Sidney Rigdon was born on February 19, 1793 near St. Clair Township, Pennsylvania. His parents are William Rigdon and Nancy Galliger.
Sidney was a Baptist Preacher in Kirtland, Ohio when he was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by his good friend Parley P. Pratt.
Parley P. Pratt gave Sidney Rigdon The Book of Mormon to read and study for himself. Rigdon agreed to read the book and “endeavor to ascertain whether it be a revelation from God or not.” When Rigdon found out that Joseph Smith was the young man with “hardly a common school education,” Sidney replied “If that is all the education he has got, he never wrote this book.”
Later in life,1868, Sidney was interviewed about his views on The Book of Mormon and again he said his view had not changed “Rigdon expressed the utmost amazement that such a man should write a book which seemed to shed a flood of light on all the old scriptures, open all their profoundest mysteries, and give them perfect consistency and complete system. In his fresh enthusiasm he exclaimed that if God ever gave revelation, surely this must be divine.”
After much soul searching, prayer and meditation Sidney decided to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Sidney being a preacher of a large congregation had to give up his livelihood when joining the church. Joseph Smith recorded what happened in his history:
”The honors and applause of the world were showered down upon him, his wants were abundantly supplied, and were anticipated. He was respected by the entire community, and his name was a tower of strength. His [counsel] was sought for, respected and esteemed. —But if he should unite with the Church of Christ, his prospects of wealth and affluence would vanish; his family dependent upon him for support must necessarily share his humiliation and poverty. He was aware that his character and his reputation must suffer in the estimation of the community.”
Sidney, worried about how his baptism would effect his family, with a loss of job, and property. Sidney asked his wife, Phebe Rigdon, he said: “My dear, you have once followed me into poverty, are you again willing to do the same?” Phebe Rigdon had the perfect, faith filled, answer “I have weighed the matter, I have contemplated on the circumstances in which we may be placed; I have counted the cost, and I am perfectly satisfied to follow you; it is my desire to do the will of God, come life or come death.”
After Sidney listened to the missionaries and read The Book of Mormon the missionaries asked if they could speak to Sidney’s congregation, he gave them permission and many people from his congregation also joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Sidney Rigdon was baptized by his good friend, and the one who introducted him to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Parley P. Pratt.
Almost from the point they met Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith became constant companions. Sidney truly became Joseph Smith’s right hand man.
Because Sidney Rigdon had such a firm testimony of the restoration of the gospel, he became a target to mob violence. Sidney was tarred and feathered along side the prophet Joseph Smith. He never fully recovered from that experience. He had delusions and disturbing rants and ramblings ever since.
In Missouri he was taken prisoner in Richmond. When Sidney was taken away to jail he suffered from apoplectic fits which made the mob laugh and ridicule him. His imprisonment led to depression and at a court hearing Sidney had to defend himself while lying in a cot because he was too weak to sit in a chair.
After that experience Sidney played only a minor role in the Church. He was still in the first presidency of the Church but did not make the decisions he once did.
There was a falling out with the prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon when Joseph asked for Sidney’s daughters hand in plural marriage and he was rejected. From there the Rigdons started spreading false rumors about the prophet and were excommunicated.
After the prophet Joseph Smith died Sidney tried to make a claim to be “guardian” of the Church. He claimed that he had seen a vision on the day Joseph was martyred instructing him to act as guardian of the Church. The members of the Church rejected his claims and stood with the Twelve Apostles with Brigham Young as the senior member of the Twelve.
During the last years of Sidney Rigdon life he moved to Friendship, New York. He passed away July 14, 1876.
Other Blog Posts:
Places to Visit:
Scriptures with Sidney Rigdon:
Doctrine and Covenants 35; 36:2, 37; 40; 41:8, 44, 49; 52:3; 58:50, 57; 61:23; 30; 63: Introduction, 55-56; 70:1, 71; 73; 76; 90:6; 93:44, 51; 100; 103:29; 111: Introduction; 115:13; 124:103-10, 126
“Joseph Smith’s Kirtland Eyewitness Accounts” by Karl Ricks Anderson
”Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants” by Susan Easton Black