Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./Legacy/051909

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A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia: Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./Legacy
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An analysis of Wikipedia article "Joseph Smith, Jr." (Version 19 May 2009)

Succession

- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Succession Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion
1A

After Joseph Smith's death, schisms threatened to rend the early Mormon church.

  • Brodie, 398.
2A

Smith had not explicitly chosen a successor, although there is evidence that he had blessed his son Joseph III with the understanding that he would eventually succeed him.

  • Ostlings, 42.
  • The church had published a revelation in 1841 stating, "I say unto my servant Joseph, In thee, and in thy seed, shall the kindred of the earth be blessed." [[s:The Doctrine and Covenants/Covenant 107#18cTemplate:!Covenant 107:18c]] and this prophecy was interpreted as endorsing the concept of Lineal Succession.
  • Evidence also suggests that Smith set apart his son as his successor at other places, including Liberty (Joseph Smith III and the Restoration (Herald House, 1952), 13.) and Nauvoo. (Autumn Leaves, 1: 202).
  • Indeed, as late as 1860, Brigham Young assured the bulk of Smith's followers that young Joseph would eventually take his father's place. (Journal of Discourses, 8: 69.)
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Synthesis off-site: Do not put together information from multiple sources to reach a conclusion that is not stated explicitly by any of the sources.

    The sources provided do not support the assertion that Brigham stated that "young Joseph would eventually take his father's place."
  • Brigham said,

What of Joseph Smith's family? What of his boys? I have prayed from the beginning for sister Emma and for the whole family. There is not a man in this Church that has entertained better feelings towards them. Joseph said to me, "God will take care of my children when I am taken." They are in the hands of God, and when they make their appearance before this people, full of his power, there are none but what will say—"Amen! we are ready to receive you."

The brethren testify that brother Brigham is brother Joseph's legal successor. You never heard me say so. I say that I am a good hand to keep the dogs and wolves out of the flock. I do not care a groat who rises up. I do not think anything about being Joseph's successor.Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:69.

  • Brigham's comment "we are ready to receive you" applied to all of Joseph's children, not just Joseph Smith III.
  • Ostlings, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise (p. 42) state: "There is historical evidence that Joseph Smith blessed his son, Joseph III, with the intention that the boy would become his successor, but the boy was only eleven when his father was murdered." The endnotes, however, do not provide any supporting references for this claim.
  •  References not included in the Wikipedia article
    Brigham was quite adamant that Joseph Smith III would not lead the church:

Joseph Smith that now is living in the state of Illinois, the son of Joseph the Prophet, will never lead the Latter-day Saints: he may lead apostates.
Brigham Young Addresses, Given in SLC Bowery, 7 October 1863, HDC, Ms d 1234, Box 49 fd 11

3A

But the boy was only eleven when his father was murdered. William Clayton, one of Smith's confidants and secretaries, declared that Smith had recently said that if he and Hyrum were removed, a younger brother, Samuel H. Smith should be his successor.

  • Clayton Journal, July 12, 1844, quoted in Bushman (2005), 555. Because of the long controversy between the Utah and Missouri churches, the succession question has been extensively debated in both popular and scholarly publications.
4A

Samuel died a month later.

  • Bushman (2005), 555.
5A

The "unstable character" of another brother, William Smith, prevented him from becoming a serious contender.

6A

A fairly recent convert, James J. Strang, produced a counterfeit letter from Smith commissioning him to lead the church.

  • Bushman (2005), 555. Strang also claimed he had been ordained by an angel.
7A

Although Strang's previous relationship with Smith and the Saints had been minimal, he was able to produce revelations with a seerstone and discovered another set of supernatural writings, the Voree Plates. Strang attracted two thousand followers, including William Smith, Martin Harris, and John C. Bennett; but Strang was assassinated in 1856 after he began to practice polygamy.

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