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Members of the church were later called "Latter Day Saints", or "Mormons", and in 1838, Smith announced a revelation that renamed the church as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.In 1831, Smith and his followers moved west, planning to build a communalistic American Zion.According to his later accounts, Smith was visited by an angel named Moroni, while praying one night in 1823.Smith said that this angel revealed the location of a buried book made of golden plates, as well as other artifacts, including a breastplate and a set of interpreters composed of two seer stones set in a frame, which had been hidden in a hill near his home.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.They first gathered in Kirtland, Ohio, and established an outpost in Independence, Missouri, which was intended to be Zion's "center place".
Smith published many revelations and other texts that his followers regard as scripture.
In 1830, Smith published what he said was an English translation of these plates, the Book of Mormon.
The same year he organized the Church of Christ, calling it a restoration of the early Christian church.
The collapse of the church-sponsored Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company and violent skirmishes with non-Mormon Missourians caused Smith and his followers to establish a new settlement at Nauvoo, Illinois, where he became a spiritual and political leader.
In 1844, Smith and the Nauvoo city council angered non-Mormons by destroying a newspaper that had criticized Smith's power and practice of polygamy.