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With the help of his young wife Emma, Smith recovered the Biblel and, with the help of other true believers, translated the gold plates into the Book of Mormon. As soon as the book was published, Smith, age twenty-four, founded a church, which he ruled as prophet and seer.
With the help of Sidney Rigdon, a new convert, he moved his church to Kirtland, Ohio. A revelation informed the Prophet that Kirtland was only a stopping off point for his church. Its real goal was to found a new Zion, gather together with the American Indians, and await the Second Coming. At about the same time, he received a mysterious revelation hinting about the restoration of polygamy.
The Prophet went to Missouri and, again by revelation, discovered the location of Zion, in the center of the already established city of Independence. There,he and his disciples would establish a temble and build a great temple. In his enthusiasm, Smith did not notice that most of the land around Independence already belonged to non-Mormons.
When he returned to Kirtland, the Prophet began to send thousands of new converts on to Missouri to build Zion. Alarmed and frightened, the people formed mobs and drove the Mormons out of Jackson County, forcing them to go north, where they eventually founded a city of refuge called Far West.
After a Quixotic effort to regain the lost lands, Smith returned to Kirtland, instructed by revelation to build a mighty temple where his people could receive their "endowments" and obtain the blessings that would make them a worthy people. He also felt instructed to marry his first plural wife. When Emma discovered the sixteen year-old girl, she drove her out of Kirtland.
Joseph and his people experienced God during their endowment ceremonies, and received incredible spiritual blessings. But it quickly became apparant that Joseph andhis church were buried in debt, with creditors pressing them from every side.
The Prophet heard the audible voice of God instructing him to start a bank, which would solve their financial troubles. But as soon as the bank was started, it fell over an abyss into the Great Financial Crash of 1837. Faithful members who had given everything to a bank guaranteed by God himself felt deceived. The church began to come apart.
After losing control of his followers and fearing for his very life, the Prophet galloped away from Kirtland in the middle of a January night, heading for refuge in Far West, 800 miles away.