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A Dialogue between Joseph Smith and the Devil


Parley P. Pratt


Introduction by Donna Morley: Mormon, Parley P. Pratt first wrote this dialogue for the New York Herald on January 1, 1844. It was reprinted in pamphlet form in 1845, as well as, by other publishers since then (see bibliography). A mention of this dialogue can be found in the Mormon’s History of the Church 7:559.


Parley Pratt wrote this piece of Mormon literature in response to the Christian clergy who were accusing Joseph Smith (with the help of Mormon, Sidney Rigdon) of stealing a manuscript by a pastor named Solomon Spaulding. Spaulding had sent his manuscript to the publishing firm that Rigdon worked at. The manuscript became lost at the firm, and was never found. Both Smith and Rigdon were accused of using the Spaulding’s manuscript to write the Book of Mormon.

While there are some similarities between the Spaulding manuscript, and the Book of Mormon, there are greater similarities between Joseph Smith’s, the Book of Mormon and pastor Ethan Smith’s (no relation) fictional book, View of the Hebrews. Mormon historian B.H. Roberts, who was a key figure in the Mormon Church, wrote in 1922 the book, Studies of the Book of Mormon (only released by his family after his death). In that book he wrote that there was a possibility that the View of the Hebrews (published seven years before the Book of Mormon) may have helped Smith write the Book of Mormon. Actually, Roberts realized that the Book of Mormon may not be of divine origin at all. He wrote his findings and comparisons in his book, Studies of the Book of Mormon.1

Parley Pratt eventually left the Mormon church. He reported that Smith described an angel “as having the appearance of ‘a tall, slim, well built, handsome man, with a bright pillar upon his head.’” The Devil, he said, once “appeared to him in the same form, excepting upon his head he had a ‘black pillar,’ and by this mark he was able to distinguish him from the former.” 2

As you begin to read this dialogue, keep in mind that misspellings and grammatical errors are found in the original.

 A Dialogue between Joseph Smith and the Devil


Parley P. Pratt

(Enter Devil with a bundle of hand bills, which he is in the act of pasting up)


[01] All the liars, swindlers, thieves, robbers, incendiaries, murderers, cheats, adulterers, harlots, blackguards, gamblers, bogus makers, idlers, busy bodies, pickpockets, vagabonds, filthy persons, and all other infidels and rebellious, disorderly persons, for a crusade against Joe Smith and the Mormons! Be quick, be quick, I say or our cause will be ruined and our kingdom overthrown by the d----d fool of an imposter and his associates, for even now all earth and hell is in a stew.

Joseph Smith happens to be passing and hails his majesty:

[02] Smith: Good morning, Mr. Devil. How now, you seem to be much engaged; what news have you got there?

[03] Devil: [Slipping his bills into his pocket with a low bow] Oh! good morning Mr. Smith; hope you are well sir. Why, I--I was just out on a little business in my line. Or, finally, to be candid I was contriving a fair and honorable warfare against you and your imposition, wherein piety is outraged and religion greatly hindered in its useful course. For, to be bold, sir--and I despise anything under-handed--I must tell you to your face that you have made more trouble than all the ministers or people of my whole dominion have for ages past.

[04] Smith: Trouble! What trouble have I caused your majesty? I certainly have endeavored to treat you and all other persons in a friendly manner, even my worst enemies, and I always aim to fulfil the Mormon Creed, and that is, to mind my own business exclusively. Why should this trouble you, Mr. Devil?

[05] Devil: Ah, your own business, indeed! I know not what you may consider your business, it is so very complicated; but I know what you have done and what you are aiming to do. You have disturbed the quiet of Christendom, overthrown churches and societies, you have dared to call into question the truth and usefulness of old and established creeds, which have stood the test of ages, and have even caused tens of thousands to come out in open rebellion, not only against wholesome creeds, established forms and doctrines, well approved and orthodox, but against some of the most pious, learned, exemplary and honorable clergy whom both myself and all the world love, honor and esteem, and this is not all. But you are causing many persons to think who never thought before and you would fain put the whole world a thinking and then where will true religion and piety be? Alas! They will have no place among men, for if men keep such a terrible thinking and reasoning as they begin to do, since you commenced your business, as you call it, they never will continue to uphold the good old way in which they have jogged along in peace for so many ages, and thus, Mr. Smith, you will overthrow my kingdom and leave me not a foot of ground on earth, and this is the very thing you aim at. But I, sir, have the boldness to oppose you by all the lawful means which I have in my power.

[06] Smith: Really, Mr. Devil, your majesty has of late become very pious. I think some of your Christian brethren have greatly misrepresented you. It is generally reported by them that you are opposed to religion. But--

[07] Devil: It is false; there is not a more religious and pious being in the world than myself, nor a being more liberal minded. I am decidedly in favor of all creeds, systems and forms of Christianity, of whatever name and nature; so long as they leave out that abominable doctrine which caused me so much trouble in former times, and which, after slumbering for ages, you have again revived; I mean the doctrine of direct communication with God, by new revelation. This is hateful, it is impious, it is directly opposed to all the divisions and branches of the Christian church; I never could bear it. And for this very cause, I helped to bring to condign punishment all the prophets and apostles of old, for while they were suffered to live with this gift of revelation, they were always exposing and slandering me, and all other good pious men in exposing our deeds and purposes, which they called wicked, but we considered as the height of zeal and piety; and when we killed them for these crimes of dreaming, prophesying, and vision-seeing they raised the cry of persecution, and so with you miserable, deluded Mormons.

[08] Smith: Then, your most Christian Majesty is in favor of all other religions but this one, are you?

[09] Devil: Certainly, I am fond of praying, singing, church-building, bell ringing, going to meeting, preaching, and withal, I have quite a missionary zeal. I like, also, long faces, long prayers, long robes, and learned sermons; nothing suits me better than to see people who have been for a whole week opposing their neighbor, grinding the face of the poor, walking in pride and folly, and serving me with all their heart. I say nothing suits me better, Mr. Smith, than to see these people go to meeting on Sunday with a long religious face on, and to see them pay a portion of their ill-gotten gains for the support of a priest, while he and his hearers with doleful groans and awful faces, saying: "Lord, we have left undone the things we ought to have done, and done the things we ought not"; and the