|The Prophet Joseph Smith: December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844|
And that task was to restore the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to include the many plain and precious truths which had been lost through the passage of time and the malfeasance of men, as well as a number of ordinances, some designed to ensure that those who died without a knowledge of the Gospel could be given an opportunity to accept or reject it in the spirit world. Even more importantly, the legal spiritual authority to perform these ordinances and to operate the Lord's Church was restored in both the Aaronic Priesthood (for temporal ordinances) and the Melchizedek Priesthood (for spiritual ordinances).
Joseph Smith ushered in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. And like many others, he was called upon to seal his testimony with his blood. Here is a video which tries to bring Joseph Smith's experiences to life:
By the way, the LDS Church does not have sole "ownership" of Joseph Smith. He's also revered by the Community of Christ as well as the other restorationist denominations linked on my sidebar. What's ironic is that while the blood descendants of Joseph Smith ended up founding what is known as the Community of Christ today, it was a blood descendant of Joseph Smith's brother Hyrum Smith who eventually became a President of the LDS Church. Joseph F. Smith, the son of Hyrum Smith, presided over the LDS Church from 1901-1918.
Joseph Smith is also known to have prophesied extensively, predicting the American Civil War via revelation. He ran for President in an attempt to prevent the prophecy's fulfillment. He also predicted the rise of a significant third party in the United States during our day, and the possibility of World War III to be fought on American soil.
The LDS Church presents a cornucopia of information about Joseph Smith on http://www.josephsmithmormon.com. A complete book entitled "The Teachings of Joseph Smith" is also available online. You might find several new stories in the Mormon Times of interest:
-- "Portraits of the past: 'Hallowed ground'": Includes a photo gallery of scenes from the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York.
-- "Remembering the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith": Provides interesting background on the early life of Joseph Smith when he was growing up in both Vermont and New York. Most likely the first home in Sharon, VT was not insulated. The walls were likely no more than an inch or two thick, so even when the fireplace roared with flames, the room's temperature remained low.
-- "What Vermont was like in December 1805": Focuses on the Vermont years.
-- "Prophet's birthday fits with season": Illustrates how Joseph Smith actually leads to Jesus Christ, and not vice versa, as some of our more extreme critics believe.