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Kirtland Banking Crisis (Part 3): Joseph Blamed

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!

Kirtland Banking Crisis (Part 3) – Joseph Blamed

 

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Kirtland Banking Crisis (Part 2): Why it Failed

In my studies of the Kirtland Banking Scandal, I’ve blamed the bank’s collapse on simple ignorance.  Joseph Smith was a prophet, but didn’t know how to make a profit.  However, in talking with Dr. Mark Staker, an anthropologist for the LDS Church History Library, I discovered some nefarious outside influences.  A man by the name of Grandison Newell from a rival bank and competitor, purposely tried to induce a bank run.  Combine that with the fact of a nationwide real estate bubble, and the Banking Panic of 1837 looks even worse than our Great Recession of 2008.  Comparing the causes between 1837 and 2008 shows a similar cause:  real estate speculation.

But it wasn’t just that.  Banking competitor Grandison Newell actively tried to cause a bank run on the Kirtland Safety Society.  Staker says,

While that charter’s still kind of out in limbo, one of those local opponents of theirs, Grandison Newell, he wants to put the bank out of commission, so he goes up and buys up all the banks notes that he can buy, and he comes in and he asks for specie, which is hard currency, gold and silver coins rather than the paper notes and the bank has to trade for those and so all of this currency, all of this specie that’s in the coffers of the bank in the vault, they’re trading out to Grandison Newell and he’s trying to create a run on the bank.

I think the actions of Newell and Johnson are not well known and under-appreciated in the bank’s collapse.  The bank run worked (combined with John Johnson’s sale of bank property which sent real estate prices plummeting.)  In our next podcast, we’ll ask this question.  Given all these reasons for the collapse of the bank, why did Joseph take most of the blame?

Please get a transcript here or at Amazon to help support more podcasts and documentaries such as this.

Kirtland Banking Crisis (Part 2) – Why it Failed

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Kirtland Banking Crisis (Part 1): Why a Bank?

The year 1837 was one of the most turbulent periods in all of Mormon history.  It was the year the Kirtland Bank collapsed.  Many, including apostles, lost faith in Joseph Smith and his ability to lead.  Why did Joseph decide that Kirtland needed a bank?  What were the economic reasons behind this?  Historian and Author, Dr. Mark Staker talks about this in his book [Hearken O Ye People:  The Historical Settings of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations] about the Kirtland period.  One of these events dealt that led Mormon leaders to consider a bank was a visit to New York City.

While they’re going out there, they go through New York and they visit Wall Street.  They see these trains.  They see all this industry going on and things.  Oliver Cowdery is writing back these letters and suggesting that banking is something that interested them.  Exactly how that congeals in their minds, what it is that they plan on doing?  Why?  What is it that they see that leads them to these decisions?  They come back and with the idea that they need to have a bank in Kirtland and they need to be able to print their own money to do their own things and it will foster this growth.

Listen to describe other events that led up to the Kirtland Bank.  (In part 2, we’ll discuss events leading to the collapse of the bank.)

 

Kirtland Banking Crisis (Part 1) – Why a Bank?

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Elijah’s Visit & the Sealing Keys

The vision of Elijah is one of the most important Church history events in all of the Doctrine & Covenants.  It’s the vision where Elijah came to Joseph and Oliver and restored the sealing power.  Did you know that Joseph was sealed to his first plural wife, Fanny Alger a year or two prior to that?  We asked LDS Anthropologist Dr. Mark Staker how to explain that, and I think you’ll find his explanation very interesting.

I believe that Joseph Smith received from Peter, James and John all the authority that he needed, including the sealing power.  He holds all those through Peter, James, and John.  What Elijah brings is keys; keys to enact those sealing powers on behalf of other individuals.

 

I don’t think that’s what we typically learn at church.  Do you agree?  Did Joseph get the sealing power in 1830, and the keys to share with others in 1836?  What do you think of this distinction between sealing and sealing keys?

I encourage you to listen to the podcast, watch the YouTube, get a transcript here or on Amazon.  If you’re interested in a free transcript ($3 value), send us a screenshot of your 5 star review on Amazon or iTunes and I’ll give you a transcript of your choice!  Spread the word!  I hope you find this podcast a valuable resource!

 

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Did the Kirtland Temple Sparkle?

I’d like to thank everyone who listens to our podcast on your phone or iPod, or however you listen to us.  For those of you who are watching on YouTube, I want to point out a special extra thing that we’ve done this time.  I have some old public domain photographs of the Kirtland Temple that I think you’ll find really interesting.

I also have also got two special guests, rather than one today.  In addition to Dr. Mark Staker, I’ll introduce Dr. Richard Bennett.  He’s a professor of Church History at BYU and we’ll talk about the construction of the Kirtland Temple.  How much did it cost to build the temple?  We’ll also talk about the Mormon myth about whether the saints really crushed up their china and put it into the plaster of the Kirtland Temple.   When I asked Dr. Bennett that question, he said

No that’s not a true story.  It’s one of those Mormonisms that have come through, somewhere along the line.

However, Dr. Staker said,

I was digging in the ashery pit.  It’s 30 feet across, probably about 15 feet deep pit of ash, and I went through bushels of ashes and I found fragments of ceramics after fragments of ceramics…

Dr. Bennett said,

Nevertheless it was a beautiful, bluish tinge to it and that would shine in the sun…

Staker said that the LDS builders got a patent for the special process and

the sun would shine on it and you’d get little sparkling from a distance and it was quite a dramatic view from the distance.

What’s the true story?  You can listen to the link above, watch the YouTube video below, or get a transcript here, or on Amazon.  Have you heard this story before?  What do you think of the saints sacrifice to build the Kirtland Temple.

(Please note:  This is a continuation of our previous conversation about the Kirtland Temple.)

 

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Kirtland Temple University?

Mormons often refer to the temple as the “University of the Lord.”  In Doctrine and Covenants 88:119, it says the temple is to be a “house of learning, a house of faith.”  Did you know that the original Kirtland Temple was envisioned to be more of as a real school than a temple?  Dr. Mark Staker, an LDS Anthropologist at the Church History Library tells us more about the evolution of the Kirtland School into the Kirtland Temple.  Check out the video below, the audio above, or you can get a transcript here or on Amazon!

Let’s listen in our conversation….

 

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Kirtland Era Polygamy

This is not your typical polygamy conversation.  How did polygamy get started in the LDS Church?  Dr. Mark Staker has a very interesting theory:  he thinks it was started by a former slave, Black Pete, who joined the Mormon community in 1830.  I talked about Black Pete in Part 1 and Part 2 of my discussion with Staker, an LDS Anthropologist, and Staker also makes the case that Oliver Cowdery, not Joseph Smith, wrote the Declaration on Marriage that was replaced by D&C 132 in the Doctrine & Covenants.  With the LDS Church’s stance on monogamy being God’s standard, does Staker believe that this de-canonized revelation could be re-canonized?  Check out the audio above, video below, or transcript (also on Amazon) to find out!  You’ll learn a lot about polygamy the foundations of polygamy in this episode!

Here’s a few interesting quotes from the podcast:

GT:  So wait a minute.  You’re telling me that Black Pete may have been responsible for introducing polygamy into the Kirtland community?

Mark:  I believe so, and I believe that’s why often we say well Joseph Smith was translating the Bible and he wants to know about Abraham and his wives, Isaac and Jacob and their wives and so he asks that.

Who authored the Declaration on Marriage?

Brigham Young believed it was all Oliver Cowdery.  Did he know all the details?  Scholars have disputed that but some of them have accepted his declaration.  I tend to believe that Brigham Young did know enough about those details that he was right that Oliver Cowdery had played the principal if not the sole role in getting that material included.

What are your thoughts?

https://youtu.be/z2CP5VsJyps

 

 

 

 

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Black Pete’s Mormon Mission in 1831

It may be surprising to many to discover that a man known in Mormon journals as Black Pete served a mission for the LDS Church in 1831.  (Back then, it was known simply as the “Church of Christ.”)  Dr. Staker notes,

Black Pete is one of these individuals that goes out preaching.  He joins three other individuals and they all go out as a group of four. They’re very interested in religious enthusiasm.  That might be what ties them together, but what this also suggests is that since those that we know about were ordained elders such as John Murdock, it could be that Black Pete had been ordained an elder as well to go out and he’s assigned to preach just like these others are assigned to go out and preach.

In this episode, we’ll discuss his visits from a black angel, and some of the unusual religious practices he imprinted on Mormonism.  We’ve already mentioned that he started speaking in tongues in Part 1 of our conversation, but in this episode, we’ll learn that Joseph Smith tamps down on these religious practices.  However, missionaries from Kirtland convert Brigham Young, who re-introduces the practice of speaking in tongues in Kirtland!  Pete also attempts to marry within the predominantly white community of Kirtland.  Staker notes that interracial marriage in 1831

would be national news, and it did happen occasionally. It ended up in the national papers that someone married a black person, but Emma’s aunt had done exactly that.

GT:  Emma Smith?

Mark:  Emma Smith’s aunt Diantha Hale had married a Joseph Wallace, a black man.

GT:  Oh I did not know that.

Mark:  Nobody did.  They kept it quiet.  By law they had to announce it in the newspaper, the marriage, but they didn’t mention race in that official announcement.

GT:  Wow!

Please listen here!  Here’s a link to a transcript (also on Amazon).  A video is found below.

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Black Pete: Former Slave Becomes First Black Mormon

I really enjoyed sitting down with Dr. Mark Staker of the LDS Church History Library.  Mark is a historian and has written about the first community that accepted the Mormon Church in Kirtland, Ohio.  I was surprised to learn that a former slave by the name of Black Pete was one of the leaders of this early Mormon community!  In part 1 of our interview, we’ll talk about Black Pete’s introduction of speaking in tongues and his leadership in the fledgling Mormon community in 1830-1831.  I think it’s a great interview!  Please listen.

Here’s a transcript, or you can get one on Amazon.com as well!  Check out the video below!