Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./1831 to 1838/051909

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A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia: Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./1831 to 1838
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An analysis of Wikipedia article "Joseph Smith, Jr." (Version 19 May 2009)

1831 to 1834: Kirtland

Growth and persecution

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

Sidney Rigdon's supporters more than doubled the number of Latter Day Saints, and when the comparatively well-educated and oratorically gifted Rigdon became Smith's closest adviser, he aroused the resentment of some of Smith's earliest followers.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 123-24
  •  Citation abuse— The meaning of a source quotation has been altered, or the source used does not support the author's conclusion.
    Violated by John "Foxe" —Diff: off-site

    While the statement "aroused the resentment of some of Smith's earliest followers" is technically true, it is not a precise use of the cited source. Bushman says that "[r]esentment and jealousy tinged [David] Whitmer's comments about Rigdon because he had 'soon worked himself deep into Brother Joseph's affections, and had more influence over him than any other man living.'" (Bushman, p. 124). It would be more correct to state that David Whitmer expressed resentment.
2A

The Kirtland saints also exhibited unusual spiritual gifts such as loud prophesying, speaking in unknown tongues, swinging from house joists, and rolling on the ground. With some difficulty, Smith managed to check the most extreme forms of religious enthusiasm.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 150-52;
  • Brodie (1945) , p. 99
  • Bushman, p. 151: "Joseph had to restrain the excesses without discouraging spiritual gifts altogether."
3A

Although in Ohio Smith and his family had to live as guests in other people's homes, this period saw a prolific increase in Smith's revelations. Following the completion of the Book of Mormon, Smith rarely any longer used his seer stone; and later "translations" were not based on purported ancient writings. He now received supernatural direction "whether a text lay before him or not."

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 131-32
  •  Citation abuse— The meaning of a source quotation has been altered, or the source used does not support the author's conclusion.
    Violated by John "Foxe" —Diff: off-site

    The wiki editor has modified the citation, although this appears to be an unintentional transcription error, since the meaning is unchanged.
  • Bushman states, "Joseph received the words by 'revelation,' whether or not a text lay before him."
  • The editor originally inserted the text,

As Richard Bushman has said, "He received the words by 'revelation,' whether a text lay before him or not."

  • The editor then performed a "stylistic tweak" by changing it to read,

He now received supernatural direction "whether a text lay before him or not."

4A

From the early 1830s came the Book of Moses (which included a long passage about the biblical Enoch) as well as an attempt to revise the Bible.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 130-43
5A

Smith also collected his earlier revelations, which believers had already begun to treat as sacred texts, and published them in 1833 as the Book of Commandments (later, the Doctrine and Covenants).

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 128.
  • It should be noted that although Bushman states that "Joseph's revelations were published as the Book of Commandments," that formal publication was never actually achieved due to the destruction of the printing press.
6A

In early 1831, revelations instructed Smith to organize a new social system, called the United Order, in preparation for the coming millennium. Members were required to consecrate their property to the church so that "every man may receive according as he stands in need."

  • Smith's instructions were explicit: "But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin." D&C, 49:20.
7A

As Richard Bushman has written, "The experiment was a failure, and the two-year existence of the system was about average for the various communal experiments being undertaken in the period."

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 152-55; 182-83.
8A

By 1832, the twenty-six-year-old Smith led an organization of about a thousand followers. Not only were the burdens of his office beyond his experience, some disaffected former followers accused Smith of dictatorial ambition, deceiving the credulous, and the intent to take their frontier property.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 178-79: The two instigators of the mob were former Mormons Ezra Booth and Symonds Ryder. Booth claimed that Smith "was an insidious fraud. Behind Joseph's plans for Zion, Booth saw a plot to trap the unsuspecting 'in an unguarded hour [as] they listen to its fatal insinuations. The plan so ingeniously contrived, having for its aim one principal point, viz: the establishment of a society in Missouri, over which the contrivers of this delusive system, are to possess unlimited and despotic sway.' Booth thought Smith's doctrines were designed to allure the credulous and the unsuspecting, into a state of unqualified vassalage.'" Ryder claimed that the Mormons were plotting to take their followers' property "and place it under the disposal of Joseph Smith the prophet."
9A

On March 24, they encouraged a mob to drag Smith and Rigdon from their beds and beat them unconscious. Smith was tarred and feathered and narrowly escaped being castrated.

  • On the basis of limited evidence, Fawn Brodie speculated that a member of the mob hoped to punish Smith for "being too intimate with his sister."Bushman (2005) , pp. 178-79;
  • Brodie (1945) , p. 119.
  • In the struggle Smith demonstrated his physical prowess but also begged for mercy. The next day, a Sunday, he preached as usual "and the quiet dignity of his sermon added to the aura of heroism fast beginning to surround him."Brodie (1945) , p. 120.
  •  Citation abuse— The meaning of a source quotation has been altered, or the source used does not support the author's conclusion.
    Violated by John "Foxe" —Diff: off-site

    The wiki editor twists what is stated by the cited source, Bushman (p. 179): "The historian Fawn Brodie speculated that one of John Johnson's sons, Eli, meant to punish Joseph for an intimacy with his sister Nancy Marinda, but that hypothesis fell for lack of evidence." The editor cites Bushman, but only includes Brodie's speculation without noting that the her hypothesis was disproven.
  • Regarding the story of why Joseph was tarred and feathered, Brodie gets the woman's name wrong—it is "Marinda Nancy," not "Nancy Marinda." The account is further flawed because Marinda has no brother named Eli.
  • Van Wagoner in Mormon Polygamy describes the tar and feather incident. Unfortunately, Van Wagoner tucks this information into an endnote, where the reader will be unaware of it unless he checks the sources carefully:

One account related that on 24 March [1832] a mob of men pulled Smith from his bed, beat him, and then covered him with a coat of tar and feathers. Eli Johnson, who allegedly participated in the attack "because he suspected Joseph of being intimate with his sister, Nancy Marinda Johnson, … was screaming for Joseph's castration." There is more to the story than this, however—much more. Van Wagoner even indicates that it is "unlikely" that "an incident between Smith and Nancy Johnson precipitated the mobbing."

  • Todd Compton casts further doubt on this episode. He notes that Van Wagoner's source is Fawn Brodie, and Brodie's source is from 1884—quite late. Clark Braden, the source, also got his information second-hand, and is clearly antagonistic, since he is a member of the Church of Christ, the “Disciples,” seeking to attack the Reorganized (RLDS) Church.
  • See Marinda Nancy Johnson
10A

The attack encouraged him to accelerate a trip to Missouri.

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 180.
  • According to the cited source, it was the fallout from the attack that precipitated the move to Missouri, rather than the attack itself: "The fallout from the attack lasted for months. The mobbers continued to menace the Johnson farm until they drove Sidney and Joseph away. In early April, they left for Missouri." (Bushman, p. 180)

Zion in Missouri

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

In the summer of 1831, Smith claimed to have received a revelation that the eventual Zion for Latter Day Saints would be in Independence, Missouri, at the time a ragged village of no more than twenty dwellings.

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 162;
  • D&C 57:2.
2B

During his 1832 visit, Smith had to dampen hard feelings among his subordinates there, but he was also able to found the first Mormon newspaper, the Evening and Morning Star, at the time the westernmost newspaper in the United States.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 181-83;
  • Brodie (1945) , p. 115.
3B

The rough pioneers of Missouri found Smith's prophecies about Zion threatening.

  • In 1833 Smith had prophesied that the Saints were to "redeem my vineyard; for it is mine...break down the walls of mine enemies; throw down their tower, and scatter their watchmen." (D&C 101:56-58.)
  • In February, the revelations spoke of "avenging me of my enemies." (D&C 103:25.)
  •  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.
    Violated by John "Foxe" —Diff: off-site

    The editor has synthesized a conclusion from primary sources. The Doctrine and Covenants says nothing about the "rough pioneers of Missouri" finding Joseph's prophecies about Zion threatening.
  • A more appropriate secondary source would be Bushman, p. 353: "The Missourians believed that Mormons thought Joseph's revelations put them beyond the law. Since the word of God outranked the law of the land, Mormons were suspected of breaking the law whenever the Prophet required it."
4B

They tarred and feathered two church leaders, and vigilantes destroyed Mormon homes, effectively forcing the Saints to move to Clay County.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 222-27.
5B

Smith tried to organize a military response from Kirtland—a revelation had told him that "the redemption of Zion must needs come by power"—but the trek of what came to be called Zion's Camp ended with nothing accomplished.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 235-47;
  • D&C 103:15.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.
    Violated by John "Foxe" —Diff: off-site

    The cited source does not support the claim that "nothing was accomplished."

Was Zion's Camp a catastrophe? Perhaps, but it was not the unmitigated disaster that it appears to be. Most camp members felt more loyal to Joseph than ever, bonded by their hardships. The future leadership of the Church came from this group. Nine of the Church's original Twelve Apostles, all seven presidents of the Seventy, and sixty-three other members of the seventy marched in Zion's Camp. (Bushman, p. 247)

6B

For the next several years, Smith's attention was split between Ohio and Missouri, but his family lived in Kirtland. There, under his direction, the Saints sacrificed to build a stone temple. For a few months after its completion in early 1836, this first temple was the scene of visions, angelic visitations, prophesying, speaking and singing in tongues, and other spiritual experiences.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 310-19;
  • Brodie (1945) , p. 178.
  • As Brodie writes, "Five years before...[Joseph] had found a spontaneous orgiastic revival in full progress and had ruthlessly stamped it out. Now he was intoxicating his followers with the same frenzy he had once so vigorously denounced."
7B

But economically the Kirtland temple was "a disaster," money that might have been used for the City of Zion was channeled into a costly building project. Both Smith and his church went deeply in debt, and Smith was "hounded by his creditors ever after."

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 217, 329. By 1837, Smith had run up a debt of over $100,000.
  •  Citation abuse— The meaning of a source quotation has been altered, or the source used does not support the author's conclusion.
    Violated by Trevdna —Diff: off-site

    This paragraph and footnote makes it sound as if the temple alone was the reason for Joseph's debt. According to the cited source, the remaining debt on the temple was $13,000, and "Joseph opened a merchandise store, but the venture called for still more capital. The month after he returned from Salem, he borrowed $11,000 for land purchases and store inventory. John Corrill heard the store inventory eventually cost between $80,000 and $90,000. The borrowing went on through 1837 until Joseph had run up debts of over $100,000." (Bushman, p. 329)
8B

After the dedication of the Kirtland temple, Smith's life "descended into a tangle of intrigue and conflict."

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 322.
9B

Following his death in 1844, both friend and foe agreed that sometime during this period Smith privately married Fanny Alger, a serving girl in the Smith household, as a plural wife, a relationship that Oliver Cowdery referred to in 1838 as a "dirty, nasty, filthy affair."

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 322-27. The relationship had ended by 1836, and Alger married a non-Mormon grocer in Indiana, bearing him nine children. To her brother, who later wrote to her about her relationship with the Prophet, she replied, "That is all a matter of my own. And I have nothing to communicate."
10B

After the Saints were driven from Jackson County, Missouri, Smith was "stunned for months, scarcely knowing what to do."

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 322.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    The cited source (Bushman, p. 322) does not contain the phrase "stunned for months, scarcely knowing what to do." This sounds more like Brodie.  [needs work]
11B

In August 1836, he received a revelation that there was "much treasure" in Salem, Massachusetts. Hoping he might find it with his seer stone, he and his closest associates left the financially troubled Kirtland community for the East. By September they were back in Kirtland; they returned with no treasure.

  • 'D&C 111:2;
  • Bushman (2005) , p. 322.
  •  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.
    Violated by John "Foxe" —Diff: off-site

    The cited sources say nothing about Joseph using a seer stone. Bushman (p. 328) states, "Perhaps Joseph believed he could identify the site using his boyhood gifts as a treasure-seeker." The paragraph as written is also incorrect, implying that the revelation directed Joseph to go to Salem, In reality, the revelation was received after the trip to Salem—it began with the words "I the Lord your God am not displeased with your coming this journey, notwithstanding your follies."
  • The assumption that Joseph used a seer stone is made by evangelical authors Richard and Joan Ostling in their book Mormon America, however, this source is not cited in the wiki article. The Ostlings claim that Joseph "left his financially troubled church for Salem, Massachusetts, at summer's end in 1836, hoping one last time that the use of his seer stone might produce treasure that he had been told lay under a house (D&C 111). The Ostlings only citation is to DC 111:, which, as stated previously, says nothing about the use of a seer stone. See Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), 31. ( Index of claims )
  • See Joseph Smith's "treasure hunting" trip to Salem
12B

A more common expedient for raising money on the frontier was wildcat banking. Smith did not have enough capital to obtain a state charter, but he printed notes anyway and circulated them in January 1837. The Kirtland Safety Society failed within a month. The notes had Smith's signature on them, and he was personally blamed for the fiasco. The onset of a nationwide panic in 1837 also encouraged creditors to pursue their debtors vigorously.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 329-30.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.
    Violated by John "Foxe" —Diff: off-site

    The cited source is incorrectly represented. Bushman states that in addition to the capital, that "[t]he rest of the issue was secured by land. In actuality, the Safety Society was a partial 'land bank,' a device New Englanders had once resorted to in their cash-poor, land-rich society." The wiki editor wants to make it sound as if Joseph was instigating a fraud by establishing the bank and printing notes without adequate backing.
  • See Kirtland Safety Society
13B

Many Latter Day Saints, including prominent leaders who had invested in the banking scheme, became disaffected and either left the church or were excommunicated.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 336-38.
  •  References not included in the Wikipedia article
    Bushman notes the following on page 626, note 42: "Milton Backman notes that none of the bank's largest shareholders and only eight percent of all shareholders left the Church. (Backman, "Kirtland Temple," 221.)
14B

There were even a couple of unseemly rows in the temple, including one occasion on which guns and knives were drawn.

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 339.
  •  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.
    Violated by John "Foxe" —Diff: off-site

    The cited source describes a single disruptive incident in the temple—the one involving weapons. The wiki editor has expanded this to "a couple of unseemly rows in the temple."
15B

When a leading apostle, David W. Patten, raised insulting questions, Smith slapped him in the face and kicked him into the yard.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 332, 337, 339.
  • From Bushman, "David Patten, a leading apostle, raised so many insulting questions Joseph 'slap[p]ed him in the face & kicked him out of the yard.'"
16B

After a warrant was issued for Smith's arrest on the charge of bank fraud, Smith and Rigdon fled Kirtland for Missouri on the night of January 12, 1838.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 339-40.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.
    Violated by John "Foxe" —Diff: off-site

    The cited source (Bushman) makes no mention of a "warrant issued for Smith's arrest on the charge of bank fraud." This was originally cited to Brodie, p. 207—the editor removed this cite during a rewrite and referenced Bushman instead.
  • Bushman states, "Joseph and Rigdon left Kirtland in the night on January 12, 1838. The lawsuits were building up, and apostates were feared to be plotting more desperate measures. Joseph claimed that armed men—whether Mormons or irate creditors, he did not say—pursued them for two hundred miles from Kirtland." (Bushman, p. 340)

References

Wikipedia references for "Joseph Smith, Jr."
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