And the End Is Not Yet

The Spiritual Leadership of Joseph and Hyrum

Heidi S. Swinton

Heidi S. Swinton, “And the End Is Not Yet: The Spiritual Leadership of Joseph and Hyrum,” in Joseph and Hyrum—Leading as One, ed. Mark E. Mendenhall, Hal B Gregersen, Jeffrey S. O’Driscoll, Heidi S. Swinton, and Breck England (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010), 233–52.

Joseph and Hyrum on HorsesJosiah Quincy observed, "Born in the lowest ranks of poverty, without book learning and with the homeliest of all human names, [Joseph Smith] had made himself...a power upon earth...None had so won human hearts and shaped human lives as this Joseph. His influence, whether for good or for evil, is potent today, and the end is not yet." (Mark Philbrick, © 2007 BYU Photo.)

The rain poured down from blackened Illinois skies the morning of May 15, 1844, as Joseph and Hyrum sat down for breakfast with their guest, Josiah Quincy. Harvard-educated Quincy, who would later lead the famed city of Boston as its mayor, had journeyed to burgeoning Nauvoo to take stock of its leader, Joseph Smith, and his close advisers, including his brother Hyrum. Quincy was intrigued by what he saw rising up from the Mississippi River banks—shops, homes, cultivated fields, gardens, a temple (massive by any standards) under construction up on the bluff, and a people obviously industrious, hopeful, and devout.

Years later, Quincy wrote of his impressions: “It is by no means improbable that some future textbook, for the use of generations yet unborn, will contain a question something like this: What historical American of the nineteenth century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen? And it is by no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet.” [1]

More than a century later, in 1992, Dr. Harold Bloom, distinguished professor of humanities at Yale University, also assessed the influence of Joseph Smith and concluded, “Where in all of American history can we find his match?” [2]

What Quincy and Bloom recognized was the ongoing effect of the Prophet’s remarkable leadership; the work carries forward and flourishes long after the leaders who set the course are gone. So it is with Joseph Smith Jr. and his older brother, closest ally, and confidant, Hyrum.

“Two better men than Joseph and Hyrum Smith never lived,” wrote Elders John Taylor and Willard Richards, who shared the Carthage death chamber with Joseph and Hyrum—and lived to tell about it. “The memorial of their godly lives is embalmed, printed with indelible ink in the memory of every honest heart who knew their upright walk and conversation.” [3]

I am one of those who choose to follow their lead.

I have walked the streets of Nauvoo, waded into the Susquehanna to stand where Joseph might have baptized Oliver Cowdery, and tromped the Appalachian Trail near the Smiths’ Vermont homestead. I have stood in Carthage Jail and looked at the bullet hole in the door and pondered the remarkable strength of Joseph and Hyrum, who raised up a church on the religiously fertile soil of nineteenth-century America. Their leadership transcended their frontier roots and reflected the magnificence of what they knew to be divine destiny. At the time of their martyrdoms on June 27, 1844, the two held the priesthood keys of the kingdom of God on earth—Joseph as prophet, seer, and revelator, and Hyrum as patriarch and Assistant President of the Church. There could be no greater leadership assignments than these.

“Cause of Christ”

I find their joint loyalty to what Joseph called the “cause of Christ” [4] inspiring in today’s heart-hardened world. That cause was not to amass fortune or fame, not even to build communities in the name of progress, but rather to lift and serve others, to lay down principles and practices that would prompt righteousness, to secure “holiness of heart” [5] in the everyday lives of us all. Such hearts lead in Church councils, in personal relationships, and in the workplace. They most certainly lead at home, in the community, and at school. Concluding a letter to Jared Carter, the Prophet Joseph wrote, “I love your soul, and the souls of the children of men, and pray and do all I can for the salvation of all.” [6] That is true leadership.

Joseph sought to establish a society whose every institution was infused with righteous principles and purpose. Joseph described himself not as one with lofty assignments or titles but simply as a man with a heart “large enough for all men.” [7] Hyrum, for his part, recognized and revered his younger brother’s mantle, pronouncing, “There were prophets before, but Joseph has the spirit and power of all the prophets.” [8]

Hyrum was one of the eight witnesses of the Book of Mormon and was also one of the six in Fayette, New York, who joined under Joseph’s hand to formally establish the Church on April 6, 1830. He was a farmer, a member of the local lodge, a father, and a patriarch to his family. But when Joseph credited him with greatness, he used none of the trappings the world calls success: “I could pray in my heart that all my brethren were like unto my beloved brother Hyrum, who possesses the mildness of a lamb, and the integrity of a Job, and in short, the meekness and humility of Christ; and I love him with that love that is stronger than death.” [9]

Elder M. Russell Ballard, member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, shares that love for faithful Hyrum, his great-grandfather, and for his “believing heart; he did not have to see everything Joseph saw. For him, hearing the truth from Joseph’s lips and feeling the spiritual promptings whispering that it was true were enough.” [10]

Joseph knew the source of his own strength, power, and capacity. As President Harold B. Lee explained: “A prophet . . . does not become a spiritual leader by studying books about religion, nor does he become one by attending a theological seminary. One becomes a prophet [or a] religious leader, by actual spiritual contacts. He gets his diploma, as it were, directly from God.” [11]

The question for us all, then, is this: Are we “spiritual experts,” following the leadership so aptly laid down by these two men of God?

“The Purposes of God”

Joseph was not deterred by the persecution and calamities that stalked him and his ministry, nor was he concerned about the acceleration of turmoil around the nation, or the world. He understood and trusted the Lord and the Father’s plan: “See that ye be not troubled, for all I have told you must come to pass; but the end is not yet” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:23). Joseph knew there was great work to do.

He expected us today to carry forward the charge “to bring . . . forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30). In a letter to the editor of the Chicago Democrat newspaper, Joseph brought us into the work he had begun with these familiar and stirring words: “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” [12]

All of us are heirs to that sacred leadership responsibility, but how do we do it? How do we “lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better?” (D&C 25:10). To parents, it may mean holding dear the responsibility to raise children in light and truth, not merely acquiescing to the school curriculum or its sports calendar; to the missionary it means trashing the Nintendo and skateboard long before heading to the MTC; to the Young Women leader, it means dressing as an example to the young sisters in the ward; to the young married couple, it means establishing a budget and learning to live within their means; to the ward council, it means planning activities to build faith and testimony, not simply to get active members together.

Joseph and Hyrum successfully blurred the lines of social, political, and religious leadership. They were driven by a cause they did not create, but one they embraced with whole-souled devotion; they knew theirs was a work designed in the heavens and put in place by divine ministration and revelation. Perhaps that is part of their enigma; their work was not linear. It did not reflect date, time, and place easily cataloged by historians or academics. Their decisions every day reflected eternal truths, and they abided by them completely.

“God is my friend,” Joseph wrote to his wife, Emma, at a time of great loneliness and trial. “In him I shall find comfort. I have given my life into his hands. I am prepared to go at his call. I desire to be with Christ. I count not my life dear to me, only to do his will.” [13]

No wonder people left their homelands, their farms, and even their families to be in their presence, to learn from them, and to follow them. Brigham Young, who never wavered in his devotion, said of Joseph: “When I first heard him preach, he brought heaven and earth together; and all the priests of the day could not tell me anything correct about heaven, hell, God, angels, or devils; they were as blind as Egyptian darkness. When I saw Joseph Smith, he took heaven, figuratively speaking, and brought it down to earth; and he took the earth, brought it up, and opened up, in plainness and simplicity, the things of God; and that is the beauty of his mission.” [14]

Clearly, God had a work for Joseph and Hyrum. Yet society did not recognize, applaud or accept them as the heirs to religious thought or practice. Their origins call to mind the accusing question asked about another great leader: “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Or out of the little burgs of Palmyra, Kirtland, and Nauvoo?

Great good came out of the Smith’s home, where the family pledged their support and devotion to the work Joseph had before him. Every night they gathered, “Father, mother, sons, and daughters, listening in breathless anxiety to the religious teachings of a boy eighteen years of age who had never read the Bible through by course in his life.” [15]

“May God Bless You All”

It takes a singular kind of leadership to rally the support of family members and those who know you best. The Smiths did not let age and experience become an issue. They knew Joseph, as his mother said, to be truthful. They knew his statements were not made in self-interest.

Repeatedly, Hyrum showed confidence in Joseph and his divine mandate. When the wife of Martin Harris brought charges against Joseph, claiming he had duped her husband out of considerable money, Joseph’s mother was deeply concerned about the upcoming trial. Hyrum comforted her. “We can do nothing, except to look to the Lord: in him is all help and strength,” he assured her. “He can deliver from every trouble.” Lucy received divine reassurance after a prayer when a voice spoke to her, saying, “Not one hair of his head shall be harmed.” The magistrate dismissed the case, ripping up the charges and calling them “ridiculous folly.” [16]

The Spirit had touched Joseph and Hyrum’s hearts, and they then reached out with the Spirit to their siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Early in his ministry Joseph wrote a letter to his uncle John Smith, outlining many of the principles of the gospel he had received by revelation. John observed, “Joseph writes like a Prophet!” [17] The John Smith family moved from Potsdam, New York, to Kirtland, Ohio, in 1833, joining about five hundred others who had felt the same spiritual conversion. They became loyal supporters, devout in their Church affiliation. In 1839 John’s son, George A. Smith, was called as an Apostle at age twenty-two.

Hyrum traveled to the northeast hoping to fulfill what his mother described as “a revelation commanding him to visit his Uncle Silas, for he was ready to be baptized.” When he arrived at his uncle’s home, Hyrum was forthright: “Uncle Silas,” he said, “the Lord has sent me to baptize you, for the Lord has seen the integrity of your heart but knows your fears with regard to your family, but you need not suffer any anxiety about them, for if you embrace the gospel it will be the means of saving them.” [18] Hyrum baptized Uncle Silas.

Eventually Silas and others of the Smith family relocated to Kirtland, bringing with them the family’s ninety-three-year-old matriarch, Mary Duty Smith. The trip allowed her to become acquainted with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren before she died ten days later.

From his deathbed in September of 1840, Joseph Smith Sr. called his family to his side and as patriarch left his blessing on his noble wife Lucy and their children. Hyrum pleaded with his father to intercede after he arrived in heaven, and to thwart the enemies stalking the Church so that they “may not have so much power” over the struggling Saints. “Father Smith then laid his hands upon Hyrum’s head and blessed him to have ‘peace . . . sufficient . . . to accomplish the work which God has given you to do.’ Knowing of Hyrum’s lifelong faithfulness, he concluded this last blessing with the promise that Hyrum would ‘be as firm as the pillars of heaven unto the end of [his] days.’” [19]

Joseph’s and Hyrum’s own families were blessed by the men’s love and guidance. Joseph wrote home to his wife: “Oh, my affectionate Emma, I want you to remember that I am a true and faithful friend to you and the children forever. My heart is entwined around yours forever and ever. Oh may God bless you all.” [20]

“Filled with the Love of God”

Beyond feeling natural affection for one’s family, Joseph taught, “a man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” [21]

Joseph’s blessing to “the whole world” began in 1837 with a bold move by the Prophet. A season of economic depression swept the land. Many banks failed, including the Church-owned bank in Kirtland. Criticism of Joseph and the Church swelled to widespread apostasy. In the midst of this great turmoil, Joseph called Heber C. Kimball, one of his most trusted brethren, to “go to England and proclaim [the] Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.” [22]

The enormity of the call was staggering. Heber and a handful of associates would leave no cash reserves for their families, nor would they take funds for themselves. The duration of the journey was undetermined, and the reception of such missionaries among a sophisticated civilization was untested.

Within eight months, two thousand British citizens had joined the Church. “Just go and do as you are told and God will bless you,” was Hyrum’s advice to missionaries. “Go forth as men of God, and you will find friends wherever you go.” [23] His words were prophecy.

When Heber returned home, he described the horrific evil that had attacked them as they labored. He related that they could see evil spirits who “gnashed their teeth at us” and “came towards us like armies rushing to battle.” [24] When he asked Joseph if they as missionaries had erred in their service and invited such abuse, the Prophet responded, “No, Brother Heber, . . . at that time you were nigh unto the Lord; there was only a veil between you and Him, but you could not see Him. When I heard of it, it gave me great joy, for I then knew that the work of God had taken root in that land. It was this that caused the devil to make a struggle to kill you.” Then Joseph taught a significant principle, saying, “The nearer a person approaches the Lord, a greater power will be manifested by the adversary to prevent the accomplishment of His purposes.” [25]

Writing from England in 1840, Brigham Young reported of the converts, “They have the spirit of the times here as well as the Church there.” [26]

I have stood where the first missionaries preached in England. I have looked in the faces of those walking today “in darkness at noon-day” (D&C 95:6) and watched as nineteen-year-old missionaries have struggled to bring souls to Christ against forces of evil. It brings to mind how the adversary tried desperately to thwart the restored gospel from reaching the people of the British Isles. It was to be expected. Jesus Christ said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Joseph understood—and so must we—that the adversary is fighting a losing battle.

“Stand by Joseph”

Leadership is most often noted, needed, and revered in times of trial and difficulty; Joseph and Hyrum lived in such a crucible their entire adult lives. Leaders assume risks—like sending the best you have to a foreign country when you need them at your side. Leaders recognize and appreciate the growth they experience from challenges placed in their path. Leaders are firm in their beliefs and are sustained by that conviction. Joseph explained that his aim was “to obey and teach others to obey God in just what He tells us to do.” He then concluded, “It mattereth not whether the principle is popular or unpopular, I will always maintain a true principle, even if I stand alone in it.” [27]

Joseph knew what it meant to stand alone as a witness of God. For many years following his vision in the Sacred Grove, he stood before the world and stated, “I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it” (Joseph Smith—History 1:25). He was unyielding in what he knew to be true: that God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ had appeared to him and spoken. He was ridiculed for his witness, and yet he never vacillated. Nor did those who were witnesses to the Book of Mormon; they stood shoulder to shoulder with him and bore witness of what they had seen.

When the work of translating began, Oliver Cowdery was told to “stand by my servant Joseph” (D&C 6:18). Those words resonate to my soul, for the duty of those of us who have covenanted to take upon us Christ’s name is also to stand as witnesses.

Increasingly, the world is wallowing in its depraved and self-absorbed ways. Anciently the Lord proclaimed, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). Times have not changed. In 1837, when the apostates and mobs in Missouri seemed to gain the upper hand with contrived charges and brute force, Joseph, Hyrum, and a handful of others were unjustly arrested and jailed in Richmond, Missouri. Sidney Rigdon was chained on one side of Hyrum, Parley P. Pratt on the other side. “Thus we are bound together in chains as well as the cords of everlasting love,” Joseph wrote to Emma. He added, “We are in good spirits and rejoice that we are counted worthy to be persecuted for Christ’s sake.” [28] Hyrum’s voice, too, was resolute and confident. “While thus exposed I felt no tremour or alarm,” he later wrote. “I knew I was in the hands of God, whose power was unlimited.” [29]

Hyrum compared the brutal treatment to that of Joseph of Egypt, who was sold by his brethren and cast into prison for years. “Yet the power of wisdom was there,” Hyrum explained, and “taught him the knowledge of holy things [and] lifted him up on high. Why? Because he was patient in tribulation and hastened to that redeeming power that saves the righteous in all ages of the world.” [30]

Despite their efforts to keep up good spirits, they were subjected to great indignities and incessant mockery. One evening Joseph could stand “the obscene jests, the horrid oaths, the dreadful blasphemies and filthy language of [their] guards” no longer. He rose to his feet, his ankles shackled, but not his spirit. He demanded, “SILENCE. . . . In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still.” Parley P. Pratt observed on that occasion:

He stood erect in terrible majesty. Chained, and without a weapon; calm, unruffled and dignified as an angel, he looked upon the quailing guards, whose weapons were lowered or dropped to the ground. . . . I have seen the ministers of justice, clothed in magisterial robes, and criminals arraigned before them, while life was suspended on a breath, in the Courts of England; I have witnessed a Congress in solemn session to give laws to nations; I have tried to conceive of kings, of royal courts, of thrones and crowns; and of emperors assembled to decide the fate of kingdoms; but dignity and majesty have I seen but once, as it stood in chains, at midnight, in a dungeon in an obscure village of Missouri. [31]

From Richmond, the prisoners were taken to Liberty Jail, where Joseph and Hyrum spent the bitter, cold winter in dark, damp, and filthy conditions. From the jail Joseph and Hyrum dispatched a letter of encouragement to their religious refugees taking shelter in Illinois: “If we live we live, and if we die for the testimony of Jesus we die, but whether we live or die let the work of God go on.” [32] Were the Prophet and Hyrum oblivious to the plight of the people? Unconcerned with the snowy retreat being made by their friends and families, the devastation to the homes, farms, and hearts of the people they loved? Hyrum wrote to his wife, Mary Fielding, “When I think of your trouble my heart is weighed down with sorrow.” He continued, “Then, to think that I cannot render you any assistance, it still adds sorrow upon sorrow.” [33] Brigham Young visited the men in jail to counsel with them about what to do, and where to go. In a grueling winter march, Brigham led the Saints to safety in Illinois. He would later draw upon that leadership experience when he led the pioneers across the heartland of America to the Great Basin.

Clearly, when we are obedient to God’s standards and teachings, we are not promised a “fast pass” to the next and greater assignment. We no doubt will struggle—but never alone. The Lord puts people in place to act for him. President Henry B. Eyring has said of the responsibility to act: “You are called to represent the Savior. Your voice to testify becomes the same as His voice, your hands to lift the same as His hands.” [34]

For me the statue of Joseph and Hyrum standing together outside Carthage Jail is an illustration of such hands lifting. Hyrum, with his arm on Joseph’s shoulder, is indicative of the many times he stood by his brother. He spoke the words of prophets of old to bring solace to others: “All things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). “We must be submissive to the will of God and try to stand in our lot both now and at the end.” [35] “We must be patient in tribulation and wait. The will of God be done.” [36]

“Sorrow and Mourning”

Not all of Joseph and Hyrum’s trials were in prison.

On May 19, 1832, Hyrum’s three-year-old daughter, Mary, died in his arms, “called from time to eternity,” he wrote in his journal. He had “never before experienced” such sorrow and grief, such mourning. With a hopeful heart he petitioned the Lord to “grant that we may meet her again on the great day of redemption to part no more.” [37]

Joseph knew that grief. He and Emma had buried their firstborn son, Alvin, in June 1828; they lost twins three years later. Joseph was in Greenville, Indiana, when he got word of little Mary’s death. In a letter to Emma he wrote, “I was grieved to hear that Hyrum had lost his little child.” He encouraged her, saying, “I hope you will comfort . . . Hyrum and Jerusha.” [38] Joseph later taught, “All children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven” (D&C 137:10). That doctrine brought peace to many, reaffirming the words of Jesus Christ, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Mary Isabella Horne, wife of Joseph Horne, recalled Joseph’s promise “that we should receive those children in the morning of the resurrection just as we laid them down, in purity and innocence, and we should nourish and care for them as their mothers. He said that children would be raised in the resurrection just as they were laid down, and that they would obtain all the intelligence necessary to occupy thrones, principalities and powers.” [39]

I have stood at the grave of baby Alvin and those of scores of other little Saints, including the grave of my oldest son. Like all parents who have lost children, I have hung on to the assurance of God’s eternal plan for families and have been deeply grateful for the teachings of the Prophet Joseph, for the comfort and perspective his assurance brought me more than thirty years ago and which still resonates in my heart today.

Hyrum’s son Joseph Fielding Smith, who served as sixth President of the Church, explained that “Joseph Smith taught the doctrine that the infant child that was laid away in death would come up in the resurrection as a child; and, pointing to the mother of a lifeless child, he said to her: ‘You will have the joy, the pleasure, and satisfaction of nurturing this child, after its resurrection, until it reaches the full stature of its spirit.’” [40]

So how do we mirror this leadership and boost our contributions today, rather than simply view this study of the leadership of Joseph and Hyrum as an exercise in the history of God’s chosen? None of us will probably see the visions that Joseph beheld or the angelic ministrations Hyrum experienced. If these were the basis of their tremendous leadership, their ways are perhaps out of reach for us. But it wasn’t the prophetic mantle that made Joseph and Hyrum who they were—it was their hearts. When Joseph said, “I am a lover of the cause of Christ,” he spoke of his heart. He loved the Lord; he loved his work; and I think it is fair to say he loved the singular opportunity to demonstrate how to bring others to the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We do it not for power or position but for the guidance of the spirit that accompanies such discipleship.

“A Good Heart”

That motivation and commitment pattern transcends every how-to organizational book and structure. Integrity of the heart is what the Lord asks of his servants in business, church, family, and friendships. “All I can offer the world is a good heart and a good hand,” Joseph said. [41] This humility and reverence for God and his work came from a man who had talked with him face to face and who had been commissioned with priesthood authority by Jesus Christ’s disciples Peter, James, and John.

Joseph and Hyrum’s leadership reflects their great character. These were men who personified resilience, charity, ingenuity, determination, courage, virtue—the list is endless. They were stalwart, steady, loyal, fair, honest, approachable, humble, diligent, hopeful, bold, insightful beyond their experience, and willingly accountable to God rather than the mortal bottom line.

Joseph Smith penned the oft-quoted thirteenth article of faith: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. . . . If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” Those are the tenets of Joseph’s and Hyrum’s spiritual leadership.

Three years before Hyrum’s death, the Lord gave him the responsibility formerly held by Oliver Cowdery and told him to “act in concert also with my servant Joseph” (D&C 124:95). “Act in concert” says much about Hyrum Smith—and about leadership. What we see in Hyrum is an older brother not of the ilk of Laman and Lemuel, but one filled with humility and purity, one capable of fulfilling the Lord’s charge to “stand by my servant Joseph,” a role he recognized as “no less serviceable” (Alma 48:19). Throughout his ministry, Hyrum resolutely hearkened to the counsel of the Lord: “Cleave unto me with all your heart, that you may assist in bringing to light those things of which has been spoken” (D&C 11:19).

Hence, in Joseph’s last hours, when he tried to convince Hyrum to stay in Nauvoo rather than accompany him to the death chamber in Carthage, Hyrum spoke firmly, “I will not leave you.” [42] In this case, the promise of the Lord was fulfilled through Hyrum: “I will be on your right hand and on your left” (D&C 84:88). Clearly, “in life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated” (D&C 135:3).

“Correct Principles”

Joseph understood delegation. A legislator visiting Nauvoo asked Joseph how he was able to govern so many people and he remarked, “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” [43] He taught those principles on Zion’s Camp, the march to Missouri that proved the mettle of many of the men of the early Church. The brethren watched him and observed what he did and what he said. He taught them in meetings, in his daily interactions, in his communication. Joseph was an example of a humble servant, “willing to spend and be spent” in the service of others. [44] After organizing the sisters as the Female Relief Society to watch over and care for the poor and needy, he promised, “If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.” [45]

In June of 1844, Joseph was not surprised by the governor’s demand that he turn himself in to authorities at Carthage. Joseph knew that the Lord had numbered the days of his ministry. But he did not leave the Church or the Saints without the precious power to further the Lord’s work in the latter days. He prepared leaders to carry on. “God hath made broad our shoulders for the burden,” Joseph had taught. [46] He and Hyrum had carried much of the burden, but others were poised to step forward when called of God. Wilford Woodruff recalled the meeting with the Quorum of the Twelve when the Prophet Joseph rolled off the “burden” of the kingdom upon them:

I thank God I have lived to see the day that I have been enabled to give you your endowments, and I have now sealed upon your heads all the powers of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods and Apostleship, with all the keys and powers thereof, which God has sealed upon me; and I now roll off all the labor, burden and care of this Church and Kingdom of God upon your shoulders, and I now command you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to round up your shoulders, and bear off this Church and Kingdom of God before heaven and earth, and before God, angels and men. [47]

After the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum, Joseph Fielding, brother-in-law to Hyrum and dear friend to them both, wrote: “My consolation” is that they have “done all that they could have done and the foundation of the great work of the last days was laid so that it could be finished by the Twelve Apostles who had been instructed in all things.” [48]

Brigham and the Twelve took up the challenge. They finished the temple, though when the roof was completed, one sister lamented amid the celebration “that Joseph and Hyrum are not here.” Led by the power placed on the Twelve, the Saints abandoned their temple, their homes, and their businesses and fled west as Joseph had prophesied.

Josiah Quincy, when he visited Nauvoo shortly before the Martyrdom, could not have known the final fate of the two brothers, yet he wrote of the influence and the future of this singular religious movement: “Born in the lowest ranks of poverty, without book-learning and with the homeliest of all human names, [Joseph] had made himself at the age of thirty-nine a power upon earth. Of the multitudinous family of Smith, . . . none had so won human hearts and shaped human lives as this Joseph. His influence, whether for good or for evil, is potent to-day, and the end is not yet.” [49]


[1] Josiah Quincy, Figures of the Past from the Leaves of Old Journals (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1884), 376.

[2] Harold Bloom, The American Religion (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 82.

[3] Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 7:174.

[4] The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. and ed. Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret book, 1984), 246.

[5] Joseph Smith, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. and ed. Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1984), 246.

[6] Smith, History of the Church, 1:339.

[7] Smith, History of the Church, 6:459.

[8] Smith, History of the Church, 6:346.

[9] Smith, History of the Church, 2:338.

[10] M. Russell Ballard, “Hyrum Smith: ‘Firm as the Pillars of Heaven,’” Ensign, November 1995, 6.

[11] Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996), 531.

[12] Smith, History of the Church, 4:540.

[13] Smith, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, 239; capitalization and punctuation modernized.

[14] Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1954), 458.

[15] Lucy Mack Smith, The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, ed. Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996), 111.

[16] Quoted in Jeffrey S. O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith: A Life of Integrity (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003), 24–25.

[17] Merlo J. Pusey, Builders of the Kingdom: George A. Smith, John Henry Smith, George Albert Smith (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1981), 3.

[18] Smith, History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 332, note 10.

[19] M. Russell Ballard, “Hyrum Smith: ‘Firm as the Pillars of Heaven,’” Ensign, November 1995, 6.

[20] Smith, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, 368; spelling, capitalization, and punctuation modernized.

[21] Smith, History of the Church, 4:227.

[22] Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1967), 104.

[23] Smith, History of the Church, 6:320.

[24] Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 131.

[25] Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 131–32.

[26] James B. Allen, Ronald K. Esplin, and David J. Whittaker, Men with a Mission, 1837–1841: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992), 232.

[27] Smith, History of the Church, 6:223.

[28] Smith, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, 368; capitalization and punctuation modernized.

[29] Times and Seasons, December 1839, 22, quoted in O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 184.

[30] Hyrum Smith to Mary Fielding Smith, Quincy, Illinois, [ca.1839], quoted in O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 193.

[31] Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1938), 210–11.

[32] Leonard Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1985), 69.

[33] Hyrum Smith to Mary Fielding Smith, 16 March 1839, quoted in O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 197.

[34] Henry B. Eyring, “Rise to Your Call,” Ensign, November 2002, 75.

[35] Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith to Oliver Granger, 30 August 1841, quoted in O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 4.

[36] Hyrum Smith to Mary Fielding Smith, 20 March 1839, quoted in O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 67.

[37] Karl Ricks Anderson, Joseph Smith’s Kirtland (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989), 59.

[38] Smith, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, 238–39; spelling, capitalization and punctuation modernized.

[39] Mary Isabella Horne, quoted in Smith, History of the Church, 4:556 n.; from her statement given on November 19, 1896, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

[40] Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, ed. John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939), 455–56.

[41] Smith, History of the Church, 5:498.

[42] Preston Nibley, The Presidents of the Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1977), 28.

[43] John Taylor, “The Organization of the Church,” Millennial Star, November 15, 1851, 339.

[44] Smith, History of the Church, 5:355.

[45] Smith, History of the Church, 4:605.

[46] Smith, History of the Church, 3:227.

[47] James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75), 3:134.

[48] Andrew F. Ehat, ed., “‘They Might Have Known That He Was Not a Fallen Prophet’—The Nauvoo Journal of Joseph Fielding,” BYU Studies 19 (Winter 1979): 153–54; spelling and capitalization modernized.

[49] Quincy, Figures of the Past, 400.