New Information on the Kirtland Safety Society (The Banking Disaster)

Banking disasters have been an ongoing problem in this nation. Regarding the banking disaster that affected Latter-day Saints in Kirtland during Joseph Smith’s day, critics have accused him of fraud and worse, using the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society to argue that Joseph could not have been a prophet with such a disaster on his hands.

R. McKay White offers an interesting perspective in “The Kirtland Safety Society: The Myths, the Facts, and the Prophet’s Good Name.” He provides evidence that Joseph acted in good faith and not as a crook, and that the effort could have succeeded were it not for some unethical actions by others. He deals with many of the charges that others have made to criticize Joseph. Naturally, we can still argue that it could have been managed more carefully or with less risk, and some may still end up faulting the whole idea from the beginning. But White’s essay deserves consideration as we explore that controversial era in Kirtland.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

7 thoughts on “New Information on the Kirtland Safety Society (The Banking Disaster)

  1. I edited out a sentence in the original post that took a pot shot at crooked bankers and politicians with language that might resonate with some libertarians, Constitutionalists, and a few conservatives as well as classical liberals. Hopefully that deletion will help me keep my political biases less obvious. If people found out that I was pro-freedom, I'd be in even hotter water than I already am.

  2. Jeff,

    I think it's silly when people try to use such things as this banking problem to show that JS wasn't a prophet. His teachings and practices prove the point.


  3. I'm not sure how much more careful Joseph Smith and the Brethren could be. As I wrote at FAIRBlog (, the fact that the KSS paid back deposits dollar for dollar indicates that it was the sudden deflating of US currency (that caused the panic of 1837!) which did the KSS in, and NOT any mismanagement or fraud.

    Even among honest, well run, but unlucky banks, paying back deposits dollar-for-dollar is unheard of!

    Do I make sense?

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