Question: Did Joseph Smith personally profit from the Kirtland Safety Society?

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Question: Did Joseph Smith personally profit from the Kirtland Safety Society?

Joseph did not profit personally from the bank, and withdrew his support before the failure

Joseph probably suffered more legal repercussions than anyone from the event. There is no evidence that Joseph was “getting rich,” or attempting to do so, from the bank. He paid more for his stock in the bank than 85% of the subscribers, and he put more of his own money into the bank than anyone else, save one person.[1]

In June 1837, Kirtland land values had increased by 800% in just one year, so the idea of backing the bank with land does not seem unreasonable.

Furthermore, the bank's weakness became a drain on Joseph, and he expended considerable resources trying to save it—including obtaining three new loans—which only worsened his position in the end.[2]

Joseph was left with debts of $100,000. He had that value in goods and land, but it was difficult to convert these to cash. (Ironically, it was this very issue which had led to the bank's formation in the first place.)

Joseph fled for fear of his life, but as late as 1843 worked to settle his Kirtland debts

Joseph fled for fear of his life, but also left creditors behind. Admirably, even as late as 1843, he continued to work to settle his Kirtland debts, even though he was far away in Nauvoo and effectively beyond the reach of his creditors.[3] In a 23 June 1874 speech, Brigham Young indicated that "some of his [Joseph's] debts had to be settled afterwards; and I am thankful to say that they were settled up."[4]


  1. Hill, Rooker, & Wimmer, 456.
  2. Hill, Rooker, & Wimmer, 432.
  3. Hill, Rooker, & Wimmer, 458.
  4. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 18:242. See also discussion in Leland Homer Gentry, "A History of the Latter-Day Saints in Northern Missouri from 1836 to 1839," (Unpublished PhD thesis, Brigham Young University, 1965), 196. (Hard copy available from UMI Dissertation Express; order number 6509857.)