Discover the original document containing an account of the First Vision, the Standard of Truth, and the Articles of Faith.
In 1842, John Wentworth, editor and owner of a newspaper, Chicago Democrat, asked Joseph Smith to write a summary and history of the early Church.
Joseph took this opportunity to explain essential details of the First Vision, declare the Standard of Truth, and state the Articles of Faith. The earliest surviving copy of the Wentworth Letter published in the Times and Seasons, is available on The Joseph Smith Papers website.
Joseph provides an account of the First Vision, a vision he received when he was 14 years old. Joseph says that he “saw two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in features.” Joseph also relates important events of the early Church, including the translation of the Book of Mormon, the organization of the Church, and the persecution of the Saints. Joseph writes so that people not associated with the Church would be able to sympathize with the Saints.
In addition, the Wentworth Letter is where Joseph Smith first made the statement known as the Standard of Truth. “The Standard of Truth has been erected. . . . The truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear.” Many missionaries today still recite this proclamation as they prepare to preach the gospel.
The letter also contains the first version of the Articles of Faith. Joseph lays out the beliefs of the Church in a simple way. Each article is written for clarity, so that others would not misunderstand the doctrine.
The Wentworth Letter provides simple yet profound doctrine directly from Joseph Smith. We can gain greater understanding of the early days of the Church and of the Prophet Joseph Smith by reading this original document.
Source: The Joseph Smith Papers
—Austin Burton, Mormon Insights
Picture courtesy of LDS Media Library.