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In the final year of his life, Mormon founder Joseph Smith was mayor of one of the largest cities in Illinois, while directing a burgeoning religious movement, dealing with raging controversies among the faithful, and preaching about sin, salvation, resurrection, a multitiered heaven and the human potential to become like God.
He also introduced temple rituals that would become central to worship in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
All this and more are described in Smith's journals between May 1843 and June 1844, which were released Monday as the latest installment of the groundbreaking Joseph Smith Papers Project.
The book "Journals, Volume 3," published by the Church Historian's Press, "captures the complexity of Joseph Smith's life and provides a framework for understanding the events of the final year of the prophet's life," volume co-editor Alex D. Smith said in a news release, "unmatched by any other single contemporaneous source."
It is the conclusion of the LDS leader's second Nauvoo journal, which was kept by one of his scribes, Willard Richards. The volume, the last of the Journals series, describes Smith's daily activities, the release said, gives readers a glimpse into has "personality as well as to better situate him and the faith he founded within 19th-century American history."
The journal details the establishment "of an organization called the Council of Fifty and Smith's candidacy for United States president" as well as "controversial teachings, the practice of plural marriage, Smith's growing political power, and other factors [that] had led to loud criticism and threats toward Smith and other church leaders, and ultimately led to his arrest and martyrdom at the jail in Carthage, Illinois."
Smith was gunned down at the hands of a mob June 27, 1844. He was 38 years old.
In the appendixes to "Journals, Volume 3" are two never-before-published sources, the release said, "an excerpt from Willard Richards' journal for June 23-27 and an account of Smith's June 10-22 activities made by William Clayton."
"Given these scribes' proximity to Smith," the release added, "their records provide invaluable primary source material for studying the events leading to his death."
Peggy Fletcher Stack