a. To keep him from joining the Mormon Church
Joseph Smith Sr. was thrown into prison because he failed to go back on his testimony over a $14 debt. This much we know. What might be less heard of is what happened to W.W. Phelps.
It is interesting to note that two years later, W.W. Phelps was imprisoned in the same building. While the complaint lodged against him was for “indebtedness,” his debtors let him know the actual reason for his imprisonment was to keep him “from joining the Mormons.”
Bruce A. Orden, “By That Book I Learned The Right Way to God”: The Conversion of William W. Phelps,” in Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History/New York. Eds.
Larry C. Porter, Milton V. Backman Jr. and Susan Easton Black (Provo, Utah: Dept. of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, 1992), 211.