Joseph Smith and Alcohol

87 Primary Sources

May 31, 1827 - Jun 1, 1829

Account book showing Joseph Smith, Sr. and Jr. purchased cider.

Jun 1829

Revelation says to use wine for sacrament.

Apr 1830

Sacrament prayer second copy describes blessing wine.

Aug 1830

Joseph receives a revelation on sacrament: wine "made new among" Saints to be used.

Aug 1, 1831

Revelation saying wine will be drunk in the last days when Christ returns.

Sep 1831 - Nov 1831

Jesus drinks wine with his disciples in Joseph Smith Translation.

Nov 1831 - Feb 1832

JST John 2 records Jesus turning water into wine.

Nov 1831 - Feb 1832

Joseph Smith Translation of Mark 14; Jesus drinks wine.

Feb 27, 1833

Joseph Smith receives the revelation often called the "Word of Wisdom."

Feb 27, 1833

Word of Wisdom revelation makes a distinctive line break between the first three verses of modern Section 89 and the rest of the text.

Feb 27, 1833

Revelation of the Word of Wisdom; no distinction between first three verses and the rest of the text.

Nov 3, 1833

Barton Stafford accusation reprinted in E. D. Howe book that Joseph got drunk.

Dec 5, 1833

David Stafford accuses Joseph Smith, Sr. and Joseph Jr. both of getting drunk.

Feb 4, 1834

Joseph says members need to follow the WoW.

Feb 12, 1834

Martin Harris alleges that Joseph became drunk.

Dec 9, 1834

Joseph Smith Sr. blesses Hyrum Smith; mentions being out of the way "through wine."

Dec 9, 1834

Joseph Smith, Sr. blesses Joseph Smith, Jr., possibly alludes to alcohol problem.


The 1835 Doctrine & Covenants italicizes the first three verses of modern Section 89 and uses them as an introduction.


Robert Macnish argues for temperance, condemns drunkenness as a "vice."

Aug 19, 1835

High council holds disciplinary council for Almon Babbitt for not keeping WoW based on Joseph's example.

Jan 14, 1836

Joseph and church members drink wine for refreshment.

Jan 20, 1836

Joseph and elders Orson Hyde, Luke Johnson, and Warren Parrish drink wine.

Jan 24, 1836

Joseph reports that wine was used in sacrament meeting.

Feb 7, 1836

Church meeting with Joseph and Sidney Rigdon; wine is served in sacrament.

Mar 29, 1836

Joseph reported that sacrament was served with bread and wine in Kirtland Temple.

Mar 30, 1836

Bread and wine used in Kirtland temple.

Nov 7, 1837

Vote by church members not to buy liquor, tea, coffee, tobacco.

Apr 13, 1838

Charge against Lyman E. Johnson for drinking whiskey.

Apr 17, 1840

Brigham reports Twelve used wine in sacrament.

Jan 1841

The 1841 Millennial Star italicizes the first three verses of modern Section 89 and uses them as an introduction.


William Harris reports that Joseph and other brethren got drunk.

Feb 15, 1841

Nauvoo temperance ordinance "in Relation to Temperance."

Apr 25, 1841

Julius A. Reed records Joseph saying that he is tempted by "whiskey," but that God calls it "sinful."

Nov 7, 1841

Joseph teaches that Noah drank wine.

Jan 1, 1842

John C. Bennett accuses Joseph of being drunk.

Jan 1, 1842

Henry Caswall claims Joseph frequently got drunk.

Mar 30, 1842

William Clayton denies that Joseph ever got drunk in letter to William Hardman.

Dec 1842

Joseph gives history of his leg operation; no mention of refusing alcohol.

Jan 20, 1843

Joseph prophesies that he will drink wine with Orson Hyde.

Mar 10, 1843

Joseph tells Theodore Turley that he does not object to building a brewery.

Mar 11, 1843

Joseph drinks tea.

Apr 16, 1843

Joseph uses wine in a positive metaphor.

May 3, 1843

Joseph drinks wine with Jenetta Richards.

May 3, 1843

Joseph drinks wine with Willard Richards.

Jun 27, 1843

Joseph informed brethren violated WoW; gives money to buy alcoholic drink.

Aug 12, 1843

Joseph inspects shops selling beer.

Dec 13, 1843

Nauvoo City ordinance allowing Joseph to sell alcohol.

Jun 1, 1844

Joseph drinks beer.

Jun 27, 1844

Joseph drinks wine in Carthage Jail.

Jun 27, 1844

John Taylor recounts drinking wine with Dan Jones at Carthage.

Jan 1, 1845

Lucy Mack Smith records in her History that Joseph refused alcohol before his leg surgery.

Dec 28, 1850

The 1850 Deseret News uses the first three verses of modern Section 89 as an introduction.

Oct 13, 1851

Unknown counselor describes Word of Wisdom as an intended "Test of fellowship"; says caption was "not by [Joseph Smith's] Consent."

Feb 1, 1852

Brigham preaches obedience to WoW.

Jun 27, 1854

Taylor remembers wine being sent for in Carthage Jail.

Nov 9, 1861

The Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star reprints Joseph drinking beer.

Aug 17, 1867

Brigham urges Saints to obey WoW.


William Smith denies that Joseph and Joseph Smith Sr. got drunk.

1878 - 1900

Joseph commanded by angel to use water not wine for sacrament.

Aug 1880

Frederic G. Mather's account that Joseph Smith would get quarrelsome when drunk.

Mar 6, 1881

Orlando Saunders remembers Smith family drinking alcohol in letter to William Kelley.

Jun 1, 1881

John Stafford remembers Joseph Smith Sr. and Joseph Jr. drinking alcohol.

Jun 1, 1881

Hiram Jackway remembers Joseph Smith, Sr. and Jr. drinking and wrestling.

Oct 6, 1883

Wilford Woodruff preaches observance of WoW.

Oct 15, 1883

George Q. Cannon talks about WoW "revivals."

Sep 1884

Benjamin Saunders says Joseph never got drunk.

Jan 1, 1887

Alexander McRae remembers drinking with Joseph in Liberty Jail.

Sep 22, 1889

Winchester recalls Joseph Smith getting drunk at the Kirtland temple dedication.

Oct 1, 1895

Abraham H. Cannon mentions Joseph smoking cigar.

Nov 27, 1900

Benjamin Winchester recalls seeing Smith drunk (1900).

Jan 9, 1901

Anthon H. Lund records George Teasdale saying pork is worse than tea and coffee.

Apr 1903 - Oct 1903

Benjamin F. Johnson describes Joseph enjoying wine.


HoC mentions Joseph drinking of "the fruit of the vine."


HoC includes Joseph drinking wine with Jenetta Richards.

Jan 10, 1910

Anthon H. Lund records his drinking of coffee (1910).

Jul 11, 1911

John Henry Smith and Brigham Young, Jr. approve of Danish beer.


HoC omits Joseph drinking beer.

Oct 8, 1919

First Presidency Letter to Mission Presidents; WoW necessary for temple recommends.


Church's 1928 Handbook of Instructions on temple recommends; keeping the WoW not listed as a requirement.


HoC mentions wine drinking at Carthage.


Church's 1934 Handbook of Instructions on temple recommends; keeping the WoW as a requirement introduced.

Jan 22, 1935

Mary Audentia Smith Anderson summarizes how Joseph Smith III remembers a bar in the Nauvoo Mansion.


TGA gives historical overview of WoW at beginning of 20th century.


W. J. Rorabaugh summarizes alcohol consumption between 1770–1830, showing how it rose over time.


Gordon Wood provides overview of alcohol consumption in America between 1790–1820.


Thomas G. Alexander gives historical overview of WoW during the 19th century.


Paul Y. Hoskisson concludes that the Word of Wisdom was originally intended to be strictly enforced.