Monday, December 10, 2012

History of Mormonism: The Kirkland Bank

In the History of Mormonism, in 1836, Joseph Smith established the Kirkland Safety Society, a joint stock company that also worked as a bank in Kirkland Ohio.  He was able to obtain the funds to start the bank.  He told the saints that if they follow the Lord's commandments, not to steal from the bank, and not to purchase items with money they don't have, then the bank would be one of the most prosperous banks in the country.  They were able to print notes, and sold stock to the saints.  The saints bought shares of stock, say that one certificate of stock was worth $50.  The saints didn't pay fully for the stock, mostly not even 10% of the stock value, even though they were suppose to.  Many saints then, confident that this stock was technically worth more since it belonged to the church, the began spending the stock on expensive clothes and furniture, something that Joseph told them not to do.   The teller of the bank, Warren Parrish, began secretly embezzling money from the bank, something that would sum up to $25,000.  
The "Panic of 1837" hit, many banks failing all across America.  Out of 850 banks opened in the country, 343 of them closed.  The Kirkland bank was one of them.   What contributed to the failing of the bank was first, They started out bigger than they were supposed to.  That somewhat contributed to the failing bank.  What really contributed was the embezzling, and the saints not paying for the stocks in full. 
The failing of the bank really hit the Church hard.  Many saints left the Church, thinking the Joseph wanted to start this bank to personally benefit, when they didn't realize that Joseph was more at risk from the failing of the bank than the rest of them.  Half of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles blamed Joseph for their plight and went in open rebellion against the prophet.  Heber C. Kimball would later say, "The bank's failure was so shattering that afterwards, no more than twenty would claim Joseph was a Prophet of God.
In the aftermath, Joseph was hounded by creditors and lawsuits, around 17 suits to be exact.  He would do his best, sending what little money he earned to the creditors.  He wasn't able to pay off the debt before his death. 

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