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“We desire it distinctly understood that ‘Mormonism’, as it is called, has come to the world to stay.”

Joseph Fielding Smith was the sixth prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He is often referred to as Joseph F. Smith to differentiate him from the 10th president of the Church who shares his name, because they are father and son.

His father was Hyrum Smith, the brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph F. Smith was the last President of the Church who personally knew Joseph Smith.

Joseph F. Smith’s Early Life

Joseph F. Smith came into the world on November 13, 1838, in Far West, Missouri. While he was still young, both his father, Hyrum, and his uncle Joseph were shot and killed in Carthage, Illinois. With his father gone, Joseph became the man of the family and helped his mother, Mary, travel to Utah in 1848, where they settled in Salt Lake City. When Joseph was only thirteen, his mother died of an illness, leaving him an orphan to be looked after by his older brother. At the age of fifteen, Joseph was called on his first mission to the Sandwich Islands, which later became the Hawaiian Islands. He served on the islands for four years.

Joseph F. Smith’s Adulthood

He married his first wife, Levira, in 1859. After returning to Utah for a few years, Joseph left on another mission to Great Britain and remained there for three years. No sooner had he come home that he was called on another mission to the Sandwich Islands. Before he became President of the Church, Joseph served Utah’s territorial legislature from 1865 to 1874. He practiced polygamy and married six wives during his lifetime and they had a total of 48 children, some of whom were adopted.

Before becoming President of the Church, he served as a counselor to other Church presidents and as the president of the Salt Lake City Temple. He also served as an editor to several church publications, including the Improvement Era and Juvenile Instructor.

Joseph F. Smith as President of the Church

Joseph F. Smith served as President of the Church for seventeen years, from 1901-1918. He died November 19, 1918, only days after the treaty that ended World War I. As Church President, he spearheaded the effort to educate members about early Church history and was instrumental in securing many Church historical sites in New York, Illinois, and Missouri. He was the first President of the Church to travel outside of North America while in office. He oversaw the planning and construction of the temple in Hawaii.

As part of his efforts to have Utah admitted to the United States, President Smith issued the “Second Manifesto.” This document stated that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would no long sanction marriages that violated the laws of the land, and that anyone entering into new polygamous marriages would be excommunicated from the Church.

President Smith left many important writings, including what is now the 138th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. This section describes a vision President Smith had of the spirit world, including the preaching of the gospel to the spirits of the dead.

President Smith did much to build The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his legacy survives to this day.

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