Monday, June 27, 2011

The Dreams of Joseph Smith

Being that today is the anniversary of Joseph Smith's death, and in light discussion regarding Joseph Smith's last dream ( here, here, and here) I though I'd reproduce accounts of Joseph Smith's dreams.*

I've divided accounts of his dreams into two sections; first, those dreams by Joseph Smith after the organization of the church, most as recorded in his diary.

The second section includes a selection of account relating to the visitations by Moroni and recovery of the gold plates. These accounts suggest these visions may have occurred while dreaming.  Note this section contains some accounts by sources not friendly to Joseph Smith.


-- Jan 22, 1836
[Joseph Smith Diary] ...I then observed to the brethren that it was time to retire. We accordingly /closed/ our interview and returned home at about 2 o'clock in the morning. The spirit and visions of God attended me through the night. (1)

-- Jan 28, 1836
[Joseph Smith Diary] ...I f[e]lt to praise God with a loud hossannah for His goodness to me and my father's family and to all the children of men. Praise the Lord all ye His Saints, Praise His Holy Name. After these quorems were dismissed I retired to my home filled with the spirit and my soul cried hossannah to God and the Lamb through /the/ silent watches of the night and while my eyes were closed in sleep the visions of the Lord were sweet unto me and his glory was round about me. Praise the Lord. (1)

-- Jan 21, 1842
Nauvoo, Illinois. Joseph Smith's history records: I read the Book of Mormon, transacted a variety of business in the store and city, and spent the evening in the office with Elders John Taylor and Willard Richards interpreting dreams. (2)

-- Aug 16, 1842
Nauvoo, Illinois. In a letter to his wife, Emma Smith, Joseph Smith mentioned how he, through dream and vision, was persuaded against traveling to the Pine Country in Wisconsin. (2)

-- Dec 28, 1842
[Joseph Smith Diary] ... Before starting Joseph related his [dream]. Was by a beautiful stream of water. Saw a noble handsome fish. Threw it out. Soon after saw more, threw them out and soon a great many and threw them out a great abundance, and sent for salt to salt them down and salted them. (3)

-- Jan 18, 1843
[Joseph Smith Diary] ...Dreamed that a sheriff came after me [Joseph]. A man put a musket in my hand and told me to keep him [the sheriff]. I took the musket and walked around him. When he went to go  away, I would push him back and if others came to trouble him I would keep them off.... (3)

-- Jan 20, 1843
[Joseph Smith Diary] ...Joseph told his dream in council[:] I dreamed this morning that I was in the Lobby of the Representative House at Springfield when some of the members who did not like my being there began to mar and cut and pound my shins with pieces of Iron. I bore  it as long as I could, then Jumped over the rail into the hall, caught a rod of Iron and went at them cursing and swearing at them in the most awful manner and drove them all out of the house. I went to the door and told them to send me a clerk and I will /would/ make some laws that would do good. There was quite a collection around the /State/ house trying to raise an army to take me and there were many horses tied around the square. I thought they would not have the privilege of getting me so I took a rod of Iron and mowed my way through their way /ranks/,  looking after their best race horrse thinking they might catch me when the[y] could find me when I was awoke.
        To dream of flying signifies prosperity and deliverence from Enemies. Swimming in deep water signifies success among Many people. The word will be accompanied with power. Told Elder Hyde when he spoke in the name of the Lord, it should prove true, but do not curse the people.... (3)

-- Mar 11, 1843
[Joseph Smith Diary] ...A dream then related. Night before last I [Joseph] dreamed that an /old/ man came to me /and said/ there was a mob force coming upon him, and he was likely to loose his life, that I was Lieut[enant] General and had the command of a large force. I was also a patriot and disposed to protect the innocent and unoffending and wanted I should assist him. I told him I wanted some written documents to show the facts that they are the agressors, and I would raise a force sufficient for his protection, that I would call out the Legion. He turned to go from me, but turned again and  said to me. "I have any amount of men at my command and will put them under your command."... (4)

-- Mar 15, 1843
[Joseph Smith Diary] ...Dream, last night dreamed of swimming in a river of pure water, clear as crystal, over a school of fish of the largest /size/ I ever saw. They were directly under my belly. I was astonished and felt afraid they might drown me or do me injury. They were the largest I ever saw.... (4)

-- Apr 2, 1843
[Joseph Smith] ...He [Joseph] also related the following dream. "I dreamed that silver-headed old man came to see me and said he was invaded by a gang of robbers, who were plundering his neighbors and threatening distruction to all his subjects. He had heard that I always sought to defend the oppressed, and he had come to hear with his own ears what answer I would give him. I answered, if you will make out the papers and shew that you are not the agressor I will call out the Legion and defend you while I have a man to stand by me. The old man then turned to go away. When he got a little distance he turned suddenly round and said I must call out the Legion and go and he would have the papers ready when I arrived, and says he I have any amount of men which you can have under your command.
        [Note: the above paragraph is crossed through with a penciled line and at the beginning in handwriting that is not William Clayton's, a comment simply says "repeated his of 10 March." ]
        Er Hyde gave this interpretation "The old man represents the government of these United States who will be invaded by a foreign foe, probably England. The U. S. government will call on you to defend probably all this Western Territory, and will offer you any amount of men you may need for that purpose.... (5)

-- May 19, 1843
[Joseph Smith Diary] Friday, May 19th 1843 Told Bro[ther] Phelps a dream that the history must go ahead before any thing 5 P.M. gave a warrant against Samuel Fuller for running a boat on the Ferry. (4)

-- Jan 5, 1844
[Joseph Smith] Joseph dreams of "2 serpents swallowing each other tail foremost." ... (6)

-- Feb 2, 1844
[Apostle Wilford Woodruff Journal] ...Feb 3d 1844 I walked into President Joseph Smith Store or office over the store & spent a few moments in conversing with Elders W Richards And Wm. W. Phelps & President Joseph Smith Came into the room & Said he had a dream & related it to us which was as follows:
        + I was standing on a peninsula in the midst of a vast body of water whare their appears to be a large harbor or a peer built out for boats to Come into. I was surrounded by my friends & while looking at this harbor I saw a Steem boat approaching the harbour. Their was bridges on the peer for persons to cross & there came up a wind & drove the steem boat under one of the bridges & upset it. I run up to the boat expecting the persons would all drowne. And wishing to do sumthing to assist them I put my hand against the side of the boat & with one surge I shoved it under the bridge & righted it up & then [I] told them to take care of themselves. But it was not long before I saw them starting out into the channel or main body of the water again. The storms were raging & the waters rough. I said to my friends that if they did not understand the signs of the times & the spirit of Prophecy they would be apted to be lost. It was but a few moments after when we saw the waves break over the boat & she soon founderd & went down with all on board & perished.
        The storm & waters were still vary rough. Yet I told my friends around me that I believed I could stem those waves & storm & swim in the waters better than the steem boat did & at any rate I was determined to try it. But my friends laughed at me & told me I Could not stand the storm at all but should be drouned. The waters looked Clear & beautiful though exeeding rough, & I said I believed I could swim & I would try it anyhow. They said I would drown. I said I would have a frolic in the water first if I did & I dove of into the raging waves.
        I had swum but a short distance when a towering wave overwhelmed me for a time but I soon found myself on the top of it & soon I met the second wave in the same way & for awhile I struggled hard to live in the midst of the storm & waves. But I soon found I gained upon evry wave & stemmed the torrent better & better & I soon had power to swim with my head out of water so the waves did not break over me at all & I found I had swam a great distance & in looking about me I saw Br Samuel by my side. I asked him how he liked it. He said first rate & I thought so to. I was soon enabled to swim with my head & Sholdiers out of water & I Could swim as fast as any steem Boat, & in a little time it becaim calm & I Could rush through the water & ownly go in to my loins & so[n?] I ownly went in to my knees & finally could tread on the top of the water & went almost with the speed of an arrow & I said to Samuel see how swift I can go & I thought it was great sport & pleasure to travel with such speed & I awoke.
        What the interpetation of the foregoing dream was the spirit of God or time must determin.... (7)

-- Jun 13, 1844
[Joseph Smith] ...In the evening Joseph relates a dream in the Seventies Hall in which his enemies, Foster and Higbee, are symbolized as two large snakes who are locked together so tightly that they cannot get any power over Joseph. The dream also refers to the plans of William and Wilson Law being overcome.... (6)

-- Jun 15, 1844. Saturday.
[William Clayton Journal] A.M. conversing with Dr. [Joseph] Wakefield and others in the Bar Room, telling a dream concerning his father killing a man who attempted to stab him. ...(8)

-- Jun 24, 1844
[Joseph Smith] .... Dr. Richards records notes dictated by Joseph and Hyrum and addressed to their families. Joseph relates a dream he had in Kirtland in which his enemies tried to destroy him but ended up destroying themselves. ... (6)

-- Jul 16, 1844
[Apostle Wilford Woodruff Journal] 16th    ... I then went to the Post Office & took out a letters directed to G. A. Smith written mostly by his wife. Mrs Woodruff wrote a few lines in it to me the first intelligence I had from her since I left home. She related the following dream that Joseph Smith had a few days before he sealed + his testimony with his blood, about Wm. & Wilson Law:

       He thought they bound him and cast him into prision a pit or well as Joseph was anciently. He struggled hard & got up so he could look out & he saw the Laws a little distance off one of them in the hands /grasp/ of a tiger & the other a snake. They called to him to come & help them. He told them they had bound him & they could not. He thought a brother soon came along & took him out of the pit. ... (7)

1 - Faulring, Scott (ed.), An American Prophet's Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith: Joseph Smith Diary, 1835-36
2 - BYU Studies Journal, volume 46, no. 4: A Chronology of the Life of Joseph Smith
3 - Faulring, Scott (ed.), An American Prophet's Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith: Joseph Smith Diary, 1842-43
4 - Faulring, Scott (ed.), An American Prophet's Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith: Joseph Smith Diary, 1843
5 - The Words of Joseph Smith by Joseph Smith by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook
6 - Conklin, Christopher J., Joseph Smith Chronology
7 - Wilford Woodruff's Journal: 1833-1898 Typescript, Volumes 1-9, Edited by Scott G. Kenney, Signature Books 1993
8 - George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, Salt Lake City, 1995.  For a late recollection of this dream, see Almanac for the year 1863 being the thirty fourth year of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (From April 6, 1830) .. by W.W. Phelps, Joseph Smith's last dream (1863), also reproduced here


-- During 1822-23?
The Smiths seek the expertise of a reputed treasure seer living many miles away. Several sources identify this seer as Luman Walter. In Arrington, reprinting an 1831 article by James Gordon Bennett, Bennett describes this great seer as having "a particular felicity in finding out the spots of ground where money is hid and riches obtained. [Some anonymous member of the treasure quest party] related long stories how this person had been along shore in the east-"how he had much experience in money digging-"how he dreamt of the very spots where it could be found". He said that the Smiths worked for a time "to scrape together a little 'change' sufficient to fetch on the money dreamer." Bennett believed this distant magician was Sidney Rigdon, based on discussion with Palmyra residents who thought Rigdon was the author of the Book of Mormon. However, the story parallels a story told by Abner Cole in the Palmyra Reflector on 12 June 1830 (1)

-- During 1827&1828
1827&1828: John A. Clark's interviews with Martin Harris [recorded 1840]
        [Martin Harris] then proceeded to remark that a GOLDEN BIBLE had recently been dug from the earth, where it had been deposited for thousands of years, and that this would be found to contain such disclosures as would settle all religious controversies and speedily bring on the glorious millennium. That this mysterious book, which no human eye of the present generation had yet seen, was in the possession of Joseph Smith, Jr., ordinarily known in the neighborhood under the more familiar designation of Jo Smith: that there had been a revelation made to him by which he had discovered this sacred deposit, and two transparent stones, through which, as a sort of spectacles, he could read the Bible, although the box or ark that contained it, had not yet been opened; and that by looking through those mysterious stones, he had transcribed from one of the leaves of this book, the characters which Harris had so carefully wrapped in the package which he was drawing from his pocket. . . .
        ... According to Martin Harris, it was after one of these night excursions, that Jo, while he lay upon his bed, had a remarkable dream. An angel of God seemed to approach him, clad in celestial splendour. This divine messenger assured him, that he, Joseph Smith, was chosen of the Lord to be a prophet of the Most High God, and to bring to light hidden things, that would prove of unspeakable benefit to the world. He then disclosed to him the existence of this golden Bible, and the place where it was deposited-but at the same time told him that he must follow implicitly the divine direction, or he would draw down upon him the wrath of heaven. This book, which was contained in a chest, or ark, and which consisted of metallic plates covered with characters embossed in gold, he must not presume to look into, under three years. He must first go on a journey into Pennsylvania-and there among the mountains, he would meet with a very lovely woman, belonging to a highly respectable and pious family, whom he was to take for his wife. As a proof that he was sent on this mission by Jehovah, as soon as he saw this designated person, he would be smitten with her beauty, and though he was a stranger to her, and she was far above him in the walks of life, she would at once be willing to marry him and go with him to the ends of the earth. After their marriage he was to return to his former home, and remain quietly there until the birth of his first child. When this child had completed his second year, he might then proceed to the hill beneath which the mysterious chest was deposited, and draw it thence, and publish the truths it contained to the world. (2)

-- During 1828
[Gold Plates] 1828: Joseph and Hiel Lewis's statement [recorded 1879]
        [Joseph Smith] said that by a dream he was informed that at such a place in a certain hill, in an iron box, were some gold plates with curious engravings, which he must get and translate, and write a book; that the plates were to be kept concealed from every human being for a certain time, some two or three years; that he went to the place and dug till he came to the stone that covered the box, when he was knocked down; that he again attempted to remove the stone, and was again knocked down; this attempt was made the third time, and the third time he was knocked down. Then he exclaimed, "Why can't I get it?" or words to that effect; and then he saw a man standing over the spot, which to him appeared like a Spaniard, having a long beard coming down over his breast to about here, (Smith putting his hand to the pit of his stomach) with his (the ghost's) throat cut from ear to ear, and the blood streaming down, who told him that he could not get it alone; that another person whom he, Smith, would know at first sight, must come with him, and then he could get it. And when Smith saw Miss Emma Hale, he knew that she was the person, and that after they were married, she went with him to near the place, and stood with her back toward him, while he dug up the box, which he rolled up in his frock, and she helped carry it home. That in the same box with the plates were spectacles; the bows were of gold, and the eyes were stone, and by looking through these sbectacles [spectacles] all the characters on the plates were translated into English.
        In all this narrative, there was not one word about "visions of God," or of angels, or heavenly revelations. All his information was by that dream, and that bleeding ghost. The heavenly visions and messages of angels, etc., contained in Mormon books, were after-thoughts, revised to order. (2)

-- circa August 1829
[Gold Plates] Palmyra (NY) Freeman, circa August 1829 (reprinted in the Rochester [NY] Daily Advertiser and Telegraph, 31 August 1829)
        The Palmyra Freeman says-The greatest piece of superstition that has ever come within our knowledge, now occupies the attention of a few individuals of this quarter. It is generally known and spoken of as the "Golden Bible." Its proselytes give the following account of it.-In the fall of 1827, a person by the name of Joseph Smith, of Manchester, Ontario county, reported that he had been visited in a dream by the spirit of the Almighty, and informed that in a certain hill in that town, was deposited this Golden Bible, containing an ancient record of a divine nature and origin. After having been thrice thus visited, as he states, he proceeded to the spot, and after penetrating "mother earth" a short distance, the Bible was found, together with a huge pair of Spectacles! He had been directed, however, not to let any mortal being examine them, "under no less penalty" than instant death! They were therefore nicely wrapped up, and excluded from the "vulgar gaze of poor wicked mortals!" It was said that the leaves of the bible were plates of gold, about 8 inches long, 6 wide, and one eighth of an inch thick, on which were engraved characters or hyeroglyphics. By placing the spectacles in a hat, and looking into it, Smith could (he said so, at least,) interpret these characters. (2)

-- Sep 5, 1829
In Rochester, N.Y. THE GEM reports: "A man by the name of Martin Harris was in this village a few days since endeavoring to make a contract for printing a large quantity of a work called the Golden Bible. He gave something like the following account of it. In the autumn of 1827, a man named Joseph Smith of Manchester, in Ontario County, said that he had been visited by the spirit of the Almighty in a dream, and informed that in a certain hill in that town was deposited a Golden Bible, containing an ancient record of divine origin. He states that after the third visit from the same spirit in a dream he proceeded to the spot, removed the earth, and there found the Bible, together with a large pair of spectacles. He had also been directed to let no mortal see them under the penalty of immediate death, which injunction he steadfastly adhered to. The treasure consisted of a number of gold plates, about eight inches long, six wide, and one-eighth of an inch thick, on which were engraved hieroglyphics. By placing the spectacles in a hat and looking into it, Smith interprets the characters into the English language. Harris states that he went in search of some one to interpret the hieroglyphics, but found that no one was intended to perform that all-important task but Smith himself. Smith has interpreted the whole, and it is now in press in Palmyra, Wayne County." (3)

-- May 15, 1830
[Gold Plates] Rochester (NY) Gem, 15 May 1830
        Some months ago a noise was made among the credulous of the earth, respecting a wonderful production said to have been found as follows. An ignoramous near Palmyra, ....  It comes out under the "testimony of three witnesses," and of "six witnesses," who say they "have seen and hefted the plates," that "they have the appearance of gold," and that divers and strange characters are "imprinted on them." The author, who has the "copy-right secured according to law," says, "that he was commanded of the Lord in a dream," to go and find, and that he went and found. ... (2)

-- During Circa 1830
[Gold Plates] Circa 1830: Fayette Lapham's interview with Joseph Smith Sr. [recorded 1870]
         ... About this time he became concerned as to his future state of existence, and was baptized, becoming thus a member of the Baptist Church. Soon after joining the Church, he had a very singular dream; but he did not tell his father of his dream, until about a year afterwards. He then told his father that, in his dream, a very large and tall man appeared to him, dressed in an ancient suit of clothes, and the clothes were bloody. And the man said to him that there was a valuable treasure, buried many years since, and not far from that place; and that he had now arrived for it to be brought to light, for the benefit of the world at large; and, if he would strictly follow his directions, he would direct him to the place where it was deposited, in such a manner that he could obtain it. He then said to him, that he would have to get a certain coverlid, which he described, and an old-fashioned suit of clothes, of the same color, and a napkin to put the treasure in . . . ; and when he had obtained it, he must not lay it down until he placed it in the napkin. "And," says Smith, "in the course of a year, I succeeded in finding all the articles, as directed; and one dark night Joseph mounted his horse, and, aided by some supernatural light, he succeeded in finding the starting point and the objects in range." Following these, as far as he could with the horse without being directed to stop, he proceeded on foot, keeping the range in view, until he arrived at a large boulder, of several tons weight, when he was immediately impressed with the idea that the object of his pursuit was under that rock. Feeling around the edge, he found that the under side was flat. Being a stout man, and aided by some super-natural power, he succeeded in turning the rock upon its edge, and under it he found a square block of masonry, in the centre of which were the articles referred to by the man seen in the dream. Taking up the first article, he saw the others below; laying down the first, he endeavored to secure the others; but, before he could get hold of them, the one he had taken up slid back to the place he had taken it from, and, to his great surprize and terror, the rock immediately fell back to its former place, nearly crushing him in its descent. His first thought was that he had not properly secured the rock when it was turned up, and accordingly he again tried to lift it, but now in vain; he next tried with the aid of levers, but still without success. While thus engaged, he felt something strike him on the breast, which was repeated the third time, always with increased force, the last such as to lay him upon his back. As he lay there, he looked up and saw the same large man that had appeared in his dream, dressed in the same clothes. He said to him that, when the treasure was deposited there, he was sworn to take charge of and protect that property, until the time should arrive for it to be exhibited to the world of mankind; and, in order to prevent his making a improper disclosure, he was murdered or slain on the spot, and the treasure had been under his charge ever since. .... (2)

1 - Wikipedia, Joseph Smith Chronology,,_Jr.
2 - Larry E. Morris, I Should Have an Eye Single to the Glory of God: Joseph Smith's Account of the Angel and the Plates
3 - On This Day in Mormon History,

* Last year I compiled a chronology of dreams from Mormon history.  No guarantees my list of *all* of Joseph Smith's dreams is complete.  If you are aware of others, please let me know.


Michael Taylor said...

Very interesting post, thank you. I've long wanted to compile a similar list of miracles purported to have been performed by Joseph Smith, as well as a list of prophecies (although that might get rather unwieldy). I'm sure someone somewhere has already done both of those things...

Mormon Chronicles said...

A partial list of Joseph Smith's prophecies are here, but it is not a complete list.,_Jr.

Ryan Gardner said...

Can you please include your sources?

Ryan Gardner said...

Never mind, I found them. Thanks!