Searching for "Happiness" : Joseph Smith's Alleged Authorship of the 1842 Letter to Nancy Rigdon
Journal of Mormon History
Salt Lake City, UT
Mormon History Association
In this essay, the author focuses on a well-known teaching of Joseph Smith that states, "Happiness is the object and design of our existence, and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God."
While oft-quoted and prevalent in the LDS Church today, the author exposes that the source of this teaching came from one of Smith's greatest adversaries, John C. Bennett. After Bennett resigned and was excommunicated from the Church due to allegations of false teaching and sexual indiscretions, he exposed what the claimed to be the secret inner workings of Mormonism. This essay describes events surrounding the publishing of a letter supposedly written by Joseph Smith to Nancy Rigdon, daugther of Sidney Rigdon.
The purpose of this article is to illustrate the difficulties involved in any attempt to gain a clear understanding of this document and to outline the reasons to both doubt and to impute Smith's authorship of the document. [From the text]