Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)




Philip L. Barlow


On June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, was assassinated. In the wake of his death, a number of would-be
successors emerged. Each of these leaders - part of what I call the second prophetic
generation - established a unique vision of Mormonism.

In 1844, Mormonism was in the middle of a major shift in its character. Joseph
Smith’s death left numerous theological and practical questions unresolved. This thesis argues that, rather than merely a succession struggle of competition and power, a principal function of the second prophetic generation in Mormonism was to respond to Joseph Smith’s innovations and to forge alternate coherent (re-)interpretations of the Mormon faith that could continue into the future without access to the original prophet.

Two major issues that required reframing in a post-Smith world were issues of
domesticity and marriage and hierarchical structure. One or both of these issues are
considered in the thought of four second-generation prophets: Alpheus Cutler, William Smith, Charles Thompson, and Lyman Wight. Their response to these questions,
ultimately, resulted in distinct traditions within the Mormon movement.


This work made publicly available electronically on May 11, 2011.