Joseph F. Smith
For the tenth president of the LDS Church, see Joseph Fielding Smith.
Joseph Fielding Smith (November 13, 1838 – November 19, 1918) was the sixth President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph was determined to improve public opinion of the Church and its members but faced nearly impossible odds. Partly through his genuine charity and his grandfatherly image, tension between the Church and the federal government and society diminished. His leadership would strengthen the Church by vigilantly overseeing finances, purchasing and developing significant historical sites, directed the construction of a new headquarters complex, establishing the LDS hospital, expanding education and missionary work. Joseph had voluminous writings, his most significant doctrinal contribution was his "Vision of the Redemption of the Dead."
Joseph was the first born of mother Mary Smith and father Hyrum Smith, martyr and brother of Joseph Smith, Jr. in Far West, Missouri. At age seven, young Joseph drove a team of oxen across Iowa to Nebraska. At age nine, he drove his mother's wagon across the plains to the valley of the Great Salt Lake. Joseph tended cattle and sheep, cut wood, and hired out at harvest time. He was called at age fifteen to serve in the Church's mission in the Sandwich Islands, Hawaii. His four-year mission there was remarkably successful. While in Hawaii, he served as conference president on the islands of Maui and Hawaii. He returned to Salt Lake City in 1858, Joseph joined the Nauvoo Legion, Utah Territory's militia and led a thousand-man legion in the Utah Expedition. In April 1859, twenty-one-year-old Joseph married his first wife Levira Smith. Joseph was known as a kind and loving husband. He was ordained an apostle and counselor to Brigham Young at age 27.
First he presided over European and British missions. Joseph became chief lobbyist for the Church in Washington, D.C., during the terms of Congress in 1888 and 1889. Joseph sought and obtained amnesty from U.S. President Benjamin Harrison. A revelation to Church President Woodruff advised the Saints to refrain from contracting plural marriages as were forbidden by law. During this time, persecution ceased, Church property was returned and Utah obtained statehood. He also took an active role in politics, joined the Republican party and in 1892 he published a pamphlet, Another Plain Talk: Reasons Why the People of Utah Should Be Republicans. Upon the death of Church President Wilford Woodruff, Joseph became President in 1901. He felt strongly that Church members should be taught sound doctrine. Smith was the first President of the Church to visit Europe while serving. He would serve as President for 17 years until his death at age 80. His numerous works would be published under the title Gospel Doctrine.
- "Marriage is the preserver of the human race. Without it, the purposes of God would be frustrated; virtue would be destroyed to give place to vice and corruption, and the earth would be void and empty."
- “We desire it distinctly understood that 'Mormonism', as it is called, has come to the world to stay.”
- Joseph F. Smith Light Planet