A biographical overview of the life of Joseph Smith, the first President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ
Following is a brief summary of some major events in the life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Joseph Smith was born on December 23, 1805 in Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont to Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. He was the fifth of eleven
children, and the third son. Two of the 11 children died as infants.
- Joseph spent less than a year in formal schooling.
- When 6 years old, Joseph contracted typhus, which eventually caused a life-threatening infection in one of the bones in his leg. This required surgical removal of the infected bone. Joseph refused to take alcohol as an anesthetic. He asked only that his father would hold him in his arms during the procedure, and that his mother would leave the house so as to not hear his cries.
- Joseph was a farmer and laborer before devoting most of his adult life to the work of the Lord.
- In 1820 (age 14), Joseph was visited in person by God the Eternal Father and his son, Jesus Christ, in a grove of trees near Palmyra, New York. This visitation was in response to Joseph’s sincere plea to know which church was correct, and thus began the ushering in of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times.
- Joseph was visited by and instructed by the angel Moroni (a resurrected Book of Mormon prophet) at least 5 times during the years 1823-1827.
- Joseph married Emma Hale on January 18, 1827 (age 21).
- Joseph received the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated on September 22, 1827, and he began the inspired translation of the plates shortly thereafter. Joseph translated the Book of Mormon at the rate of about 10 pages per day, completing the task in 85 days. Expert translators today do well if they can translate scripture at the rate of one page per day.
- On May 15, 1829, Joseph was baptized by Oliver Cowdery, as directed by John the Baptist, in the Susquehanna River near Harmony, Pennsylvania. He and Oliver were also ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist at this time. Later in 1829, Joseph was ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood by Peter, James, and John.
- In 1830, Joseph directed the publication of the Book of Mormon, and he initiated the official organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830.
- In 1832 (age 26), Joseph was sustained as President of the High Priesthood. This occurred in Amherst, Ohio.
- In 1834, Joseph organized and marched with “Zion’s Camp”, a group of 205 faithful brethren who trekked from Kirtland, Ohio to Independence, Missouri to help restore the displaced Latter-day Saints in the Jackson County area.
- In 1835, Joseph published the Doctrine and Covenants, and began work on the translation of the Book of Abraham.
- On March 27, 1836 (age 30), Joseph dedicated the Kirtland Temple. He was later visited by Jesus Christ, Moses, Elias, and Elijah in that temple.
- Joseph’s hobbies as an adult included wrestling, games of strength, and public speaking.
- States in which Joseph resided were Vermont, New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois.
- In 1839, Joseph founded Nauvoo, Illinois, and in 1840 he announced that the saints would erect another temple in Nauvoo.
- In 1842 (age 37), Joseph introduced the full temple endowment to selected individuals in Nauvoo.
- In March of 1842, Joseph organized “The Female Relief Society”.
- In August of 1842 he predicted that the saints would continue to be persecuted and would eventually be driven to the Rocky Mountains.
- In 1843 and 1844, Joseph was a candidate for the office of President of the United States.
- Joseph served many missions during his life, including the Eastern States in 1836, Canada in 1837, and Washington, D.C. in 1839 and 1840.
- Some of the major trials Joseph faced include (1) the loss of the 116 pages of manuscript during the translation of the Book of Mormon, (2) being dragged from his home and tarred & feathered in 1832, (3) the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society Bank and the ensuing apostasy and bitterness of some of the
leading brethren of the church, (4) expulsion of the saints from Ohio and Missouri, (5) his 5-month incarceration in Liberty Jail during a Missouri winter, (6) the apostasy and subsequent invective of John C. Bennett, (7) repeated arrests on groundless charges, (8) and his martyrdom.
- On June 27, 1844, Joseph and his beloved brother Hyrum were brutally martyred in the Carthage Jail, Carthage, Illinois
- The crucial and important role that Joseph would play in the latter days was known even to prophets of old. In 2 Nephi 3:6&14-15 it states: “A seer shall the Lord my God raise up, who shall be a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins…Behold, that seer will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded;…And his name shall be called after me [Joseph of old]; and it shall be after the name of his father.”
- John Taylor, who was with Joseph in the Carthage Jail at the time of his death, paid this fitting tribute: “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. …He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood.”
- Joseph is affectionately referred to as “Joseph, the Seer” and “The Prophet of the Restoration.”