Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was born on Dec. 23, 1805 in Vermont, USA. In 1820 (aged 14 years) he allegedly received a vision:
“...I asked the personages (demons?) who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right- and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the personage (demon?) who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight...”. Pearl of Great Price 2:18,19.
He claims a second vision on Sept. 21, 1823 where “a personage (demon?) appeared at my
bedside” to inform him of the location of a box containing golden plates buried at
Manchester, New York. In 1827 Smith claimed to receive the golden plates upon which the
Book of Mormon is alleged to have been written. He claimed to have finished translating the
plates on March 26, 1830.
On April 6, 1830, at Fayette, New York, the Mormon church was organised, with 6
members. They then moved to Kirtland (Cleveland), Ohio, publishing the book “Doctrines
and Covenants”. Smith was imprisoned in Far West, Missouri, for fighting. After escaping,
he and his people fled to Nauvoo, Illinois, where he organised a small army. When a local
paper, the “Nauvoo Expositor”, published anti-Mormon material, Smith ordered the press
destroyed and the paper burned. This act of destruction led to Smith’s arrest and
imprisonment. He was sent to a jail in Carthage, Illinois, with his brother Hyrum. On June
27, 1844, a mob of 200 people stormed the jail, shooting and killing Joseph and Hyrum
Smith. The Mormons consider him a martyr.
Brigham Young then took over the leadership. He led the group westward to found Salt
Lake City, Utah, on July 24, 1847, which became their headquarters. When Young died in
1877, they had 150,000 members.