Joseph Smith

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.

Smith, Joseph,

1805–44, American Mormon leader, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, b. Sharon, Vt. When he was a boy his family moved to Palmyra, N.Y., where he experienced the poverty and hardships of life on a rough frontier. He had visions when he was still young and later recorded that he was first told in a vision in 1823 of the existence of secret records, but it was not until 1827 that the hiding place of the records was revealed to him. According to his account, in 1827 he unearthed golden tablets inscribed with sacred writings that he translated. Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and others transcribed these records from his dictation, and the Book of Mormon was published in 1830. Further revelations led him to found a new religion after priesthood had been conferred upon him and Cowdery by an "angel." As prophet and seer he founded (1830) his church in Fayette, N.Y. (see Latter-day Saints, Church of Jesus Christ ofLatter-day Saints, Church of Jesus Christ of,
name of the church founded (1830) at Fayette, N.Y., by Joseph Smith. The headquarters are in Salt Lake City, Utah. Its members, now numbering about 5.
..... Click the link for more information.

The hostility of his neighbors forced him to move his headquarters to Kirtland, Ohio, where with the help of Sidney Rigdon and others he embarked on extensive business affairs. The Panic of 1837 was one of the reasons for removal farther west to Missouri. There the industrious and self-contained members of his faith again ran into difficulties with their neighbors. Smith and others were arrested but escaped, and his faithful followers were driven from Missouri.

Having obtained a favorable charter from Illinois, Smith founded the settlement of NauvooNauvoo
, historic city (1990 pop. 1,108), Hancock co., W Ill., on heights overlooking the Mississippi River; inc. 1841. Situated in an agricultural area where fruit, corn, and soybeans are grown, the city produces wine and cheese, but tourism is the major industry.
..... Click the link for more information.
, which soon flourished, thanks to the concerted efforts of the members of his church. Disaffection grew, however, and some of the dissident members founded a newspaper, the Expositor, in which they bitterly criticized him. He put down the opposition, thereby giving the hostile non-Mormons a pretext for attacking him. When in 1844 he announced himself as candidate for the presidency of the United States, his enemies moved against him. He and his brother Hyrum were arrested on charges of treason and conspiracy. They were lodged in the jail at Carthage, Ill., and there on June 27, 1844, they were murdered by a mob.

The revelations experienced by Smith—including one enjoining plural marriage, which later caused the Mormons much trouble—were the foundation stones of a faith that after his death grew to be one of the great religions of the United States. Because he was a highly controversial figure, the literature on him is also controversial, and the Mormon church itself did not issue an official acknowledgment of Smith's multiple marriages until 2014.


See biographies by L. Smith (1908, repr. 1969), F. M. Brodie (1954, repr. 1995), R. V. Remini (2002), and R. L. Bushman (2005); studies by R. L. Anderson (1971), R. L. Bushman (1984), and A. Beam (2014).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Smith, Joseph

(1805–44) religious leader; born in Sharon, Vt. He moved to New York state with his parents in 1816 and received his first "call" as a prophet four years later, at age 15, when he claimed that God confided in him the first of several revelations of the true Christianity. In 1823 an angel told him of a hidden gospel on golden plates, with accompanying stones that would enable him to translate the text from "reformed Egyptian." On September 22, 1827, these records were delivered to him. He published them as The Book of Mormon in 1830 and organized the Church of the Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) in April of that year. Despite ridicule, hostility, and occasional violence, Smith's sect gained converts. In 1831 the Mormons established a headquarters in Ohio and later built a community called Zion in Missouri. After an anti-Mormon uprising in Missouri in 1838, Smith founded the community of Nauvoo in Illinois; by the early 1840s nearly 20,000 Mormons had settled there. Meanwhile, Smith introduced the custom of polygamy, and when he announced he would run for the presidency in 1844, he and his brother Hyrum Smith were imprisoned. On June 27 a mob of 150 men broke into the jail at Carthage, Ill., and shot them both dead. The Mormons thereafter migrated westward to Utah under Smith's successor, Brigham Young.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Joseph and Hyrum Smith are buried in Nauvoo next to the original Joseph Smith homestead.
Haskell notes that despite being well known during his lifetime, factual information about Joseph Smith was and is relatively scarce.
Dean Collins was jailed for six years for causing the death of his partner's son Joseph Smith Wales News Service
Dean Collins, 23, of St Mellons, was found guilty of causing five-year-old Joseph Smith's death by dangerous driving and four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving
Communalism within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, organized by Joseph Smith in 1830 as the Church of Christ, drew not only on New Testament precedent, like most other religiously inspired American communal groups, but also on its own unique scriptures.
Joseph Smith (December 23, 1805--June 27, 1844), was the founder of The Church of Latter Day Saints (which is more commonly known as the Mormon Church).
Hansen (Professor Emeritus of History, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada), a complete list of the original members of the first Council of Fifty, abbreviations for frequently cited sources, seven historical documents pertaining to the council, two appendices (References to the Official Records; "The Government of God" b Joseph Smith), a twenty-two page Annotated Bibliography, and a nineteen page Index.
Clarion Partners and MHP Real Estate Services, the building's owners, announced that the restaurant group owned by Joseph Smith, and David Beck's catering company BY DAVID COMPANIES, have formed Maiden Lane Hospitality to provide catering and restaurant management services to 180 Maiden Lane.
Synopsis: "Joseph Smith and The Latter-day Saints" by Richard Lloyd Dewey is the most complete portrait so far of the Mormon prophet.
NC Banking Commissioner, Joseph Smith, had used the tests to measures compliance by Bank of America and other mortgage servicers.
Jake Joseph Smith, who goes by the name Scouse Jay, is wanted by police after an incident in Mansell Road, Kensington, on October 10.
The first game saw Boro play a tight game as they enjoyed a 9-3 win over Plymouth, with a stand-out performance from Joseph Smith in defence.