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"A Life Sketch of Joseph Smith"

Joseph Smith, a man whose name has been "had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues"1 came from humble beginnings. He was born 23 December 1805 in Vermont, to Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith. He was the fifth child of eleven two of which died during childhood.

The Smith family was a poor farming family who moved to New York seeking better land. Joseph Smith received only three years of formal education although his parents made sure that he could read and write. The children were also educated from the family Bible, which was a daily part of their lives.

When Joseph Smith was seven years old he contracted typhoid fever. As a result a painful infection settled in the bone of his leg, which doctors insisted on amputating. Young Joseph Smith and his parents refused instead asking doctors to try removing a section of the bone instead. Joseph Smith refused alcohol for pain and then instead of being tied down insisted that his father hold him. "Then looking up into [his mother's] face, his eyes swimming in tears, he continued, 'Now mother, promise me that you will not stay, will you?  The Lord will help me, and I shall get through with it."2 He walked on crutches for about three years and had a slight limp after, but his leg healed.

When Joseph Smith was fourteen years old a religious fervor swept through New York. Many religions were competing for members. Joseph was unsure which church he should join. After reading James 1:5 which says, "If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God," Joseph Smith went into the woods to pray.

What followed is what Mormons term the "First Vision" in which Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. He related his experience, "When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other 'This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!'"3 Later Joseph Smith received visits from other divine messengers.

In 1827 Joseph Smith married Emma Hale. During their seventeen-year they suffered intense personal tragedy. The couple had nine children and adopted two, only four of which survived infancy. Their last child was born five months after Joseph died.

Joseph Smith is most famous for his translation of the Book of Mormon, which he translated in about three months. The Book of Mormon is another Testament of Jesus Christ. "Church members believe that Joseph was led to a hill near Palmyra, New York, where he received an ancient record from an angel named Moroni. The record, engraved on thin gold plates, gave the sacred history of a people who lived in the Americas before and after the time of Christ."4

After the publication of the Book of Mormon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded on 6 April 1830, with Joseph Smith as the first president.

For the next fourteen years Joseph Smith led the Mormon Church, oversaw the building of three cities and two temples, and watched church membership grow from six to 26,000 "all while facing intense persecution from local mobs who eventually drove Church members from all three cities." 5

Friends described Joseph Smith as "tall, strong and active; of a light complexion, light hair, blue eyes [and] very little beard." He had a "cheery disposition. One member wrote, "He didn't appear exactly as I expected to see a prophet of God. However . . . I found him to be a friendly, cheerful, pleasant, agreeable man. I could not help liking him." 6

Joseph Smith presided over the Mormon Church until he and his older brother Hyrum were martyred in June of 1844 by a mob at Carthage Jail, where they had been imprisoned on false charges of riot and treason. "On 28 June, an estimated 10,000 mourners in Nauvoo viewed the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum. They were buried secretly the following day to avoid further attacks or desecration by mobs."7

For more information about Joseph Smith see below:

Joseph Smith, Jr. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith Daguerreotype
Fulfilled Prophecies of Joseph Smith
JS-H 1
Joseph Smith
BBC - Religion & Ethics - The Story of Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith: Biography and Much More From Answers.com
Joseph Smith - bellsouth
Joseph Smith, Jr. - Wikiquote
Joseph Smith: Prophet, Revelator, Human; Interview with Richard Lyman


(1) JS-H 1:33
(2) Anderson, Richard Loyd. "The Trustworthiness of Young Joseph Smith." The Improvement Era, Vol 73, Number 10 (October 1970). pg. 88
(3) JS-H 1:17
(4) "Joseph Smith: A Life Sketch" The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Press Release. 4 February 2005.
(5) "Joseph Smith: A Life Sketch"
(6) "Joseph Smith: A Life Sketch"
(7) "Joseph Smith: A Life Sketch"





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