History of the Church Series | BYU Studies

History of the Church Series

February 7, 2018
History of the Church Series
Joseph Smith's 1826 Trial: The Legal Setting
Author Gordon A. Madsen,

This daily feature is an introduction to a full article by Gordon A. Madsen. Each Wednesday we focus on an aspect of church history, beginning in New York in the early 19th century and progressing throughout the year to Utah in the 20th century. To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.

A newer edition of this article was published as a chapter in Sustaining the Law. Follow this link to view the chapter.

Since the subject of the 1826 trial of Joseph Smith has been extensively reported and commented upon, one quite rightly wonders what else is new or old to be said about that blip in Mormon history. However, none of the reports and few of the commentaries have tried to put the trial in the legal context of that day and examined the applicable statutory, procedural, and case law in force in New York in 1826. This essay will attempt to do just that and then reexamine the conclusions drawn by earlier writers.