Joseph Smith
President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith, Jr. was an American religious leader and the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, the predominant branch of which is Mormonism, a batshit crazy religion, even more so than other, 'normal' delusion based religions. It is comparable, in logic, and intellect, to The Church of Scientology, and astrology. Not to mention, impedes basic Human rights, such as those for the LGBT community.
Biography
Joseph Smith's personal information overview.
{{personal_detail.supertitle}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
Photo Albums
Popular photos of Joseph Smith
Relationships
View family, career and love interests for Joseph Smith
News
News abour Joseph Smith from around the web
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Joseph Smith
    THIRTIES
  • 1844
    Age 38
    Smith attracted thousands of devoted followers before his death in 1844 and millions in the century that followed.
    More Details Hide Details Among Mormons, he is regarded as a prophet on par with Moses and Elijah. In a 2015 compilation of the 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time, Smithsonian magazine ranked Smith first in the category of religious figures. Mormons and ex-Mormons have produced a large amount of scholarly work about Smith, and to a large extent the result has been two discordant pictures of very different people: a man of God on the one hand, and on the other, a fraud preying on the ignorance of his followers. Believers tended to focus on his achievements and religious teachings, deemphasizing his personal defects, while detractors focused on his mistakes, legal troubles, and controversial doctrines. During the first half of the 20th century, some writers suggested that Smith might have suffered from epileptic seizures or from psychological disorders such as paranoid delusions or manic-depressive illness that might explain his visions and revelations. Many modern biographers disagree with these ideas. More nuanced interpretations range from 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. Biographers, Mormon and non-Mormon, agree that Smith was one of the most influential, charismatic, and innovative figures in American religious history.
    While campaigning for President of the United States in 1844, Smith had opportunity to take political positions on issues of the day.
    More Details Hide Details Smith considered the U.S. Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights, to be inspired by God and "the Day Saints' best and perhaps only defense." He believed a strong central government was crucial to the nation's well-being and thought democracy better than tyranny—although he also taught that a theocratic monarchy was the ideal form of government. In foreign affairs, Smith was an expansionist, though he viewed "expansionism as brotherhood". Smith favored a strong central bank and high tariffs to protect American business and agriculture. He disfavored imprisonment of convicts except for murder, preferring efforts to reform criminals through labor; he also opposed courts-martial for military deserters. He supported capital punishment but opposed hanging, preferring execution by firing squad or beheading. Smith published a pro-slavery essay in 1836 but later opposed the practice. During his presidential campaign, he proposed abolishing it by 1850 and compensating slaveholders through sale of public lands. Smith said he did not believe blacks to be inherently inferior to whites; he welcomed both freemen and slaves into the church. However, he opposed baptizing slaves without permission of their masters, and he opposed miscegenation.
    Believing the dissidents were plotting against his life, Smith excommunicated them on April 18, 1844.
    More Details Hide Details These dissidents formed a competing church and the following month, at Carthage, the county seat, they procured indictments against Smith for perjury and polygamy. On June 7, the dissidents published the first (and only) issue of the Nauvoo Expositor, calling for reform within the church and appealing to the political views of the county's anti-Mormons. The paper decried Smith's new "doctrines of many Gods", alluded to Smith's theocratic aspirations, and called for a repeal of the Nauvoo city charter. It also attacked Smith's practice of polygamy, implying that Smith was using religion as a pretext to draw unassuming women to Nauvoo in order to seduce and marry them. Fearing the newspaper would bring the countryside down on the Mormons, the Nauvoo city council declared the Expositor a public nuisance and ordered the Nauvoo Legion to destroy the press. Smith, who feared another mob attack, supported the action, not realizing that suppression of the press would sooner incite an attack than libel would.
    By the spring of 1844, a rift developed between Smith and a half dozen of his closest associates.
    More Details Hide Details Most notably, William Law, Smith's trusted counselor, and Robert Foster, a general of the Nauvoo Legion, disagreed with Smith about how to manage Nauvoo's economy. Both also said that Smith had proposed marriage to their wives.
    In March 1844, following a dispute with a federal bureaucrat, Smith organized the secret Council of Fifty with authority to decide which national or state laws Mormons should obey.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
    In 1844, Smith and the Nauvoo city council angered non-Mormons by destroying a newspaper that had criticized Smith's power and practice of polygamy.
    More Details Hide Details After Smith was imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois, he was killed when a mob stormed the jailhouse. Smith published many revelations and other texts that his followers regard as scripture. His teachings include unique views about the nature of God, cosmology, family structures, political organization, and religious collectivism. His followers regard him as a prophet comparable to Moses and Elijah, and several religious denominations consider themselves the continuation of the church he organized, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ.
  • 1843
    Age 37
    In 1843, Emma temporarily accepted Smith's marriage to four women boarded in the Smith household, but she soon regretted her decision and demanded that the other wives leave.
    More Details Hide Details In July, Smith dictated a revelation directing Emma to accept plural marriage, but the two were not reconciled until September, after Emma began participating in temple ceremonies.
    The endowment was extended to women in 1843, though Smith never clarified whether women could be ordained to priesthood offices.
    More Details Hide Details Smith taught that the High Priesthood's endowment of heavenly power included the sealing powers of Elijah, allowing High Priests to effect binding consequences in the afterlife. For example, this power would enable proxy baptisms for the dead and priesthood marriages that would be effective into the afterlife. Elijah's sealing powers also enabled the second anointing, or "fulness of the priesthood", which, according to Smith, sealed married couples to their exaltation. During the early 1840s, Smith unfolded a theology of family relations called the "New and Everlasting Covenant" that superseded all earthly bonds. He 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 fully enter the Covenant, a man and woman must participate in a "first anointing", a "sealing" ceremony, and a "second anointing" (also called "sealing by the Holy Spirit of Promise"). 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. According to Smith, only one person on earth at a time—in this case, Smith—could possess this power of sealing.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Before 1832, most of Smith's revelations dealt with establishing the church, gathering his followers, and building the City of Zion, while later revelations dealt with the priesthood, endowment, and exaltation. The revelations slowed in Kirtland during the autumn of 1833, and again after the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, as Smith relied more heavily on his own teachings. Smith moved away from written revelations opening with "verily thus saith the Lord" and taught more in sermons, conversations, and letters. For instance, the doctrines of baptism for the dead and the nature of God were introduced in sermons, and one of Smith's most famed statements about there being "no such thing as immaterial matter" was recorded from a casual conversation with a Methodist preacher. 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. Matter, in Smith's view, could neither be created nor destroyed; the creation involved only the reorganization of existing matter. Like matter, Smith saw "intelligence" as co-eternal with God, and taught that human spirits had been drawn from a pre-existent pool of eternal intelligences. Nevertheless, spirits could not experience a "fullness of joy" unless joined with corporeal bodies, according to Smith. The work and glory of God, then, was to create worlds across the cosmos where inferior intelligences could be embodied.
    In December 1843, Smith petitioned Congress to make Nauvoo an independent territory with the right to call out federal troops in its defense.
    More Details Hide Details Smith then 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.
    Certain he would be killed if he ever returned to Missouri, Smith went into hiding twice during the next five months before the U.S. district attorney for Illinois argued that Smith's extradition to Missouri would be unconstitutional. (Rockwell was later tried and acquitted.) In June 1843, enemies of Smith convinced a reluctant Illinois Governor Thomas Ford to extradite Smith to Missouri on the old charge of treason.
    More Details Hide Details Two law officers arrested Smith, but were intercepted by a party of Mormons before they could reach Missouri. Smith was then released on a writ of habeas corpus from the Nauvoo municipal court. While this ended the Missourians' attempts at extradition, it caused significant political fallout in Illinois.
  • 1842
    Age 36
    This doctrine of endowment evolved through the 1830s, until in 1842, the Nauvoo endowment included an elaborate ceremony containing elements similar to Freemasonry and the Jewish tradition of Kabbalah.
    More Details Hide Details
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Though the evidence was circumstantial, Boggs ordered Smith's extradition.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details By mid-1842, popular opinion had turned against the Mormons.
  • 1841
    Age 35
    An 1841 revelation promised the restoration of the "fulness of the priesthood"; and in May 1842, Smith inaugurated a revised endowment or "first anointing".
    More Details Hide Details The endowment resembled rites of freemasonry that Smith had observed two months earlier when he had been initiated into the Nauvoo Masonic lodge. At first, the endowment was open only to men, who were initiated into the Anointed Quorum. For women, Smith introduced the Relief Society, a service club and sorority within which Smith predicted women would receive "the keys of the kingdom". Smith also elaborated on his plan for a millennial kingdom. No longer envisioning the building of Zion in Nauvoo, Smith viewed Zion as encompassing all of North and South America, with Mormon settlements being "stakes" of Zion's metaphorical tent. Zion also became less a refuge from an impending tribulation than a great building project.
    In April 1841, Smith wed Louisa Beaman; and during the next two-and-a-half years he married or was sealed to about 30 additional women, ten of whom were already married to other men (this was generally done with the knowledge and consent of their husbands, and the records and circumstances of several of these unions support that they may have been considered "eternity-only" sealings).
    More Details Hide Details Ten of Smith's plural wives were between the ages of fourteen and twenty; others were over fifty. The practice of polygamy was kept secret from both non-Mormons and most members of the church. Polygamy caused a breach between Smith and his first wife, Emma. Although Emma knew of some of her husband's marriages, she almost certainly did not know the extent of his polygamous activities.
    In 1841, 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.
    More Details Hide Details When embarrassing rumors of "spiritual wifery" got abroad, Smith forced Bennett's resignation as Nauvoo mayor. In retaliation, Bennett wrote "lurid exposés of life in Nauvoo".
  • 1840
    Age 34
    The early Nauvoo years were a period of doctrinal innovation. 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.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1839
    Age 33
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Smith also attracted a few wealthy and influential converts, including John C. Bennett, the Illinois quartermaster general. Bennett used his connections in the Illinois legislature to obtain an unusually liberal charter for the new city, which Smith named "Nauvoo" (Hebrew נָאווּ, meaning "to be beautiful"). The charter granted the city virtual autonomy, authorized a university, and granted Nauvoo habeas corpus power—which allowed Smith to fend off extradition to Missouri. Though Mormon authorities controlled Nauvoo's civil government, the city promised an unusually liberal guarantee of religious freedom. The charter also authorized the Nauvoo Legion, an autonomous militia whose actions were limited only by state and federal constitutions. "Lieutenant General" Smith and "Major General" Bennett became its commanders, thereby controlling by far the largest body of armed men in Illinois. Smith made Bennett Assistant President of the church, and Bennett was elected Nauvoo's first mayor.
    On April 6, 1839, after a grand jury hearing in Davis County, Smith and his companions escaped custody, almost certainly with the connivance of the sheriff and guards.
    More Details Hide Details Many American newspapers criticized Missouri for the Haun's Mill massacre and the state's expulsion of the Latter Day Saints, and Illinois accepted Mormon refugees who gathered along the banks of the Mississippi River, where Smith purchased high-priced, swampy woodland in the hamlet of Commerce. Smith also attempted to portray the Latter Day Saints as an oppressed minority and unsuccessfully petitioned the federal government for help in obtaining reparations.
  • 1838
    Age 32
    By 1838, Smith had abandoned plans to redeem Zion in Jackson County.
    More Details Hide Details After Smith and Rigdon arrived in Missouri, the town of Far West became the new Mormon "Zion". In Missouri, the church also received a new name, the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints", and construction began on a new temple. In the weeks and months after Smith and Rigdon arrived at Far West, thousands of Latter Day Saints followed them from Kirtland. Smith encouraged the settlement of land outside Caldwell County, instituting a settlement in Adam-ondi-Ahman, in Daviess County. 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 explicitly approved of the expulsion of these men, who were known collectively as the "dissenters". Political and religious differences between old Missourians and newly-arriving Mormon settlers provoked tensions between the two groups, much as they had years earlier in Jackson County. By this time, Smith's experiences with mob violence led him to believe that his faith's survival required greater militancy against anti-Mormons. Around June 1838, recent convert Sampson Avard formed a covert organization called the Danites to intimidate Mormon dissenters and oppose anti-Mormon militia units. Though it is unclear how much Smith knew of the Danites' activities, he clearly approved of those of which he did know. After Rigdon delivered a sermon that implied dissenters had no place in the Mormon community, the Danites forcibly expelled them from the county.
    After a warrant was issued for Smith's arrest on a charge of banking fraud, Smith and Rigdon fled Kirtland for Missouri on the night of January 12, 1838.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1837
    Age 31
    In January 1837, Smith and other church leaders created a joint stock company, called the Kirtland Safety Society, to act as a quasi-bank.
    More Details Hide Details The company issued bank notes capitalized in part by real estate. Smith encouraged the Latter Day Saints to buy the notes and invested heavily in them himself, but the bank failed within a month. As a result, the Latter Day Saints in Kirtland suffered intense pressure from debt collectors and severe price volatility. Smith was held responsible for the failure, and there were widespread defections from the church, including many of Smith's closest advisers.
  • 1836
    Age 30
    Smith gave a revelation saying that to redeem Zion, his followers would have to receive an endowment in the Kirtland Temple, and in March 1836, at the temple's dedication, many participants in the promised endowment saw visions of angels, spoke in tongues, and prophesied.
    More Details Hide Details In late 1837, a series of internal disputes led to the collapse of the Kirtland Mormon community. Smith was blamed for having promoted a church-sponsored bank that failed and accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with his serving girl, Fanny Alger. Building the temple had left the church deeply in debt, and Smith was hounded by creditors. 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". But after a month, he returned to Kirtland empty-handed.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1832
    Age 26
    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 1841, Don Carlos, who had been born a year earlier, died of malaria. In 1842, Emma gave birth to a stillborn son.
    More Details Hide Details Joseph and Emma had four sons who lived to maturity: Joseph Smith III, Frederick Granger Williams Smith, Alexander Hale Smith, and David Hyrum Smith (born in 1844 after Smith's death)., DNA testing had provided no evidence that Smith had fathered any children by women other than Emma. Throughout her life, Emma Smith frequently denied that her husband had ever taken additional wives. Emma said that the very first time she ever became aware of a polygamy revelation being attributed to Smith by Mormons was when she read about it in Orson Pratt's periodical The Seer in 1853. Emma campaigned publicly against polygamy, and was the main signatory of a petition in 1842, with a thousand female signatures, denying that Smith was connected with polygamy. 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. Even on her deathbed, Emma denied Joseph's involvement with polygamy, stating, "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".
    Smith continued to live in Ohio, but visited Missouri again in early 1832 in order to prevent a rebellion of prominent church members, including Cowdery, who believed the church in Missouri was being neglected.
    More Details Hide Details Smith's trip was hastened by a mob of Ohio residents who were incensed over the United Order and Smith's political power; the mob beat Smith and Rigdon unconscious, tarred and feathered them, and left them for dead. In Jackson County, Missouri residents resented the Mormon newcomers for both political and religious reasons. Tension increased until July 1833, when non-Mormons forcibly evicted the Mormons and destroyed their property. Smith advised them to bear the violence patiently until they were attacked a fourth time, after which they could fight back. After armed bands exchanged fire and one Mormon and two non-Mormons were killed, the old settlers brutally expelled the Mormons from the county. 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, later called Zion's Camp, to aid the Missouri Mormons. As a military endeavor, the expedition was a failure; the men were outnumbered and suffered from dissension and a cholera outbreak. Nevertheless, Zion's Camp transformed Mormon leadership, and many future church leaders came from among the participants. 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; among these five groups was a quorum of twelve apostles.
  • 1831
    Age 25
    Smith had assumed a role as prophet, seer, and apostle of Jesus Christ, and by early 1831, he was introducing himself as "Joseph the Prophet".
    More Details Hide Details The language of authority in Smith's revelations was appealing to converts, and the revelations were given with the confidence of an Old Testament prophet. 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. This revelation initiated a revision of the Bible on which Smith worked sporadically until 1833 and which remained unpublished at his death. Smith said that he believed 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". While many changes involved straightening out seeming contradictions or making small clarifications, other changes added large "lost" portions to the text. For instance, Smith's revision nearly tripled the length of the first five chapters of Genesis in what would become the Book of Moses.
    After Smith visited in July 1831, he agreed, pronouncing the frontier hamlet of Independence the "center place" of Zion.
    More Details Hide Details Nevertheless, Rigdon disapproved, and for most of the 1830s the church remained divided between Ohio and Missouri.
    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 ("Melchizedek") Priesthood to the church hierarchy.
    More Details Hide Details Converts poured into Kirtland. By the summer of 1835, there were fifteen hundred to two thousand Mormons in the vicinity, many expecting Smith to lead them shortly to the Millennial kingdom. Though the mission to the Indians had been a failure, the missionaries sent on their way by a government Indian agent, Cowdery reported that he had found the site of the New Jerusalem in Jackson County, Missouri.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Smith tamed these outbursts by producing two revelations that brought the Kirtland congregation under his own authority. Rigdon's followers had also been practicing a form of communalism, and this Smith adopted, calling it the United Order.
  • 1830
    Age 24
    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.
    More Details Hide Details The Book of Mormon brought Smith regional notoriety and opposition from those who remembered his money-digging and the 1826 Chenango County trial. After Cowdery baptized several new members, the Mormons received threats of mob violence; and before Smith could confirm the newly baptized members, he was arrested and brought to trial as a disorderly person. He was acquitted, but both he and Cowdery had to flee Colesville to escape a gathering mob. In probable reference to this period of flight, Smith said that Peter, James, and John had appeared to him and had ordained him and Cowdery to a higher priesthood. Smith's authority was undermined when Oliver Cowdery, Hiram Page, and other church members also claimed to receive revelations. In response, Smith dictated a revelation which clarified his office as a prophet and an apostle and which declared that only he held "the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations" with the ability to inscribe scripture for the church. Shortly after the conference, Smith dispatched Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and others on a mission to proselytize Native Americans. Cowdery was also assigned the task of locating the site of the New Jerusalem.
    The completed work, the Book of Mormon, was published in Palmyra on March 26, 1830, by printer E. B. Grandin, Martin Harris having mortgaged his farm to finance it.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1828
    Age 22
    Smith said that the angel returned the plates to him on September 22, 1828, and he resumed dictation in April 1829, after he met Oliver Cowdery, who replaced Harris as his scribe.
    More Details Hide Details 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. When the narrative described an institutional church and a requirement for baptism, Smith and Cowdery baptized each other. Dictation was completed around July 1, 1829. Although Smith had previously refused to show the plates to anyone, he told Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer that they would be allowed to see them. These men, known collectively as the Three Witnesses—along with a later group of Eight Witnesses composed of male members of the Whitmer and Smith families—signed statements testifying that they had seen the golden plates; the eight witnesses also said they had actually handled the plates. According to Smith, the angel Moroni took back the plates once Smith finished using them.
    Smith continued to dictate to Harris until mid-June 1828, when Harris began having doubts about the project, fueled in part by his wife's skepticism.
    More Details Hide Details Harris convinced Smith to let him take the existing 116 pages of manuscript to Palmyra to show a few family members, including his wife. Harris lost the manuscript—of which there was no other copy—at about the same time Smith's wife, Emma, gave birth to a son, Alvin, who died the same day. Smith said that as punishment for losing the manuscript the angel took away the plates and revoked his ability to translate. During this dark period Smith briefly attended Methodist meetings with his wife until a cousin of hers objected to inclusion of a "practicing necromancer" on the Methodist class roll.
    Nevertheless, Harris returned to Harmony in April 1828, encouraged to continue as Smith's scribe.
    More Details Hide Details
    In February 1828, Martin Harris arrived to assist Smith by transcribing his dictation.
    More Details Hide Details Harris also took a sample of the characters to a few prominent scholars, including Charles Anthon, who Harris said initially authenticated the characters and their translation but then retracted his opinion after learning that Smith was supposed to have received the plates from an angel. Anthon denied Harris's account of the meeting, claiming instead that he had tried to convince Harris that he had been the victim of a fraud.
  • 1827
    Age 21
    In October 1827, Smith and his pregnant wife moved from Palmyra to Harmony (now Oakland), Pennsylvania, aided by money from a relatively prosperous neighbor, Martin Harris.
    More Details Hide Details Living near his in-laws, Smith transcribed some characters that he said were engraved on the plates, and then dictated a translation to his wife.
    Smith said that he made his last annual visit to the hill on September 22, 1827, taking Emma with him.
    More Details Hide Details This time, he said he retrieved the plates and put them in a locked chest. He said the angel commanded him not to show the plates to anyone else but to publish their translation, reputed to be the religious record of indigenous Americans. Smith said that the plates were engraved in an unknown language, reformed Egyptian, and he told associates that he was capable of reading and translating them. Although Smith had left his treasure hunting company, his former associates believed he had double-crossed them by taking for himself what they considered joint property. After they ransacked places where a competing treasure-seer said the plates were hidden, Smith decided to leave Palmyra.
    Smith and Emma eloped and were married on January 18, 1827, after which the couple began boarding with Smith's parents in Manchester.
    More Details Hide Details Later that year, when Smith promised to abandon treasure seeking, Hale offered to let the couple live on his property in Harmony and help Smith get started in business.
  • 1826
    Age 20
    In 1826, Smith was brought before a Chenango County court for "glass-looking", or pretending to find lost treasure.
    More Details Hide Details The result of the proceeding remains unclear as primary sources report various conflicting outcomes. While boarding at the Hale house in Harmony, Pennsylvania, Smith began courting Emma Hale. When Smith proposed marriage, Emma's father Isaac Hale objected because Smith was "a stranger" who had no means of supporting his daughter other than money digging, of which he disapproved.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1823
    Age 17
    Meanwhile, the Smith family faced financial hardship due in part to the November 1823 death of Smith's oldest brother Alvin, who had assumed a leadership role in the family.
    More Details Hide Details Family members supplemented their meager farm income by hiring out for odd jobs and working as treasure seekers, a type of magical supernaturalism common during the period. Smith was said to have an ability to locate lost items by looking into a seer stone, which he also used in treasure hunting, including several unsuccessful attempts to find buried treasure sponsored by a wealthy farmer in Chenango County, New York.
    Smith said that in 1823 while praying one night for forgiveness from his sins, he was visited by an angel named Moroni, who 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 in Manchester near his home.
    More Details Hide Details Smith said he attempted to remove the plates the next morning but was unsuccessful because the angel prevented him. Smith reported that during the next four years, he made annual visits to the hill but each time returned without the plates.
  • 1820
    Age 14
    Years later Smith said that in 1820 he had received a vision that resolved his religious confusion.
    More Details Hide Details While praying in a wooded area near his home, he said that God, in a vision, had told him his sins were forgiven and that all contemporary churches had "turned aside from the gospel." Smith said he told the experience to a preacher, who dismissed the story with contempt; but the experience was largely unknown, even to most Mormons, until the 1840s. Although Smith may have understood the event as a personal conversion, this "First Vision" later grew in importance among Mormons, who today see it as the first event in the "restoration of the Gospel".
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1816
    Age 10
    In 1816–17, after an ill-fated business venture and three years of crop failures, the Smith family moved to the western New York village of Palmyra, and eventually took a mortgage on a farm in the nearby town of Manchester.
    More Details Hide Details During the Second Great Awakening, the region was a hotbed of religious enthusiasm; and between 1817 and 1825, there were several camp meetings and revivals in the Palmyra area. Although Smith's parents disagreed about religion, the family was caught up in this excitement. Smith later said he became interested in religion at about the age of twelve; without doubt, he participated in church classes and read the Bible. As a teenager, he may have been sympathetic to Methodism. With other family members, Smith also engaged in religious folk magic, not an uncommon practice at the time. Both his parents and his maternal grandfather reportedly had visions or dreams that they believed communicated messages from God. Smith said that although he had become concerned about the welfare of his soul, he was confused by the claims of competing religious denominations.
  • 1805
    Born
    Joseph Smith, Jr. was born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, to Lucy Mack Smith and her husband Joseph Sr., a merchant and farmer.
    More Details Hide Details After suffering a crippling bone infection when he was seven, the younger Smith hobbled around on crutches for three years.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
All data offered is derived from public sources. Spokeo does not verify or evaluate each piece of data, and makes no warranties or guarantees about any of the information offered. Spokeo does not possess or have access to secure or private financial information. Spokeo is not a consumer reporting agency and does not offer consumer reports. None of the information offered by Spokeo is to be considered for purposes of determining any entity or person's eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing, or for any other purposes covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)