March 24, 1832 — Founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement, Joseph Smith (December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844), was beaten, tarred, and feathered today in Ohio. The author of the Book of Mormon, was a prominent and controversial American religious leader who spent the last 14 years of his life attracting tens of thousands of followers to his religion that continues to the present.
Smith said he experienced a series of visions, including one in which he saw “two personages” and others in which an angel named Moroni directed him to a buried book of golden plates inscribed with a Judeo-Christian history of an ancient American civilization.
In 1817: The native of Sharon, Vermont moved with his family to the burned-over district of western New York, a site of intense religious revivalism during the Second Great Awakening.
In 1830: He published what he said was an English translation of these plates, the Book of Mormon. The same year he organized the Church of Christ, calling it a restoration of the early Christian church. Members of the church were later called “Latter Day Saints”, or “Mormons.”
In 1831: Smith and his followers moved west, planning to build a communalistic American Zion. They first gathered in Kirtland, Ohio, and established an outpost in Independence, Missouri, which was intended to be Zion’s “center place”. During the 1830s, Smith sent out missionaries, published revelations, and supervised construction of the expensive Kirtland Temple. Nevertheless, the collapse of the church-sponsored Kirtland Safety Society and violent skirmishes with non-Mormon Missourians caused Smith and his followers to establish a new settlement at Nauvoo, Illinois, where he became a spiritual and political leader.
Today: Smith and the Nauvoo city council angered non-Mormons by destroying a newspaper that had criticized Smith’s power and practice of polygamy. After Smith was imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois, he was killed when a mob stormed the jailhouse.
Words of Wisdom
"That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be and often is, right under another. God said thou shalt not kill—at another time he said thou shalt utterly destroy. This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted — by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the elders of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right ... even things which may be considered abominable to all those who do not understand the order of heaven."