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James Strang

James Strang in 1856 [[daguerreotype]] photograph James Jesse Strang (March 21, 1813 – July 9, 1856) was an American religious leader, politician and self-proclaimed monarch. In 1844 he claimed to have been appointed to be the successor of Joseph Smith as leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite), a faction of the Latter Day Saint movement. Strang testified that he had possession of a letter from Smith naming him as his successor, and furthermore reported that he had been ordained to the prophetic office by an angel. His organization is claimed by his followers to be the sole legitimate continuation of the Church of Christ founded by Joseph Smith fourteen years before.

A major contender for leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints during the 1844 succession crisis after Smith's murder, Strang urged other prominent LDS leaders like Brigham Young and Sidney Rigdon to remain in their previous offices and to support his appointment by Joseph Smith. Brigham and the members of the Twelve Apostles loyal to him rejected Strang's claims, as did Rigdon, the highest ranking officer of the church. This divided the Latter Day Saint movement. During his 12 years tenure as Prophet, Seer and Revelator, Strang reigned for six years as the crowned "king" of an ecclesiastical monarchy that he established on Beaver Island in the US state of Michigan. Building an organization that eventually rivaled Young's in Utah, Strang gained nearly 12,000 adherents at a time when Young claimed 50,000. After Strang was killed in 1856 most of his followers rallied under Joseph Smith III and joined the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Strangite church has remained small in comparison to other branches.

Similar to Joseph Smith, who was alleged by church opponent William Marks to have been crowned King in Nauvoo prior to his death, Strang taught that the chief prophetic office embodied an overtly ''royal'' attribute. Thus its occupant was to be not only the spiritual leader of his people, but their temporal king as well. He offered a sophisticated set of teachings that differed in many significant aspects from any other version of Mormonism, including that preached by Smith. Like Smith, Strang published translations of two purportedly ancient lost works: the Voree Record, deciphered from three metal plates reportedly unearthed in response to a vision; and the Book of the Law of the Lord, supposedly transcribed from the Plates of Laban mentioned in the Book of Mormon. These are accepted as scripture by his followers, but not by any other Latter Day Saint chur...
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