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Joseph Smith

1805-1844. Mormon* prophet and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Born into a shiftless, frontier family in Vermont, he moved in 1816 to Palmyra, New York. Here he experienced conversion during a religious revival four years later. Subsequently he claimed to have received a direct revelation from God engraved upon golden plates. The contents he translated and published as the Book of Mormon (1830) with the assistance of Sidney Rigdon, a former Campbellite minister. A Book of Commandments (1833), authored by Smith and later republished as Doctrine and Covenants (1835), provided the basis of Mormon theology. Smith's practice of polygamy, for which he claimed divine approval in a revelation announced in 1843, and his continued mismanagement of community affairs led to his downfall. Non-Mormon Illinois neighbors arrested Joseph and his brother and confined them in the nearby Carthage jail, where they were murdered by a mob in 1844.