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Portal:History of the Latter Day Saint movement

For a topic timeline on this subject, see Timeline of Mormonism

History of the Latter Day Saint movement

An 1893 engraving depicting Joseph Smith's description of receiving artifacts from the angel Moroni.

The Latter Day Saint movement is a religious movement within Christianity that arose during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century and that led to the set of doctrines, practices, and cultures called Mormonism, and to the existence of numerous Latter Day Saint churches. Its history is characterized by intense controversy and persecution in reaction to some of the movement's doctrines and practices and their relationship to mainstream Christianity (see Mormonism and Christianity). The purpose of this article is to give an overview of the different groups, beliefs, and denominations that began with the influence of Joseph Smith.

The founder of the Latter Day Saint movement was Joseph Smith, who was raised in the burned-over district of Upstate New York, and claimed that, in response to prayer, he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, as well as angels and other visions. This eventually led him to a restoration of Christian doctrine that, he said, was lost after the early Christian apostles were killed. In addition, several early leaders made marked doctrinal and leadership contributions to the movement, including Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Brigham Young. Modern-day revelation from God continues to be a principal belief of the Mormon faith.

Mormon history as an academic field is called Mormon studies.

Selected article

General Joseph Smith commanding the Nauvoo Legion infantrymen in formation between 1839 and 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois, with the Nauvoo Temple on a hill in the background

The Nauvoo Legion was a state-authorized militia of the city of Nauvoo, Illinois, United States. With growing antagonism from surrounding settlements it came to have as its main function the defense of Nauvoo, and surrounding Latter Day Saint areas of settlement.

To curry political favor with the Saints, the Illinois state legislature granted Nauvoo a liberal city charter that gave the Nauvoo Legion extraordinary independence even though it was still a component of the Illinois State Militia and under the ultimate authority of the Governor of Illinois. Led by Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement and a mayor of Nauvoo, the Legion quickly became a formidable concentration of military power in the hands of an unpopular outcast religious theocracy.

Previously, from May to June 1834 Joseph Smith led a military expedition of Latter Day Saints, known as Zion's Camp from Kirtland, Ohio to Clay County, Missouri in an unsuccessful attempt to regain land from which the Saints had been expelled by non-Mormon settlers. He organized the first Mormon militia group known as the "Armies of Israel" to protect his people. Some historians have alleged this earlier militia to be the original foundation of the Danite band. Read more...

Selected biography

Pratt, ca. 1845

Parley Parker Pratt Sr. (April 12, 1807 – May 13, 1857) was an early leader of the Latter Day Saint movement whose writings became a significant early nineteenth-century exposition of the Latter Day Saint faith. Named in 1835 as one of the first members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Pratt was part of the Quorum's successful mission to Great Britain from 1839 to 1841. Pratt has been called "the Apostle Paul of Mormonism" for his promotion of distinctive Mormon doctrines.

Pratt explored and surveyed Parley's Canyon in Salt Lake City, Utah (named in his honor), and subsequently built and maintained the first road for public transportation in the canyon.

Pratt practiced plural marriage. He was murdered in 1857 by the estranged husband of his twelfth wife. Pratt fathered thirty children. His living descendants in 2011 were estimated to number 30,000 to 50,000. He is the great-great-grandfather of Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican candidate for President of the United States, and the great-great-great-grandfather of Jon Huntsman Jr., diplomat and former Governor of Utah, who is currently serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Russia. Read more...

Selected Location

Winter Quarters

Winter Quarters was an encampment formed by approximately 2,500 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they waited during the winter of 1846–47 for better conditions for their trek westward. It followed a preliminary tent settlement some 3½ miles west at Cutler's Park. The Mormons built more than 800 cabins at the Winter Quarters settlement. Located in present-day North Omaha overlooking the Missouri River, the settlement remained populated until 1848. Read more...



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