1805 - 1844
Joseph Smith, founder of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was killed June 27, 1844. He was 38.
Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont on December 23, 1805. The son of a farmer, he entertained his family by telling stories.
Smith says he had a vision from God about which church he should join. According to Smith, God told him not to join a church. In subsequent encounters, Smith says God told him that Jesus had appeared on the North American continent at the same time he was spreading his ministry in the Holy Land.
Smith says he was instructed to find two golden tablets by the angel Moroni. After finding them, Smith says he translated them into what would become the Book of Mormon. Based on these revelations, Smith founded The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) on April 6, 1830.
Smith was very charismatic and persuaded thousands of people to join his church. Western Missouri became a Mormon stronghold. But when rumors of polygamy persisted, several members left the church and civilian authorities in Missouri asked the Mormons to leave.
When their settlements were surrounded by an angry mob in 1837, Smith surrendered, and moved his church to Illinois.
Smith announced he would be a candidate for President of the United States in 1844. So fierce was the opposition to such a candidacy that Smith was imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois on the charge that he was inciting a riot.
Before he could be tried, a mob broke into the jail and hanged him and his brother Hyrum on June 27, 1844.
The remainder of Smith’s congregation followed Mormon leader Brigham Young to Utah where they established a permanent community.