Question: Did Joseph Smith boast of his "violent deeds"?

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Question: Did Joseph Smith boast of his "violent deeds"?

The quote makes no reference at all to fighting, nor an attempt to harm another individual: Joseph is simply speaking of the recreational sport of wrestling

One critic of Mormonism claims that Joseph Smith boasted of his "violent deeds." He offers this example from History of the Church:

In the History of the Church, for example, under the date of March 13, 1843, we find this entry: "I wrestled with William Wall, the most expert wrestler in Ramus, and threw him." [1]

According to the critic, this is an example of Joseph Smith "boasting of his violent deeds." Such a reference is evidently intended to support the thesis found in the subtitle of Chapter Nine; that Joseph was "America's Fighting Prophet." [2]

The truth of the matter is that the words make no reference at all to fighting, nor an attempt to harm another individual. On the contrary, the quote is simply speaking of the recreational sport of wrestling.

George Q. Cannon spoke of the above-mentioned occasion, saying,

On Monday, the 13th day of March, 1843, Joseph met William Wall, the most expert wrestler of Ramus, Illinois, and had a friendly bout with him. He easily conquered Wall who up to that time had been a champion. [3]

There is no account describing this event as being anything other than fun and games. The quote the author cites is certainly of no exception. The snip comes from Joseph's journal, and all that is written there is,

Monday, 13.--I wrestled with William Wall, the most expert wrestler in Ramus, and threw him. [4]

That is it. The other events of the day are then recorded (i.e., Almon W. Babbitt was appointed as a Presiding Elder, 27 children were blessed in the evening, weather in Nauvoo was very cold… etc.).

Notes

  1. Richard Abanes, One Nation under Gods (New York: Four Walls eight Windows, 2002), 178.
  2. Ibid.
  3. George Q. Cannon, The Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1986), 431, emphasis added.
  4. Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 5 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1978), 302.