Here’s our final episode on the Kirtland Banking Scandal. (Here is Part 1.) I always blamed Joseph’s financial troubles on lack of business sense, but it seems like there were other people conspiring against him. Given the reasons cited in our previous episode, Grandison Newell trying to create a run on the bank, as well as John Johnson selling lands that was serving as collateral for the bank, why was Joseph blamed? Are there other reasons that we need to talk about? Dr. Mark Staker, anthropologist at the LDS Church History Library said,
Whether guilt or compassion for everybody else or whatever, he begins to take on the debts of all these individuals who have been losing money under his—people who have gotten loans to operate businesses, and probably primarily it was the church, he’s calling in all those debts to try to settle the books.
Newell took Joseph to court.
Now did that exonerate Joseph for operating the institution without a bank charter? No because he ended up being tried and convicted for that. But did Joseph have honorable intentions through the whole thing? Absolutely. He tried to make every effort to pay off all the debts that were incurred in the process and even the very last night of his life, while he was laying on the floor in Carthage Jail, he’s still dreaming about those Kirtland troubles and he’d been weeks before that sending letters out to people and warning people not to take Kirtland bank notes. They weren’t good anymore. It haunted him for a long time afterward.
It was a very interesting episode! I’d like to thank Dr. Mark Staker for spending so much time telling us about the Kirtland Era of Mormonism! Check out the video below, or a transcript at Amazon or here on our website!