The church was organized in New York on April 6,
1830. Since 1838 we have continuously been called the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints in the same style most often used before 1844,
British hyphenation later adopted by the other Mormons.
Joseph Smith Jr. presided over the church from 1830
to 1844, and James J. Strang presided from 1844 to 1856.
Joseph Smith Jr. appointed James J. Strang to be his
successor with a document that survives at Yale University. Scholars have determined
that it has an authentic postmark Nauvoo, June 19, 1844 on an envelope
addressed in the same hand as the whole document. The envelope is block-printed in a
style strikingly similar to that occasionally used by Hyrum Smiths scribe, but is
probably in the rare printing of Joseph Smith Jr. himself. The text of the document
matches the language, style, and passion of Joseph Smith Jr. The document is
published with the Revelations of James J. Strang.
The letter convinced John
Whitmer, David Whitmer, Martin Harris, Hiram Page, John E. Page, William
McLellin, William Smith,
Emma Smith, the sisters of Joseph Smith, William Marks, George Miller,
and an array of other scribes and family members who would have known Joseph Smith Jr.s style.
Joseph Smith Jr. had written revelations in the Doctrine
and Covenants that said he alone had the keys to receive revelations for the church,
and indicated that he would eventually appoint another in his steadbut he could not
ordain his own successor to a sole office, and no other person could ordain someone to an
office that they themselves lacked.
James J. Strang announced that he had been ordained
by angels in the same hour that Joseph Smith Jr. was killed, but he and Smith were two
hundred miles apart. The ordination is published in the Revelations of James J.
James J. Strang translated metallic plates and eleven
witnesses signed testimonies that they saw the platesnone ever denied their
testimony. The testimony of the Voree Plates is published in the
James J. Strang; and the testimony to the
Book of the Law of the Lord
is published in front of that law.
Brigham Young was summoned to a trial and
excommunicated by a high council on April 6, 1846. Young in turn claimed that he
excommunicated James J. Strang, but there was never a notice for Strang to appear, nor was
there ever a trial for Strang.
12,000 people acknowledged the appointment of
James J. Strang.
James J. Strang was killed in 1856, just twelve years
after his appointment, and the church barely survived being driven from northern Michigan
by a mob at the same time.
Most of our members later joined the Reorganized
church which was formed four years after the death of James J. Strang.