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Exhibiting MormonismThe Latter-day Saints and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair$
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Reid Neilson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195384031

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384031.001.0001

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Before the Chicago World's Fair

Before the Chicago World's Fair

Exhibiting Mormonism in America, 1830–1892

(p.14) 1 Before the Chicago World's Fair
Exhibiting Mormonism

Reid L. Neilson

Oxford University Press

One could argue that LDS leaders and laity did not engage in orchestrated public relations efforts during most of the nineteenth century. But this does not mean that Mormons were unconcerned with their public image or ignorant about the way outsiders viewed them. There is little question that antebellum Mormons were careful about what they wrote in tracts, how they evangelized both domestically and internationally, and how they sought to remain in deliberate tension with their fellow Americans. Rather than trying to join hands with other Christians, Latter-day Saints sought to emphasize the “Restoration,” or return of Christ's primitive church to Joseph Smith, and thereby highlight what they believed was the deficient character of other forms of Christianity. Hardly a public relations strategy, this nevertheless proved quite an effective evangelization approach, as chronicled in this chapter. Prior to the 1893 World's Fair, Mormons emphasized their polarizing spiritual beliefs and practices rather than showcasing their cultural contributions to their fellow Americans.

Keywords:   Mormon, Utah, Polygamy, Wilford Woodruff, Missionary work, Chicago World's Fair, Brigham Young, press, evangelism

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