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You You You You
You You You You You You You You You You You The following program is made possible by a grant from the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. Dedicated to the preservation of America's heritage. On the evening of the 27th of June, such a barking and howling of dogs, and bellowing of cattle all over the city of Navu, I never heard before or since. I knelt down and tried to pray for the Prophet, but I was struck speechless and knew not the cause till morning. Of course, the awful deed was already accomplished.
When the spirit refused to give me utterance to prayer the evening before, though same as Erbe Smith. Shortly after five o'clock on the afternoon of June 27th, 1844, a mob craving its own frontier form of justice. Cripped across an illinois pasture surrounded the jail at Carthage and overpowered the guards. The militia mustered to keep the peace mounted no resistance. Attackers dormed up the stairs and swiftly fired shots into the second floor cell that housed the moment Prophet Joseph Smith, his brother Hiram and friend, John Taylor and Willard Richards. May they ended as quickly as it began. Joseph and Hiram are dead. Taylor wounded, not very badly. I am well. Our God was forced as we believe by a band of 100 to 200.
The job was done in an instant. Willard Richards. The bodies of the Smiths after the coroner's inquest were taken by my father, Artois Hamilton, to his hotel. He made boxes, not coffins, out of pine boards which they were taken into Nauvoo the next day. William Hamilton. In morning dawn, the news of the martyrdom of the two brothers reached the city. It can be well imagined the sorrow and darkness that seemed to pervade the whole place. When the bodies were brought to the city, thousands of the saints were gathered on the main street to witness the sad and mournful arrival of our murdered Prophet and Patriot. Maria, wealthy Wilcox.
Ella Hugh Allen and I were working in the harvest field, cutting his wheat when about three o'clock. My wife came out and told us that word had just come and Joseph Smith and his brother Hiram was shot in Carthage jail yesterday afternoon. I said it once that it cannot be so. We all felt as though the powers of darkness had overcome, and that the Lord had forsaken his people. Warren Foot. My mother and we children were in the living room in the mansion. After leaning over the coffin, the mother placed her hand upon the cheek of my father, and in grief stricken accent said, Oh Joseph, Joseph. Oh my husband, my husband. Have they taken you from me at last? Joseph Smith III. Not everyone grieved the loss of the 38-year-old religious leader. The money digger, the juggler, and the founder of the Golden Bible delusion has been hurried away in the midst of his madness to his final account.
The hand of the Lord was heavy upon him, and outlawed himself, God cut him off by outlaws. Alexander Campbell, millennial harbinger. Smith was killed as he should have been. Three cheers to the brave company who shot him to pieces. Reverend William G. Brownlaw, Jones were awake. The Mormons had been stripped of their profit and friend. How lonely was that feeling? How cold, barren, and desolate? As our prophet, he approached our God and obtained for us his will, but now our prophet, our counselor, our general, our leader was gone. For all things pertaining to this world or the next, he had spoken for the last time on earth, John Taylor. America, the land of the bold, the believing, the land of promise.
For centuries this country has beckoned to those yearning to breathe free. From these roots came Joseph Smith. This young prophet did not rise from the great New England universities or seminaries, nor did he preach from a pulpit of higher claim. He was a farmer who lived on the edge of civilization, but at the center of a holy war that raged for years. When so many were looking for answers to questions larger than life, Joseph Smith proclaimed that he had them. He spoke of talking with deity, translating ancient scriptures from gold plates, restoring the truths taught by Jesus Christ, and establishing a kingdom of God on earth. In the early 1840s, scores of national figures visited Novo, to take a look at Joseph Smith and the Mormon stronghold on the Mississippi.
It is by no means improbable that some future textbook for the use of generations yet unborn will contain a question something like this. What historical American of the 19th century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen? And it is by no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written. Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, Josiah Quincy. Joseph Smith is obviously the most successful American prophet that we have ever had. He established a religion which has not only lasted but flourished and grown to become the most powerful, uniquely American religion that we have ever had. To walk large on the stage of history with an impact that is still growing after almost two centuries is rare in itself. But to do it without military conquest, political platform or inherited fortune is simply incredible.
Joseph Smith Jr., a 5th generation American, was born in Sharon Vermont. His ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War, served in the elected office, and held a pew in the Congregational Church. Joseph's grandfather predicted that God would raise up some branch of the family to be a great benefit to mankind. We had a son whom we called Joseph. After the name of his father, he was born December 23rd, 185. Lucy Mack Smith. Joseph's mother described him as remarkably quiet, well-disposed. He was the fourth son of 11 children, nine, lived to adulthood. In their youth, Joseph and his older brother, Hiram, forged a bond that never was broken. At age 7, Joseph fell victim to a typhoid epidemic.
Complications of the fever infected his leg, requiring surgery to cut away portions of the disease bone. Hiram sat beside Joseph almost a day and night for some considerable length of time, holding the affected part of his leg in his hands and pressing it between them, so that his afflicted brother might be enabled to endure the pain. Lucy Mack Smith. The Smiths farm, the wooded hills of New England, they were poor. In 1816, after three cropped failures in the row, they moved to Palmyra in the Finger Lakes District of upstate New York. Being in indigent circumstances, we were obliged to labor hard for the support of a large family having nine children. Therefore, we were deprived of the benefit of an education. Suffice it to say, I was merely instructed in reading, writing, and the ground rules of arithmetic, which constituted my whole literary requirements. Joseph Smith.
19th century America was steeped in religious enthusiasm. Western New York in the early decades was so fired up with religious talk, historians later dubbed it the Burngover District. Camps, revivals, street corners and Sunday meetings were ablaze with believers pushing orthodoxy aside. People were seeking spiritual manifestations, grace, glory, and God. My mind became seriously impressed with regard to the all-important concerns for the welfare of my immortal soul. Great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying low here and others low there. I knew not who was right or who was wrong, but considered it of the first importance to me that I should be right, and matters involving eternal consequences. Joseph Smith. If you embrace wrong doctrines and unite with the corrupt church, you may expect coldness and darkness all your lives.
Reverend William Bacon. From the revolution till about 1845 the population grew from like two and a half million to 20 million, but the amazing thing was the growth of Christian preachers. It's estimated that that grew from about 1800 to about 40,000. A whole new attitude towards religion develops. A whole new attitude of the kind of ministers that these people wanted. Unlike their colonial forebars who were looking for men who were well-educated places like Yale and Harvard and Princeton and such. These people of the Jacksonian period were looking for men who could speak from the spirit of their own involvement with the divine. And tell what that was like.
There's a feeling that even the plowboy can capture pristine Christianity by simply reading the Bible and looking to implement what they find in Scripture. Trouble by the confusion, 14-year-old Joseph said to his mother, I can take my Bible and go into the woods and learn more in two hours than you can learn at meeting in two years. Joseph turned to God for direction. On a spring day in 1820 he went to the woods near his home to pray. Thick darkness gathered around me, but exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me. I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I saw two personages whose brightness and glory defy all description standing above me in the air. One of them spank unto me calling me by name and said pointing to the other,
this is my beloved son, hear him, and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true. Joseph Smith. Out of that inquiry came this glorious manifestation of the Father and the Son. Now he learned so much from that short brief experience. It was so meaningful. He learned that the Father and the resurrected Lord are tangible beings of substance and form that they can speak. It changed the whole picture. Out of that one experience came a new and vital and convincing and moving description of deity. And this is what we mean by power and authority. Other people could point to Scripture or they could point to their interpretation of Scripture or they could point to their particular creeds or confessions of faith. Joseph said, I spoke with God. God spoke with me in the woods and that's power and authority and it spoke to a lot of Americans very powerfully in the early 19th century.
Joseph later recounted that he asked the personages which of the churches he should join. They told me that all religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines and that none of them was acknowledged of God as his church and kingdom. And I was expressly commanded to go not after them at the same time receiving a promise that the fullness of the gospel should at some future time be made known unto me. Joseph Smith. A few days later Joseph confided in a local minister that he had seen a vision. I was greatly surprised at his behavior. He treated my communication not only lightly but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days, that all such things had ceased with the apostles and that they never would be any more of them. I soon found that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion and was the cause of great persecution which continued to increase.
Joseph Smith. For religious leaders of the day to have a young man say that he had seen the father and the son and for them to reflect on the fact that they had degrees and experience and calling according to their understanding and Lord hadn't spoken to them. Well, the words jealousy and envy and threat and resentment come quickly to mind. From the evidence that I read, I think Joseph Smith was convinced of what he saw as a historian. It's impossible to say whether he was in touch with a divine or not but certainly he was convinced with awesome power that he was. The Smiths were a close family. They stood by Joseph in the years ahead his parents and siblings would join the church he established and champion his call to work for God. We all had the most implicit confidence in what he said. He was a truthful boy, father and mother believed him. Why should not the children? William Smith.
The fall of 1823 began years of unusual instructions for Joseph. A person had appeared at my bedside standing in the air for his feet did not touch the floor. His whole person was glorious beyond description. He said there was a book deposited written upon gold plates giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent that the fullness of the everlasting gospel was contained in it as delivered by the Savior. Joseph Smith. Joseph described the figure as a prophet named Moroni who once had lived in the Americas. On a dozen or more occasions in the coming years Joseph spoke of being chasened, comforted and prepared by Moroni to translate the ancient records then buried in a drizzling hill near his home. Four years would pass before Joseph would be allowed to collect the gold plates. For the rest of his life Joseph would describe repeated visits from angels and prophets of old.
Do I personally believe? No. He may have believed that he did, but whether he saw, I have no evidence for that. And as a historian I must base that in my conclusion on that. And since I'm not a Mormon who by an act of faith believes it, even though it can't be proved, I have to then make a judgment on the basis of the evidence. However, you can say, look what he did is one human being capable of doing this without divine help and intervention. Joseph told his father of the messenger and his message.
He called me by name and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me. That God had a work for me to do. And that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds and tongues. Joseph Smith. His father expressed no skepticism, but declared it was of God and instructed his son to do as the messenger had commanded. Young Joseph embarked on a course that would be unlike that of any other evangelical. Joseph continued to receive instructions from the Lord, and we continued to get the children together every evening for the purpose of listening while he gave us a relation of the same. He assumed our family presented an aspect as singular as any that ever lived upon the face of the earth. All seated in a circle, father, mother, sons and daughters, and giving the most profound attention to a boy, 18 years of age, who had never read the Bible through in his life. Lucy Max Smith.
The family was a large one. He was not the oldest. He had mature parents and younger siblings, and the fact that they united behind his testimony and became his most fervent supporters, and among the first converts to the faith is truly remarkable. Often we have the hardest time making conversions of those who are closest to us in blood and association. With Joseph, it was unanimous. Joseph went to work to help support the family. Land owner and speculator, Josiah Stoll, hired him to search for Spanish treasure across the border in Pennsylvania. After weeks of digging, Joseph persuaded Stoll to give it up. But the quest in the foothills near Harmony was not without reward. Boarding at the home of Isaac Hale, Joseph fell in love with the tall, hazel-eyed daughter Emma. Young Smith asked my consent to his marrying my daughter Emma. This I refused and gave him my reasons for so doing, some of which were that he was a stranger and followed a business that I could not approve.
Isaac Hale. Joseph urged me to marry him, and preferring to marry him to any other man on you, I consented. Emma Smith. The two eloped January 18, 1827, and moved north to live with Joseph's parents near Palmyra. Joseph was 21, Emma was 22. Late on a September night, Joseph and Emma borrowed a rig, slipped into the dark and hid it for the hill Camorra, three miles from the Smith family home. It was the appointed time to meet with the angel, Maroni. According to Joseph, at that rendezvous, he obtained the ancient records.
The young couple returned home before sunrise. They were engraven on plates, which had the appearance of gold. Each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long and not quite as thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings and Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the hole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, and much skill in the art of engraving. Joseph Smith. Word that Joseph had plates of gold created a frenzy in the community. People came in to see them, but he told them they could not, or he must not show them, but many insisted and offered money in property to see them. But for keeping them from the people, they persecuted and abused the Smiths, and they were obliged to hide them. Joseph night senior.
Joseph said the angel told him to show the ancient records to no one. For safekeeping, he stashed the gold plates in a handful of places. Under the hearth stones in the Smiths' home, the loft of his father's coupershop, even in a barrel of beans. Finally, Joseph and Emma took the plates and left New York. A prominent farmer and benefactored Martin Harris, financed their exit to Emma's family home in Pennsylvania. The couple lived in a small log house, enjoying some measure of comfort and privacy, two things they would live without in years to come. The plates lay in a box under our bed for months, but I never felt a liberty to look at them. Emma Smith. When Joseph began translating the record, Emma served as his scribe as did Martin and others. He would dictate to me hour after hour, and when returning after meals or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him.
This was a usual thing for him to do. Emma Smith. Oliver Cowdery, a young schoolteacher, boarding with the Smiths in New York, was intrigued by the family's account of Joseph and his translation work. He journeyed to Pennsylvania to learn more from Joseph, and quickly became an ally and scribe. These were days never to be forgotten, to sit under the voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom. Day after day, I continued uninterrupted to write from his mouth as he translated the history or record called The Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery. Others assisted Joseph in his translation work by providing food and supplies, where Joseph had little time to farm his makeshift homestead on the Susquehanna River. I bought a barrel of macro and some lined paper for writing. Nine to ten bushels of grain and five or six bushels of taters and a pound of tea.
And I went down to see him, and they were in want. Joseph Knight seen him. While translating consumed Joseph's attention, he still was a man with a family to care for and support. One morning when he was getting ready to continue the translation, something went wrong about the house, and Joseph was put out about it. Something that Emma had done. Oliver and I went upstairs, and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation, but he could not do anything. He could not translate a single syllable. He went downstairs, out into the orchard and made supplication to the Lord. It was gone about an hour. Came back to the house and asked Emma's forgiveness, and then came upstairs where we were, and then the translation went on to the right. David Whitmer. He was a prophet in every sense of the word, but at the same time, a man, a mortal man moving among the people, subject to the infirmities that all of us have. Joseph had a private devotional life in which he pled with the Lord for forgiveness, for his sins, for help in his everyday life.
You get the feeling that he was striving to find the savior of the way anybody else on the earth did. Joseph said he was restoring the teachings of Jesus Christ and the ancient church. His efforts seemed out of step with other religions. The work in which we are unitedly engaged is one of no ordinary kind. Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith was a restorationist in contrast with the reformist. He restored that which was on the earth anciently, the church which the Savior established, the teachings, the doctrine, the practices of the Savior. While translating the plates, Joseph encountered passages about baptism which sparked his and Oliver's curiosity. Who had the authority to baptize? They broke from translating and went down to the river to pray about their question.
They later related that an angel, John the Baptist, appeared, and gave them the priesthood of Aaron. Not long after they described receiving additional priesthood power. Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. I prophesied concerning the rise of this church and many other things connected with the church and this generation of the children of men. Joseph Smith. To many Joseph's efforts were more than peculiar they were intolerable, arouse. When some of the locals converted to the new faith, the town fathers sought to blunt Joseph's influence by having him brought to trial as a disorderly person. Joseph was brought to trial in order to check the progress of the delusion and open the eyes and understanding of those who blindly followed him. Hey W. Bentham.
These arrests and prosecutions were among the first of the nearly 50 arrangements to which he was forced to submit. Not once, during all these court trials, was he proven guilty of any crime, for he was a law abiding citizen. John Reed, Esquire. When you take yourself off and start something new and believe in something that is different, then you're going to engender this kind of hostility and jealousy and your distinction that makes you different is not acceptable. Again, Joseph took the plates to safety, this time to the home of Peter and Mary Whitmer in Fayette, New York. Here from April to July of 1829, the young prophet finished the translation. Joseph Smith was 23 years old when he began to translate the Book of Mormon. He had only a superficial education.
He dictated the manuscript within a period of about 60 days. There was no research, there was no cross-checking, there was no editing, it was a remarkable accomplishment. The plates were shown for the first time to a handful of men who had act as witnesses. Though these men later broke with Joseph, not one ever denied what he saw. Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, unto whom this work shall come, that we have seen the plates. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, or his voice have declared unto us. We declare with words of soberness that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes that we held and saw the plates and the engravings thereon. And we know that it is by the grace of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. Oliver Cowdery.
David Whitmer. Martin Harris. The Lord has now caused the plates to be shown to three more besides myself. I feel as if I was relieved of a burden which was almost too heavy for me to bear. And it rejoices my soul that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world. Joseph Smith. Eight other men and one woman reported seeing the plates before they were taken back by Maroni. Five thousand copies of the book of Mormon were printed in 1829 by Egbert B. Grandin of Palmyra, New York. Martin Harris mortgaged his farm to pay the three thousand dollar bill. Joseph described the book nearly 600 pages in its first printing as the key stone of the new religion. I told the brethren that the book of Mormon was the most corrective any book on earth, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book. Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith produced the notion of an open canon of Scripture that said, in effect, the last word has not been heard from God. There's more to know, and God will reveal that in God's own time. That's a pretty radical message. It's a revolutionary message. The book of Mormon was another element that had enormous appeal to the American people, mainly because it was such an American book. I mean, here's the story of ancient Jews who leave Palestine and who sail, and they sail, and finally dock in the Americas. And it's the story of Jesus Christ coming to America. It's the story of the gospel to the Americas. So this is another dimension of Smith's enormous appeal. It's a very American tradition and a very American book. Upon hearing of the book of Mormon, many accepted it as the word of God and as a witness of Jesus Christ.
By that book I found a key to the Holy Prophets, and by that book began to unfold the mysteries of God, and I was made glad. Who can estimate the worth of such a book? W.W. Phelps. I arose from its perusal with a strong conviction on my mind that its pages were graced with the pen of inspiration, Reverend Orson Spencer. The book of Mormon vaulted Joseph to national attention. His followers were soon called Mormons. The book had its detractors. Some could not accept Joseph as its translator. Some claimed the text was borrowed from other sources, was crafted by more learned associates, or simply was a product of his imagination. A violent position was never practiced. It is an evidence of fraud, blasphemy, and credulity, shocking both to Christians and moralists. Rochester Daily Advertiser. I would as soon compare a bat to the American Eagle, a mouse to a mammoth, as the contrasted with a single chapter in all the writings of the Jewish or Christian prophets, Alexander Campbell.
No small stir was created by its appearance, Joseph Smith. They saw this young man claiming to discover a new scripture, the so-called Golden Bible, that was reported in newspapers. And it was well known. And when he began to make converts, that was extremely upsetting to the local ministers and to religious leaders in the country at large. They have a certain expectation that is theologically driven, for instance, that there cannot be a modern living prophet, that all of that ceased in the first century AD, that there can't be new scripture in which God speaks again in a modern time. And that's two people who have grown up in that religious tradition. This seems to be blasphemous.
Nobody can see the heavens, but God. If God wants to speak to his children, he can speak to them. We don't have the right to say he can't talk to his children. He can do it any way he wants to, and if it is sending an angel, or one commission to teach, so be it. Joseph claimed to open the heavens not only as a translator, but also as a revelator. Many of these revelations were compiled in an additional volume of scripture called the doctrine and covenants. There were so many religious voices, and so there was this deep questioning, what could one believe? And I think that's where the voice of Joseph Smith did become a very certain trumpet, because Joseph Smith said, all these Protestant sects, they read the Bible and they come up with their own interpretation. What he said is that he had a new word from the Lord, a new kind of revelation, which was certain and sure it was the miraculous intervention in modern times, just as Christ had come at the time of the New Testament.
On April 6, 1830, just weeks after the Book of Mormon went on sale in the Palmyra bookstore, Joseph formally organized a church. The 50 or so men and women in attendance at the Whitmer Farm accepted him as a seer, a translator, a prophet of Jesus Christ. Church membership would jump from hundreds to thousands in the next few years as news of a restored revision and word of its doctrine spread. I step forth into the field to tell you what the Lord is doing and what you must do to enjoy the smiles of your Savior in these last days. Joseph Smith.
The young church grew quickly. Missionaries headed east to the New England States, north to Canada. Their satchels filled with copies of the Book of Mormon. Mission's lasted weeks, months and there's the church grew even years. A few were directed west to preach to the Indians. The missionaries found residents in Curtlyn, Ohio, particularly receptive. Thousands flocked about us daily, some to be taught, some for curiosity, some to obey the gospel, and some to dispute it or resist it. Paulie P. Pratt. The Spirit of the Lord sensibly attended the administration and I came out of the watery joy scene and singing praises to God and the Lamb. John Murdoch. The church was not conceived as a means of simply spreading the word about the Book of Mormon. The new faith issued a call for all to come back to Christ. That position gave voice to new antagonism.
The greatest imposter of art times in the field of religion is no doubt a certain chose of Smith. The past centuries have also had religious offshoots. They have all been absorbed in the sea of the past and this will also be the lat of the Mormonites. And I hope, while it is still in a bird, reverend Dietrich Willa. Instead of dispersing, the church grew. In December 1830, Joseph pronounced what he said was a revelation from God that commanded the faithful as the latter-day hosts of Israel to gather in Curtlyn, Ohio. At his call, a steady stream of church members from Fayette, Colesville and Manchester, New York, packed up and moved west. Together with community, it is, I think, one of Joseph Smith's best ideas, but it's not intuitively obvious why. Particularly given the American landscape, it is a risk, the notion of bringing people together within a fixed boundary to invent a sense of togetherness, to insist upon people coming to this community, coming to Curtlyn.
But it worked. And it worked in surprising ways. Joseph arrived in Curtlyn later that winter. Bundled inside the sleigh was Emma, six months pregnant. A few months later, twins Thaddeus and Louisa were born. They died at birth, as had Alvin the Smith's first son. Within weeks, Joseph and Emma had adopted twins Joseph and Julia Murdo, whose mother had died in childbirth. Of the nine children Emma bore, only four lived in maturity. Several years later, Hiram and his wife, Jerusha, also lost a little child. We can, in some degree, sympathize with Hiram, but we almost be reconciled to our lots and say the will of the Lord be done. Joseph Smith.
Life was never easy for the Smiths. They rarely had a home of their own. Emma, when she did have a place, took in borders to supplement their income. Dear Joseph, I barely feel that if I had no more confidence in God than some I could name, I should be in a sad case indeed. But I still believe that if we humble ourselves and are as faithful as we can be, we shall be delivered from every snare that may be laid for our feet. Emma Smith. In the next fifteen years, thousands would change their lives, their professions, leave homes and even families to follow the prophet Joseph. I cursed Mormonism in my heart and regret it being in possession of as much light and knowledge as had flowed into my mind from that source. I said, however, the Lord he is God, I can, I will embrace the truth, reverend or some Spencer. They came in every conceivable manner, some with horses, oxen and vehicles rough and rude, while others had walked all or part of the distance.
The future city of the Saints appeared like one besieged. Every available house, shop, hut or barn was filled to its utmost capacity. Even boxes were roughly extemporized and used for shelter until something more permanent could be secured. Gallagher County recorded. They were asked to do something very special that was different, would take them out of their current way of life and actually leave and join a society in which they would become part of a community that had a life of its own. A community in which they would contribute something and of course receive something in return. So this was a big commitment. It wasn't a matter of just going on to church on Sunday and doing some good deeds now and then and contributing to the church.
This made people put their lives on the line. Brigham Young, who would succeed Joseph as head of the church, left his carpentry business in New York and joined Joseph in Kirtland. My joy was full at the privilege of shaking the hand of the prophet of God and receiving the sure testimony by the spirit of prophecy that he was all that any man could believe him to be as a true prophet. Brigham Young. When wagon loads of grown people and children came in from the country to meet Joseph would make his way to as many of the wagons as he could and cordially shake hands with each person. Every child and young babe in the company was especially noticed by him. He loved innocence and purity. Louis a Y little field. Joseph Smith taught as effectively as anything that men and women have the capacity to grow and develop and aspire to spiritual greatness, not just prophets, not just apostles, not just office holders, but that all men and women have the ability to become God like.
And so Joseph Smith's effort was to take the people and bring them with him. I think it's hard to capture simply what Joseph Smith's appeal was. I mean I think there is something charisma and Joseph Smith had tremendous power over people. So people who came into his presence were moved. They were convicted. They were convinced that what he said had divine power. In Curtlyn Joseph pictured more than a bustling city. He envisioned a community of good people focused on righteous principles and helping one another. He called the people saints. I am a lever of the cause of Christ and a virtue, chastity and an upright steady course of conduct and holy walk. Joseph Smith.
They were called saints because they understood themselves to be saints in the same way that the early Christians were saints. The early Christians were called saints. And so they were saints in the latter days. This is a reflection of their understanding of Mormonism as the church of Jesus Christ. Joseph taught that care for the poor and needy was part of the process of making saints. He instituted a sharing of resources among the members to care for the stream of converts coming into Curtlyn. To Joseph this consecration was the means to ensure that every man who has need may be amply supplied, though at the time the Mormons hardly had a plow among them. Now for a man to consecrate his property to the Lord is nothing more nor less than to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the widow and fatherless, the sick and afflicted, and do all he can to administer to their relief and their afflictions.
And for him and his house to serve the Lord. Joseph Smith. The early Latter-day Saints were committed to taking care of anyone who came their way. There was not any formal distinction between rich and poor, between educated and uneducated. There was not a divorce between spirituality and material reality. And so one didn't just talk religion, one practiced it, one built communities, and for that reason I think people who heard a lot of different religious options found this very compelling. Local authorities charged that the town was being burdened by an insupportable weight of pauperism and ordered the Mormons to leave. The vice of Mormonism must be accounted one of the most palpable and widespread delusions which this country has ever seen, and nothing can equal the zeal of their leaders in its propagation.
Truman Cove. merchants boycotted Mormon businesses even refused to grind their grain, but their efforts did not stem Mormon immigration nor did it arrest the zeal of the faithful. We began to talk about the kingdom of God as if we had the whole world at our command. We talked with great confidence and talked big things. We talked about the people that they should come bending to the standard of Jesus. When God sets up a system of salvation, he sets up a system of government that shall rule over temporal and spiritual affairs. Sidney Rigden. Joseph's next step in unfolding the new religion was to build another community in Independence, Missouri, but was then the farthest fringe of America. God designated to me and others the very spot upon which he designed to commence the work of the gathering and the upbuilding of an holy city which he called Zion.
Zion because it is a place of righteousness and all who build their honor to worship the true and living God and believe the doctrine of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith. On the second day of August, Brother Joseph Smith Jr., the prophet of God, assisted the Colesville branch to lay the first log as a foundation for Zion in Caught Township, 12 miles west of Independence. This was truly a season of joy and rejoicing to all the saints. Nulke Whitney. They went by wagon, canal boat, stage and steamer, walking the final stretch to Independence. For the next seven years, Joseph and other church leaders would shuttle the nearly 900 miles between the two settlements to direct the efforts of the Ohio and Missouri communities. It was revealed that Jackson County, Missouri, was the center place to become a new Zion, a new Jerusalem from which Christ would rule and reign when he returned to the earth.
And so from that point forward, Missouri was a sacred land, a promised place, a Zion to whom the faithful would be called to raise up temples unto God. That's the part of Mormonism that I like, that event was required. You simply did not believe in your heart and wait for the Lord to save you, but you sold your goods, you got in a wagon with your family, and you went to the place where the Holy City was to be erected, and there made a life in a new society. The Mormons did not mix well in the independent culture of the frontier. They believed the land had been given to them by God. They preached to the Indians, they held no slaves, they shared their resources rather than trading with the locals. Such practices enraged their neighbors. The Mormons came into the new Jerusalem in large numbers, community organized, and overnight they built farms, they started a printing press.
They were planning a store, whereas the people coming from the upper south would try to clear land and work with three or four sons for 15 or 20 years before they had any real success. And for them to see the Mormons taking over the land pretty much and making it blossom almost overnight, that was galling to them. And also, of course, there was a political dimension in their numbers and organization. They represent a political block that could do anything they wanted. In just a few years, the Mormons would be forced to move from Zion to the northern counties of Missouri. The Saints did not always use wisdom. They moved into this new area. They find people living there who don't share their values and their way of living. And they make comments like this. Well, we're moving in here. We're the people of God. We're the chosen people. This land has been given to us as our land, a promised land. You may stay here, but eventually this will be our property.
Opposition was mounting in Ohio as well, as quickly as some joined the church they left. These dissenters took issue with the way the prophet unfolded the new faith and its church practices. To distance themselves from the conflict, the Smiths moved in with the Johnson family in nearby Hiram. But the quiet of the farm was quickly shattered. On a March 9, 1832, a mob dragged Joseph and Sidney Rigdon from their beds to a nearby few, beat them, tired and feathered their bodies, and tried to force poison down Joseph's throat. Call on your God for help. We'll show you no mercy. Joseph staggered home, presenting a terrifying sight at the door, seeing Joseph coated with what she thought was blood, Emma fainted. His friends spent a long night scraping and picking the tar from his skin.
Little Joseph, one of their adopted twins, would die from a chill contracted the evening of the assault. With my flesh all scarified and defaced, I preached to the congregation as usual Sunday, and in the afternoon of the same day, baptized three individuals. Joseph Smith. Joseph's friends indicated that some of the men in the assembly that morning had been in the mob the night before. I would not paint Joseph Smith in pastel colors. He was a radical preacher of extreme ideas, very powerful ideas, which had tremendous appeal. He called people to extreme ways of living dependent upon his authority because he believed God was speaking in new and profoundly different ways. Joseph had a wonderful gift, and the gift he had was to see the potential of the Bible. The Bible is filled with religious possibilities that the religion of his time either Protestant or Catholic have not fully developed.
It is filled with prophets who receive revelation. Joseph said, I am another of those prophets. It speaks of a new Jerusalem that will be built. Joseph said, we will build the new Jerusalem. In a Bible culture, to use those powerful Bible words and make them literal, enable the people at his time not just to read the Bible, but to live it. Amid the tumult, Joseph was pronouncing what he said were revelations from God to direct the church and its people. Joseph declared it was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord. You know no more concerning the destinies of this church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother's lap. You don't comprehend it, but this church will fill North and South America. It will fill the world. Joseph Smith.
Joseph also claimed that by revelation he was revising parts of the King James Bible. He contended important points, touching the salvation of man had been taken or lost from the Bible before it was compiled. What Joseph Smith found was that people appealed to scripture and came to diverse, often opposite conclusions. His solution was that he said that he had new revelation from heaven. The Bible was a powerful book, but revelation trumped the Bible. Joseph felt that he had the authority to actually change the words of the Bible by force of his own revelation. He added long passages coming through revelation two. So for Mormons in his time today, the revelation is what the heed above all.
In 1833, Joseph founded the School of the Profits to prepare missionaries to teach the gospel. Its curriculum included the study of history, political science, languages, literature and theology. Fathered by studying spiritual matters in a cloud of smoke and prompted by Emma, who had to clean a floor splattered with tobacco juice, Joseph asked God for guidance. He then communicated to his followers the word of wisdom. This health code forbade the use of tobacco, wine, strong drink and hot drinks which were understood to be coffee and tea. It also stressed eating of vegetables, fruits and grains. Joseph kept a busy pace. On one occasion, after completing business in Missouri, Joseph and several others were returning to Ohio when the stage coach horses pulled in and the men were forced to jump free. Newell K. Whitney's leg and foot were caught in the spokes of the wheel and badly broken. The others went on while the prophet for four weeks cared for his injured friend until he could travel. He had time to himself.
Dear Emma, I have visited a grove which is just back of the tone almost every day where I can be secluded from the eyes of any mortal and there give vent to all the feelings of my heart. In meditation and prayer, I have called to mind all the past moments of my life and have left to mourn and shed tears of sorrow for my father. God is my friend and him I shall find comfort. Joseph Smith. I saw the imperfections in Joseph Smith. I thanked God that he would put upon a man who had those imperfections, the power and authority he placed upon him. Or I knew that I myself had weaknesses and I thought there was a chance for me. Lorenzo Snow. Normally a prophet is short-lived if he just stands on a street corner with a repentant sign. People come by on a smile.
The effective ones from Moses on form a community right away. They have a sense of a divine mandate. Moses sees a bush burn but not be consumed. He hears a voice. You have stood on holy ground and now you must test it and you must spread it. In December 1832, following the pattern of Biblical times, Joseph announced the building of a temple. He said it had been revealed to him that it was to be a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of God. Its construction would make it possible for the saints to be what Joseph called endowed with power from on high. The temple cost about $50,000, a great sacrifice for a people sharing their food to stay alive.
Come, brethren, let us go into the stone quarry and work for the Lord. Joseph Smith. Without revelation, Joseph could not know what was wanted any more than any other man and without commandment. The church were too few in number, too weak in faith and too poor in purse to attempt such a mighty enterprise. Brigham Young. Nothing was spared in the effort. When Joseph outlined what was needed in terms of skill and artistry, he perceived Kimball said he knew someone who could do the job, but the man lived in Canada and was not a member of the church. Joseph dispatched Brigham Young to convert Artemis Millet and then bring him to Kirtland. He added that Millet should also bring $1,000 to assist with the project. Weeks later, Brigham, Artemis and the money arrived in Kirtland.
There was but one main spring to all our thoughts and actions, and that was the building of the Lord's house, Lucy Max Smith. When they were willing to sacrifice first to be there in that community, and secondly to give up all sorts of material things to build, for that day and age in that small community, a magnificent edifice, it really was proof that their faith was more than skin deep, that they believed. Women wanted to participate as much as men in the construction of that holy edifice, and so they did whatever they could do. They raised whatever money was available, they would sell things. Many of them, we read in their diaries, gave up a priceless heirlooms and sold them in order to buy materials to build the temple.
American Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith
Part 1
Producing Organization
Vermont Public Television
Groberg Communications
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Vermont Public Television (Colchester, Vermont)
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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"A two-hour documentary, narrated by Gregory Peck, examines a religious chapter in 19th century American history. This is a story of religious tolerance and persecution. It is a story of a new religion which had its birth on American soil. "The program also examines the notion of a 'prophet' and what that meant for an unschooled New York farm boy and for the thousands of followers who believed in his claim to have spoken with God face to face and to have received ancient records, revealed to him by an angel of God. Joseph Smith published a book which he claimed were the translated contents of these 'golden plates;' which were the history and teachings of a civilization that formerly inhabited the Americas. "This program is about a people and their religion. Perhaps because it was not mainstream, they were terribly persecuted. Some of the problems were brought on by themselves because of their zealous beliefs. Many of these early Mormons were murdered, including their founder and leader, Joseph Smith. One on-camera expert noted, ''he joined the powers of church and state, but it did not license them to gun him down.' In the summer of 1844 Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered at the hands of a mob, but the American-born church survived and has become one of the faster growing Christian religions today."--1999 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Narrator: Peck, Gregory
Producing Organization: Vermont Public Television
Producing Organization: Groberg Communications
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Vermont Public Television
Identifier: cpb-aacip-93635b2a3b5 (Filename)
Format: 1 inch videotape
Duration: 01:56:46
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-f8a60a79ee6 (Filename)
Format: Betacam: SP
Duration: 1:56:46
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Chicago: “American Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith; Part 1,” 1999-11-26, Vermont Public Television, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 30, 2023,
MLA: “American Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith; Part 1.” 1999-11-26. Vermont Public Television, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 30, 2023. <>.
APA: American Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith; Part 1. Boston, MA: Vermont Public Television, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from