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Mormon Prophet Flees Ohio

Mormon Prophet Flees Ohio
January 12
15:26 2018

On this day, 180 years ago, Mormon prophet Joseph Smith fled Ohio to avoid possible criminal charges.

A financial crisis swept the country in 1838 and led to the failure of the first Mormon-controlled bank, which had been founded by Smith in Kirtland, Ohio.

Some of his disillusioned former followers claimed that Smith had mismanaged their money. To avoid possible arrest Smith and the rest of his supporters fled to Missouri. Smith left Ohio on January 12, 1838.

A deeply sensitive and religious man, Smith – who was born in Sharon, Vermont in 1805 – claimed that in 1823, when he was 18, an angel named Moroni visited him and told him he would become a modern prophet. For four years Smith said he visited a hill in upstate New York where he received instructions. In 1827 he found golden tablets inscribed with a mysterious language. A year later Smith caused a stir when he announced his finding and intention to publish a new scripture.

In 1830 he published 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon.

This was an era of intense religious revivalism in America. Instead of the rugged individualism, Smith’s Latter-Day Saints emphasized working together for the good of all.

He gathered many followers in western New York, but the path to Utah would be long and arduous. Smith, himself, would not live to reach Utah.

After fleeing Ohio, Smith and his followers lived in Missouri, where rumors and exaggerations of polygamy forced them to move again. In 1839 they went to the Illinois wilderness where Smith founded the town of Nauvoo.

In 1844 Smith brought renewed scrutiny on himself and dislike on his church when his supporters destroyed a newspaper that had criticized the prophet. Making matters worse, Smith decided to run for president. In June of that year a 1,500-man force surrounded Nauvoo.

To prevent bloodshed Smith – and his brother, Hiram – agreed to surrender. They were jailed in the nearby town of Carthage.

On June 27, 1844 a mob broke into the jail and lynched Smith and his brother.

Some thought the religious movement Smith started would fade after his death, instead it grew stronger under the capable leadership of Brigham Young.


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