06
Apr
09

On This Day, April 6: Joseph Smith

April 6, 1830

Mormon Church established

In Fayette Township, New York, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion, organizes the Church of Christ during a meeting with a small group of believers.

Born in Vermont in 1805, Smith claimed in 1823 that he had been visited by a Christian angel named Moroni who spoke to him of an ancient Hebrew text that had been lost for 1,500 years. The holy text, supposedly engraved on gold plates by a Native American historian in the fourth century, related the story of Israelite peoples who had lived in America in ancient times. During the next six years, Smith dictated an English translation of this text to his wife and other scribes, and in 1830 The Book of Mormon was published. In the same year, Smith founded the Church of Christ–later known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–in Fayette Township.

The religion rapidly gained converts, and Smith set up Mormon communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. However, the Christian sect was also heavily criticized for its unorthodox practices, such as polygamy, and on June 27, 1844, Smith and his brother were murdered in a jail cell by an anti-Mormon mob in Carthage, Illinois.

Two years later, Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, led an exodus of persecuted Mormons from Nauvoo, Illinois, along the western wagon trails in search of religious and political freedom. In July 1847, the 148 initial Mormon pioneers reached Utah’s Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Upon viewing the valley, Young declared, “This is the place,” and the pioneers began preparations for the tens of thousands of Mormon migrants who would follow them and settle there.

Mormon Church established [Internet]. 2009. The History Channel website. Available from : http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4896 [Accessed 6 Apr 2009].

On This Day

1199 – English King Richard I was killed by an arrow at the siege of the castle of Chaluz in France.

1789 – The first U.S. Congress began regular sessions at the Federal Hall in New York City.

1814 – Granted sovereignty in the island of Elba and a pension from the French government, Napoleon Bonaparte abdicates at Fountainebleau. He was allowed to keep the title of emperor.

1862 – The American Civil War Battle of Shiloh began in Tennessee.

1865 – At the Battle of Sayler’s Creek, a third of Lee’s army was cut off by Union troops pursuing him to Appomattox.

1896 – The first modern Olympic Games began in Athens, Greece.

1909 – Americans Robert Peary and Matthew Henson claimed to be the first men to reach the North Pole.

1941 – German forces invaded Greece and Yugoslavia.

1965 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized the use of ground troops in combat operations in Vietnam.

1998 – Pakistan successfully tested medium-range missiles capable of attacking neighboring India.

April 6, 1917

America enters World War I

Two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally enters World War I.

When World War I erupted in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality for the United States, a position that the vast majority of Americans favored. Britain, however, was one of America’s closest trading partners, and tension soon arose between the United States and Germany over the latter’s attempted quarantine of the British Isles. Several U.S. ships traveling to Britain were damaged or sunk by German mines, and in February 1915 Germany announced unrestricted warfare against all ships, neutral or otherwise, that entered the war zone around Britain. One month later, Germany announced that a German cruiser had sunk the William P. Frye, a private American vessel. President Wilson was outraged, but the German government apologized and called the attack an unfortunate mistake.

On May 7, the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner was torpedoed without warning just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,959 passengers, 1,198 were killed, including 128 Americans. The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the U.S. demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. In August, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels, but in November sunk an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. With these attacks, public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany.

In 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare in war-zone waters. Three days later, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany, and just hours after that the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. In late March, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. Four days later, his request was granted.

On June 26, the first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops landed in France to begin training for combat. After four years of bloody stalemate along the western front, the entrance of America’s well-supplied forces into the conflict marked a major turning point in the war and helped the Allies to victory. When the war finally ended, on November 11, 1918, more than two million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and some 50,000 of them had lost their lives.

America enters World War I [Internet]. 2009. The History Channel website. Available from : http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4898 [Accessed 6 Apr 2009].

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1 Response to “On This Day, April 6: Joseph Smith”


  1. 1 Sidney Carton
    April 6, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Fascinating. As a Mormon I am familiar with my faith’s connection to April 6, but I am embarrassed to note that as a scholar of WWI, I did not know that today was the day of our entry into the “Great War.” I like your site, I will be bookmarking it for further viewing.


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