A biographical overview of the life of Joseph F. Smith,
the sixth President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ
Following is a brief summary of some major events in the life of Joseph F. Smith, who served as sixth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Joseph F. Smith was born on November 13, 1838 in Far West, Missouri to Hyrum Smith and Mary Fielding Smith.
- His father, Hyrum, was martyred along with the Prophet Joseph on June 27, 1844. Joseph F. was 5 years old at the time of his father’s death.
- In 1848, at the age of 9, Joseph F. drove a team of oxen over 1000 miles across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley. On May 21, 1852, he was baptized in City Creek, being 13 years old.
- Joseph’s mother died on September 21, 1852. Joseph’s formal schooling ended at about this time.
- From 1854 to 1858 (age 15-19), he served his first mission to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii).
- He was ordained a Seventy on March 28, 1858, and a High Priest on October 16, 1859.
- From 1860 to 1863 (age 21-24), he served his second mission to Great Britain.
- In 1864, he served his third mission, again serving in Hawaii.
- From 1865 to 1974, he served as a member of the Utah Territorial legislature.
- On May 5, 1866 (age 27) he married Julina Lambson.
- On July 1, 1866 (age 27) he was ordained an apostle by Brigham Young, and called to serve as a counselor in the First Presidency.
- From 1873 to 1875 (age 35-37) he served as president of the European Mission.
- He was again called to serve as president of the European Mission in 1877 (age 38).
- In 1878 he served a mission to the Eastern United States.
- In 1880, he was called as a counselor to President John Taylor. In 1889, he was called as a counselor to President Wilford Woodruff. In 1898, he was called as a counselor to President Lorenzo Snow.
- He was sustained as the sixth president of the Church on October 17, 1901. He chose as his counselors John R. Winder and Anthon H. Lund.
- In 1915, he encouraged all families to hold “home evening” activities.
- Also in 1915, he dedicated the temple site in Laie, Hawaii.
- In October of 1918, he received a vision concerning the spirits of the dead. This revelation eventually was accepted as scripture, and is now Section 138 in the Doctrine and Covenants.
- President Smith died on November 19, 1918 in Salt Lake City, Utah. No public funeral was held due to the influenza epidemic which was occurring at the
- President Smith was known as a “preacher of righteousness and youthful missionary”.
- Major trials in his life included the untimely deaths of his father and mother, being almost smothered as an infant when an angry mob unknowingly threw a mattress on top of him, and the crossing of the plains as a young boy. Perhaps no other prophet, with the possible exception of Joseph Smith, has been as unmercifully vilified and maligned in the press as was President Smith. President Smith’s greatest slanderer was an excommunicated son of George Q. Cannon.
- Charles W. Nibley paid this beautiful tribute to President Smith: “No heart ever beat truer to every principle of manhood and righteousness and justice and mercy than his; that great heart, encased in his magnificent frame, made him the biggest, the bravest, the tenderest, the purest, and best of all men who walked the earth in his time.” (Improvement Era. January, 1919)