Joseph Smith (1805–1844) was the founder, prophet, and first president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or Mormons). Born in Vermont, Smith grew up in New England and New York, where in 1820 Smith claimed to experience a religious vision in which God and Jesus Christ appeared to him. In 1823 and 1827, Smith experienced two more visions, which led him to write and publish the Book of Mormon in 1830. The same year, Smith organized his new church with a group of converts including family members and follower Brigham Young. Smith moved the church to Ohio and then to Missouri, where the congregation was not welcomed by non-Mormon settlers. The Missouri government ordered the Mormons to leave the state, but they refused. In the ensuing Mormon War, the church put up an armed resistance to government forces, but the resistance was put down and Smith captured. He escaped to Illinois, where the church grew to about 12,000 members by 1845. In 1844, however, Smith was killed in a conflict with Mormon dissenters, leaving leadership of the church to Brigham Young.

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