Joseph_F._Smith_family

This is the first of a multiple-part series discussing some of the issues surrounding Mormon polygamy. This segment will give a brief overview of the history of polygamy in the LDS church.

Daddy, Where Does Polygamy Come From? 
Well son, when a man loves a woman very very much, and then loves another woman, and another….

Mormon polygamy unofficially began around 1833 when Joseph Smith’s “transaction in the barn” with his teenage surrogate daughter, Fanny Alger, was witnessed one night by his jealous first wife, Emma. Joseph, caught with his proverbial (and perhaps literal) pants down, explained that he had been commanded to reinstitute the Old Testament practice of polygamy by an angel with a drawn sword.

Over the next decade, Joseph took some 40 plural wives, some of whom were already married and some of whom were as young as 14. On July 12, 1843, the revelation now known as Section 132 was recorded at the request of Joseph Smith by William Clayton and used by Hyrum Smith to convince Emma that plural marriage was ordained of God.

According to Brigham Young, Emma hated the revelation and had it burned. It was later rerecorded, but remained unpublished until the open practice of polygamy was announced by church leaders in 1852.

During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, polygamy remained a highly secretive practice. In public, Joseph vehemently denied his involvement, stating that strict monogamy was “the only rule allowed by the church.”

The 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants stated: “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy; we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”

Willard Richards recorded in Joseph’s diary that Joseph “gave instructions to try those who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives… Joseph forbids it and the practice thereof. No man shall have but one wife.”

In 1844, Joseph told the saints, “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers” (History of the Church, vol 6, p. 411).

By that time, Joseph had already taken at least 25 plural wives.

joseph's wives

The Crap Hits the Fan
During the Nauvoo period, polygamy began spiraling out of control. As rumors spread that Joseph was authorizing plural marriages, he was compelled to double down. On one hand, members discovered practicing polygamy were excommunicated. Among them was Assistant President of the Church, John C. Bennet (we’ll talk more about him in a future segment). On the other hand, members who knew of Joseph’s polygamy and opposed it were likewise excommunicated. Among those was another First Presidency Counselor, William Law.

Law, offended by Joseph’s polyandrous proposals to his wife and believing him to be a fallen prophet, published a paper called The Nauvoo Expositor which highlighted the polyandrous activities within the church.

The paper obviously created a quite a stir in Nauvoo. I mean, imagine if President Uchtdorf and President Eyring suddenly came out saying that President Monson and other leaders were sleeping around. This was a big deal! Two days later, Joseph Smith and the Nauvoo City Council declared the paper a “public nuisance” and ordered the printing press to be destroyed. Because violent censorship is what people do when they have nothing to hide, right?

Now, destroying printing presses doesn’t tend to jive with a little something we call the First Amendment. So, when news of the event broke out, Joseph was summoned to court on charges of riot. After being incarcerated in Carthage jail, Joseph Smith was killed by a mob on June 27, 1844.

Polygamize—Going Public 
Joseph’s sudden death came as a shock to the saints. Since he did not leave an immediate successor, church leadership became a matter of debate. After a series of speeches by the two main contenders (in which a miraculous transfiguration probably did not occur), the voice of the people decided to follow the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, led by Brigham Young.

Under Brigham’s leadership, the saints emigrated westward to Utah where polygamy was practiced openly for the first time in the church. Brigham himself was sealed to 55 wives, five of which were under the age of 18, 11 of which were already married, and seven of which were previously married to Joseph Smith. Only 16 of his wives bore his 56 children. (Some families boast of being able to create a baseball team. Brigham Young could have a whole league!).

http://www.mormoninfographics.com/2012/09/the-wives-of-brigham-young.html

http://www.mormoninfographics.com/2012/09/the-wives-of-brigham-young.html

It was no doubt that Brigham considered polygamy an essential part of Mormon doctrine. He told the saints, “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refuse to accept them” (Journal of Discourses, v. 11, p. 268-269 August 19, 1866).

Elsewhere he stated, “Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord’s servants have always practiced it. ‘And is that religion popular in heaven?’ It is the only popular religion there…” (Deseret News, August 6, 1862).

Marital affection didn’t seem to be an overly important element of Brigham’s  polygamy. He taught the brethren, “Elders, never love your wives one hair’s breadth further than they adorn the Gospel, never love them so but that you can leave them at a moment’s warning without shedding a tear” (Journal of Discourses, v. 3, p. 354).

In the spirit of the Book of Mormon which only allows for polygamy to “raise up seed,” Brigham viewed the practice as a means to bring children into the world. Said he, “Sisters, do you wish to make yourselves happy? Then what is your duty? It is for you to bear children,…are you tormenting yourselves by thinking that your husbands do not love you? I would not care whether they loved a particle or not; but I would cry out, like one of old, in the joy of my heart, ‘I have got a man from the Lord! Hallelujah! I am a mother…'” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p.37).

Trouble in Polygadise
As the Mormon empire flourished, Washington began to worry. In time, a series of laws were passed aimed to squelch polygamy as one of the “twin relics of barbarism” (the other being slavery). When polygamy became illegal, many members had to go into hiding. Brigham Young’s successor, John Taylor, spent much of his presidency in the “Mormon underground.”

During the administration of Wilford Woodruff, the political opposition to polygamy became too difficult for the church to endure. Despite repeated prophecies by many leaders that the church should not, would not, and could not abandon polygamy, the church eventually “abandoned” polygamy.

Now, I say “abandoned” in quotes because the Manifesto did not actually end Mormon polygamy. The Manifesto was a mere smokescreen to get the government off the church’s back. It was not given as an actual revelation, but more like a press release. In fact, B.H. Roberts testified before a congressional hearing that he did not believe the Manifesto was a revelation.

Publicly, the church had abandoned polygamy, but secretly, the practice continued. Church leaders continued to authorize and perform plural marriages in the U.S. and Mexico. It wasn’t until 1904 when President Joseph F. Smith issued the Second Manifesto that polygamy officially ceased in the church.

Since the church had taught that polygamy was essential to exaltation and that it must continue on the earth, many members were upset by the Manifestos. It seemed that the church was crumbling to pressure from Babylon. Several apostles, including the prophet’s son, Elder John W. Taylor, refused to cease the practice and were excommunicated or removed from their positions (Don’t worry, Elder Taylor was posthumously rebaptized, then posthumously excommunicated again, and then finally re-rebaptized in 1965).

A small group of men allegedly charged by President John Taylor with preserving plural marriage outside the church hierarchy, carried polygamy into the 20th century. They were, of course, excommunicated, but they laid the groundwork for most of the modern branches of Mormon fundamentalism including the FLDS church, the Apostolic United Brethren,  The Work, and others.

Polygamy Today

“I condemn [polygamy], yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal.” -President Gordon B. Hinckley in an interview with CNN’s Larry King

111 years since the Second Manifesto, church leaders are quick dismiss the practice as undoctrinal. They try very hard to dissociate from the public mind the LDS church and polygamy, even going as far as requiring that children of polygamists denounce their families before being baptized into the church.

Some leaders try to paint polygamy as a short-lived matter of practicality. But no matter how hard they try to ignore or offer overly simple justifications for polygamy (it was for the widows! lol), this skeleton in the closet (and Zelph knows about problematic skeletons!) continues to spook members who are determined to take a serious look at their history and doctrine.

Contrary to President Hinckley’s statement, polygamy is still technically a doctrine of the church. Polygamy remains canonized in Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants. The church continues to seal men to multiple women. Both Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder Dallin H. Oaks are sealed to two women who will presumably continue with them in the eternities.

Because the church is hesitant to annul temple sealings, some men who remarry after divorce find themselves sealed to two living women. My own grandfather is in this situation. So I don’t want to call President Hinckley a liar, buuuuuuuut…….well, you can connect the dots. Though they may not be the bonnet-sporting fundamentalists of Colorado City, Mormons continue to believe in, and practice eternal polygamy.

 

Stay tuned for future segments that will take a deeper look at some of the problems of Mormon polygamy.

 

 

 



Richard R. Lyman
Richard R. Lyman
Well-dressed and down for a good time, Richard R. Lyman was the most recent apostle to be excommunicated. The poor guy actually believed what Brigham Young said about only polygamists being in the Celestial Kingdom. I guess you're only allowed to take "spiritual wives" when you're President of the Church. Follow on Twitter: @tgilliland789
  • RC

    Is there actually a reference to a FLAMING sword? Or just a DRAWN sword?

    • Richard R. Lyman

      Orson F. Whitney:
      “A grand and glorious principle had been revealed, and for years had slumbered in the breast of God’s Prophet, awaiting the time when, with safety to himself and the Church, it might be confided to the sacred keeping of a chosen few. That time had now come. An angel with a flaming sword descended from the courts of glory and, confronting the Prophet, commanded him in the name of the Lord to establish the principle so long concealed from the knowledge of the Saints and of the world—that of plural marriage.”

      Life of Heber C. Kimball, An Apostle: The Father and Founder
      of the British Mission (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1979), 321

      However, most of the firsthand accounts say “drawn sword” so I’ve changed it.

      • J.T.

        Are you saying there is a firsthand account of Joseph meeting the angel? Or did you mean “secondhand” accounts? (The quote from Heber Kimball above is a secondhand account.)

        • MTB

          J.T., what would you require in order to accept that Joseph used the “angel with drawn sword” approach with some of the women that he approached? Are you looking for a Joseph Smith journal entry? Do you need a statement? What about if multiple (“twenty different reminiscences” per Brian Hales) accounts existed of Joseph using this line with many different women?

          Start with this?
          http://mormonhistoricsites.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Encouraging-Joseph-Smith-to-Practice-Plural-Marriage-The-Accounts-of-the-Angel-with-a-Drawn-Sword.pdf

          • J.T.

            Let’s clarify a bit here. There are twenty accounts, yes, but from only 9 different people. 5 were men, 4 were women. 3 of these people did not claim to hear this from Smith himself but from other people (Johnson, Snow, Robinson). I’m left with 4 men and 3 women. The 3 women’s claims are made in 1881, 1882, and 1902. So, I only see 3 women who claim to have been told this by Smith directly, and they did so 50+ years later and after living in polygamous relationships for decades. Do we agree on those facts? Feel free to correct me.

          • k_space

            Are you saying that he didn’t use the drawn sword approach? I’m confused about what you are arguing here.

          • J.T.

            I’m saying Joseph never lived to hear about the story of the drawn sword. It was fabricated after his death. The story was useful to old polygamists who were trying to convince their reluctant children and grandchildren to live polygamy. It is folklore. It is a myth. It is urban legend. It is also a very useful story for the modern Utah church because it provides them cover. So of course their writers all pretend it is true.

          • k_space

            That sounds like an interesting conspiracy theory. Cover for what?

            Maybe it would be helpful for me to understand your position here. Was Joseph a) never a prophet, b) a fallen prophet, c) a prophet, and was succeeded by Brigham Young, or d) was a prophet and succeeded by someone else.

            It’s quite an usual position to believe he was not a polygamist. I’m pretty sure most historians would agree that the accounts we have are sufficient evidence.

          • J.T.

            Joseph never spoke to God, if that’s what you mean by “prophet”. He was more of a politician and real estate speculator. Not a particularly good one. But he wasn’t a polygamist.

            For its entire existence the Utah church has claimed that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. Brigham Young and the polygamists of his day lied about it in order to claim religious exemption for their otherwise illegal practice of polygamy. As an institution, the modern Utah LDS church cannot come out and say Brigham was wrong about Smith being a polygamist. To do otherwise completely undermines their authority through Brigham Young. Everything you see coming from the Utah church supports this institutional requirement. So the church is in a hard spot because they want people to believe Smith was polygamous, but still think he was okay and a prophet etc. So the “angel with the sword” story gives them cover. It helps reinforce the important message that Smith was a polygamist just like Brother Brigham always said. And it softens the impact of that by telling that Smith really had to be forced into it by God. You should never expect a church related historian to offer any conclusions other than the institutionally approved ones.

          • k_space

            I’m still not sure I understand your position. You don’t think he spoke to God, and accordingly did not restore any true gospel. And yet you are adamant that Joseph was not a polygamist, taking a position that goes against accepted history. Why? Nearly everyone, Brighimite apologist and secular historian, accept that Joseph Smith had many wives. Are you an interested party or just an eccentric historian that shows up on random forums instead of publishing?

            My first guess is that you are part of the community of christ, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m wrong about that.

            I certainly don’t agree with your analysis. The fact that you are disagreeing with a solid consensus is enough for me to require a much better argument than you have given. The evidence is not in your favor. This is not a controversial issue. The details of his polygamy are arguable, the fact that he was a polygamist is not.

          • J.T.

            I’m raised Utah LDS. My ancestors were at MO and Nauvoo and became polygamous in Utah. BYU grad, mission, temple marriage, sent kids on missions. I was raised believing Smith was polygamous. For the past couple years this topic has been a bit of an obsession. I set out to become familiar with the evidence of Smith’s polygamy and ended up coming to the completely opposite conclusion. I keep hearing argument from authority (there’s a consensus!) and I find those less than thrilling. I ask myself this question: If I had to convict Smith of being polygamous and had to pick just one woman and prove she was married to Smith, which woman could I find enough evidence for to persuade a jury? So far, I haven’t found one. Have you?

          • k_space

            Very interesting! well, a few thoughts. You have obviously studied out the topic more than me, so I won’t try to convince you that you are wrong based on the details of the issue.

            > I keep hearing argument from authority (there’s a consensus!) and I find those less than thrilling.

            Referring to a consensus is only a logical fallacy if those making the consensus are not doing so based on evidence. Where does the chain of references terminate? Is it an opinion creator or a researcher who published and can support the claim? In fact, science operates by consensus (look up Thomas Kuhn, if you haven’t read any of his work). Quoting a mormon apostle to support your argument is fundamentally different than, say, referring to the 97% consensus on climate change.

            > If I had to convict Smith of being polygamous and had to pick just one woman and prove she was married to Smith, which woman could I find enough evidence for to persuade a jury? So far, I haven’t found one. Have you?

            This is not the right question to ask. You shouldn’t draw conclusions from a single testimony, case study, or data point. Best practice is to gather all available evidence and piece together a most likely scenario.

            I am not an opinion leader on this topic, so I am happy to let historians do their job and I will accept their work, up to a point. Call it professional courtesy. I am glad there are people like you, though, that are willing to take the minority opinion and push it. If your arguments have any merit, you might make some progress.

            Best of luck

          • J.T.

            Thanks. I do appreciate the kind voice. I guess for me the most likely scenario is that Smith was monogamous and he was framed by Brigham et al. All it takes is one case to the contrary to nullify that theory. When I ask, nobody is ever willing to argue that single case. Instead I get “There’s no smoking gun”, “That’s not how history works” Etc. To which I can only say, if we can’t prove a single case, how do we trust the whole stack? Oh well.

          • MTB

            Based on your previous responses, I think we are going to go around and around on this. It’s pointless. I believe Joseph practiced polygamy. You don’t. I’m interested in what you would accept as “evidence” that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. How about the following, regarding Joseph’s sexual activity with women other than Emma? (credit to Mithryn on reddit):

            1 Faithful Mormon Melissa Lott (Smith Willes) testified that she had been Joseph’s wife “in very deed.” (Affidavit of Melissa Willes, 3 Aug. 1893, Temple Lot case, 98, 105; Foster, Religion and Sexuality, 156.)

            2 In a court affidavit, faithful Mormon Joseph Noble wrote that Joseph told him he had spent the night withLouisa Beaman. (Temple Lot Case, 427)

            3 Emily D. Partridge (Smith Young) said she “roomed” with Joseph the night following her marriage to him and said that she had “carnal intercourse” with him. (Temple Lot case (complete transcript), 364, 367, 384; see Foster, Religion and Sexuality, 15.)

            4 Joseph Smith’s personal secretary records that on May 22nd, 1843, Smith’s first wife Emma found Joseph andEliza Partridge secluded in an upstairs bedroom at the Smith home. Emma was devastated. William Clayton’s journal entry for 23 May (see Smith, 105-106)

            5 Smith’s secretary William Clayton also recorded a visit to young Almera Johnson on May 16, 1843: “Prest. Joseph and I went to B[enjamin] F. Johnsons to sleep.” Johnson himself later noted that on this visit Smith stayed with Almera “as man and wife” and “occupied the same room and bed with my sister, that the previous month he had occupied with the daughter of the late Bishop Partridge as his wife.” Almera Johnson also confirmed her secret marriage to Joseph Smith: “I lived with the prophet Joseph as his wife and he visited me at the home of my brother Benjamin F.” (Zimmerman, I Knew the Prophets, 44. See also “The Origin of Plural Marriage, Joseph F. Smith, Jr., Deseret News Press, page 70-71.) Drawn Sword

            6 Faithful Mormon and Stake President Angus Cannon told Joseph Smith’s son: “Brother Heber C. Kimball, I am informed, asked [Eliza R. Snow] the question if she was not a virgin although married to Joseph Smith and afterwards to Brigham Young, when she replied in a private gathering, “I thought you knew Joseph Smith better than that.”” (Stake President Angus M. Cannon, statement of interview with Joseph III, 23, LDS archives.)

            8 (Sylvia Sessions would have thought she could have had a daughter by Joseph if they had not had sex) Stake President Angus Cannon also testified: “I will now refer you to one case where it was said by the girl’s grandmother that your father [Joseph Smith] has a daughter born of a plural wife. The girl’s grandmother was Mother Sessions . . . She was the grand-daughter of Mother Sessions. That girl, I believe, is living today, in Bountiful, north of this city. I heard prest. Young, a short time before his death, refer to the report . . . The woman is now said to have a family of children, and I think she is still living.” (Stake President Angus M. Cannon, statement of interview with Joseph III, 25-26, LDS archives.)

            9 Faithful Mormon Prescindia D. Huntington, who was Normal Buell’s wife and simultaneously a “plural wife” of the Prophet Joseph Smith, said that she did not know whether her husband Norman “or the Prophet was the father of her son, Oliver.” And a glance at a photo of Oliver shows a strong resemblance to Emma Smith’s boys. (Mary Ettie V. Smith, “Fifteen Years Among the Mormons”, page 34; also Fawn Brodie “No Man Knows My History” pages 301-302, 437-39)

            10 Sarah Ann Whitney “… the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safty. … Only be careful to escape observation, as much as possible, I know it is a heroick undertakeing; but so much the greater friendship, and the more Joy, when I see you I will tell you all my plans, I cannot write them on paper, burn this letter as soon as you read it; keep all locked up in your breasts, my life depends upon it. … I close my letter, I think Emma wont come tonight if she dont, dont fail to come to night, I subscribe myself your most obedient, and affectionate, companion, and friend. Joseph Smith.” — Joseph Smith Handwritten Letter, http://www.xmission.com/~research/family/strange.htm

            11 Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner seems to justify that she might have had a child by Joseph, and states that others of the wives could have had children as well. This is typically assumed to imply sex enough that her descendants have been tested for paternity Drawn Sword

            12 Zina Jacobs son Zebulon, was believed to be Joseph’s child (debunked via DNA) “Drawn Sword”

            13 Clarissa Reed Hancock’s son Mosiah Hancock was believed to be Joseph’s child (Debunked by DNA)

            14 Presendia Huntington Buell’s son was thought to be Joseph’s (Oliver) debunked by DNA

            15 Fanny Alger. I list this, because it is clear from the records he had sex with her in 1832, but the marriage’s first record is by Eliza R. Snow stating the marriage happened in 1836, that’s 4 years later, so this might not count as “Sex with his wives” because it was a straight up affair, but there was sex. “Drawn Sword”

            16 Olive Frost’s child who died at age 3 thought to be Josephs as well.

            17 Hanna Ells was also cited as Joseph going into her house for sexual relations.

            18 Maria Lawrence

            “I am also able to testify that Emma Smith, the Prophet’s first wife, gave her consent to the marriage of at least four other girls [Emily and Eliza Partridge, Maria and Sarah Lawrence] to her husband, and that she was well aware that he associated with them as wives within the meaning of all the word implies.”

            –Andrew Jenson, Historical Record 6:230.

            19 Sarah Lawrence

            “I do know that at his [Joseph Smith’s] Mansion home was living Maria and Sarah Lawrence and one of Cornelius P. Lott’s daughters as his plural wives with the full knowledge of his wife, Emma, of their married relations to him.” — More Testimony,” Letter dated March 9th, 1904, Deseret Evening News, April 12, 1904.

            An interesting side note:

            Joseph Smith advised Clayton to “just keep her at home and brook it and if they raise trouble about it and bring you before me I will give you an awful scourging and probably cut you off from the church and then I will baptize you and set you ahead as good as ever.” – William Clayton journal, Oct. 19, 1843.

          • J.T.

            Let’s not change the subject just yet. I’m happy to address your binder full of women who claim to have been married to Smith. But first, let’s finish the “drawn sword” evidence. There’s no need to go round and round. This is pretty straightforward.

            You claimed there are “twenty different reminiscences” of Joseph using that line. I looked at all 20 accounts to find those that are firsthand accounts from women claiming to have heard that from Smith himself. I found 3 different women. Do you disagree with that number? Are there additional accounts I’m missing? Is there another woman who made that claim that I might have missed? Is there some reason I should also include secondhand accounts? Tell me if there is additional evidence I should include.

            1. Zina Huntington – Zina was married to Brigham Young for 30+ years. Her statement came 4 years after Brigham’s death. She had a pro-polygamy bias.

            2. Helen Mar Kimball – Helen was the daughter of Brigham’s right-hand man Heber, also a famous polygamist. She was involved in promoting polygamy as much as anyone at the time. Her statement was made in 1882.

            3. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner – Her statement was made even later, in 1902. “In her later years she would often supplicate the church for monetary assistance appealing to them on the basis of her connection with Joseph and Brigham.”

            How would you describe the nature of those 3 claims? Certainly, if you were trying to convict Joseph in court, there is room for reasonable doubt. Right? But even if I’m using a lower standard of probability… I’m not sure how to look at that evidence and say the most likely thing is that these 3 women were telling the whole truth. To me it seems plainly obvious they are not. Tell me what I’m missing.

          • J.T.

            Do you think every one of these claims are true? Are there ANY you find maybe less credible than the others? Do you still believe items 12, 13, and 14 represent evidence, or do you want to remove those?

            Just for kicks, I’ll start with #15. Fannie Alger.

            In what universe is it clear from the historical record that he had sex with her? Everyone was pretty sure the DNA test of Fannie’s offspring was going to come up positive. But that one didn’t quite work out.

            How do we know they had sex? Did Joseph say so? No. Did Fannie say so? No. Did Emma tell everyone? No. So you tell me. Give me the name of the person who had firsthand knowledge of this sexual encounter and told everyone about it. This should be easy since the historical record is clear.

          • J.T.

            My thoughts on William Clayton, mentioned a few times above as a source. (Summary: I think he was a despicable liar.)

            Clayton was recruited into the church in England by Brigham Young’s buddy, Heber C Kimball. He was a counselor in the British Mission with Brigham Young’s cousin, Willard Richards. Clayton, like Young et al, was an enthusiastic polygamist. Between 1843 to 1879, he typically had four to six wives at one time. In the single year 1857 he fathered five children.

            After Joseph’s death, Clayton added personal journal entries implicating Smith in polygamy. None of those journal entries were actually written while Smith was alive. Young, Kimball, Richards, Clayton, and others worked together to rewrite the history of Joseph Smith. Much of today’s historical record came out of their heads long after the fact.

            D&C 132 was written by Clayton. Clayton and Young claimed Emma saw and burned the original of 132. Emma consistently denied the existence of any such revelation.
            Question: “What about that statement of Brigham Young, that you burnt the original manuscript of that revelation?”
            Emma: “It is false in all its parts, made out of whole cloth, without any foundation in truth.”

            Given the choice between Emma and Brigham, I’m not likely to ever find Brigham more credible. William Clayton was a document forger whose intent was to make it appear that polygamy originated with Joseph Smith. The clear motive for doing so was to create a religious legal exception to the laws against polygamy so he could do his thing.

            I understand this neither proves nor disproves his claims. But this game is all about credibility and Clayton has very, very little in my eyes.

            And if it helps, remember the Utah church hopes you will accept and repeat Young and Clayton’s revised history and call Emma a liar.

  • Arwen Undomiel

    Yeah, I heard the sword story from my husband. I don’t believe it. Why would the lord send and Angel to force someone to do something they don’t want to? It makes no sense the lord would waste an angel like this.

    If the Lord would send an angel with a sword, I bet he would rather do this when women are abused or someone is trying to kill a child, something like that. This story suggests that for God is more Important to preserve poligamy than to send an angel to protect the lives of those that are abused, like women and children in times of war. smith didn’t think about this when he came up with the story.

    • Shem

      Or where was that angel when Brigham Young taught racist doctrine and the Adam-God theory over the pulpit in General Conference?

      • ZiggyZig

        Here, I’ll just get the apologist answers out of the way to save us all some time:

        1. The Church is perfect, the people in it aren’t.
        2. Sometimes a prophet speaks merely as a man, other times he speaks as the Lord’s mouthpiece.
        3. A living prophet trumps a dead prophet.
        4. It was a different time/culture.
        5. I have a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, the Book of Mormon is a true and correct account of Christ’s ministry to the early inhabitants of the Americas, and I know with every fiber of my being that God’s church has been restored and is led today by his chosen prophets and apostles.

        There you have it. Threat neutralized.

    • J.T.

      Remember, the earliest accounts we have of the angel with the sword come 20 to 30 years after the supposed event. There is no evidence Joseph Smith ever told that story, or of anyone knowing about it until decades later.

      I’ve noticed people are terrible gossips. They will claim to “know” things they plainly don’t know at all. It seems to me that the chief information a gossip wants to present to you is “I am Important and Connected and I Know Things the Common Folk Don’t Know”.

      • ZiggyZig

        “They will claim to ‘know’ things they plainly don’t know at all.”

        *LDS parent ushers his five year old child to the pulpit on fast Sunday and quietly whispers into his ear*

        “I know Tompus F Mondon is a prophet. I know the church is true. I love my famwee. I know Joseph Smyff is true. Amen.”

        • J.T.

          Yes, that is a legitimate example. Another is people who claim to “know” Joseph had sex with Fannie Alger. Why? Because someone whispered it in their ear.

      • MTB

        J.T., you’ll want to address this issue with the author(s) of the recent church essay on polygamy, since he/she/they also feel that the angel with drawn sword accounts are legitimate. Of course, you’ll have a hard time finding the email or phone number of the author(s), since no names were attached to the authorship of the essay.

        https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-kirtland-and-nauvoo?lang=eng

        • J.T.

          Why? Do you consider them to be the true authorities on historical events? I’m afraid I don’t share your trust in their authority. I think they have an institutional imperative to link the origins of polygamy to Joseph Smith and will not and cannot tell the truth on the matter.

          • MTB

            I included this link as I, incorrectly, presumed that you were somehow affiliated with the LDS church. My apologies.

            To answer your question; No, I no longer accept the LDS version of history as authoritative or objective.

  • Jaxon Peterson

    The issue of destroying the press didn’t involve the First Amendment. They violated property laws by destroying the press. They could have, lawfully, destroyed the issue (the paper), but destroying the press itself was illegal.

    • Zelph on the Shelf

      K, so we are in agreement that they sketchily broke the law?

      • They only law that was broken was the destruction of the press (private property), which, BTW, Joseph Smith admitted upfront he’d pay damages for if such was brought to court.

        Joseph was acquitted not once but twice of the “riot” charge (by both a Mormon and non-Mormon judge) before volunteering to go to Carthage for a third trial. The trial was postponed until September because the Fosters never showed up. It was there in what is pretty clearly a conspiracy to murder him that Joseph was at the last minute slammed with bogus, trumped up, and illegal changes of “treason,” a nonbailable offense that would ensure he had to stay in Carthage.

        Also, as was made clear in his June 14, 1844 letter to Governor Ford, and as was made clear in a June 11, 1844 editorial in the Navuoo Neighbor, Joseph and the city council were primarily concerned with suppressing the libelous content of the Nauvoo Expositor for the sake of maintaining the public peace. Given the highly inflammatory rhetoric of the Expositor (whatever its factuality may or may not have been), it’s understandable why they had the concern that they did. Was it unwise and illegal to physically destroy the press? You betcha. But this had nothing to do with the First Amendment, and nothing to do with “hiding” or “censoring” things for the sake of some kind of cover up.

        A little more nuanced than what you’re going to get from such luminous historical authorities as Jeremy Runnells or “Mormon Infographics,” but important nonetheless, I would say.

        • Richard R. Lyman

          Please understand I’m being genuine here– what in the Nauvoo Expositor was considered libelous? I’ve studied a little bit of media law but not 1840s media law. Libel today is a very difficult thing to prove because it must fit very specific criteria. Joseph Smith, as a public figure, would have almost no actual claim to libel.

          • For starters, things like calling Joseph Smith “one of the blackest and basest scoundrels that has appeared upon the stage of human existence since the days of Nero, and Caligula” who was “spreading death, devastation and ruin throughout you [sic] happy country like a tornado,” and who was a “tyrant[] and miscreant[]” (per Francis Higbee). He was deemed “a rough customer, especially in relation to the spiritual wife’ doctrine” and “to the last degree, corrupt in his morals and religion.”

            The Expositor spoke of “injustice, cruelty and oppression” that were “acts of the inquisitorial department organized in Nauvoo, by Joseph and his accomplices, for specimens of injustice of the most perniciouis and diabolical character that ever stained the pages of the historian.” What Joseph was doing in Nauvoo was deemed to be worse than what “Spanish inquisiton did to heretics as they termed them.”

            The language used to described Joseph Smith’s practice of plural marriage was likewise loaded and inflammatory. Whatever one may think of the morality of plural marriage, describing it the way the editors of the Expositor did was nothing but inflammatory. Such language as calling it a “fatal scheme” and implying Joseph Smith was directly responsible for the “wretched and miserable condition of females in this place,” as well as other “victims of misery and wretchedness,” including “orphans,” no less, was nothing but inflammatory.

            Here’s the point. It doesn’t matter whether this stuff actually can be deemed libel. It doesn’t even necessarily matter if it was true. What matters is that in the mind of Joseph Smith and the Nauvoo city council, this was libelous, inflammatory, and was calculated to disturb the peace. They specifically feared this sort of inflammatory language would inspired mob violence (which was all too fresh in their memories of Missouri). And it’s not hard to see why. So, acting within the legal powers granted by the Nauvoo Charter (which the people at the Expositor wanted repealed, by the way, thus rendering the Saints effectively defenseless; another thing that made Joseph and the council nervous), the council, after a day of deliberation, decided to suppress the paper as a public nuisance.

            Nobody is defending that the destruction of the press was a good idea. It was illegal and a really bad idea. At the same time, though, it’s reading into the sources to say the paper was suppressed to cover stuff up. Joseph explicitly stated his rationale for suppressing it (stop it from inciting mob violence against the Saints). Anything beyond that is mind-reading. Maybe his fear was unfounded. But that doesn’t matter. The suppression wasn’t illegal, had nothing to do with the First Amendment, and, above all, most certainly did not justify Joseph and Hyrum being butchered in cold blood.

          • Manzanita

            @ Stephen Smoot –
            Your claim that Joseph’s destroying the press had nothing to do with trying to suppress the content of the Expositor, and that he was just trying to keep the peace, is wholly unsupported by the law and the evidence. Because Joseph was all about keeping the law and the peace? Right. He had previously broken the law to keep his polygamy a secret and so there is no defense that doing so again by destroying the press would have been out of his character. Here’s the thing – and you would have learned exactly zero of this in the Truman G. Madsen and other hagiographies about Joseph that we all consumed for years: Joseph was practicing polygamy, which violated Illinois law (violation #1). When rumors began to swirl, Joseph suborned perjury by having some of his supporters swear out false affidavits that he was not practicing polygamy. (Violation #2.) When William Law, counselor in the first presidency – confronted Joseph about his polygamy, Joseph excommunicated Law and defamed Law by saying it was Law who was a philanderer. (Violation #3). Then Joseph destroyed Law’s printing press (Violation #4). Upon his arrest for destroying the press, Joseph invoked his powers as justice of the peace and mayor of Nauvoo and dismissed the charges against himself. (Violation #5). Since Joseph had made it obvious that he would not subject himself to the rule of law in Nauvoo, he was re-arrested and taken to Carthage, where he smuggled a loaded gun into the jail (violation #6) and exchanged gunfire with guards. (violation #7). So, the historical record during Nauvoo is replete with evidence that Joseph was a scofflaw. Your attempt to defend him on the basis that destroying the press was merely out of concern for peace and the rule of law is ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as Josephs’ parting declaration is that he was “going like a lamb to the slaughter”, or as you put it, that he was “butchered in cold blood”. But why ruin a good story, right?

          • Jaxon Peterson

            I don’t even know where to begin with this. I mean, you fit perfectly into what Mr. Smoot is talking about with glassing over nuance. Example, “he smuggled a loaded gun into the jail” makes it sound like Joseph intended to use it to bust out or something. Cyrus Wheelock offered it to the entire party asking: “Would any of you like this” as he pulled this pistol out of his pocket. Second example, “exchanged fire with guards” — please share your source that Joseph exchanged fire with guards … the guards weren’t there. The only persons with whom Joseph exchanged fire was the mob there to kill him and his companions.

          • Manzanita

            “‘he smuggled a loaded gun into the jail'” makes it sound like Joseph intended to use it to bust out or something.”
            So he was planning to use it as a paperweight?

          • Jaxon Peterson

            Out of everything I wrote, that is what you took away from it? Fine, ‘he smuggled in a gun’ that was given to him for his protection after unlawfully being charged with treason.

          • Quinten Sorenson

            I am sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but the fact is you have no idea what you are talking about. You are free to have your opinion, but you simply have not done enough of the requisite reading for your opinion to be considered even semi-informed. Rather, you have bought into the propaganda that has been spread by the likes of MormonThink, the CES Letter, and yes, even Zelph on the Shelf. None of these folks betray any understanding 1840s law, and neither do you.

            I strongly recommend you get and read Gordon A. Madsen, Jeffrey N. Walker, and John W. Welch, eds., Sustaining the Law: Joseph Smith’s Legal Encounters (BYU Studies, 2014).

          • Manzanita

            I’m unfamiliar with what Jeremy Runnells and John Dehlin have to say about the legality of Joseph in Nauvoo. I have not yet read “Sustaining the Law: Joseph Smith’s Legal Encounters” yet but will do so. However, having just read a couple of book reviews does not give me high hopes (the Maxwell Institute praises it – shocker – but Nate Oman’s review in the William and Mary Law Journal dismisses much of it as more apologetics than sound legal analysis) Which was exactly my experience with reading Dallin H. Oaks’ “Carthage Conspiracy”. I admired the creative advocacy he showed, but convincing legal analysis it was not. But of course to you none of my efforts to understand the issue have any merit because anti-Mormon, CES letter, whatever.

          • Quinten Sorenson

            I think you should try to read Nathan Oman’s review again. I don’t think it says what you think it says.

          • Manzanita

            While Nate Oman does not dismiss the entire book as apologetic, I think the following blurb from his review supports my comments that he believes the book at times surrenders sound legal analysis to apologetics:

            “The book is weakest when the authors adopt an implicitly apologetic framework. Persistent debates about the credibility of Latter-Day Saint academics and historians have long poisoned Mormon historiography, particularly with the rise of the so-called New Mormon History in the 1970s and 1980s. On
            the whole, accusations of religious propagandizing by Mormon historians are unwarranted and unfair. Nevertheless, at times, defensiveness about Smith’s reputation drives these essays. “

          • ZiggyZig

            I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t know that any one should pay any mind to a recommendation from an individual who earnestly believes that Joseph Smith translated an ancient record of sacred scripture using a hat and treasure-seeking stone. Your credibility is somewhat questionable from the onset.

          • “Your claim that Joseph’s destroying the press had nothing to do with trying to suppress the content of the Expositor, and that he was just trying to keep the peace, is wholly unsupported by the law and the evidence.”

            Did you even read my comments? The destruction of the press was illegal. Nobody, including myself, has denied that. The suppression of the paper (“abating” I believe was the legal term used) itself was not illegal. Joseph would’ve been liable for damages in the former, but not the latter.

            That Joseph and the city council suppressed the Expositor to keep the peace is exactly what they intended. Joseph made this very clear in his public and private correspondences concerning the event. The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate otherwise.

            “Joseph was practicing polygamy, which violated Illinois law (violation #1).”

            He actually wasn’t breaking the law. Have you read M. Scott Bradshaw’s 2014 article on this very issue? If not, I’d suggest you do so.

            “When rumors began to swirl, Joseph suborned perjury by having some of his supporters swear out false affidavits that he was not practicing polygamy. (Violation #2.)”

            Not exactly. The carefully worded denials in these affidavits and in other public statements were primarily disavowing the claim that Joseph Smith was involved in John C. Bennett’s “spiritual wifery” stuff, and that he was committing adultery. Again, see Bradshaw above, as well as Brian Hales on this. Did Joseph fudge his language in these denials? Yes, but that’s different than flat out perjury.

            “When William Law, counselor in the first presidency – confronted Joseph about his polygamy, Joseph excommunicated Law and defamed Law by saying it was Law who was a philanderer. (Violation #3).”

            This is a simplistic retelling of Joseph’s relationship with William Law at this juncture. Consult Bushman’s treatment in Rough Stone Rolling for a fuller picture.

            “Then Joseph destroyed Law’s printing press (Violation #4).”

            The physical destruction of the press was illegal, but the actual suppression of the paper was not.

            “Upon his arrest for destroying the press, Joseph invoked his powers as justice of the peace and mayor of Nauvoo and dismissed the charges against himself. (Violation #5).”

            Yeah . . . no. Joseph was first brought before judge George W. Harris presiding over the Nauvoo Municipal Court on June 12, 1844 (State v. Smith). He was acquitted of the riot charge. The next day Joseph presided over the municipal court and discharged the rest of the city council (sixteen defendants in State v. Hyrum Smith et al.). A week later Joseph and the other members of the city council were arrested and brought before the non-Mormon justice of the peace Daniel H. Wells (Foster v. Smith et al.). Wells acquitted all seventeen members of the riot charge after a day-long court proceeding. It wouldn’t be until June 23, 1844 that Governor Ford would insist the city council come to Carthage, the county seat, to stand again on trial for inciting a riot before the Hancock County Circuit Court (State v. Hyrum Smith et al.). This trial, however, was postponed until October because Francis Higbee, a key witness, failed to appear. All the defendants posted bail and were attempting to return to Nauvoo right when Robert Smith served an illegal writ of treason (State v. Joseph and Hyrum Smith). They were taken into protective custody on June 25.

            So tell me where in all of this Joseph circumvented the law by “dismissing the charged against himself.” Please be very specific with very specific evidence.

            “Since Joseph had made it obvious that he would not subject himself to the rule of law in Nauvoo, he was re-arrested and taken to Carthage, where he smuggled a loaded gun into the jail (violation #6)”

            First, see above. You’ve badly garbled the legal history. Second, he did not “smuggle a loaded gun into the jail.” The firearms (there was more than one) were brought in by Cyrus Wheelock, and only reluctantly did Joseph and Hyrum accept them. (Hyrum was heard to remark that he “hated having to use such things,” or something along those lines.)

            “and exchanged gunfire with guards. (violation #7).”

            Joseph only fired after his brother had been shot dead in the face at point blank range. By any legal and moral definition Joseph was acting in self defense.

            And, as Jaxon Peterson pointed out, Joseph did not exchange fire “with the guards.” He rather exchanged three shots with members of an illegal lynch mob that had just killed his brother.

            “So, the historical record during Nauvoo is replete with evidence that Joseph was a scofflaw.”

            You literally have no idea what you’re talking about. Please, for your sake, stop embarrassing yourself.

            “Almost as ridiculous as Josephs’ parting declaration is that he was “going like a lamb to the slaughter”, or as you put it, that he was “butchered in cold blood”.”

            You do know what that metaphor means, right? Someone going to someplace “like a lamb to the slaughter” does not mean they passively go without any resistance. It means somebody is either knowingly or unknowingly going into a situation that has only one inevitably negative outcome. Joseph very well knew his going to Carthage would lead to his death, as he made very clear to Governor Ford and others before he left.

            Also, by any legal and moral definition, Joseph and Hyrum murdered in “cold blood.” Their deaths were planned, calculated, and executed with malice aforethought by a lynch mob acting under no legal authority of any civil agency.

            Your comments here reveal the utter depravity of some anti-Mormon minds. In your blind, bigoted hatred of Joseph Smith and the Mormons you’re willing to stoop so low as to blame two murder victims for their own illegal deaths. If it had been anyone else in Carthage on that day of June 27, 1844, you’d be outraged at the gross injustice of the whole ordeal. You’d be outraged that a man was falsely imprisoned under bogus pretenses and massacred by a group of conspirators so cowardly and acting so wantonly illegally and immorally that they painted their very faces black to avoid recognition.

            But because it was Joseph Smith? Meh. He got what was coming to him. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

            You’re perfectly free to continue in your deluded bigotry, but don’t expect me or anyone else with even a cursory understanding of actual Mormon history, not the demagogic pseudo-history of John Dehlin and Jeremy Runnells, to be even remotely persuaded to your grossly offensive revisionism.

          • Manzanita

            Going against what is likely my better judgment, I’ll engage
            your analysis on the legality of Joseph’s actions:

            1. “The destruction of the press was illegal. Nobody, including myself, has denied that.”

            – Good, I’m glad we agree on something. However, your claim that suppression of the paper (as opposed to the press) was merely nuisance abatement is unfounded. I understand you latch onto this argument because it’s the position that Dallin H. Oaks argues for in his book “Carthage Conspiracy”. As a lawyer I admire the creativity of Oaks’ advocacy here but in a court of law, that argument is going absolutely nowhere. That Joseph might have made his intentions clear in public and private are inapposite to the fact that what he did was illegal. Further, why is the burden of proof on me? It was Joseph who boasted that he bested even Jesus in managing to keep the Church together. It was Joseph who proclaimed himself King of the Earth and a God unto this generation. It is the Church which asks that we sing “Praise To The Man.” These are extraordinary claims. I have made not extraordinary claims. The burden is yours to carry.

            2. Regarding polygamy, you wrote that Joseph “actually wasn’t
            breaking the law. Have you read M. Scott
            Bradshaw’s 2014 article on this very issue?”

            Bigamy was illegal at the time under both the common law and
            Illinois statue, which defined it as having two spouses at a time, knowing the other to still be alive. Bradshaw’s vapid argument is that Joseph wasn’t technically lying when he denied having more than one wife because polygamous marriages were void ab initio; and hence, that he never actually had more than one wife. This argument (although laughable) addresses whether he was honest in denying his practice of polygamy, not that his practice of it was legal. And Bradshaw’s argument that Joseph likely couldn’t be convicted of adultery because he wasn’t open about it is also tenuous, and again misses the point on the question of whether Joseph’s practice of polygamy was legal. Joseph married around 30 something women. He needed only two marriages to be guilty of bigamy. He violated that law more than 30 times.

            3. Regarding whether Joseph suborned perjury by having
            supporters swear out false affidavits, you wrote that they were not exactly perjured because they were carefully worded denials and went more to the question of “spiritual wifery”.

            You seem to be laboring under a belief that a carefully
            worded denial is somehow a defense to perjury. It is not. Perjury occurs when someone under oath makes a false statement material to the issue in question, knowing the statement to be false. There is no exception for carefully worded denials. Calling it “spiritual wifery” rather than polygamy or polyandry is immaterial to the question of whether Joseph was, under the law, guilty of violating anti-bigamy laws and perjury. A true statement is one which corresponds to the facts. Period. Joseph made and had others make false statements under oath, which were material to the question of
            his polygamy, and which they knew to be false. Finally, your concession that Joseph “fudged” language in denials but
            that it was not “flat out perjury” also has its own term of art at law: it’s called lying. And under oath, it’s called perjury. This is hornbook law. Keep up.

            4. Regarding whether Joseph defamed William Law by
            excommunicating him and accusing him of adultery when Law threatened to expose Joseph’s polygamy, you wrote that my view of their relationship was simplistic and that I could read Richard Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling.

            Done. And you know what? I will be eternally grateful for Brother Bushman’s book. It was the first time I got the impression that Joseph was likely an adulterer who groomed and coerced even young girls and his friends’ wives into sleeping with him. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that Rough Stone Rolling has helped more people find their way out of the Church than any other book.

            5. Regarding whether Joseph violated the law by dismissing
            charges against himself, you provide an impressive procedural recounting of which court and which judge heard the case on a particular day. But the fact remains that Joseph, sitting as
            a justice of the peace in Nauvoo, presided over a case over which he himself was implicated. No cogent argument can
            be made that it was proper for him to do so rather than recuse himself. Whether the charge against Joseph had been previouslydismissed against him by Judge Harris does not relieve him from his duty to recuse himself either. He presided over a case over which he was or had previously been implicated, which was a violation of law.

            6. Regarding whether Joseph smuggled a loaded gun into the
            jail, you note that Joseph only “reluctantly” accepted it from Cyrus Wheelock. Unsurprisingly, the “I did it reluctantly” defense exists nowhere in law. I’ve had many clients who have killed “reluctantly”, but have still correctly been convicted of murder. You can acquire a loaded gun in prison reluctantly”, but it’s still against the law. If you find traction for the “my
            client did it reluctantly” defense, please let the rest of us know about it.

            7. Regarding Joseph shooting the gun while in prison, you
            point out that “Joseph only fired after his brother had been shot dead in the face at point blank range. By any legal and
            moral definition Joseph was acting in self-defense.”

            Indeed you saved your best for last. In any penal system in America, an armed prisoner would be shot and killed on the spot, and nobody would be claiming it was martyrdom, except in this instance. An armed prisoner claiming a legal justification of self-defense? That’s not going anywhere. In your other comments you lament the fact that Joseph never received a hearing on the charges but instead received a capital punishment. Regrettably, a prisoner who arms himself frequently has the effect of aborting legal process.

            8. Finally, as to your claims that “You literally have no
            idea what you’re talking about. Please, for your sake, stop embarrassing yourself.”

            Clearly, law is not your wheelhouse. You laid that fact bare the second you began offering impalpable legal justifications like “reluctantly” acquired a loaded gun in prison and “carefully worded” perjury. I stand by the legal research I have done on these issues, and submit that it is you who has been embarrassed in this exchange by your vapid and
            acerbic comments.

            9. P.S. To your statement that “your comments here reveal
            the utter depravity of some anti-Mormon minds.
            In your blind bigoted hatred of Joseph Smith . . .”

            You know what – Joseph Smith used to be my hero. I loved him. Revered him. Followed him. He was to me the greatest man to ever live save Jesus only. I no longer think of
            him that way. It’s not bigoted hatred, or the utter-depravity of some anti-Mormon minds, as you posit. It was simply learning the rest of the story from Mormon-approved sources. The part of the story that was correlated out of the curriculum at church, in seminary, at BYU. It was learning about his polygamy, polyandry, his lying about polygamy, his destroying the reputations of those who dared to speak out about his polygamy (with 14 year olds. Seriously – ew.) . It was learning about his peeping with stones for treasures and then the Book of Mormon translated with that stone. It was his First Vision which was one being and then two beings and then angels and then no angels. It was his claims of translating the Book of
            Abraham which has been proven by scholars by both in and out of the Church to be entirely unsupported from the remaining fragments. But most of all, it was the utterly
            orchestrated denials, scheming, and cover-up that the Church engaged in for decades to keep this stuff a secret. The
            Church always taught me to look to only Church-approved sources, lest I be led away by anti-Mormon Satan traps. But by lying about its history, the Church abused and lost the privilege of being my exclusive source of information about it. And now I’m here. And the truth feels great.

          • ZiggyZig

            Manzanita didn’t you see what they said? You don’t know what you’re talking about. So stop with all that logic bullshit.

            Your ‘carefully worded’ argument is, quite frankly, offensive.

          • MTB

            Manzanita,

            Excellent commentary and insight. Thank you.

          • ZiggyZig

            “Please, for your sake, stop embarrassing yourself”

            Says the guy who puts on a cap and apron and exchanges secret hand gestures and passwords with a guy standing behind a curtain whilst pretending to be God.

            “If it had been anyone else in Carthage on that day of June 27, 1844, you’d be outraged at the gross injustice of the whole ordeal.”

            Yes, in the same way you’re disgusted by the beheading death of Laban at the hands of Nephi. Oh, let me guess – That’s a totally different situation.

          • Moroni Fielding Kimball

            Ok let’s try this….

            Mr. Smoot were any of Joseph’s plural marriages during the Nauvoo period legal in the eyes of the state, eg did the state recognize them as marriages?

            QUOTE:
            “Sec 121. Bigamy consists in the having of two wives or two husbands at one and the same time, knowing that the former husband or wife is still alive. If any person or persons within this State, being married, or who shall hereafter marry, do at any time marry any person or persons, the former husband or wife being alive, the person so offending shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by a fine, not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisoned in the penitentiary, not exceeding two years. It shall not be necessary to prove either of the said marriages by the register or certificate thereof, or other record evidence; but the same may be proved by such evidence as is admissible to prove a marriage in other cases, and when such second marriage shall have taken place without this state, cohabitation in this state after such second marriage shall be deemed the commission of the crime of bigamy, and the trial in such case may take place in the county where such cohabitation shall have occurred.”
            Revised Laws of Illinois, 1833, p.198-99

            Did these plural marriages constitute bigamy? Why or why not?

            Was “meat commerce” involved in ANY of these marriages?

            Did any of these relationships rise to the level of notorious cohabitation? After William Law’s suit on Joseph’s relationship with the Lawrence sisters?

          • Randy Brower

            Telling Emma and others who refused polygamy that they would be destroyed isn’t inciting violence? Joseph asking married women to marry him isn’t disturbing the peace and hurtful to those marriages? Wretched and miserable we’re perfect explanations for those women caught between saying yes to Joseph or having their prophet die at the hands of an angel with a sword. That is clear and present coersion.
            And BTW.. Joseph and Hyrum weren’t murdered in “cold blood” whatever that means. Joseph had a revolver smuggled in to Carthage add well as a bottle of wine, and shot back wounding or killing 2 men by some accounts. Not exactly the picture of a “lamb to the slaughter”.

          • “And BTW.. Joseph and Hyrum weren’t murdered in “cold blood” whatever that means.”

            See my comments above, Randy. You’re deeply confused on this matter.

            But let me ask you this. Please answer truthfully. Did Joseph and Hyrum Smith have a fair trial by jury for a capital offense? Were they lawfully found guilty of a capital offense? Was a sentence of capital punishment lawfully passed over them by an authority invested with the power to do so?

            If no, then how were their deaths justified? If no, then how were their deaths anything but murder in cold blood by a lynch mob that planned and executed their deaths with malice aforethought? (If you don’t believe me, go ahead and take a peek and the sort of stuff Thomas Sharp, who joined the mob, was calling for in the Warsaw Signal just shortly before the martyrdom.)

            “Joseph had a revolver smuggled in to Carthage add well as a bottle of wine”

            No and no. The firearm was smuggled in by Cyrus Wheelock. There’s no evidence that Joseph was the one who called for it. The burden of proof is on you to prove such. Even then, Joseph only used it in self-defense after his brother had been shot in the face and killed right before his eyes. The wine was bought at the request of the guards, since the afternoon was hot and sultry, and the atmosphere was depressive. And even then, what on earth does Joseph and his brethren having drunken a bottle of wine have anything to do with any this?

            “and shot back wounding or killing 2 men by some accounts.”

            The account of him killing two (actually, it was three) of the attackers comes from John Taylor, who himself admitted he was going off of hearsay. In fact, none of the three men wounded by Joseph Smith (Wills, Voras [or Vorhees], and Gallaher) succumbed to their wounds, and stood trial for their part in the attack.

            “Not exactly the picture of a “lamb to the slaughter”.”

            Do you even know what this metaphor actually means? It has to do with the inevitability of the outcome, not whether the victim put up a defense or not.

            Please cease your clueless historical revisionism. It’s unbecoming of the memory of the two murder victims.

          • ZiggyZig

            “The burden of proof is on you to prove such.”

            Oh the irony is almost unbearable.

          • J.T.

            I went for years somehow believing Smith fired blindly into the mob on the stairs and killed a couple of them. Eventually I decided to learn more about who he killed. Apparently nobody. So who did he wound, then? Again, it’s completely impossible to find anything about these men, where they came from, where they went afterwards, how badly were they injured. They just disappear from history somehow. Which strikes me as very suspicious. Willard Richards wrote John Taylor’s account for him. We ultimately really only have one account of what happened in there, from Richards. And there are discrepancies between his accounts and the physical evidence on the scene. (Where was Hyrum standing when he got shot in the head?) So even the eye witness accounts are sketchy at best. We know for sure that two men were murdered. Beyond that it is hard to say with certainty what happened at Carthage.

          • MTB

            Stephen, you stated: “No and no. The firearm was smuggled in by Cyrus Wheelock. There’s no evidence that Joseph was the one who called for it. The burden of proof is on you to prove such.”

            From John Taylor’s “Elder Cyrus H. Wheelock came in to see us, and when he was about leaving, drew a small pistol, a six-shooter, from his pocket, remarking at the same time “Would any of you like to have this?” Brother Joseph immediately replied, “Yes, give it to me,” whereupon he took the pistol, and put it in his pantaloons pocket.” (John Taylor)

            I’m guessing you will parse the phrase “the one who called for it” in order to defend Joseph at all costs, that he didn’t personally smuggle the pistol into the jail. But didn’t technically “smuggle” the pistol into the jail (even though Cyrus was the one that brought it)? You can’t find a degree of truth to the original statement “Joseph had a revolver smuggled in to Carthage add well as a bottle of wine”? …….I have no problem with Joseph having a gun. I can see why he would want it, in this circumstance. But your tone and smug defensiveness paint you as someone that will go to any length protect Joseph, logic and facts be damned. You may consider a page from the Givens and Bushman playbook. Maybe a softer tone. Maybe a less defensive approach.

          • Darrin Johnson

            This made me laugh just a little, ” implying Joseph Smith was directly responsible for the wretched and miserable condition of females in this place”. As we can all agree, fast forward 180 years and see the condition of females in the four corners region, I wouldn’t stop at implying Joseph Smith is directly responsible. Joseph Smith brought this outcome, we don’t have to guess what it looks like, turn on your TV. Looks like a “miserable condition of females” to me!!

          • ZiggyZig

            Joseph Smith used a stone to hunt for buried treasure. He then used one of those treasure-seeking stones to allegedly translate a set of golden plates buried in a hill in his back yard.

            lol.

          • MTB

            Stephen, I can guarantee that I would also speak harshly towards any man that approached my wife with a proposal to become their plural wife. I’m not sure if you’re married. But for your wife’s sake, I would hope that you would react in a similar fashion.

            You stated: “it’s reading into the sources to say the paper was suppressed to cover stuff up.”

            You don’t think that Joseph was trying to “cover stuff up?” The Nauvoo Expositor exposed Joseph. If Joseph wasn’t trying to cover up anything, then why wasn’t he forthcoming, to the church, of the way in which he was practicing polygamy. Why the secrecy? Why was he doing this behind most people’s backs (including Emma’s, for the most part)? You honestly don’t think Joseph was hiding anything? The record clearly states that he was. The Nauvoo Expositor exposed him. His illegal overreaction to the Nauvoo Expositor showed how desperate he had become. The sun was finally starting to shine on his deception and indefensible behavior.

          • MTB

            Stephen, I’m honestly curious in your thoughts on polygamy? Both in Joseph’s practice of it and its theological attachment and implications for the modern church.

  • Shem

    I’m technically a polygamist in the Mormon world since I’m currently sealed to two women.

  • msurkan

    The jury on Joseph’s polygamy is still out in my mind. All the corroboration we have is second hand and came to light years after Joseph died. Emma even denied her husband was a polygamist till the day she died.

    Even more troubling is that fact that DNA testing has proven that some people who claimed to be descendants of Joseph’s polygamous unions were NOT in fact related to him. This puts into question the veracity of the claims their long departed relatives made about being polygamous wives of Joseph. Some women clearly had sufficient motivation to lie about their polygamous unions with Joseph. That tarnishes the claims of other women who say they were in polygamous unions with Joseph too.

    I am NOT defending Joseph (i.e. I think he fabricated the whole body of Mormon scripture and theology), but I can’t dismiss the possibility that Brigham Young and his cohorts lied about Joseph’s polygamy to pursue their own ends. More DNA testing will help, but this is something we may never have a definitive answer to.

    Frankly, I would would love to find some evidence that Joseph was NOT a polygamist so that the entire claim of authority for the LDS church would be called into question. If Brigham lied about Joseph’s involvement with polygamy then he clearly was not the true successor to be the leader of the church and all the other prophets after him were likewise in error. Yea, even to this very day.

    • J.T.

      Of course, there is no way to prove he was NOT a polygamist. You can only find evidence to prove he WAS. The burden of proof is on those who say he was. Allegations do not constitute evidence. Even a large stack of allegations do not constitute evidence. You still have to prove at least one of those allegations is true. The Utah church tried to do that in the Temple Lot case and lost badly.

      • MTB

        J.T., Help me understand your position. You’re stating that the 13 women that provided affidavits in the Temple Lot case were lying? These affidavits stated that they were married to Joseph Smith, with some implying/admitting that their relationships were also sexual. What kind of “evidence” would you expect to see? Of course, children could be evidence. But there are many men that have extramarital relationships that don’t result in children (Bill Cosby, being a current example).

        • J.T.

          Yes, the women who testified in the temple lot case lied. They lost in court. It’s not a question of the quantity of the witnesses but the quality. Brigham Young was a polygamist. He lied about polygamy originating with Smith so they could claim a religious exemption for their otherwise illegal practice of polygamy.

          • Zelph on the Shelf

            Do we have a Snufferite at the party? 😉

          • J.T.

            Me? No. Not at all. I have no desire to see Jesus or believe Joseph Smith was anything other than just a guy. I simply feel no need to accept Brigham Young’s version of events.

          • MTB

            I’m sincerely interested in what your thoughts are on Joseph Smith (if you’re comfortable sharing). You’re not a Snufferite. You have a belief in Joseph Smith as a prophet? Are you affiliated with the SLC LDS Brighamite church? Or, would you characterize yourself as an “independent” mormon?

          • J.T.

            Your wish, my command.
            I’m from the Utah LDS. BYU, etc. My ancestors were at MO and Nauvoo. They became polygamous in Utah. I was raised believing Smith was polygamous.

            Here’s my broad mental image of Smith, with absolutely zero supporting evidence provided. I’ve only thought about this for half a century, so I’m sure my views will change over time.

            First and foremost, Smith was a normal guy. He had all the strengths and weaknesses of any normal guy. He had no mystical supernatural powers. He was no dummy, but he was no super genius. There are a lot of men who never had a face to face with God, Joseph Smith among them.

            Second, I think of him as the charismatic front-man for a real estate speculation and newspaper publishing enterprise. The revenue model was: bring people to town, sell them real estate, then sell them crap from our printing presses. He may have sometimes believed himself to be the true leader of the club, who knows. But I suspect he didn’t care a lot about the doctrinal details. Just sell it. But it just didn’t ever work. Kirtland collapsed. Missouri went up in smoke. Nauvoo brought in poor people who overran the place. They were not good at this.

            Third, I see Mormon literature of the period as primarily works that were ghost written and then had the Boy Prophet’s name slapped on them for marketing purposes. The publishing business was maybe more of an ancillary to the real estate and politickin’ business, so I think Smith left a lot of the content creation work up to the writing staff down at the printing office. I think what we typically see as a shift in Joseph’s theology from the Kirtland period to the Nauvoo period is maybe more easily explained by a shift in the writing staff, away from Rigdon, over to Phelps and on to Taylor etc. I don’t believe, for example, that there was ever a King Follet Discourse written or delivered by Smith. I think the content was produced and published after his death. He didn’t need to be alive to write the shit.

            Fourth, polygamy. I don’t think he was interested. He seemed to get Emma pregnant often enough to indicate a certain level of happiness at home. I don’t see any public statements from him that would indicate otherwise. Emma denied it. No DNA, section 132 was fake, Brigham’s wives lied, etc, etc.

            I do see evidence of Brigham’s interest in polygamy. I do see where Brigham’s buddies controlled the printing presses and the church history books, and were able to write whatever they wanted and put Smith’s name on it. I do see evidence of them changing the history so it appears Smith was involved in polygamy. And I do see Brigham’s motive.

          • MTB

            J.T., Excellent insight. Thank you for your perspective. I agree, somewhat, on points 1-3. Regarding point #4, my belief is that Joseph Smith initiated and practiced polygamy. However, I can certainly respect that someone else has reached a different conclusion. And you are obviously very thoughtful and measured as you have examined the issue.

          • J.T.

            Respect. Thanks for wrestling with me. Always good fun.

          • MTB

            What type of evidence would you accept as proof that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy? My guess is that an outright and unambiguous admission from Joseph Smith is the only evidence that you would accept. And of course, this doesn’t exist. Joseph, with good reason, was covering up his deplorable behavior, at least to some extent. So, it’s no surprise that we don’t have an explicit admission from Joseph that he was actually practicing polygamy.

            Most of the “Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy” crowd that I have spoken to will only accept a signed, notarized (or whatever the 1830/40s equivalent was), legal document (with a judge as witness) wherein Joseph states that he was practicing polygamy. And why would Joseph create a document like this? He wanted to practice this behind the backs of most church members, and behind the back of his first wife Emma.

            A child would also be evidence, of course. But history has no shortage of powerful men having extramarital sexual affairs that do not produce offspring. Lack of non-Emma children is not a great defense for the position that Joseph did not practice polygamy.

            In order to believe that Joseph Smith didn’t practice polygamy, you must discount dozens and dozens of statements and testimonials from people that dealt directly with Joseph and observed his behavior. You must also call someone like John Taylor a liar, as he told his son, John W. Taylor, that Joseph personally taught him the doctrine of plural marriage. John W. Taylor then spoke to his children about this, one of which is my grandmother.

          • J.T.

            Yes. John Taylor was a polygamist and he lied about Smith’s polygamy to try to create a religious legal exception to the anti-bigamy laws. Sorry about that.
            My grandma used to tell us stories from those days that she believed completely but that turned out to be completely impossible. It sucks, but that’s how it goes, I guess.

          • J.T.

            As for evidence… What I would look for in a written statement is something contemporary, firsthand, from a witness who has no obvious motive to lie, and from a record that was not falsified or backdated. For physical evidence of course, all it takes is one positive DNA match. Got anything that matches those specs?

          • MTB

            You’ve given yourself enough loopholes to virtually discount any statement or observance that was made in Nauvoo, or beyond. There is no sex tape. There are no proven extramarital children (still waiting on to hear of potential Joseph Smith descendants via Josephine Lyon Fisher). There are no first-hand, official statements from Joseph Smith admitting to sexual/spiritual relationships (and who really expects Joseph to “go on record” about this?). Lastly, you are willing to disregard statements by many women that said they were married/sealed to Joseph and, in some cases, these relationships were sexual. Any statement that confirms Joseph’s polygamy, you will be able to simply discount as a lie by a motivated individual (including the statements/affidavits of Joseph’s polygamous wives as they were made years later).

            Let’s try this. William Clayton was Joseph’s close friend and personal secretary during the last 2 years of Joseph’s life. You will likely characterize William Clayton as a liar with an ulterior motive to defend and practice polygamy, and that is certainly your right. William Clayton was most definitely a polygamist and followed Brigham Young to SLC. Joseph Smith dictated D&C 132 to William Clayton. There were not that many people that were as closely connected to Joseph, on a daily basis, during the last 2 years of Joseph’s life. William “took” his first plural wife in early 1843 (Sarah Crooks). According to Clayton, this directive to take a plural wife had nothing to do with Brigham Young. It came directly from Joseph Smith:

            “The prophet invited me to walk with him. During our walk, he said he had learned that there was a sister back in England, to whom I was very much attached. I replied there was, but nothing further than an attachment such as a brother and sister in the Church might rightfully entertain for each other. He then said, “Why don’t you send for her?” I replied, “In the first place, I have no authority to send for her, and if I had, I have not the means to pay expenses.” To this he answered, “I give you authority to send for her, and I will furnish you with means,” which he did. This was the first time the Prophet Joseph talked with me on
            the subject of plural marriage. He informed me that the doctrine and principle was right.., and that it was a doctrine which pertained to celestial order and glory.., he concluded (with) the words “It is your privilege to have all the wives you want”… He also informed me that he had other wives living besides his first wife Emma, and in particular gave me to
            understand that Eliza R. Snow, Louisa Be[a]man, Desdemona W. Fullmer and others were his lawful wives in the sight of Heaven.” (William Clayton’s Testimony, 1874)

            William Clayton made this statement in 1874, which will cause you to dismiss it. You will also likely accuse Clayton as a motivated liar. But what about Sarah Crooks? What about all of the polygamous wives that were taken before Joseph’s death in June 1844? How do you explain these? Was Brigham Young practicing and encouraging plural marriage behind Joseph’s back in Nauvoo? Was Joseph unaware of all of these Nauvoo plural marriages? Was Joseph a staunchly monogamist man, completely loyal to Emma, while so many of his inner circle were collecting additional wives?

            William Clayton’s 5/23/1843 journal entry states that Emma Smith found Joseph and Eliza Partridge secluded in an upstairs bedroom at the smith home on 5/22/1843.

            William Clayton’s 5/16/1843 journal states that he and Joseph Smith went to Benjamin Johnson’s to sleep. Benjamin Johnson later states that Joseph and Almera stayed “as man and wife.” Almera also, later, confirmed that she was Joseph’s plural wife.

            We know that Clayton recorded these entries in his journal in 1843. William Clayton had daily contact with Joseph, at this time. These, seemingly, had nothing to do with Brigham Young. These journal entries had nothing to do with a Brigham Young post 1844 polygamy conspiracy.

            An interesting Sunstone piece on William Clayton:
            https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/086-32-35.pdf

            You also have to discount Sylvia Sessions as a liar. She told her daughter, Josephine, that he father was Joseph Smith. That’s a big lie, to tell your daughter, at the end of your life. What would Syliva Sessions’ motivation be to lie at that stage of her life?

          • J.T.

            “We know that Clayton recorded these entries in his journal in 1843.”

            1. How do we know that?

            2. What would it mean if those entries were not made in 1843, but instead were actually written some time later, with the intention of creating a false narrative?

            3. Was William Clayton a distant relative of Mark Hoffman?

            “The journals are a bit difficult to follow, for the entries are not always strictly chronological. Apparently Clayton began writing in one journal, moved to another for some reason, and then moved back to the original. As a result, the researcher must move back and forth between volumes. Sometimes there are two entries for the same day. It is not clear why.” https://goo.gl/wXjaOU Hmm. Why would he have done it that way? Any possible motive for that?

            Has the church made those journals available for people to inspect yet? I honestly don’t know. I wonder why they would keep them out of the public eye in the first place.

            Also, Joseph did go on record about polygamy. He consistently denied involvement in it.

            Yes, Brigham Young was practising and encouraging plural marriage behind Joseph’s back. It was a hostile takeover by the polygamists. It’s really a very bad story for the Utah church.

          • MTB

            You could take a similar approach to argue that Bill Cosby is completely innocent in the 40+ allegations of rape/sexual assault that have been leveled against him. Cosby has never been charged in a criminal case. There are no sex tapes. Witnesses are spotty, and/or unwilling to come forward and testify. However, we have many accusations of Cosby’s sexual behavior and impropriety. Most made years after the fact……. At what point, do you start to accept that the mountain of statements and affected lives and consider that Bill Cosby may actually be guilty of rape/sexual assault? Are all of these women simply motivated liars? Do you dismiss any and all statements that were not made within days or weeks of the incident?

            http://www.etonline.com/news/154160_timeline_of_bill_cosby_sexual_assault_allegations/

          • J.T.

            Just to be clear… You didn’t mention any documentation that was contemporary, firsthand, from a witness who has no obvious motive to lie, and from a record that was not falsified or backdated. And no physical or DNA evidence. Are you not aware of any? Do you find “contemporary” an unfair standard? Cosby is still alive. He is “contemporary” to the charges being made. Smith was dead and unable to respond.

            A couple of the real live alleged wives of Smith had the chance to present their case to a judge in a court of law during the Temple Lot case. The judge did not find them credible. “It perhaps would be uncharitable to say of these women that they have borne false testimony as to their connection with Joseph Smith”. If they federal judge found them not credible, why do you?

    • MTB

      msurkan, I’m interested in the current DNA testing of the descendants of Josephine Lyon Fisher (daughter of Sylvia Sessions Lyon and either Windsor Lyon or Joseph Smith). Regardless, it’s not unheard of for there to be no children of extramarital sexual relationships. JFK is an example of this. Just because there are no children from his affairs, doesn’t mean that he wasn’t cheating on his wife.

      I believe that there is enough evidence (witnesses, journal entries, statements, affidavits, behavior, anecdotal evidence, family testimonials, etc…) to strongly support the case that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. Some great books that support me in this conclusion are (you are likely already familiar with these):
      1) Mormon Polygamy: A History (Van Wagoner)…. the best book, in my view.
      2) Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith (Newell, Avery)
      3) In Sacred Loneliness (Compton)

      Additionally, I am a descendant of John Taylor. Joseph Smith approached Taylor about taking his wife, Leonara, as a plural wife (it was just a “test,” of course). I also know that John Taylor taught all of his children about plural marriage and that this teaching came directly from Joseph Smith. My own grandmother was born into a polygamous family (post manifesto) and it was clearly taught that this “essential” doctrine came from Joseph Smith, not Brigham Young.

      I think you bring up a very interesting point about the problems that the church would have if it could be proven that Joseph wasn’t a polygamist. However, I’ve personally never found this argument to be persuasive. I could certainly be convinced, but there would have to be some solid evidence that this was the case.

  • Pink-lead

    The polygamy issue always reminds me of Jesus’ question about the validity of John’s baptism. Was polygamy from God or not? The church’s essay echos the NT response to the above question. We cannot tell. I.E. Don’t judge Joseph, we don’t know what he went through.

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