105 Facts About Joseph Smith


Joseph Smith said he experienced a series of visions, including one in 1820 during which he saw "two personages", and another in 1823 in which an angel directed him to a buried book of golden plates inscribed with a Judeo-Christian history of an ancient American civilization.

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In 1830, Joseph Smith published what he said was an English translation of these plates called the Book of Mormon.

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Joseph Smith published many revelations and other texts that his followers regard as scripture.

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Joseph Smith's teachings discuss the nature of God, cosmology, family structures, political organization, and religious collectivism.

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At the age of seven Joseph Smith suffered a crippling bone infection and, after receiving surgery, used crutches for three years.

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Joseph Smith's parents disagreed about religion, but the family was caught up in this excitement.

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Joseph Smith said that he became interested in religion by age 12.

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Joseph Smith said that, although he had become concerned about the welfare of his soul, he was confused by the claims of competing religious denominations.

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Years later, Joseph Smith wrote that he had received a vision that resolved his religious confusion.

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Joseph 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.

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Joseph Smith said he attempted to remove the plates the next morning, but was unsuccessful because the angel returned and prevented him.

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Joseph Smith reported that during the next four years, he made annual visits to the hill, but, until the fourth and final visit, each time he returned without the plates.

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Meanwhile, the Joseph Smith family faced financial hardship, due in part to the death of Joseph Smith's oldest brother Alvin, who had assumed a leadership role in the family.

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Joseph Smith was said to have an ability to locate lost items by looking into a seer stone, which he used in treasure hunting, including several unsuccessful attempts to find buried treasure sponsored by a wealthy farmer in Chenango County, New York.

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In 1826, Joseph Smith was brought before a Chenango County court for "glass-looking", or pretending to find lost treasure.

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When Joseph Smith proposed marriage, Emma's father, Isaac Hale objected, in part because he believed Joseph Smith had no means to support Emma.

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Later that year, when Joseph Smith promised to abandon treasure seeking, Hale offered to let the couple live on his property in Harmony and help Joseph Smith get started in business.

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Joseph Smith made his last visit to the hill on September 22,1827, taking Emma with him.

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Joseph Smith said the angel commanded him not to show the plates to anyone else, but to translate them and publish their translation.

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Joseph Smith said the translation was a religious record of Middle-Eastern indigenous Americans, and were engraved in an unknown language, called reformed Egyptian.

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Joseph Smith told associates that he was capable of reading and translating them.

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Harris persuaded Joseph Smith to let him take the existing 116 pages of manuscript to Palmyra to show a few family members, including his wife.

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Joseph Smith was devastated not only by the loss of the manuscript, but the loss of his first son who had died shortly after birth.

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Joseph Smith said that the angel returned the plates to him in September 1828.

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Joseph Smith later claimed that, probably around this time, Peter, James, and John had appeared to him and had ordained him and Cowdery to a higher priesthood.

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Joseph Smith's authority was undermined when Oliver Cowdery, Hiram Page, and other church members claimed to receive revelations.

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Shortly after the conference, Joseph Smith dispatched Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and others on a mission to proselytize Native Americans.

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When Joseph 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.

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Joseph Smith brought the Kirtland congregation under his own authority and tamed these outbursts.

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Joseph 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 Priesthood to the church hierarchy.

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Joseph 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.

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Joseph Smith advised them to bear the violence patiently until after they were attacked multiple times, after which they could fight back.

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Joseph 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 called Zion's Camp, to aid the Missouri Mormons.

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Joseph Smith gave a revelation saying that to redeem Zion, his followers would have to receive an endowment in the Kirtland Temple.

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Joseph Smith was blamed for having promoted a church-sponsored bank that failed.

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Joseph Smith encouraged the Latter Day Saints to buy the notes, and he invested heavily in them himself, but the bank failed within a month.

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Joseph Smith was held responsible for the failure, and there were widespread defections from the church, including many of Joseph Smith's closest advisers.

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Joseph Smith encouraged the settlement of land outside Caldwell County, instituting a settlement in Adam-ondi-Ahman, in Daviess County.

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Joseph Smith explicitly approved of the expulsion of these men, who were known collectively as the "dissenters".

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Joseph Smith implicitly endorsed this speech, and many non-Mormons understood it to be a thinly veiled threat.

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Joseph Smith was immediately brought before a military court, accused of treason, and sentenced to be executed the next morning; Alexander Doniphan, who was Joseph Smith's former attorney and a brigadier general in the Missouri militia, refused to carry out the order.

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Joseph Smith was then sent to a state court for a preliminary hearing, where several of his former allies testified against him.

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Illinois accepted Mormon refugees who gathered along the banks of the Mississippi River, where Joseph Smith purchased high-priced, swampy woodland in the hamlet of Commerce.

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Joseph Smith attempted to portray the Latter Day Saints as an oppressed minority, and unsuccessfully petitioned the federal government for help in obtaining reparations.

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In 1841, Joseph Smith began revealing the doctrine of plural marriage to a few of his closest male associates, including Bennett, who used it as an excuse to seduce numerous women wed and unwed.

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In retaliation, Bennett left Joseph Smith's following and published sensational accusations against Joseph Smith and his followers in Nauvoo.

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Joseph 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.

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An 1841 revelation promised the restoration of the "fulness of the priesthood"; and in May 1842, Joseph Smith inaugurated a revised endowment or "first anointing".

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The endowment resembled rites of freemasonry that Joseph Smith had observed two months earlier when he had been initiated "at sight" into the Nauvoo Masonic lodge.

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For women, Joseph Smith introduced the Relief Society, a service club and sorority within which Joseph Smith predicted women would receive "the keys of the kingdom".

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Certain he would be killed if he ever returned to Missouri, Joseph Smith went into hiding twice during the next five months, before the US district attorney for Illinois argued that Joseph Smith's extradition to Missouri would be unconstitutional.

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Two law officers arrested Joseph Smith, but were intercepted by a party of Mormons before they could reach Missouri.

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Joseph Smith was then released on a writ of habeas corpus from the Nauvoo municipal court.

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In December 1843, Joseph Smith petitioned Congress to make Nauvoo an independent territory with the right to call out federal troops in its defense.

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Joseph Smith then wrote to the leading presidential candidates and asked them what they would do to protect the Mormons.

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Joseph Smith said the Council had authority to decide which national or state laws Mormons should obey.

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Joseph Smith, who feared another mob attack, supported the action, not realizing that destroying a newspaper was more likely to incite an attack than any of the Expositor accusations.

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Joseph Smith initially fled across the Mississippi River, but shortly returned and surrendered to Ford.

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Joseph 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.

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Joseph Smith was buried in Nauvoo, and is interred there at the Joseph Smith Family Cemetery.

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Conversely, within Mormonism, Joseph Smith was remembered first and foremost as a prophet, martyred to seal the testimony of his faith.

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Joseph Smith attracted thousands of devoted followers before his death in 1844, and millions in the century that followed.

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Biographers – Mormon and non-Mormon alike – agree that Joseph Smith was one of the most influential, charismatic, and innovative figures in American religious history.

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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 birthplace.

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Joseph Smith had proposed several ways to choose his successor, but never clarified his preference.

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Smith's sons Joseph III and David would have had claims, but Joseph III was too young and David was born after Smith's death.

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Some of Joseph Smith's chosen successors, such as Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, had already left the church.

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Cowdery suspected Joseph Smith had engaged in a relationship with his serving girl, Fanny Alger.

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Joseph Smith never denied a relationship, but insisted it was not adulterous, presumably because he had taken Alger as an additional wife.

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In July 1843, Joseph 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.

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Joseph Smith said that the first time she became aware of the polygamy revelation was when she read about it in Orson Pratt's periodical The Seer in 1853.

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In fact Joseph Smith's first recorded revelation was a rebuke chastising Joseph Smith for having let Martin Harris lose 116 pages of Book of Mormon manuscript.

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Joseph 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.

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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.

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Sometimes, Joseph 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.

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The language of authority in Joseph Smith's revelations was appealing to converts, and the revelations were given with the confidence of an Old Testament prophet.

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Joseph 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.

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Joseph 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".

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In 1835, Joseph Smith encouraged some Latter Day Saints in Kirtland to purchase rolls of ancient Egyptian papyri from a traveling exhibitor.

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The papyri from which Joseph Smith dictated the Book of Abraham were thought to have been lost in the Great Chicago Fire.

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The LDS Church has proposed that Joseph Smith might have been inspired by the papyri rather than have been translating them literally, but prominent Egyptologists note that Joseph Smith copied characters from the scrolls and was specific about their meaning.

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Joseph Smith described the revelatory process as having "pure Intelligence" flowing into him.

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In 1833, Joseph 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.

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Three months later, Joseph 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.

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Also in 1833, at a time of temperance agitation, Joseph Smith delivered a revelation called the "Word of Wisdom", which counseled a diet of wholesome herbs, fruits, grains, a sparing use of meat.

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In 1835, Joseph Smith gave the "great revelation" that organized the priesthood into quorums and councils, and functioned as a complex blueprint for church structure.

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Joseph Smith moved away from formal written revelations spoken in God's voice, and instead taught more in sermons, conversations, and letters.

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Joseph Smith taught that all existence was material, including a world of "spirit matter" so fine that it was invisible to all but the purest mortal eyes.

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Joseph Smith said that children who died in their innocence would be guaranteed to rise at the resurrection and receive exaltation.

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Apart from those who committed the eternal sin, Joseph Smith taught that even the wicked and disbelieving would achieve a degree of glory in the afterlife.

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Joseph Smith taught that the Church of Christ restored through him was a latter-day restoration of the early Christian faith, which had been lost in the Great Apostasy.

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At first, Joseph Smith's church had little sense of hierarchy; his religious authority was derived from visions and revelations.

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Joseph Smith envisioned that the theocratic institutions he established would have a role in the worldwide political organization of the Millennium.

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The endowment was extended to women in 1843, though Joseph Smith never clarified whether women could be ordained to priesthood offices.

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Joseph Smith taught that the High Priesthood's endowment of heavenly power included the sealing powers of Elijah, allowing High Priests to perform ceremonies with effects that continue after death.

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Joseph Smith 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 to Godhood.

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When fully sealed into the Covenant, Joseph Smith said that no sin nor blasphemy could keep them from their exaltation in the afterlife.

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Joseph Smith taught that the highest level of exaltation could be achieved through "plural marriage", which was the ultimate manifestation of this New and Everlasting Covenant.

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Plural marriage, according to Joseph Smith, allowed an individual to transcend the angelic state and become a god, accelerating the expansion of one's heavenly kingdom.

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In foreign affairs, Joseph Smith was an expansionist, though he viewed "expansionism as brotherhood".

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Joseph Smith favored a strong central bank and high tariffs to protect American business and agriculture.

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Joseph Smith supported capital punishment but opposed hanging, preferring execution by firing squad or beheading.

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Joseph Smith said that blacks were not inherently inferior to whites, and he welcomed slaves into the church.

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Joseph 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 bloodshed, and would be replaced with a "theodemocratic" Kingdom of God.

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Joseph Smith taught that this kingdom would be governed by theocratic principles, but that it would be multidenominational and democratic, so long as the people chose wisely.

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