On June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith – president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — was savagely murdered by renegade elements of a local militia while awaiting a judicial hearing in Carthage, Illinois. Also killed was his brother, Hyrum Smith. After their deaths, John Taylor, a longtime associate who was eyewitness to the killings, wrote the following:
“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it… He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum.”
During his short life, Joseph Smith established cities, produced volumes of scriptures, and sent missionaries to many parts of the world. He directed the construction of temples, served as mayor of the largest city in Illinois, and was briefly a candidate for the presidency of the United States.
He has been described by scholars not of his faith as the most influential religious leader in American history. He was and continues to be a controversial figure who attracted persecution because he challenged established creeds.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not worship Joseph Smith, but they honor him as a prophet of God who was true and faithful, and they revere him as the messenger chosen by God to restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness to the earth.
In the following short video, producer Seth Adam Smith introduces us to a new painting remembering that event known among Mormons simply as “The Martyrdom.” Titled Against the Christian Door, it is the work of LDS artist Andrew Knaupp, whose narration provides a highly interesting explanation of the painting’s detail.
Learn more about the painting, Against the Christian Door, and other work by painter Andrew Knaupp, at his website.
Balanced accounts of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith can be found at MormonWiki.com and at JosephSmith.com. Further insights may be found in this fine article by Church leader Anthony D. Perkins.