The Prophet Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith Jr. was born in Sharon Vermont to Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. In 1820, at the age of fourteen Joseph had an experience that changed his life. In answer to a prayer about which church to join he had a vision where he saw Heavenly Father and Christ. They informed him that all of the Churches were wrong and that he should join none of them.
During the night of September 21, 1823 Joseph Smith was visited five times by an angel named Moroni. Moroni told Joseph of ancient records known as the gold plates. He was not yet allowed to handle the plates but was visited each year on the same day by the angel Moroni for four years to receive instruction.
On January 18, 1827 Joseph married Emma Hale. That same year in September, Joseph was given the gold plates by the angel Moroni. He was also given the Urim and Thummim, objects that helped in the translation of the Book of Mormon. He then began working on the translation.
On May 15, 1829 John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood. Joseph and Oliver baptized each other as instructed. A short time later Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Melchizedek Priesthood from the Apostles Peter, James and John.
In June of 1829 Joseph completed the translation of the Book of Mormon, and by March 26, 1830 the first printed copies of the Book of Mormon were available. On April 6, 1830 Joseph officially organized the Church in Fayette, New York.
On March 18, 1833 the First Presidency of the Church was organized with Joseph Smith as the President and Prophet and Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams as counselors. On May 8, 1834 Joseph led Zion’s Camp, a group of men who had volunteered to help the members of the Mormon Church under attack from the mobs in Missouri. Zion’s camp did not stop the persecutions of the Mormons in Missouri but did teach Joseph Smith and others who went a great deal about leadership. In 1835, the Doctrine and Covenants, which contained all of Joseph Smith’s revelation concerning the Church thus far, were accepted as a standard work of the Church.
On March 27, 1836 the Kirtland Temple was completed and dedicated. Just a few days later on April 3, Jesus Christ, Moses, Elias, and Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple to restore priesthood keys. From December 1838 until April 1839 Joseph Smith was held in Liberty Jail in Missouri on exaggerated charges. He was allowed to escape because his captors knew the charges would not hold in court.
By 1844 trouble was escalating between the Saints and their neighbors and Joseph and Hyrum turned themselves over to government officials. Joseph and Hyrum were sent to Carthage Jail, where on June 27, 1844 both were killed by a mob.