In the Ensign this month is an article that discusses the Prophet Joseph Smith’s 1844 campaign for President of the United States and asks what he hoped to accomplish. For those who don’t know much about this episode in Church history, this article explains Joseph Smith’s motivation for running, as well as the platform he ran on. Most of the information in the article has been readily available to students of history for some time, but through the Ensign it will now reach a wider audience.
I find it fascinating to see how Joseph Smith’s patriotism held up under the strain of the persecutions the Saints endured, all of which were either sanctioned or permitted by local governments and ultimately ignored by the federal government. Joseph’s reaction was not to condemn the nation and its government but to seek to reform it.
In addition, I find his platform fascinating. It contains some intriguing, practical approaches to the serious issues of the day.
This article doesn’t offer a great deal of analysis, but it doesn’t need to. Its intent seems to be to give basic information about Joseph Smith’s run for President,and it does so mostly through quotations from original documents and contemporary statements. I imagine there are several people in the Ensign‘s readership for whom this article will be something completely new. This sort of thing isn’t necessarily a new direction for the Ensign, but it is something I rather hope they do more of.
(By the way, for what it’s worth, the article takes the opportunity to yet again affirm the Church’s political neutrality.)