Talk:Joseph Smith/Archive 6

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Smith's Death

Anon contribution moved here for discussion:

One account even mentions that Smith was stabbed multiple times after landing on the ground.

They provided no sources -- anyone have any information on this twist? WBardwin 30 June 2005 06:38 (UTC)

The claim is incorrect. Shannon Tracy's book, In Search of Joseph (ISBN 157636009) has a diagram with the wounds on Joseph and Hyrum's bodies. Joseph was shot multiple times, but were no stab wounds. --MrWhipple 30 June 2005 16:40 (UTC)
I believe the claim comes from an incorrect reading of the "beheading account" - which the author said that a man raised up Joesph to behead him and the man was struck dead. The same account alludes the the fact that they used a bayonet to prop him up against the well before firing additional shots and alludes to a bayonet being used to confirm his death.
Incidentally, Shannon Tracy's research cannot be confirmed, in my opionion, as it would be nearly impossible to determine this far after his death, exactly where the wounds were/what type of wounds existed. They would have to be treated from a number of evidences, such as holes in his clothes, oozing or blood stains in burial clothes, depending on how he was prepared for burial and firsthand accounts. It would work for his death mask, but it is pretty apparent that he was shot multiple times at the well after he fell/jumped out the window and that his chest was exposed. The shots-by-the-well wounds are not fully accounted for in her research, are they? Agree with the removal, but I wouldn't jump to any conclusion quickly as for my own understanding. -Visorstuff 30 June 2005 20:03 (UTC)
Tracy relied on the Huntington brothers' description of Joseph's body (they did a rudimentary autopsy) as well as an examination of the clothing worn by Joseph at Carthage. The number of holes in his clothing line up with descriptions of him being shot twice in the upstairs room (once from outside and once from the doorway, almost simultaneously), and then shot four additional times by the well, for a total of six balls received. I don't have the book in front of me; I'll have to check it when I get home. Unfortunately it was printed in a limited run and is long out of print. Tracy used to have a web site with some of his research, but it has since been taken down. (And BTW, Shannon Tracy is a "he".) --MrWhipple 1 July 2005 19:57 (UTC)
Incidentally, I'd harldly call the cleaning/dressing an autopsy -Visorstuff 19:49, 17 August 2005 (UTC)
Okay, I have Tracy's book now. The Huntingtons identified the wounds in Joseph and Hyrum's bodies when they cleaned them. Joseph received five balls (not six, as I had stated from memory): right collarbone, right chest, below heart, lower bowels, and the back of the right hip. According to Willard Richards' account, Joseph was shot twice from behind and once from below as he approached the window. The shot from outside was in the right chest; the ones from behind probably included the right hip and one other. This means he received two other shots when at the well (I'm speculating the heart and bowels). --MrWhipple 2 July 2005 03:12 (UTC)
OK. Time to revisit the shooting, with references. It is not clear that Smith was shot in the jail cell. According to Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, page 374, under footnote 197, describes the different stories of the shooting. History of the Church 6:618 states that Smith received all of his bullet wounds within the jail. This description was provided by Willard Richards. However, according to the physician who attended Taylor's wounds, Richards was unable to tell when the wounds were received. He was standing behind the door near the hinges. On the other hand, several of the vigilantes said that Smith escaped injury until after his jump, when the mobbers propped him against the water-well of the jail and hot him. Nathan Cheney wrote "he fell to the ground [and] the mob run him throug[h] with their baynet [bayonets] a number of times and fired him through a number of times". This is from Cheney to Charles Beebe, 28 June 1844 at Nauvoo, LDS archives, according to Quinn. Smith's secretary, William Clayton, accepted this account. This is from Clayton's 1839-45 journal, where he says "Joseph jumped through the window and was immediately surrounded by the mob. They raised him up and set him against the well-curb; but as yet it appears he had not been hit with a ball. However, four of the mob immediately drew up their guns and shot him dead." However, Clayton wasn't there at the time of the shooting.
In short, Smith's death is far from clear. The section needs to be rewritten a bit, with references, but I'm not ready to do it right now. Nereocystis 06:01, 17 August 2005 (UTC)
Considering that he received two of thefour balls in his back, I think it's unlikely that all of the shots were at the well (how could someone shoot him from behind if his back was against the well?). Although there are conflicting accounts, Willard Richards was the only one in the room in a position to see what happened and who left a written testimony. Perhaps if the article were to just note this? --MrWhipple 17:18, 17 August 2005 (UTC)
Quinn's point is that Richards was not in a good position to see the killing, since he was behind a closed door. Stressful situations like that also produce poor quality memories; see Elizabeth Loftus, for example. That doesn't mean that he is wrong, just that his memory is questionable. The testimony from the mob might not have know that he was shot, even if he were. Noting that there are conflicting accounts is a good idea. Resolving them is too difficult. Nereocystis 17:48, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

One thought is to keep it simple; Joseph Smith was killed by being shot five times. It would be appropriate to cite where he was shot as noted above, but to attempt to state exaxtly when and in where he was positioned when shot seems like overkill. The point is Joseph Smith was killed by a mob. It is impossible to refute that statement.

I have a personal distate for historians who attempt to reconstruct history; finding conflicts where none exist. Quinn is particularly noteworthy in his vast reserach, but succeeds in nothing but muddying waters sufficiently enough to produce his own personal objectives. Is it noteworthy that Richard's recounting conflicts with others? How does Quinn know that Richard's was behind the door the entire time? When did Richard's state he did not know when Joseph was hit? How does one argue with the fact Joseph was hit in the back? Keeping it simple evades all the supposed conflicts. Storm Rider 19:36, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

You all know my feelings on Quinn. This article still overly relies on his research. Let's look at other sources, if we decide to get this granular. While I don't think quinn is making a doctrinal point, he does the same thing over and over and over again - 'we don't know how it happened, so this is how it could have.' For a professional historian whose income is in selling, the sensational makes money, not the safe and known facts - which are too dry to sell. New sources are needed. -Visorstuff 19:49, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Visorstuff in some areas. Let's keep it simple. The specifics are worth mentioning in certain books, or if there was an article devoted to Smith death, but not here.
Much of history is not cut and dried. Muddying the water is often appropriate. Let's try to keep to established facts, and note conflicting version where appropriate. Include Quinn as a reference; also include other sources. The conflict is noteworthy if we publish one person's version and ignore anther persons.
I'll check for answers to Visorstuff's other questions later. Nereocystis 20:15, 17 August 2005 (UTC)
From Quinn, above:
According to a statement of of Richards to the physician who tended the wounded John Taylor immediately afterward, Richards was unable to see whether the wounds in Joseph Smith's corpse came before or after his fall from the window: "He stood next to the hinges of the when they [the mob] crowded the door open it shut him up against the wall and he stood there and did not move till the affair was over." See Dr. Thomas Barnes to his daughter Miranda Barnes Haskett, 6 Nov. 1897, in Mulder and Mortensen, Among the Mormons, 151 and in Keith Huntress, ed., Murder of the American Prophet... (San Francisco: Chandler Publishing Co., 1960), 152-53.
The letter was written many years after the incident, but does explain Richards small level of injuries. Quinn further says that Richards's
written account shows that Richards depended on later examination of Hyrum Smith's corpse to reconstruct how the patriarch was shot, and similar reconstruction undoubtedly occurred after Richards examined the bullet wounds in Joseph Smith's corpse.
Nereocystis 14:48, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

Not to be cynical here, but is anyone seriously suggesting that we take a third-hand account written 53 years after the martyrdom over Willard Richards' own first-hand account written immediately afterward? And even if Richards was behind the door, the door is opposite the window, so he would have a clear view of Joseph Smith at windowsill. The mark of a good historian is the ability to fairly judge the value of various historical accounts; if Quinn is arguing that Barnes' letter casts serious doubt on Richards' testimony, then he is a poor historian indeed. --MrWhipple 16:40, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

Agree MrWhipple. Nereocystis, let's look at Quinn's last statement you quote - this demonstrates perfectly why we should not rely so much on his work for this article:
First: the "witten account shows that Richards depended on later examination of Hyrum Smith's corpse to reconstruct how the patriarch was shot." Not neccessarily. This is opinion. Richards did not state that he depended on it. Rather, Quinn is attempting to show that Richards testimony was influenced by it. However, there is no direct support, only this speculation tying the two together. Unless we have Richard's thought process and proof that his testimony changed, and that he examined the body and that that examination changed his testimony then it is speculative. It is conjecture. It is theory. It is not evidence and would be thrown out in a court of law as evidence, but as "possible" motive it may stand.
Second: "smilar reconstruction undoubtedly occurred after Richards examined the bullet wounds in Joseph Smith's corpse" - undoubtedly occurred. Wow. That is a stretch. It may have occured, and would have with Quinn's mindset, or in modern-day mindset, or in hindsight, but we don't know - there is no record of this. Theorizing again. Quinn places fact where there is no evidence, but rather some liklihood.
Let's try to branch out from Quinn and provide more references. 75 percent of this article is based on Quinn's research, not from any other source. That is sad. Let's try to at least act balanced by throwing in a nugget or two from other sources. -Visorstuff 16:54, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
We're getting off base here. Our job is not to decide which historian is correct, it is to make sure that different views are represented. Quinn is an historian, reasonably respected in some areas, considered controversial in others. We shouldn't do our own research in determining correctness of his conclusions. Let's work on a rewrite which allows for either interpretation. The references should conform to our standard, here's my first draft, please suggest changes.
John Taylor was shot four times and severely injured, but survived the attack. Willard Richards escaped unscathed.
Joseph Smith may have been shot several times as he made his way towards the window. One report [need reference here, perhaps HoC] says that Smith arrived at the sill, but as he prepared to jump down, he was shot twice in the back and a third bullet, fired from a musket on the ground outside, hit him in the chest. Other reports state that Smith was uninjured when he jumped from the window (Quinn, 1994).
Nereocystis 18:06, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
Am I missing something??? Joseph Smith was killed by a mob. Why are we putting so much energy into discussing different aspects. Visor has stated several times it would be appropriate to use other sources and not give so much importance to Quinn. Nereo seeks balance also. You both are essentially saying the same thing; present a balanced article.
What exactly are we trying to portray to the reader...isn't it that Joseph was killed by a mob? Sometimes we choke on the simplest of things; let's move on. State it simply and forget about when and exactly where Joseph was standing when he was shot; it needn't be referenced at all. The differences discussed are differnces without any value to the reader. Storm Rider 18:22, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
If you don't like my alternate wording, please suggest another one. I tried to state it simply, but it still sounds awkward to me. Simple is good, but we need the wording. It does need a reference, perhaps a few, even if the fact is agreed upon (Wikipedia:Cite sources#When there is no factual dispute). Nereocystis 18:37, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
I think the martyrdom portion of the article is fine how it stands. The External Links have references to the official account (D&C 135) and Richards' testimony, so cite those. There is no need to cite every possible alternative theory -- part of the job of Wikipedia editors (contrary to what you said above) is to determine which facts are relevant and put them into a concise article. There are probably people who believe Joseph Smith was murdered by space aliens -- does that mean we need to put that in this article? When "other reports state that Smith was uninjured," and those reports come half a century later and third-hand, I don't see any reason to include them in here. It doesn't matter if Quinn thought it was relevant -- he wrote a huge book that brought in every single account, no matter how credible (which I consider a flaw in his methodology). This is a brief encyclopedic article. I say leave it as is. --MrWhipple 20:59, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
Let's leave as is. Although Quinn may be respected in some areas of Mormon reasearch, no other scholar has given his support to the theories set forth in you quotes. They may have supported Quinn's findings in other areas of research, but not this one. Until peer review validates Quinn's "new findings" it is left solely as a new, untested theory. I am unaware of any validation of this particular arguement, and agree it fits into the space alien category McWhipple mentioned above. WE have got to get beyond Quinn for this article to be a solid and a candidate for a featured article. The bottom line is that we weren't there and don't know, and primary first-hand accounts don't perfectly match up, but the secondary, tertiary and time-removed accounts are even worse in agreements. Let's simplify as Storm Rider suggests, and lets try to find another source than Quinn. He is not omniscient. He wasn't there either. -Visorstuff 21:50, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
Is any of this really important? I mean, all this stuff is important when you're discussing the Kennedy assassination, but I think the precise details about where Smith was standing when bullet X hit him are bordering on the non-notable. If we included that much detail on every aspect of Joseph Smith's life, this would be a full book, rather than an encyclopedia article. The only things I think that are really important about Smith's death are who killed him, why, how (roughly), and any information that might reveal his composure (or arguable lack thereof), and his thinking, when facing death (which are notable because they relate to his status among Mormons as a martyr). COGDEN 22:43, August 19, 2005 (UTC)
The problem is that we are currently including very specific information, where it is unneeded. We should add sources in addition to Quinn (not to replace him). Please, find some. Quinn stays as a source, but other sources should be added. In the interest of simplification, how about:
Joseph Smith was shot multiple times and killed.
Nereocystis 23:47, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
I see no reason to change the language regarding Joseph Smith's death than what is already written. It is already referenced and has ample detail. It is balanced and does not shed either negative or positive light on either party than what is already known. Nereo, I am not sure I understand how you would want to change it or why, but if you think you can improve it, go for it. However, we all will judge what you wrote and this time we will allow consensus to guide the community.
As an aside, I can understand why you and I might disagree on Quinn; He is a historical reconstructionist and I put little value in any historian that appreciates the label. You apparently think some fellow who has lived 170 years after Joseph's death has soemthing to say of merit and heretofore unknown. Quinn believes he is capable of putting himself in the room and "knowing" what happened. He makes people feel good; particularly those who already have his mindset. If a historian takes his hypothesis, researches widely, and then only includes data that supports his hypothesis; that individual is not a historian, but something wholly different. Storm Rider 00:08, 20 August 2005 (UTC)
So far, I do not see any footnotes in the section on his death. See Wikipedia:Peer review/Joseph Smith, Jr./archive1. Could you point me to the footnotes? You may know what the references are, but they are not in the text. I haven't added any either; I am equally guilty. We're stuck being people who are alive 170 years after Smith's death. Someone has to write the article. Smith won't do it himself. Please, let's not evaluate his accuracy; that's not our job.
I have written a few alternative texts. I followed your StormRider's advice of simplifying. Are any of the alternatives acceptable? Nereocystis 00:19, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

What are the imbedded, linked references 5 and 6 in the sectin "Smith's Death"? I am not sure a footnote is needed when a reader can go directly to the sources and read for themselves. Storm Rider 00:23, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

Nereocystis - you wrote: "Please, let's not evaluate [Quinn's] accuracy; that's not our job." Unfortunately, we have to evaluate if he is a trusted source on this - and he is not until his work is peer reviewed. It has not been substantiated, and is therefore suspect. If we don't evaluate the truth of references, who will? We'll get funky references that Smith didn't even die, as someone claimed it at one time. It's a ludicrious argument. No offence intended, just doesn't make sense to me or hold any water. I repeat, we have to expand our source materials to additional sources and if possible primary documents, not tertiary ones that Quinn uses. -Visorstuff 00:41, 20 August 2005 (UTC)
What are your peer-reviewed sources on Smith's death? Nereocystis 00:44, 20 August 2005 (UTC)
We're going off track again. Here's my suggested wording. Does anyone object?
Joseph Smith was shot multiple times and killed.
Nereocystis 15:28, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

I object; the proposed language does not improve the article or the information provided. Keep the article as is, which is what I stated above. Storm Rider 15:36, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

Hmm. I thought Storm Rider said:
State it simply and forget about when and exactly where Joseph was standing when he was shot;
I tried that rewording, and it still isn't liked. The current wording doesn't work for me. It provides more detail than there is evidence for providing. The details are questionable, and don't match any of the accounts I have read so far.
The article does not match D&C135, which says that Smith received 4 balls. The current account has at least six shots, several before the window sill, 3 at the sill, and possibly a few more at the well. Richards's account does not mention that Smith was hit several times before the window. Richards only mentions 3 shots at the window. Tracy's account apparently says 6 balls, with two shots inside the jail, and 4 at the well.
Where did the information in the article come from? The article doesn't match Taylor, or Richards, or Richards.
Could you work with me and try to find something which I'm happy with? Another version might say something like "according to Willard Richards" or "according to LDS version of Smith's death" and continue from there, but then we need a version to choose.
In addition, I think that Richards was nicked in the ear, though the article says that he was unharmed. I don't have a reference for Richards's injury.
For the review, we need a list of the references used in writing each section. Let's start iwth the account of Smith's death, since we're talking about it. Where did the information come from? Nereocystis 12:08, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
Nereocystis, when you ask, "Could you work with me and try to find something which I'm happy with?", you forget that this article (and every other Wikipedia article) does not have to make you happy -- it needs to be a consensus among the majority of editors. You have made your concerns clear, and others have responded to them, and the majority view is that the article is better as it stands (with more information) than as you prefer it (with less information). It is as accurate as it can be, considering that it draws on first-hand, primary sources, flawed though they may be.
I would be willing to add "Richards reported..." or "Taylor wrote...", and I'm open to correcting or noting any inconsistencies in the number of shots Smith received, but I think that I speak for others in this thread when I say that we're not interested in gutting the article because you think that your sources are more accurate that those of the eyewitnesses. --MrWhipple 03:36, 22 August 2005 (UTC)
What are your sources for the current article? I don't know which report matches the current article. I appreciate that you are willing to say "Richards said", but now we have to match Richards report. Nereocystis 04:43, 22 August 2005 (UTC)
I didn't write the current martyrdom section, I've only edited it to throw additional insight from sources that were not previously mentioned. I can't claim the entire article is internally consistently, although I have personally tried to make sure I enter only information that is accurate. My information has come from (IIRC):
  • D&C 135
  • Willard Richards' first-hand account from the Times & Seasons
  • A little contextual background from Oaks and Hill, Carthage Conspiracy (for the circumstances surrounding Cyrus Wheelock and the pepperbox)
  • Shannon Tracy's In Search of Joseph (for details on injuries received by Joseph and Hyrum), who drew from the autopsies of the bodies
If you can bring up specific quotes from the article that you believe conflict with one another, that would be a good place to start either making corrections or noting differences in sources. --MrWhipple 05:12, 22 August 2005 (UTC)
OK. Here are some differences. The current account has at least six shots, several before the window sill, 3 at the sill, and possibly a few more at the well. The article does not match D&C135, which says that Smith received 4 balls. Richards's account does not mention that Smith was hit several times before the window. Richards only mentions 3 shots at the window. Tracy's account apparently says 6 balls, with two shots inside the jail, and 4 at the well.
In addition, I think that Richards was nicked in the ear, though the article says that he was unharmed. I don't have a reference for Richards's injury. Nereocystis 18:50, 23 August 2005 (UTC)

I did a little research and turned up an additional eyewitness account to the martyrdom, written by William M. Daniels, who (at the time) was a non-Mormon and was with (but not in) the mob. The following comes from Oaks and Hill, Carthage Conspiracy, pp. 87-90. Endnotes are included in small type inside {curly brackets}; material in [square brackets] is mine.

Two weeks before the trial he [William M. Daniels, the prosecution's key witness before the grand jury investigating the murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith] published a twenty-four-page booklet containing "the names and proceedings of the principal murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith." {Nauvoo Neighbor, May 7 and May 14, 1845.}
  • * *
Daniel's booklet describes how he had overheard some Warsaw militiamen plotting to assist the Carthage Greys in murdering Joseph and Hyrum Smith while the governor was in Nauvoo. Persuading them of his sympathy with their cause, Daniels joined them in their march for Carthage. About noon the troops were met at an intermediate point by [Thomas C.] Sharp and others, who bore dispatches from the governor disbanding the troops. Sharp then made "an inflammatory speech to the companies, characteristic of his corrupt heart." {William M. Daniels, Correct Account of the Murder of Generals Joseph and Hyrum Smith, at Carthage on the 27th Day of June, 1844 (Nauvoo: By John Taylor, 1845), 8. There are copies of this rare book in the Church Archives and in the Wilford C. Wood Museum in Bountiful, Utah. Its contents were republished in Lyman Omer Littlefield, The Martyr: Joseph & Hyrum Smith (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1882), 71-86.} Daniels quotes the speech at great length. In substance, he has Sharp telling the disbanded troops that the law "is insufficient" for their problem and that they must take matters into their own hands to end "the mad career of the Prophet." {Ibid.} They should murder the Smiths in Carthage and have the news reach Nauvoo while the governor was still there. The enraged Mormons will then fall upon and murder [Illinois Governor] Tom Ford and "we shall then be rid of the d——d little Governor and the Mormons too." {Ibid. (quoted as in original).}
Captain [William] Grover was the first to step forward, followed by eighty-four others. Daniels followed to "see what they would do." Colonel Levi Williams rode back and forth several times to the Carthage Greys [who were protecting the jail where Smith and his companions were being held]. When they were within four miles of Carthage, one of the Greys brought a note assuring them that this was an excellent time to murder the Smiths, and that the guns of the jail guards would be loaded with blank cartridges. Daniels says he left the mob at this point and went directly to the jail, but he was unable to inform the prisoners of the plot because of the complicity of the guards. Soon the mob appeared and surrounded the jail. They had blacked themselves with wet gunpowder "which gave them the horrible appearance of demons." Colonel Williams, mounted on a horse, shouted to the mob, "Rush in! — there is no danger boys — all is right!" {Ibid., 8-10.}
The Daniels booklet then relates the familiar account of what took place as the mob ran up the stairway and fired through the wooden door into the prisoners' chamber. He adds one unfamiliar detail: that the pistol Joseph fired at the mob "wounded three of them — two mortally." {Ibid., 11.} Joseph then sprang to the window, but, seeing an array of bayonets below, he caught the window casing and hung there by his hands and feet with his head to the north and his feet to the south for "three or four minutes" before he fell to the ground. While he was hanging in that position, Colonel Williams shouted: "Shoot him! God d——n him! Shoot the d——d rascal!" {Ibid., 13 (quoted as in original).} However, according to Daniels, no one fired at him. Presently he fell to the ground, landing on his back and right shoulder.
The next portion of Daniels's pamphlet provided the defense with some of the choicest opportunities for impeachment:
He rolled instantly on his face. From this position he was taken by a young man, who sprung to him from the other side of the fence, who held a pewter fife in his hand, — was bare-foot and bare-headed, having on no coat — with his pants rolled above his knees, and shirtsleeves above his elbows. He set President Smith agains [sic] the South side of the well-curb, that was situated a few feet from the jail. While doing this, the savage muttered aloud, "This is Old Jo; I know him. I know you, Old Jo. Damn you; you are the man that had my daddy shot." The object he had in talking in this way, I supposed to be this: He wished to have President Smith and the people in general, believe he was the son of Gov. [Lilburn W.] Boggs, which would lead to the opinion that it was the Missourians who had come over and committed the murder. This was the report that they soon caused to be circulated through the country; but this was too palpable an absurdity to be credited. {Ibid., 13.}
After commenting briefly about what was going on inside the jail, Daniels continues with the following:
When President Smith had been set against the curb, and began to recover, Col. Williams ordered four men to shoot him. Accordingly, four men took an eastern direction, about eight feet from the curb, Col. Williams standing partly at their rear, and made ready to execute the order. While they were making preparations, and the muskets were raised to their faces, President Smith's eyes rested upon them with a calm and quiet resignation. He betrayed no agitated feelings and the expression upon his countenance semed [sic] to betoken his inly prayer to be, "O, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
The fire was simultaneous. A slight cringe of the body was all the indication of pain that he betrayed when the balls struck him. He fell upon his face. {Ibid., 14.}
Daniels continued his account with this embellishment:
The ruffian, of whom I have spoken, who set him against the well-curb, now secured a bowie knife for the purpose of severing his head from his body. He raised the knife and was in the attitude of striking, when a light, so sudden and powerful, burst form the heavens upon the bloody scene, (passing its vivid chain between Joseph and his murderers,) that they were struck with terrified awe and filled with consternation. This light, in its appearance and potency, baffles all powers of description. The arm of the ruffian, that held the knife, fell powerless; the muskets of the four, who fired, fell to the ground, and they all stood like marble statues, not having the power to move a single limb of their bodies.
By this time most of the men had fled in great disorder. I never saw so frightened a set of men before. Col. Williams saw the light and was also badly frightened; but he did not entirely lose the use of his limbs or speech. Seeing the condition of these men, he hallooed to some who had just commenced a retreat, for God's sake to come and carry off these men. They came back and carried them by main strength towards the baggage waggons [sic]. They seemed as helpless as if they were dead. {Ibid., 15.}
The remaining pages of Daniels's booklet recount how he saw Joseph Smith in a vision and received his blessing. After reporting his observations to the Mormons in Nauvoo and to the governor, he moved his wife and children to Quincy for safety from the mob. While he was living in Quincy two unnamed men told him they would pay him $2,500 if he would leave the county and not appear against the murderers. Daniels said he refused. He concluded his pamphlet by stating that he had joined the Mormon Church and by reaffirming that he had seen "the heaven exert a power" to prevent the ruffian from severing the head of General Smith from his body. {Ibid., 19.}
Though apparently comforting to the rank and file of Mormons still mourning their fallen leader, Daniels's account of the wondrous light was never accepted in official Church accounts and has been rejected by responsible Mormon historians. {There is no reference to any light or miraculous circumstances in the events of the martyrdom in the official account in Section 135 of the Church's Doctrine and Covenants. B.H. Roberts, the Mormon historian, has this comment on the Daniels account, which he elsewhere refers to as "a sensational pamphlet" (Smith, History of the Church, VII, 163): "The story of Daniels is incredible, not because it involves incidents that would be set down as 'miraculous,' but because the story is all out of harmony with what in the nature of things would happen under the circumstances and the incidents he details are too numerous, too complicated, too deliberate, and would have occupied too much time to be crowded into the space within which necessarily they must have happened, if they happened at all." (Roberts, Comprehensive History, II, 325, n. 14). Nevertheless, the Daniels account has had a persistent currency in unofficial publications identified with the Mormon Church. The pamphlet was originally listed as a Church publication (Smith, History of the Church, VII, 558-59). Daniels's account of the light, together with numerous other hearsay or secondhand accounts apparently relying on it, are set forth in N.B. Lundwall, ed., The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1952), 226-33.}

COMMENTS: This account brings to light some interesting points that should be included in the Wikipedia article on Smith. However, I think we need to treat Daniels' testimony with some suspicion. It would be impossible for him to have seen what happened in the jail bedroom, as his account is given from ground level; so we don't know if Joseph was shot in the room or not (as claimed by Taylor and Richards). The accusation of two fatalities from Joseph's gun is problematic, since three wounded men appeared for questioning at trial, and Joseph's gun fired three times (three barrels misfired). And the story of the light seems too much to be true.


  • Include Daniels' information as additional POV, indicating where it conflicts with Taylor and Richards.
  • I strongly suggest at this point that the martyrdom be made its own Wikipedia article, referenced in the main article, and the portion on Smith's death in the main article shortened to a paragraph or two.

--MrWhipple 06:26, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

Also turned up John Taylor's eyewitness account (not D&C 135): LINK. Taylor admits he did not see Smith being shot or falling because he was under the bed; he relies on Richards for that information. So we're down to Richards vs. Daniels. --MrWhipple 05:48, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

MrWhipple is right. Smith's death does need its own article, though my first reaction was no. Quinn quotes one more direct participant from the mob. I'll look up that reference in the next few days. There really is too much information for the Smith article, which is already large.
What timeline would this article cover? Just the day in jail, or The Expositer incident leading to the jail, as the current section covers.
I prefer a title like "Death of Joseph Smith, Jr." to something containing the word "martyrdom". This would remove the question of whether Smith qualifies as a martyr. The concept should be mentioned in the article itself, of course. "Assassination" would also be better than "martyrdom". Nereocystis 17:32, 29 August 2005 (UTC)
Would you include events and motivations leading up to his death? There is a 2005 book -- published, I think, out of Utah State University. Read a brief review a couple of months ago. The authors, historians, allege that JSmith's death was a political conspiracy and so should be called an assassination. They tie his death directly to his declaration as a Presidential candidate, and (if I remember right) think that the governors of Illinois and Missouri were in on the plot. Joh Hamer might be a good participant for such an article. He has a real feel for politics, military attitudes, and factions of the period. Peace. WBardwin 17:49, 29 August 2005 (UTC)
found: "Junius and Joseph, Presidential Politics and the Assassination of the First Mormon Prophet" by Robert S. Wicks and Fred R. Foister. WBardwin 18:33, 29 August 2005 (UTC)
I find it hard to beleive that Smith's death was a politically motivated assissination. He was a Presidential candidate, but—realistically—very, very few people aside from Mormons would vote for him. Who was he threatening? Frecklefoot | Talk 18:18, August 29, 2005 (UTC)
You never know. I would guess that it would go in the death article, if anywhere, unless the evidence for an assassination related to his presidential is accepted by many historians. His political power was significant within Illinois. Nereocystis 18:31, 29 August 2005 (UTC)
I haven't read the book, yet, but here is a quote from Jan Shipps. I do respect her opinion. WBardwin 18:38, 29 August 2005 (UTC)
"These two authors make such a persuasive case in this very interesting and well argued work about politics and the conspiracy that led to the murder of the Mormon prophet that their work could very well reopen the conversation about the events that led to Joseph Smith’s death.” —Jan Shipps

I agree that "martyrdom" should not be in the title of the proposed article, although there should be some discussion within the article on how various groups see Smith's death (assassination, mob action, martyrdom, etc.). A longer article would also give room to discuss motivations (politics certainly did play a part in it). --MrWhipple 20:45, 29 August 2005 (UTC)

We've debated whether or not it was an "assasination" previously. The consensus was, at the time, that any murder of a public figure is quantified as an assasination, regardless of whether or not it is policical. Thus a murder of a Pope, or of Billy Graham would be an assasination as the public figure would die for his belief set, statements and what he stood for. I've seen a number of other articles about Smith that said that he was the first presidential candidate in US history to be assasinated. Take it for what you will, but assassination fits by nearly all definitions. -Visorstuff 22:26, 29 August 2005 (UTC)

Wow, you folks have had a long, long discussion about this! It's a lot to read through. I haven't read the The Junius Conspiracy yet either. I'll admit that my first impression of the thesis (having not read it) is one of skepticism, but Jan Shipps told me the book was very thought-provoking and impressive (which doesn't necessarily mean she was convinced). Bob Wicks (one of the co-authors) will be presenting a paper on this thesis at JWHA this year (Sept. 30 in Springfield, Illinois) and I'll be attending. My two cents on a death of Joseph Smith article ----- I agree that far too much space in the main Joseph Smith article is devoted to the minutia of his death. There are so many things about Smith that are important; these seem to be given short shrift in a relative sense. So I would definitely vote to separate out the article, leaving a summary in the main article. Then you can bring up all of these issues that you've been discussing in the new article. --John Hamer 16:22, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

I think an entire "Death of Joseph Smith" article sounds kind of excessive, considering that there are parts of his life that have hardly been touched on. I don't think even Jesus has an entire article about his death yet. But, if people really want to get down into the nitty-gritty details right now, it would be better to have a separate article, to avoid unbalancing this one. COGDEN 16:48, August 30, 2005 (UTC)
Well, I checked. There's not only a Resurrection of Jesus article, there's an article for the Stolen body hypothesis, the Swoon hypothesis, and the Vision hypothesis --- which all attempt to explain Jesus' death and resurrection. ;) I think Joseph Smith's death is a significant historical event that could merit its own article. (Certainly moreso than the Jesus "swoon hypothesis".) --John Hamer 17:21, 30 August 2005 (UTC)
I stand corrected. The swoon hypothesis is my favorite. :) I really don't have anything against the Death of Joseph Smith, Jr. article, I just think it's kind of strange to have an entire article's worth of material on the last couple days of his life, when there are only a few paragraphs so far on the period between 1827 and 1835. COGDEN 23:33, August 30, 2005 (UTC)
I personally would like to see individual articles for most of the sections in the main Joseph Smith article. Maybe the "death" article will be the first. --MrWhipple 23:59, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

Proposed next steps:

  • Move the text and image from "Smith's death" in the main article to a new article entitled "Death of Joseph Smith."
  • Create a link to the new article within the main article.
  • Create a one-paragraph summary of Smith's death for the main article.

Does this meet with everyone's approval? Does anyone have suggestions for the main article summary? --MrWhipple 17:34, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

Do it. The vagaries of Wiki are mysterious. There's so much written here, it's easier to write the death article now, rather than later. Nereocystis 17:56, 30 August 2005 (UTC)
I vote yes. --John Hamer 18:12, 30 August 2005 (UTC)
Agree - do it - and archive this section while you are at it. I'd suggest giving it it's own archve and putting in headings for navigation. Any takers?
Agree (though I'm not an official member), but I vote to keep the image in the section. There'll still be a brief overview, right? The image in its current size would still be a useful there. Frecklefoot | Talk 18:47, August 30, 2005 (UTC)
Agree -- image in both articles, I would think. WBardwin 19:12, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

DONE. Please see the new article: Death of Joseph Smith, Jr. --MrWhipple 22:19, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

Anon Contribution moved here for discussion. I believe this is addressed in the "death" article. WBardwin 20:07, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

According to several reports, Joseph Smith had a small, concealed pistol that he fired upon the mob with in his defense before he died, but sources are unclear as to whether he killed or merely wounded people hit by the bullets.
Yeah, that's addressed at Death of Joseph Smith, Jr. and belongs there Cookiecaper 20:30, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

Featured Article

As this year is the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith's birth, I think this would be a fine time to consider getting this article up to speed and then submitting it as a Featured Article Candidate. Anyone else agree? Rmisiak 18:27, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

It's a fine idea, but we need to work on the items mentioned in the archived peer review. I have added some references and footnotes. I want to concentrate on that first, then worry about the content and flow. I will mention a few POV issues. Nereocystis 18:38, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
I agree. The ideal time would be for the article to be featured on the 200th anniversary of his birth. Would that be too much to arrange? I'll help edit the article where I can, when I can. Val42 00:16, August 27, 2005 (UTC)

Hey do you guys think this is ready for feature nomination? I think most of the peer review problems have been worked out. Cookiecaper 21:49, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

I still think that it would be better to have this the feature article on Wikipedia on the anniversary of his birth, December 23rd. Regardless, I think that we should send it up for independent peer review again. I think it is ready. Val42 23:05, September 9, 2005 (UTC)
P.S.: The recent edit war with the Anon has brought up another point. I know that articles can be locked; I've seen it done during another edit war. About a month ago, I saw another feature article vandalized while it was the feature article, and it was not a pretty picture. Given the nature of this Joseph Smith, Jr. article, I think that it should be locked while it is the feature article. How do we get this done, then unlocked when it is no longer the feature article? Val42 23:14, September 9, 2005 (UTC)
No. It's nowhere close to ready. Where are the references. The header is still too long. Go through paragraph by paragraph and find references, then we'll be ready. Nereocystis 23:25, 9 September 2005 (UTC)
Any admin can protect a page (such as myself or Cogden), but there needs to be a good reason for this - see the policy here Wikipedia:Protection_policy. You'd have to petition for page protection as a featured article (as that would be looked upon as censorship). See Wikipedia:Administrators#Protected_pages. I recommend you don't seek to protect it, but rather as a featured article it would recieve a lot of protection from admins and others from vandalism. -Visorstuff 23:46, 9 September 2005 (UTC)
Do we really need references for every paragraph? Just skimming over it looks like all of the major things have citations. Cookiecaper 23:58, 9 September 2005 (UTC)
Probably not every paragraph, but a few more might be good. Has anyone carefully looked through the last peer review to see whether everything has been handled. I'll try to give it another look. Nereocystis 01:08, 10 September 2005 (UTC)
I'm restating my previous points, more briefly, as it seems that I have been misunderstood. I may not have stated myself clearly.
  1. The article needs another peer review.
  2. Another feature article was vandalized on the front page of Wikipedia in a way that I don't like to think of, let alone want to describe. It was another biographical article though. (The biographical picture was changed to something quite disgusting.) I just want this article locked for the day when it is a feature article so that something like this doesn't happen. (Additional point) I also think that it would be a good policy to do for all feature articles.
I prefer to at least be disagreed with based on what I meant. Val42 02:37, September 10, 2005 (UTC)
Sure. Let's take a week or two for additional cleanup, then ask for another review. However, there are a few items from the last review:
The header needs to be much shorter.
There is a section which says:
Critics suggested that Nauvoo's charter should be revoked
Who are the critics. Provide a reference.
From the review, "clarify that the latter day saint movement was a religious movement"
From the article,
Although Smith's family received the news of the vision well, it was met with deep contempt from most of his community, particularly clergymen.
provide examples of the contempt, with references.
Who are the scribes who made claims about his translations.
Has anyone checked the copyrights on the images?
Go through the previous review first, before asking for another review. Nereocystis 14:16, 10 September 2005 (UTC)

K I think it's good for another review. Most of that stuff is taken care of and a lot of work has been done on Early Life (Thanks COGDEN!). ^_^ Cookiecaper 19:06, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

Thanks. I personally don't think we are anywhere near, yet, to where we can begin to talk about featured article status. The article still has huge gaps, a general lack of citations, and it reads like a church history, rather than a personal biography. Although it would be nice to get the article into shape by December, I think it would take some serious effort by many people, and I'm not sure we have enough time to do it right. COGDEN 19:46, 21 September 2005 (UTC)
I think it is. Maybe it's not what we want it to be, but it doesn't have to perfect, and I've seen a lot worse articles as features. It stands up just fine against other features, so by those standards this is good. But yeah I'll try to add or fix or whatever some of this stuff. Cookiecaper 20:02, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

Comments from

A new editor has made a number of changes, relatively minor, to the article. I replaced the one dealing with polgyny/polygamy/plural marriage. Here is a subsequent comment moved from the article for discussion. WBardwin 02:51, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

ADDITIONAL NOTE TO CONSIDER: Correct, there are many factions besides the LDS Church that follow Joseph Smith's teachings, which makes it incorrect to say "the Latter Day Saing movement, a religious tradition most widely known because of also known as Mormonism" because Mormonism is just one of those factions and not a representation of all factions in the "Latter Day Saint movement." Thus, it is incorrect, and should not stand as is.

The anon did have a minor point, which I took. I often do rewrites in small increments. I was going to add information back, but then I saw your message. Since the introduction is now a matter of discussion, I reverted my (initial) change and put my proposed rewrite for the first two paragraphs (w/o links) below:

Joseph Smith, Jr. (December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844) was the founder and leader of the Latter Day Saint movement. Smith's followers revere him as the first prophet of the latter days. Also known as Mormonism, this movement is most widely known because of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest sect in this movement.
Smith was raised during an era of Christian innovation at the beginning of the Restorationism movement. He built his ministry upon claims of divination, visits from angels, the discovery and translation of ancient writings, and modern revelations that introduced novel doctrinal, social, and economic ideas. Among Smith's accomplishments included the following:

I think it reads better. Val42 03:24, September 1, 2005 (UTC)

The problem with the "additional note" is that its claims are not correct. There are other groups besides the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that use the word "Mormon," most notably so-called Fundamentalist Mormons (or FLDS). Most scholars of Mormonism use the term "Mormon" to refer to the movement, not just the largest sect in the movement.
Rather than singling out the CoJCoLDS, if you're going to bring up specific religions, you would need to make a short list of the best-known factions, and link to them. Many of them are listed here, here, here, and here.
Including all of these is beyond the scope of a brief article. The best we can do, IMO, is simply leave it as Latter Day Saint movement and allow the linked article to speak for itself. --MrWhipple 06:16, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
This issue of who is a "Mormon" has always posed difficulty to me. Being LDS I believe it firmly "belongs" to the LDS Church and people. When applied to other groups the tail begins to wag the dog and everyone gets confused. The problem is if a group decides to call itself the FLDS what recourse does the LDS church have? Virtually nothing can be done, but call them by their proper, chosen name. they are no longer Mormons just as the RLDS/CC are no longer Mormons. They all rightly belong under the banner of Latter Day Saint groups, but after that I believe the relationship ends and no group gets to ride coat tails any longer.
Few things can cause the ire of LDS people more than to be confused with a small pocket of wackos that insist on calling themselves Mormons and yet deny tenants of authority held so dear by the church. I know this is abrupt and I apologize in advance if I have touched on any sacred cows for some historians, but I would prefer that we end the charade and call things for what they are; if nothing else use proper names and forget common terms altogether. Storm Rider 06:02, 2 September 2005 (UTC)
What about this rewrite for the first two paragraphs:
Joseph Smith, Jr. (December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844) was the founder and leader of the Latter Day Saint movement. Smith's followers revere him as the first prophet of the latter days. This movement is most widely known because of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest sect in this movement.
Smith was raised during an era of Christian innovation at the beginning of the Restorationism movement. He built his ministry upon claims of divination, visits from angels, the discovery and translation of ancient writings, and modern revelations that introduced novel doctrinal, social, and economic ideas. Among Smith's accomplishments included the following:
Val42 06:18, September 2, 2005 (UTC)

Personally, I think my last edit is clearer. The phrase "This movement is most widely known because of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" is grammatical, but odd-sounding. --MrWhipple 06:45, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

A proposal, "This movement is most widely known as a result of the successful growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Successful growth may be need some more word-smithing; I tried several different things "explosive growth", which I felt too strong, but accurate relative to other religious organiziations, "size", but that does portray the reason people know about the LDS church.
I have worked with ratios given the size of the LDS church relative to other Latter Day Saint movement groups and come up with being 90% to 98% of the membership belonging to the LDS group. If this type of more precise language would be used, it could be supported relatively easily. Storm Rider 18:28, 2 September 2005 (UTC)
I like the current wording. It states that the LDS sect is large and well-known, without saying which is cause and which is effect. The growth of the LDS group is one of the reasons for Mormonism becoming well-known, but it was well known in the 1800s, at least by the last half of the century. Richard Burton, Mark Twain visited Salt Lake City. The first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet took place partly in SLC. It was the polygamy, and probably still is somewhat. The existence of the missionaries, regardless of success, also make the LDS well-known. Nereocystis 19:07, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

That is interesting, I thought the reknown of the LDS chruch was the result of its world reknowned welfare syetem that has been studied by every president since Eisenhower and the numerous foreign governments that have visited SLC to attempt to udnerstand how and why it works so effectively. Then again, there is the Word of Wisdom; ask anyone in the world about a Mormon and the first thing you will hear is, "Oh, you the ones to don't smoke or drink alcohol". Or, as you state, one of the world's largest, if not the largest, missionary forces with a world-wide approach. Then, there is the fact that the early members were so thoroughly persecuted by the Christian groups of Missiouri and Illinois that they were forced to trek to a forsaken part of the country and successfully turned it into a productive desert. Yup, I would say that the reknown of the LDS church is far beyond the role polygamy played during the early days of the chruch.

The intent of the change is to underline why 95% of the followers belong to the LDS church and not to overweight the impact of the small, and some, insignificant groups that have broken off from the chruch during its history. Storm Rider 00:05, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

I would rather not determine why so many belong to the LDS church, but merely state that they do belong. Nereocystis 00:19, 3 September 2005 (UTC)
All of the above is very interesting, but is better placed in the main article on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, not in the article on Joseph Smith. It is sufficient to note that he was the first Mormon, and not introduced POV statements on which church is the legitimate heir to his leadership. We all have our opinions on that, but the article should not reflect opinion. --MrWhipple 03:47, 3 September 2005 (UTC)
Whipple, it may be quibbling; agreed. My purpose is not to identify which church is a legitimate heir of the church Joseph restored; that is a secondary issue and is not addressed. The statement is made as to why society may care about any of the work Joseph did and I would challenge anyone to state it was because of the any church besides the LDS church. Boys, it is always best to call a spade a spade and forget about PC niceities. Sometimes we strive so hard not to offend the sensibilities of others that we end up producing articles that read like milk toast and provide little meat. If the objective is to sanitize every statement to ensure that nothing positive is said about anything Joseph Smith did, we lose the value of the article. Do no misconstrue my meaning, I have no desire to shed light, either positive or negative, just state what is so. If it shows Joseph, or the LDS in church, in a positive/negative light who cares. State what so and move on. That's my two cents and I won't comment on this phrasing further. I think my prednisone levels a little high and this has evolved into a bit of rant. Storm Rider 05:19, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

I really disagree with mentioning a specific Mormon denomination in the introduction, and especially to implying that Smith's importance is due to any particular organization. It just isn't necessary, and has nothing to do with his life, which is what the article is about. As this is a biography, the scope of the article ought to end at Smith's death. COGDEN 04:00, September 12, 2005 (UTC)

Plural Marriage/DNA testing

I am moving an anon.'s contribution/revision of this section here for review... Please see the archived discussion on this topic. I believe we should make a prompt decision on this breaking story and reflect it in the article. WBardwin 21:36, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

"Smith began practicing a form of polygyny called celestial marriage (later called plural marriage) as early as 1833. Polygamy (marriage to multiple partners) was illegal in many U.S. States, including Illinois, and was felt by some to be an immoral or misguided practice."
"There is disagreement as to the precise number of wives Smith may have had: one historian, Todd M. Compton, documented at least thirty-three plural marriages or sealings during Smith's lifetime. See Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, Jr. for a list of these wives. It is without question that Joseph had multiple wives, but it is unclear how many of these marriages Smith consummated. If these marriage sealings were indeed sexual unions it would be reasonable to expect some children from them as there were from Smith's first marriage. One of Smith's plural wives, Syliva Sessions, indicated that Smith had fathered one of her children, and another wife, Mary Rollins said she was aware of three children that Smith fathered by his plural wives. Dr. Scott Woodward and others are conducting DNA evidence of the eight or nine known possible descendants of Joseph Smith. To date, only two of these tests have been concluded. See more at [1]"
We have discussed this previously. I thought the determinination was to wait until their results were published, which supposed to be rather imminent. The DNA analysis has been happening for over five years attempting to determine Joseph's plural offspring and it is ongoing. Hopefully, their results will be known soon, but there really is nothing to report until they announce their results. Storm Rider 23:57, 2 September 2005 (UTC)
The results of DNA paternity testing for two of the suspected children of Joseph Smith, as well as an update regarding the Josephine Lyon paternity case, was published in the Summer 2005 Issue of the "Journal of Mormon History" (Reconstructing The Y-Chromosome of Joseph Smith: Genealogical Applications, Journal of Mormon History, Summer 2005, Mormon History Association, pgs 70 - 88). I think it would be appropriate to update the submitted Joseph Smith information at this time.
Yes, please include a summary, either here or on the Plural wives of Joseph Smith, Jr. page. Nereocystis 21:59, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

I have a question: While the Y-Chromosome research of Joseph Smith Jr establishes that one person claiming to be their descendent via Fanny Alger was not Joseph Smith Jr's descendent, the website The Wives of Joseph Smith Jr that is cited in the previous post quotes some relation recalling that at least Emma thought that Fanny's pregnancy was due to Joseph's involvement with her.

Chauncey Webb recounts Emma’s later discovery of the relationship: “Emma was furious, and drove the girl, who was unable to conceal the consequences of her celestial relation with the prophet, out of her house”. [2]

Given this belief on Emma's part, are you sure that mere genetic testing of people claiming to be his descendents is sufficient to establish that there were no sexual unions?

--Rck 22:08, 21 December 2005 (UTC)

Since not all sexual unions result in children, there is no way to tell for sure; as with proving other things that "did not occur". Not having any first hand records (that I know of) that these unions were consumated, children (descendants) would be the only other way to prove that such did happen. So far, of the alleged descedants, there are no DNA tests that have demonstrated that such unions have occurred. Val42 23:43, 21 December 2005 (UTC)
Indeed. Toss in a high infant mortality rate and it gets even harder. If I remember correctly, Smith had two children by Emma and at least one stillborn birth. That's not a large number even for a monogamous person in that time and day. Is there any evidence that he had fertility problems? Alienus 04:41, 22 December 2005 (UTC)
Joseph and Emma's Children:
  • 15 June, 1828, Alvin, who lived only a few hours.
  • April 30, 1831 twins, Thaddeus and Louisa, who died hours later.
  • April 30, 1831 twins Joseph and Julia, children of Julia Clapp Murdock and John Murdock, who upon his wife's death in childbirth, gave the infants to the Smiths who adopted them.
  • November 6, 1832, Joseph Smith III
  • June 29, 1836, Frederick Granger Williams Smith
  • June 2, 1838, Alexander Hale Smith.
  • November 17, 1844, David Hyrum Smith, born after Joseph's death.
No -- I don't think fertility was an issue. WBardwin 02:02, 23 December 2005 (UTC)
That's precisely what I am wondering though: gotta have children is nice if you have it but may be too strong a test. If Fanny is pregnant (at least someone without fertility problems), and neither she nor Joseph Smith Jr can convince Emma that he is not the father (if they even tried, I've found no evidence that they attempted so), and for whatever reason the genetic researchers cannot test the DNA of that child (maybe it had no offsprings?), we still have to conclude that there is no evidence for a sexual union with Joseph?
  • Emma, who knew Joseph Smith Jr better than most people, clearly did not wait for the DNA test to throw Fanny out.
  • What would be the reasonable alternative explanations for the situation? Fanny sleeping around so much she could not remember who the father was? Fanny trying to cover up who the real father was, and Joseph Smith Jr supporting her in that cover-up at a risk to his own credibility wrt his wife? Occam's razor would warn us to go that route without additional sources.
--Rck 05:59, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

Anon contribution by moved from article for discussion. The anon asserts: However, none of the eight children widely mentioned by historians as Smith's polygamous children have yet to be tested. No source was offered. This was one of several edits dealing with plural marriage, twice reverted. After I moved his assertion, he deleted existing material on the DNA question -- please review and restore if appropriate. WBardwin 06:30, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

- Researchers have tentatively identified eight children that Joseph Smith may have had by his plural wives. Besides Josephine Fisher (b. Feb. 8, 1844) and Oliver Buell, named as possible children of Joseph Smith by his plural wives are John R. Hancock (b. Apr. 19, 1841), George A. Lightner (b. Mar. 12, 1842), Orson W. Hyde (b. Nov. 9, 1843), Frank H. Hyde (b. Jan 23, 1845), Moroni Pratt (b. Dec. 7, 1844), and Zebulon Jacobs (b. Jan 2, 1842). ("Mormon Polygamy: A History" by LDS Historian Richard S. Van Wagoner, pages 44, 48- 49n3.) The DNA testing is attempting to examine at least one of the eight. From Anon.

Please see the earlier version of this discussion, now archived Children of Plural Marriage - Archive5. I myself think we should really address this issue, although the best place is on the Plural Wives of Joseph Smith article. Van Wagoner's work has been contested from both sides, largely based on his methodology.Some of those on Van Wagoner's list have been eliminated as Smith's children, including Jacobs, if memory serves. Thank you for coming here to discuss the issue. WBardwin 07:11, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

Brigham Young transfiguration legend.

Hello everyone. First I need to point out that I'm new to Wikipedia and am not yet fully familiar with the editing practices and policies.

Friday evening I was browsing Wikipedia for the first time, read the article on Joseph Smith, and added a note about the origins of the Brigham Young transfiguration legend based on what I've read from Richard S. Van Wagoner. Within a half hour my edit was overwritten. So I thought I would try the discussion page to see if I could get the edit to stay in the article. Again, I'm not sure about the procedures here so accept my apologies if I'm doing this in the wrong place or manner.

The issue is this: Richard S. Van Wagoner shows in his article "The Making of a Mormon Myth: The 1844 Transfiguration of Brigham Young" (from Dialogue Vol 28, No. 4, reprinted in Vol 34, No. 1) that the Brigham Young transfiguration legend has its origins in Utah in the late 1850's with the first report of such an incident appearing around 1857. He surveys the contemporary reports and finds no mention of such a miraculous occurence. He presents a theory of "contagion theory or scenario fulfillment" to explain how this legend began and spread and why so many people reported decades later to have seen the transfiguration, some of whom were not even present at the 1844 conference.

My edit was this: After the lines "An 8 August 1844 conference which established Young's leadership is the source of an oft-repeated legend. Multiple journal and eyewitness accounts from those who followed Young state that when Young spoke regarding the claims of succession by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he appeared to look or sound like the late Smith." I added this: "(These accounts, however, were written many years after the event. Accounts from immediately after the event, even by the same authors, contain no such reports.)"

A half hour later MrWhipple had edited again to make it:

"An 8 August 1844 conference which established Young's leadership is the source of an oft-repeated legend. Multiple journal and eyewitness accounts from those who followed Young state that when Young spoke regarding the claims of succession by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he appeared to look or sound like the late Smith. Although many of these accounts were written years after the event, there were contemporary records. D. Michael Quinn wrote:

"There were contemporary references to Young's "transfiguration." The Times and Seasons reported that just before the sustaining vote at the afternoon session of the August meeting, "every Saint could see that Elijah's mantle had truly falled upon the 'Twelve.'" Although the church newspaper did not refer to Young specifically for the "mantle" experience, on 15 November 1844 Henry and Catharine Brooke wrote from Nauvoo that Young "favours Br Joseph, both in person, manner of speaking more than any person ever you saw, looks like another." Five days later Arza Hinckley referred to "Brigham Young on [w]hom the mantle of the prophet Joseph has fallen."[6]

I don't think Quinn's quotes have any relevance to the matter. Saying that someone's "mantle has fallen on" someone else is a figurative expression to mean that their authority or mission has been transferred to another. Saying that "Elijah's authority is now with the quorum of the twelve" is obviously in no way the same as saying that "Brigham Young looked and sounded exactly like Joseph Smith." The last two quotes, the third one again being figurative, do not even refer to the conference and Quinn gives us no reason to think that they do. None of these three quotes bears any resemblance to the miraculous reports of the incident written decades later. If the writers had meant that Young looked and sounded just like Smith in a miraculous transfiguration at the conference, they probably would have just said so.

I also notice on the discussion page that the contributors wish to reduce the number of references to Quinn's work. I submit this one should be the first to go.

I'd like to change my edit to read "(These accounts, however, were written many years after the event, some by people who did not even attend the conference. Accounts from immediately after the event, even by some of the same authors, contain no such reports.)" I should probably also add a reference to Van Wagoner's article.

Any advice on the next step?

Thank you for bringing this to the talk page rather than starting an edit war. In this situation (and this is not uncommon), there are different ways to interpret the data. There is opposition to Van Wagoner's conclusions among some LDS historians, so the evidence is not overwhelming. I would submit Lynne Watkins Jorgensen's article in BYU Studies 36/4, "The Mantle of the Prophet Joseph Passes to Brother Brigham: A Collective Spiritual Witness." For this issue of BYU Studies, the staff collected 82 written testimonies of the event. Jorgensen contends, contra Van Wagoner, "The evidence presented in these accounts demonstrates that many people testified powerfully that they had received a convincing sensory or spiritual witness of the mantle of the Prophet Joseph falling on Brigham Young." She also cites historians who are for and against this conclusion.
Perhaps the best we can do here is cite both sides of the argument. In any case, it should be short, because the focus of the article is Joseph Smith, not Brigham Young. The main arguments should be in the article Succession crisis (Mormonism).
Could a third person please step in with opinions on what to do? We should build a consensus before editing further. --MrWhipple 22:41, 11 September 2005 (UTC)
I think all this information should be included, but in the Succession crisis (Mormonism) page. We really ought to delete the "After Smith's death" section. Even opinionated biographies usually stop when the person dies. COGDEN 04:10, September 12, 2005 (UTC)
Interesting thought, and I tend to agree with you. Perhaps the section could be shortened to two or three links to other articles, including the succession one. --MrWhipple 05:11, 12 September 2005 (UTC)

Interesting question

The article states the following: That Joseph "described his vision as an appearance of Jesus and God the Father sometime during the spring of 1820, when he was fourteen years old."

Joseph never says it was God and Jesus in the official account. Rather he alludes to it. Other versions include Jesus and being present, don't they? Am curious if anyone can cite where Smith says God and Jesus appeared to him at the first vision? The 1832 account says he saw "the Lord." [3] Should we change to reflect this? Just an interesting question I came across this weekend.... -Visorstuff 15:05, 12 September 2005 (UTC)

You are correct in that he alludes to it, but the allusion is clear.
All the contemporary accounts are available in harmony form on Elden Watson's home page; here is a direct link to the portion where Joseph describes who he saw: LINK --MrWhipple 18:40, 12 September 2005 (UTC)
Yes that was the link I referenced as well. I do not think that the reference/allusion is as clear as what we think. One 'Being' introduces the other as his "son." It could be King David and Christ, it could be Abraham and Christ, it could be adam and Christ, it could be the Father and the Son. The first testified "that Jesus Christ is the son of God." Although I believe that it was God the father and the son Jesus, we are supposed to state "the facts" in the wiki. I came across some folks that taught that it could be someone else this weekend. If they believe it, we should give proper treatment to the account to allow for this belief, no? Keep looking for a source to tie the other way and good luck - I couldn't find one to be direct enough to settle the question. Additional thoughts? -Visorstuff 21:05, 12 September 2005 (UTC)
That is a very good point. As far as I know, Joseph Smith never specifically stated that it was God and Jesus, even though that's what most people understand. But I could easily imagine a Mormon Fundamentalist argument that it was Adam and Jesus. To avoid future problems, it's probably safest just to use his own language, or just say that he saw two beings, and one introduced the other as his son. COGDEN 23:54, September 12, 2005 (UTC)
Before changing the article, I'd like to know who is claiming that the personage who said "this is my beloved son; hear him" is someone other than God the Father. The language here exactly mirrors the New Testament usage of the Father in introducing Jesus as his Son (Matt 3:17; Matt 17:5; Mark 1:11; Mark 9:7; Luke 3:22; Luke 9:35; 2 Pet 1:17). Joseph Smith never claimed he saw anyone else, and — to the best of my knowledge — neither has anyone else who has any credibility. And that's where this goes: credibility. I'm sure there's someone out there who thinks that Joseph Smith saw a giant toad who introduced Howdy Doody as his son, but that doesn't mean that needs to go in the article.
If there is a Latter Day Saint sect with a significant number of followers who thinks Joseph saw someone other than God the Father and Jesus Christ, then we have an issue. Otherwise, leave well enough alone. --MrWhipple 16:38, 13 September 2005 (UTC)
Using his words ought not hurt anything. Most readers will make the popularly-accepted inferrence anyway. Quoting him just removes a layer of interpretation, as obvious as it might seem. Cool Hand Luke 17:23, 13 September 2005 (UTC)
I agree. Moreover, after some further research, I found that there is a contingency of Mormon fundamentalists who believe, based on a 1854 talk by Brigham Young, that it was Adam who said "this is my beloved son". So since some fundamentalist is probably eventually going to dispute this, I think the best policy is simply to quote the words of Joseph Smith. Also, there's the other ongoing controversies about what year it was (1820, 1821, or 1823), and whether it was a vision of "the Lord", of angels, or of the father and son. So we probably need to be pretty vague about the vision. COGDEN 17:48, 13 September 2005 (UTC)
I've made the change - however, did not change the date, as it is referened as from his 1838 version: "Smith described this experience many times using varying details. In his last major written account of the event (1838), he described his vision as an appearance of two divine or angelic persons sometime during the spring of 1820, when he was fourteen years old."
The date as stands is sufficient. Let First Vision explain the differing dates. -Visorstuff 20:46, 13 September 2005 (UTC)
Guys, I realize that I am more conservative about many things and so, from the outset, I admit that I am not as objective as some of you. However, I have stated my position before regarding the tail wagging the dog. A group of 10,000 Mormon fundamentalists claiming Joseph saw Adam and Christ should not affect how 99.99% of the rest of the Mormon world interept Joseph's testimony. I believe we bend so far backwards for such insignificant groups that we destroy the true value of the article. If the significantly smaller groups have differing points of view, they should be covered in their respective articles, but they should not be covered in mainstream articles about Mormonism. Doing so only serves to confuse and mislead the message that the majority teaches. On the other hand, I have always favored stating what is so; Joseph's testimony of what he saw is an ideal point. Further, I also think it would be appropriate to state, as Whipple did above, what the vast majority of Mormons believe: that God the Father and Jesus the Christ appeared to Joseph in 1820. Without that clear statement we mislead readers. Storm Rider 03:52, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
I really don't think this is necessary. 99.9% of people who read the description we have will assume that Smith was referring to God the Father and Jesus in his official account. I don't think we need to go beyond his own words, which are verifiable, factual, and pretty understandable to most people. This will avoid future problems, if a FLDS editor gets involved. COGDEN 16:23, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
I have mixed feeling here. Wikipedia:Guide to writing better articles#State the obvious versus not adding too much interpretation. Most of us have had the account of the First Vision so ingrained in us, that the identity of the 2 personages is obvious to us. I think that there should be a reference to the commonly assumed identities of the personages. As the description stands in the current article, it could be Mormon and Moroni which appeared to Smith.
Does anyone have clear contemporary references which talk about the personages which appeared to Smith? The first vision wasn't as important in the early years as it is now.Nereocystis 14:56, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

I think there is sufficient evidence from the links already provided that one of the personages was Jesus. -Visorstuff 17:14, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

Well, the earliest description refers to "the Lord", but some later descriptions by Smith, and descriptions by Smith's family and early church leaders (which, of course, are hearsay, but still significant), only mention that Joseph Smith saw "angels" or "an angel of the Lord". As long as there is controversy on this issue (and obviously, there is), we can't state as fact that Joseph Smith's vision was of Jesus. But we can say that he offered varying accounts, and his latest and official account described two personages, one of whom pointed to the other and said "This is my beloved son, hear him!" We could also, if we wanted (but I don't think it's necessary), add that most Mormons today interpret this as meaning that Smith was visited by the Father and the Son, although there are varying interpretations. COGDEN 17:48, 15 September 2005 (UTC)
The detailed conflicts belong in the First Vision article, and we want something short, yet descriptive here. Why is the First Vision mentioned in this article? I think it's here because LDS believe that the appearance of god and Jesus are an important part of Smith's life. The First Vision article says:
Smith reported that the two beings were God the Father and Jesus.
If this is true, I suggest putting the same sentence here, with a reference, of course. Second, ask someone without a Mormon background to read this section and guess who appeared to Smith. Nereocystis 18:35, 15 September 2005 (UTC)
The fact is, he never actually specified that it was God the Father and Jesus. If we include that POV, we ought to include others. But I'm not quite happy with what we have here, because of the ambiguous time issues. COGDEN 04:26, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

Introductory paragraphs

The first few paragraphs of this article seem to have a biased tone; particularly the "controversial figure" remarks. It is true that Joseph Smith was controversial, and I don't disagree that this should be included in the article - however, the early paragraphs of the article seem to highlight this controversy, while taking away from the fact that he is highly-regarded by millions Latter-days Saints. These biased paragraphs set a negative tone for the entire article.

Additionally, the first few paragraphs contain much information that should be spoken of later in the article. For example, the fact that he was a presidential candidate. It was an important part of his history, but not one of the major accomplishments of his life, nor what he is widely remembered for today. Most of the people who read this article aren't reading it because he was once a presidential candiate, or because he founded a once-prosperous city - most are reading the article because Joseph Smith is belived by many to be a prophet, and because of his role in the Latter-day Saint Movement. I think that the introduction should be limited to these and more basic facts about him; the rest of the information would be better if it were presented later on in the article.

Rmisiak 06:11, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

I think that controversy is one of the defining features of Smith's life. It followed him wherever he went, and eventually led to his death. And there's nothing necessarily negative about that--Jesus was pretty controversial, too. Therefore, it ought to be prominently featured in the introduction. I agree that his run for President is not as notable as his other accomplishments, but it was very important to him, at least. He did so many different notable things in his life that it's difficult to capture the diversity of it all in just a few sentences. COGDEN 01:53, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

I somewhat disagree with his presidential bid being unimportant. He died as a presidential candidate. It is not un-thinkable that he could have become president at the time. Most of the presidents of the timeperiod were little-known individuals. Even those who had prominence seemed to have a bit of a problem getting elected (stephen douglas for example) Van Buren, and others were little known. It wasn't until Grant that the presidential figure had national promience again prior to being elected. If you study Smith from a secular point of view, which many do, his presidential bid was the capstone of his life, in the same way that LDS think his temple revelatory and rolling the keys to the twelve was the capstone of his religious career. His design of the grid system for towns is used in nearly every western city past the mississippi, he was a pioneer in swamp-draining techniques that were later used throughout the south, his anti-slave views were revolutionary, his ability to create cities and architecht buildings on the frontier - not of log, but of stone, his strong belief in the constitution as an inspired document, his numerous petitions to congress, his ability to set up a city-state within a state (Nauvoo) was amazing during a time when state rights was chief among political thought. His presidential bid was the capstone of many of these thoughts and I believe much more important than many think. THey look at him as a Mormon prophet, not at his civic and other legacies that changed the american landscape. His presidential bid is as important as Ben Franklin's ambassadorship to France, in my opinion. It was a crowning point of his life - a summation of his life's experience and capable leadership. As he died in the campaign trail, it should play a prominent role in the introductory paragraphs. -Visorstuff 05:24, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

I understand your point of view now about his presidential bid. The paragraph you wrote here would be much better then the grim opening paragraphs of the current article. Even if the presidential bid is kept, I still think it needs to be rewritten. Rmisiak 00:42, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

References and footnotes

I have rewritten some of the references using Book reference and associated templates from Wikipedia:Template messages/Sources of articles. Does this look reasonable?

We also need to choose a format for footnotes. Wikipedia:Peer review/Joseph Smith, Jr./archive1 suggests Wikipedia:Footnote3. See Johann Sebastian Bach for another style of footnote. Wikipedia:WikiProject Fact and Reference Check discusses the issue of footnotes and references. I don't have a suggestion yet. I'm not used to writing footnotes for wikipedia, and don't have a preferred style. Nereocystis 06:31, 22 August 2005 (UTC)

I used footnote3 to add a footnote giving references about Smith's death. This is a very primitive note. Nereocystis 15:03, 22 August 2005 (UTC)

I converted internal references to external links to footnotes. Please look at the article, and comment. The last few footnotes do not have a description, or formal link. This should be added. I prefer to add these items to references as well, when I have time. Nereocystis 20:53, 22 August 2005 (UTC)

I have really mixed feelings about the use of endnotes for citations, at least at this point, when we're trying to get the article ready for featured status. The endnote system is promising, but it's still experimental, from what I understand. It's also rather user-unfriendly. It's difficult even for me to add endnotes, and I've been editing for almost two years. If everyone disagrees, that's fine, but my preference is to use simple Harvard-type citations, which I like anyway because you can tell what the citation is, the date, and the page, without jumping down to the endnotes. I also think it saves space, making the article shorter. COGDEN 03:58, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
I think it's important to make a decision one way or the other on the issue of endnotes vs. Harvard references. Use of the endnote system takes an investment in time, and I'm hesitant to add any citations until we have agreement. Another possibility is that we can use endnotes for tangential information, but Harvard referencing for citations. COGDEN 01:26, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

Consistency is important. I like endnotes because they easily indicate where the references are. They also allow additional notes without cluttering the main text. It is more difficult to find all inline notes. If there is an inline template, this issue would be easier. On the other hand, if you are reading the article, it is easier to read the inline references. Adding footnotes is problematic, and may lead to errors, confusing references. Though I somewhat prefer the endnotes, I'm not completely sold on the endnotes, though I started it here, partly because of a suggestion by a reviewer. Nereocystis 14:09, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

The way I see it, endnotes are easier to read than Harvard referencing by people who don't care about citations (which is the majority), but more difficult to read by people who care about citations, and significantly more difficult to edit and maintain. So there are tradeoffs. COGDEN 18:40, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
There hasn't been any additional comment on this issue, so I'm not sure what to do. In my recent additions, I've been using Harvard referencing. Since the article is in a state of flux, and there needs to be a lot of cite checking, and additional citations, I suggest we use the much easier-to-edit Harvard referencing for now, then when the article becomes more stable in preparation for Featured status, we can see how it looks like with endnotes, and make a decision. COGDEN 19:06, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

Sure. That sounds fine. Though I wish that there were some way of easily searching for the Harvard style references. Perhaps a template for Harvard style references, though it wouldn't really do anything except make the references easy to find. Nereocystis 14:31, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

Family and Marriage(s)

Instead of shuffling Joseph's marriage to Emma from topic to topic in the larger section, how about a distinct unit on Joseph's family? I think this is a sadly neglected point of the article. Could include:

  • his birth family -- parents and relationship with siblings.
  • his elopement and marriage to Emma.
  • the birth, adoption and death of his children with Emma.
  • and perhaps part of the plural marriage section, with the doctrine and practice going elsewhere.

The larger chunk, in the existing section, about his religious/spiritual development as a young man could stand alone and remain largely chronological.

I'm willing to help, but will be particularly busy in the next six-weeks or so. Comments welcome. WBardwin 06:22, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

I think a section on his family is a good idea; however, there are certain aspects of information about his family that would have to be spread out into various sections. For example, you can't understand how Joseph met Emma, and Isaac's resentment of Joseph, except in the context of Joseph's work for the Stowell-Hale team. Also, the death of Alvin is intimately connected to the discovery of the golden plates and Joseph's interaction with Moroni. Also, there already is a section concerning Joseph's parents and ancestors, which provides family background that really should be discussed before any talk about Joseph's first vision.
What I would maybe suggest is two sections: one before the first vision discussing the Joseph, Sr. and Lucy Mack family (and ancestors), and a later section discussing the family of Joseph, Jr. with Emma, and his other wives. COGDEN 17:50, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
I don't think I concurr. Although I think the topics of your dicussion here would be interesting, even important, I think they would be better in a separate article. It is a matter of scope and these topics are very broad to the central issue of Joesph Smith, Jr. His historical importance is the first vision, his proclamation of restoring the church of Jesus Christ, the persecution he endured for standing true to his claims, and the process of creating a the chruch and receiving ongoing revelation. I fear some of the information introduced in this article would become minutiae to the average reader. For those interested in learning more in-depth information, they would be very interesting, separate articles that should be linked to this article. Storm Rider 18:07, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
Maybe those things you mentioned are all that many faithful Mormons want to know about. But everyone who reads the article doesn't have the same perspective, and they will want to know about his family, his work, the historical context in which he lived, his beliefs and assumptions, his friends and neighbors and what they thought about him, why some people disliked him while others loved him, what he did in his free time, etc., just like any other historical figure such as Abraham Lincoln or Mahatma Gandhi. If the article gets too big, then we can start carving out more sub-articles, but the article isn't anywhere near that point yet. COGDEN 18:49, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
Storm Rider's suggestion sounds too much like limiting the article to the Mormon version of Smith's story, as Cogden says. However, splitting before and after the First Vision may be a problem since the year of the vision is not really known. In fact, the existence of the vision is in doubt. If we split into before and after, and suggest splitting at some event which was easily noticed to everyone at the time. Perhaps the date of the first mention of the Book of Mormon. Nereocystis 19:27, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
I wasn't suggesting splitting the article into pre and post-first vision parts. Rather, I was just talking about splitting the family information (generally) so that Joseph, Sr.'s family is discussed some time before the First Vision, and actually before much specific details about Joseph, Jr. whatsoever. This is essentially how things are now, to some extent. And then, at some place later in the article, there would be a detailed description of Joseph, Jr.'s own family, like who his kids were, and who his wives were, etc. COGDEN 06:29, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
On the contrary - his suggestion is sticking to core fundamentals of who/what smith is. I'm not sure we need to stick to the fundamentals as we are not limited to space.
That said, it is interesting that every event in smith's life corresponded with or affected a family member or event. Alvin and the plates, the death of his children, and of course the many articles that have written about emma's pregnancies and how they were affected by events in smith's life - such as her nearly losing her own life during a pregnancy due to the stress of the 116 pages, etc. Let alone the birthdays, the prominent role of mother and father smith, the exclusion of william and his interesting relationships with sophronia and lucy after they married (both were more suspect after their marriages, as they didn't "gather" like the rest of the family). His close relationship with Hyrum and Samuel - and his last recorded dream about hyrum and samuel. All are interesting but not sure how to incorporate into the present article. It is a study into itself. More suggestions and discussion is needed. -Visorstuff 20:50, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
many interesting points here -- and good ideas. Some analysts tie Joseph's teachings on the eternal nature of the family and temple work to his great love of his own personal and extended family. But, more information about Joseph and Emma's children is an essential element to the man's biography and would be a good starting point.
As to the extended Smith family, I have also thought about a Smith family tree beginning with Joseph, Sr. and Uncle John's father that would show all the Smith descendants, their relationship with one another, and illustrate their ties to the larger LDS movement. Most LDS people are simply not aware of the close relationship of many of the early leaders, and most non-Mormons readers might better understand how such a movement might have grown from the base of this extended family. It would, of course, be a distinct article, but would also be a place to discuss larger family issues. Comments? WBardwin 05:26, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
Good idea. I'm not sure what the article would be called, though. You can get a lot of this information from Quinn's second Mormon Hierarchy book. COGDEN 06:20, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
It is interesting in a story about Joseph Smith that one would feel it imperative to describe the doubt of other people regarding the first Vision. DUH! If others believed in the first vision, they would become members. Of course the article should be stated from a Mormon perspective...He was the founding prophet of Mormonism. This is a religious article, not an expose for a tabloid about the stupidity of religion. Religion is an issue of faith. Just becuase one is an atheist or outside of Mormonism does not entitle one to whiz all of the "story". The first Vision is intergral to the story of Joseph Smith and it should state it happened in 1820. Yes, contrary information about the first visioin should also be included, but later in the article just as controversial information is entered later in articles on Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, and every other church article I have read.
I am becoming more admanant that WIKI articles should be written to the same standards and just because we are talking about Mormonism, rules should not be thrown out the window because "others" have an axe to grind. That said, understand that I do not favor a filtered article. Controversial, factual history should be included. But, some of the topics are so important and require lengthy information they should be in separate articles and only summarized in the main article. I am not familiar with encyclopedic articles that are white papers. They are typically short, concise articles without superfluous information. Hit the main highlights and then expand in subarticles where necessary.
However, some of the stuff COgden puts in is accurate, but I find it to be minutiae. No offense intended. Note that I have not edited it regardless of my personal feelings. I respect his overwhelming expertise, but sometimes expertise is a sign of a passion not shared by the vast majority.
Another thing that is disturbing is the tendency of historians to allude to Joseph's feelings for the manner in which the Mormonism evolved. When this is done the concept of revelation is automatically discounted. I don't equate the concept of eternal progression and thus eternal families with Joseph's love as families as WBardin alludes to analysts above. One may explain why it was easy for Joseph to accept and preach the doctrine, but to state that is the reason for the existence of the doctrine is turning the foundation of revelation on its head and is strictly POV. That is the type of "tone" that is not acceptable for the main part of the article. It is acceptable later in the article or in other articles that wish to provide other explanations for Mormonism, but not in this article. Storm Rider 06:26, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
Storm - I'm afraid you are interpreting my brief comment on the eternal family out of context. The Mormon analysts I am referring to did not necessarily say that Joseph created eternal family doctrine and temple ordinances because of his love for his family. Although they tried to maintain a historian's basic neutrality, it was clear they felt Joseph initiated the doctrine by inquiring of the Lord about the possibility of being with his family for eternity. They felt his love led to his inquiry which led to revelation. They also felt his ongoing teaching on the topic and his urgency about temple work reflect his personal viewpoint. (Now, I'll have to go try and find the book. Sigh! It's been several years since I read it.) WBardwin 06:36, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
Storm Rider, if we want this article to be a featured article, we have to be held to a higher standard of NPOV than we might with other articles. One of the requirements of featured article status is that the article is stable. But this article is unusually controversial, and to achieve stability, the article has to represent all notable points of view. I'm not aware of very many featured articles on subjects that are so highly controversial. Basically, there should be at least some mention of all the notable elements of Smith's life, without any holes. And the things you feel are minutiae are very important to some people. Besides, as Visorstuff mentioned, there is really no space limitation. We can eventually branch out articles when there is sufficient material to do so (we already have done so with the first vision, golden plates, and assassination articles), but even when there is a sub-article this article has to summarize all the notable points, and to put everything in context. COGDEN 17:27, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
W, the way you just explained it (Joseph, as a result of his love for his family, petioned the Lord regarding...) provides a totally different context and is much more appropriate. Words are important and infer specific things. When we use them carelessly it is too easy for misinterpretation. Thanks for the clarification.
COgden, I could just have easily written your last paragraph. I would still caution that we write for the masses and not for the expert. For example, whether Joseph's family was considered vagrants and "warned out of town" adds what to the article? Does it help understand Joseph better? Does it explain why a family may have been considered vagrant? This information is simply inserted into the article without elaboration and very possibly leads readers to assume the Smith family was just poor, white trash that operated in lowest rungs of society. I find it to be minutiae and misleading. It is a tidbit of information that is true, but is too easily taken out of context by readers. In summary, I agree with you COgden, but still hope you use some restraint on inserting information and certainly hope you provide more information when inserting information that is not central to Joseph's life. Storm Rider 17:55, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
The fact that the Smith family were considered unwelcome poor vagrants in Vermont, I think, explains a lot about what made the Smith family tick. And to the contrary, I'm sure that being kicked out of Norwich was, at the time, a very important event in Joseph's life, as he was about 10 years old at the time, and the life of his family. Imagine if such an event were part of the childhood of Abraham Lincoln; I think it would deserve mention in his article. We can always add some background on early 19th Century vagrancy laws an policies, if you want. But I didn't want to add too much explanatory material at this point because there are some speculative theories running around the scholarly circles that Joseph, Sr. was kicked out of Vermont because of his treasure-hunting activities (which was one type of vagrancy). I'd rather just say they were "warned out", for now, without getting into all of that yet. COGDEN 20:05, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
That fact that you provide a tidbit of negative information without explanation or context makes one question your motives. This is similar to tabloid journalism and rank anti-Mormonism. Adding these small, insignificant pieces of information for what intent? How many times have you heard the anti-Mormon attempt to connect Mormonism to the occult becauses LDS call the Holy Spirit the Holy Ghost, occultists attempt to communicate with ghosts. They then leave it to the imaginations: ergo, Mormons are occultists.
When Joseph was ten, he had no control over the circumstances of his parents or their actions. To attempt to "explain" how Joseph felt and what impact he had on his psyche is not a position for a historian and smacks too close to Quinn for comfort. Did Joseph ever complain about the economic condition of his parents? I am not aware of it. You may feel it would have been a traumatic expience for you, but that does not mean it is appropriate to project your feelings onto Joseph Smith. If you want to write an article about his parents; great, but this is about Joseph and if Joseph did not write about it, it is was not important to him. I still think it is minutiae that does not belong in the article. Storm Rider 00:25, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
You're right that we can't look inside Smith's mind, but I think it's a pretty good guess that Smith's character, personality, and values were shaped by his family, and events in his early childhood. Discussion of family, and early childhood events, is an important element of any biography. I think that the Smith family's being kicked out of Norwich when Joseph was 10 is just about as important as Joseph's severe illness at age 8. He didn't have control over either, but they are importent landmarks in his life. And being kicked out of Norwich is not necessarily a negative reflection on the family. Lots of families were kicked out of Norwich in those days, probably due in part to the massive crop failures. If anything, it is a negative reflection on early America's lack of concern for civil rights under the old vagrancy statutes. Today, you can't kick people out of your town simply because they don't have a steady income, or own land. COGDEN 01:50, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
The story about how Joseph reacted to nearly having his leg amputated is a story about Joseph not about his parents. The story about his family being run out of town is about his parents. They are two completely different events; one is personal and the other about the events in the parents' lives. Landmarks are only landmarks if the individual thinks they were landmarks; not what we think would have been landmarks if they had happened to us personally. This is a great argument that diffentiates between historians and reconstructionists.
COgden, if you feel it is an integral part of Joseph's life, even if Joseph did not feel it was, include it. However, to be balanced and fair, it is appropirate to include the data you allude to about Norwich and many familes being warned out of town due to massive crop failures. Without that information, it is not so much a story you feel is integral to Joseph's psyce, but a tidbit of information to easily missinterpreted as a defamation of Joseph's family. Storm Rider 16:30, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
That's the problem I discussed earlier. I considered adding some theories about why the Smiths were considered vagrants in Norwich; however, if we include the "they were poor migrants with no steady income" theory, we also have to include the "Joseph, Sr. was a treasure-seeking rodsman" theory. I prefer the first one, but the evidence is sketchy for either theory, and if we include any speculation about why they were "warned out", for balance we have to include all the notable theories currently out there in the literature. I think the full treatment is better left for the Joseph Smith, Sr. and (maybe) Lucy Mack Smith articles, with just a brief mention here. For the purposes of Joseph, Jr., the solid historical fact that his family was forcibly uprooted from Vermont when he was 10 is more important than the particular speculative reasons why that might have happened. COGDEN 17:36, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

I don't think it appropriate to pick and choose which theories are provided as long as they come from reputable sources and not simply anti-Mormon drivel from people who have no scholarly basis and just an axe to grind against Mormonism. If there is legitimate controversy, all sides should be given ample room. You were the one who offered the context of "Lots of families were kicked out of Norwich in those days, probably due in part to the massive crop failures". Also, I don't quantify either story (Joseph and leg surgery and Joseph and his family being warned out of town) as being integral parts of Joseph Smith's history. For in-depth study it will be read, but it is not important. Without providing full treatment, err on the side of not alluding to an irreputable people. Context matters and is important. I guess it depends on your objectives, COgden. Are you trying to explain Joseph Smith to those who do not know his history or are you trying to cast dispersions? Tidbits of information without context will do the later. Storm Rider 01:36, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

No, I'm absolutely not trying to cast aspersions on Joseph Smith. For full disclosure, I personally believe that he was a prophet, and am a great admirer. I just don't think, at this point, that the fact they were kicked out of Norwich needs a big, paragraph-long explanation about the reasons they were kicked out, which are all speculative. That can go in the Joseph Smith, Sr. article. However, I do see merit in mentioning it briefly here. COGDEN 01:52, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

Created stubs on Julia Murdock Smith and David Hyrum Smith and found a external site with photographs and som family and Julia's history. I think we should expand articles on each of the surviving children -- and summarize their early childhoods (at least) in this article. Will try to work out some time to help on this section. WBardwin 08:42, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

One big misunderstanding concerning the visions his father seposadly had(Acording to this article). All LDS members and many Historians Have stated that the visions cam from Joseph Smith Sen. Father before Joseph Smith jr. was ever born. Joseph Smith Seniors Father never new Joseph Smith jr. he had died before he was born. User:

Actually, Joseph's paternal grandfather, Asael Smith, died very soon after the publication of the Book of Mormon. According to History of the Church, Asael had read part-way through the book before he died and said he believed Joseph was the descendant he had prophesied about. COGDEN 20:23, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
That is not correct. Asael Smith, Joseph Smith Jr. grandfather, was born March 7, 1744 and died Oct. 31, 1830, after Joseph Smith organized the Church. He was not only aquainted with his grandson, but said that Joseph Jr. was the spirutal leader he had predicted would come through his lineage. He had read the book of Mormon and according to sources had accepted its truthfulness, but died before the mission to baptize the family of Joseph Smith, Sr., which was completely successful except one brother of Joseph Sr. who was quite antagonistic toward Christianity and considered himself an atheist for some time. The article is correct. Also, Joseph Smith Seniors visions took place in the seven years just prior to Joseph Junior's "official" date of the first vision in 1820. Hope this helps - I'd suggest reading "The History of Joseph Smith, by his mother, Lucy Mack Smith" for more details on Asaels attitudes toward his grandson, and Joseph Senior's visions. -Visorstuff 20:30, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

Sorry about the misconception of him still not being alive, but still proves my point that it wasn't Joseph smith sen it was his father who had the vesion. (unsigned by anon editor)

Which vision are you referring to? Asael had no vision on record. But predicted that his descendant would be influential. Joseph Senior had a series of visions, as recorded by Mother Smith. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your point. Can you clarify? -Visorstuff 17:04, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

King Follett Discourse needs detail

Joseph Smith, Jr.#King Follett Discourse says that the King Follett is one of Smith's most famous speeches, but this article and King Follett Discourse give no details on the speech. A one or two sentence summary needs to be added. God and exaltation are not quite enough enough of a description.

If there isn't a description, perhaps the section should be deleted. Nereocystis 20:47, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

I think that the section should be deleted. It's not really an important event in Joseph's life; there were many occassions where he prophesied in a similar fashion. Some very controversial doctrines stem from The King Follet Discourse, but most people in the church wouldn't know what it is if you said it, and it's only here to bait readers into being shocked at the kookiness of Mormonism. It has no place in this article. If we're going to include important or famous sermons, I think we'd be better to include Doctrine and Covenants Sections 20 (outlining of the duties of the Priesthood), 76 (the degrees of glory), and 109 (Kirtland Temple dedication), along with others, all of which have had a much deeper influence on the Church than Joseph's memorial to Follet. Cookiecaper 18:22, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
why not make a list of the important sermons with links, including Cookiecaper's list above and King Follett. (Do we have a "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith" article?) I just expanded King Follett Discourse a little. Please comment and edit. WBardwin 19:24, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

The description is a good beginning, but it should probably mention something about the plurality of gods of which Smith spoke, as well as god once being man. Perhaps it should mention something about Hinckley's public statements on the issue, which sound like a non-denial denial. King Follet is probably too important to delete. Nereocystis 08:29, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

Infobox problems

I have a problem with the Infobox. Infoboxes are good for things like political presidents, or kings, or prime ministers, where there is a well-defined office and a well-defined successor. However, here, there is not. Moreover, the Infobox refers to Smith as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is only true from one POV. If we listed every position or role he held (such as prophet, apostle, elder, president, high priest, president of the first presidency, trustee of the Church, etc.), and the date he first came to that position or role, it would be a rather large box. I'm proposing a change, reflected in my last edit. Comments? COGDEN 18:51, 10 October 2005 (UTC)

When people read a biography article, they expect to see an infobox that looks like other biography infoboxes. Since the regular biography infobox appears to be insufficient for this purpose, make up another infobox that looks similar. It will probably be for this particular article. Val42 19:46, 10 October 2005 (UTC)
I just changed it to use Template:Infobox Biography, which is ugly but widely-used. COGDEN 21:19, 10 October 2005 (UTC)
I like the old infobox. Joseph was President of what's now the Utah church, and other people might be sad about it, but it's the way it was. We've had this discussion before. RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE Cookiecaper 03:47, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

The Church The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is NOT a UTAH church. It is a world wide church. I live in Michigan as a member of that church. I have been To idaho, IL, Ohio, New York, Canada, and every were i have gone there are members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I would have to agree with User:COGDEN who said "If we listed every position or role he held (such as prophet, apostle, elder, president, high priest, president of the first presidency, trustee of the Church, etc.), and the date he first came to that position or role, it would be a rather large box." (unsigned by anon)

In academic circles, the LDS Church is called the "Utah Church" as compared to the "Missouri Church" (RLDS, now Community of Christ) and the "Wisconsin" Church (The Strangites). Sometimes the latter are called the "plains churces" as many of the sects that didn't follow Young stayed in the mid-west. So to say the "Utah" church is not to say it is a church in utah, but to distinguish it from other sects in the (unhyphenated) Latter Day Saint movement (there are literally hundreds of churches who claim that Smith was a prophet, and geographic designation is one nomenclature to distinguish). That said, it is the Utah church of the Latter Day Saint movement. Most of the editors on this page are LDS by religion or Mormon culturally, or part of the Latter Day Saint Movement, so we know the worldwide nature of the LDS Church, but we also use academic norms in writing, and this is one academic standard that we will keep for the time being. -Visorstuff 17:04, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

I agree with the basic point that COGDEN raises: the info box wasn't quite neutral, as the link to the LDS Church rather affirms the POV that it is the "true successor", which isn't what it's trying to say, otherwise. (Cookiecaper, you may believe that this really is the case, but that's not the only POV on the matter, and it can't be represented as fact unqualifiedly.) However, no-one sounds very happy about the 'look' of the new bio-box, and it does lose useful information.

I'd like to suggest the following: the old infobox be moved into the template namespace (currently it's a titled as a "sub-article", except that sub-pages are no longer supported by the software in that namespace); that the LDS Church link be replaced by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or some other link that makes clearer that he was the president of a historical, pre-division church, not unambiguously any modern denomination. Are there any other issues to be addressed? Alai 15:00, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

It can be represented as and is a fact. The organization that Joseph led is today's The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the church headquartered in Utah. POV comes in when one affirms or denies that the subsequent presidents of that body are Joseph's legitimate successors or not. This is non-negotiable, it is a fact. The organization that Joseph was in charge of was taken over by Brigham Young. This does not state that Brigham was Joseph's rightful successor, it states the plain truth that Brigham Young followed Joseph Smith as leader of that same legal entity. Cookiecaper 20:08, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
It's not so cut and dry as you are suggesting. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints led by Brigham Young was incorporated under its present name in Utah, several years after Smith's death. It's debatable whether or not there is legal continuity between the earlier church and Young's organization. The only court decision thus far on that subject held that the legal successor of Smith's church was the Community of Christ. That's why they own the Kirtland Temple. COGDEN 22:55, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

I made some change to the Infobox to avoid this issue altogether by refering to him as President of the Church of Christ - that article sufficiently explains the nuances. Although subpages are discouraged in the main space, I recommend that the Joseph Smith Infobox NOT be moved to the template namespace since templates that are only used on one page are routinely deleated and the alternative to having it as a subpage of this page is to have a lot of ugly formatting at the top that will confuse new users and be a target for vandalism. Trödel|talk 20:49, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

That's a reasonable decision, but he was also president of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Also, the idea of Smith being the president of the early church was not all that well-developed of an idea, because of all his other positions and titles in the church. I don't think it's that important to include all this information in the infobox. I also don't think we should put the date of the First Vision in the infobox, because that date is subject to different points of view, as is the question of whether or not there was a first vision. I personally think he had a theophany in about 1820, but that's definitely not the only POV out there. COGDEN 22:55, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

I think we have a resolution, then? About the "subpage alternative": trouble is, Jim, it isn't a subpage, it's a top level (i.e., only level) page in the main article space, with a "/" in it. But since it's not being used anyway, perhaps we should list it for deletion anyway...? Alai 00:38, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

New Bushman biography

Has anybody got their hands on a copy of Richard L. Bushman's new biography on Joseph Smith (ISBN 1400042704)? I haven't seen it yet, but from reviews I've read, people are saying it's Smith's best biography thus far, at least from a faithful Mormon scholar, and I'm wondering if it might be a good reference for this article on matters for which the primary source documents aren't readily available, and on apologetic interpretations of Smith's history. COGDEN 17:54, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

I pre-ordered it and started reading it as soon as it arrived. I'm still working my way through it though. My wife has been reading through it too and has almost caught up with me. Which gets higher priority: reading Bushman's book or rereading BoM by end of year? So far, I like Bushman's presentation. It will probably be the definitive biography on Joseph for decades. B | Talk 16:09, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

Proposed new public domain image of Moroni and Joseph

new image.

I just replaced a painting of Moroni and Joseph with an engraving from 1893. I think it's a better, clearer illustration, and it has no copyright issues. I'm not sure when the previous one was painted. Cookiecaper, do you know?

Anyway, does everyone agree the new one is better? COGDEN 01:11, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

I think that it is better simple because the features are larger. But both seem to show Smith in (what we would call today) a suit coat with tail. That seems rather fancy to be going in to the woods to retrieve something from the ground, even a holy book. But maybe I'm too attached to todays lax standards of dress. Do we have any references as to what Smith wore when he went to retrieve the plates? Val42 03:30, 13 October 2005 (UTC)
another image.

Regarding another image I'd like to add if possible, does anybody know when the stained-glass window shown on the last cover of Newsweek was made? I have a high-quality scanned image of it (shown here), but I can't find out when it was made, and where it came from, in order to assess its copyright status. It still might be sufficiently "transformative" to be fair use, but it would be great if it were public domain. I've heard, second-hand, that the window was completed in 1913. Can anyone verify? COGDEN 20:55, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

I haven't been able to find out a whole lot about the stained glass. According to a KSL article, the window is on display at the Church Museum of History and Art in downtown Salt Lake City, so if anyone can stop by there, it will probably say. If that's not possible, I found a media contact and sent her this e-mail:
 Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 20:56:24 -0600
 From: Jeff Cook <>
 Subject: "Making of the Mormons" Newsweek cover art
 I found your email listed as a press contact regarding the cover story of
 Newsweek's October 17, 2005 issue. I'm an editor at Wikipedia ( and there has been a recent inquiry among editors
 of the Joseph Smith article concerning the stained-glass window representing
 the First Vision as seen on the October 17, 2005 edition's cover art (see Wikipedia is very
 careful about copyrights and all content we use must be used under an
 acceptable license (see
 I was wondering if you had the copyright information for this artwork (date
 completed, ownership, etc.). Any help is greatly appreciated.
 Thank you,
 Jeff Cook
As for the C.C.A. Christensen painting, I don't know when it was made. He died in 1912, so I've assumed that as the date for all of his paintings I've uploaded just to be on the safe side. Cookiecaper 03:05, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for sending the email. I thought I remembered seeing the stained glass from somewhere, but it's been a long time since I've been to the museum. On the other issue: It looks like the C.C.A. Christensen painting is public domain. I guess it's just a question of which illustration is better. I prefer the engraving because the figures are larger, I think it's more skillfully done (I think), and it contains more information appropriate for an encyclopedia (for example, it shows the breasplate, the U&T, and it shows Moroni instructing Joseph). Both pictures, of course, show Joseph in fancy clothes, which he probably wasn't. COGDEN 17:52, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
The [PBS website] states that the work is dated 1913. PBS is a credible enough source for me. So I'm going to bring the image into the article. COGDEN 17:29, 17 October 2005 (UTC)
I stopped by the Museum of Church History and Art tonight and saw the stained glass. The plaque didn't state an artist, but said it was from something like the Adams Twelth Ward Chapel in Los Angeles, California and that it was completed in 1913. Cookiecaper 07:01, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

Newsweek Cover Story

A section like this was recently added. I don't believe that it requires it's own section. There is maybe somewhere it belongs, but a passing mention in this article ought to suffice if it must be mentioned at all. This is not the first cover story about Joseph Smith and/or the Mormons and I doubt very deeply it will be the last. Is there a page like Mormons in the Media or something? This belongs in a place like that. Good job to the writer though, I like the piece, it just doesn't belong here. Cookiecaper 23:07, 15 October 2005 (UTC)

It probably belongs in the History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints page, which currently has a skeletal church-in-the-media section. COGDEN 04:01, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

I beleave that the Artcal is the best reflection on the church and mostly on Joseph Smith. (unsigned by anon)

More info on the jailing / lynching

Some background on the various reasons for the jailing, the visit by the governor, and perhaps the motivation of the mob would be nice. I would like to write an article on Levi Williams, as I have much geneological information on him, and it would be fitting to link him to the Joseph Smith page.

Most of the information about Joseph's imprisonment and assassination is available at Death of Joseph Smith, Jr. Have you checked there? Cookiecaper 19:54, 19 October 2005 (UTC)

I have issues with this statement. The quote is perhaps correct but is written as if to support the previous claim.

In his book, Under the Banner of Heaven, author Jon Krakauer links this particular episode to a sexual liaison Smith purportedly had with Benjamin Johnson's 15-year-old daughter, Miranda Nancy Johnson. Krakauer quotes Miranda's older brother Luke Johnson as saying that the mob "had Dr. Dennison there to perform the operation [of castration]; but when he saw the Prophet stripped and stretched on the plank, his heart failed him and he refused to operate."

Consider this from Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001):

The motivation for this mobbing has been debated. Clark Braden, a late, antagonistic, secondhand witness, alleged in a polemic public debate that Marinda's brother Eli led a mob against Smith because the prophet had been too intimate with Marinda. This tradition suggests that Smith may have married Marinda at this early time, and some circumstantial factors support such a possibility. The castration attempt might be taken as evidence that the mob felt that Joseph had committed a sexual impropriety; since the attempt is reported by Luke Johnson, there is no good reason to doubt it. Also, they had planned the operation in advance, as they brought along a doctor to perform it. The first revelations on polygamy had been received in 1831, by historian Danel Bachman's dating. Also, Joseph Smith did tend to marry women who had stayed at his house or in whose house he had stayed.

Many other factors, however, argue against this theory. First, Marinda had no brother named Eli, which suggests that Braden's accusation, late as it is, is garbled and unreliable. In addition, two antagonistic accounts by Hayden and S. F. Whitney give an entirely different reason for the mobbing, with an entirely different leader, Simonds Ryder, an ex-Mormon, though the Johnson brothers are still participants. In these accounts the reason for the violence is economic: the Johnson boys were in the mob because of "the horrid fact that a plot was laid to take their property from them and place it under the control of Smith." The castration, in this scenario, may have only been a threat, meant to intimidate Smith and cause him to leave Hiram [where the Johnsons lived]

After describing the event, Marinda wrote only, "Here I feel like bearing my testimony that during the whole year that Joseph was an inmate of my father's house I never saw aught in his daily life or conversation to make me doubt his divine mission." While it is not impossible that Marinda became Smith's first plural wife in 1831, the evidence for such a marriage, resting chiefly on the late, unreliable Braden, is not compelling. Unless more credible evidence is found, it is best to proceed under the assumption that Joseph and Marinda did not marry or have a relationship in 1831. (231-32)01:42, 6 December 2005 (UTC) Dradamh 01:45, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

About featured status

We need to get the ball rolling on getting this featured if we want to have it on Dec 5. Apparently, User:Raul654 is the featured article boss and no article has been chosen for 12/5, so we have a good chance if we get it moving. I'll go through it and change what I think needs to be changed; everyone else should do the same. Do we really need to bother with a second peer review or can we go straight for the nomination? What is the copyright status of the Joseph Smith portrait? Someone does not agree that it is public domain. That must be sorted out before nomination. Cookiecaper 21:31, 30 October 2005 (UTC)

Don't we want December 23? COGDEN 04:01, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
D'oh! Yeah we do. I always get his birthday mixed up, sorry. Teehee. December 23, yes yes, Dec. 23. Cookiecaper 04:24, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

Current "already chosen buffer" lead time seems to be about a week or so, though I wouldn't be entirely surprised if there's pile-on of "seasonal-themed" articles as Christmas closes in... One or two dates after that window have also been filled in already. Also bear in mind there's a two-step process here: first it has to get featured status, and then it has to be nominated to the main page.

As time is short, then... Two very quick observations. The article is very long. It's close to thrice recommended length. I think serious consideration should be given the the tenets of Wikipedia:Summary style, and in particular to the possibility of factoring out to subsidiary articles. Secondly, the lead section is far from "tight". It's four paragraphs, and the use of bullet-points doesn't seem ideal. I'd condense, trim, and move into the body of the article (... notwithstanding point #1...) to get it down to three, if at all possible. Alai 02:12, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

The subject matter of this article will make it difficult to make too much use summary style. Beyond the primary sources, there is almost nothing about Joseph Smith that is subject to any kind of broad consensus. The problem we will run into if we try to use summary style is that we'll have to ensure that all points of view are at least represented in the main article. That either means that we say very little or we say a whole lot. We're still far smaller than many Brittanica articles. I would lobby for a longish article for a subject as important and as controversial as Joseph Smith. COGDEN 04:48, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Yeah, but you're not going for the main page of Brittanica... I don't think the problem here is too many POVs, it's simply too much detail. And naturally I'm not suggesting any of said detail be lost, just factored out into sub-articles. But I'll grant you that's a lot of work to do, in what's effectively a month or so.

Somewhat relatedly, the major section that's already been factored out ("Death of...") strikes me as having much too short a summary in this article, and even moreso in its own lead section. Alai 15:58, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

It's hard to talk about this problem in the abstract, but we'll run into many problems if we start to generalize too much. I'm not aware of another featured article that would be as controversial as a short Joseph Smith article. In most pages, we can solve the length issue by making generalizations, such as "Smith spent his early years employed in the occult arts", or "in 1820, Smith claimed to have seen God and Jesus, who told him that he would later organize a church". The problem is, both of these statements, like most generalizations about Smith, are not neutral, and require lots of qualifications, which also tend to make the article just about as long as if we just included the raw facts without generalizing. We might be able to make a Joseph Smith article that is both short and neutral, but it would take a concerted effort by numerous people, and probably several rounds of voting and dispute resolution. COGDEN 00:53, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
Let's be clear that by "summary" or "short", I mean about half to one third of its current length. If the main text were around 5,000 words, I think you'd have an excellent case to "get away with" the lengthy additional sections of references and bibliography at the end, so let's say towards the "half" end. I don't think that's infeasible, though I don't for a moment suggest easy. A tighter lead section should be eminently do-able, however, and would at least be a start. Anyhoo, surely better that I grumble here now about that, than I (or almost certainly someone else), do so after a FA nom. Alai 03:17, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

Here's a possibility: We could farm out most of the history into one or more subarticles such as History of Joseph Smith, Jr., or History of Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805 to 1827), and then this article would contain only the briefest summaries of Smith's life (which probably can be done neutrally if we don't get into too much detail and describe all the major perspectives, although it will take some thrashing-out and several rounds of voting). But in contrast to what we have now, the article could also include non-contemporary information about how people have reacted to his life, and what his life means (ala the Gautama Buddha article), such as:

  • How Smith's followers view him (is he the greatest prophet next to Christ? an important prophet? a fallen prophet?);
  • How Smith's major teachings and doctrines have been interpreted since his death;
  • A brief historiography;
  • Information about his likeness;
  • Summary information about succession;
  • Information about his descendants and their succession claims; etc.

However, this would mean a lot more work for this article, and I don't see it being completed quick enough to be included as a feature article. If we don't think this can be done in time, we could also submit one of the separated-out historical articles for featured status. This we could do pretty quickly, especially if we carved-out an article ranging from his birth in 1805 to just before he recovered the plates in 1827, which seems to be a good dividing line. This would be something like History of Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805 to 1827). Since the material for this time frame is essentially in place, though in need of a good work-over by several people of different perspectives, we could get it into featured-article quality relatively quickly. Then, we could continue to develop all the other articles, including this one, at a more measured pace. COGDEN 21:49, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

I hadn't thought of nominating the split article(s): nice lateral! I think this is an excellent idea. There's after all tremendous logic on the featured article on his birthday being on his early life. The only-briefest-summary in this article isn't ideal, but it's a very reasonable first step on the way to a completely-optimal summary-style split. And measured pace is definitely good, a major structuring under a tight time deadline would be a potentially fraught affair. Alai 04:29, 3 November 2005 (UTC)
... though "Life of..." might be a better title. Alai 14:28, 3 November 2005 (UTC)
Life of Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805 to 1827) is probably good. I'm trying to figure out if there is some kind of de facto standard for these things, but I haven't been able to find many articles about a person where a historical article is separated-out as a sub-article. The Jesus series of articles does it a little strangely, I think. There are also Shakespeare's life and Biography of Pope John Paul II. So I guess there really is no standard yet. COGDEN 03:01, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

New split-off article covering Smith's early history

Nobody seems to oppose splitting off a new purely-historical article about Joseph Smith, so I did it, naming it Life of Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805 to 1827). That article, I think, as it now stands, is closer to being in shape for featured status than is the present. It's also about 43 kilobytes long, which is a size nobody can really complain about. So, what's the next step? Should we nominate and peer-review that article, or should we continue planning to nominate the present one? COGDEN 00:44, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

I vote for the new article. It contains much of the careful work done in the last few weeks, including references and documentation. It needs a good copy edit and polish, (preferably by couple of people) but I think it is the better candidate for featured article. I like this trend to divide the larger article into time periods. Perhaps future articles could deal with Joseph's life in Ohio, Missouri, and then Illinois. WBardwin 05:52, 9 November 2005 (UTC)
Strongly concur. Alai 04:45, 11 November 2005 (UTC)


A minor point. The article suggests could be read as the Joseph Smith, Jr., who was born in 1805 and died in 1827. "Early Life of Joseph Smith, Jr." might be a better title. Maybe the year can be mentioned. Nereocystis 14:47, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
I agree "Early life..." more accurately describes the article and does not have the potential for confusion that using dates in the article title does. Trödel|talk 00:21, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
That sounds like a good idea. Is there a similar change that can be made for Life of Joseph Smith, Jr. (1827 to 1831)? COGDEN 00:49, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
Tougher - lots of potential for POV. This was JS's initial period of "theological development" and "church establishment and organization". He "emerged" and became visible as the leader of a "new religious movement". Or, maybe, more neutrally -- "Life of Joseph Smith: the New England period?" WBardwin 01:03, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

I'd imagine it'd suffice to give the dates, but in a manner not suggestive of births and deaths. Say, Life of of Joseph Smith, Jr., from 1827 to 1831. In the first instance, "Early life..." is good, though. Alai 04:49, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

Company seeking their share

I deleted the following clause:

Word of Smith's find soon spread rapidly throughout the region, and several of Smith's old treasure-seeking company wanted what they believed was their share.

It is an interesting statement, but needs to be further developed for it to enhance the article, otherwise it seems to only provide a negative distraction. What share did they think was theirs? Who were they? Did they proceed legally against Smith? Did they threaten him? How did Joseph respond to them? What was the outcome? I know I am a broken record, but this is the type of historical "tidbit" that has no place in the article unless it is fleshed out and explained. Storm Rider 00:38, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

Storm Rider, the bare statement is more fully addressed in Bushman's biography: basically it is believed that Joseph had an agreement with those whom he had been reluctantly treasure digging to share what had been found. Years later when Joseph obtains the GOLD plates, former treasure digging associates felt they had a right to a share of the treasure...meaning, the plates. The fuller background explains much including the vigilant hiding of the plates, etc. Naturally, Joseph would be embarrased about having associated with treasure-diggers in the past just to susist. The reason why some people were "continually after the plates" is understood a little better now. B|Talk 03:42, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

Nominating Early life of Joseph Smith, Jr. for peer review

I'm nominating Early life of Joseph Smith, Jr. for peer review, with an eye toward getting featured status as soon as possible. Could everyone please take a look and try and get the article ready for possible featured status on Dec. 23? ''COGDEN'' 08:41, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

The peer review page is here: Wikipedia:Peer review/Early life of Joseph Smith, Jr./archive1 COGDEN 08:59, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

After a couple of days, nobody seems to be biting. Is there just a lack of interest in this article and in Joseph Smith in general? Maybe that portends poorly for getting featured status. Does anybody have any ideas how we could speed this along? COGDEN 22:47, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

Nominating Early life of Joseph Smith, Jr as a Featured Article Candidate

I've nominated the article Early life of Joseph Smith, Jr. as a featured article candidate. If you think the article should be featured, please express your vote here. COGDEN 05:22, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

The article is a poor candidate. It is too much information on too arcane a subject. Some other historic figures have articles on just one part of their lives, but not many...and with good reason. Some things are better relegated to books than encyclopedia articles. Just because something is scholarly, well-written, and well-researched doesn't automatically make it good encyclopedia material. Joseph Smith Jr. could be a feature article, but Early Life doesn't have the right stuff. Dr U 06:25, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

I've never heard anyone complain that a Wikipedia article was too informative. That's a strange criticism. COGDEN 18:44, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
Agree, I think it is a fine example of splitting up a long article. -Visorstuff 19:57, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

I agree, the split article "looks well". However, perhaps there'd be no harm in nominating this, the parent article, too, as a FA, now that the summarisation is well in hand, if people feel it's ready otherwise. Spoil Raul for choice, come selection day? Alai 05:28, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

Yes, this article is feature-worthy as well. It should be nominated. Cookiecaper 20:49, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

If someone does go ahead and nominate it, then firstly, best of luck; and also, I'd suggest, as before, that the summary at this page of the main "Death of..." article is still rather too short. Alai 01:09, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

I just shortened it up some more. Two sentences of it were taken almost verbatim from the article at Lightplanet. [4] This is copyright violation, unless the author added it, in which case clarification is requested. I'll see if I can write something better soon, but I've got a busy week ahead, I'm moving back to Kansas City. We'll see. Cookiecaper 07:34, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Okay, I've grafted in content from the death article to the death summary, removed the portrait of Joseph Smith that some CofC dude put watermarks on, added in a little thing that says things at the header, and nominated this for consideration as a featured article. :) Cookiecaper 01:00, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Thanks. Good luck with that; might make the FAC objector questioning the significance of just the early life a happy customer! Alai 08:02, 4 December 2005 (UTC)