Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./1838 to 1839/051909

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A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia: Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./1838 to 1839
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An analysis of Wikipedia article "Joseph Smith, Jr." (Version 19 May 2009)

1835 to 1838: Missouri

- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–1835_to_1838:_Missouri Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

After being forced from Clay County, the Missouri Saints had established themselves slightly north and east in Caldwell and Daviess Counties. Mormons from New York, Ohio, and Canada streamed to this frontier territory, and Smith encouraged the pioneers "with a revelation promising to 'make solitary places to bud and to blossom, and to bring forth in abundance.'"

  • 'D&C 117:7;
  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 345-46.
  •  Correct, per cited sources
  • See DC 117:7

Smith even called the new settlement around Far West, the "church in Zion,"

  • 'D&C 115:3
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.
    Violated by John "Foxe" —Diff: off-site

    The statement is incorrect. According to Bushman (p. 345), the revelation called "the Saints in Caldwell 'my Church in Zion,' implying that Far West was to take the place of Independence." It refers to the members of the Church located in Zion—it does not name the "new settlement around Far West" as the "church in Zion."
  • The revelation states, "And also unto my faithful servants who are of the high council of my church in Zion, for thus it shall be called, and unto all the elders and people of my Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, scattered abroad in all the world;"
  • See DC 115:3

"implying that Far West was to take the place of Independence."

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 345.
  • According to Smith, it was in Far West that the name of the church was revealed to him: "For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."'D&C' 115:4.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Far West

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

The disaffection in Kirtland had spread to Missouri, and four of the earliest Mormon leaders, David and John Whitmer, William Phelps, and Oliver Cowdery were now expelled from the church, which had come under stronger influence of Sidney Rigdon. When the dissidents and their families lingered in Missouri, they were threatened by a group of semi-secret ruffians, the Danites, led by a cunning, resourceful, and unscrupulous recent convert, Sampson Avard, who put his band under oath to be "completely submissive" to Joseph Smith.

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 346-51;
  • Brodie (1945) , p. 213-20.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Synthesis off-site: Do not put together information from multiple sources to reach a conclusion that is not stated explicitly by any of the sources.
    Violated by John "Foxe" —Diff: off-site

    We cannot find a reference in either of the cited sources that indicate that Avard made the Danites take an oath to be "completely submissive" to Joseph Smith. The two sources both refer to the Danites being responsible to the First Presidency.
  • Brodie (p. 216): "Avard was shrewd enough to make heresy against the presidency the most heinous crime in the church....Avard told his men that they 'should support the presidency in all their designs, right or wrong.'"
  • Bushman (p. 350): "George Robinson, Sidney Rigdon's son-in-law and keeper of Joseph's journal...may exaggerate the First Presidency's backing He also depicts the Presidency, not Joseph, as the effective governing body of the Church. Smith recedes as a personality in Robinson's records, and the Presidency as a group, with Rigdon as First Counselor, appears to be in charge. In Robinson's record, Joseph goes along with Rigdon, rather than taking the lead..."

Once the dissidents had been driven out, Smith warned the Missourians that the Saints would not "be mobbed anymore without taking vengeance." As Fawn Brodie has written, "From the bottom of his heart Joseph hated violence, but his people were demanding something more than meekness and compromise."

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 355;
  • Brodie (1945) , p. 213: "It was common gossip among the old settlers that the Mormons would never fight; and Joseph came to realize that in a country where a man's gun spoke faster than his wits, to be known as a pacifist was to invite plundering."(Brodie, 213.)
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    The wiki editors completely leave out the fact that it was Sidney Rigdon who gave the inflammatory speech that Joseph endorsed. Rigdon's warning has been converted to "Smith warned."
  • The cited source (Bushman, p. 355) notes: "The Mormon press printed Rigdon's talk, and Joseph urged the elders to get a copy, underscoring the passage saying the Saints would not 'be mob[b]ed any more without taking vengeance.'"

Furthermore, as Mormons increased in Daviess County, non-Mormons "watched local government fall into the hands of people they saw as deluded fanatics."

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 357.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

On election day, August 6, 1838, a Missouri rabble-rouser incited a riot in which the Danites gave as good as (or better than) they got.

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 345;
  • Brodie (1945) , pp. 225-26.
  • The Bushman citation is incorrect: It should be page 357.
  •  Insufficient Citation— The citation does not include sufficient material to make the author's meaning clear.

    Both cited sources note that the "Missouri rabble-rouser" was not simply a member of a mob—He was candidate William Peniston, a "local Whig politician and colonel of the county militia." (Bushman, p. 357) According to Brodie, "one of the candidates, William Peniston, harangued against the Saints." (Brodie, p. 225).

The Mormon War

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

Thereafter "the Saints were bullied and threatened," and they responded in kind. Latter Day Saint families were driven from their farms, and Saints burned buildings belonging to the Missourians. In October 1838 a Mormon contingent skirmished with the Richmond County militia at the Battle of Crooked River. Three Mormons and a Missourian were killed. Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs declared that the Mormons be "exterminated or driven from the state",

  • Boggs' executive order stated that the Mormon community had "made war upon the people of this State" and that "the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace." Bushman (2005) , p. 367
  • "Bullied and threatened" is a gross over-simplification of what happened at Far West. According to the cited source (Bushman, p. 367), the Mormons were required to sign away their property to the state of Missouri "while militia men stood by and struck anyone who protested...Marauders were attacking outlying farms, molesting women, whipping men, and killing animals."

an executive order for which there was no formal apology until 1976.

  •  Correct, per cited sources

A few days later a small party of Missourians surprised and massacred a Latter Day Saint settlement at Haun's Mill.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 358-66.
  • Actually, the Missourians, who were part of the state militia, massacred the residents of Haun's Mill, and they did this before they became aware of the Extermination Order.

Far West was shortly surrounded by 2,500 militiamen. Smith, whose earlier "angry rhetoric [had] stirred the blood of more militant men," surrendered to the Missourians on November 1, 1838; and he and four associates were taken prisoner.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 366-67,371
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Latter Day Saint property was confiscated and the Saints driven from Missouri by the spring of 1839.

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 371.
  • The state of Missouri did not reverse and issue a formal apology for the Extermination Order until 1976, during the administration of Governor Christopher S. Bond. The Missouri Mormon War: Executive Orders, Missouri Secretary of State, (accessed August 29, 2008) who stated "Gov. Bogg’s order clearly contravened the rights to life, liberty, property and religious freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of Missouri." His Executive Order read "Expressing on behalf of all Missourians our deep regret for the injustice and undue suffering which was caused by this 1838 order, I hereby rescind Executive Order Number 44 dated October 7, 1838, issued by Governor Lilburn W. Boggs.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

For a few hours Smith and his comrades were in real danger of being killed out of hand by the Missourians. Eventually the Mormon leaders were charged with "overt acts of treason" by a circuit court meeting in Richmond, where the majority of state witnesses were or had been Mormons. Chief among them was the former leader of the Danites, Sampson Avard, who whitewashed himself and heaped blame on Rigdon and Smith.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 367-70;
  • Brodie (1945) , pp. 225-26.
  • To say that they were in "real danger of being killed" by the Missourians seems to imply a mob was involved. General Lucas of the state militia held a "court-martial" for the Church leaders, convicted them of treason, and sentenced them to be executed the next day. It was only Alexander Doniphan's refusal to carry out the illegal order that saved them.

Liberty jail

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

The prisoners were then transferred to the jail at Liberty, Missouri, the Clay County seat, to await trial. Although he frequently called down imprecatory judgments on his enemies and perceived enemies, as Fawn Brodie has written, Smith bore his harsh imprisonment "stoically, almost cheerfully, for there was a serenity in his nature that enabled him to accept trouble along with glory."

  • Brodie (1945) , p. 245;
  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 375-77.
  • However, Rigdon was both sick and a whiner, and Smith became disillusioned with him during their period of enforced association in Liberty jail. Brodie (1945) , p. 251.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Smith wrote to his followers "with skill and tact" attempting to dispel the now current notion that he was a fallen prophet.

  • Brodie (1945) , pp. 245-46. Smith claimed to have been ignorant of many of Avard's devices; and "oddly, he chose to deny the ubiquitous rumor of polygamy—though it had not been mentioned in the Richmond trial."
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Brigham Young later claimed that even Smith's brother William said he hoped that Joseph would never get out of the hands of his enemies alive.

  • Statement of Brigham Young (1865) quoted in Brodie (1945) , p. 246.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Smith and his companions also made two unsuccessful attempts to escape from jail before, on April 6, they were started under guard to stand trial in Daviess County.

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 375;
  • Brodie (1945) , pp. 250-51.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Once the Latter Day Saints no longer posed a political threat, Missouri leaders realized that Mormon behavior could hardly be classified as treason whereas, as Fawn Brodie has written, the governor's "exterminating order stank to heaven."

  • Brodie (1945) , p. 247.
  • "The prisoners had long suspected they were an embarrassment to the state because the vigilante action and Bogg's extermination order would cause a scandal if widely publicized." Bushman (2005), 382.
  • Brodie also noted that it was common knowledge that "one member of the legislature had participated in the Haun's Mill massacre." Brodie, 247.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

On the way to trial, the sheriff and guards agreed to get drunk on whiskey purchased by Joseph's brother Hyrum and looked the other way while their prisoners escaped.

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 382;
  • Brodie (1945) , p. 255. The Mormons may also have bribed their guards. Joseph Smith III remembered his father paying $800 to the sheriff.
  •  Correct, per cited sources


Wikipedia references for "Joseph Smith, Jr."
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