Asael Smith

Asael Smith
Born 7 Mar. 1743/4,
Topsfield, Essex County, Massachusetts
Died 31 Oct. 1830
Stockholm, St. Lawrence County, New York
Spouse Mary Duty (1767)
Father Samuel Smith, Jr.
Mother Priscilla Gould
Children Jesse Smith
Priscilla Smith
Joseph Smith Sr.
Asahel Smith
Mary Smith
Samuel Smith
Silas Smith
John Smith
Susanna Smith
Stephen Smith
Sarah Smith

“Asael fought in the American Revolutionary Army. An outspoken critic of sectarian religions of his day, he declined to join any church, but hopefully awaited a restoration of the gospel in its pristine purity.

“Asael Smith was not the only American revolutionist who felt a conviction that the true church would one day be restored to the earth. In 1820, the year Asael’s grandson, Joseph the Prophet, received his first vision, Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, in denouncing the sectarian priests, declared, “The genuine and simple religion of Jesus will one day be restored, such as it was preached and practiced by Himself. Very soon after His death it became muffled up in mysteries, and has been ever since kept in concealment from the vulgar eye. . . .”

“Asael Smith’s father, Samuel Smith Jr., (1714-1785) was not only a soldier, though briefly, in the American Revolutionary Army, but according to family tradition he was chairman of the committee of freedom fighters responsible for the so-called Boston Tea Party which precipitated outbreak of the war for independence. (Samuel Adams is generally credited with leadership in that famous act of defiance.) Smith also served as a delegate to the Provincial Congress at Concord, Massachusetts, in 1774-75, just a year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Thus he must rightly be regarded as one of the founding fathers of the nation, though in a lesser role than some of the better known leaders of the revolution.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., and John J. Stewart, The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], 34)

“Love of liberty was diffused into my soul by my grandfathers while they dandled me on their knees.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:498)

Visit of Joseph Smith Sr. to Asael after Restoration

Soon after the Church was organized, my husband set out, with Don Carlos, to visit his father, Asael Smith. After a tedious journey, they arrived at the house of John Smith, my husband’s brother. His wife Clarissa, had never before seen my husband, but as soon as he entered, she exclaimed, “There, Mr. Smith, is your brother Joseph.” John, turning suddenly, cried out, “Joseph, is this you!”

“It is I,” said Joseph, “is my father yet alive? I have come to see him once more, before he dies.”

For a particular account of this visit, I shall give my readers an extract from brother John Smith’s journal. He writes as follows:—

“The next morning after brother Joseph arrived, we set out together for Stockholm to see our father, who was living at that place with our brother Silas. We arrived about dark at the house of my brother Jesse, who was absent with his wife. The children informed us, that their parents were with our  father, who was supposed to be dying. We hastened without delay to the house of brother Silas, and upon
arriving there were told, that father was just recovering from a severe fit, and, as it was not considered advisable to let him or mother know that Joseph was there, we went to spend the night with brother Jesse.

“As soon as we were settled, brothers Jesse and Joseph entered into conversation respecting their families. Joseph briefly related the history of his family, the death of Alvin, &c. He then began to speak of  the discovery and translation of the Book of Mormon. At this, Jesse grew very angry, and exclaimed, ‘If  you say another word about that Book of Mormon, you shall not stay a minute longer in my house, and if I can’t get you out any other way, I will hew you down with my broad axe.’

“We had always been accustomed to being treated with much harshness by our brother, but he had never carried it to so great an extent before. However, we spent the night with him, and the next morning visited our aged parents. They were overjoyed to see Joseph, for he had been absent from them so long,(15 years ) that they had been fearful of never beholding his face again in the flesh.

“After the usual salutations, enquiries, and explanations, the subject of the Book of Mormon was introduced. Father received with gladness, that which Joseph communicated; and remarked, that he had always expected that something would appear to make known the true Gospel.

“In a few minutes brother Jesse came in, and on hearing that the subject of our conversation was the Book of Mormon, his wrath rose as high as it did the night before. ‘My father’s mind,’ said Jesse, ‘is weak, and I will not have it corrupted with such blasphemous stuff, so just shut up your heads.’ Brother Joseph reasoned mildly with him, but to no purpose. Brother Silas then said, ‘Jesse, our brother has come to make us a visit, and I am glad to see him, and am willing he should talk as he pleases in my house.’ Jesse replied in so insulting a manner, and continued to talk so abusively, that Silas was under the necessity of requesting him to leave the house.

“After this, brother Joseph proceeded in conversation, and father seemed to be pleased with every word which he said. But I must confess that I was too pious, at that time, to believe one word of it.

“I returned home the next day, leaving Joseph with my father. Soon after which, Jesse came to my house and informed me, that all my brothers were coming to make me a visit, ‘and as true as you live,’ said he, ‘they all believe that cursed Mormon book, every word of it, and they are setting a trap for you, to make you believe it.’

“I thanked him for taking so much trouble upon himself, to inform me that my brothers were coming to see me, but told him, that I considered myself amply able to judge for myself in matters of religion. ‘I know,’ he replied, ‘that you are a pretty good judge of such things, but I tell you, that they are as wary as the devil. And I want you to go with me and see our sisters, Susan and Fanny, and we will bar their minds against Joseph’s influence.’

“We accordingly visited them, and conversed upon the subject as we thought proper, and requested them to be at my house the next day.

“My brothers arrived according to previous arrangement, and Jesse, who came also, was very careful to hear every word which passed among us, and would not allow one word to be said about the Book of Mormon. They agreed that night to visit our sisters the following day, and as we were about leaving, my brother Asael took me aside and said, ‘Now, John, I want you to have some conversation with
Joseph, but if you do, you must cheat it out of Jesse. And if you wish, I can work the card for you.’

“I told him that I would be glad to talk with Joseph alone, if I could get an opportunity.

“‘Well,’ replied brother Asael, ‘I will take a certain number in my carriage, and Silas will take the rest, and you may bring out a horse for Joseph to ride, but when we are out of sight, take the horse back to the stable again, and keep Joseph over night.’

“I did as brother Asael advised, and that evening Joseph explained to me the principles of ‘Mormonism,’ the truth of which I have never since denied.

“The next morning, we (Joseph and myself) went to our sisters, where we met our brothers, who censured me very sharply for keeping Joseph over night—Jesse, because he was really displeased; the others, to make a show of disappointment.

“In the evening, when we were about to separate, I agreed to take Joseph in my wagon twenty miles on his journey the next day. Jesse rode home with me that evening, leaving Joseph with our sisters.  As Joseph did not expect to see Jesse again, when we were about starting, Joseph gave Jesse his hand in a pleasant, affectionate manner, and said, ‘Farewell, brother Jesse!’ ‘Farewell, Jo, for ever,’ replied Jesse, in a surly tone.

‘I am afraid,’ returned Joseph in a kind, but solemn manner, ‘it will be for ever, unless you repent.’

“This was too much for even Jesse’s obdurate heart. He melted into tears; however, he made no reply, nor ever mentioned the circumstance afterwards.

“I took my brother twenty miles on his journey the next day, as I had agreed. Before he left me, he requested me to promise him, that I would read a Book of Mormon, which he had given me, and even should I not believe it, that I would not condemn it; ‘for,’ said he, ‘if you do not condemn it, you shall have a testimony of its truth.’ I fulfilled my promise, and thus proved his testimony to be true.”

(Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, p.154)

Prophecy

“My grandfather, Asael smith long ago predicted that there would be a prophet raised up in the family, and. my grandmother was fully satisfied that it was fulfilled in me. My grandfather Asael died Oct 31, 1830 after having received the Book of Mormon and read it nearly through, and. he declared, that I was the very prophet that he had long known would come in his family.” (D.H.C. Vol. II p. 443)

“It has been borne in upon my soul that one of my descendants will promulgate a work to revolutionize the world of religious faith” (quoted in George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet [1986], 26).

Teachings

“The soul is immortal. … Do all to God in a serious manner. When you think of him, speak of him, pray to him, or in any way make your addresses to his great majesty, be in good earnest. … And as to religion, study the nature of religion, and see whether it consists in outward formalities, or in the hidden man of the heart. …

“Sure I am my Savior, Christ, is perfect, and never will fail in one circumstance. To him I commit your souls, bodies, estates, names, characters, lives, deaths and all—and myself, waiting when he shall change my vile body and make it like his own glorious body.” (Cited in Anderson, Joseph Smith’s New England Heritage, pp. 124–25, 129; see also pp. 130–40.)

“Bless God that you live in a land of liberty, and bear yourselves dutifully and conscionably towards the authority under which you live.  See God’s providence in the appointment of the Federal Constitution, and hold union and order as a precious jewel.” (Asael Smith letter to His Family, Richard Lloyd Anderson, Joseph Smith’s New England Heritage, 124-129)

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