Right of the Firstborn

The importance of family to Joseph Smith is well-known, but discussions of the subject often focus on marriage and sealing. Less has been said about Smith’s peculiar fascination with llineage and blood relation. Early Mormon scriptures feature hereditary records, hereditary priesthoods, hereditary blessings, hereditary curses, hereditary offices, and even hereditary names. They also single out firstborn sons for special privileges and prerogatives. This paper will contextualize Joseph’s views on heredity against the backdrop of the Bible, nineteenth-century folk religion, and Smith family dynamics. It will also explore how Joseph’s fascination with heredity influenced his views on race and gender and informed his practice of polgamy to

Christopher Smith