Life of Joseph Smith from 1839 to 1844

The life of Joseph Smith from 1839 to 1844, when he was 34–38 years old, covers the period of Smith's life when he lived in Nauvoo, an eventful and highly controversial period of the Latter Day Saint movement. In 1844, after Smith was imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois, he was shot and killed when a mob stormed the jailhouse.

Life in Nauvoo, Illinois, 1839 to 1842Edit

In April 1839, Smith rejoined his followers who, having fled east from Missouri, had spread out along the banks of the Mississippi, near Quincy, Illinois. There, for both humanitarian and political reasons, the refugees had been welcomed.[1] Purchasing waterlogged wilderness land on credit from two Connecticut speculators (who drove a hard bargain during this period of economic recession), Smith established a new gathering place for the Saints along the Mississippi in Hancock County.[2] He renamed the area "Nauvoo", which means "beautiful" in Hebrew.[3] The soggy low land and river eddies were exceptional breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and the Saints suffered plagues of malaria in the summers of 1839, 1840, and 1841. (In 1841 malaria killed Joseph's brother Don Carlos and his namesake, Joseph's son Don Carlos, within a few days of one another.)[4]

Late in 1839, Smith went to Washington to seek redress from the federal government for the Saints' losses in Missouri. He met briefly with President Martin Van Buren, but neither man seems to have thought much of the other, and the trip produced no reparations. Whatever sympathy Van Buren or Congress might have had for Mormon victims was canceled out by the importance of Missouri in the upcoming presidential election.[5] Nevertheless, Smith shrewdly made Missouri a "byword for oppression" and "saw to it that the sufferings of his people received national publicity."[6]

In a bold stroke, Smith sent off the Twelve Apostles to Great Britain to serve as missionaries for the new faith. All left families in desperate circumstances struggling to establish themselves in Iowa or Illinois. While Smith had been imprisoned, Brigham Young, the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, had with indefatigable skill, brought the believers out of Missouri, and the Saints "had obeyed him implicitly."[7] But with Young and the others in Europe, Smith recovered his earlier prestige and authority. Meanwhile, the missionaries found many willing converts in Great Britain, often factory workers, poor even by the standards of American saints.[8] These first trickled, then flooded, into Nauvoo, raising Smith's spirits.[9]

Smith preaching to the Sac and Fox Indians who visited Nauvoo on August 12, 1841.

In February 1841, Nauvoo received a charter from the state of Illinois, which granted the Latter Day Saints a considerable degree of autonomy. Smith threw himself enthusiastically into the work of building a new city. The charter authorized independent municipal courts, the establishment of a university, and the creation of a militia unit known as the "Nauvoo Legion." Smith dreamed of industrial projects, and even received a revelation commanding the building of a hotel, "that strangers may come from afar to lodge therein."[10]

Work on a temple in Nauvoo began in the autumn of 1840. The cornerstones were laid during a conference on April 6, 1841. Construction took five years and it was dedicated on May 1, 1846; about four months after Nauvoo was abandoned by the majority of the citizens.

New doctrinesEdit

While burdened with the temporal business of creating a city, Smith also elaborated on the cosmology of the new religion. According to Richard Bushman, Smith moved from "a traditional Christian belief in God as pure spirit to a belief in His corporeality."[11] In other words, Smith declared that God had a body of flesh and bone and taught that "the great principle of happiness consists in having a body."[12]

Instead of affirming that there was an eternal God who had created matter, Smith taught that matter was eternal and that it was God who had developed through time and space. God only assembled the earth from preexisting materials and then had drawn on "a cohort of spirits from the pool of eternal intelligences to place upon it."[13] Another striking doctrine revealed to Smith after 1840 was baptism for the dead, an attempt to join "the generation of humanity from start to finish" by bringing "saving ordinances to the millions who had died without their benefits."[14] During the same period, Smith published the Book of Abraham, his translation of what later turned out to be an ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead that he had purchased from a traveling exhibitor in 1835. The Book of Abraham, canonized by the LDS Church after Smith's death, also emphasized the plurality of gods, pre-mortal existence, and the concept that the earth had been organized out of preexisting matter.[15]

These doctrinal expansions culminated in a renewed effort to build another temple. Smith chose a site on a bluff in Nauvoo where he blessed the cornerstones in a public ceremony on April 6, 1841. In Kirtland, Smith had instituted rituals of washing and anointing, but in Nauvoo "the ceremonies were further elaborated to include baptism for the dead, endowments, and priesthood marriages."[16] Smith had "a green thumb for growing ideas from tiny seeds," and "portions of the temple ritual resembled Masonic rites that Joseph had observed when a Nauvoo lodge was organized in March 1842 and that he may have heard about from Hyrum, a Mason from New York days."[17]

Plural marriageEdit

Revealed to SmithEdit

The early years in Nauvoo had been a time of comparative peace and economic prosperity, but by mid-1842, Smith was entangled in the conflicts that ended with his death two years later.[18] A year previous, Missouri courts had once again tried to extradite him on old charges that stemmed from the Mormon War. Although Stephen Douglas, then a member of the Illinois State Supreme Court, declared the writ of extradition void on a technicality, Smith "realized that popular opinion was turning against the Saints after two years of sympathy." Not surprisingly, Smith's praise for the Democrat Douglas first provoked opposition to the Mormons in a Whig newspaper, the Warsaw Signal, whose young editor, Thomas C. Sharp, Joseph then unwisely offended.[19]

Emma Hale Smith, wife of Joseph Smith. Throughout her life, and even on her deathbed, Emma Smith denied that her husband had ever practiced polygamy.[20][21]

Of all Smith's innovations during the years immediately preceding his death, the one that received the most hostile reception was his institution of plural marriage. Joseph Smith married at least twenty-eight women.[22] In April 1841, Smith secretly wed Louisa Beaman as a plural wife, and during the next two and a half years, he may have married thirty additional women, ten of them already married to other men.[23] About a third of Smith's plural wives were teenagers, including two fourteen-year-old girls.[24] Smith was "a charismatic, handsome man," and in Remini's words, he "seemed cheerful and gracious" to all.[25] Because many husbands and fathers knew about these plural marriages, Smith must have convinced them that "they and their families would benefit spiritually from a close tie to the Prophet."[26] Smith told one prospective wife that submitting to plural marriage would "ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father's household"; a father who gave his daughter in plural marriage was assured that the marriage would ensure "honor and immortality and eternal life to all your house both old and young."[27] Furthermore, once sealed for eternity by priesthood authority, Smith revealed that such couples would continue to procreate in the next life, becoming, in effect, gods.[28]

Smith surely "must have realized that plural marriage would inflict terrible damage, that he ran the risk of wrecking his marriage and alienating his followers." And for those in the larger world, plural marriage "would confirm all their worst fears" about Mormonism. "Sexual excess was considered that all too common fruit of pretended revelation."[29]

Although Emma believed in Joseph's prophetic calling, she was displeased with his multiple marriages, especially since five of the women lived in the Smith household when he married them.[30] Emma may have temporarily approved of Joseph's marriage to two sisters, Eliza and Emily Partridge, but even they were an "awkward selection" because Joseph had already married the sisters two months previous, and he had to go through another ceremony for Emma's benefit.[31] Nevertheless, "from that hour," Emily later wrote, "Emma was our bitter enemy," and they had to leave the household.[32] According to Smith's scribe, William Clayton, Joseph's brother Hyrum encouraged him to write down his revelation on plural marriage to present to Emma, and Joseph did so.[33] When Hyrum presented Emma with the revelation, she abused him.[34] Clayton reported that when Joseph reproved Emma for demanding from one plural wife a watch Joseph had given her, Joseph "had to use harsh measures to put a stop to [Emma's] abuse."[35]

Throughout her life and on her deathbed, Emma Smith frequently denied that her husband had ever taken additional wives.[36] 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.[37]

Revealed to othersEdit

Although Smith's teachings about plural marriage were expressed in strict confidentiality and only to his leadership, the more men and women who participated, the more likely it became that these secret marriages would be revealed to the Nauvoo community and, of course, to the larger world.[38] By May 16, 1842, the New York Herald reported the rumor that "promiscuous intercourse" was being practiced in Nauvoo.[39] Yet Smith might have been able to talk down these reports along with other salacious gossip had it not been for his erstwhile second-in-command, John Cook Bennett.[40] Smith was not always a good judge of men,[41] and Bennett shortly became Smith's nemesis, although Smith had first predicted that Bennett was "calculated to be a great blessing to our community."[42]

After arriving in Nauvoo in 1841, Bennett had been baptized into the new religion.[43] Emma never trusted him, but Joseph welcomed his assistance in acquiring the Nauvoo city charter. Soon Bennett became the first mayor of Nauvoo, “assistant president,” and Major General of the Nauvoo Legion.[44] The latter Bennett threatened to use in challenging Missouri for restitution of the Saints’ lost property, suggesting to skittish gentiles that Mormons intended to use force of arms to accomplish their objectives.[45] Unfortunately Smith had an eye for women and even began marrying other members wives.[46] Bennett was afraid he was going to give the church the reputation of a sex cult so he left the church and started a newspaper.[47] Smith was incensed at Bennett’s activities and forced Bennett’s resignation as Nauvoo mayor. In retaliation, Bennett remained in the area and wrote “lurid exposés of life in Nauvoo” that were first published in various newspapers and, later that year, compiled into a book.[48] Even contemporaries could hardly escape the conclusion that Bennett was, as Fawn Brodie called him, “a base and ignoble opportunist.” But the Ostlings note that “there was just enough of a kernel of truth to arouse internal suspicion and whip up anti-Mormon sentiment elsewhere.”[49] Non-Mormons looked with increasing uneasiness not only at reports of Mormon “free wifery” but at the comparative success of Nauvoo, the competent drilling of the Nauvoo Legion, and the growing political clout of the Saints.[49]

Smith was accused by Sarah Pratt in an 1886 interview with "vitriolic anti-Mormon journalist W. Wyl"[50] of allowing John C. Bennett, a medical doctor, to perform abortions on polygamous wives who were officially single, which she alleged limited Smith's progeny from these wives.[51] She based this on statements made to her by Bennett.[52][53] Orson Pratt, Sarah Pratt's husband, considered Bennett a liar[54] whereas Sarah Pratt herself said, "[I] know that the principle statements in John C. Bennett's book on Mormonism are true."[55]

Allegations against SmithEdit

Profile of Joseph Smith (circa 1843) by Bathsheba W. Smith, first wife of Apostle George A. Smith

On May 6, 1842, an unknown assailant shot former governor of Missouri Lilburn Boggs three times in the head.[56] Sheriff J.H. Reynolds discovered a revolver at the scene, still loaded with buckshot and surmised that the suspect lost his friend in the dark rainy night. Bennett named a rough Mormon loyalist, Porter Rockwell, as the gunman. Mormons assumed Boggs would die and considered his assassination a fulfillment of prophecy. The Nauvoo Wasp indiscreetly gloated that the person who “did the noble deed remains to be found out."[57] Boggs refused to die, however, and when he recovered, he pressed Illinois governor Thomas Carlin to extradite Smith to Missouri. Smith once again went into hiding for some months until the U. S. Circuit Court in Springfield finally ruled that the extradition order was unconstitutional.[58]

Several doctors—including Boggs' brother—pronounced Boggs all but dead; at least one newspaper ran an obituary. To everyone's great surprise, Boggs not only survived, but gradually improved. The popular press—and popular rumor—was quick to blame Smith's friend and sometime bodyguard Porter Rockwell for the assassination attempt. By some reports, Smith had prophesied that Boggs would die violently, leading to speculation that Smith was involved. Rockwell denied involvement, stating that he would not have left the governor alive if he had indeed tried to keep him alive.

Also at about this time, Bennett had become disaffected from Smith and began publicizing what he said was Smith's practice of "Spiritual Wifery". (Bennett, earlier a pro-polygamy activist, knew of Smith's revelation on plural marriage and encouraged Smith to advocate the practice publicly. When this was rejected by Smith, Bennett began seducing women on his own and was subsequently excommunicated for practicing "Spiritual Wifery"[2]. He stepped down as Nauvoo mayor—ostensibly in protest of Smith's actions—and also reported that Smith had offered a cash reward to anyone who would assassinate Boggs. He also reported that Smith had admitted to him that Rockwell had done the deed and that Rockwell had made a veiled threat on Bennett's life if he publicized the story. Smith vehemently denied Bennett's account, speculating that Boggs—no longer governor, but campaigning for state senate—was attacked by an election opponent. Bennett has been identified as "untruthful" by many historians and is seldom used as a reputable source.[citation needed]

Critics suggested that Nauvoo's charter should be revoked, and the Illinois legislature considered the proposal. In response, Smith petitioned the U.S. Congress to make Nauvoo a territory. His petition was declined.

Kinderhook PlatesEdit

In April 1843, twelve men in Kinderhook, Pike County, Illinois, indicated they had found six small brass plates on the property of Robert Wiley. Wiley had indicated that he had dreamed on three consecutive nights of treasure being buried in a mound, which had caused the plates to be discovered. In reality, Wiley, W. Fugate, and a blacksmith named Whiddon had counterfeited the plates making the characters with an acid process.

A letter was sent to the Times and Seasons revealing the discovery. An editorial was published on May 3, 1843 in the Quincy Whig observing that "some pretend to say that Smith, the Mormon leader, has the ability to read them" and that "it would go to prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon."

After a few weeks had passed the plates were brought to Joseph Smith to be translated. Several men presented themselves at Smith's home with the plates to determine if Joseph could translate them. Williard Richards records that Joseph sent William Smith for a Hebrew Bible and lexicon, seemingly in an attempt to translate the plates in a conventional process. William Clayton, in a conflicting account, wrote in his journal: "I have seen 6 brass plates... covered with ancient characters of language containing from 30 to 40 on each side of the plates. Prest J. has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth."[citation needed]

After this initial meeting, no further mention was ever made by Joseph Smith regarding translation of these plates. Smith may not have sensed the fraud; however he never pursued their translation.(Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p. 490) Whiddon, Wiley, and Fugate never said anything further regarding their fraud until 1879, when one of the party signed an affidavit revealing their fabrication and their desire to ensnare Smith.

The plates were lost in the Civil War but re-discovered by a Mormon scholar in the archives of the Chicago Historical Society Museum in the 1960s. Non-destructive tests were permitted to be done in 1965 by a Mormon Physicist, George M. Lawrence. In his report Lawrence wrote: The dimensions, tolerances, composition and workmanship are consistent with the facilities of an 1843 blacksmith shop and with the fraud stories of the original participants." This conclusion was not accepted by the Church at large and the original claim of Smith's translation persisted in Church books and publications until 1980 when conclusive tests were completed that determined the plates were made from a modern alloy. "[citation needed]

Nauvoo LegionEdit

Among the powers granted to the City of Nauvoo under its city charter was the authority to create a "body of independent militarymen." This force was a militia, and it became known as the "Nauvoo Legion". By 1842, the militia had 2,000 troops, and at least 3,000 by 1844, including some non-Mormons. In comparison, the U.S. Army had only 8,500 men in this period.

Although the charter authorizing the Nauvoo Legion created an independent militia, it could be used by the state governor, the President of the United States, or the mayor of Nauvoo. Joseph Smith himself was Nauvoo's second mayor, and Nauvoo also appointed him highest ranking officer of the Legion, a Lieutenant General. This rank is one step above Major General which most contemporary militias employed as their commanding rank. One motive for the higher rank was to prevent Smith from being tried in a court martial by officers of lesser rank. In 1837 the Missouri militia had contemplated a court martial against Smith, a civilian at that time.

In the last month of his life, June 1844, Smith declared martial law in Nauvoo and deployed the Legion to defend the city.

Arrest attemptEdit

On 6 June 1843, Joseph Smith was indicted by a grand jury in the circuit court of Daviess County, Missouri on the charge of treason against the state. On June 13, 1843, Governor Reynolds dispatch Sheriff Joseph H. Reynolds to apprehend Smith. In Illinois, Reynolds was joined by Constable Harmon T. Wilson (of Hancock County, IL). On June 21, the two placed Smith under arrest when he was staying outside Nauvoo near Dixon, IL. Once they had Smith in their custody, Reynolds and Wilson were themselves placed under arrest by Sheriff Campbell of Lee County, IL. Campbell transported Smith, Reynolds, and Wilson to the Municipal Court of Nauvoo. On July 1, the Municipal Court of Nauvoo dismissed the warrant and freed Smith.[59]

United States presidential campaignEdit

Smith 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 third-party candidacy for President of the United States, suspended regular proselytizing, and sent out the Quorum of the Twelve and hundreds of other political missionaries.[60]: 118–19  The Anointed Quorum chose Sidney Rigdon as Smith's running mate.[61]

Smith proposed the redemption of slaves by selling public lands and decreasing the size and salary of Congress; the closure of prisons; the annexation of Texas, Oregon, and parts of Canada; the securing of international rights on high seas; free trade; and the re-establishment of a national bank.[62] His top aide Brigham Young campaigned for Smith saying, "He it is that God of Heaven designs to save this nation from destruction and preserve the Constitution."[63]

Political commitmentsEdit

Illinois governor Thomas Ford thought the summer's events presaged Smith's downfall, that a majority of Illinois residents were "determined upon driving the Mormons out of the State; and everything connected with the Mormons became political."[64] In December 1843, Smith petitioned Congress for the right to make Nauvoo an independent federal territory with the right to call out federal troops in its defense.[65] Then, probably unwisely, Smith also decided to desert both Whigs and Democrats, and announce his own candidacy for President of the United States, sending out the apostles to advertise his campaign.[66] Meanwhile, he made plans to scout possible sites for a large Mormon settlement in Oregon or California.[67]

In March 1844, Smith organized a secret Council of Fifty, a policy-making body based on what Smith called "Theodemocracy"[68] and which was in effect a shadow government.[69] One of the Council's first acts was to ordain Smith as King of the Kingdom of God. And, as if they had just organized an independent state, Smith and the Council sent ambassadors to England, France, Russia, and the Republic of Texas.[49] In April, Smith predicted "the entire overthrow of this nation in a few years."[70]

Smith's deathEdit

Dissent in NauvooEdit

Smith faced growing opposition among his former supporters in Nauvoo, and he "was stunned by the defections of loyal followers."[71] Chief among the dissidents was William Law, Smith's second counselor in the First Presidency, who was well respected in the Mormon community.[72] Law's disagreement with Smith was partly economic.[73] But the most significant difference between the two was Law's opposition to plural marriage. Law and others gave testimonies at the county seat in Carthage that resulted in three indictments being brought against Smith, including one accusing him of polygamy. There is even evidence that Smith propositioned the wives of both Law and his associate Robert D. Foster.[74][75] On May 26, just a few weeks before his death, Smith spoke before a large crowd of the Saints in front of the uncompleted temple and once again denied having any more than one wife.[76]

Nauvoo ExpositorEdit

Unlike earlier dissenters Law had enough money to buy a printing press and publish a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor. Its only edition, published on June 7, 1844, contained affidavits testifying that the signers had heard Smith read a revelation giving every man the privilege of marrying ten virgins. The paper also attacked the attempt to "christianize a world by political schemes and intrigue" and denounced "false doctrines" such as "doctrines of many Gods," which, the paper said, Smith had recently revealed in his King Follett discourse. The newspaper also refused to "acknowledge any man as king or lawgiver to the church."[77][78]

Smith declared the Expositor a "nuisance." On June 10, the Nauvoo city council passed an ordinance about libels; and Smith, as mayor, ordered the city marshal to destroy the paper.[79] Press, type, and newspapers were dragged into the street and burned. Smith argued that destroying the paper would lessen the possibility of anti-Mormon settlers attacking Nauvoo; but he "failed to see that suppression of the paper was far more likely to arouse a mob than the libels. It was a fatal mistake."[80]

Carthage Jail (c. 1885), where Smith was killed in 1844

When the destruction of the Expositor was reported to Smith's journalistic enemy Thomas C. Sharp, his Warsaw Signal published a call to action: "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!!!"[81]

Nauvoo Mormons feared reprisals from the non-Mormons, and non-Mormons were apprehensive about the Nauvoo Legion, especially after Smith declared martial law on June 18. Illinois Governor Thomas Ford, desperately trying to prevent civil war, then mobilized the state militia.[82] The governor promised Smith that he would provide protection if Smith would stand trial at Carthage for the destruction of the newspaper. Smith ordered the Legion to disarm but then fled across the Mississippi to Iowa. Emma warned Joseph that Nauvoo residents believed he had left due to cowardice and that they feared reprisals from local mobs. Smith returned to Illinois on June 23, gave himself up, and was taken to Carthage to stand trial.[83]


The murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith
Pepper-box pistol used by Joseph Smith to defend himself on June 27, 1844

After a hearing, Smith was released but stayed in the jail at the request of Governor Dunklin as there were to be additional charges filed the following day. According to Taylor and Richards, Dunklin promised to take Smith back to Nauvoo; however, he left Carthage without him.

Smith and three other Mormon prisoners were held in Carthage Jail in an upstairs room without bars. Both Hyrum and Joseph Smith had pistols that had been smuggled in by friends.[84] On June 27, 1844, an armed group of men with blackened faces stormed the jail. As the mob broke into the room, Hyrum was shot in the face and killed.[85] Smith pulled the trigger of his pepper-box six times, firing into the hall and hitting three men, but the mob continued to fire at Smith and the other Mormons.[86] Smith prepared to jump from the second floor window, but was hit by a ball from the door, causing him to fall out the window. On the ground he stirred a bit; four men fired and killed him.[87]


Certain the Mormons would retaliate, the people of Carthage deserted their town by nightfall. But the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum were brought back to Nauvoo, and thousands of mourners filed by their coffins. Fearing desecration of the graves, church leaders decided to bury the men in the basement of the unfinished Nauvoo House. The coffins were filled with bags of sand and buried in the cemetery following a public funeral.[88]

Charges were brought against five accused leaders of the mob that had killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and they stood trial in May 1845. The defense argued that no individuals could be held responsible because the assassins were carrying out the will of the people. The jury, which included no Mormons, acquitted the defendants.[89]

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Park, Benjamin E. 2020. Kingdom of Nauvoo: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier. W. W. Norton.


  1. ^ "There was chronic border friction between Missouri and Illinois, and the 'Suckers' welcomed the chance to demonstrate a nobility of character foreign to the despised 'Pukes.' More important, a presidential election was in the offing, and the Democratic Association, which controlled the votes in the quincy area, was eager to make friends with this huge new voting bloc. Fearful lest the Mormons turn Whig in bitterness against the Democratic government in Missouri they solicited funds for relieving the Mormons' distress and did their best to provide housing." Fawn Brodie, 248-49.
  2. ^ Bushman, 383-84. Smith also purchased land across the river in Iowa from a dishonest recent convert, Isaac Galland. Galland sold his land cheaply enough, but when courts finally straightened out the titles, Gallands' proved worthless. The 250 Mormon families who had settled had to return "penniless to Nauvoo." Brodie, 262.
  3. ^ A similar Hebrew word appears in Isaiah 52: 7. Latter Day Saints often referred to Nauvoo as "the city beautiful", or "the city of Joseph"—which was actually the name of the city for a short time after the city charter was revoked—or other similar nicknames) after being granted a charter by the state of Illinois.
  4. ^ Bushman, 384, 425.
  5. ^ Bushman, 392-93.
  6. ^ Brodie, 259. The editor of the Chicago Democrat wrote, "We will not go so far as to call the Mormons martyr-mongers, but we believe they are men of sufficient sagacity to profit by anything in the shape of persecution....The Mormons have greatly profited by their persecution in Missouri...let Illinois repeat that bloody tragedies of Missouri and one or two other states follow, and the Mormon religion will not only be known throughout our land, but will be very extensively embraced. March 25, 1840 in Brodie, 259.
  7. ^ Brodie, 258.
  8. ^ Bushman (2005), 409; Brodie, 258, 264-65. Many converts came from dissatisfied members of English sects "along the margins of conventional church life." On the previous religious beliefs of these Mormon converts, see Grant Underwood, The Millenarian World of Early Mormonism (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1993). The Mormon missionaries were shocked by the poverty they witnessed, and as Fawn Brodie has written, they "began to preach the glory of America along with the glory of the gospel." The Mormon Millennial Star published in Liverpool "frequently had the ring of a real estate pamphlet." Brodie, 264.
  9. ^ Bushman (2005), 410.
  10. ^ Bushman (2005), 410-13; D&C, 124: 23. The revelation (still included in the Mormon canon) specifically provided the amount of stock to be owned by any individual and granted a suite of rooms to Joseph Smith and his posterity "from generation to generation, for ever and ever." D&C, 124: 59.
  11. ^ D&C, 130: 22; Bushman (2005), 420. According to LDS theologian David L. Paulsen, this teaching was foreshadowed in the Book of Mormon by the story of the brother of Jared, although even Richard Bushman admits that the "doctrine of a corporeal God was not fully articulated until later." David L. Paulsen, "The Doctrine of Divine Embodiment: Restoration, Judeo-Christian, and Philosophical Perspectives, BYU Studies 34, no. 4 (1995-96), 19-21. The earliest unequivocal statement of Joseph Smith was made at the opening of the Nauvoo Lyceum, January 5, 1841: "There is no other God in heaven but that God who has flesh and bone." Kurt Widmer, Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830-1915 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2000), 122. See also Douglas J. Davies, An Introduction to Mormonism (Cambridge University Press, 2003), 75-76.
  12. ^ Bushman (2005), 421.
  13. ^ Bushman (2005), 421. In general see, Kurt Widmer, Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830-1915 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2000). Widmer notes that Smith's "Doctrine of Eternal Progression" includes four components: that God is an exalted man; that man's spirit is co-equal with God and he can become a god; that there are innumerable gods who are progressing in knowledge; and that there is a "council or plurality" of gods." (119)
  14. ^ Bushman (2005), 422.
  15. ^ Bushman (2005), 452-58; Brodie, 170-75; Widmer, 90. The Book of Abraham was also used by later Mormons to justify discrimination against those with black skin because they were, like Pharaoh, descendants of Ham.
  16. ^ Bushman (2005), 448; Ostlings, 9; Davies, 205. Davies notes that "Baptism for the dead and covenant-endowments for the conquest of death both found their ultimate validation in the power of the priesthood yet these three elements are absent from the Book of Mormon, whose emphasis upon baptism is always a baptism of repentance of the living for themselves." Smith did not live to see the completion or dedication of the temple. The Saints began to receive endowments on December 10, 1845, and the temple dedication was held on April 30, 1845, just before Nauvoo was abandoned.
  17. ^ Bushman (2005), 449. Smith was initiated as an Entered Apprentice Mason at the Nauvoo lodge on March 15, 1842. The next day, he was raised to the degree of Master Mason; the usual month-long wait between degrees was waived by the Grand Master of Illinois, Abraham Jonas. Anderson, Devery S.; Bergera, James, eds. (2005). Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary History. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. p. [page needed]. ISBN 1-56085-186-4. OCLC 57965858. Archived from the original on 2013-02-02. Some commentators have noted similarities between portions of temple ordinance of the endowment and the Royal Arch Degree of Freemasonry. Richard Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise (Harper Collins, 1999), 188. "Smith was an active Mason when he introduced the endowment ordinance two years before his death, and many scholars have noted the strong resemblance between the Mormon ordinance and Masonic ritual." See also: Freemasonry and the Latter Day Saint movement.
  18. ^ Bushman (2005), 436.
  19. ^ Bushman (2005), 425-28. Prior to Smith's praise for Douglas, Sharp had been a "neutral observer" of the Nauvoo settlement. Smith had given him a place of honor at the dedication of the temple cornerstone and had invited him to his house for turkey dinner. After Sharp announced that his newspaper would "oppose the concentration of political power in a religious body, or in the hands of a few individuals," Smith canceled his subscription and called the paper "a filthy sheet, that tissue of lies, that sink of iniquity," and signed the letter "Yours, with utter contempt."
  20. ^ Emma Smith claimed that the very first time she ever became aware of a polygamy revelation being attributed by Mormons to Joseph Smith was when she read about it in Orson Pratt's booklet The Seer in 1853, Saints' Herald 65:1044–1045
  21. ^ Church History, 3: 355-356.
  22. ^ Bushman, 493; Compton, 4-7; Remini, 153-54; Brodie, "The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith," Appendix C in No Man Knows My History, 2nd ed. (New York: Knopf, 1971), 457-88. Remini, 153. Brodie guessed that there might have been as many as 48 plural wives, but succeeding scholars have considered her numbers exaggerated. Remini said that the true number might have been as high as eighty-four, although many of these might have been "simply sacred sealings for eternity." Remini, 153. Smith's biography in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 3: 1337, says that Smith took at least twenty-eight plural wives. On her deathbed, Emma Smith denied that her husband had ever practiced polygamy.Church History, 3: 355-356.
  23. ^ Bushman (2005), 437; Remini, 151; Brodie, 335. Bushman follows the conservative reckoning of Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), excluding one.
  24. ^ Compton, 11; Remini,154; Brodie, 334-43.
  25. ^ Bushman (2005), 439; Remini, 144.
  26. ^ Bushman (2005), 439. Smith also told some women that an angel had commanded him to marry them, sometimes coming with "a drawn sword and threatened his life." Brodie, 303.
  27. ^ Whitney, "Autobiography" [2]; Revelation, July 27, 1842, Revelations Collections; quoted in Bushman, 439; Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, Plurality, Patriarchy, and Priestess: Zina D. H. Young's Nauvoo Marriages," Journal of Mormon History 20 (1994): 84-118.
  28. ^ Bushman (2005), 439, 444; D&C 132: 20: "Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them."
  29. ^ Bushman (2005), 438: "Joseph's enemies would delight in one more evidence of a revelator's antinomian transgressions. He also risked prosecution under Illinois's anti-bigamy law."
  30. ^ Leonard Arrington & Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience (University of Illinois, 1979), 223; Bushman (2005), 491; Remini, 152-53; Brodie, 340-42: "Only Joseph's intimates knew that Emma nagged at him incessantly to be done with plural marriage....There was a hard core of resistance in Emma that Joseph simply could not wear down."
  31. ^ Bushman (2005), 494; Brodie, 339; Remini, 152-53. The day Joseph married the Partridge sisters, he bought Emma a new carriage.
  32. ^ Quoted in Brodie, 339.
  33. ^ Bushman (2005), 495-96.
  34. ^ Bushman (2005), 496; Newell and Avery, 161. Hyrum said that he came away from Emma having "never received a more severe talking to in his life." Later Joseph supposedly told his brother, "I told you you didn't know Emma as well as I did. Historical Record, 6: 224-26 (1887), quoted in Brodie, 341.
  35. ^ Bushman (2005), 496 quoting Clayton, Journal, August 16, 21, 23, 1843,
  36. ^ Emma claimed that the very first time she ever became aware of a polygamy revelation being attributed to Joseph by Mormons was when she read about it in Orson Pratt's booklet The Seer in 1853 (Saints' Herald 65:1044–1045). Emma campaigned publicly against polygamy and also authorized and was the main signatory of a petition in Summer 1842, with a thousand female signatures, denying that Joseph was connected with polygamy (Times and Seasons 3 [August 1, 1842]: 869). As president of the Ladies' Relief Society, Emma authorized publishing a certificate in October 1842 denouncing polygamy and denying her husband as its creator or participant (Times and Seasons 3 [October 1, 1842]: 940). In March 1844, Emma said, "we raise our voices and hands against John C. Bennett's 'spiritual wife system', as a scheme of profligates to seduce women; and they that harp upon it, wish to make it popular for the convenience of their own cupidity; wherefore, while the marriage bed, undefiled is honorable, let polygamy, bigamy, fornication, adultery, and prostitution, be frowned out of the hearts of honest men to drop in the gulf of fallen nature". The document The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo. signed by Emma Smith as President of the Ladies' Relief Society, was published within the article Virtue Will Triumph, Nauvoo Neighbor, March 20, 1844 (LDS History of the Church 6:236, 241) including on her deathbed where she stated "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". Church History3: 355-356
  37. ^ (Van Wagoner 1992, pp. 113–115) As Fawn Brodie has written, this denial was "her revenge and solace for all her heartache and humiliation." (Brodie, 399) "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." Newell and Avery wrote of "the paradox of Emma's position", quoting her friend and lawyer Judge George Edmunds who stated "that's just the hell of it! I can't account for it or reconcile her statements." (Newell & Avery 1994, p. 308)
  38. ^ "Rumors of polygamy among the Mormons were not loud, but they were persistent....there was talk of it, talk that increased with the passing years." Brodie, 186. When in 1841, Smith approached Joseph Bates Noble about marrying his wife's sister, Smith asked Bates to "keep quiet": "In revealing this to you I have placed my life in your hands, therefore do not in an evil hour betray me to my enemies." Noble performed the ceremony "in a grove near Main Street with Louisa in man's clothing." Bushman, 438.s
  39. ^ Quoted in Brodie, 269.
  40. ^ Ostlings, 32.
  41. ^ Ostlings, 32. Bushman says more discreetly that Smith "had trouble distinguishing true friends from self-serving schemers." Bushman (2005), 410.
  42. ^ Bushman, 410.
  43. ^ Ostlings, 12.
  44. ^ Ostlings, 12; Bushman, 459.
  45. ^ Brodie, 273. Bennett wrote that the “blood of murdered Mormons cries aloud for help…and I swear by the Lord God of Israel, that the sword shall not depart from my thigh, nor the buckler from my arm, until the trust is consummated, and the hydra-headed fiery dragon slain.” Times and Seasons, 3 (March 15, 1842), 724.
  46. ^ Bushman, 460.
  47. ^ Brodie, 310; Bushman, 460. Bennett, a minimally trained doctor, also promised abortions to those who became pregnant.
  48. ^ Ostlings, 12; Bushman, 461-62; Brodie, 314.
  49. ^ a b c Ostlings, 13.
  50. ^ The Prophet Joseph Smith and His Plural Wives Archived 2008-06-22 at the Wayback Machine, Anderson, Richard L. & Faulring, Scott H., FARMS Review of Books 10:2
  51. ^ Smith 1971, pp. 113 link
  52. ^ JOSEPH SMITH THE PROPHET: HIS FAMILY AND HIS FRIENDS, copy of Wilhelm Ritter von Wymetal's 1886 book
  53. ^ Wymetal 1886, pp. 60–61 link
  54. ^ "J.C. Bennett has published lies concerning myself & family & the people with which I am connected....His book I have read with the greatest disgust. No candid honest man can or will believe it. He has disgraced himself in eyes of all civilized society who will despise his very name," (Weisberg, Jacob. "Romney's Religion: A Mormon president? No way". Slate. Retrieved 2007-12-04.)
  55. ^ MacKinney, Jonathan (2006). Revelation Plain And Simple. Xulon Press. p. 494. ISBN 1-60034-280-9.
  56. ^ Bushman, 468.
  57. ^ Bushman, 468; Brodie, 323; Nauvoo Wasp, May 28, 1842.
  58. ^ Bushman, 468-75. The court’s reasoning was that if Smith had committed a crime, it had been committed in Illinois not Missouri.
  59. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2013-10-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  60. ^ Quinn, D. Michael (1994). The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. ISBN 1-56085-056-6.
  61. ^ Bushman (2005), pp. 514–15; Brodie (1971), pp. 362–64
  62. ^ Smith, Joseph, Jr. (1844). "General Smith's Views on the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States".
  63. ^ Winn, Kenneth H. (1990). Exiles in a Land of Liberty: Mormons in America, 1830-1846. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 203.
  64. ^ Thomas Ford, History of Illinois, From Its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847 (New York: Ivison and Phinney, 1854), 319.
  65. ^ Bushman, 511; Brodie, 356. Smith also threatened Congress. The Millennial Star later quoted Smith as having said, "if Congress will not hear our petition and grant us protection, they shall be broken up as a government and God shall damn them, and there shall be nothing left of them—not even a grease spot." Quoted in Brodie, 356.
  66. ^ Bushman, 514-15; Brodie, 362-64. Smith chose Sidney Rigdon as his running mate.
  67. ^ Bushman, 519.
  68. ^ Smith told a St. Louis reporter, "I go emphatically, virtuously, and humanely for a Theodemocracy, where God and the people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteousness. And where liberty, free trade, and sailor's right [sic], and the protection of life and property shall be maintained inviolate, for the benefit of ALL." (Quoted in Bushman, 522.) Nevertheless, as Bushman admits, to critics, "Joseph's plan for the Kingdom of God looked like a program for Mormon dominance." The Council of Fifty (which originally had fifty-three members) included only three non-Mormons, two of whom were known counterfeiters. (Ostlings, 13).
  69. ^ Bushman, 511; Ostlings, 13; Remini, 166; Robert Bruce Flanders, Nauvoo: Kingdom on the Mississippi (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965), 292-94.
  70. ^ Quoted in Bushman, 521.
  71. ^ Bushman (2005), 527.
  72. ^ Ostlings, 14. Law had taken Hyrum Smith's place in the First Presidency as second counselor. Brodie calls Law one of Smith's "ablest and most courageous men." Brodie, 368. Law had been one of the few Saints to arrive in Nauvoo with capital; and he and his brother Wilson had purchased a considerable amount of land and constructed flour and lumber mills. Bushman (2005), 528. Brodie notes that Law came from Canada "a wealthy man" and had fostered "more than anyone else the sorely needed industrialization of the city." Brodie, 368.
  73. ^ Law paid his workers in cash, but Smith "operated on scrip, credit, and tithed labor." Law was also convinced that Smith was misappropriating money donated by church members to complete the Nauvoo House hotel in order to buy land and sell it to converts at a profit. Ostlings, 14; Brodie, 368.
  74. ^ Ostlings, 14.
  75. ^ On the legal issues, see Edwin Brown Firmage and Richard Collin Mangrum, Zion in the Courts: A Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 106-113.
  76. ^ Smith stated "I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives....I have rattled chains before in a dungeon for truth's sake. I am innocent of all these charges, and you can bear witness of my innocence, for you know me yourselves....What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers."Address of the Prophet—His Testimony Against the Dissenters at Nauvoo, History of the Church, Period I, 6:408–412. Referring to Law, Smith stated "This new holy prophet has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this". History of the Church, 6:410–411. Bushman argues that, while to Smith's enemies "the speech was blatant hypocrisy", in Smith's mind "priesthood plural marriage was based on another principle than polygamy." Bushman (2005), 538
  77. ^ William Law (1844-06-07). "Nauvoo Expositor".
  78. ^ Marquardt 2005;Marquardt 1999, p. 312
  79. ^ Bushman, 540; Marquardt 2005; Marquardt 1999, 312; J. L. Clark writes that Hyrum's statement "appeared in the Nauvoo Neighbor of June 19, 1844, but was omitted from the History of the Church" (Clark 1968); La Rue 1919; LDS Church 1912. The council met on June 8 and June 10 to discuss the matter; The Destruction of the "Nauvoo Expositor"—Proceedings of the Nauvoo City Council and Mayor
  80. ^ Bushman, 541.
  81. ^ Warsaw Signal, June 14, 1844.
  82. ^ Ostlings, 16.
  83. ^ 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. [1] All of Smith's associates left the jail, except his brother Hyrum, Richards and Taylor.
  84. ^ Bushman, 549: "Joseph spent Thursday, June 27, preparing for the treason trial scheduled for Saturday. He gave a long list of witnesses to Cyrus Wheelock, who earlier in the day had smuggled in a six-shooter in his overcoat. John Fullmer had previously given Joseph a single-shot pistol, which he passed along to Hyrum."
  85. ^ Bushman, 550: "Hyrum was the first to fall. A ball through the door struck him on the left side of the nose, throwing him to the floor."
  86. ^ Brodie, 393: "Joseph now discharged all six barrels down the passageway. Three of them missed fire, but the other three found marks." Bushman, 550. Richards was unharmed. Taylor was shot several times, but survived. (One of the bullets glanced off his pocket watch.)Taylor, John, Witness to the Martyrdom, pp. 91, 114–115;Leanord, Glen (2002), A Place of Peace, a People of Promise, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, Taylor, close behind the Prophet, had been using Markham's ‘rascal-beater’ to knock against the muskets and bayonets thrusting into the room.
  87. ^ Brodie, 393-94. Bushman has a slightly different scenario, "A ball from the doorway struck his hip, and a shot from the outside entered his chest. Another hit under the heart and a fourth his collarbone. He fell outward crying, "O Lord my God!" Landing on his left side, he struggled to sit up against the curb of a well and died within seconds."
  88. ^ Arrington and Bitton, 82; Remini, 174-75. The remains were disinterred in 1928 on the orders of Smith's grandson Frederick M. Smith, then President of the RLDS Church, and reburied along with Smith's wife Emma in a location thought to be safer from Mississippi flooding. Black, S.E. The Tomb of Joseph, from The Disciple as Witness: Essays on Latter-day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for religious Scholarship, Brigham Young University, 61–86. Our History - Smith Family Cemetery, Community of Christ.
  89. ^ Bushman (2005), 552.


Preceded by Joseph Smith
Succeeded by