Joseph Smith and the Civil War


Joseph Smith, Jr,  the first prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (Mormons), made a fair number of prophecies during his lifetime.  Two of the more interesting ones are his predictions of a coming civil war.  On December 25, 1832, at the height of the Nullification Crisis, Joseph Smith predicted the following:

1 VERILY, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls;
2 And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.
3 For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations.
4 And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war.
5 And it shall come to pass also that the remnants who are left of the land will marshal themselves, and shall become exceedingly angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation.
6 And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations;
7 That the cry of the saints, and of the blood of the saints, shall cease to come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, from the earth, to be avenged of their enemies.
8 Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen.

In 1842 Smith added to the prophecy:

12 I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina.
13 It may probably arise through the slave question. This a voice declared to me, while I was praying earnestly on the subject, December 25th, 1832.


I will not get into the theological debate.  The prophecy did have one important historical impact, however.  When the Civil War did come, the onset of it did not take the Mormons by surprise due to the prophecy of Smith, and it helped foster a strong desire of most Mormons in Utah not to take part in the war on either side, although Utah continued to petition for admission to the Union throughout the War, with Mormon leaders noting the irony that while other states were fighting to get out of the Union, they were being denied admission to it.

Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (3)  
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  1. It is not without controversy whether that is actually a picture of Joseph Smith or not.

  2. It does look different from the paintings of him doesn’t it Adam?

    Here is a site which discusses the controversy:

  3. So who was more prophetic in this instance, E. B. Howe, the Editor of the Paynesville Telegraph (12 miles from Kirtland), who predicted in the newspaper that “civil war” was near and perhaps “our national existence is at an end” on December 21, 1832 or Joseph Smith. It seems that around and after the Nullification Crisis that there were many who ‘prophesied’ civil war and the end of the United States. History shows too that following this the nation worked hard to avoid war through things such as the Compromise of 1850. It all seems so revelatory now but it was the news of the day back then.

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