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Joseph Smith

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Subject: Doctrine and Covenants, Mormonism, List of sects in the Latter Day Saint movement, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President of the Church (LDS Church)
Collection: 1805 Births, 1844 Deaths, 19Th-Century American Writers, American Christian Religious Leaders, American Christian Socialists, American City Founders, American Latter Day Saint Leaders, American Latter Day Saints, American Male Writers, American Militia Generals, American Murder Victims, Angelic Visionaries, Apocalypticists, Apostles of the Church of Christ (Latter Day Saints), Assassinated Mayors, Assassinated Religious Leaders, Book of Mormon Witnesses, Burials in Illinois, Deaths by Firearm in Illinois, Doctrine and Covenants People, Editors of Latter Day Saint Publications, Founders of New Religious Movements, Founders of Religions, History of the Latter Day Saint Movement, Joseph Smith, Latter Day Saint Martyrs, Lynching Deaths in Illinois, Mayors of Nauvoo, Illinois, Mayors of Places in Illinois, Members of the Council of Fifty, Murdered Mayors, Nauvoo Legion, People from Nauvoo, Illinois, People from Ontario County, New York, People from Palmyra, New York, People from Windsor County, Vermont, People Murdered in Illinois, Presidents of the Church (Lds Church), Prophet-Presidents of the Community of Christ, Prophets in Mormonism, Smith Family (Latter Day Saints), Treasure Hunters, United States Presidential Candidates, 1844, Victims of Religiously Motivated Violence in the United States
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Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith
Portrait of Joseph Smith, Jr.
1st President of the Church of Christ (later the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)[1]
April 6, 1830 (1830-04-06) – June 27, 1844 (1844-06-27)
Successor Disputed; Brigham Young, Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith III, and at least four others each claimed succession.
2nd Mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois
In office
May 19, 1842 (1842-05-19)[2] – June 27, 1844 (1844-06-27)
Predecessor John C. Bennett
Successor Chancy Robison[3]
Military career
Allegiance USA
Service/branch Illinois State Militia
Rank Lieutenant General[4]
Commands held Nauvoo Legion
Personal details
Born Joseph Smith, Jr.
(1805-12-23)December 23, 1805
Sharon, Vermont, United States
Died June 27, 1844(1844-06-27) (aged 38)
Carthage, Illinois, United States
Resting place Smith Family Cemetery
Spouse Emma Hale, various others
Children Julia Murdock Smith, Joseph Smith III, others.
Parents Joseph Smith, Sr.
Lucy Mack Smith
Signature of Joseph Smith Jr.

Joseph Smith, Jr. (December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844) was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism. When he was twenty-four, Smith published the Book of Mormon; and by the time of his death fourteen years later, he had attracted tens of thousands of followers and founded a religion and religious culture that continues to the present.

Smith was born in Church of Christ, calling it a restoration of the early Christian church. Members of the church were later called "Latter Day Saints", or "Mormons".

In 1831, Smith and his followers moved west, planning to build a communalistic American Zion. They first gathered in Kirtland, Ohio and established an outpost in Independence, Missouri which was intended to be Zion's "center place". During the 1830s, Smith sent out missionaries, published revelations, and supervised construction of an expensive temple. Nevertheless, the collapse of a church-sponsored bank and violent skirmishes with non-Mormon Missourians caused Smith and his followers to establish a new settlement at Nauvoo, Illinois, where he became both 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.[5] After Smith was imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois, he was killed when a mob stormed the jailhouse.

Smith published many Moses and Elijah, and he is considered the founder of several religious denominations, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ.


  • Life 1
    • Early years (1805–27) 1.1
    • Founding a church (1827–30) 1.2
    • Life in Ohio (1831–38) 1.3
    • Life in Missouri (1838–39) 1.4
    • Life in Nauvoo, Illinois (1839–44) 1.5
    • Death 1.6
  • Legacy 2
    • Impact 2.1
    • Religious denominations 2.2
  • Family and descendants 3
  • Revelations 4
    • Book of Mormon 4.1
    • Moses and Abraham 4.2
    • Other revelations 4.3
  • Views and teachings 5
    • Cosmology and theology 5.1
    • Religious authority and ritual 5.2
    • Theology of family 5.3
      • Polygamy 5.3.1
    • Political views 5.4
    • Ethics and behavior 5.5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Early years (1805–27)

Joseph Smith, Jr. was born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, to Lucy Mack Smith and her husband Joseph, a merchant and farmer.[6] After suffering a crippling bone infection when he was seven, the younger Smith hobbled around on crutches for three years.[7] In 1816–17, after an ill-fated business venture and three years of crop failures, the Smith family moved to the western New York village of Palmyra, and eventually took a mortgage on a 100-acre (40 ha) farm in the nearby town of Manchester.

During the Second Great Awakening, the region was a hotbed of religious enthusiasm; and between 1817 and 1825, there were several camp meetings and revivals in the Palmyra area.[8] Although Smith's parents disagreed about religion, the family was caught up in this excitement.[9] Smith later said he became interested in religion at about the age of twelve; without doubt, he participated in church classes and read the Bible. As a teenager, he may have been sympathetic to Methodism.[10] With other family members, Smith also engaged in religious folk magic, not an uncommon practice at the time.[11] Both his parents and his maternal grandfather reportedly had visions or dreams that they believed communicated messages from God.[12] Smith said that although he had become concerned about the welfare of his soul, he was confused by the claims of competing religious denominations.[13]

Years later Smith said that in 1820 he had received a [15] Smith said he told the experience to a preacher, who dismissed the story with contempt; but the experience was largely unknown, even to most Mormons, until the 1840s.[16] Although Smith may have understood the event as a personal conversion, this "First Vision" later grew in importance among Mormons, who today see it as the founding event of Mormonism.[17]

Smith said he received golden plates from the angel Moroni at the Hill Cumorah.

Smith said that in 1823 while praying one night for forgiveness from his sins, he was visited by an angel named Moroni, who 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 in Manchester near his home.[18] Smith said he attempted to remove the plates the next morning but was unsuccessful because the angel prevented him.[19] Smith reported that during the next four years, he made annual visits to the hill but each time returned without the plates.[20]

Meanwhile, the Smith family faced financial hardship due in part to the November 1823 death of Smith's oldest brother Alvin, who had assumed a leadership role in the family.[21] Family members supplemented their meager farm income by hiring out for odd jobs and working as treasure seekers, a type of magical supernaturalism common during the period.[22] Smith was said to have an ability to locate lost items by looking into a seer stone, which he also used in treasure hunting, including several unsuccessful attempts to find buried treasure sponsored by a wealthy farmer in Chenango County, New York.[23] In 1826, Smith was brought before a Chenango County court for "glass-looking", or pretending to find lost treasure.[24] The result of the proceeding remains unclear as primary sources report various conflicting outcomes.[25]

While boarding at the Hale house in Harmony, Pennsylvania, Smith met and began courting Emma Hale. When Smith proposed marriage, Emma's father Isaac Hale objected because Smith was "a stranger" without a proven reputation and had no means of supporting his daughter other than money digging.[26] Smith and Emma eloped and were married on January 18, 1827, after which the couple began boarding with Smith's parents in Manchester. Later that year, when Smith promised to abandon treasure seeking, Hale offered to let the couple to live on his property in Harmony and help Smith get started in business.[27]

Smith said that he made his last annual visit to the hill on September 22, 1827, taking Emma with him.[28] This time, he said he retrieved the plates and put them in a locked chest. He said the angel commanded him not to show the plates to anyone else but to publish their translation, reputed to be the religious record of indigenous Americans.[29] Although Smith had left his treasure hunting company, his former associates believed he had double-crossed them by taking for himself what they considered joint property.[30] After they ransacked places where a competing treasure-seer said the plates were hidden, Smith decided to leave Palmyra.[31]

Founding a church (1827–30)

In October 1827, Smith and his pregnant wife moved from Palmyra to Harmony (now Oakland), Pennsylvania, aided by money from a relatively prosperous neighbor, Martin Harris.[32] Living near his in-laws, Smith transcribed some characters that he said were engraved on the plates, and then dictated a translation to his wife.[33]

In February 1828, Martin Harris arrived to assist Smith by transcribing his dictation. Harris also took a sample of the characters to a few prominent scholars, including Charles Anthon, who Harris said initially authenticated the characters and their translation but then retracted his opinion after learning that Smith was supposed to have received the plates from an angel.[34] Anthon denied Harris's account of the meeting, claiming instead that he had tried to convince Harris that he had been the victim of a fraud. Nevertheless, Harris returned to Harmony in April 1828, encouraged to continue as Smith's scribe.[35]

Smith continued to dictate to Harris until mid-June 1828, when Harris began having doubts about the project, fueled in part by his wife's skepticism. Harris convinced Smith to let him take the existing 116 pages of manuscript to Palmyra to show a few family members, including his wife.[36] Harris lost the manuscript—of which there was no other copy—at about the same time as Smith's wife Emma gave birth to a stillborn son.[37] Smith said that as punishment for losing the manuscript the angel took away the plates and revoked his ability to translate. During this dark period Smith briefly attended Methodist meetings with his wife until a cousin of hers objected to inclusion of a "practicing necromancer" on the Methodist class roll.[38]

Cover page of the Book of Mormon, original 1830 edition

Smith said that the angel returned the plates to him on September 22, 1828,[39] and he resumed dictation in April 1829, after he met Oliver Cowdery, who replaced Harris as his scribe.[40] They worked fulltime on the manuscript between April and early June 1829, and then moved to Fayette, New York, where they continued to work at the home of Cowdery's friend Peter Whitmer.[41] When the narrative described an institutional church and a requirement for baptism, Smith and Cowdery baptized each other.[42] Dictation was completed around July 1, 1829.[43]

Although Smith had previously refused to show the plates to anyone, he told Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer that they would be allowed to see them.[44] These men, known collectively as the Three Witnesses—along with a later group of Eight Witnesses composed of male members of the Whitmer and Smith families—signed statements testifying that they had seen the golden plates; the eight witnesses also said they had actually handled the plates.[45] According to Smith, the angel Moroni took back the plates once Smith finished using them.

The completed work, the Church of Christ, and small branches were established in Palmyra, Fayette, and Colesville, New York.[46] The Book of Mormon brought Smith regional notoriety and opposition from those who remembered his money-digging and the 1826 Chenango County trial.[47] After Cowdery baptized several new members, the Mormons received threats of mob violence; and before Smith could confirm the newly baptized members, he was arrested and brought to trial as a disorderly person.[48] He was acquitted, but both he and Cowdery had to flee Colesville to escape a gathering mob. In probable reference to this period of flight, Smith said that Peter, James, and John had appeared to him and had ordained him and Cowdery to a higher priesthood.[49]

Smith's authority was undermined when Oliver Cowdery, Hiram Page, and other church members also claimed to receive revelations.[50] In response, Smith dictated a revelation which clarified his office as a prophet and an apostle and which declared that only he held "the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations" with the ability to inscribe scripture for the church.[51] Shortly after the conference, Smith dispatched Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and others on a mission to proselytize Native Americans.[52] Cowdery was also assigned the task of locating the site of the New Jerusalem.[53]

On their way to Missouri, Cowdery's party passed through northeastern Ohio, where Sidney Rigdon and over a hundred followers of his variety of Campbellite Restorationism converted to Mormonism, more than doubling the size of the church.[54] Rigdon soon visited New York and quickly became Smith's primary assistant.[55] With growing opposition in New York, Smith gave forth as revelation that Kirtland was the eastern boundary of the New Jerusalem and that his followers must gather there.[56]

Life in Ohio (1831–38)

When Smith moved to Kirtland, Ohio in January 1831, he encountered a religious culture that included enthusiastic demonstrations of spiritual gifts, including fits and trances, rolling on the ground, and speaking in tongues.[57] Smith tamed these outbursts by producing two revelations that brought the Kirtland congregation under his own authority. Rigdon's followers had also been practicing a form of communalism, and this Smith adopted, calling it the United Order.[58] Smith had promised church elders that in Kirtland they would receive an endowment of heavenly power, and at the June 1831 general conference, he introduced the greater authority of a High ("Melchizedek") Priesthood to the church hierarchy.[59]

Angry men surrounding Smith at night
A mob tarred and feathered Smith in 1832.

Converts poured into Kirtland. By the summer of 1835, there were fifteen hundred to two thousand Mormons in the vicinity, many expecting Smith to lead them shortly to the Millennial kingdom.[60] Though the mission to the Indians had been a failure, the missionaries sent on their way by a government Indian agent, Cowdery reported that he had found the site of the New Jerusalem in Jackson County, Missouri.[61] After Smith visited in July 1831, he agreed, pronouncing the frontier hamlet of Independence the "center place" of Zion.[62] Nevertheless, Rigdon disapproved, and for most of the 1830s the church remained divided between Ohio and Missouri.[63] Smith continued to live in Ohio, but visited Missouri again in early 1832 in order to prevent a rebellion of prominent church members, including Cowdery, who believed the church in Missouri was being neglected.[64] Smith's trip was hastened by a mob of Ohio residents who were incensed over the United Order and Smith's political power; the mob beat Smith and Rigdon unconscious, tarred and feathered them, and left them for dead.[65]

In Jackson County, Missouri residents resented the Mormon newcomers for both political and religious reasons.[66] Tension increased until July 1833, when non-Mormons forcibly evicted the Mormons and destroyed their property. Smith advised them to bear the violence patiently until they were attacked a fourth time, after which they could fight back.[67] After armed bands exchanged fire and one Mormon and two non-Mormons were killed, the old settlers brutally expelled the Mormons from the county.[68]

Smith ended the communitarian experiment and changed the name of the church to the "Church of Latter Day Saints" before leading a small paramilitary expedition, later called Zion's Camp, to aid the Missouri Mormons.[69] As a military endeavor, the expedition was a failure; the men were outnumbered and suffered from dissension and a cholera outbreak.[70] Nevertheless, Zion's Camp transformed Mormon leadership, and many future church leaders came from among the participants.[71] Smith gave a revelation saying that to redeem Zion, his followers must receive an endowment in the Kirtland Temple, then under construction.[72]

A white two-story building with a steeple
Smith dedicated the Kirtland (Ohio) Temple in 1836.

After the Camp returned, Smith drew heavily from its participants to establish five governing bodies in the church, all originally of equal authority to check one another; among these five groups was a quorum of twelve apostles.[73]

In March 1836, at the dedication of the costly temple, many participants in the promised endowment saw visions, experienced angelic visitations, spoke in tongues, and prophesied.[74]

In late 1837, a series of internal disputes led to the collapse of the Kirtland Mormon community.[75] Smith was blamed for having promoted a church-sponsored bank that failed, and he was accused of having a sexual relationship with his serving girl, Fanny Alger.[76] Building the temple had left the church deeply in debt, and Smith was hounded by creditors.[77] After Smith heard about treasure supposedly hidden in Salem, Massachusetts, he traveled there and received a revelation that God had "much treasure in this city".[78] After a month, he returned empty-handed.[79] Smith and other church leaders then set up a joint stock company to act as a quasi-bank, establishing the Kirtland Safety Society in January 1837, which issued bank notes capitalized in part by real estate.[80] Smith invested heavily in the notes and encouraged the Latter Day Saints to buy them, but the bank failed within a month.[81] As a result, the Latter Day Saints in Kirtland suffered intense pressure from debt collectors and severe price volatility. Smith was held responsible for the failure, and there were widespread defections from the church, including many of Smith's closest advisers.[82] After a warrant was issued for Smith's arrest on a charge of banking fraud, Smith and Rigdon fled Kirtland for Missouri on the night of January 12, 1838.[83]

Life in Missouri (1838–39)

By 1838, Smith had abandoned plans to redeem Zion in Jackson County. After Smith and Rigdon arrived in Missouri, the town of Far West became the new Mormon "Zion".[84] In Missouri, the church also received a new name, the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints", and construction began on a new temple.[85] In the weeks and months after Smith and Rigdon arrived at Far West, thousands of Latter Day Saints followed them from Kirtland.[86] Smith encouraged the settlement of land outside Caldwell County, instituting a settlement in Adam-ondi-Ahman, in Daviess County.

During this time, a church council expelled many of the oldest and most prominent leaders of the church, including John Whitmer, David Whitmer, W. W. Phelps, and Oliver Cowdery.[87] These men came to be known collectively as the "dissenters." Smith explicitly approved of the church council's actions in expelling them.[88]

Political and religious differences between old Missourians and newly-arriving Mormon settlers provoked tensions between the two groups, much as they had years earlier in Jackson County. By this time, Smith's experiences with mob violence led him to believe that his faith's survival required greater militancy against Danites to intimidate Mormon dissenters and oppose anti-Mormon militia units.[90] While it is unclear how much Smith knew of the Danites' actions, he apparently approved of their activities of which he knew.[91] After Rigdon delivered a sermon which implied that the dissenters had no place among the Mormon community, the Danites took it upon themselves to forcibly expel the dissenters from the county.[92]

In a keynote speech at the town's Fourth of July celebration, Rigdon declared that Mormons would no longer tolerate persecutions in Missouri, and spoke of a "war of extermination" to be waged against the mobs should Mormons be attacked.[93] Smith implicitly endorsed the speech.[94] Many non-Mormon residents of Missouri saw Rigdon's oration as a thinly-veiled threat; they produced a flood of anti-Mormon rhetoric in Missouri newspapers, as well as stump speeches during the political campaign leading up to the 1838 Missouri elections.[95]

Violence erupted in Daviess County on August 6, 1838, when non-Mormons in Gallatin tried to counteract the growing influence of Mormons by preventing them from voting.[96] Although there were no immediate deaths, the election-day scuffles initiated the 1838 Mormon War, which quickly escalated as non-Mormon vigilantes raided and burned Mormon farms, and Danites and other Mormon forces pillaged non-Mormon towns.[97] Smith's personal role in stoking the violence throughout this period is debated.[98] When Mormons attacked the Missouri state militia at the Battle of Crooked River in an attempt to rescue some captured Mormons, Governor Lilburn Boggs ordered that the Mormons be "exterminated or driven from the state".[99] Before word of this order got out, non-Mormon vigilantes surprised and killed about eighteen Mormons in the Haun's Mill massacre, effectively ending the war.[100]

Men are shuffled into a small brick building
Smith was held for four months in Liberty jail.

On November 1, 1838, the Latter Day Saints surrendered to 2,500 state troops and agreed to forfeit their property and leave the state.[101] Smith was immediately brought before a military court for treason and was nearly executed. However, Smith's legal counsel Alexander Doniphan successfully argued for him to be tried instead as a civilian; in so doing, Doniphan probably saved Smith's life.[102] Smith was then sent to a state court for a preliminary hearing, where several of his former allies testified against him.[103] Smith and five others, including Rigdon, were charged with "overt acts of treason", and transferred to the jail at Liberty, Missouri, to await trial.[104]

Smith's months in prison with Rigdon strained their relationship, and Brigham Young, then-president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, rose in prominence as Smith's defender.[105] Under Young's leadership, about 14,000 Latter Day Saints made their way to Illinois and searched for land to purchase.[106] Smith spent his time in prison writing contemplative statements directed mainly to Mormons.[107] He did not deny responsibility for the Danites, but he said he had been ignorant of Avard's extreme militancy.[108] Many Latter Day Saints now considered Smith a fallen prophet, but he assured them he still had the heavenly keys.[109] He directed them to collect and publish all their stories of persecution, and to moderate their antagonism toward non-Mormons.[110] On April 6, 1839, after a grand jury hearing in Davis County, Smith and his companions escaped custody, perhaps with the guards' assistance, while they were being escorted to Boone County.[111]

Life in Nauvoo, Illinois (1839–44)

After newspapers throughout the country criticized Missouri for expelling the Mormons, Illinois accepted the refugees gathering along the banks of the Mississippi River.[112] Smith purchased high-priced swampy woodland in the hamlet of Commerce and urged his followers to move there.[113] Promoting the image of the Latter Day Saints as an oppressed minority, he unsuccessfully petitioned the federal government for help in obtaining reparations.[114] In the summer of 1839, the Latter Day Saints in Nauvoo suffered from widespread malaria. Also that summer, Smith sent Brigham Young and other apostles to missions in Europe, where they found willing converts, many of them poor factory workers.[115]

On horseback, Smith leads soldiers bearing flags
Depiction of Smith at head of the Nauvoo Legion

The religion also attracted a few wealthy and influential converts, including John C. Bennett, the Illinois quartermaster general.[116] Bennett used his connections in the Illinois legislature to obtain an unusually liberal charter for the new city, which Smith named "Nauvoo" (Hebrew נָאווּ, meaning "to be beautiful").[117] The charter granted the city virtual autonomy, authorized a university, and granted Nauvoo habeas corpus power—which saved Smith's life by allowing him to fend off extradition to Missouri.[118] Though Mormon authorities controlled Nauvoo's civil government, the city promised an unusually liberal guarantee of religious freedom.[119] The charter also authorized the Nauvoo Legion, an autonomous militia whose actions were limited only by state and federal constitutions. "Lieutenant General" Smith and "Major General" Bennett became its commanders, thereby controlling by far the largest body of armed men in Illinois.[120] Smith made Bennett Assistant President of the church, and Bennett was elected Nauvoo's first mayor.[121] In 1841, Smith began revealing the doctrine of plural marriage to a few of his closest male associates, including Bennett, who began using it as a license for free love.[122] When embarrassing rumors of "spiritual wifery" got abroad, Smith forced Bennett's resignation as Nauvoo mayor. In retaliation, Bennett wrote "lurid exposés of life in Nauvoo".[123]

People enter and leave the ornate Nauvoo Temple
Smith planned the construction of the Nauvoo Temple, which was completed after his death.

The early Nauvoo years were a period of doctrinal innovation. Smith introduced baptism for the dead in 1840, and in 1841, construction began on the Nauvoo Temple as a place for recovering lost ancient knowledge.[124] An 1841 revelation promised the restoration of the "fulness of the priesthood", and in May 1842, Smith inaugurated a revised endowment or "first anointing".[125] The endowment resembled rites of freemasonry that Smith had observed two months earlier when he had been initiated into the Nauvoo Masonic lodge.[126] At first, the endowment was open only to men, who were initiated into the Anointed Quorum. For women, Smith introduced the Relief Society, a service club and sorority within which Smith predicted women would receive "the keys of the kingdom".[127] Smith also elaborated on his plan for a millennial kingdom. No longer envisioning the building of Zion in Nauvoo, Smith viewed Zion as encompassing all of North and South America, with Mormon settlements being "stakes" of Zion's metaphorical tent.[128] Zion also became less a refuge from an impending tribulation than a great building project.[129] In the summer of 1842, Smith revealed a plan to establish the millennial Kingdom of God, which would eventually establish theocratic rule over the whole earth.[130]

By mid-1842, popular opinion had turned against the Latter Day Saints. After an unknown assailant shot at Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs in May 1842, anti-Mormons in Illinois reported rumors that Smith had predicted Boggs's death.[131] Circumstantial evidence suggested that the shooter was Smith's bodyguard, Porter Rockwell, who was later tried and acquitted.[132] Nevertheless, Boggs ordered Smith's extradition, and Smith went into hiding, believing that if he went to Missouri he would be murdered.[133] Smith ultimately avoided extradition when a U.S. district attorney for Illinois passed along his opinion that the extradition was unconstitutional.[134] Another extradition attempt was made in June 1843, when Illinois Governor Thomas Ford reluctantly agreed to turn Smith over to Missouri on the old charge of treason. Two Missourian officers arrested Smith, but failed to bring him to Missouri when Smith was released on a writ of habeas corpus.[135] While this ended the Missourians' attempts at extradition, it caused significant political fallout in Illinois.[136]

In December 1843, Smith petitioned Congress to make Nauvoo an independent territory with the right to call out federal troops in its defense.[137] Smith then wrote to the leading presidential candidates and asked them what they would do to protect the Mormons. After receiving noncommittal or negative responses, Smith announced his own Council of Fifty with authority to decide which national or state laws Mormons should obey.[139] The Council was also to select a site for a large Mormon settlement in Texas, California, or Oregon, where Mormons could live under theocratic law beyond other governmental control.[140]


A 19th-century painting depicting the mob attack inside Carthage Jail

By the spring of 1844, a rift developed between Smith and a half dozen of his closest associates.[141] Most notably, William Law, Smith's trusted counselor, and Robert Foster, a general of the Nauvoo Legion, disagreed with Smith about how to manage Nauvoo's economy.[142] Both also said that Smith had proposed marriage to their wives.[143] Believing the dissidents were plotting against his life, Smith excommunicated them on April 18, 1844.[144] These dissidents formed a competing church and the following month, at Carthage, the county seat, they procured indictments against Smith for perjury and polygamy.[145]

On June 7, the dissidents published the first (and only) issue of the Nauvoo Expositor, calling for reform within the church and appealing to the political views of the county's anti-Mormons.[146] The paper decried Smith's new "doctrines of many Gods", alluded to Smith's theocratic aspirations, and called for a repeal of the Nauvoo city charter.[147] It also attacked Smith's practice of polygamy, implying that Smith was using religion as a pretext to draw unassuming women to Nauvoo in order to seduce and marry them.[148]

Fearing the newspaper would bring the countryside down on the Mormons, the Nauvoo city council declared the Expositor a public nuisance and ordered the Nauvoo Legion to destroy the press.[149] Smith, who feared another mob attack, supported the action, not realizing that suppression of the press would sooner incite an attack than libel would.[150]

Smith was shot multiple times before and after falling from the window.[151]

Destruction of the newspaper provoked a strident call to arms from Thomas C. Sharp, editor of the Warsaw Signal and longtime critic of Smith.[152] Fearing an uprising, Smith mobilized the Nauvoo Legion on June 18 and declared martial law. Officials in Carthage responded by mobilizing their small detachment of the state militia, and Governor Thomas Ford appeared, threatening to raise a larger militia unless Smith and the Nauvoo city council surrendered themselves.[153] Smith initially fled across the Mississippi River, but shortly returned and surrendered to Ford.[154] On June 23, Smith and his brother Hyrum rode to Carthage to stand trial for inciting a riot.[155] Once the Smiths were in custody, the charges were increased to treason.[156]

Current gravesite of Joseph, Emma, and Hyrum Smith, in Nauvoo, Illinois.

On June 27, 1844, an armed mob with blackened faces stormed Carthage Jail where Joseph and Hyrum were being held. Hyrum, who was trying to secure the door, was killed instantly with a shot to the face. Smith fired a pepper-box pistol[157] that a friend had lent him for self-defense, then sprang for the window.[158] He was shot multiple times before falling out the window, crying, "Oh Lord my God!" He died shortly after hitting the ground, but was shot several times more before the mob dispersed.[159] Five men were later tried for his murder, but all were acquitted.[160] Smith was buried in Nauvoo, and is currently interred there at the Smith Family Cemetery.

Throughout his life Smith had been sharply criticized by newspaper editors, and after his death newspapers were almost unanimous in portraying Smith as a religious fanatic, ignoring his mark on history.[161] Conversely, within Mormonism, Smith was memorialized first and foremost as a prophet, martyred to seal the testimony of his faith.[162]



Smith attracted thousands of devoted followers before his death in 1844 and millions in the century that followed.[163] Among Mormons, he is regarded as a prophet on par with Moses and Elijah.[164]

Mormons and ex-Mormons have produced a large amount of scholarly work about Smith, and to a large extent the result has been two discordant pictures of very different people: a man of God on the one hand, and on the other, a fraud preying on the ignorance of his followers.[165] Believers tended to focus on his achievements and religious teachings, ignoring his personal defects, while detractors focused on his mistakes, legal troubles, and controversial doctrines. During the first half of the 20th century several writers advanced theories that Smith suffered from psychological disorders such as epileptic seizures, paranoid delusions, or manic-depressive illness that might explain his visions and revelations.[166] Many modern biographers disagree with these ideas.[167] More nuanced interpretations range from viewing Smith as a prophet who had normal human weaknesses, a "pious fraud" who believed he was called of God to preach repentance and felt justified inventing visions in order to convert people,[168] or a gifted "mythmaker" who was the product of his Yankee environment.[169] Biographers, Mormon and non-Mormon, agree that Smith was one of the most influential, charismatic, and innovative figures in American religious history.[170]

Buildings named in honor of Smith

Memorials to Smith include the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Joseph Smith Building on the campus of Brigham Young University, and a granite obelisk marking his birth place.

In 2005 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints produced the film Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration.

Religious denominations

Smith's death resulted in a succession crisis.[171] Smith had proposed several ways to choose his successor, but had never clarified his preference.[172] Smith's brother Hyrum, had he survived, would have had the strongest claim, followed by Smith's brother

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Works by Joseph Smith, Jr. at Project Gutenberg
  • Official LDS page about Joseph Smith
  •—An LDS Church project compiling primary documents relating to Joseph Smith

External links

  •  .
  • Avery, V.T.; Newell, L.K. (1980), "The Lion and the Lady: Brigham Young and Emma Smith", Utah Historical Quarterly 48 (1): 81–97 .
  • Bergera, Gary James, ed. (1989), Line Upon Line: Essays on Mormon Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Signature Books,  .
  •  .
  •  .
  • Brooke, John L. (1994), The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644–1844, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,  .
  •  .
  • Bushman, Richard Lyman (2008), Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction, New York: Oxford University Press,  .
  •  .
  • Foster, Lawrence (1981), Religion and Sexuality: The Shakers, the Mormons, and the Oneida Community, New York: Oxford University Press,  .
  •  .
  • Hill, Donna (1977), Joseph Smith: The first Mormon, Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co.,  .
  •  .
  • Hodgins, Gordon Frank (1984). A comparison of the theology of salvation in the teachings of Martin Luther and Joseph Smith, Jr. (M.A. thesis). Wilfrid Laurier University. 
  •  .
  • Larson, Stan (1978), "The King Follett Discourse: A Newly Amalgamated Text", BYU Studies 18 (2): 193–208 .
  • Mack, Solomon (1811), A Narraitve [sic] of the Life of Solomon Mack, Windsor: Solomon Mack,  .
  • Marquardt, H. Michael; Walters, Wesley P (1994), Inventing Mormonism, Signature Books,  .
  • Marquardt, H. Michael (1999), The Joseph Smith Revelations: Text and Commentary, Signature Books,  .
  • Marquardt, H. Michael (2005), The Rise of Mormonism: 1816–1844, Grand Rapids, MI: Xulon Press, p. 632,  .
  • Neilson, Reid Larkin; Givens, Terryl, eds. (2008), Joseph Smith Jr.: reappraisals after two centuries, Oxford University Press,  .
  •  .
  •  .
  •  .
  •  .
  • Persuitte, David (2000), Joseph Smith and the origins of the Book of Mormon, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co.,  .
  •  .
  • Prince, Gregory A (1995), Power From On High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood, Salt Lake City: Signature Books,  .
  •  .
  •  .
  •  .
  •  .
  •  .
  •  .
  •  .
  •  .
  • Shipps, Jan (1985), Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition, Chicago: University of Illinois Press,  .
  • Smith, George D. (1994), "Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy, 1841–46: A Preliminary Demographic Report",  .
  • Smith, George D (2008), Nauvoo Polygamy: "... but we called it celestial marriage", Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books,  .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr. (1830), The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, Upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi, Palmyra, New York: E. B. Grandin,  . See Book of Mormon.
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr. (1832), "History of the Life of Joseph Smith", in  .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr.;   . See Doctrine and Covenants.
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr. (March 1, 1842), "Church History [Wentworth Letter]",  . See Wentworth letter.
  •  . See The History of Joseph Smith by His Mother
  •  .
  •  .
  •  .
  • Widmer, Kurt (2000), Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830–1915, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland,  .


  1. ^ Church of Christ was the official name on April 6, 1830: Shields, Steven (1990), Divergent Paths of the Restoration (Fourth ed.), Independence, Missouri: Restoration Research,  . In 1834, the official name was changed to Church of the Latter Day Saints and then in 1838 to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: "Minutes of a Conference", Evening and Morning Star, vol. 2, no. 20, p. 160. The spelling "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" was adopted by the LDS Church in Utah in 1851, after Joseph Smith's death, and is today specified in Doctrine and Covenants 115:4 (LDS Church edition).
  2. ^ Garr, Arnold K. "Joseph Smith: Mayor of Nauvoo". pp. 5–6. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  3. ^ Jenson, Andrew. The Historical Record: A Monthly Periodical. Salt Lake City, Utah. p. 843. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints volume VI (1912), pp. 430-432.
  6. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 9, 30); Smith (1832, p. 1).
  7. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 21).
  8. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 36–37) (noting the great revival of 1816 and 1817); Vogel (2004, pp. 27, 30) (noting Palmyra revivals in 1817 and 1824–5); Quinn (1998, p. 136) (evidence of religious revivals during 1819–20 in Palmyra and surrounding communities).
  9. ^ Vogel (2004, p. xx) (Smith's family was "marked by religious conflict."); Hill (1989, pp. 10–11) (noting "tension between [Smith's] mother and his father regarding religion"); Brooke (1994, p. 129).
  10. ^ Vogel (2004, pp. 26–7) (that around 1817 Smith was beginning to feel his own religious stirrings); D. Michael Quinn (December 20, 2006). "Joseph Smith's Experience of a Methodist "Camp-Meeting" in 1820". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. p. 3.  (arguing that a Methodist camp meeting in June 1818 provided a local context for the statement from Smith's "earliest autobiography" and that revivals and camp meetings occurred in and around Palmyra during 1819–20).
  11. ^ Quinn (1998, pp. 30–31) ("Joseph Smith's family was typical of many early Americans who practiced various forms of Christian folk magic."); Bushman (2005, p. 51) ("Magic and religion melded in the Smith family culture."); Shipps (1985, pp. 7–8); Remini (2002, pp. 16, 33); Hill (1977, p. 53) ("Even the more vivid manifestations of religious experience, such as dreams, visions and revelations, were not uncommon in Joseph's day, neither were they generally viewed with scorn.")
  12. ^ Quinn (1998, pp. 14–16, 137); Bushman (2005, pp. 26, 36); Brooke (1994, pp. 150–51); (Mack 1811, p. 25); Smith (1853, pp. 54–59, 70–74).
  13. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 38–9) ("He had two questions on his mind: which church was right, and how to be saved."); Vogel (2004, p. 30) (saying Smith's Brodie (1971, p. 21) (Smith wrote that he was troubled by religious revivals and went into the woods to seek guidance of the Lord); Remini (2002, p. 37) ("He wanted desperately to join a church but could not decide which one to embrace.")
  14. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 39) ("Probably in early 1820, Joseph determined to pray"); Brodie (1971, p. 21) (when he was fourteen years old); Vogel (2004, p. 30) (dating the vision to 1820–21 and rejecting the suggestion that the story was invented later); Quinn (1998, p. 136) (dating the first vision to 1820).
  15. ^ Remini (2002, pp. 37–38); Bushman (2005, p. 39) (When Smith first described the vision twelve years after the event, "[h]e explained the vision as he must have first understood it, as a personal conversion"); Vogel (2004, p. 30) (the vision confirmed to Smith what he and his father already suspected: that the world was spiritually dead).
  16. ^ Vogel (2004, p. 30); Remini (2002, p. 40) ("The clergyman, Joseph later reported, was aghast at what he was told and treated the story with contempt. He said that there were no such things as visions or revelations ... that they ended with the Apostles); Allen (1966) ("... it would appear that the general church membership did not receive information about the first vision until 1840s and that the story certainly did not hold the prominent place in Mormon thought that it does today.")
  17. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 39); Vogel (2004, p. 30) ("Joseph's 1832 account [of his vision] is typical of a conversion experience as described by many others in the early nineteenth century"); Remini (2002, p. 39) ("Joseph's experience in 1820 is known today by Mormons as the First Vision ... the beginning of the restoration of the Gospel and the commencement of a new dispensation. Not that Joseph realized these implications at the time. His full understanding of what had happened to him came later").
  18. ^ Quinn (1998, pp. 136–38); Bushman (2005, p. 43).
  19. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 50).
  20. ^ Quinn (1998, pp. 163–64); Bushman (2005, p. 54).
  21. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 42)
  22. ^ Bushman (2008, p. 21); Bushman (2005, pp. 33,48)
  23. ^ Brooke (1994, pp. 152–53); Quinn (1998, pp. 43–44, 54–57); Bushman (2005, pp. 45–53), Persuitte (2000, pp. 33–53), Newell & Avery (1994, pp. 17).
  24. ^ (state), New York; Butler, Benjamin Franklin; Spencer, John Canfield (1829), Revised Statutes of the State of New York 1, Albany, NY: Packard and Van Benthuysen, p. 638: part I, title 5, § 1  (According to New York law at the time "[A]ll persons pretending to tell fortunes, or where lost or stolen goods may be found,...shall be deemed disorderly persons."); According to Bushman, this practice was "an illegal activity in New York because it was often practiced by swindlers". Bushman (2008, p. 21)
  25. ^ For a survey of the primary sources, see Dan Vogel, "Rethinking the 1826 Judicial Decision", Mormon Scripture Studies.
  26. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 53) (Hale had come to disapprove of Smith's moneydigging; Vogel (2004, p. 89); Quinn (1998, p. 164)
  27. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 53–54).
  28. ^ Quinn (1998, pp. 163–64) Smith had presumably learned from his stone that Emma was the key to obtaining the plates; Bushman (2005, p. 54) (noting accounts stating that Emma was the key).
  29. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 54).
  30. ^ Harris (1859, p. 167).
  31. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 60–61); Remini (2002, p. 55).
  32. ^ Remini (2002, p. 55); Newell & Avery (1994, p. 2); Bushman (2005, pp. 62–63); Smith (1853, p. 113); Howe (1834).
  33. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 63); Remini (2002, p. 56); Roberts (1902, p. 19);Howe (1834, pp. 270–71) (Smith sat behind a curtain and passed transcriptions to his wife or her brother); Smith called the characters he translated "reformed Egyptian."
  34. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 63–66) (the plan to use a scholar to authenticate the characters was part of a vision received by Harris; author notes that Smith's mother said the plan to authenticate the characters was arranged between Smith and Harris before Harris left Palmyra); Remini (2002, pp. 57–58).
  35. ^ Howe (1834, pp. 269–72) (Anthon's description of his meeting with Harris). But see Vogel (2004, p. 115) (arguing that Anthon's initial assessment was likely more positive than he would later admit); Roberts (1902, p. 20).
  36. ^ Smith (1853, pp. 117–18); Roberts (1902, p. 20).
  37. ^ (Bushman 2005, pp. 69–70).
  38. ^ (Bushman 2005, pp. 68–70).
  39. ^ (Phelps 1833, sec. 2:4–5) (revelation dictated by Smith stating that his gift to translate was temporarily revoked); Smith (1832, p. 5) (stating that the angel had taken away the plates and the Urim and Thummim); Smith (1853, p. 126).
  40. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 70) (Smith had dictated some, with Emma as scribe, but preparations for winter took precedence); Bushman (2005, p. 74) (Smith and Cowdery began dictation where the narrative left off after the lost 116 pages, now representing the Book of Mosiah. A revelation would later direct them not to re-translate the lost text, to ensure that the lost pages could not later be found and compared to the re-translation); Bushman (2005, p. 71) (Cowdery was a school teacher who had previously boarded with the Smith family); Bushman (2005, p. 73) ("Cowdery was open to belief in Joseph's powers because he had come to Harmony the possessor of a supernatural gift alluded to in a revelation ..." and his family had apparently engaged in treasure seeking and other magical practices); Quinn (1998, pp. 35–36, 121).
  41. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 70–74).
  42. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 5–6,15–20); Bushman (2005, pp. 74–75).
  43. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 78).
  44. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 77).
  45. ^ (Bushman 2005, pp. 77–79). There were two statements, one by a set of Three Witnesses and another by a set of Eight Witnesses. The two testimonies are undated, and the exact dates on which the Witnesses are said to have seen the plates is unknown.
  46. ^ Phelps (1833, p. 55) (noting that by July 1830, the church was "in Colesville, Fayette, and Manchester").
  47. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 117)(noting that area residents connected the discovery of the Book of Mormon with Smith's past career as a money digger); Brodie (1971, pp. 80–82,87) (discussing organized boycott of Book of Mormon by Palmyra residents, and opposition by Colesville and Bainbridge residents who remembered the 1826 trial).
  48. ^ (Bushman 2005, pp. 116–18).
  49. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 24–26); (Bushman 2005, p. 118).
  50. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 120) ("Oliver Cowdery and the Whitmer family began to conceive of themselves as independent authorities with the right to correct Joseph and receive revelation.")
  51. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 121); Phelps (1833, p. 67) ("[N]o one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church, excepting my servant Joseph, for he receiveth them even as Moses.")
  52. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 112).
  53. ^ Phelps (1833, p. 68) ("The New Jerusalem 'shall be on the borders by the Lamanites.'); Bushman (2005, p. 122) (church members knew that 'on the borders by the Lamanites' referred to Western Missouri, and Cowdery's mission in part was to 'locate the place of the New Jerusalem along this frontier'").
  54. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 124); Roberts (1902, pp. 120–124); F. Mark McKiernan, "The Conversion of Sidney Rigdon to Mormonism", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 5 (Summer 1970): 77. Parley Pratt said that the Mormon mission baptized 127 within two or three weeks "and this number soon increased to one thousand"."
  55. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 96); Bushman (2005, p. 124).
  56. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 96–97) (citing letter by Smith to Kirtland converts). In 1834, Smith designated Kirtland as one of the "stakes" of Zion, referring to the tent–stakes metaphor of Isaiah 54:2. Phelps (1833, pp. 79–80) ("And again, a commandment I give unto the church, that it is expedient in me that they should assemble together in the Ohio, until the time that my servant Oliver Cowdery shall return unto them."); Bushman (2005, pp. 124–25).
  57. ^ (Bushman 2005, pp. 150–52); Brodie (1971, pp. 97–100) (The "gifts" included hysterical fits and trances, frenzied rolling on the floor, loud and extended glossalalia, grimacing, and visions taken from parchments hanging in the night sky); Remini (2002, p. 95) ("Joseph quickly settled in and assumed control of the Kirtland Church.")
  58. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 104–108) (stating that the United Order of Enoch was Rigdon's conception (p. 108)); Bushman (2005, pp. 154–55); Hill (1977, p. 131) (Rigdon's communal group was called "the family")
  59. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 103,111–13); Phelps (1833, p. 83); Bushman (2005, pp. 125, 156–60); Quinn (1994, pp. 31–32); Roberts (1902, pp. 175–76).
  60. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 101–02, 121).
  61. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 108,110) (describing the mission as a "flat failure"); Bushman (2005, pp. 161) (Richard W. Cummins, U.S. Agent to the Shawnee and Delaware tribes issued an order to desist because the men had not received official permission to meet with and proselytize the tribes under his authority).
  62. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 162); Brodie (1971, p. 109); Smith et al. (1835, p. 154).
  63. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 115).
  64. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 119–22).
  65. ^ Remini (2002, pp. 109–10); Brodie (1971, pp. 119–20) (noting that Smith may have narrowly escaped being castrated); Bushman (2005, pp. 178–80).
  66. ^ These reasons included the settlers' understanding that the Mormons intended to appropriate their property and establish a Millennial political kingdom (Brodie (1971, pp. 130–31); Remini (2002, pp. 114)), their friendliness with the Indians (Brodie (1971, p. 130)); Remini (2002, pp. 114–15)), their perceived religious blasphemy (Remini 2002, p. 114), and especially the belief that they were abolitionists (Brodie (1971, pp. 131–33); Remini (2002, pp. 113–14)). Additionally, their rapid growth aroused fears that they would soon constitute a majority in local elections, and thus "rule the county." Bushman (2005, p. 222).
  67. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 181–83,235); Brodie (1971, pp. 115,135–36))Quinn (1994, pp. 82–83) (Smith's August 1833 revelation said that after the fourth attack, "the [Latter Day] Saints were "justified" by God in violence against any attack by any enemy "until they had avenged themselves on all their enemies, to the third and fourth generation", citing Smith et al. (1835, p. 218)).
  68. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 83–84); Bushman (2005, pp. 222–27); Brodie (1971, p. 137) (noting that the brutality of the Jackson Countians aroused sympathy for the Mormons and was almost universally deplored by the press).
  69. ^ Smith et al. (1835, p. 237); Roberts (1904, p. 37);Brodie (1971, pp. 141,146–58); Remini (2002, p. 115).
  70. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 235–46) (The leaders learned that the "governor would not escort them back to their lands; they would have to fight their way into [Jackson] county", which made a campaign of "self defense" impossible); Brodie (1971, p. 141) (Smith provided a revelation explaining that the church was unworthy to redeem Zion, in part because of the failure of the United Order); Roberts (1904, p. 108) (quoting text of revelation); Hill (1989, pp. 44–45) (noting that in addition to failure to unite under the celestial order, God was displeased the church had failed to make Zion's army sufficiently strong).
  71. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 159–160) (describing Zion's Camp as Smith's "second major failure"); Bushman (2005, pp. 246–247); Quinn (1994, p. 85), Quinn (1994, p. 85).
  72. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 156–57); Roberts (1904, p. 109) (text of revelation); Smith et al. (1835, p. 233) (Kirtland Temple "design[ed] to endow those whom [God] ha[s] chosen with power on high"); Prince (1995, p. 32 & n.104) (quoting revelation dated June 12, 1834 (Kirtland Revelation Book pp. 97–100) stating that the redemption of Zion "cannot be brought to pass until mine elders are endowed with power from on high; for, behold, I have prepared a greater endowment and blessing to be poured out upon them [than the 1831 endowment]").
  73. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 161) (The five equal councils were "the presidency, the apostles, the seventies, and the two high councils of Kirtland and Missouri").
  74. ^ Remini (2002, p. 116) ("The ultimate cost came to approximately $50,000, an enormous sum for a people struggling to stay alive."); (Bushman 2005, pp. 310–19); (Brodie 1971, p. 178) ("Five years before ... [Joseph] had found a spontaneous orgiastic revival in full progress and had ruthlessly stamped it out. Now he was intoxicating his followers with the same frenzy he had once so vigorously denounced.")
  75. ^ Brooke (1994, p. 221) ("Ultimately, the rituals and visions dedicating the Kirtland temple were not sufficient to hold the church together in the face of a mounting series of internal disputes," citing the failure of Zion's camp, the dispute concerning Fanny Alger, and new theological innovations).
  76. ^ (Bushman 2005, p. 322); Compton1997 (, pp. 25–42) (saying that Alger was "one of Joseph Smith's earliest plural wives"); Bushman (2005, p. 325) (speculating that Smith felt innocent of adultery presumably because he had married Alger).
  77. ^ (Bushman 2005, pp. 217, 329) The temple left a debt of $13,000, and Smith borrowed tens of thousands more to make land purchases and purchase inventory for a merchandise store. By 1837, Smith had run up a debt of over $100,000.
  78. ^ Quinn (1998, pp. 261–64); Brodie (1971, p. 192); Bushman (2005, p. 328).
  79. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 328); Brodie (1971, p. 193).
  80. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 328).
  81. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 195–96); Bushman (2005, pp. 328, 330, 334).
  82. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 331–32, 336–39).
  83. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 207); Bushman (2005, pp. 339–40); Hill (1977, p. 216).
  84. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 157); Hill (1977, pp. 181–82) (noting an account that Smith predicted in 1834 that Jackson County would be redeemed "within three years"); Roberts (1905, p. 24); (Bushman 2005, pp. 345, 384).
  85. ^ Roberts (1905, p. 24); Quinn (1994, p. 628); Brodie (1971, pp. 210, 222–23).
  86. ^ Remini (2002, p. 125); Brodie (1971, p. 210) Bushman (2005, pp. 341–46).
  87. ^ Marquardt (2005, p. 463) ; Remini (2002, p. 128); Quinn (1994, p. 93); Bushman (2005, pp. 324, 346–348) (The former three were excommunicated for various land purchases and sales they had made, which called their faithfulness into question. Cowdery, whose relationship with the church had been growing more strained for about a year, was charged with denying the faith, leaving his calling to make money, insinuating that Smith was guilty of adultery, and urging vexatious lawsuits against Mormons).
  88. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 347–48).
  89. ^ Quinn (1994, p. 92); (Brodie 1971, p. 213) ("From the bottom of his heart Joseph hated violence, but ... Joseph came to realize that in a country where a man's gun spoke faster than his wits, to be known as a pacifist was to invite plundering."); (Bushman 2005, p. 355).
  90. ^ Quinn (1994, p. 93); Brodie (1971, pp. 213, 215–216); Remini (2002, p. 129).
  91. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 346–52) ("Although Avard may have concealed the [full exent of Danite activity]..., Joseph certainly favored evicting dissenters and resisting mobs."); Quinn (1994, p. 93) (arguing that Smith and Rigdon were aware of the Danite organization and sanctioned their activities); Brodie (1971, pp. 215–16)(arguing that Sampson Avard had Smith's sanction); Hill (1977, p. 225) (concluding that Smith had at least peripheral involvement and gave early approval to Danite activities).
  92. ^ Rigdon said that "if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."; Brodie (1971, pp. 218–19) (The Danites issued a written death threat, and when that did not work they surrounded the dissenters' homes and "ordered their wives to pack their blankets and leave the county immediately"); Quinn (1994, pp. 94–95).
  93. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 222–23); Remini (2002, pp. 131–33).
  94. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 223); Quinn (1994, p. 96); Bushman (2005, p. 355) (Smith allowed the speech to be published as a pamphlet, and encouraged others to read it).
  95. ^ Remini (2002, p. 133).
  96. ^ (Bushman 2005, p. 357) (noting that in Daviess County, Missouri, non-Mormons "watched local government fall into the hands of people they saw as deluded fanatics").
  97. ^ Remini (2002, p. 134); Quinn (1994, pp. 96–99, 101) (Mormon forces, primarily the Danites, pillaged Millport and Gallatin, and when apostles Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde prepared an affidavit against these Mormon attacks, they were excommunicated); Brodie (1971, pp. 225–27,232) (Wagons returned from Millport and Gallatin "piled high with 'consecrated property'".); Bushman (2005, p. 357,371)); Bushman (2005, p. 352).
  98. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 230) (Critical historian Fawn Brodie notes that Smith and other Mormon leaders inflamed Mormon sentiment with militant rhetoric, including a promise to "establish our religion with the sword" if molested.); (Bushman 2005, pp. 370–72) (Sympathetic historian Richard Bushman argues that Smith's rhetoric may have produced greater militancy among Mormons than he had intended.)
  99. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 364) ("Resisting a band of vigilantes was justifiable, but attacking a militia company was resistance to the state."); Quinn (1994, p. 100) (stating that the Extermination Order and the Haun's Mill massacre resulted from Mormon actions at the Battle of Crooked River); Brodie (1971, p. 234) (noting that Boggs was also told about Mormon admissions that they had plundered Millport and Gallatin). In 1976, Missouri issued a formal apology for this order (Bushman 2005, p. 398).
  100. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 365–66); Quinn (1994, p. 97).
  101. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 366–67); Brodie (1971, p. 239).
  102. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 367) (noting that Smith was saved by Alexander Doniphan, a Missouri militia leader who had acted as the Latter Day Saints' legal council (pp. 242, 344)); Brodie (1971, p. 241).
  103. ^ (Bushman 2005, p. 369); (Brodie 1971, pp. 225–26, 243–45).
  104. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 369–70).
  105. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 245–46,51); Bushman (2005, pp. 375–77)) Rigdon was both sick and a whiner.
  106. ^ Remini (2002, p. 138); Brodie (1971, pp. 248–50).
  107. ^ Remini (2002, pp. 136–37); (Brodie 1971, pp. 245).
  108. ^ (Brodie 1971, pp. 246) The Danites dissolved in 1838, but their members formed the backbone of Smith's security forces in Nauvoo. (Quinn 1998, pp. 101–02).
  109. ^ (Brodie 1971, pp. 245–46).
  110. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 377–78).
  111. ^ (Bushman 2005, p. 375); Brodie (1971, pp. 253–55) (Saying that Smith bribed the guards with whiskey and money); (Bushman 2005, pp. 382, 635–36) (noting that the prisoners believed they were an embarrassment to Missouri officials, and that Boggs' Extermination Order would cause a scandal if widely publicized);  .
  112. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 246–47, 259) (noting rebukes by Missouri and Illinois newspapers, and "press all over the country"); Bushman (2005, p. 398) (Mormons were depicted as a persecuted minority); Bushman (2005, p. 381) (Latter Day Saints gathered near Quincy, Illinois.
  113. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 383–4).
  114. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 392–94,398–99); Brodie (1971, pp. 259–60) (Smith "saw to it that the sufferings of his people received national publicity").
  115. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 386, 409); Brodie (1971, pp. 258, 264–65).
  116. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 410–11).
  117. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 267–68); Bushman (2005, p. 412,415). A similar Hebrew word appears in Isaiah 52: 7.
  118. ^ Quinn (1994, p. 110); Brodie (1971, p. 273); Bushman (2005, p. 426). Prior to the charter, Smith had narrowly avoided two extradition attempts (Brodie (1971, pp. 272–73); Bushman (2005, pp. 425–26)).
  119. ^ Quinn (1998, pp. 106–08).
  120. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 271) (Smith "frequently jested about his outranking every military officer in the United States".); Bushman (2005, p. 259) (noting that Bennett had effective command of the Legion); Quinn (1998, p. 106) (The Legion had 2,000 troops in 1842, 3,000 by 1844, compared to less than 8,500 soldiers in the entire United States Army.)
  121. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 410–411) (Smith "had trouble distinguishing true friends from self-serving schemers", and incorrectly stated that Bennett was "calculated to be a great blessing to our community"); Brodie (1971, p. 268); Quinn (1998, p. 1067).
  122. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 311–12); Bushman (2005, p. 460) (Bennett told women he was seducing that illicit sex was acceptable among Latter Day Saints so long as it was kept secret). Bennett, a minimally trained doctor, also promised abortions to any who might became pregnant.
  123. ^ Ostling & Ostling (1999, p. 12); Bushman (2005, pp. 461–62); Brodie (1971, p. 314).
  124. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 448–49).
  125. ^ D&C 124:28; Quinn (1994, p. 113).
  126. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 449); Quinn (1994, pp. 114–15).
  127. ^ Quinn (1994, p. 634).
  128. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 384,404); The tent–stake metaphor was derived from Isaiah 54:2.
  129. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 415) (noting that the time when the Millennium was to occur lengthened to "more than 40 years".)
  130. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 111–12).
  131. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 468); Brodie (1971, p. 323); Quinn (1994, p. 113).
  132. ^ Quinn (1994, p. 113); Bushman (2005, p. 468).
  133. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 468).
  134. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 468–75) (United States district attorney Justin Butterfield argued that Smith was not a "fugitive from justice" because he was in Missouri when the crime occurred.)
  135. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 504–08).
  136. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 508).
  137. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 356); Quinn (1994, pp. 115–116).
  138. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 118–19) (the Anointed Quorum chose Sidney Rigdon as Smith's running mate);Bushman (2005, pp. 514–15); Brodie (1971, pp. 362–64).
  139. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 519); Quinn (1994, pp. 120–22).
  140. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 517).
  141. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 527–28).
  142. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 368–9) (Law believed that Smith was misappropriating donations for the Nauvoo House hotel and neglecting other building projects, despite the acute housing shortage, while Smith had no respect for building projects by Law and Foster.); Bushman (2005, p. 528) (noting that Law had been was a member of the Anointed Quorum); Quinn (1994, p. 528) (Law was criticized in 1843 and then dropped from the Anointed Quorum in January 1844, but after being defended by Hiram Smith, he rejected an April 1844 offer by Joseph Smith to be restored to church positions if he ended his opposition to polygamy).
  143. ^ Ostling & Ostling (1999, p. 14); Brodie (1971, pp. 369–371) (saying Smith had proposed to Foster's wife at a private dinner); Van Wagoner (1992, p. 39); Bushman (2005, pp. 660–61) (noting that Smith recounted that Jane Law had proposed to him (660–61), citing Journal of Alexander Neibaur, May 24, 1844.
  144. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 549, 531) ("The dissenters troubled Joseph mainly because he feared plots to haul him away to certain death in Missouri"); Williams, A.B. (May 15, 1844), "Affidavit",   (Affidavit stating, "Joseph H. Jackson said that Doctor Foster, Chauncy Higbee and the Laws were red-hot for a conspiracy, and he should not be surprised if in two weeks there should be not one of the Smith family left in Nauvoo").
  145. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 373) (Smith denied he had more than one wife.); Bushman (2005, p. 538) (arguing that Smith may have felt justified denying polygamy and "spiritual wifeism" because he thought it was based on a different principle than "plural marriage"); Roberts (1912, pp. 408–412)); Bushman (2005, p. 531).
  146. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 539); Brodie (1971, pp. 374) (arguing that given its authors' intentions to reform the church, the paper was "extraordinarily restrained" given the explosive allegations it could have raised); Quinn (1994, p. 138) A prospectus for the newspaper was published on May 10, and referred to Smith as a "self-constituted monarch".
  147. ^ Smith had recently given his King Follett discourse, in which he taught that God was once a man, and that men and women could become gods. Bushman (2005, p. 539); Brodie (1971, pp. 375); Marquardt (1999, p. 312); Quinn (1994, p. 139) (noting that the publishers intended to emphasize the details of Smith's delectable plan of government" in later issues).
  148. ^ , retrieved from Wikisource 11/29/2013Nauvoo Expositor; Oaks & Hill (1975, p. 14).
  149. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 540–41); Brodie (1971, p. 377); Marquardt (2005); Marquardt (1999, p. 312). At the city council meeting, Smith said the 1843 revelation on polygamy referred to in the Expositor "was in answer to a question concerning things which transpired in former days, and had no reference to the present time" Brodie (1971, p. 377).
  150. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 541) (Smith "failed to see that suppression of the paper was far more likely to arouse a mob than the libels. It was a fatal mistake.")
  151. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 394)
  152. ^ Warsaw Signal, June 14, 1844. ("Citizens arise, one and all!!! Can you stand by, and suffer such Infernal Devils! to rob men of their property and rights without avenging them. We have no time for comment, every man will make his own. Let it be made with Powder and Ball!!!"
  153. ^ Ostling & Ostling (1999, p. 16).
  154. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 546).
  155. ^ Ostlings, 17; Bushman, 546. Eight Mormon leaders accompanied Smith to Carthage: Hyrum Smith, John Taylor, Willard Richards, John P. Greene, Stephen Markham, Dan Jones, John S. Fullmer, Dr. Southwick, and Lorenzo D. Wasson. (History of the Church Vol.6 Ch.30) All of Smith's associates left the jail, except his brother Hyrum, Richards and Taylor. (Richards and Taylor were not prisoners, but stayed voluntarily.)
  156. ^  ;Oaks & Hill (1975, p. 18).
  157. ^ "CES Slide Set G-68", Religious Education LDS Church History and Doctrine collection (photographs) ( 
  158. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 393) ("Joseph discharging all six barrels down the passageway. Three of them missed fire, but the other three found marks."); Bushman (2005, p. 549) (Smith and his companions were staying in the jailer's bedroom, which did not have bars on the windows).
  159. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 393–94); Bushman (2005, pp. 549–50).
  160. ^ Oaks & Hill (1975, p. 185).
  161. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 332, 557–59) "The newspaper editors, almost without exception, thought of him as a religious fanatic."
  162. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 558) "His followers had thought of him first and foremost as a prophet..."; Brodie (1971, pp. 396–97).
  163. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 380, 15);  ; Bushman (2005, p. 352).
  164. ^ Widmer (2000, p. 97); Shipps (1985, p. 37) (making comparisons with   ("No prophet since the days of Adam, save, of course, our Redeemer, has been given a greater mission.")
  165. ^ Shipps, Jan (1974), "The Prophet Puzzle:Suggestions Leading toward a More Comprehensive Interpretation of Joseph Smith", Journal of Mormon History 
  166. ^ I Woodbridge Riley (1903), The Founder of Mormonism ; Bernard DeVoto (1930), The Centennial of Mormonism ; Robert D. Anderson (1994), "Toward an Introduction to a Psychobiography of Joseph Smith", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (27) 
  167. ^ Vogel (2004, pp. x–xi)
  168. ^ Vogel (2004, p. xxi).
  169. ^ Brodie (1971, p. ix).
  170. ^ Bloom (1992, pp. 96–99) (Smith "surpassed all Americans, before or since, in the possession and expression of what could be called the religion-making imagination", and had charisma "to a degree unsurpassed in American history".); Abanes (2003, p. 7) (noting that even Smith's harshest critics acknowledge his inventive genius); Persuitte (2000, p. 1) (calling Smith "one of the most controversial and enigmatic figures ever to appear in American history"); Remini (2002, p. ix) (Calling Smith "the most important reformer and innovator in American religious history).
  171. ^ Quinn (1994, p. 143); Brodie (1971, p. 398).
  172. ^ Shipps (1985, pp. 83–84) (discussing several of the succession options); Quinn (1994, p. 143).
  173. ^ Quinn (1994, p. 213) (after Smith was crowned king, Hyrum referred to himself as "President of the Church"), and Brigham Young agreed Hyrum would have been the natural successor; Bushman (2005, p. 555).
  174. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 213–26); Bushman (2005, p. 555) (William Smith "made a bid for the Church presidency, but his unstable character kept him from being a serious contender".)
  175. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 226–41) (outlining the sons' claims and noting, "Even Brigham Young acknowledged the claims of patrilineal succession and as a result never argued that the Quorum of Twelve had exclusive right of succession."); Ostling & Ostling (1999, p. 42).
  176. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 192–98) (before his death, Smith had charged the Fifty with the responsibility of establishing the Millennial kingdom in his absence; the Quorum of Twelve would eventually claim this "charge" as their own).
  177. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 187–91).
  178. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 556–57).
  179. ^ Michael De Groote (2011-01-23). "14 million Mormons and counting".  
  180. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 557): The largest existing Rigdonite church is the Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite); Strang's following largely dissipated after his assassination in 1856. Quinn (1994, pp. 210–211); Bushman (2005, pp. 555–56); Strang's current followers consist of the small Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite).
  181. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 198–09).
  182. ^ Current statistics published by   . This total membership number includes these 14.8 million, as well as 250,000 members of the Community of Christ, and negligible numbers of members of other denominations.
  183. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 110–11); The adopted twins were born of Julia Clapp Murdock and John Murdock.
  184. ^ "Joseph and Emma",, retrieved October 31, 2012 .
  185. ^ "Research focuses on Smith family".  
  186. ^ History of the Church 1844–1872, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1908, pp. 355–356 .
  187. ^ Saints' Herald 65:1044–1045.
  188. ^ Times and Seasons 3 [August 1, 1842]: 869; Times and Seasons 3 [October 1, 1842]: 940.
  189. ^ Church History 3: 355–356. Even when her sons Joseph III and Alexander presented her with specific written questions about polygamy, she continued to deny that their father had been a polygamist.Van Wagoner (1992, pp. 113–115); Brodie (1971, p. 399) (Brodie speculates that this denial was "her revenge and solace for all her heartache and humiliation. ... This was her slap at all the sly young girls in the Mansion House who had looked first so worshipfully and then so knowingly at Joseph. She had given them the lie. Whatever formal ceremony he might have gone through, Joseph had never acknowledged one of them before the world."
  190. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 554); Avery & Newell (1980, p. 82).
  191. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 554) ("Her known opposition to plural marriage made her doubly troublesome.")
  192. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 554–55). Emma Smith married Major Lewis Bidamon, an "enterprising man who made good use of Emma's property". Although Bidamon sired an illegitimate child when he was 62 (whom Emma reared), "the couple showed genuine affection for each" other.
  193. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 555).
  194. ^ Bushman (2005, p. xxi) Smith "never presented his ideas systematically in clear, logical order; they came in flashes and bursts. ... Assembling a coherent picture out of many bits and pieces leaves room for misinterpretations and forced logic. Even his loyal followers disagree about the implications of his teaching."
  195. ^ Bushman (2005, p. xxi,173); Vogel (2004, p. xvii) (saying that Smith's private beliefs were revealed through his revelations); Vogel (2004, p. viii) (arguing that Smith believed he was called of God, but occasionally engaged in fraudulent activities in order to preach God's word more effectively).
  196. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 69) ("The revelation gave the first inkling of how Joseph would speak in his prophetic voice. The speaker stands above and outside Joseph, sharply separated emotionally and intellectually"); Vogel (2004, pp. 128–129); Brodie (1971, pp. 55–57) ("Although he may not have sensed their significance, these, Joseph's first revelations, marked a turning-point in his life. For they changed the Book of Mormon from what might have been merely an ingenious speculation into a genuinely religious book").
  197. ^ Bushman (2005, p. xx); Bushman (2005, p. 129).
  198. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 105).
  199. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 85); Smith (1830).
  200. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 85); Vogel (2004, p. 118).
  201. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 86–87).
  202. ^ Smith (1830).
  203. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 108); Vogel (2004, pp. 122–23, 161, 311, 700).
  204. ^ Smith (1830, p. 587).
  205. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 106).
  206. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 57–73); Vogel (2004, pp. xviii–xix).
  207. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 72) "Joseph himself said almost nothing about his method but implied transcription when he said that 'the Lord had prepared spectacles for to read the Book.'"
  208. ^ Book of Mormon, title page.
  209. ^ Remini (2002, p. 57) (noting that Emma Smith said that Smith started translating with the Urim and Thummim and then eventually used his dark seer stone exclusively); Bushman (2005, p. 66); Quinn (1998, pp. 169–70) (noting that, according to witnesses, Smith's early translation with the two-stone Urim and Thummim spectacles involved placing the spectacles in his hat, and that the spectacles were too large to actually wear). In one 1842 statement, Smith said that "[t]hrough the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift, the power of God." (Smith 1842, p. 707).
  210. ^ (Quinn 1998, pp. 171–73) (witnesses said that Smith shifted from the Urim and Thummim to the single brown seer stone after the loss of the earliest 116 manuscript pages).
  211. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 71–72); Marquardt & Walters (1994, pp. 103–04); Van Wagoner & Walker (1982, pp. 52–53) (citing numerous witnesses of the translation process).
  212. ^ Van Wagoner & Walker (1982, p. 53) ("The plates could not have been used directly in the translation process."); Bushman (2005, pp. 71–72) (Joseph did not pretend to look at the 'reformed Egyptian' words, the language on the plates, according to the book's own description. The plates lay covered on the table, while Joseph's head was in the hat looking at the seerstone ..."); Marquardt & Walters (1994, pp. 103–04) ("When it came to translating the crucial plates, they were no more present in the room than was John the Beloved's ancient 'parchment', the words of which Joseph also dictated at the time.")
  213. ^ Quinn (1998, p. 242); Bushman (2005, p. 142) (while making revisions to the Bible, Smith still "relied on inspiration to make the changes, but he gave up the Urim and Thumm, as Orson Pratt later explained, because he had become acquainted with 'the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation' and no longer needed it.")
  214. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 83).
  215. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 84); Bushman (2005, p. 127).
  216. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 57); Bushman (2005, pp. 128, xxi) ("He experienced revelation like George Fox, the early Quaker, who heard the Spirit as 'impersonal prophecy,' not from his own mind but as 'a word from the Lord as the prophets and the apostles had.'"); Bushman (2005, p. 388).
  217. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 142) (noting that though Smith declared the work finished in 1833, the church lacked funds to publish it during his lifetime); Brodie (1971, p. 103) (Brodie suggests that Rigdon may have prompted Smith to revise the Bible in response to an 1827 revision by Rigdon's former mentor Alexander Campbell).
  218. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 133) (Smith said later in life, "I believe the Bible, as it ought to be, as it came from the pen of the original writers.")
  219. ^ Hill (1977, p. 131) (Although Smith described his work beginning in April 1831 as a "translation", "he obviously meant a revision by inspiration").
  220. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 138).
  221. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 138–41) (in Genesis, Enoch is summarized in 5 verses. Joseph Smith's revision extends this to 110 verses).
  222. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 133–34) ("Joseph Smith's Book of Moses fully Christianized the Old Testament. Rather than hinting of the coming of Christian truth, the Book of Moses presents the whole Gospel. God teaches Adam to believe, repent, 'and be baptized even by water'").
  223. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 170–75); Bushman (2005, pp. 286, 289–290).
  224. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 157, 288–290).
  225. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 388).
  226. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 130) (Referring to Smith dictating revelations, Pratt said, "Each sentence was uttered slowly and very distinctly, and with a pause between each, sufficiently long for it to be recorded, by an ordinary writer, in long hand. This was the manner in which all his revelations were dictated and written. There was never any hesitation, reviewing, or reading back, in order to keep the run of the subject; neither did any of these communications undergo revisions, interlinings, or corrections. As he dictated them so they stood, so far as I have witnessed.")
  227. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 174).
  228. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 5–6, 9, 15–17, 26, 30, 33, 35, 38–42, 49, 70–71, 88, 198); Brodie (1971, p. 141) (Smith "began to efface the communistic rubric of his young theology").
  229. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 106–7); "D&C 42". 
  230. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 117–18); "D&C 76". 
  231. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 202–205); "D&C 84". 
  232. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 205–212); "D&C 93". 
  233. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 166); Bushman (2005, pp. 212–213); "D&C 89". 
  234. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 289); Bushman (2005, p. 213) ("Joseph drank tea and a glass of wine from time to time."); Ostling & Ostling (1999, pp. 177–78) (Smith "himself liked a nip every now and then, especially at weddings". The Mansion House, which operated a hotel, maintained a fully stocked barroom, and Nauvoo also had a brewery.)
  235. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 253–60); "D&C 107". 
  236. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 340); Bushman (2005, pp. 438–46); "D&C 132". 
  237. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 193–195).
  238. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 159–60); Bushman (2005, pp. 229,310–322).
  239. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 419) ("Joseph spoke like a witness or an initiate in heavenly mysteries, rather than a prophet delivering revelations from the Lord's mouth").
  240. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 419, 421–3) Smith's first mention of baptism for the dead was in a funeral sermon in August 1840. A letter on the subject is contained in "D&C 128". .
  241. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 419–20) (arguing that Smith may have been unaware of the other religious materialism arguments circulating in his day, such as those of Joseph Priestley); Brooke (1994, pp. 3–5);Smith (1830, p. 544) (story from the Book of Ether of Jesus revealing "the body of my spirit" to an especially faithful man, saying humanity was created in the image of his spirit body).
  242. ^ Widmer (2000, p. 119).
  243. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 420–21); Bloom (1992, p. 101) ("Smith's God is hedged in by limitations and badly needs intelligences besides his own.")
  244. ^ Vogel, Dan, The Earliest Mormon Conception of God  in Bergera (1989, pp. 17–33) (arguing that Smith's original view was   in Bergera (1989, p. 53) (prior to 1835, Smith viewed God the Father as "an absolute personage of spirit").
  245. ^ Widmer (2000, p. 119); Alexander, Thomas, The Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine: From Joseph Smith to Progressive Theology  in Bergera (1989, p. 539) (describing Smith's doctrine as "material anthropomorphism"); Bloom (1992, p. 101) ("Smith's God, after all, began as a man, and struggled heroically in and with time and space, rather after the pattern of colonial and revolutionary Americans.")
  246. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 421, 455) ("Joseph redefined the nature of God, giving Him a form and a body and locating Him in time and space" with a throne situated near a star or planet named Kolob); Bloom (1992, p. 101) ("Joseph Smith's God ... is finite ... Exalted now into the heavens, God necessarily is still subject to the contingencies of time and space.")
  247. ^ Vogel (2004, p. 30); Roberts (1909, p. 325).
  248. ^ Larson (1978, p. 7 (online ver.)); Widmer (2000, p. 119).
  249. ^ Widmer (2000, p. 119); Bushman (2005, pp. 535, 544).
  250. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 455–56, 535–37).
  251. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 422).
  252. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 199).
  253. ^ Brooke (1994, p. 33).
  254. ^ Remini (2002, p. 84).
  255. ^ Quinn (1994, p. 7) (describing Smith's earliest authority as charismatic authority).
  256. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 7–8); Bushman (2005, pp. 121, 175); Phelps (1833, p. 67) ("[N]o one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church, excepting my servant Joseph, for he receiveth them even as Moses.")
  257. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 106, 112, 121–22).
  258. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 111–12, 115) (describing the expected role of the Council of Fifty).
  259. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 27–34); Bushman (2005, pp. 264–65).
  260. ^ Quinn (1994, p. 7).
  261. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 111);Bushman (2005, pp. 156–60); Quinn (1994, pp. 31–32);Roberts (1902, pp. 175–76) (On June 3, 1831, "the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood was manifested and conferred for the first time upon several of the Elders."); Prince (1995, pp. 19, 115–116, 119).
  262. ^ Ostling & Ostling (1999, pp. 194–95); Prince (1995, pp. 31–32, 121–31, 146); Bushman (2005, p. 451) (that the Nauvoo endowment is more akin to aspects of the Kabbalah).
  263. ^ Prince (1995, pp. 140, 201).
  264. ^ Brooke (1994, pp. 30, 194–95, 203, 208) (Smith introduced the sealing power in 1831 as part of the High Priesthood, and then attributed this power to Elijah after he appeared in an 1836 vision in the Kirtland Temple).
  265. ^ Brooke (1994, pp. 221, 242–43); Brooke (1994, pp. 236).
  266. ^ Brooke (1994, pp. 256, 294); Bushman (2005, pp. 497–98) (The second anointing ceremony "was Joseph's attempt to deal with the theological problem of assurance" of one's eternal life).
  267. ^ Roberts (1909, pp. 502–07) (1842 revelation describing the New and Everlasting Covenant); Foster (1981, pp. 161–62).
  268. ^ Foster (1981, p. 145).
  269. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 497–98) (those who were married eternally were then "sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise" through the second anointing); Brooke (1994, pp. 256–57).
  270. ^ Roberts (1909, pp. 502–03); Bushman (2005, pp. 497–98); Brooke (1994, p. 257).
  271. ^ Roberts (1909, pp. 501) ("I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this Priesthood are conferred.")
  272. ^ Foster (1981, pp. 206–11); Compton (1997, pp. 11, 22–23); Smith (2008, pp. 356); Brooke (1994, p. 255); Brodie (1971, p. 300); Bushman (2005, p. 443) (noting that a modern Mormon interpretation of Smith's 1843 polygamy revelation ties both polygamy and monogamy to degrees of exaltation).
  273. ^ Bloom (1992, p. 105); Foster (1981, p. 145) ("[I]f marriage with one wife ... could bring eternal progression and ultimate godhood for men, then multiple wives in this life and the next would accelerate the process, in line with God's promise to Abraham that his seed eventually would be as numerous as the sand on the sea shore."); Brodie (1971, p. 300) ("[I]f a man went to heaven with ten wives, he would have more than ten-fold the blessings of a mere monogamist, for all the children begotten through these wives would enhance his kingdom.")
  274. ^ Compton (1997, p. 27); Bushman (2005, pp. 323, 326); Hill (1977, p. 340).
  275. ^ "Gospel Topics", (LDS Church) 
  276. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 323–25); Hill (1977, p. 188) (noting that Benjamin F. Johnson "realized later that Joseph's polygamy was one cause of disruption and apostasy in Kirtland, although it was rarely discussed in public".)
  277. ^ Probably between 1833 and 1836 Bushman (2005, p. 323) (noting that Alger was fourteen in 1830 when she met Smith, and her involvement with Smith was between that date and 1836, and that the relationship may have begun as early as 1831). Compton (1997, p. 26); Bushman (2005, p. 326) (noting Compton's date and conclusion); Brodie (1971, pp. 181–82); Bushman (2005, pp. 323–25); Smith (2008, pp. 38–39 n.81) (Cowdery questioned whether Smith and Alger were actually married, and called it a "a dirty, nasty, filthy affair").
  278. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 323–25): "In 1838, [Cowdery] was charged with 'seeking to destroy the character of President Joseph Smith jr by falsely insinuating that he was guilty of adultry &c.' Fanny Alger's name was never mentioned, but doubtless she was the women in question." Smith "wanted it on record that he had never confessed to such a sin. Presumably, he felt innocent because he had married Alger." "Only Cowdery, who was leaving the Church, asserted Joseph's involvement.")
  279. ^ Compton (1997, p. 11) (counting at least 33 total wives); Smith (1994, p. 14) (counting 42 wives); Brodie (1971, pp. 334–36) (counting 49 wives); Bushman (2005, pp. 437, 644) (accepting Compton's count, excepting one wife); Quinn (1994, pp. 587–88) (counting 46 wives); Remini (2002, p. 153) (noting that the exact figure is still debated).
  280. ^ Foster (1981); Quinn (1994); Compton (1997); Bushman (2005, pp. 437–9); Van Wagoner (1992); Newell & Avery (1994).
  281. ^ Compton (1997, p. 11); Remini (2002, p. 154); Brodie (1971, pp. 334–43); Bushman (2005, p. 492–498); Smith's last marriage was in November 1843 to Fanny Murray, a fifty-six-year-old widow; his youngest plural wife, Helen Mar Kimball, was fourteen.
  282. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 491); Roberts (1909, pp. 501, 507); Bushman (2005, p. 438) (noting Smith's statements that unless he started to marry plural wives, an angel would slay him); Brodie (1971, p. 342) (The 1843 revelation "threatened destruction to any wife who refused to accept the new law".)
  283. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 494–495).
  284. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 439).
  285. ^ Brodie (1971, p. 339); Bushman (2005, p. 494); Remini (2002, pp. 152–53).
  286. ^ Hill (1989, p. 119) ("By assuring Emma that her salvation would be virtually certain and all but the unpardonable sin would be merely visited 'with judgment in the flesh,'" the revelation "placed enormous pressure on [Emma] to accept plural marriage."; Bushman (2005, pp. 495–96); Brodie (1971, pp. 340–341) (revelation indicated Emma would be "destroyed" if she refused polygamy).
  287. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 497); Emma also participated with Smith in the first "sealing" ceremony, intended to bind their marriage for eternity. Quinn (1994, p. 638) (first Mormon sealing); Bushman (2005, p. 494).
  288. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 377).
  289. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 522).
  290. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 516).
  291. ^ Roberts (1909, pp. 296, 435).
  292. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 289, 327–28); Hill (1977, pp. 380–383).
  293. ^ Hill (1977, p. 384).
  294. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 289); Hill (1977, pp. 381–85).
  295. ^ Bushman (2005, p. 289); Hill (1977, p. 379).
  296. ^ Brodie (1971, pp. 356–57); Bushman (2005, p. 521); Bloom (1992, p. 90).
  297. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 522–23).
  298. ^ See the Thirteenth Article of Faith.
  299. ^ Roberts (1904, p. 170); Bushman (2005, p. 441)
  300. ^ Quinn (1994, p. 112) (quoting a letter Smith wrote to Nancy Rigdon after she had rejected his proposal of polygamous marriage); Ostling & Ostling (1999, p. 65).
  301. ^ Quinn (1994, p. 88).
  302. ^ Quinn (1994, pp. 88–89).


See also

Beginning in the mid-1830s and into the 1840s, as the Mormon people became involved in conflicts with the Missouri and Illinois state governments, Smith taught that "Congress has no power to make a law that would abridge the rights of my religion," and that they were not under the obligation to follow laws they deemed as being contrary to their "religious privilege".[301] Smith may have thus felt justified in promoting polygamy despite its violation of some traditional ethical standards.[302]

that which is wrong under one circumstance, may be and often is, right under another. God said thou shalt not kill—at another time he said thou shalt utterly destroy. This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the elders of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right ... even things which may be considered abominable to all those who do not understand the order of heaven.[300]

He also taught:

Smith said his ethical rule was, "When the Lord commands, do it"[299]

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.[298]

A succinct statement of ethics by Smith is found in his 13th Article of Faith:

Ethics and behavior

Smith declared that he would be one of the instruments in fulfilling Nebuchadnezzar's statue vision in the Book of Daniel: that secular government would be destroyed without "sword or gun", and would be replaced with a "theodemocratic" Kingdom of God.[296] Smith taught that this kingdom would be governed by theocratic principles, but that it would also be multidenominational and democratic, so long as the people chose wisely.[297]

Smith published a pro-slavery essay in 1836 but later opposed the practice.[292] During his presidential campaign, he proposed abolishing it by 1850 and compensating slaveholders through sale of public lands.[293] Smith said he did not believe blacks to be inherently inferior to whites; he welcomed both freemen and slaves into the church.[294] However, he opposed baptizing slaves without permission of their masters, and he opposed miscegenation.[295]

Smith favored a strong central bank and high tariffs to protect American business and agriculture. He disfavored imprisonment of convicts except for murder, preferring efforts to reform criminals through labor; he also opposed courts-martial for military deserters. He supported capital punishment but opposed hanging, preferring execution by firing squad or beheading.[291]

While campaigning for President of the United States in 1844, Smith had opportunity to take political positions on issues of the day. Smith considered the U.S. Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights, to be inspired by God and "the [Latter Day] Saints' best and perhaps only defense".[288] He believed a strong central government was crucial to the nation's well-being and thought democracy better than tyranny—although he also taught that a theocratic monarchy was the ideal form of government.[289] In foreign affairs, Smith was an expansionist, though he viewed "expansionism as brotherhood".[290]

Political views

Polygamy caused a breach between Smith and his first wife, Emma.[283] Although Emma knew of some of her husband's marriages, she almost certainly did not know the extent of his polygamous activities.[284] In 1843, Emma temporarily accepted Smith's marriage to four women boarded in the Smith household, but she soon regretted her decision and demanded that the other wives leave.[285] In July, Smith dictated a revelation pressuring Emma to accept plural marriage,[286] but the two were not reconciled until September, after Emma began participating in temple ordinances and received an endowment.[287]

In April 1841, Smith wed Louisa Beaman; and during the next two-and-a-half years he married or was sealed to about 30 additional women,[279] ten of whom were already married to other men (this was generally done with the knowledge and consent of their husbands).[280] Ten of Smith's plural wives were between the ages of fourteen and twenty. Others were over fifty.[281] The practice of polygamy was kept secret.[282]

Smith had by some accounts been teaching a polygamy doctrine as early as 1831, and there is evidence that Smith was a polygamist by 1835.[274][275] Although the church had publicly repudiated polygamy, in 1837 there was a rift between Smith and Oliver Cowdery over the issue.[276] Cowdery suspected that Smith had engaged in a relationship with his serving girl Fanny Alger.[277] Smith never denied a relationship, but insisted it was not adulterous, presumably because he had taken Alger as a plural wife.[278]


Smith taught that the highest level of exaltation could be achieved through "plural marriage" (polygamy), which was the ultimate manifestation of this New and Everlasting Covenant.[272] Plural marriage, according to Smith, allowed an individual to transcend the angelic state and become a god, accelerating the expansion of one's heavenly kingdom.[273]

A painting of Smith, by Bathsheba W. Smith, created circa 1843.

During the early 1840s, Smith unfolded a theology of family relations called the "New and Everlasting Covenant" that superseded all earthly bonds.[267] He taught that outside the Covenant, marriages were simply matters of contract, and that in the afterlife individuals married outside the Covenant or not married would be limited in their progression.[268] To fully enter the Covenant, a man and woman must participate in a "first anointing", a "sealing" ceremony, and a "second anointing" (also called "sealing by the Holy Spirit of Promise").[269] When fully sealed into the Covenant, Smith said that no sin nor blasphemy (other than the eternal sin) could keep them from their exaltation in the afterlife.[270] According to Smith, only one person on earth at a time—in this case, Smith—could possess this power of sealing.[271]

Theology of family

Smith taught that the High Priesthood's endowment of heavenly power included the sealing powers of Elijah, allowing High Priests to effect binding consequences in the afterlife.[264] For example, this power would enable proxy baptisms for the dead and priesthood marriages that would be effective into the afterlife.[265] Elijah's sealing powers also enabled the second anointing, or "fulness [sic] of the priesthood", which, according to Smith, sealed married couples to their exaltation.[266]

By the mid-1830s, Smith began teaching a hierarchy of three priesthoods—the Melchizedek, the Aaronic, and the Patriarchal.[259] Each priesthood was a continuation of biblical priesthoods through patrilineal succession or ordination by biblical figures appearing in visions.[260] Upon introducing the Melchizedek or "High" Priesthood in 1831, Smith taught that its recipients would be "endowed with power from on high", thus fulfilling a need for a greater holiness and an authority commensurate with the New Testament apostles.[261] This doctrine of endowment evolved through the 1830s, until in 1842, the Nauvoo endowment included an elaborate ceremony containing elements similar to Freemasonry and the Jewish tradition of Kabbalah.[262] The endowment was extended to women in 1843, though Smith never clarified whether women could be ordained to priesthood offices.[263]

[258] Smith's teachings were rooted in

Religious authority and ritual

In Smith's view, the opportunity to achieve exaltation extended to all humanity; those who died with no opportunity to accept saving ordinances could achieve exaltation by accepting them in the afterlife through ordinances performed on their behalf.[251] Smith said that children who died in their innocence would be guaranteed to rise at the resurrection and receive exaltation. Apart from those who committed the eternal sin, Smith taught that even the wicked and disbelieving would achieve a degree of glory in the afterlife.[252]

Though Smith initially viewed God the Father as a spirit,[244] he eventually began teaching that God was an advanced and glorified man,[245] embodied within time and space.[246] By the end of his life, Smith was teaching that both God the Father and Jesus were distinct beings with physical bodies, but the Holy Spirit was a "personage of Spirit".[247] Through the gradual acquisition of knowledge, according to Smith, those who received exaltation could eventually become like God.[248] These teachings implied a vast hierarchy of gods, with God himself having a father.[249] In Smith's cosmology, those who became gods would reign, unified in purpose and will, leading spirits of lesser capacity to share immortality and eternal life.[250]

Smith taught that all existence was pre-existent pool of eternal intelligences.[242] Nevertheless, spirits could not experience a "fullness of joy" unless joined with corporeal bodies, according to Smith. The work and glory of God, then, was to create worlds across the cosmos where inferior intelligences could be embodied.[243]

Cosmology and theology

Two heavenly beings stand in the air conversing with the young Smith
Smith's later theology described Jesus and God the Father as two distinct physical beings.

Views and teachings

Before 1832, most of Smith's revelations dealt with establishing the church, gathering his followers, and building the City of Zion, while later revelations dealt with the priesthood, endowment, and exaltation.[237] The revelations slowed in Kirtland during the autumn of 1833, and again after the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, as Smith relied more heavily on his own teachings.[238] Smith moved away from written revelations opening with "verily thus saith the Lord" and taught more in sermons, conversations, and letters.[239] For instance, the doctrines of baptism for the dead and the nature of God were introduced in sermons, and one of Smith's most famed statements about there being "no such thing as immaterial matter" was recorded from a casual conversation with a Methodist preacher.[240]

Also in 1833, at a time of quorums and councils, and served as a complex blueprint for church structure.[235] Smith's last revelation on the "New and Everlasting Covenant" was recorded in 1843, and dealt with the theology of family, the doctrine of sealing, and plural marriage.[236]

Smith gave varying types of revelations. Some were temporal, while others were spiritual or doctrinal; some were received for a specific individual, while others were directed at the whole church. Notable revelations include an 1831 revelation called "The Law" containing directions for missionary work, rules for organizing society in Zion, a reiteration of the Ten Commandments, an injunction to "administer to the poor and needy", and an outline for the law of consecration.[229] An 1832 revelation called "The Vision" added to the fundamentals of sin and atonement, introduced doctrines of life after salvation, the theme of exaltation, and a heaven with degrees of glory.[230] Another 1832 revelation "on Priesthood" was the first to explain priesthood doctrine.[231] Three months later, Smith gave a lengthy revelation called the "Olive Leaf" containing themes of cosmology and eschatology, and discussing subjects such as light, truth, intelligence, and sanctification; a related revelation given in 1833 put Christ at the center of salvation.[232]

According to Parley P. Pratt, Smith dictated revelations orally, and they were recorded by a scribe without revisions or corrections.[226] Revelations were immediately copied, and then circulated among church members. Smith's revelations often came in response to specific questions. He described the revelatory process as having "pure Intelligence" flowing into him. Smith, however, never viewed the wording to be infallible. The revelations were not God's words verbatim, but "couched in language suitable to Joseph's time".[227] In 1833 Smith edited and expanded many of the previous revelations, publishing them as the Book of Commandments, which later became part of the Doctrine and Covenants.[228]

[The Holy Spirit] may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass.

Joseph Smith [225]

Other revelations

In 1835 Smith encouraged some Latter Day Saints in Kirtland to purchase rolls of ancient Egyptian papyri from a traveling exhibitor. Over the next several years, Smith worked off and on as events allowed, to produce a supposed translation of one of these rolls, which he published in 1842 as the Book of Abraham.[223] The Book of Abraham speaks of the founding of the Abrahamic nation, astronomy, cosmology, lineage and priesthood, and gave another account of the creation story.[224] The papyri from which Smith dictated the Book of Abraham were thought to have been lost in the Great Chicago Fire, but several fragments were rediscovered in the 1960s, and translated by modern Egyptologists. It was determined that the rediscovered portions bore no apparent relation to the Book of Abraham text; this discrepancy has been a source of controversy ever since.

The Book of Moses begins with Moses' inquiring of God as to the purpose of creation, and is told in this account that God made the earth and heavens to bring humans to eternal life. The book also provides an enlarged account of the Genesis creation narrative and expands the story of Enoch, the ancestor of Noah. In the narrative, Enoch speaks with God, receives a prophetic calling, and eventually builds a city of Zion so righteous that it was taken to heaven.[221] The book also elaborates and expands upon foreshadowing and "types" of Christ, in effect Christianizing the Old Testament.[222]

Smith said that in June 1830, he received a "revelation of Moses" in which Moses saw "the world and the ends thereof" and asked God questions about the purpose of creation and man's relationship to God. This revelation initiated a revision of the Bible on which Smith worked sporadically until 1833 and which remained unpublished at his death.[217] Smith said that he believed the Bible had been corrupted through the ages, and that his revision worked to restore the original intent; it added long passages rewritten "according to his inspiration".[218] While many changes involved straightening out seeming contradictions or making small clarifications, other changes added large "lost" portions to the text.[219] For instance, Smith's revision nearly tripled the length of the first five chapters of Genesis in what would become the Book of Moses.[220]

Moses and Abraham

The Book of Mormon drew many converts to the church, but as Brodie noted, "The book lives today because of the prophet, not he because of the book."[214] Smith had assumed a role as prophet, seer, and apostle of Jesus Christ, and by early 1831, he was introducing himself as "Joseph the Prophet".[215] The language of authority in Smith's revelations was appealing to converts, and the revelations were given with the confidence of an Old Testament prophet.[216]

Smith never said how he produced the Book of Mormon, saying only that he translated by the power of God and implying that he had transcribed the words.[207] The Book of Mormon itself states only that its text will "come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof".[208] As such, considerable disagreement about the actual method used exists. For at least some of the earliest dictation, Smith is said to have used the "Urim and Thummim", a pair of seer stones he said were buried with the plates.[209] Later, however, he is said to have used a chocolate-colored stone he had found in 1822 that he had used previously for treasure hunting.[210] Joseph Knight said that Smith saw the words of the translation while he gazed at the stone or stones in the bottom of his hat, excluding all light, a process similar to divining the location of treasure.[211] Sometimes, Smith concealed the process by raising a curtain or dictating from another room, while at other times he dictated in full view of witnesses while the plates lay covered on the table.[212] After completing the translation, Smith gave the brown stone to Cowdery, but continued to receive revelations using another stone until about 1833 when he said he no longer needed it.[213]

Smith sitting on a wooden chair with his face in a hat
According to some accounts Smith dictated most of the Book of Mormon by looking into a seer stone placed in a stovepipe hat.

Early Mormons understood the Book of Mormon to be a religious history of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Smith's followers view it as a companion to the Bible and an additional witness of Christ, akin to a large apocryphal work.[205] Modern historian Fawn Brodie has called the Book of Mormon a response to pressing cultural and environmental issues of Smith's times, saying that Smith composed the Book of Mormon drawing from scraps of information available to him; Dan Vogel, another historian, says that the work is autobiographical in nature.[206]

Christian themes permeate the work; for instance, Nephite prophets in the Book of Mormon teach of Christ's coming, and talk of the star that will appear at his birth.[203] After the crucifixion and resurrection in Jerusalem, Jesus appears in the Americas, repeats the Sermon on the Mount, blesses children, and appoints twelve disciples. The book ends with Moroni's exhortation to "come unto Christ".[204]

The Book of Mormon has been called the longest and most complex of Smith's revelations.[198] It is organized as a compilation of smaller books, each named after its main named narrator or a prominent leader. It tells the story of the rise and fall of a religious civilization beginning around 600 BC and ending in 421 AD.[199] The story begins with a family that leaves Jerusalem, just before the Babylonian captivity.[200] They eventually construct a ship and sail to a "promised land" in the Western Hemisphere.[201] There, they are divided into two factions: Nephites and Lamanites. The Nephites become a righteous people who build a temple and live the law of Moses, though their prophets teach a Christian gospel. The book explains itself to be largely the work of Mormon, a Nephite prophet and military figure. The book closes when Mormon's son, Moroni, finishes engraving and buries the records written on the golden plates.[202]

Book of Mormon

Smith's first recorded revelation was a rebuke from God for having let Martin Harris lose 116 pages of Book of Mormon manuscript, chastising him for "fearing man more than God".[196] The revelation was given in the voice of God rather than as a declaration mediated through Smith; and subsequent revelations assumed a similar authoritative style, often opening with words such as "Hearken O ye people which profess my name, saith the Lord your God."[197]

According to Richard Bushman, the "signal feature" of Smith's life was "his sense of being guided by revelation". Instead of presenting ideas with logical arguments, Smith dictated authoritative revelations and let people decide whether to believe.[194] Smith's teachings came primarily through his revelations, which read like scripture: oracular and open to interpretation. Smith and his followers viewed his revelations as being above teachings or opinions, and Smith's actions seemed to indicate that he believed in his revelations as much as his most loyal followers.[195]

An artistic representation of the golden plates with the Urim and Thummim connected to a breastplate, based on descriptions by Smith and others


After Smith's death, Emma Smith quickly became alienated from Brigham Young and the church leadership.[190] Young, whom Emma feared and despised, was suspicious of her desire to preserve the family's assets from inclusion with those of the church, and thought she would be even more troublesome because she openly opposed plural marriage.[191] When most Latter Day Saints moved west, she stayed in Nauvoo, married a non-Mormon, Major Joseph Smith III. Emma never denied Smith's prophetic gift or repudiated her belief in the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.[193]

Throughout her life, Emma Smith frequently denied that her husband had ever taken additional wives.[186] Emma said that the very first time she ever became aware of a polygamy revelation being attributed to Smith by Mormons was when she read about it in Orson Pratt's periodical The Seer in 1853.[187] Emma campaigned publicly against polygamy, and was the main signatory of a petition in 1842, with a thousand female signatures, denying that Smith was connected with polygamy. As president of the Ladies' Relief Society, Emma authorized publishing a certificate in the same year denouncing polygamy, and denying her husband as its creator or participant.[188] Even on her deathbed, Emma denied Joseph's involvement with polygamy, stating, "No such thing as polygamy, or spiritual wifery, was taught, publicly or privately, before my husband's death, that I have now, or ever had any knowledge of ... He had no other wife but me; nor did he to my knowledge ever have".[189]

The first of Smith's wives, Emma Hale, gave birth to nine children during their marriage, five of whom died before the age of two. The eldest, Alvin (born in 1828), died within hours of birth, as did twins Thaddeus and Louisa (born in 1831). When the twins died, the Smiths adopted another set of twins, Julia and Joseph, whose mother had recently died in childbirth; Joseph died of measles in 1832.[183] In 1841, Don Carlos, who had been born a year earlier, died of malaria. In 1842, Emma gave birth to a stillborn son. Joseph and Emma had four sons who lived to maturity: Joseph Smith III, Frederick Granger Williams Smith, Alexander Hale Smith, and David Hyrum Smith (born in 1844 after Smith's death).[184] As of 2013, DNA testing had provided no evidence that Smith had fathered any children by women other than Emma.[185]

Portrait of Emma Smith
Emma Hale Smith married Joseph Smith in 1827.

Family and descendants

The two strongest succession candidates were Community of Christ), which now has about 250,000 members. As of 2013, members of the denominations originating from Smith's teachings number approximately 15 million.[182]

[177] Some of Smith's chosen successors, such as Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, had left the church.[176]

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