Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, or church of Latter Day Saints, born at Sharon, Vt., Dec. 23, 1805, killed at Carthage, 111., June 27, 1814. His parents, of Scotch descent, early removed to Palmyra, N. Y. The family was disreputable, and Joseph's education was very defective. With the aid of Sidney Rigdon he brought forth the " Book of Mormon," which he pretended to have discovered under angelic guidance, written on plates and hidden in the earth; and on this he founded and organized his church in Manchester, N. Y., April 0, 1830. In 1831 he went with his disciples to Kirtland, O., and erected a costly but very singular temple. Here Smith and Rigdon engaged in fraudulent banking, were tarred and feathered for this and other offences in 1832, and after the failure of their bank in January, 1838, tied to Missouri. There, in a town named Far West, Smith's disciples gathered; but their irregularities occasioned an outbreak against them, and their speedy removal to Hancock county, 111., where they built a city called Nauvoo, and constructed another costly temple.
Here Smith, who combined in his own person the chief military, municipal, and ecclesiastical offices, introduced polygamy under a pretended revelation; but several outraged husbands revolted and established an opposition press, which Smith with a mob demolished. For this warrants were issued against Smith, his brother Hyrum, and others. The Smiths refused obedience to the authorities, the state militia were summoned, and war was threatened; but they were finally induced to surrender, and were imprisoned. Fearing their release, a mob gathered, overcame the prison guard, and shot the prisoners dead, Joseph defending himself with a revolver till his ammunition failed. (See Mormons).