Smith, Joseph 
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Time Period
12/23/1805  - 6/27/1844
Description
Mormons view Smith as a prophet, high priest, military commander, and restorer of God’s truth. He began receiving visions at the age of 14. He is famous for encountering the angel Moroni who led him to transcribe the Book of Mormon (1830). Using two stones ("Urim" and "Thummim") to translate gold plates from "reformed Egyptian" to English, the Book of Mormon narrates the expedition of lost tribes of Israel to the New World and culminates with the advent of Jesus Christ in America after his resurrection.

During the same year of the Book of Mormon’s publication, Smith founded the "Church of Jesus Christ." His mother, father, and siblings became the first converts, and others soon joined the movement. As he moved his community to different locations, including Ohio (1831-1838), Missouri (1838-1839), and Illinois (1839-1844), he encountered criticism, conflict, and violence. He was killed by a mob on June 27, 1844.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Prominent Religious Events and People in American History
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Prominent Religious Events and People in American History
Narrative
Joseph Smith (1805-1844) wrestled with the problem of religious pluralism that impacted his family and his surrounding community. Growing up in Palmyra, New York, his mother joined the Presbyterian Church while his father was an unaffiliated "seeker." Diverse religious worldviews inundated the community, including Spiritualism, Shakerism, Universalism, Freemasonry, Revivalism, and Restorationsim. In 1820, when he was 14 years old, he had his first vision, in which he asked a "Father" and a "Son" which Christian denomination he should join. He was told that all of the present denominations were wrong. Later, he had vision where he conversed with John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John, in which he was given authority to restore the truth to a lost pluralistic world.

Smith is famously known for transcribing the Book of Mormon. In 1823, the angel Moroni led Smith to uncover gold plates buried near Palmyra, New York. Using two peep stones ("Urim" and "Thummim") to translate them from "reformed Egyptian" into English, the translation became known as the Book of Mormon (1830). The book told a story of how lost tribes of Israel traveled to the New World, and includes a rejection of Reformed beliefs such as irresistible grace and original sin. Jesus also visits America after his resurrection, according to this narrative.

During the same year of the Book of Mormon’s publication, Smith founded the "Church of Jesus Christ." His mother, father, and siblings became the first converts, and others soon joined the movement. Around the same time, he introduced the concept of the "gathering," congregating the entire Mormon community into one place. Following persecution from outsiders, whom Mormons called "Gentiles," he led the Mormons to different locations, including Ohio (1831-1838), Missouri (1838-1839), and Illinois (1839-1844). Smith continued to experience revelations, included in the publications of Doctrine and Covenants (1833) and The Pearl of Great Price (1851), which are now considered divinely inspired by Mormons. Joseph Smith is seen as a prophet, high priest, military commander, and founder.

Smith’s death was the culmination of perpetual persecution and conflict over the years. In 1832, Smith was tarred and feather in Hiram, Ohio. Critics in Nauvoo, Illinois despised him for the practice of plural marriage, and his decision to run for president of United States in 1844. When Smith destroyed the printing press for the Nauvoo Expositor for publishing a scathing article about the Church, it was the last straw. After local authorities jailed Smith and his brother for the act, a mob broke into the jail and killed both of them. This occurred on June 27, 1844, making Smith a martyr at the age of 38.
Religious Groups
Timeline Entries for the same religious group Latter-day Saints Family (Mormonism)
Latter-day Saints Family (Mormonism): Other ARDA Links

Events
Nauvoo, IL
The Second Great Awakening
First LDS Temple (Kirtland)
Book of Mormon Published
Kirtland, OH
Early Mormon Women Found Female Relief Society
Death of Joseph Smith
Photographs

Joseph Smith with book- Internet Archive- from The Latter-Day Prophet by George Q. Cannon

The angel Moroni delivering the plates of the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-3657.png

Joseph Smith preaching to the Indians- US History Images

Joseph Smith addressing the Nauvoo Legion- Internet Archive- from The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith by N. B. Lundwall

Death of Joseph Smith- Internet Archive- from The Mormons, or Latter-Day Saints by Henry Mayhew
Book/Journal Source(s)
Queen, Edward, Stephen Prothero and Gardiner Shattuck, 1996. The Encyclopedia of American Religious History. New York: Facts on File.
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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