Life of Joseph Smith, Jr. from 1835 to 1838

Life of Joseph Smith, Jr. from 1835 to 1838

The life of Joseph Smith, Jr. from 1835 to 1838 covers a period in Kirtland, Ohio and, briefly, Missouri.

chool of the Prophets and Doctrine and Covenants

Temple in Kirtland

In Kirtland, the church's first temple was built. Work was begun in 1833, and the temple was dedicated in 1836. At and around the dedication, many extraordinary events were reported: appearances by Jesus, Moses, Elijah, Elias, and numerous angels; speaking and singing in tongues, often with translations; prophesying; and other spiritual experiences. Some Mormons believed that Jesus' Millennial reign had come. Smith may have first practiced polygamy during the building of the Kirtland temple."LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890 - 1904", D. Michael Quinn, "", Spring 1985, [ pp 9-105] . To view full pages select page & text in the view dropdown box in the left pane, then select the individual pages to see an image of that page.]

Kirtland Safety Society

By mid to late 1837, many Latter Day Saints (including some prominent leaders) became disaffected in the wake of the Kirtland Safety Society banking debacle, in which Smith and several of Smith's associates were accused of various illegal or unethical banking actions when the bank, with the charter held by Smith, collapsed just prior to a nation-wide banking crisis. Many critics leveled accusations that Smith was actively misleading KSS members from the beginning of the financial enterprise as it was operating without an official Ohio bank charter and required species reserves. Supporters of Smith, on the other hand, hold that the financial institution's collapse was more than partially due to state and federal financial regulations and that the charges against Smith and his associates are at best inflated.

In the meantime, opposition and harassment grew against Smith and those of his associates who supported him. On January 12, 1838 Smith and Rigdon left Kirtland for Far West in Caldwell County, Missouri, in Smith's words, "to escape mob violence, which was about to burst upon us under the color of legal process to cover the hellish designs of our enemies." At the time there were at least $6100 in civil suits outstanding against him in Chardon, Ohio courts, and an arrest warrant had been issued for Smith on a charge of bank fraud. Fact|date=February 2007

Most of the remaining church members who remained loyal to Smith left Kirtland for Missouri shortly thereafter.

Life in Missouri

Smith's early revelations identified western Missouri as Zion, the place for Mormons to gather in preparation for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Independence, Missouri, was identified as "the center place" and the spot for building a temple. [sourcetext|source=The Doctrine and Covenants|book=Covenant 57|verse=3] Smith first visited Independence in the summer of 1831, and a site was dedicated for the construction of the temple. Soon afterward, Mormon converts—most of them from the New England area—began immigrating in large numbers to Independence and the surrounding area.

The Latter Day Saints had been migrating to Missouri ever since Smith had claimed the area to be Zion. They simultaneously occupyed the Kirtland area, as well as the Independence area for around seven years. After Smith had been forced out of Kirtland in 1838, he, and the rest of the remaining Latter Day Saints from Kirtland, came to Missouri.

Violence escalated and was often not handled by the legal authorities: : "Majors, Owens, McCarty, Fristoe. To those familiar with pioneers of Jackson County, it's a short roll call of some of its finest. At the same time, they are four of 54 residents who in 1833...were named as defendants in a lawsuit prompted by the tarring and feathering of two Independence followers of...Joseph Smith Jr." [A recent article (Jan 4, 2006 Kansas City Star) describes some of the details of these events, based on legal documents recovered in 2001]

Within four months of that ruling, 800 followers of Joseph Smith were forcibly dispossessed of their homes and businesses. A long trail of appeals went as far as Washington D.C. with Joseph receiving a personal audience with President Martin Van Buren, who said he could not help. Congress sent the matter back to the state of Missouri.

Local leaders saw their Latter Day Saints as a religious and political threat, alleging that Smith and his followers would vote in blocs. Additionally, Mormons purchased vast amounts of land in which to establish settlements, and held abolitionist viewpoints, including Smith himself. Thus they clashed with the pro-slavery persuasions of the majority of Missourians. Tensions were fueled by the announcement by Smith that Jackson County, Missouri would be the New Jerusalem and that the surrounding lands were promised to the Church by God and that the Saints would inhabit that area.

Mob violence

In response to the consistent persecution, a small group of Latter Day Saints organized themselves into a vigilante group called the Danites, led by Dr. Sampson Avard. Smith's exact role in the Danite society is unknown; some suggest that he held a leading or even founding position, while others believe he had no knowledge of the Danites before their existence was publicly recognized. Later, Smith stated that he disapproved of the group and Avard was excommunicated for his activities. [cite web | author=Lindsay, Jeff | title=Quick Answer: Who Were the Danites? | work=LDS FAQ | url= | accessdate=August 22 | accessyear=2005]

Soon the "old Missourians" and the LDS settlers were engaged in a conflict sometimes referred to as the 1838 Mormon War. One key skirmish was the Battle of Crooked River, which involved Missouri state troops and a group of Saints. There is some debate as to whether the Mormons knew their opponents were government officials, but the battle's aftermath was pivotal in Church history.

This battle led to reports of a "Mormon insurrection" and the death of apostle David W. Patten. In consequence of the reports of the battle, the burning out of ex-Mormon 'apostates' by the Danites, the attack on non-Mormons in Caldwell County,the sacking of Gallatin by the Mormons and their reported plans to burn Richmond and Liberty, Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs issued an executive order known as the "Extermination Order" on 27 October 1838. The order stated that the Mormon community was in "open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this State ... the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description." [cite web | title=Extermination Order | work=LDS FAQ | url= | accessdate=August 22| accessyear=2005] [Boggs, Extermination Order] The Extermination Order was not officially rescinded until 1976 by Governor Christopher S. Bond.

Soon after the "Extermination Order" was issued, vigilantes attacked an outlying Mormon settlement and killed seventeen people. This event is identified as the Haun's Mill Massacre. Soon afterward, the 2,500 troops from the state militia converged on the Mormon headquarters at Far West. Smith and several other Church leaders surrendered to state authorities on charges of treason. Although they were civilians, the militia leader threatened to try Smith and others in a military tribunal and have them immediately executed. Were it not for the actions of General Alexander William Doniphan in defense of due process, the plans of the militia leaders likely would have been carried out.

The legality of Boggs' "Extermination Order" was debated in the legislature, but its objectives were achieved. Most of the Mormon community in Missouri had either left or been forced out by the spring of 1839.



#Harvard reference
authorlink=Luke S. Johnson
Title=History of Luke Johnson, by Himself
Journal=The Latter Day Saints' Millennial Star
#Harvard reference
First=F. Mark
Title=The Voice of One crying in the Wilderness: Sidney Rigdon, Religious Reformer, 1793-1876
Publisher= Lawrense, KS, Corondao Press
Year = 1971
ID = ISBN not available
#Harvard reference
First=Linda King and Valeen Tippetts Avery
Publisher=Garden City, NY, Doubleday
ID=ISBN 0-252-02399-4
#Harvard reference
Author=Roberts, B. H., ed.
Authorlink=Brigham Henry Roberts
First=B. H.
Title=History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Volume 1
Publisher=The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
#Harvard reference
Author=Roberts, B. H., ed.
Authorlink=Brigham Henry Roberts
First=B. H.
Title=History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Volume 2
Publisher=The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
#Harvard reference
First=Lucy Mack
Authorlink=Lucy Mack Smith
Title=Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations
Publisher=Liverpool: S.W. Richards

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