American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church by Alex BeamOn June 27, 1844, a mob stormed the jail in the dusty frontier town of Carthage, Illinois. Clamorous and angry, they were hunting down a man they saw as a grave threat to their otherwise quiet lives: the founding prophet of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. They wanted blood.
At thirty-nine years old, Smith had already lived an outsized life. In addition to starting his own religion and creating his own “Golden Bible”—the Book of Mormon—he had worked as a water-dowser and treasure hunter. Hed led his people to Ohio, then Missouri, then Illinois, where he founded a city larger than fledgling Chicago. He was running for president. And, secretly, he had married more than thirty women.
In American Crucifixion, Alex Beam tells how Smith went from charismatic leader to public enemy: How his most seismic revelation—the doctrine of polygamy—created a rift among his people; how that schism turned to violence; and how, ultimately, Smith could not escape the consequences of his ambition and pride.
Mormonism is Americas largest and most enduring native religion, and the “martyrdom” of Joseph Smith is one of its transformational events. Smiths brutal assassination propelled the Mormons to colonize the American West and claim their place in the mainstream of American history. American Crucifixion is a gripping story of scandal and violence, with deep roots in our national identity.
Did Joseph Smith Use A Seer Stone? - Now You Know
Born in Vermont in , Smith claimed in that he had been visited by a Christian angel named Moroni who spoke to him of an ancient Hebrew text that had been lost for 1, years. The holy text, supposedly engraved on gold plates by a Native American historian in the fourth century, related the story of Israelite peoples who had lived in America in ancient times.
Joseph Smith III
Only John Taylor and Willard Richards, who had been with Joseph at the time of the martyrdom, were in Nauvoo, and Taylor was still recovering from wounds he received when the mob attacked the jail. Outside observers asserted that the Church would fall apart. They cannot get another Joe Smith. This widespread conviction that the work would go on, however, was accompanied by uncertainty about who would lead. Joseph Smith was still relatively young when he died, and he had not announced a clear plan for succession.
The succession crisis in the Latter Day Saint movement occurred after the death of Joseph Smith , the movement's founder, on June 27, For roughly six months after Joseph Smith 's death, several people competed to take over his role. This significant event in the history of the Latter Day Saint movement precipitated several permanent schisms. Between that time and Smith's death in , the administrative and ecclesiastical organization of the new church evolved from an egalitarian group of believers to an institution based on hierarchy of priesthood offices. This change over time was driven by both the growth in church population and the evolution of Smith's role as leader of the church. Prior to the formal establishment of the church, Smith held the title of " Prophet, Seer, and Revelator ," a title unanimously supported by the other founding members of the church. However, as the church was "organized" rather than legally " incorporated ," its property needed to be held in trust by a trustee; Smith became the church's Trustee-in-Trust.
Joseph Smith III served as Prophet-President of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints known today as the "Community of Christ" from until his semi-retirement in , the first person to hold that position following a formal reorganization of the church that took place several years after his father's death. Smith presided over the church for a total of fifty-four years, until his own death in Smith's ideas and nature, including his opposition to polygamy, set much of the tone for the church's development over the next century. He moved with his parents to Far West, Missouri, in , where his father was arrested partially as a result of the events in the so-called "Mormon War," a battle between Mormons and a group of residents from northwestern Missouri. Young Joseph was able to stay overnight with his father in prison on several occasions. It was later alleged by fellow prisoner and church apostle Lyman Wight that during one of these visits, Joseph Jr.
As founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, popularly known as the Mormons, Joseph Smith stands as one of the most charismatic and influential religious figures in American history. Smith was born in in Sharon, Vermont, into a hard-pressed farm family that eventually included ten children. The Smiths moved ten times in nineteen years, but almost all of Joseph's later childhood was spent near Palmyra, New York, in the heart of what was called the "burned-over district" for its frequent and fervent Protestant revivals. By his own description, Smith's first direct divine revelation came at age fourteen, on the Smith family farm. In a series of encounters, God revealed to him that all religions since the death of Christ's disciples had strayed from the true Church of Christ, which Smith was charged with restoring. Later visions instructed Smith to translate a history of ancient inhabitants of North America written on tablets of gold stored in a nearby hillside. The translations were published in as the Book of Mormon, which together with the Old and New Testaments and some of Smith's later revelations became the sacred scripture of Mormonism.