Joseph SmithQUESTION: Who was Joseph Smith?ANSWER:
Joseph Smith was born on December 23, 1805 in Sharon, Vermont to Joseph Smith, Sr., a struggling farmer and sometime treasure hunter who descended from an early American family of more than average means and influence. Lucy Mark Smith, Joseph's mother, was a highly mystical woman who was given to unimaginable tales of exaggeration. Lucy's father claimed experiences of divine visions from God.
At the age of 14, Joseph Smith, Jr. claimed he was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ. In 1823, according to his account, he was visited by an angel who told him of thin golden plates containing an ancient record of God's dealings with the early American inhabitants. During this same time, Smith was enamored of the "seer stones" used in occult practices and gained some small reputation as a clairvoyant able to locate lost objects.
In 1827, Joseph Smith began translating the golden plates using what he claimed as the "gift of God." Three years later, the Book of Mormon was published. In that same year (1830), Smith organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and became its first president. He continued to claim receipt of various prophecies and revelations, earning him the title "The Prophet" until his death in 1844 when he was arrested for treason and murdered by a mob.
Joseph Smith's writings are the foundation of Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). The influences from the occult, Shakers, Quakers, Seekers, teachings of William Miller which formed the basis of the Seventh Day Adventist church, as well as Jewish cabalistic traditions and the Masonic order can all be found throughout Smith's writings. Most of these came out of the nineteenth century religious environment of western New York during his lifetime.
In 1833, ten years before Joseph Smith's death and three years after the publication of the Book of Mormon, the Smith family men were described in an affidavit signed by several prominent citizens of Manchester, New York, as "lazy, indolent, intemperate, destitute of moral character and addicted to vicious habits."