Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./Death/051909

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A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia: Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./Death
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An analysis of Wikipedia article "Joseph Smith, Jr." (Version 19 May 2009)


Dissent in Nauvoo

- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Dissent_in_Nauvoo Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

Smith faced growing opposition among his former supporters in Nauvoo, and he "was stunned by the defections of loyal followers."

  • Bushman (2005), 527.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Chief among the dissidents was William Law, Smith's second counselor in the First Presidency, who was well respected in the Mormon community.

  • Ostlings, 14. Law had taken Hyrum Smith's place in the First Presidency as second counselor.
  • Brodie calls Law one of Smith's "ablest and most courageous men." Brodie, 368.
  • Law had been one of the few Saints to arrive in Nauvoo with capital; and he and his brother Wilson had purchased a considerable amount of land and constructed flour and lumber mills. Bushman (2005), 528.
  • Brodie notes that Law came from Canada "a wealthy man" and had fostered "more than anyone else the sorely needed industrialization of the city." Brodie, 368.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Law's disagreement with Smith was partly economic.

  • Law paid his workers in cash, but Smith "operated on scrip, credit, and tithed labor." Law was also convinced that Smith was misappropriating money donated by church members to complete the Nauvoo House hotel in order to buy land and sell it to converts at a profit. Ostlings, 14;
  • Brodie, 368.
  • The statement regarding methods of payment is from Ostlings, 14.
  • The statement regarding Law's suspicions regarding the funds used to build the Nauvoo House comes from Brodie, 368. Brodie states, "Law became convinced, whether rightly or wrongly, that Joseph was using the funds donated for the hotel to buy more land, which he then sold for a generous profit to new converts." Brodie, however, provides no citation or source for this statement.

But the most significant difference between the two was Law's opposition to plural marriage. There is even evidence that Smith propositioned the wives of both Law and his associate Robert D. Foster.

  • Ostlings, 14;
  • Brodie, 369-72. Brodie repeats the testimony of another dissenter, Joseph H. Jackson, that Smith had vainly tried for two months to win the "amiable and handsome" Jane Law—and that Emma suggested that she be given William Law as a spiritual husband.

Law and others gave testimonies at the county seat in Carthage that resulted in three indictments being brought against Smith, including one accusing him of polygamy.

  • On the legal issues, see Edwin Brown Firmage and Richard Collin Mangrum, Zion in the Courts: A Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 106-113.

On May 26, just a few weeks before his death, Smith spoke before a large crowd of the Saints in front of the uncompleted temple and once again denied having any more than one wife.

  • Smith stated "I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives....I have rattled chains before in a dungeon for truth's sake. I am innocent of all these charges, and you can bear witness of my innocence, for you know me yourselves....What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers."Address of the Prophet—His Testimony Against the Dissenters at Nauvoo, History of the Church, Period I, 6:408–412.
  • Referring to Law, Smith stated "This new holy prophet has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this". History of the Church, 6:410–411.
  • Bushman argues that, while to Smith's enemies "the speech was blatant hypocrisy", in Smith's mind "priesthood plural marriage was based on another principle than polygamy." Bushman (2005), 538
  • The cited source, Bushman, states that Joseph's "main point as always was that he was not committing adultery, nor was he practicing 'spiritual wifeism,' another name for polygamy. To Joseph's enemies, the speech was blatant hypocrisy, but in his own mind, priesthood plural marriage was based on another principle than polygamy." (Bushman, p. 538)
  • See: Hiding the truth about polygamy

Nauvoo Expositor

- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Dissent_in_Nauvoo Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

Unlike earlier dissenters Law had enough money to buy a printing press and publish a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor. Its only edition, published on June 7, 1844, contained affidavits testifying that the signers had heard Smith read a revelation giving every man the privilege of marrying ten virgins. The paper also attacked the attempt to "christianize a world by political schemes and intrigue" and denounced "false doctrines" such as "doctrines of many Gods," which, the paper said, Smith had recently revealed in his King Follett discourse. The newspaper also refused to "acknowledge any man as king or lawgiver to the church."

  •  Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.

    The citation is to a primary source, the Nauvoo Expositor. There is no citation supporting the phrase "unlike earlier dissenters Law had enough money to buy a printing press..." The wiki editor is interpreting the primary source, without the benefit of a secondary source per Wikipedia rules.

Smith declared the Expositor a "nuisance." On June 10, the Nauvoo city council passed an ordinance about libels; and Smith, as mayor, ordered the city marshal to destroy the paper.

  • Bushman, 540;
  • Marquardt (2005) ;
  • Marquardt (1999) , 312;
  • L. Clark writes that Hyrum's statement "appeared in the Nauvoo Neighbor of June 19, 1844, but was omitted from the History of the Church" (Clark (1968) );
  • La Rue (1919) ;
  • LDS Church (1912) .
  • The council met on June 8 and June 10 to discuss the matter; The Destruction of the "Nauvoo Expositor"—Proceedings of the Nauvoo City Council and Mayor, off-site

Press, type, and newspapers were dragged into the street and burned. Smith argued that destroying the paper would lessen the possibility of anti-Mormon settlers attacking Nauvoo; but as Richard Bushman has written, he "failed to see that suppression of the paper was far more likely to arouse a mob than the libels. It was a fatal mistake."

  • Bushman, 541.

When the destruction of the Expositor was reported to Smith's journalistic enemy Thomas C. Sharp, his Warsaw Signal published a hysterical call to action: "Citizens arise, one and all!!! Can you stand by, and suffer such Infernal Devils! to rob men of their property and rights without avenging them. We have no time for comment, every man will make his own. Let it be made with Powder and Ball!!!"

  • Warsaw Signal, June 14, 1844.

Nauvoo Mormons feared reprisals from the non-Mormons, and non-Mormons were apprehensive about the Nauvoo Legion, especially after Smith, fearing for his life, declared martial law on June 18. Illinois Governor Thomas Ford, desperately trying to prevent civil war, then mobilized the state militia.

  • Ostlings, 16.
  • "Mormons feared anti-Mormon retaliation. Local non-Mormons feared the Nauvoo Legion. Smith also feared for his life. On June 18, he declared martial law and mobilized the Legion. Non-Mormons pressured Governor Thomas Ford to mobilize the state militia." Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), 16. ( Index of claims )

The governor promised Smith that he would provide protection if Smith would stand trial at Carthage for the destruction of the newspaper. Smith ordered the Legion to disarm but then fled across the Mississippi to Iowa. Emma warned Joseph that Nauvoo residents believed he had left due to cowardice and that they feared reprisals from local mobs. Smith returned to Illinois on June 23, gave himself up, and was taken to Carthage to stand trial.

  • Ostlings, 17;
  • Bushman, 546. Eight Mormon leaders accompanied Smith to Carthage: Hyrum Smith, John Taylor, Willard Richards, John P. Greene, Stephen Markham, Dan Jones, John S. Fullmer, Dr. Southwick, and Lorenzo D. Wasson. [1] All of Smith's associates left the jail, except his brother Hyrum, Richards and Taylor.


- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Death Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

On June 27, 1844, an armed group of men with blackened faces stormed the jail where Smith and three other Mormon prisoners were being held in an upstairs room without bars. Both Hyrum and Joseph Smith had pistols that had been smuggled in by friends the previous day. As the mob broke into the room, Hyrum was shot in the face and killed. Smith discharged all six barrels of his pepper-box and wounded three men.

  • Hay, J. ''Atlantic Monthly''.
  • Richards was unharmed. Taylor was shot several times, but survived. (One of the bullets glanced off his pocket watch.)Taylor, John , Witness to the Martyrdom 91, 114–115;
  • Leanord, Glen , A Place of Peace, a People of Promise
  • According to Brodie (p. 393), although Joseph discharged all six barrels of his pepperbox pistol, three of them misfired.

But they continued to fire at Smith and the other Mormons. As Smith prepared to jump from the second floor, he was hit by a ball from the door and fell from the window. On the ground he stirred a bit. Four men fired and killed him.

  • Brodie, 393-94.
  •  Correct, per cited sources



- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Aftermath Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

Certain the Mormons would retaliate, the people of Carthage deserted their town by nightfall. But the Saints had been shattered by the loss of their leader. The bodies of Joseph and Hyrum were brought back to Nauvoo, and thousands of mourners filed by their coffins. Fearing desecration of the graves, church leaders decided to bury the men in the basement of the unfinished Nauvoo House. The coffins were filled with bags of sand and buried in the cemetery following a public funeral.

  • Arrington and Bitton, 82;
  • Remini, 174-75.
  • The remains were disinterred in 1928 on the orders of Smith's grandson Frederick M. Smith, then President of the RLDS Church, and reburied along with Smith's wife Emma in a location thought to be safer from Mississippi flooding. Black, S.E. The Tomb of Joseph, from The Disciple as Witness: Essays on Latter-day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for religious Scholarship, Brigham Young University, 61–86. Our History - Smith Family Cemetery, Community of Christ.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Charges were brought against five accused leaders of the mob that had killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and they stood trial in May 1845. The defense argued that no individuals could be held responsible because the assassins were carrying out the will of the people. The jury, which included no Mormons, acquitted the defendants.

  • Bushman (2005), 552.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Emma Smith quickly became alienated from the church, largely over property matters; it was difficult to disentangle Smith's personal property from that of the church.

  • Bushman (2005), 554.
  • Brodie says that she also "came to fear and despise" Brigham Young. Brodie, 399.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Her strong opposition to plural marriage "made her doubly troublesome."

  • Bushman (2005), 554.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

When the Saints moved west, she stayed in Nauvoo, married a non-Mormon, and withdrew from religion until 1860, when her son, Joseph Smith III, stepped forward to lead what became the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (today, the Community of Christ). Emma never denied Joseph's prophetic gift or belief in the Book of Mormon.

  • Bushman (2005), 554-55. Emma Smith married Major Lewis Bidamon, an "enterprising man who made good use of Emma's property."
  • Although Bidamon sired an illegitimate child when he was 62 (whom Emma reared), "the couple showed genuine affection for each." Bushman (2205), 555.
  •  Correct, per cited sources


Wikipedia references for "Joseph Smith, Jr."
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