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Succession Crisis

Joseph Smith's unexpected death created a crisis as to who would lead the church. Several assumed power which caused the church to split.

Some of the more notable movements.
James Strang James Strang
Claiming that Joseph said he would be the successor, some followed Mormon elder James Strang, including three of the twelve apostles, eight of the Book of Mormon witnesses and Joseph's own mother Lucy Mack Smith. Like Joseph Smith, Strang claimed to have also translated plates. This movement exists today as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Sidney Rigdon Sidney Rigdon
Some followed Sidney Rigdon, who was Joseph's First Counselor. William Bickerton continued this movement which exists today as the Church of Jesus Christ.
Joseph Smith III Joseph Smith III
Some believed that Joseph's son, Joseph Smith III, should be his successor. This movement became the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In 2001 it was renamed the Community of Christ.
Brigham Young Brigham Young
Some followed senior apostle Brigham Young, who migrated his followers to Utah. This movement has grown to become the largest, claiming a global membership of 14 million. It is this organization: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that is the focus of the Mormon Handbook.
Granville Hedrick Granville Hedrick
Various smaller groups split after Joseph's death. In 1863 five branches along with John E. Page, an apostle under Joseph Smith, united under the leadership of Granville Hedrick. This church owns the temple lot spoken of in Joseph Smith's New Jerusalem prophecy.
David Whitmer David Whitmer
David Whitmer was one of the Book of Mormon's Three Witnesses. On July 7, 1834, when Joseph Smith ordained Whitmer as the president of the Missouri church, he also named Whitmer his successor. After Joseph's death, Whitmer formed a church (Church of Christ) to accommodate those disillusioned with Sidney Rigdon, which included Mormon apostle William E. M'Lellin and seventy Benjamin Winchester. This church dissolved in the 1960s.