There is a remarkable article in the Church News about the legal and business acumen of the Prophet Joseph Smith:
A couple of choice quotes:
“In addition to his many roles as the Lord’s anointed, Joseph Smith showed remarkable competence in legal and business matters as well.”
Yes, he showed such skill in business and legal matters that his biggest enterprise, the Kirtland Bank, folded ignominiously within a couple of weeks, and Joseph had to flee the state of Ohio to escape his creditors.
But this one is jaw-dropping:
“Underpinning the treason charge against the Prophet was his declaration of martial law in the face of a threat of mob violence against the people of Nauvoo. ‘Consequently,’ Brother Walker said, ‘I would say that Joseph and Hyrum were martyred for trying to protect their people. The Expositor was an underlying subplot to the story, but the reason they found themselves in that jail on the 27th of June, 1844, was not due to the destruction of the Expositor. It had to do with the fact that Joseph and Hyrum were making their best effort to protect the saints. And for that, they would be killed.'”
So, destroying the Expositor was just an “underlying subplot,” while the real reason for the “martyrdom” was Joseph’s attempt to “protect the saints.” Sometimes the rewriting of history is shameless, isn’t it?
Joseph ordered the destruction of the Expositor because he feared William Law’s exposure of his behavior, including polygamy and the creation of the Council of Fifty and Quorum of the Anointed. Yes, the saints had been under increasing threat from non-Mormon mobs, but it was the Expositor incident that pushed the mobs into action.
And rather than “protect the saints,” Joseph fled the city to go into hiding, leaving his followers to fend for themselves. It wasn’t until his own friends and family accused him of cowardice that he returned to face the legal consequences of his actions.
If this is a representative example of what they are doing with the “Joseph Smith Papers,” I’d say the project isn’t worth much.