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.