Smith became church president in 1901, and with his support, Mormon Apostle Reed Smoot was elected to the U.S. Senate. But the election was contested, and the ensuing investigation again focused national attention on Mormon marriages and political influence. Following his appearance before a Senate panel in 1904, Smith terminated the surreptitious continuation of church plural marriages. The Smith administration also retired church debt, acquired historic sites, constructed numerous meetinghouses, and expanded the church system of academies and universities. Smith also served on the boards of scores of Utah businesses.
Joseph F. Smith died on 19 November 1918. He had six wives and forty-eight children, including apostles Hyrum M. and Joseph Fielding, and David A., a member of the Presiding Bishopric of the Church. Smith's vision concerning the redemption of the dead (1918) is one of the few twentieth-century additions to Mormon scripture (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 138).
See: Joseph Fielding Smith, Life of Joseph F. Smith (1969); Francis M. Gibbons, Joseph F. Smith (1984).