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Joseph Smith Papers historians to discuss ‘prelude to martyrdom’ events in Aug. 23 presentation

The presentation is at 7 p.m. in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square and is free to the public

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Portrait of Joseph Smith by artist Alvin Gittins. Joseph Smith was born Dec. 23, 1805.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


The events and circumstances in late 1843 that contributed to the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith the following summer will be the topic of a presentation titled “Prelude to Martyrdom: Politics, Kidnappings and Redress in 1843 Nauvoo” on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 7 p.m. in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.

The presentation is free and open to the public. 

Historians Christian K. Heimburger and Jeffrey D. Mahas will draw on primary material featured in the “Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, Vol. 13,” published earlier this summer. The volume includes 98 documents from August to December 1843, as the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were establishing a city in Nauvoo, Illinois, and converts were continuing to move into the city from the eastern United States and Great Britain. 

These documents include correspondence, accounts of the Prophet’s discourses, and petitions seeking redress from the federal government, according to the Church Historian’s Press. 

Several incidents in late 1843 — including threats from Missouri, the newly formed “Anti-Mormon Party — and a kidnapping in Hancock County — prompted Nauvoo city leaders to take action to protect Joseph and other residents; they passed radical ordinances, mustered the Nauvoo Legion and created a full-time police force.

During this same time, Church leaders also renewed efforts to obtain redress for the Latter-day Saints’ loss of life and property in Missouri during the 1830s. Efforts included appealing to the citizens of other states, writing to five prominent presidential candidates and petitioning the United States Congress.

These events help provide context for the last six months of Joseph Smith’s life. 

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