He supported capital punishment but opposed hanging, preferring execution by firing squad or beheading. , Smith attracted thousands of devoted followers before his death in 1844, and millions in the century that followed. Religious Leader. This astonishing declaration describes a man who was called of God at the age of 14 and lived only to the age of 38.  Smith said that children who died in their innocence would be guaranteed to rise at the resurrection and receive exaltation. Meanwhile Brigham Young, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, rose to prominence when he organized the move of about 14,000 Mormon refugees to Illinois and eastern Iowa.  When embarrassing rumors of "spiritual wifery" got abroad, Smith forced Bennett's resignation as Nauvoo mayor. Smith's followers view it as a companion to the Bible and an additional witness of Christ, akin to a large apocryphal work.  Smith continued to live in Ohio, but visited Missouri again in early 1832 to prevent a rebellion of prominent church members who believed the church in Missouri was being neglected. , 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. , While boarding at the Hale house in Harmony, Pennsylvania, Smith met and began courting Emma Hale. 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.  In 1826, Smith was brought before a Chenango County court for "glass-looking", or pretending to find lost treasure.  In fact Smith's first recorded revelation was a rebuke chastising Smith for having let Martin Harris lose 116 pages of Book of Mormon manuscript. , By early 1844, a rift developed between Smith and a half dozen of his closest associates.  In March 1836, at the temple's dedication, many participants in the endowment reported seeing visions of angels, speaking in tongues, and prophesying. Meanwhile, Smith moved his family to another gathering place in Kirtland, Ohio, near Cleveland. The book ends with Moroni's exhortation to "come unto Christ". , Although the Book of Mormon drew many converts to the church, Fawn Brodie argued that the "book lives today because of the prophet, not he because of the book. John Taylor, Doctrine and Covenants, 135:3; Once in the world's history we were to have a Yankee prophet, and we have had him in Joe Smith. Joseph Smith Jr. is perhaps best known as the person through whom the Mormon Church, officially known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was started. Term ended by removal of apostleship; was later excommunicated. , 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.  According to Smith, the angel Moroni took back the plates once Smith finished using them.  With other family members, Smith also engaged in religious folk magic, which was a relatively common practice in that time and place.  Smith said that he became interested in religion by age 12. He was the founder and First President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (also known as the Mormons). In June 1843, enemies of Smith convinced a reluctant Illinois Governor Thomas Ford to extradite Smith to Missouri on an old charge of treason. As of 2013[update], members of the denominations originating from Smith's teachings number approximately 16.3 million. , On the issue of slavery, Smith took different positions. , Years later, Smith wrote that he had received a vision that resolved his religious confusion.  Smith was then sent to a state court for a preliminary hearing, where several of his former allies testified against him. When questions arose, he would call upon God and dictate words in the voice of the Lord.  Initially he opposed it, but during the mid-1830s when the Mormons were settling in Missouri (a slave state), Smith cautiously justified slavery in an anti-abolitionist essay. The leadership of the church then fell to Brigham Young, who dedicated himself to perpetuating Smith’s teachings and program.  As in the Bible, men took the leading roles in church affairs, but by the end of his life Smith taught that men and women were redeemed together through eternal marriage. They first gathered in Kirtland, Ohio, and established an outpost in Independence, Missouri, which was intended to be Zion's "center place".  Fearing an invasion of Nauvoo, Smith rode to Carthage, Illinois, to stand trial, but was killed when a mob stormed the jailhouse.  Smith, who feared another mob attack, supported the action, not realizing that destroying a newspaper was more likely to incite an attack than any libel.  After Smith visited in July 1831, he agreed, pronouncing the frontier hamlet of Independence the "center place" of Zion.  With growing opposition in New York, Smith gave a revelation stating that Kirtland was the eastern boundary of the New Jerusalem, and that his followers must gather there. The purpose of the temple rituals was to give people the knowledge they needed to enter God’s presence and to become like God. On April 6, 1830, Smith organized a few dozen believers into a church. Joseph Smith’s thirty-eight and one-half years were marked by the highest of spiritual peaks and the depths of tribulation, sorrow, and betrayal such as few mortals have experienced. , 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.  The pace of formal revelations slowed during the autumn of 1833, and again after the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. He died shortly after hitting the ground, but was shot several more times before the mob dispersed. The Book of Mormon told the 1,000-year history of the Israelites, who were led from Jerusalem to a promised land in the Western Hemisphere. Smith, Joseph, Jr. Download for offline reading, highlight, bookmark or take notes while you read Joseph Smith: A Biography. In 1823 he received another revelation: while praying for forgiveness, he later reported, an angel calling himself Moroni appeared in his bedroom and told him about a set of golden plates containing a record of the ancient inhabitants of America. , Throughout her life, Emma Smith frequently denied that her husband had ever taken additional wives. Some of these polyandrous marriages were done with the consent of the first husbands, and some plural marriages may have been considered "eternity-only" sealings (meaning that the marriage would not take effect until after death). Among these five groups was a quorum of twelve apostles.  However, he opposed baptizing them without permission of their masters, and he opposed interracial marriage.  Matter, in Smith's view, could neither be created nor destroyed; the creation involved only the reorganization of existing matter.  Shortly after the conference, Smith dispatched Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and others on a mission to proselytize Native Americans.  Each priesthood was a continuation of biblical priesthoods through patrilineal succession or ordination by biblical figures appearing in visions.  During the summer of 1839, while Latter Day Saints in Nauvoo suffered from a malaria epidemic, Smith sent Brigham Young and other apostles to missions in Europe, where they made numerous converts, many of them poor factory workers.  Smith and Emma eloped and married on January 18, 1827, after which the couple began boarding with Smith's parents in Manchester.  Although Emma knew of some of her husband's marriages, she almost certainly did not know the extent of his polygamous activities. Joseph Smith, originally Joseph Smith, Jr., (born December 23, 1805, Sharon, Vermont, U.S.—died June 27, 1844, Carthage, Illinois), American prophet and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. , Smith gave varying types of revelations. Other articles where Joseph Smith is discussed: Canaletto: …this point, an early acquaintance, Joseph Smith—publisher, merchant, and later British consul in Venice—stepped into the breach. , Meanwhile, the Smith family faced financial hardship, due in part to the death of Smith's oldest brother Alvin, who had assumed a leadership role in the family. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. 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. , 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. Reviewed in the United States on June 10, 2011. The book resembled the Bible in its length and complexity and in its division into books named for individual prophets. , In October 1827, Joseph and Emma moved from Palmyra to Harmony (now Oakland), Pennsylvania, aided by a relatively prosperous neighbor, Martin Harris. However, all DNA testing of potential Smith descendants from wives other than Emma has been negative. For a survey of the primary sources, see Dan Vogel, These reasons included the settlers' understanding that the Mormons intended to appropriate their property and establish a, harvtxt error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFCompton1997 (. Prof Richard L Bushman has produced a 'warts and all' biography of the man whose 'visions' resulted in The Book of Mormon and those clean-cut young men who knock on our doors. Smith said that this angel revealed the location of a buried book made of golden plates, as well as other artifacts, including a breastplate and a set of interpreters composed of two seer stones set in a frame, which had been hidden in a hill near his home. 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. Patriotic, conservative, influential, and vas…  Though his mission to the Indians had been a failure, Cowdery reported that he had found the site of the New Jerusalem in Jackson County, Missouri. The text for this speech is unavailable. On a winter day in January 1842, Joseph Smith became reflective. The first surgery doctors had to lance his shoulder to drain it of infected material, the second and third times they tried to drain his leg, and the fourth time they removed the bone.  In 1843, Emma temporarily accepted Smith's marriage to four women boarded in the Smith household, but soon regretted her decision and demanded the other wives leave. His mother, Lucy Mack, came from a Connecticut family that had disengaged from conventional Congregationalism and leaned toward Seekerism, a movement that looked for a new revelation to restore true Christianity. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Smith, however, never viewed the wording to be infallible. Harris also took a sample of the characters to a few prominent scholars, including Charles Anthon.  In a 2015 compilation of the 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time, Smithsonian magazine ranked Smith first in the category of religious figures.  Bennett used his connections in the Illinois legislature to obtain an unusually liberal charter for the new city, which Smith renamed "Nauvoo" (Hebrew נָאווּ, meaning "to be beautiful"). , After Smith's death, Emma Smith quickly became alienated from Brigham Young and the church leadership. After an unknown assailant shot and wounded Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs in May 1842, anti-Mormons circulated rumors that Smith's bodyguard, Porter Rockwell, was the shooter. Smith and five others, including Rigdon, were charged with "overt acts of treason", and transferred to the jail at Liberty, Missouri, to await trial. The accomplishments of the Prophet Joseph in his short 38 ½ years seem humanly impossible. Emma believed in her husband’s calling but could not abide additional wives.  In 1841, Don Carlos, who had been born a year earlier, died of malaria.  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.  Smith was immediately brought before a military court, accused of treason, and sentenced to be executed the next morning; Alexander Doniphan, who was Smith's former attorney and a brigadier general in the Missouri militia, refused to carry out the order. At the age of seven Smith suffered a crippling bone infection and, after receiving surgery, used crutches for three years. The couple adopted twins and had nine biological children, five of whom died in infancy. He had no other wife but me; nor did he to my knowledge ever have". , According to his later accounts, Smith was visited by an angel named Moroni, while praying one night in 1823. Lucy Smith attended Presbyterian meetings, but her husband refused to accompany her, and Joseph, Jr., remained at home with his father.  The result of the proceeding remains unclear as primary sources report various conflicting outcomes. , 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. He disfavored imprisonment of convicts except for murder, preferring efforts to reform criminals through labor; he also opposed courts-martial for military deserters.  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. Smith’s teachings departed from conventional Christian traditions by incorporating certain practices from the Hebrew Bible (see also Old Testament). In 1831, Smith and his followers moved west, planning to build a communalistic American Zion. This is the AUTHORIZED and OFFICIAL website for the PUBLISHING of the true biography of Joseph Smith, Jr. . Among Joseph Smith’s accomplishments is his contribution to the church’s scriptures, the dispatching of missionaries around the world and the organization and leadership of Nauvoo’s militia.  In March 1844 — following a dispute with a federal bureaucrat — Smith organized the secret Council of Fifty.  The Council of Fifty had a theoretical claim to succession, but it was a secret organization. As standardized views of Venice dropped from demand, Smith seems to have encouraged Canaletto to expand his range of subjects to include Roman monuments and the area of Padua and the Brenta River.…  After armed bands exchanged fire, killing one Mormon and two non-Mormons, the old settlers brutally expelled the Mormons from the county. By the time of his death, 14 years later, he had attracted tens of thousands of followers and founded a religion that continues to the present with millions of global adherents. Church of Christ was the official name on April 6, 1830: Modern DNA testing of Smith's relatives suggests that his family were of Irish descent. Joseph Smith Oil on canvas, David Rogers, 1842.  Smith said that 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".  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. Read up on Joseph Smith's biography, career, awards and more on ESPN.  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. The two were taken to Carthage, the county seat, for a hearing, and, while imprisoned, they were shot by a mob on June 27, 1844.  Though it is unclear how much Smith knew of the Danites' activities, he clearly approved of those of which he did know.  Another brother, William, was unable to attract a sufficient following.  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. The revelations were not God's words verbatim, but "couched in language suitable to Joseph's time". Biography. Indeed, they would be except that the Lord was with him.  Through the gradual acquisition of knowledge, according to Smith, those who received exaltation could eventually become like God. When he was not busy burying his nose in a book, he helped out on his family farm. By this time, Smith's experiences with mob violence led him to believe that his faith's survival required greater militancy against anti-Mormons. Rigdon said that "if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? , By the mid-1830s, Smith began teaching a hierarchy of three priesthoods—the Melchizedek, the Aaronic, and the Patriarchal.  After the crucifixion and resurrection in Jerusalem, Jesus appears in the Americas, repeats the Sermon on the Mount, blesses children, and appoints twelve disciples.  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. Joseph first appears in the Bible in the gospels of Matthew and Luke; in Matthew, Joseph's lineage is traced back to King David. Joseph Smith was an American religious leader and the founder of Mormonism.  Smith moved away from formal written revelations spoken in God's voice, and instead taught more in sermons, conversations, and letters.  Smith was buried in Nauvoo, and is interred there at the Smith Family Cemetery. Absolutely resolute in all of his projects, he never became discouraged, even under the most trying circumstances. Smith was born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, to Lucy Mack Smith and her husband Joseph Smith Sr., a merchant and farmer. He said the angel commanded him not to show the plates to anyone else, but to translate them and publish their translation. The Nephites become a righteous people who build a temple and live the law of Moses, though their prophets teach a Christian gospel. Members of the church, known as Saints, gathered first at Independence, Missouri, on the western edge of American settlement. It also recommended that Latter Day Saints avoid "strong" alcoholic drinks, tobacco, and "hot drinks" (later interpreted to mean tea and coffee).  In July 1843, Smith dictated a revelation directing Emma to accept plural marriage, but the two were not reconciled until September 1843, after Emma began participating in temple ceremonies. He decided to list in the Book of the Law of the Lord the names of those “faithful few” followers who had stood by him since the beginnings of his ministry—“pure and holy friends, who are faithful, just, and true, and whose hearts fail not” (History of the Church, 5:107; hereafter HC).  Another 1832 revelation "on Priesthood" was the first to explain priesthood doctrine. 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.  For example, this power would enable proxy baptisms for the dead and priesthood marriages that would be effective into the afterlife. Soon after, on April 6, 1830, Smith and his followers formally organized the Church of Christ, and small branches were established in Palmyra, Fayette, and Colesville, New York. 5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXECELLENT, DETAILED BIOGRAPHY OF JOSEPH SMITH'S EARLY CAREER.  Both his parents and his maternal grandfather reportedly had visions or dreams that they believed communicated messages from God.  On June 23, Smith and his brother Hyrum rode to Carthage to stand trial for inciting a riot.  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. Justifying the practice of polygamy by reference to the precedent of Abraham, the first of the Hebrew patriarchs, Smith was “sealed” (the ceremony that binds men and women in marriage for eternity) to about 30 wives, though no known children came from these unions. John A. Wilson, "The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: Translations and Interpretations, harvtxt error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFSmith1994 (. , In a speech given at the town's Fourth of July celebration, Rigdon declared that Mormons would no longer tolerate persecution by the Missourians and spoke of a "war of extermination" if Mormons were attacked. Smith fired three shots from a pepper-box pistol that his friend, Cyrus Wheelock, had lent him, wounding three men, before he sprang for the window. Dan Vogel, another historian, says that the work is autobiographical in nature. Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations. The temples he built (in Smith’s lifetime, two were erected and two more were planned) were modeled on the temples of ancient Israel.  Many modern biographers disagree with these ideas. , In Jackson County, existing Missouri residents resented the Mormon newcomers for both political and religious reasons. Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont.  Membership in Young's denomination surpassed 14 million members in 2010. 1882.  An 1841 revelation promised the restoration of the "fulness of the priesthood"; and in May 1842, Smith inaugurated a revised endowment or "first anointing". He appointed his male followers to priesthoods, named for the biblical figures Melchizedek and Aaron, that were overseen by the office of high priest. W Dan Vogel was a masterful editor of the five-volume Early Mormon Documents , and perhaps his encyclopedic knowledge of the primary sources is part of the problem with this biography.  When the narrative described an institutional church and a requirement for baptism, Smith and Cowdery baptized each other. However, several fragments were rediscovered in the 1960s, were translated by Egyptologists, and were determined to be part of the Book of Breathing with no connection to Abraham. Joseph Smith (1805-1844), American religious leader, was the founder of a unique American sect, the Mormons, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Smith implicitly endorsed this speech, and many non-Mormons understood it to be a thinly veiled threat. Non-Mormons tolerated a handful of “religious fanatics” in their midst but found dominance by them to be unbearable.  On October 30, a party of Missourians surprised and killed seventeen Mormons in the Haun's Mill massacre. Completing the work in less than 90 days, he published it in March 1830 as a 588-page volume called the Book of Mormon. Although a local minister to whom he related the vision dismissed it as a delusion, Smith continued to believe in its authenticity.  More nuanced interpretations include 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; or a gifted "mythmaker" who was the product of his Yankee environment.  Smith brought the Kirtland congregation under his own authority and tamed these outbursts. Hyrum, who was trying to secure the door, was killed instantly with a shot to the face. Smith, Lucy Mack. Among the more prominent features of the terrain were the Indian mounds containing the skeletons of long-dead warriors.  (Rockwell was later tried and acquitted.)  After a month, however, he returned to Kirtland empty-handed. , In April 1841, Smith wed Louisa Beaman. His followers regard him as a prophet comparable to Moses and Elijah, and several religious denominations consider themselves the continuation of the church that he organized, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ. , Polygamy caused a breach between Smith and his first wife, Emma.  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.  He said that in 1820, while praying in a wooded area near his home, God and Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him his sins were forgiven and that all contemporary churches had "turned aside from the gospel.  Others followed Lyman Wight and Alpheus Cutler. Early years. , According to the American historian and Mormonism expert Richard Bushman, the "signal feature" of Smith's life was "his sense of being guided by revelation".  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.  Having heard of a large sum of money supposedly hidden in Salem, Massachusetts, Smith traveled there and received a revelation that God had "much treasure in this city". He also told associates that he was capable of reading and translating them. By 1838, Smith had abandoned plans to redeem Zion in Jackson County, and after Smith and Rigdon arrived in Missouri, the town of Far West became the new "Zion". The first ever to witness, record and see God the Father, Jesus Christ, The Holy Ghost and Lucifer all …  Smith was blamed for having promoted a church-sponsored bank that failed.  They worked full time 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. , By mid-1842, popular opinion had turned against the Mormons. Smith came from an unremarkable New England family.  The story begins with a family that leaves Jerusalem, just before the Babylonian captivity.  Harris lost the manuscript, of which there was no other copy. , The Book of Moses begins with Moses' asking God about the purpose of creation. , Smith favored a strong central bank and high tariffs to protect American business and agriculture.  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. 2. In a church-wide conference on August 8, most of the Latter Day Saints elected Young, who led them to the Salt Lake Valley as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).  The practice of polygamy was kept secret from both non-Mormons and most members of the church during Smith's lifetime.  As punishment for losing the manuscript, Smith said that the angel returned and took away the plates, and revoked his ability to translate.  The Book of Abraham speaks of the founding of the Abrahamic nation, astronomy, cosmology, lineage and priesthood, and gives another account of the creation story.  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.  Smith said that blacks were not inherently inferior to whites, and he welcomed slaves into the church.  An 1832 revelation called "The Vision" added to the fundamentals of sin and atonement, and introduced doctrines of life after salvation, exaltation, and a heaven with degrees of glory.  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