A biographical overview of the life of Joseph Smith,
the first President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ
Following is a brief
summary of some major events in the life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the
Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Joseph Smith was born on December 23, 1805 in Sharon,
Windsor County, Vermont
to Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. He was the fifth of eleven
children, and the third son. Two of the 11 children died as infants.
- Joseph spent less than a year
in formal schooling.
- When 6 years old, Joseph
contracted typhus which eventually caused a life-threatening infection in
one of the bones in his leg. This required surgical removal of the
infected bone. Joseph refused to take alcohol as an anesthetic.
- Joseph was a farmer and
laborer before devoting most of his adult life to the work of the Lord.
- In 1820 (age 14) Joseph was
visited in person by God the Eternal Father and his son, Jesus Christ, in
a grove of trees near Palmyra, New York. This visitation was in response
to Joseph's sincere plea to know which church was correct, and thus began
the ushering in of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times.
- Joseph was visited by and
instructed by the angel Moroni
(a resurrected Book of Mormon prophet) at least 5 times during the years
- Joseph married Emma Hale on January 18, 1827 (age 21).
- Joseph received the plates
from which the Book of Mormon was translated on September 22, 1827, and he began the
inspired translation of the plates shortly thereafter. Joseph translated
the Book of Mormon at the rate of about 10 pages per day, completing the
task in 85 days. Expert translators today do well if they can translate
scripture at the rate of one page per day.
- On May 15, 1829, Joseph was baptized by Oliver
Cowdery, as directed by John the Baptist, in the Susquehanna
River near Harmony, Pennsylvania.
He and Oliver were also ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood by John the
Baptist at this time. Later in 1829, Joseph was ordained to the
Melchizedek Priesthood by Peter, James, and John.
- In 1830, Joseph directed the
publication of the Book of Mormon, and he initiated the official
organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830.
- In 1832 (age 26), Joseph was
sustained as President of the High Priesthood. This occured in Amherst,
- In 1834, Joseph organized and
marched with "Zion's
Camp", a group of 205 faithful brethren who trekked from Kirtland,
Ohio to Independence,
Missouri to help restore the displaced
Latter-day Saints in the Jackson
- In 1835, Joseph published the
Doctrine and Covenants, and began work on the translation of the Book of
- On March 27, 1836 (age 30), Joseph dedicated
the Kirtland Temple.
He was later visited by Jesus Christ, Moses, Elias, and Elijah in that
- Joseph's hobbies as an adult
included wrestling, games of strength, and public speaking.
- States in which Joseph
resided were Vermont, New
York, Ohio, Missouri,
- In 1839, Joseph founded Nauvoo,
Illinois, and in 1840 he announced
that the saints would erect another temple in Nauvoo.
- In 1842 (age 31), Joseph
introduced the full temple endowment to selected individuals in Nauvoo.
- In March of 1842, Joseph
organized "The Female Relief Society".
- In August of 1842 he
predicted that the saints would continue to be persecuted and would
eventually be driven to the Rocky Mountains.
- In 1843 and 1844, Joseph was
a candidate for the office of President of the United
- Joseph served many missions
during his life, including the Eastern
States in 1836, Canada
in 1837, and Washington, D.C.
in 1839 and 1840.
- Some of the major trials
Joseph faced include (1) the loss of the 116 pages of manuscript during
the translation of the Book of Mormon, (2) being dragged from his home and
tarred & feathered in 1832, (3) the failure of the Kirtland Safety
Society Bank and the ensuing apostacy and bitterness of some of the
leading brethren of the church, (4) expulsion of the saints from Ohio and
Missouri, (5) his 5-month incarceration in Liberty Jail during a Missouri
winter, (6) the apostacy and subsequent invective of John C. Bennett, (7)
repeated arrests on groundless charges, (8) and his martyrdom.
- On June 27, 1844, Joseph and his beloved
brother Hyrum were brutally martyred in the Carthage Jail, Carthage,
- The crucial and important
role that Joseph would play in the latter days was known even to prophets
of old. In 2 Nephi 3:6&14-15 it states: "A seer shall the Lord my
God raise up, who shall be a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins...
Behold, that seer will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him
shall be confounded;...And his name shall be
called after me [Joseph of old]; and it shall be after the name of his
- John Taylor, who was with
Joseph in the Carthage Jail at the time of his death, paid this fitting
tribute: "Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done
more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any
other man that ever lived in it. ...He lived great, and he died great in
the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord's anointed in
ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own
- Joseph is affectionately
referred to as "Joseph, the Seer" and "The Prophet of the
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