Question: Was Joseph Smith's 1832 prophecy of the Civil War invalid because a civil war was "inevitable," and "anyone" could have predicted it?

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Question: Was Joseph Smith's 1832 prophecy of the Civil War invalid because a civil war was "inevitable," and "anyone" could have predicted it?

There is no evidence that Americans were predicting a Civil War between 1832-1851

So, was the prophecy "so obvious" that anyone could have predicted it? The critics must prove this contention.

Where is the evidence that most Americans were predicting a Civil War between 1832-1851? Why was Orson Pratt ridiculed if this was obvious to everyone? This seems a desperate attempt by the critics to dismiss a "hit" by Joseph. Everything can look obvious in retrospect if one doesn't know history.

There is, in fact, good contemporary evidence that this prophecy was mocked by prominent authors only 4 years before the Civil War began

A newspaper article from 1857 reported a garbled version of the prophecy, but the author's scorn is clear:

New beauties are being revealed in the Mormon faith almost every day, and new prophecies of Joe Smith fulfilled. When any event of state occurs, or any remarkable circumstance happens, some of the Mormon apostles find a prophecy of Joseph’s (probably dated twenty-five years ago), which has just been fulfilled by the occurrence. These prophecies are never spoken of until after the occurrence. The fact is, the leaders frame the prophecy themselves after its fulfillment. Joe Smith did at one time prophecy that before the year 1860, the Union would be divided, the havoc of war spread over our glorious Republic, battles be fought whose equal was never before known, father would be arrayed against son, and brother against brother, and that our glorious Republic would be stained with human blood from North to South, the Constitution be trampled upon, and the Government fall to the ground; and then would the little band of Mormons rear the standard of their creed aloft, and proclaim to the world that the millennial year had been ushered in, and the reign of Christ begun. (emphasis added)

But methinks the Mormons can entertain but little hope of the fulfillment of that prophecy, as the Union has stood the strongest test and did not even shake. But when I shall see the above prophecy come to pass, I shall probably then change my mind about the truth of the revelation. At present, I see no chance of its verification within the time specified.[1]


  1. "O.P.M.," "Mormonism and its Origin, Number 4," The Golden Era San Francisco (18 October 1857). [Thanks to Ted Jones for this reference.]