World of Rath

Joseph Smith Jr. (December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844) was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement when he was only twenty-four years old.

According to Smith, he experienced a series of visions, including one in which he saw “two persons, one God the Father and the other Jesus Christ.


In another “vision” an angel directed Smith to a buried book made of golden plates inscribed with a Judaeo-Christian history of an ancient civilization.

Smith said he was visited by an angel named Moroni, while praying one night in 1823. Smith said that this angel revealed the location of a buried book made of golden plates, which had been hidden in a hill near his home.

Smith said he attempted to remove the plates the next morning, but the angel returned and prevented him. Smith reported that during the next four years, he made annual visits to the hill, but each time he returned without the plates.

Smith made his last visit to the hill on September 22, 1827, taking his wife Emma with him. This time, he said he successfully retrieved the plates.

He said the angel commanded him not to show the plates to anyone else, but to translate and publish their translation.

Smith said the translation was a religious record of indigenous Americans, and engraved in a language, called reformed Egyptian. He also told associates that he was capable of reading and translating them.

The Book of Mormon

In 1830, Smith published what he said was an English translation of these plates, and that latter became 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.” Smith would be dead only fourteen years later.

After the publishing of his book, the word had spread about his teachings and he had attracted tens of thousands of followers and founded a religious culture, The Latter Day Saints, that continues to this day.

Golden Plates

The original book were inscribed plates made of Gold, and so valuable that members of Smith own church had ransacked places where they believed the plates were hidden, so Smith decided to leave Palmyra.

In January 1837, Smith and other church leaders created a joint stock company, called the Kirkland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company, to act as a quasi-bank.

The company issued bank notes capitalized in part by real estate. Smith encouraged his own followers, the Latter Day Saints to buy the notes, and Smith himself invested heavily in them, but the bank failed within a month.

Escaping the Law

Afterward, there were widespread defections from the church, including many of Smith’s closest advisers. After a warrant was issued for Smith’s arrest on a charge of banking fraud, Smith and Rigdon fled Kirtland for Missouri in January 1838.

Having heard of a large sum of money supposedly hidden in Salem, Massachusetts, Smith traveled there and claimed that he had received a revelation from God that he would find much treasure in that city. After a month, however, he returned to Kirkland empty-handed.


In 1884 the dissidents published the first (and only) issue of the Nauvoo Expositor, calling for reform within the church and appealing to the political views of the county’s other faiths as well as those of former Mormons.

But a rival newspaper had tried to discredit Smith, and its influence was extensive. Fearing the newspaper would bring the countryside down on the Mormons, Smith ordered his followers to destroy the press, but the newspaper was protected with high ranking political connections.

On June 27, 1844, an armed mob with blackened faces stormed Carthage Jail where Joseph and Hyrum were being held. Hyrum, who was trying to secure the door, was killed instantly with a shot to the face.

Death of Joseph Smith

Smith fired three shots from a pepper-box pistol his friend, Cyrus Wheelock, had lent him, wounding three men, before he tried escaping thru the window.

Smith was shot multiple times before falling out the window, crying, “Oh Lord my God!” He died shortly after hitting the ground, but was shot several more times before the mob dispersed.

Five men were later tried for Smith’s murder, but were all acquitted. Smith was buried in Nauvoo, and is interred there at the Smith Family Cemetery.