lehi and Sariah, Nephi’s parents, and their family...

View Glossary
and also of  the Lamanites

A term used in the Book of Mormon to refer to the descendants or followers of Laman, as well as those who later identified themselves as Lamanites because they did not believe in the religious traditions of their ancestors. According to JS and the Book of...

View Glossary
, written to the Lamanites,2

When Richard R. Lansing copied the title page in the retained copyright record, he left out the phrase “written to the Lamanites,” even though it was included in the printed version attached to the record. (Copyright for Book of Mormon, 11 June 1829, clerk’s copy, New York North District, Copyright Book, vol. 116, p. 107, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress, Washington DC; Title Page of Book of Mormon, ca. Early June 1829.)  


which are a remnant of the House of Israel

Members of the church and the posterity of Jacob, or Israel, in the Old Testament. The people in the Book of Mormon were described in the text as a “remnant of the house of Israel,” descended from the Israelites of the Bible. JS revelations stated that the...

View Glossary
; and also to  Jew & Gentile

Those who were not members of the House of Israel. More specifically, members of the church identified gentiles as those whose lineage was not of the Jews or Lamanites (understood to be the American Indians in JS’s day). Certain prophecies indicated that ...

View Glossary
, written by way of commandment; and also by the spirit of prophesy & of revelation  written & sealed & hid up unto the Lord that they might not be destroyed to come forth by the  gift & power of God unto the interpretation thereof, sealed up by the hand of Moroni & hid up unto the  Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile, the interpretation thereof by the gift of God;  an abridgement taken from the book of Ether. Also, which is a record of the people of Jared

A term used in the Book of Mormon to refer to descendants and followers of Jared who departed for a “land of promise” (which JS later identified as the Americas) at the time language was confounded at the Tower of Babel. The brother of Jared was the first...

View Glossary
, which  were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower  to get to Heaven; which is to shew unto the [illegible] [remnant]3

Illegible text supplied from Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., title page.  


of the House of Israel how great things the  Lord hath done for their fathers; & that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast  off forever; and also to the convincing of the Jew & Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting  himself unto all nations. And, now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men; wherefore con demn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgement seat of Christ. By  Joseph Smith Junior author & Proprietor.
In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

More Info
, entitled “An  act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps,  Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the  times therein mentioned;” and also, to the act entitled “An act supplement ary to an act entitled ‘An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing  the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such  copies during the times therein mentioned,’ and extending the benefits there of to the arts of Designing, Engraving and Etching historical and other  prints.”
R[ichard] R. Lansing

July 1789–29 Sept. 1855. U.S. district court clerk, attorney, merchant, business executive. Born in New York. Son of Gerrit G. Lansing and Maria Antill. Resided at Utica, Oneida Co., New York, by 1812. Served as U.S. district court clerk for Northern District...

View Full Bio
—Clerk of  the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

More Info
Dist. Cou[r]t for the  No[r]thern Dist. of New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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[p. [1]]
Next
Nineteenth-century authors who wanted to control the profits and distribution of their literary work had a number of options, each centered on the relationship between the author or proprietor and the printer, bookseller, or publisher. Two options did not include obtaining a copyright: an older style of print negotiations had the author obtain funds from a patron or a group of subscribers to pay a printer, who would then negotiate with the author on how to distribute the profits; alternatively, and more common in 1829, authors could negotiate with printers for half of the profits and avoid the necessity of outside funds.1

Finkelstein and McCleery, Introduction to Book History, 75.  


In the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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, federal copyright law was in force by 1790, and copyrighted books offered more security to both the printer and the author by protecting the text from unauthorized sale and distribution.2

An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Securing Copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of Such Copies, during the Times Therein Mentioned [31 May 1790], Public Statutes at Large, 1st Cong., 2nd Sess., chap. 15, pp. 124–126.  


An author with a federal copyright could permanently sell the rights to publish a manuscript or do so only temporarily or for a specified number of editions. The author could also retain the rights and negotiate separately with a printer for publication. In such cases, the copyright reassured a printer that the work would not be undercut by unauthorized editions. With various options available to him, JS determined to obtain a copyright for the Book of Mormon and retain control over its printing and distribution. The loss of the first manuscript translated from the plates may have made him more concerned about protecting his translation work and the resulting manuscripts.3

Preface to Book of Mormon, ca. Aug. 1829; see also Historical Introductions to Revelation, July 1828 [D&C 3]; and to Revelation, Spring 1829 [D&C 10].  


The federal copyright statute of 1790, as amended in 1802, outlined five steps to obtaining a copyright: the applicant was to deposit a copy of a work’s title page with the clerk of the federal district court, pay for the copyright certificate, publish the certificate in the newspaper in four consecutive weeks over the next two months, print the certificate in the book, and provide a copy of the book to the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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secretary of state within six months of its publication. The copyright record presented here resulted from JS’s compliance with the first two requirements.4

An Act for the Encouragement of Learning [31 May 1790], Public Statutes at Large, 1st Cong., 2nd Sess., chap. 15, p. 125, secs. 3–4; An Act Supplementary to an Act Entitled “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Securing the Copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of Such Copies, during the Times Therein Mentioned,” and Extending the Benefits Thereof to the Arts of Designing, Engraving, and Etching Historical and Other Prints [29 Apr. 1802], Public Statutes at Large, 7th Cong., 1st Sess., chap. 36, p. 171, sec. 1; see also Wadsworth, “Copyright Laws and the 1830 Book of Mormon,” 81–85.  


It is a printed form prepared by Richard R. Lansing

July 1789–29 Sept. 1855. U.S. district court clerk, attorney, merchant, business executive. Born in New York. Son of Gerrit G. Lansing and Maria Antill. Resided at Utica, Oneida Co., New York, by 1812. Served as U.S. district court clerk for Northern District...

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, the clerk of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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, who signed and dated it. The author could request extra copies of the record for sixty cents,5

An Act for the Encouragement of Learning [31 May 1790], Public Statutes at Large, 1st Cong., 2nd Sess., chap. 15, p. 125, sec. 3.  


but only the recipient’s copy, featured here, and the court’s copy are extant. As required by the law, the submission for the Book of Mormon copyright included a printed copy of the Book of Mormon title page, a document still retained along with the court’s copyright record.6
It is unclear whether JS applied for the copyright in person, via representative, or by mail, but the record stated, “Joseph Smith Junior of the said District hath deposited [the title page] in this Office.” Though the district court may have occasionally held session in places nearer to JS’s temporary home in Fayette

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

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, Utica was the court’s seat and no information has been found suggesting that the court was held near Fayette in June 1829. JS is unlikely to have journeyed to Utica, a six- or seven-day round trip of more than 240 miles, because during June he spent approximately twenty days on translation

To produce a text from one written in another language; in JS’s usage, most often through divine means. JS considered the ability to translate to be a gift of the spirit, like the gift of interpreting tongues. He recounted that he translated “reformed Egyptian...

View Glossary
, dictated five revelations in Fayette or Manchester

Settled 1793. Formed as Burt Township when divided from Farmington Township, 31 Mar. 1821. Name changed to Manchester, 16 Apr. 1822. Included village of Manchester. Population in 1825 about 2,700. Population in 1830 about 2,800. JS reported first vision of...

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, and traveled to Palmyra

Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...

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and Rochester

Located at falls of Genesee River, seven miles south of Lake Ontario, on Erie Canal. Founded 1812. Incorporated as village, 1817. Originally called Rochesterville; name changed to Rochester, 1822. Incorporated as city, 1834. County seat. Population in 1820...

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to negotiate with printers. More likely, JS sent Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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to Utica to obtain the copyright. Though Cowdery was the usual scribe for the translation of the plates, he may have traveled to Utica during the period when his handwriting is absent from the book’s original manuscript for several chapters that were likely translated in early to mid-June 1829.7

See Skousen, Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, 6, 14.  


It is also possible that the copyright application and title page were both mailed to the district court.
Printers in the area had little or no experience printing books that were as large and as expensive as the Book of Mormon. The copyright decreased the financial risk of publishing the book and therefore gave JS additional power to negotiate with potential printers. JS’s early efforts to find a printer were apparently conducted in and around Palmyra

Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...

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, where E. B. Grandin

30 Mar. 1806–16 Apr. 1845. Printer, newspaper editor and publisher, butcher, shipper, tanner. Born in Freehold, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. Son of William Grandin and Amy Lewis. Moved to Williamson, Ontario Co., New York, by 1810; to Pultneyville, Ontario Co...

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originally rejected his proposal, likely fearing that the book would not be profitable. JS’s lack of a copyright during these early negotiations may also have made Grandin hesitant, since only a copyright would have protected his interests by prohibiting competing presses from producing the same book. After unsuccessful attempts in Palmyra, JS and Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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solicited printers in Rochester

Located at falls of Genesee River, seven miles south of Lake Ontario, on Erie Canal. Founded 1812. Incorporated as village, 1817. Originally called Rochesterville; name changed to Rochester, 1822. Incorporated as city, 1834. County seat. Population in 1820...

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, New York. There, Thurlow Weed appears also to have rejected the proposal, even though Harris offered his farm as payment, but then JS met success: his proposal was accepted by printer Elihu F. Marshall.8

Thurlow Weed, Statement, New York City, NY, 12 Apr. 1880, in Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, 260–261.  


JS returned to Palmyra with Marshall’s offer, and this time he successfully negotiated with Grandin.9

Pomeroy Tucker, the editor of Grandin’s Wayne Sentinel, recalled that Grandin decided to print the Book of Mormon after Marshall agreed to do so. John H. Gilbert explained that Grandin accepted after he was approached the second time, “Harris assuring Grandin that the book would be printed in Rochester if he declined the job again.” Gilbert added, “Mr Grandin consented to do the job if his terms were accepted.” (Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 50–53; John H. Gilbert, Memorandum, 8 Sept. 1892, photocopy, CHL.)  


After the agreement was in place, JS returned to his home in Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

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, Pennsylvania.10

JS History, vol. A-1, 34.  


He did not sell his copyright to Grandin

30 Mar. 1806–16 Apr. 1845. Printer, newspaper editor and publisher, butcher, shipper, tanner. Born in Freehold, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. Son of William Grandin and Amy Lewis. Moved to Williamson, Ontario Co., New York, by 1810; to Pultneyville, Ontario Co...

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or negotiate an arrangement to share the profits from the book’s sale, nor did he need to once Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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had agreed to be the financier. John H. Gilbert, the typesetter of the Book of Mormon, estimated the cost for printing five thousand books at $3,000, a figure that included a profit for Grandin. If enough books sold, Harris could recoup what he had provided by mortgaging part of his farm for $3,000, and JS might even make a profit.11

John H. Gilbert, Statement, 23 Oct. 1887, CHL; Indenture, Martin Harris to Egbert B. Grandin, Wayne Co., NY, 25 Aug. 1829, Wayne Co., NY, Mortgage Records, vol. 3, pp. 325–326, microfilm 479,556, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation, ca. Summer 1829 [D&C 19].  


On 26 June 1829, the Palmyra

Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...

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, New York, Wayne Sentinel published the title page and the copyright notice,12

News item, Wayne Sentinel (Palmyra, NY), 26 June 1829, [3].  


but this apparently fell short of the legal requirement to print the title page for four consecutive weeks in a local newspaper. Only one advertisement appeared in the Wayne Sentinel in the two months that followed, and it did not feature the full copyright record. In March and April 1830, in what may have been an attempt by JS to satisfy the copyright law, the Wayne Sentinel advertised the Book of Mormon for four consecutive issues but did not include the complete copyright notice.13

See “The Book of Mormon,” Wayne Sentinel (Palmyra, NY), 26 Mar. 1830, [3].  


The full notice was, however, included in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon. No evidence has been found to confirm that JS sent a copy of the Book of Mormon to the U.S.

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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secretary of state to fulfill that portion of the law’s requirements. Thus, while JS likely did not complete the copyright process for the Book of Mormon, he fulfilled enough of the official steps in the prepublication period to ward off potential poachers of the text.14

In January 1830, Abner Cole published portions of the Book of Mormon in three issues of the Palmyra Reflector but then stopped, apparently because JS asserted his copyright authority. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 9, [9]–[11]; see also “The First Book of Nephi,” Reflector [Palmyra, NY], 2 Jan. 1830, 9; “The First Book of Nephi,” Reflector, 13 Jan. 1830, 17; “Book of Mormon,” Reflector, 22 Jan. 1830, 27–28; and Wadsworth, “Copyright Laws and the 1830 Book of Mormon,” 86–91.)  


Facts