In 1830, Smith published what he said was an English translation of these plates, the Book of Mormon.
Smith said the translation was a religious record of indigenous Americans.
The event would later grow in importance to Smith's followers, who now regard it as the first event in the gradual restoration of Christ's church to earth.
Until the 1840s, however, the experience was largely unknown, even to most Mormons.
His teachings include unique views about the nature of God, cosmology, family structures, political organization, and religious collectivism.
His followers regard him as a prophet comparable to Moses and Elijah, and several religious denominations consider themselves the continuation of the church he organized, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ.They first gathered in Kirtland, Ohio, and established an outpost in Independence, Missouri, which was intended to be Zion's "center place".