Joseph F. Smith

From Academic Kids

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Joseph Fielding Smith (November 13, 1838November 19, 1918) was the sixth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Smith was the nephew of the founder of the Mormon faith, Joseph Smith, and son of Patriarch Hyrum Smith. After his uncle and father were murdered in Carthage, Illinois, Smith, along with many other Mormons, fled the American Midwest and settled in Utah.

Smith was then called on a mission to serve in the Hawaiian Islands at the age of fourteen. He was called to the apostleship in his late twenties and had already served three missions for the church.

Smith is remembered for the construction and dedication of the Seagull Monument at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah on October 1, 1913. Smith spent most of his presidential tenure overseeing the planning and construction of the Laie Hawaii Temple in Laie, Hawaii, one of his part-time residences. Smith died a year before his beloved Laie Hawaii Temple—the fifth oldest Mormon temple in the world—was to be dedicated.

His son Joseph Fielding Smith later served as the President of the Church and one of his granddaughters married Bruce R. McConkie, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Church Service

Doctrinal Contributions

During his administration as President of the Church, President Smith issued two significant additions to Latter-day Saint doctrine:

"The Father and the Son": On June 20, 1916, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued a statement examining the LDS use of the term "Father" in scripture, clarifying times when the word referred to God the Father and when the word referred to Jesus Christ. The statement identified four different uses of the word "Father." God the Father is the literal parent of the spirits of mankind and the earthly father of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is referred to as "the Father" when discussing his role as creator of the earth, when he acts as "the Father" of those who abide in his gospel, and when he acts with the authority of his Heavenly Father while on earth. After 1921, to lessen confusion on the nature of the Godhead, portions of the "Lectures on Faith' dealing with the Holy Ghost were eliminated from the Doctrine and Covenants.
"Vision of the Redemption of the Dead": On October 3, 1918, President Smith received a revelation on the nature of the spirit world and on Jesus Christ's role in ensuring that the gospel is taught to all men, living and dead. A written account of the revelation was submitted to the General Authorities on the October 31, 1918 and was unanimously accepted. The revelation was initially published in December 1918, and was added to the Pearl of Great Price in April 1976. This revelation complemented a 1894 statement on the eternal nature of the family and appropriate work for the dead issued by President Wilford Woodruff. Geneological work by members of the LDS Church increased after both of these statements.


  • Allen, James B. and Leonard, Glen M. The Story of the Latter-day Saints. Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, UT, 1976. ISBN 0-87747-594-6.

Preceded by:
Lorenzo Snow
President of the LDS Church
17 October, 1901November 19, 1918
Succeeded by:
Heber J. Grant
Preceded by:
George Q. Cannon
President of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

April 21, 190117 October, 1901
Succeeded by:
Brigham Young, Jr.

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