BYU Studies Articles on The Church History Museum Exhibit: The Heavens are Opened | BYU Studies

BYU Studies Articles on The Church History Museum Exhibit: The Heavens are Opened

Top 10 BYU Studies Articles for Church History Museum Visitors:

*Article cited by the Church History Museum in The Heavens Are Opened exhibition.

The following is a list of additional articles you may find informative to your Church History Museum Visit:

 
Section 1: Religious Awakenings This section of the exhibit helps set the stage for the First Vision by introducing visitors to the religious confusion of Joseph Smith's day.

"Awakenings in the Burned-over District: New Light on the Historical Setting of the First Vision," by Milton V. Backman, Jr., from BYU Studies 9:3

The six decades preceding the Civil War were years of intense religious activity in many sections of the United States. During this second great awakening, sporadic spiritual quickenings erupted throughout the new nation; and many Americans living in the rugged frontier communities, in the rapidly growing urban areas, and in the villages and towns of northern and southern United States turned their attention to organized religion. One of the regions in the new nation that was in an almost constant state of revivalism was western New York. During the first half of the nineteenth century, revivals were so habitual and powerful in the area west of the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains that historians have labeled this ecclesiastical storm center the "Burned-over District."

 

Section 2: One Family's Awakening
This section of the exhibit explores Joseph Smith's religious heritage by introducing several members of his family and explaining their religious beliefs.
The Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family: A Family Process Analysis of a Nineteenth-Century Household

The Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family: A Family Process Analysis of a Nineteenth-Century Household, by Kyle R. Walker

Mormonism began with a single family—the family of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. just how did this family operate, and what characteristics did they exemplify? Although much has been written about this family, little has been produced with the intent of sifting through the historical records to reveal what kind of family this was.

Through careful research, marriage and family therapists have developed several paradigms or models to facilitate family assessment, and these constructs can be used to evaluate a historical family. While there are certain limitations, there also are many constructs that can be successfully evaluated in a historical family. Kyle Walker uses five family process concepts—cohesion, resiliency, religiosity, conflict management, and family work and recreation—to examine historical sources that identify how the Smith family operated.

Joseph Smith's New England Heritage

"Joseph Smith's New England Heritage," by Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard L. Anderson, from BYU Studies 12:3

For more than a century and a half, writers hostile to Mormonism have sought to discredit the ancestors of Joseph Smith. Seeking to undermine the work and claims of the Mormon leader, they have pictured his forebears as neurotic, irreligious, gullible people. In this excellent book, Richard Lloyd Anderson has successfully repudiated the myths and distortions concerning the ancestors of the Prophet.

Drawing upon his dual training as lawyer and historian, Dr. Anderson, professor of history and religion at Brigham Young University, has assembled a solid case based on sound historical evidence—evidence he believes will correct earlier misinterpretations concerning the ancestors of Joseph Smith. The extent and quality of his evidence, gathered during years of research, is evident in his "Notes on Text," running almost sixty pages.

 

Section 3: Pre-Theater Gallery
This section of the exhibit features artwork depicting the First Vision and provides an area where visitors can wait for the theater presentation. The various accounts of the First Vision are also explained here.
Circumstantial Confirmation of the First Vision Through Reminiscences

"Circumstantial Confirmation of the First Vision Through Reminiscences," by Richard L. Anderson, from BYU Studies 9:3

The bread and butter work of the historian is less the divining of bias than a careful reading of his documents to determine just what is said, whether his source is in a position to know the information related, and to what extent each one tells a partial or complete story. Because it is claimed that Joseph Smith's account of the events surrounding his First Vision are not factual, the foregoing procedures must be applied to his own statements and to all other accounts that claim to relate first-hand information about his earliest activities.

Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations

"The Appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith in 1820," by James B. Allen and John W. Welch, in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, by John W. Welch

Joseph Smith spoke and wrote on several occasions about this sublime and formative experience now known as the First Vision. In addition to numerous circumstantial and secondary evidences that have expanded and supported our historical knowledge of this all-important event, ten accounts in thirteen documents have come down to modern readers from the hand or voice or time of Joseph Smith himself. Few events so central to the foundations of any of the world’s religions are so informatively documented.

The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision

"The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision," by Dean C. Jessee, from BYU Studies 9:3

By October 29 of that year, when Joseph left Nauvoo for Washington, D.C., to present the Missouri grievances of his people before the federal government, only fifty-nine pages of his history had been written; and six days after his departure, his scribe James Mulholland died. When Joseph returned to Nauvoo in March 1840, he lamented the passing of his "faithful scribe," and expressed disappointment that an adequate record of his Washington trip had not been kept: "I depended on Dr. Foster to keep my daily journal during this journey, but he has failed me." Robert B. Thompson, who was appointed General Church Clerk on October 3, 1840, continued writing the history where Mulholland left off; however, his untimely death on August 27, 1841, saw only sixteen pages added to the manuscript. By the time Willard Richards was appointed private secretary to the Prophet and General Church Clerk in December 1841, a mere 157 pages of a history that eventually numbered more than two thousand, had been written.

 

Section 4: A New Scripture
This section of the exhibit helps visitors understand what the Book of Mormon is, how it was translated, and why it is so important to members of the Church.
 
Chart 1-2: The Keystone of Our Religion

Chart 1-2: "The Keystone of Our Religion," from Charting the Book of Mormon

Just as a keystone holds an arch in place, knowing that the Book of Mormon is true holds together the edifice of faith built on the sturdy foundation of apostles, prophets, and the Lord Jesus Christ. In this chart, the archway stones representing the restored priesthood and living prophets are similarly reinforced by the keystone truth, as are the stones representing the reality of Christ’s redemptive mission.

Chart 1-9: "Events Surrounding the Translation of the Book of Mormon, 1827-1828," from Charting the Book of Mormon

A timeline of Joseph Smith receiving the plates and beginning the translation of the Book of Mormon, from September 1827 to December 1828.

Chart 1-10: "Events Surrounding Translation of the Book of Mormon, 1829-1830," from Charting the Book of Mormon

A Timeline of Joseph Smith continuing the translation and having the manuscript printed and published.

"The Book of Mormon as an Ancient Book," by C. Wilfred Griggs, from BYU Studies 22:3

The major weakness of the criticisms that attempt to deny the authenticity of the Book of Mormon is the one-dimensional approach taken to problems which the Book of Mormon presents. The assumption that any parallels between the world of Joseph Smith and the world of the Book of Mormon, real or imagined (e.g., the similarities to the account of the dream of Joseph Smith, Sr., in the case of the former, and the superficial points of contact with Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews in the case of the latter), are sufficient to discredit the Book of Mormon is naive. The challenge of the Book of Mormon lies elsewhere. It claims to be an ancient book, and it must be examined and criticized in terms of this claim.

"Where Were the Moroni Visits?" by Russell R. Rich, from BYU Studies 10:3

This article deals with defining the exact date of Alvin Smith's death which helps the author to pinpoint the visits of Moroni.

"The Original Book of Mormon Manuscript," by Dean C. Jessee, from BYU Studies 10:3

While much that has been said regarding the origin of the Book of Mormon is beyond the experience of the average searcher, only as he accepts or rejects the credibility of the earliest witnesses, the existence of the book itself provides a common ground for careful investigation. But beyond this, some surviving, badly weathered fragments of the original manuscript permit a consideration of the Book of Mormon from a paleographic standpoint. It is the purpose of this study to review the history, and consider the handwriting and composition of the remaining segments of the original manuscript for what they may contribute to the credibility of early witnesses regarding the Book of Mormon origin.

"Copyright Laws and the 1830 Book of Mormon," by Nathaniel H. Wadsworth, from BYU Studies 45:3

In the summer of 1829, Joseph Smith completed his translation of the Book of Mormon. One years removed from the harrowing loss of the initial 116 pages of the translation in the summer of 1828, he was determined to not lose this work again, in any sense. On June 11, 1829, Joseph deposited, with the clerk of the Northern District Court of New York, a single printed page that resembled what would become the title page of the 1830 Book of Mormon, in order to secure a copyright in the work. The court clerk, Richard Ray Lansing, generated the official executed copyright form, which he retained; Lansing's record book was eventually deposited in the Library of Congress. In December 2004, this official form and the accompanying title page were photographed by the Library of Congress (see pages 97-99 in this issue), prompting a reevaluation of the law and the events surrounding the original copyright of the Book of Mormon.

Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations

"The Miraculous Translation of the Book of Mormon," by John W. Welch, in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, by John W. Welch

John W. Welch discusses the miraculous three-month translation of the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith. He seeks to answer some of the following questions through analysis and the inclusion of extensive historical documentation: How was this book written? Where did it come from? Joseph Smith testified that he translated the Book of Mormon miraculously, by the gift and power of God. Is that testimony credible? In addition to several contemporaneous references in the Doctrine and Covenants to the translation as it was underway, accounts were left by many of the participants, eyewitnesses, or observant people who were closely associated with the unfolding translation. Welch includes over 200 of these accounts, which, taken together, coalesce into a clear picture of the miraculous time of translation of the Book of Mormon.

"Joseph and Emma: A Slide-Film Presentation," by Buddy Youngreen, from BYU Studies 14:2

Mormon producer Buddy Youngreen created "Joseph and Emma: A Slide-Film Presentation" for a reunion of the Joseph Smith Sr. family. The life of Joseph Smith and Emma Hale Smith was one filled with love and admiration of each other but also tragedy and suffering. As the first Prophet and the first "Elect Lady" of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph and Emma sacrificed much to bring forth the gospel. They led the Church west to Kirtland, Ohio; Missouri; and Nauvoo, Illinois; and tried to create lives for themselves while facing constant persecution. Only a few of their children outlived Joseph and Emma, but the family name continues on. Youngreen provides photographs of Joseph, Emma, and their descendants.

Chart 1-5: "Emma Smith on the Book of Mormon Translation Process, Quote 2," from Charting the Book of Mormon

Answering a question posed by her son Joseph Smith III in 1879, Emma Smith indicated that the Prophet Joseph Smith could not have been the author of the Book of Mormon, for he had neither the writing abilities nor adequate knowledge of ancient Israel. In fact, so limited was Joseph’s knowledge when he translated the plates that he feared he had found an error when he read from the plates of Nephi that the city of Jerusalem was surrounded by a wall.

Chart 2-13: "Book of Mormon Plates and Records," from Charting the Book of Mormon

Many ancient documents such as King Benjamin's speech or the plates of brass were quoted or abridged by the ancient authors who compiled the books found on the small and large plates of Nephi. The abridgments, quotations, and original writings of those Book of Mormon historians are displayed on the left-hand and middle columns of this chart and are then shown in relation to the new set of plates produced by Mormon and Moroni that was delivered to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni. Joseph dictated the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon from the plates of Mormon. Copying that original manuscript, parts of which survive today, Oliver Cowdery prepared a printer's manuscript (owned by the RLDS Church). The first edition of the Book of Mormon was typeset from that printer's manuscript.

"'The Testimony of Men': William E. McLellin and the Book of Mormon Witnesses," by Mitchell K. Schaefer, BYU Studies 50:1

William E. McLellin (1806–1883) was an early Mormon Apostle who later left the Church. In his later years he questioned the authority of founder Joseph Smith, but he always said he believed that the Book of Mormon was truly the word of God. In 1871, he wrote a notebook in which he recorded his contacts with men who had filled special roles as Book of Mormon witnesses in 1829.

 

Section 5: Restoration
This section of the exhibit helps visitors understand the events surrounding the restoration of the priesthood and the organization of the Church.

"Priesthood Restoration Documents," by Brian Q. Cannon and BYU Studies Staff, from BYU Studies 35:4

Few events in the history of the Restoration are as consequential as the bestowal of the priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. The following excerpts from early Church documents recount all of the known direct statements from the first twenty years of Church history specifically concerning the restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods. In addition to compiling the descriptions that were written or dictated by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, this collection also includes the accounts by contemporaries of Joseph and Oliver up to the time of Cowdery's death in 1850. Reflecting information that was probably gleaned from conversations or unrecorded discourses of Joseph and Oliver, a few of these statements offer details unavailable elsewhere. Additionally, these statements help to reveal early Church members' understanding of the restoration of the priesthood and show how they described the priesthood restoration to others.

"Legal Insights into the Organization of the Church in 1830," by David Keith Stott, from BYU Studies 49:2

While much has been written about the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in upstate New York, questions remain regarding the events of April 6, 1830. This article examines the organizational events of the Church from a legal perspective. In the nineteenth century, individuals desiring to form a church had two legal alternatives: forming a religious corporation or organizing a religious society. Understanding the requirements of each and considering which legal entity the Church would have preferred provide new insights into the organizational events.

"An Examination of the 1829 'Articles of the Church of Christ' in Relation to Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants," by Scott H. Faulring, from BYU Studies 43:4

The 1829 "Articles of the Church of Christ" is a little-known antecedent to section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants. This article explores Joseph Smith's and Oliver Cowdery's involvement in bringing forth these two documents that were important in laying the foundation for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Section 20 was originally labeled the "Articles and Covenants." It was the first revelation canonized by the restored Church and the most lengthy revelation given before the first priesthood conference was held in June 1830. Scriptural commentators in recent years have described the inspired set of instructions in section 20 as "a constitution for the restored church." In many respect, the Articles and Covenants was the Church's earliest General Handbook of Instructions. Although Latter-day Saints typically associate the Articles and Covenants with the organization of the Church on April 6, 1830, this regulatory document had roots in earlier events: in the earliest latter-day revelations, in statements on Church ordinances and organization from the Book of Mormon, and in the preliminary set of Articles written by Oliver Cowdery in the last half of 1829.

 

Section 6: Ohio and Missouri
This section of the exhibit covers a time when the Church was centered in two areas: Kirtland, Ohio, and Independence, Missouri and includes the building of the Kirtland Temple.

"Mormon Origins in New York: An Introductory Analysis," by James B. Allen, from BYU Studies 9:3

In the fall of 1967 a small group of Mormon historians met in Salt Lake City to discuss the problems involved in writing the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were concerned with the history of the Church and its background in New York from 1820 to 1830, the decade which may be called the period of Mormon origins. Well aware that most books and articles on Mormonism say something about the period, they were also aware that no searching, in-depth analysis had yet been made of the entire decade. It was apparent that all periods of Mormon history were crying for more study and fresh historical analysis, but New York seemed the logical place to begin.

"Light on the 'Mission to the Lamanites'," by Leland H. Gentry, from BYU Studies 36:2

In September 1830, the Lord called Oliver Cowdery by revelation to "go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them" (D&C 28:8). The call came a few months after the United States Congress had passed the Indian Removal Bill, an act providing for the relocation of all tribes within United States borders to points beyond.

Peter Whitmer Jr., Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, and Frederick Williams also received calls to preach to the Lamanites. The 1831 expulsion of these missionaries from Indian territory and their subsequent proposal to establish territorial schools are documented in letters from the contending parties, which are reproduced at the end of this article.

"The Impact of the First Preaching in Ohio," by Richard L. Anderson, from BYU Studies 11:4

Specific plans to preach the restored gospel in the west matured during the second conference after Church organization, held late September, 1830. The missionary theme was prominent during the three-day duration of this conference. The official minutes summarize what was probably the first missionary farewell in LDS history: "Singing and prayer in behalf of Brother Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer, Jr., who were previously appointed to go to the Lamanites." The Ohio labors of Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, and their companions doubled the membership of the Church and created a solid nucleus for rapid growth and a secure, if temporary, gathering location. One must assess the impact of these four men in four weeks with a certain awe.

"A Non-Mormon View of the Birth of Mormonism in Ohio," by Milton V. Backman, Jr., from BYU Studies 12:3

Josiah Jones, a resident of Kirtland at the time of the introduction of Mormonism in Ohio, wrote in 1831 one of the earliest accounts of the rise of the Restored Church in the Western Reserve. This account was published in The Evangelist (June 1841), a Disciple publication edited by Walter Scott. According to Scott, Jones "was one of the faithful few belonging to the church in Kirtland, who refused to follow Rigdon when he made a surrender of himself and his flock to the Mormons."

"The Chronology of the Ohio Revelations," by Earl E. Olson, from BYU Studies 11:4

Close to one-half of the sections in the Doctrine and Covenants were given in Ohio. Many of these contained fundamental doctrines and principles which were of major importance in the development of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in its formative years. This article presents a table containing chronological information and detailed data on the Ohio revelations, as well as sections on the identification of the manuscript, the problem of errors in recording, and the historical setting.

"The Quest for a Restoration: The Birth of Mormonism in Ohio," by Milton V. Backman, Jr., from BYU Studies 12:4

After learning of the significant increase in Church membership in Ohio during the winter of 1830–1831, many ask why the conversions were so numerous in that section of America. Why was the Western Reserve such a fruitful field ready to harvest at the beginning of the 1830s? An examination of the religious conditions in Kirtland and vicinity in 1830 provides one key describing the fertile conditions prevailing there then. Immediately prior to the introduction of Mormonism in the Western Reserve, four Christian societies worshipped in Kirtland—Congregationalists, Methodists, Regular Baptists, and a group sometimes called "reformers" who were not affiliated with any denomination but were seeking a return to New Testament Christianity. As clearly enunciated in many revelations recorded by the Prophet Joseph Smith, the field was white, all ready to harvest, and one of the most fruitful fields in the early nineteenth century was northeastern Ohio.

"The Appearance of Elijah and Moses in the Kirtland Temple and the Jewish Passover," by Stephen D. Ricks, from BYU Studies 23:4

A brief note in the History of the Church under the date of Sunday, 3 April 1836, records the appearance of the Lord, Moses, Elias, and Elijah to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple. Subsequent writers have noted that this date corresponds to the Jewish Passover, during which the arrival of Elijah is traditionally awaited. A parenthetical note in the Missionary Training Manual: For Use in the Jewish Proselyting Program states the correlation of the two events emphatically. There we are informed that Elijah appeared in the Kirtland Temple "at about the same hour that the Jewish families in that time zone would have been preparing to begin their feast of the Passover." These statements, although correct in their identification of the Jewish Passover with the ritual expectation of Elijah and in their connecting the time of the appearance of Elijah in the Kirtland Temple with the Passover season, warrant further elucidation and modest chronological correction.

"The Kirtland Temple," by Lauritz G. Peterson, from BYU Studies 12:4

The Kirtland Temple stands to this day as a physical link with the Church's beginnings—the first of first temples. It became a place of revelation, communion, inspired learning—a place of awe and joy. Today millions revere it as a place of sacred awakening, and above all, a House of God. As a prelude to endowment, the Kirtland Temple served as a place to receive those keys necessary for these unfolding powers which the Prophet taught were essential to a fullness of the glory of God. The details of the marvelous structure of the temple are referenced in early revelations and drawings.

"The Failure of the Kirtland Safety Society," by Scott H. Partridge, from BYU Studies 12:4

The argument over the Kirtland Safety Society is typical of historical discussions in which much is made about the "facts" of a situation. It is as if the truth were somewhere "out there" and if we could somehow manage to separate fact from opinion, we would know what really happened. This idea neglects to consider the point that the facts of history seldom come to us in pure form, since they are always filtered through the mind of the historian who wrote them. There are no "facts" waiting in splendid isolation for discovery by the historian, but only the observations of earlier writers who had their own prejudices. Thus, the anti-Mormon writer who sees the "facts" as damning to the Church and the pro-Mormon writer who sees them as further proof of the validity of his own argument might be wise in working to obtain a broader perspective of the problem in order to reevaluate that which they have come to accept as fact. The purpose of this paper is to reexamine the story of the Kirtland Safety Society.

"Missouri Mormon Manuscripts: Sources in Selected Societies," by Stanley B. Kimball, from BYU Studies 14:4

The Missouri period (January 1831–July 1839) was a dramatic and troublesome time in the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the period may be one of the best documented times of Church history, a search of three Missouri archives turned up over 250 unpublished documents, which add considerably to our knowledge and understanding of that difficult time. Mormon historian Stanley B. Kimball discusses the content of these materials, including details about anti-Mormon military and political affairs, the trials of Joseph Smith and others, facts about an Iowa-based attempt to kidnap the Prophet, and many other details about Mormons in Missouri. This study adds 73 new and relatively unknown documents to Missouri Mormon history from Jackson County, Clay County, and Caldwell County, Missouri.

"The Missouri Redress Petitions: A Reappraisal of Mormon Persecutions in Missouri," by Clark V. Johnson, from BYU Studies 26:2

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began settling western Missouri in 1831 during the Jacksonian era, at a time when small Utopian religious communities dotted the land west of the Allegheny Mountains. Their prophet-leader, Joseph Smith, dedicated several sites in Jackson County for the future use of the Church, and with determination the Mormons began to build their homes on the Missouri frontier. As early as April 1832, troubles arose between the Mormons and their Missouri neighbors, and in 1833 mobs drove the Mormons from Jackson County. Most of the exiles settled in Clay County, but some moved north and east to the counties of Ray, Clinton, LaFayette, Carroll, Chariton, Randoph, and Monroe, and to areas that later came to be known as Daviess and Caldwell counties. Here the Saints remained long enough to build homes and plant crops. Then in 1836, mobs again began to gather in response to continuing Mormon migration from eastern states and to agitation by Jackson County residents.

"Revelation, Text, and Revision: Insight from the Book of Commandments and Revelations," by Grant Underwood, from BYU Studies 48:3

This article is one of several in this issue about the Book of Commandments and Revelations (BCR), a foundational document of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This article explores how the textual revisions preserved in the BCR shed important light on the process by which Joseph Smith received, recorded, and published his revelations. It has long been recognized that revelations published in the 1833 Book of Commandments were revised for publication in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. Less well known is that those texts were also edited prior to publication in the Book of Commandments or The Evening and the Morning Star. What has been entirely unknown, however, until the BCR became available, is the extent of those earliest revisions. Literally hundreds of redactions, usually involving only a word or two but sometimes comprising an entire phrase, were inscribed in the BCR between 1831 and 1833. A corollary contribution of the BCR, therefore, is the possibility of seeing the wording behind the revisions. For dozens of revelation texts, this provides the earliest wording now extant. While we cannot be certain that the unrevised wording of the revelation texts in the BCR, or any other prepublication manuscript for that matter, corresponds exactly to the texts of the revelations as Joseph Smith originally dictated them, they appear to be very close.

"Platting the City Beautiful: A Historical and Archaeological Glimpse of Nauvoo Streets," by Donald L. Enders, from BYU Studies 19:3

In the spring of 1839 the Latter-day Saints began arriving at their newly appointed gathering place on the Upper Mississippi. There they established Nauvoo, destined to become by December 1845 one of the two largest cities in Illinois.

Its design had been most influenced by the plat for the "City of Zion" at Independence, Missouri. Zion was to be one mile square, divided by wide streets into blocks of ten acres, which in turn would be subdivided into twenty equal lots. A home and outbuildings would be erected on each lot, with sufficient space for garden, fruit trees, and domestic animals. No specific provision was made for the location of industrial or commercial establishments. With farms clusters outside the city limits, Zion would be an agricultural community with the benefits of city life as well. As new converts gathered, the city would be enlarged until it reached predetermined proportions; other Zion communities would then be created as needed.

"The Political and Social Realities of Zion's Camp," by Richard L. Anderson and Peter L. Crawley, from BYU Studies 14:4

Ever since Zion's Camp marched out of Kirtland, Ohio, in May 1834, its journey has been one of Mormon history's more controversial events. BYU professors Peter Crawley and Richard L. Anderson review the facts and evaluate the context of political and social forces that brought Zion's Camp into and out of existence. After being expelled from Jackson County, Missouri, the Latter-day Saints asked Governor Daniel Dunklin for assistance in returning to their homes in Jackson County. The governor promised a protective force, but he did not promise a force to protect them once they were back in the county. The Saints knew they would be expelled again, since the Jackson County mob was constantly making threats. A council in Kirtland decided to begin the expedition to take back Mormon lands in Jackson County, and Zion's Camp was created so that the Saints would be able to retain their property once they returned there. However, Governor Dunklin eventually shifted his position and no longer would provide a force to help the Saints regain their property, out of a very real fear that civil war would erupt in Missouri. Without government assistance, Zion's Camp had no real political recourse but to disband.

"Revelations in Context: Joseph Smith's Letter from Liberty Jail, March 20, 1839," by John W. Welch and Dean C. Jessee, from BYU Studies 39:3

While Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail, he wrote or dictated eight surviving letters. Four were addressed to Emma, his wife, and all of them display the sterling character of the Prophet Joseph under trials of the most extreme conditions imaginable. His letter of March 20, 1839, directed to the Saints and to Bishop Partridge in particular, is one of the most revealing and most significant letters ever written by a prophet of God in the dispensation of the fullness of times. Embedded in this lengthy letter, which was written in two parts on twenty-nine sheets of paper, are the words now contained in sections 121–23 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Reading the words of those revelations in their original context certainly enhances and heightens the impressive spiritual messages of those texts.

 

Section 7: Nauvoo
This section of the exhibit covers the final years of Joseph Smith's life and the time between the martyrdom and the exodus from Nauvoo, including the building of the Nauvoo Temple.

"Nauvoo Observed," by William Mulder, from BYU Studies 32:1-2

In the 1840s, Mormons and non-Mormons were attracted to Nauvoo by its buildings, notably the Nauvoo Temple and the Nauvoo House, twin symbols of the city's sacred and secular nature; by its Mormon people, who were usually less peculiar than expected; and by the famed Prophet Joseph Smith. In this article, Mulder draws on the descriptions of Nauvoo preserved in letters and diaries to tell the story of the "City of the Mormons" in its prime. W. Aiken from Ashton-under-Lyne, England; Josiah Quincy from Boston, Massachusetts; and Charlotte Haven from Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and many others describe the city, the people, and the Prophet in candid, opinionated detail.

"Doctrine and the Temple in Nauvoo," by Larry C. Porter and Milton V. Backman, Jr., from BYU Studies 32:1-2

A special issue about historic Nauvoo, Illinois, in the 1840s includes articles on the history of the city itself and the importance of events that took place there. LDS Presidency First Counselor Gordon B. Hinckley shares his feelings about beautiful Nauvoo. LDS Elder Loren C. Dunn overviews the modern restoration of important buildings in Nauvoo, and Kenneth Stobaugh chronicles the restoration process. Historians Larry C. Porter and Milton V. Backman Jr. write on the doctrine that was first taught in Nauvoo and the importance of the temple. William G. Hartley writes on the organization of the Nauvoo Stake, priesthood quorums and wards. Bruce A. Van Orden tells of William W. Phelps's service in Nauvoo as Joseph Smith's political clerk, and Dale LeBaron writes about B. F. Johnson, friend of the Prophet Joseph. William Mulder writes on how visitors saw Nauvoo. Kenneth Godfrey overviews crime and punishment in Nauvoo, and Marshall Hamilton looks at the two-year period after Joseph Smith's assassination, when the Mormons left Nauvoo. Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Jeffery Cottle display historic photographs and tell of their use in the restoration process. A little-known speech by Lucy Mack Smith in the Nauvoo Temple in 1845 tells her story of the LDS Church's foundation. Going farther afield, Dennis Rowley writes on the Mormon experience in the Wisconsin pineries during the time the LDS Church was headquartered in Nauvoo, 1841-1845, and Susan Sessions Rugh writes on conflicts at the LDS settlement at Macedonia, Illinois.

"Nauvoo Polygamy: '...but we called it celestial marriage,'" by Thomas G. Alexander and George D. Smith, from BYU Studies 50:3

Although focusing on the introduction of plural marriage by Joseph Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy is also an analysis of the background of pre-Mormon polygamy, a consideration of the expansion of the institution, and the testimony of those who entered it. Significantly, it is the first attempt since Todd Compton's In Sacred Loneliness to provide a critical list and analysis of the women whom Joseph married. It is not, however, an attempt to provide a statistical analysis of plural marriage, and its consideration of the operation of plural family life is much shorter than we find in the works of Kathryn Daynes and Jessie Embry. Rather, it essays more on the organizational aspects of the practice, the antecedent practices, and the opposition to the practice. It also focuses more on internal opposition rather than on outside political pressure, as found in Sarah Barringer Gordon's The Mormon Question.

"The Judicial Campaign against Polygamy and the Enduring Legal Questions," by Edwin B. Firmage, from BYU Studies 27:3

Officially acknowledged as part of LDS church doctrine in 1852, polygamy soon became a national issue. But weak laws, tenuous federal control in Utah Territory, and national distraction with other issues prevented effective enforcement of the antipolygamy laws until the 1880s. Congress's first attempt to deal with polygamy was the Morrill Act. It was not passed until 1862, ten years after the Church first announced its practice of polygamy, and then went largely unenforced for the next thirteen years. At least four reasons explain why the Mormons were left in relative peace for so long. First, when polygamy became an issue, the nation's energies were distracted by more pressing problems—the Civil War and Reconstruction. The fight for national survival forced the Mormon problem to wait. Second, the handful of federal officials in Utah during the 1860s did not believe they possessed the means to enforce compliance with the unpopular polygamy act. This attitude was not unfounded. In 1863 the mere rumor that Brigham Young was about to be arrested for polygamy provoked two thousand armed Mormons to assemble at his home to resist the arrest.

"Habeas Corpus in Early Nineteenth-Century Mormonism: Joseph Smith's Legal Bulwark for Personal Freedom," by Jeffrey N. Walker, from BYU Studies 52:1

After Joseph Smith's incarceration in Liberty Jail in Liberty, Missouri, in 1838-1839, Smith believed that he would not survive another imprisonment. It was in fact his jailing in Illinois that ended in his murder in 1844. This paper explores Smith's use of writs of habeas corpus to combat those who sought his imprisonment. Walker introduces the reader to the historical use of habeas corpus and provides an analysis of the use of this writ within the American legal system during Smith's lifetime. Walker then applies this understanding to specific instances where Joseph Smith employed the writ; from his imprisonment at Liberty to the first two extradition efforts by the Missourians to the enactment of various habeas corpus ordinances by the Nauvoo City Council. While critics have argued that Smith's use of habeas corpus was overreaching, Walker's work brings a new perspective to more accurately understand Smith's use of habeas corpus in the context of the law and practice in his day.

"The Council of Fifty and Its Members, 1844 to 1945," by D. Michael Quinn, from BYU Studies 20:2

Many scholarly studies of the Council of Fifty have tended to distort insufficient evidence and sometimes to sensationalize their interpretations. This article's research into the documents and historical environment of the Council of Fifty requires a rewriting of these scholarly and highly popular interpretations rather than a rewriting of Mormon history in light of these previous interpretations of the Council of Fifty. The primary role of the Council of Fifty was to symbolize the other-worldly world order that would be establised during the millennial reign. The secondarly role involved literal, practical functions. The author divides his study of the Council of Fifty into the following: establishment, names, purposes, activity, supervision, membership, officers, legacy.

"The Campaign and the Kingdom: The Activities of the Electioneers in Joseph Smith's Presidential Campaign," by Margaret C. Robertson, from BYU Studies 39:3

Despite all that has been written on the Prophet's candidacy, the electioneers themselves have been almost completely ignored. Some historians have seen the sheer number of electioneers as prima facie evidence that Joseph seriously believed he could become president. In this essay, Robertson does not attempted to prove whether the electioneers deemed their prophet's campaign viable, rather, to examine the available journals and autobiographies of the campaigners in an attempt to illuminate some of the possible reasons for and effects of the campaign. While many of the electioneers gave political addresses and distributed copies of Joseph Smith's platform, in the main, their activities did more to strengthen the Church than to present the Prophet to the nation as a presidential candidate.

"The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith and His Brother Hyrum by Dan Jones," by Ronald D. Dennis, from BYU Studies 24:1

Dan Jones, a Welsh immigrant and convert, accompanied Joseph and Hyrum Smith to Carthage and was with them in the jail during their last night in mortality. On that occasion the Prophet uttered his final prophecy; he declared that Jones would live through the events in Carthage and return to his native Wales and fulfill the mission to which he had been called earlier."

Dan Jones fulfilled Joseph Smith's prophecy within just a few months after the Martyrdom by returning to his native Wales and serving a four-year mission among his compatriots. He broke through the barriers of opposition by use of the printing press. Among his publications was a small book of 104 pages entitled History of the Latter-day Saints, from their establishment in the year 1823 until the time that three hundred thousand of them were exiled from America because of their religion, in the year 1846. A mosaic whose component parts originated from several different sources, the history was advertised as being just off the press in July 1847. Over thirty percent of the book was written by Jones and was based on his personal experience after converting to Mormonism four years earlier. Part of Jones's original portion is his account of the Martyrdom, one of the first published accounts by one who was with Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage. Because Dan Jones's Welsh report of the Martyrdom has remained untranslated until now, it has been unavailable to the majority of those interested in Church history.

"John Taylor's June 27, 1854, Account of the Martyrdom," by LaJean P. Carruth and Mark L. Staker, from BYU Studies 50:3

On June 27, 1854, John Taylor, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave what appears to be his first public address sharing his eyewitness account of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Two scribes, George D. Watt and Thomas Bullock, recorded the meeting. George D. Watt's skill with Pitman shorthand enabled him to work quickly. He recorded these sermons virtually verbatim, only occasionally missing a few words as he strove to keep up with the speakers. Most of what Watt recorded survives in his 1854 papers in a bound notebook. Two-thirds of John Taylor's address was recorded in this notebook. The last third of the address was recorded in another notebook, which either no longer exists or has not been located.

"The Mantle of the Prophet Joseph Passes to Brother Brigham: A Collective Spiritual Witness," by Lynne W. Jorgensen and BYU Studies Staff, from BYU Studies 36:4

On August 8, 1844, six weeks after the Prophet Joseph Smith's martyrdom, a meeting of the Saints was held in Nauvoo, Illinois. Brigham Young, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and several other Apostles had just returned from missions. The purpose of the meeting was to determine by vote who had the right and responsibility to lead the Church--Sidney Rigdon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, or the Quorum of the Twelve with Brigham Young at their head. In the course of the two meetings held that day, many in attendance received a divine witness that Brigham Young was to be the next leader: some Saints specifically state that as Brigham Young addressed the congregation he sounded and appeared remarkably like Joseph Smith, others simply say that the "mantle of Joseph" or "of the prophets" rested on Brigham Young, and others state that they were given a witness "by the spirit" that Brigham was to lead the Church.

"I Roll the Burthen and Responsibility of Leading This Church Off from My Shoulders on to Yours: The 1844/1845 Declaration of the Quorum of the Twelve Regarding Apostolic Succession," by Alexander L. Baugh and Richard N. Holzapfel, from BYU Studies 49:3

The document presented and discussed in this paper is one of the most important early Latter-day Saint manuscripts associated with both the final months of Joseph Smith's life and the postmartyrdom (or apostolic) interregnum period. Written in late 1844 or early 1845, the document appears to have been drafted for possible use as an official statement by the Twelve concerning Joseph Smith's "last charge" to them, given at a special meeting held in late March 1844, three months before his death. On this occasion, the Prophet conferred upon the Twelve the priesthood keys and authority necessary to lead the Church following his death. The document is a powerful, declarative, united testimony that the Twelve were the authorized legal successors to Joseph Smith. Furthermore, the declaration provides valuable historical information concerning the March meeting—including where the meeting was held, which members of the Twelve were present, and the core of what Joseph Smith said on that occasion.