Charles A. Shook
True Origin of Polygamy
(Cincinnati: Standard Pub. Co., 1910, 14)

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  • Chapters: I   II   III   IV
  • Chapters: V-IX

  • Transcriber's Comments

  • "The Fair God" 1909  |  Cumorah Revisited 1910  |  Origin of Book of Mormon 1914
    "American Indians of Jewish Descent?"  1908    1909  |  "Tactics of Mormonism" 1915


    The True
    Origin of Mormon



    If Joseph Smith ever taught or practiced the doctrine of polygamy, we ask, When? Where? or by what testimony can he be thus convicted? And until these interrogations are properly answered, we shall feel justified in flaunting back the statement that he taught or practiced polygamy in the face of his accusers as an unmitigated slander and villainous persecution. -- Elder Willard J. Smith.

    The Standard Publishing Company


    [ ii ]

    Copyright, 1914
    The Standard Publishing Co.
    Cincinnati, O.


    [ iii ]


    THE first edition of "The True Origin of Mormon Polygamy" was published in the year 1910. This edition being disposed of, the second is now presented to the public.

    At the time that this book was first written, the author had at hand but few of the original works of the Mormon Church, but, since its appearance, through the kindness of Mr. Z. H. Gurley, of Canton, Missouri, now deceased, and Hon. A. T. Schroeder, of Cos Cob, Connecticut, he has had access to nearly all of the old literature of Mormonism, from which he has made a number of extracts both for the body of the work and also for a large number of footnotes which confirm what has already been written.

    To the Josephite Mormon who may chance to read this production, we simply say: Consult your own early literature and you will find that what the author has written is true. The celebrated Berrien collection of Mormon books, pamphlets and papers in New York City and the Schroeder collection in the State Historical Building at Madison, Wisconsin, with the files of the Sangamo Journal at Springfield, Illinois, will afford you the facilities to ascertain what the true character of things was at Nauvoo between the years 1839 and 1844.

    In putting this book out, our intention is not simply to expose the foIbles of Joseph Smith as a mere man. If he had made no extraordinary claims, his mistakes would have been buried long ago, as the mistakes of thousands of men have been. But, when his followers present him to the world as a prophet and religious teacher, so immaculate in life that even God could use him as his monthpiece, it is quite another thing, and they must answer for his misdeeds before an intelligent and virtuous public. It will not do for them to hide behind the plea that the charges made are simply "a tissue of lies" or cringe beneath the mantle of

    iv                                         FOREWARD                                       

    affected innocence. The stain of sin is upon the garments of Mormonism, and the world at large believes that the hand of Joseph Smith placed it there. So, the evasive cry of "persecution" will not satisfy the ears of the enlightened people of this generation nor draw out their sympathy when boldly confronting them are the evidences which go to prove that he was the author and originator of that polygamic system which has been one of the foulest blots upon our national escutcheon. Therefore, the duty that plainly confronts thc Reorganized Church is to meet the claims presented and overthrow them, if they can.

    To the fact that the members of the Reorganized Church are usually good and law-abiding citizens, I cheerfully bear witness. They will compare favorably with the members of other churches, but they are no better. As I make this acknowledgment, let no man put on a shoe that does not fit him. What has been written is in respect to the evil designs and practices of the original leaders, and does not apply to the rank and file to-day. No one, who has studied the history of the Mormon movement, will for one moment believe that there is any more connection between the Josephite and Brighamite Churches than there is between the Presbyterian and the Roman Catholic. The former have fought their polygamic brethren with a zeal that would be commendable if it were consistent. But, while they strongly oppose polygamy now, they own and acknowledge as prophet a man who has confessed to being the father of the celebrated "Revelation on Celestial Marriage," which has been the basis of the doctrine of the plurality of wives in Utah. (See Millennial Star, xxi. 715).

    In closing, we wish to say a word in our own defense. The charge has been made that this book has been written that the author might "realize a little pecuniary profit" from its sale. This charge is not true. Not one cent of profit or royalty will find its way into his pocket. It is put out solely in the interest of truth.            CHARLES A. SHOOK.
        EDDYVILLE, NEBRASKA, November 1, 1913.

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    062   DR.. JOHN C. BENNETT

    107   BRIGHAM. YOUNG

    130   ORSON. PRATT

    199   JAMES. J. STRANG


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    [ vii ]

    Table of Contents


    01   The Rise and Progress of Mormonism -- The Differences Between the Brighamite and Josephite Churches -- The Book of Mormon on Polygamy


    17   The Reputation of the Smiths at Palmyra -- The Mormon Attempt to Exonerate Them -- First Intimations of Polygamy


    46   The Bennett Expose -- Bennett Unites with the Mormons -- Bennett Apostatizes and Exposes Joseph Smith -- The Denials of the Mormon Church to Bennett's Charges -- Bennett's Charges Sustained


    78   The Revelation on Celestial Marriage -- Preparation of the People for the Revelation -- How the Revelation Came to be Written -- The Revelation on Celestial Marriage -- Proof that the Revelation Came from Joseph Smith


    103   The Nauvoo Expositor -- The Events Leading up to Smith's Assassination -- The Charges of the Expositor -- The Charges of the Expositor Sustained


    121   Direct Evidence Connecting Joseph Smith with Polygamy -- Statements and Affidavits -- Certain Objections to These Statements and Affidavits Considered

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    149   Josephite Admissions -- Isaac Sheen -- William Marks -- J. W. Briggs -- W. W. Blair -- The Robinsons -- Justus Morse


    172   Mormon Denials Examined -- The Denials of Bennett's Charges -- The Denials of Joseph and Hyrum Smith -- The Denials of the Charges of Sidney Rigdon -- The Denial of John Taylor -- The Purported Denials of Emma


    193   The Factions and Polygamy -- The Legal Battle Over Polygamy -- Theoretical Polygamy -- Practical Polygamy


    [ 1 ]

    The True Origin of
    Mormon Polygamy



    The Rise and Progress of Mormonism -- The Differences Between the Brighamite and Josephite Churches -- The Book of Mormon on Polygamy.

    Joseph Smith, the Mormon "Prophet," was born in the village of Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont, December 23, 1805. He was the fourth of ten children and was reared in ignorance, poverty, indolence and superstition. In his tenth year, the family removed to Palmyra, Ontario County, New York, four years afterwards removing to Manchester, in the same county, where his career as a prophet began.

    When Joseph was in his fifteenth year, according to his own account, he received his first religious impressions. The three churches of his town, the Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist, had held long protracted meetings and his feelings were considerably wrought upon, while at the same time he was perplexed to know just which of the churches to join. He finally decided to make the matter a subject of prayer, and so, retiring to the forest, he called upon the Lord, stating his desires and perplexities His prayer was soon answered by the appearance of the Father and the Son, the former of

    2                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    whom told him that he must unite with none of the existing sects, as they were all wrong and their professors all corrupt.

    On the 21st of September, 1823, he had another vision, in which the angel Moroni appeared and revealed to him the exact spot where a set of plates lay buried on which was engraved, in the "Reformed Egyptian" language, the history of ancient America. The following day, he repaired to the spot, which was on a hill near the village of Manchester, where he found them as described, in a stone box buried underneath a large rock. After viewing the plates, he was commanded to go his way, being informed that the time had not yet come for bringing them forth.

    On the 18th of January, 1827, he eloped with Miss Emma Hale, of Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, and was married to her at the house of Squire Tarbill, of South Bainbridge, Chenango County, New York. On September 22 of the same year, the Nephite records were given into his hands and, within the following two years, were translated by the power of God through the Urim and Thummim, two transparent stones set in bows which he had found with them. The Book of Mormon was finally completed, was copyrighted June 11, 1829, and was issued in book form early in 1830

    All the time that Smith was pretending to translate the plates, he and his followers were busy teaching their peculiar doctrines, and, on the 6th of April, 1830, he organized the so-called "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" at Fayette, Seneca County, New York, with six members, himself included. From this time on, the church continued to grow until at the time of Smith's death in 1844, according to Mormon statistics, there were

                                          MORMON POLYGAMY                                        3

    two hundred thousand Mormons throughout the world. 1 In November, 1830, Sidney Rigdon, a Disciple minister at Mentor, O., who had heretofore played his part in the background, came out openly with a large part of his congregation and united with the Mormons. Rigdon was an important accession to the Mormon ministerial force, and Smith and his family, early in 1831, removed to his vicinity and settled at Kirtland, which became the capital of the new Mormon kingdom. The faithful from the surrounding country began to gather there, and in July, 1833, the corner-stone of an imposing temple was laid, which was completed and dedicated with grand ceremonies in March, 1836.

    Early in June, 1831, a revelation was received in which Joseph and certain of his elders were commanded to assemble in the State of Missouri, the "land of Zion." In company with Rigdon and several others, he left Kirtland on the 19th of June, and, in the middle of the following July, reached Independence, twelve miles west of which, on August 2, the "land of Zion" was dedicated and the foundations of a city were laid.

    From this time on, Kirtland and Zion were the centers from which Mormon doctrine and influence radiated. But in neither of these localities were the Mormons on good terms with their Gentile neighbors, who accused them of various crimes and who were in turn

    1 These are Josephite figures, based upon certain statements of Joseph Smith. The Brighamites are much more modest in their estimate of the size of the church at that time. Joseph F. Smith, Jr., in his "Origin of the 'Reorganized' Church," gives the number of Mormons in Nauvoo and vicinity as twenty thousand, which, he says, was the "great bulk of the saints" in the United States. Adding to this the number of Mormons in the British Isles in 1844, which was 7,797, we have a total of less than thirty thousand. As the larger part of the church was found in these two countries, I very much doubt if there were more than forty thousand of Smith's followers in the world at the time of his assassination.

    4                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    denounced as the enemies of the Lord. Things reached a climax at Kirtland in January, 1838, when, the Kirtland "Safety Bank" having failed, Joseph and his counselor, Rigdon, were forced to flee under cover of night in order to escape the "persecutions" of their angry creditors. In Missouri, trouble between the old settlers and the Mormons arose when the latter began 1 to gather there, and continued until they were finally driven from the State by order of Governor Boggs in 1839.

    After their expulsion from Missouri, the Mormons found a welcome and a home in Illinois and soon began the erection of a city which they named "Nauvoo." It was here that Smith made his most lavish display. Between the years 1839 and 1844, he passed from a hunted fugitive, fleeing from the vengeance of Missouri, to an earthly potentate courted and flattered by the politicians of Illinois. He had been a prophet, he now became mayor of Nauvoo, a king to reign over the house of Israel forever, lieutenant-general of the Nauvoo Legion, and, to cap the climax of his absurd pretensions, candidate for President of the United States on an independent ticket!

    But, like many another impostor, his career came to an abrupt end. He had been accused of both immoral and illegal conduct in New York, Ohio and Missouri, but in all these States he had escaped justice. This made him bolder in his arrogant and lawless conduct and he

    1 "I went on to prove that the whole persecution from beginning to end was grounded on our religious faith. For evidence of this, I referred them to Porter Rockwell's testimony and P. Powell's. I stated that there was abundant testimony to prove this to be a fact, among the documents. I then gave a brief history of the persecutions from the first settlement in the State to our final expulsion." -- Letter of Elias Higbee to Joseph Smith, concerning his appearance before a committee of Congress, written from Washington, D. C. and dated February 20, 1840. See also Times and Seasons, December, 1839, and "Church History," Vol. I., p. 183.

    [ facing page 5 ]



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    carried things with a high hand at Nauvoo. He was accused of aiding and abetting a secret society, called "Danites," in their depredations upon apostates and Gentiles; of sheltering criminals fleeing from justice; of attempting to bring about the assassination of his old enemy, Governor Boggs; of counterfeiting the current coin of the United States; of speculating in Government lands, and of the practice of immorality.

    So strong were the evidences sustaining these and other charges, that a respectable party broke off from the church and attempted to make a public exposure of the sins of the Prophet and his colleagues. These recusants started to publish a paper, called the Nauvoo Expositor, but it was short-lived, for immediately after its first issue of June 7, 1844, the press was broken and the type pied by order of the city council and without a trial, and the publishers were forced to flee for their lives.

    The leaders of the schism took refuge in the Gentile town of Carthage, where, after some difficulty, they secured the arrest of Smith and others of the Mormon leaders, and he and his brother Hyrum were put in Carthage jail, under a guard of State militia, to await trial on the charge of treason. Here, on June 27, 1844, at about five o'clock in the afternoon, a mob of infuriated Gentiles stormed the jail, overpowered the guard and shot Joseph and Hyrum dead.

    No doubt the Gentiles, who were implicated in this inexcusable crime, thought that the death of Smith would put an end to Mormonism, but, instead, it was the direst calamity that could possibly have befallen the anti-Mormon cause. Had he been permitted to live and to face trial, he undoubtedly would have been convicted and the eyes of his deluded followers would have

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    been opened to his true character, but, as it was, his tragic death gave him a new pose, that of a martyr, and many of those whose faith had already begun to weaken were again swung into line and Mormonism received a new impetus such as it did not possess before.

    Hardly had the flowers withered on the Prophet's grave, than a number of claimants arose, each demanding the Mormon throne. Sidney Rigdon based his claim upon the fact that he had been Joseph's First Counselor, which was next to the highest office in the church. But Sidney had been out of favor with the Prophet during the last years of his life 1 and had lost his popularity with the people, on account of which he was almost unanimously rejected by the church as its "Guardian" at a public meeting held at Nauvoo, August 8, 1844, and was excommunicated on September 8 of the same year. He returned to his old home in Pittsburgh, crestfallen over his defeat, and organized a Mormon Church of his own, but this soon went to pieces. He died in the year 1876.

    James J. Strang was another of the leaders who claimed authority as Joseph's successor. He produced a letter which he declared was written by Smith himself, shortly before his death, which appointed him to that position. He succeeded in drawing a large faction away from the main body and established his headquarters, first at Voree, Wisconsin, and afterwards at Beaver Island, Lake Michigan, where he met a tragic death at the hand of an assassin in 1856.

    William Smith based his claim to leadership mainly upon the fact that he was brother of the Prophet, whom

    1 Millennial Star, Vol. XX., p. 694.

                                          MORMON POLYGAMY                                        7

    he also asserted had ordained him to that position before his death.

    But, of all these leaders, Brigham Young was the most successful. He was popular with the Mormon people and had been a steadfast friend of Joseph Smith. He was not at Nauvoo at the time of the Prophet's death, being in the Eastern States on a mission, but, hearing of the catastrophe, he hurried home and reached Nauvoo just in time to spoil the chances of Sidney Rigdon. Through his popularity and influence, the Twelve were accepted as the leaders of the church, which gave him the controlling power, he being president of that "Quorum." During the remainder of his life, Young showed exceptional executive ability, successfully leading his people across the plains to Utah, where he established an hierarchy, which, for a time, bade defiance to the Government of the United States. At his death, in 1877, he was succeeded by John Taylor, since which the succession has been as follows: Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow and Joseph F. Smith (son of Hyrum), the present head of the Utah Church.

    There were still other factions of the original church, those following such leaders as Lyman Wight, C. B. Thompson, J. C. Brewster, William Bickerton, Alpheus Cutler and David Whitmer, but these were short-lived and soon went to pieces, leaving but few traces behind.

    The branch of the Mormon Church known as Josephites, and officially named "The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," had its beginning in the year 1852 at Beloit, Wisconsin, in the union of two former Strangite branches, that of Zenas H. Gurley, of Zarahemla, Wisconsin, and that of Jason W. Briggs, of Beloit. At a conference held at the place mentioned in June, 1852, it was "Resolved, That the successor of

    8                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    Joseph Smith, Junior, as the Presiding High Priest in the Melchisedec Priesthood, must of necessity be the seed of Joseph Smith, Junior, in fulfillment of the law and promises of God." In April, 1853, at a conference held at Zarahemla, Wisconsin, seven out of twelve of the Quorum of Apostles were chosen and other officers ordained, and, on the 6th of April, 1860, at Amboy, Illinois, Joseph Smith, the eldest son of the Prophet, was accepted and became its First President and Seer. The Reorganized Church, at the present time, maintains its headquarters at Lamoni, Iowa, and claims about sixty thousand members throughout the world.

    There is still another very small Mormon faction in existence, "The Church of Christ," nicknamed the Hedrickites after its founder, Granville Hedrick. It has its headquarters at Independence, Missouri, where it publishes a small paper, the Evening and Morning Star. This branch rejects all of Smith's revelations which were received after 1834, declaring that in that year he became a fallen prophet. It numbers about two hundred communicants.

    This, in brief, is the history of Mormonism from its inception down to the present, a history presenting features both interesting and repulsive. Unlike the other sects which have sprung from American soil, that founded by Joseph Smith was adapted neither to our society, our Government nor our morals. It seemed to be utterly out of harmony with the purest and best of our existing institutions, and, after repeated conflicts, took refuge in the Rocky Mountains, where it bade defiance to American law and order until coerced into subjection by the strong arms of the military 1 and civil powers. And

    1 In October, 1862, Col. P. Edward Conner arrived at Salt Lake City with fifteen hundred men and established Camp Douglas. "For nearly

                                          MORMON POLYGAMY                                        9

    Utah Mormonism is to-day as unwilling a subject as ever to the laws of the United States of America. It submits because it is forced to.


    While both of the leading branches of the Mormon Church accept the "Book of Mormon" and believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God up to the time of his death, there are at least five important doctrinal differences between them:

    I. The First Presidency. The Brighamites hold that it is not essential that the First President of the church be of the posterity of Joseph Smith, and that any individual chosen of God and approved by the church may so act. They teach that an ordination to the Apostleship fully qualifies the one ordained to officiate as First President, as this officer is himself an Apostle. On the contrary, the Josephites maintain that the presiding officer of the church must be of the seed of Joseph Smith, and declare that prior to his death he chose his son, then twelve years of age, to be his successor. The Brighamite side of the controversy is ably argued by Elder Brigham H. Roberts, in his "Succession in the Presidency of the Church," and the Josephite by Apostle Heman C. Smith, in his reply, "True Succession in Church Presidency." From the viewpoint of an unbiased outsider, after a careful reading of the arguments on both sides of the question, it appears to me that if they would split the difference they would have about the

    four years," writes Beadle, "General Conner maintained the rights of American citizens, and protected and assisted many hundred dissenting Mormons in their escape from Utah." -- Mysteries and Crimes of Mormonism, p. 202.

    10                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    truth, and that, as it now stands, the Josephites have the President and the Brighamites the church.

    2. Adam-god-ism. The Brighamites hold that there are a multitude of gods; in fact, that the number is being constantly increased by the addition of pious Mormons. They declare that God himself was originally as we are now; in other words, that He is simply an exalted man, and that those who keep the commandments will one day be like Him. This doctrine the Josephites deny in toto and challenge the claim that the Prophet ever taught it. It may be well to say, however, that the charge was made in the Nauvoo Expositor that the church was taught the doctrine of a "plurality of gods above the God of this universe, and his liability to fall with all his creations," and that Smith himself, in a funeral sermon preached over the dead body of Elder King Follett, in April, 1844, said: "You have got to learn how to be gods yourselves; to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done; by going from a small degree to another, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you are able to sit in glory as doth those who sit enthroned in everlasting power." From which it would seem that this doctrine originated with Smith himself.

    3. Blood Atonement. The Brighamites have been accused of teaching that the shedding of an apostate's blood is an atonement for the sin of apostasy. This has been indignantly denied, but the statements of Young, Grant and other Utah leaders, which are to be found in the bound volumes of their "Discourses," are too plain to be misunderstood. For instance, President Jedediah M. Grant said in a discourse delivered Sept. 21, 1856: "I say there are men and women here that I would advise to go to the President immediately, and ask him to appoint a committee to attend to their case; and then let


                                        MORMON POLYGAMY                                       11

    a place be selected, and let that committee shed their blood." The Josephites, of course, condemn this awful doctrine and employ such statements as the foregoing with telling effect in their controversies with the Utah Church.

    4. Gathering. The Brighamites declare that before Smith's death he prophesied that the church would "gather" to the mountainous regions of the West, and that certain steps were taken with a view to such a removal. The Josephites deny this and declare that the only "Zion" is that in the State of Missouri.

    5. Polygamy. The Brighamites assert than on July 12, 1843, and before, the Prophet received revelations authorizing the practice of polygamy, and that in obedience to these revelations he married a number of plural wives. The Josephites, at first, conceded that their prophet taught the doctrine, but claimed that he repented of his connection with it before his death and that he had the revelation commanding it burned. In later years, however, they have denied emphatically that he was ever a polygamist, and try to explain away the force of their first concessions. Joseph Smith, the present head of the Reorganized Church, gives the following ingenious explanation of the origin and gradual development of the spiritual-wife doctrine:

    I believe that during the latter years of n-.y father's life there was in discussion among the elders, and possibly in practice, a theory like the following: that persons who might believe that there was a sufficient degree of spiritual affinity between them as married companions, to warrant the desire to perpetuate that union in the world to come and after the resurrection, could go before some high priest whom they might choose, and there making known their desire, might be married for eternity, pledging themselves while in the flesh unto each other for the observance of the rights of companionship in the spirit; that this

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    was called spiritual marriage, and upon the supposition that what was sealed by this priesthood, before which this pledge was made on earth, was sealed in heaven, the marriage relation then entered into would continue in eternity. That this was not authorized by command of God or rule of the church; but grew out of the constant discussion had among the elders; and that after a time it resulted in the wish (father to the thought) that married companionship rendered unpleasant here by incompatibilities of different sorts, might be cured for the world to come, by securing through this means a congenial companion in the spirit; that there was but brief hesitancy between the wish and an attempt to put it into form and practice. That once started the idea grew; spiritual affinities were sought after, and in seeking them the hitherto sacred precincts of home were invaded; less and less restraint was exercised; the lines between virtue and license, hitherto sharply drawn, grew more and more indistinct; spiritual companionship, if sanctioned by a holy priesthood, to confer favors and pleasures in the world to come, might be antedated and put to actual test here -- and so the enjoyment of a spiritual companionship in eternity became a companionship here; a wife a spiritual wife, if congenial; if not, one that was congenial was sought, and a wife in fact was supplemented by one in spirit, which in easy transition became one in essential earthly relationship. From this, if one, why not two or more, and plural marriage, or plurality of wives, was the growth. That so soon as the prophet discovered that this must inevitably be the result of the marriage for eternity between married companions, which for the time was perhaps looked upon as a harmless enlargement of the priesthood theory, and rather intended to glorify them in doing business for eternity and the heavens, he set about correcting it. But the evil had, unnoted by him, taken root, and it was too late. What had been possibly innocently spiritual became fleshly, sensual -- devilish. He was taken away. The long train of circumstances burst upon the people. He and Hyrum placed themselves in the front of the impending storm and went down to death. That which in life they were powerless to prevent rapidly took the successive forms heretofore stated, and polygamy, after eight years of further fostering in secret, rose in terrible malignity to essay the destruction of the church. That my father may have been


                                        MORMON POLYGAMY                                      13

    a party to the first step in this strange development, I am perhaps prepared to admit, though the evidence connecting him with it is vague and uncertain; but that he was in any otherwise responsible for plural marriage, plurality of wives, or polygamy, I do not know, nor are the evidences so far produced to me conclusive to force my belief. -- Tullidge's History, pp. 798~800.

    This, the son of the Mormon Prophet asks us to accept as the true explanation of the introduction and development of the doctrine and practice of polygamy! Is it not, rather, the labored effort of the son to let the father down easy and lighten his burden of responsibility for the existence of this foul blot upon American civilization, and so relieve the family name of the stigma that has so long been attached to it? If polygamy was introduced into the church before Joseph's death, as it is admitted it was, could it have been introduced by any one but Smith himself? His will was law, and the manner in which he dealt with others 1 for daring to teach doctrines contrary to his own shows how he would have dealt with Young or any other man who might have attempted to introduce polygamy without his sanction. Besides, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Lyman Wight, and other noted polygamists, were among his closest friends up to the very time of his death, while the Laws and Higbees, Foster and Marl;s, who opposed this doctrine and practice, were out of favor with him during the latter part of his life. 2 Straws tell which way the

    1 Elders Gladden Bishop and Oliver Olney were ignominiously disfellowshiped for claiming to receive revelations and for teaching doctrines inconsistent with the faith of the church." -- Millennial Star, Vol. XIX., pp. 151, 211.

    2 "Whatever can be the matter with these men? [Law and Marks.] Is it that the wicked flee when no man pursueth, that hit pigeons always flutter, that drowning men catch at straws or that Presidents Law and Marks are absolutely traitors to the church, that my remarks should


    14                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                      

    wind blows, and Smith's friendship for polygamists and his enmity toward monogamists plainly indicates where he stood on the question of plural marriage.

    The evidences all unite in proving that the foul doctrine of Mormon polygamy was conceived in the lustful brain of Joseph Smith; that it was practiced on the sly at Kirtland and in Missouri; that it was made the subject of a revelation at Nauvoo; and that, when the Mormons were beyond the reach of Uncle Sam, it was openly advocated and practiced in Salt Lake City.


    Both branches of the Mormon Church claim the Book of Mormon as being on their side in the controversy over polygamy. The Josephites contend that the practice is condemned in the strongest terms, while the Brighamites just as strongly contend that immediately following the condemnation of the lustful practices of David and Solomon a clause is inserted which provides for the practice whensoever commanded by the Lord and for the purpose of raising up seed unto Him. The passage in question reads as follows:

    Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord, wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of

    produce such excitement in their minds?... The people in the town are astonished, almost every man saying to his neighbor, 'Is it possible that Brother Law or Brother Marks is a traitor, and would deliver Brother Joseph into the hands of his enemies in Missouri? If not, what can be the meaning of all this? The righteous are as bold as a lion." -- Millennial Star, Vol. XXII., p. 631.

    1 In phrenological charts, prepared in the summer of 1842, by A. Crane, MD.., for Joseph Smith, Willard Richards, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, they stood, respectively, 11, 8, 7 and 10, on a scale of l2, in amativeness. This fact is


                                        MORMON POLYGAMY                                      15

    the loins of Joseph. Wherefore, I, the Lord God, will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none: For I, the Lord God, delighteth in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me: thus saith the Lord of hosts -- wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. -- Jacob 2:6.

    This would be as clear-cut and strong a denunciation of polygamous practices as one could ask, were it not for the qualifying clause which immediately follows' and which reads:

    For if I will, saith the Lord of hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people: otherwise, they shall hearken unto these things.

    This last clause has given the Josephites no little trouble, and they have resorted to a far-fetched exegesis to destroy its evident sense. Elder H. A. Stebbins writes

    Of course those who claim to find sanction for their own evil and lustful deeds have tried to make a good deal of capital out of this word otherwise. All that we really can understand by it is that it means, "in other words" you shall hearken to these things that I (the Lord) have spoken. -- Book of Mormon, Lectures, p. 197.

    But, if the Lord had meant "in other words," why did He not say so, and why did He use a term that is not in the least synonymous, but conveys an entirely different idea? "Otherwise" does not mean "in other words," but is an adverb of manner indicating that the Nephites were to refrain from the relations previously stated unless there should come a divine command to the contrary. The plain import of this passage is: Polygamy without a command from God and for the gratification of the sensual appetite is an abomination before Him;

    16                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    polygamy with a command from God and prompted by a desire to raise up seed unto Him is obligatory.

    This passage, then, is no insuperable barrier to the introduction of polygamy, and, upon the supposition that God gave a revelation enjoining it upon Joseph Smith and others at Nauvoo, July 12, 1843, can be explained in perfect harmony with the theory and practice of the Utah Mormon Church.


                                    MORMON POLYGAMY                                  17


    The Reputation of the Smiths at Palmyra -- The Mormon Attempt to Exonerate Them -- First Intimations of Polygamy.

    While it is not always true that as is the boy so will be the man, it is, nevertheless, undeniable that youthful training and environments are largely responsible for what most men are in after life. This certainly was the case with the Mormon Prophet. Being reared in an atmosphere of superstition, bigotry, dishonesty and lust, he early inhaled those germs which poisoned his moral system and finally brought him to his tragic and disgraceful end.

    Stephen S. Harding, one-time Governor of Utah, who knew Smith at Palmyra, describes him as having been a tall, long-legged and tow-headed youth, who seldom smiled, hardly ever worked and never fought, but who was hard on the truth and birds' nests. Others of his acquaintances say that what little education he had was picked up by chance and that his main occupations were fishing in the village mill-pond, digging out woodchucks, hunting for lost treasure and reading the lives of the notorious Captain Kidd and the clerical scoundrel, Stephen Burroughs, from which, without doubt, he drew a large part of the inspiration for his spectacular and unenviable career.

    Time made some changes and the tow-head became a light auburn, but the moral traits continued the same, and secretiveness, untruthfulness, dishonesty and cowardice followed him to his assassination. Indeed, at no time in his history was the last-mentioned trait more

    18                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    manifest than, when leaping from the window of Carthage jail, he cravenly called out the Masonic cry of distress, "Is there no help for the widow's son?" 1 with the evident purpose of exciting the pity of his enemies.


    Joseph Smith, Sr., father of the Prophet, is described as having been below the ordinary in veracity, honesty and intelligence, and yet with a native shrewdness which gave him power over others of the same class. He was intensely superstitious, and spent a large part of his time in "witching" for lost treasure, as the following account, subscribed and sworn to by a neighbor, Peter Ingersoll, at Palmyra, December 9, 1833, will show:

    I was once ploughing near the house of Joseph Smith, Sen. About noon, he requested me to walk with him a short distance from his house, for the purpose of seeing whether a mineral rod would work in my hand, saying, at the same time, he was confident it would. As my oxen were eating, and being myself at leisure, I accepted the invitation. When we arrived near the place at which he thought there was money, he cut a small witch-hazel bush, and gave me direction how to hold it. He then went off some rods and told me to say to the rod, "Work to the money," which I did, in an audible voice. He rebuked me severely for speaking it loud, and said it must be spoken in a whisper. This was rare sport for me. While the old man was standing off some rods, throwing himself into various shapes, I told him the rod did not work. He seemed much surprised at this, and said he thought he saw it move in my hand.... Another time, the said Joseph, Sen., told me that the best time for digging money was in the heat of summer, when the heat of the sun caused the chests of money to rise near the top of the ground. "You notice," said he, "the large stones on top of the ground -- we call them rocks, and they truly appear so, but

    1 Times and Seasons, Vol. V., p, 58a. "Mormon Portraits," p. 154. "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 153.


                                        MORMON POLYGAMY                                      19

    they are, in fact, most of them chests of money raised by the heat of the sun."

    The mother, Lucy Smith, was not one whit behind the father. Credulous to an extreme degree, she peopled the air with familiar spirits and told many extravagant stories of her experiences with them. She was a veritable witch, and passed on to her son the secrets of her calling. Mrs. Dr. Horace Eaton, who was a resident of Palmyra for thirty-two years, has this to say of the Smith family in general and the mother in particular:

    As far as Mormonism was connected with its reputed founder, Joseph Smith, always called "Joe Smith," it had its origin in the brain and heart of an ignorant, deceitful mother. Joe Smith's mother moved in the lowest walks of life, but she had a kind of mental power, which her son shared. With them both the imagination was the commanding faculty. It was vain, but vivid. To it was subsidized reason, conscience, truth. Both mother and son were noted for a habit of extravagant assertion. They would look a listener full in the eye, and, without confusion or blanching, would fluently improvise startling statements and exciting stories, the warp and woof of which were alike sheer falsehood. Was an inconsistency alluded to, nothing daunted, a subterfuge was always at hand. As one old man, who knew them well, said to me, "You can't face them down. They'd lie and stick to it." Many of the noblest specimens of humanity have arisen from a condition of honest poverty; but few of these from one of dishonest poverty. Agur apprehended the danger when he said, "Lest I be poor and steal." Mrs. Smith used to go to the houses of the village and do family washings. But if the articles were left to dry upon the lines, and not secured by their owners before midnight, the washer was often the winner -- and in these nocturnal depredations she was assisted by her boys, who favored in like manner poultry yards and grain bins. Her son Joe never worked save at "chopping bees" and "raisings," and then whiskey was the impetus and the reward. The mother of the high-priest of Mormonism was superstitious to the last degree. The very air she breathed was inhabited by "familiar spirits that peeped and

    20                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                      

    wizards that muttered." She turned many a penny by tracing in the lines of the open palm the fortunes of the inquirer. All ominous signs were heeded. No work was commenced on Friday. The moon over the left shoulder portended calamity; the breaking of a mirror, death. Even in the old Green Mountain State, before the family emigrated to the Genesee country (the then West), Mrs. Smith's mind was made up that one of her sons should be a prophet. The weak father agreed with her that Joseph was the "genus" of their nine children. So it was established that Joseph should be the prophet. To such an extent did the mother impress this idea upon the boy, that all the instincts of childhood were restrained. He rarely smiled or laughed. "His looks and thoughts were always downward bent." He never indulged in the demonstrations of fun, since they would not be in keeping with the profound dignity of his allotted vocation. His mother inspired and aided him in every scheme of duplicity and cunning. All acquainted with the facts agree in saying that the evil spirit of Mormonism dwelt first in Joe Smith's mother.

    One of the means by which the Prophet deceived his credulous followers was a stone found while digging a well in the year 1822, and through which he claimed he could find silver mines, the depositories of hidden treasure, etc. What the "rod" had been to the father the "peepstone" was to the son, and he always found a class who were ready to believe his absurd pretensions. Mr. Willard Chase, in whose well the stone was found, under date of December 11, 1833, gives the following account of its finding and the use that was afterwards made of it:

    I became acquainted with the Smith family, known as the authors of the Mormon Bible, in the year 1820. At that time, they were engaged in the money-digging business, which they followed until the latter part of the season of 1827. In the year 1822, I was engaged in digging a well. I employed Alvin and Joseph Smith to assist me; the latter of whom is now known as the Mormon prophet. After digging about twenty feet below the surface of the earth, we discovered a singularly appearing stone, which excited my curiosity. I brought it to


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     21

    the top of the well, and as we were examining it, Joseph put it into his hat, and then his face into the top of his hat. It has been said by Smith, that he brought the stone from the well; but this is false. There was no one in the well but myself. The next morning he came to me, and wished to obtain the stone, alleging that he could see in it; but I told him I did not wish to part with it, on account of its being a curiosity, but would lend it. After obtaining the stone, he began to publish abroad what wonders he could discover by looking in it, and made so much disturbance among the credulous part of the community, that I ordered the stone to be returned to me again. He had it in his possession about two years. I believe, some time in 1825, Hiram Smith (brother of Joseph Smith) came to me, and wished to borrow the same stone, alleging that they wanted to accomplish some business of importance, which could not very well be done without the aid of the stone. I told him it was of no particular worth to me, but merely wished to keep it as a curiosity, and if he would pledge me his word and honor, that I should have it when called for, he might take it; which he did and took the stone. I thought I could rely on his word at this time, as he had made a profession of religion. But in this I was disappointed, for he disregarded both his word and honor. In the fall of 1826, a friend called upon me and wished to see that stone, about which so much had been said; and I told him if he would go with me to Smith's (a distance of about half a mile) he might see it. But, to my surprise, on going to Smith's, and asking him for the stone, he said, "You can not have it;" I told him it belonged to me, repeated to him the promise he made me, at the time of obtaining the stone; upon which he faced me with a malignant look and said, "I don't care who in the Devil it belonged to, you shall not have it."... In April, 1830, I again asked Hiram for the stone which he had borrowed of me; he told me I should not have it, for Joseph made use of it in translating his Bible. I reminded him of his promise, and that he had pledged his honor to return it; but he gave me the lie, saying the stone was not mine nor never was.... I have regarded Joseph Smith, Jr., from the time I first became acquainted with him until he left this part of the country, as a man whose word could not be depended upon. Hiram's character was but very little better.

    22                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    Perhaps no one was better acquainted with the pure rascality of the Mormon Prophet than was his father-in-law, Isaac Hale, of Harmony, Pennsylvania. Smith had become acquainted with his daughter in the winter of 1825-26, when boarding at his house while on one of his money-hunting expeditions, and, being refused her hand on account of his bad habits, had eloped with, and was married to, her on the '8th of January, 1827. After their marriage, they went to Manchester, from which place Joseph returned to Harmony in August, following, for the purpose of procuring his wife's household goods. Peter Ingersoll, who accompanied him, declares that when Hale saw Joseph he burst into a flood of tears and said: "You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather followed her to the grave. You spend your time in digging for money, pretend to see in the stone and deceive people." Joseph also wept and promised his father-in-law that he would give up his old habits and settle down, at the same time confessing that his former pretensions of being able to see things in the stone were also false. On March 20, 1834, Hale swore and subscribed to the following statement:

    I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr., in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called "money-diggers;" and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see, by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure. His appearance at this time was that of a careless young man -- not very well educated, and very saucy and insolent to his father. Smith, and his father, with several other "money-diggers," boarded at my house while they were employed in digging for a mine that they supposed had been opened and worked by the Spaniards, many years since. Young Smith gave the "money-diggers" great encouragement, at first, but when they had arrived in digging, to near the place where he had stated an immense treasure could


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     23

    be found -- he said the enchantment was so powerful that he could not see. They then became discouraged, and soon after dispersed. This took place about the 17th of November, 18~75; and one of the company gave me his note for $12.68 for his board, which is still unpaid. After these occurrences young Smith made several visits to my house, and at length asked my consent to his marrying my daughter Emma. This I refused, and gave my reasons for so doing; some of which were, that he was a stranger, and followed a business that I could not approve; he then left the place. Not long after this he returned, and while I was absent from home, carried off my daughter, into the state of New York, where they were married without my approbation or consent. After they had arrived at Palmyra, N. Y., Emma wrote to me inquiring whether she could take her property, consisting of clothing, furniture, cows, etc. I replied that her property was safe, and at her disposal. In a short time they returned, bringing with them a Peter Ingersoll, and subsequently came to the conclusion that they would move out, and reside upon a place near my residence. Smith stated to me that he had given up what he called "glass looking," and that he expected to work hard for a living, and was willing to do so. He also made arrangements with my son Alva Hale, to go to Palmyra, and move his (Smith's) furniture, etc., to this place. He then returned to Palmyra, and soon after Alva, agreeable to the arrangement, went up and returned with Smith and his family. Soon after this I was informed they had brought a wonderful Book of Plates down with them. I was shown a box in which it is said they were contained, which had, to all appearances, been used as a glass box of the common window glass. I was allowed to feel the weight of the box, and they gave me to understand that the Book of Plates was then in the box -- into which, however, I was not allowed to look. I inquired of Joseph Smith, Jr., who was to be the first who would be allowed to see the Book of Plates? He said it was a young child. After this, I became dissatisfied, and informed him that if there was anything in my house of that description, which I could not be allowed to see, he must take it away; if he did not I was determined to see it. After that, the plates were said to be hid in the woods.... The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the "money-diggers,"

    24                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates was at the same time hid in the woods!... I conscientiously believe from the facts I have detailed, and from many other circumstances, which I do not deem it necessary to relate, that the whole "Book of Mormon" (so called) is a silly fabrication of falsehood and wickedness, got up for speculation, and with a design to dupe the credulous and unwary -- and in order that its fabricators may live upon the spoils of those who swallow the deception.

    On December 4, 1833, fifty-one citizens of Palmyra, New York, signed the following statement relative to the character of the Smiths:

    We, the undersigned, have been acquainted with the Smith family, for a number of years, while they resided near this place, and we have no hesitation in saying, that we consider them destitute of that moral character, which ought to entitle them to the confidence of any community. They were particularly famous for visionary projects, spent much of their time in digging for money which they pretended was hid in the earth; and to this day, large excavations may be seen in the earth, not far from their residence, where they used to spend their time in digging for hidden treasures. Joseph Smith, Senior, and his son Joseph, were in particular considered entirely destitute of moral character, and addicted to vicious habits.

    The foregoing statements have given the Mormons no little trouble, for while they freely admit that Joseph was reared in poverty and ignorance, which they think fulfills prophecy, they indignantly deny the charge that his family were destitute of moral character, averring that the stories told about them are the malicious inventions of unscrupulous enemies. The fact, however, that the Mormons have had ample opportunity to refute these charges and have never done so is pretty good evidence that in the main they are well founded.


    The followers of Joseph Smith have made at least


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     25

    one attempt to get testimonies favorable to his family among the old citizens of Palmyra. In the Cadillac (Michigan) News of April 6, 1880, appeared an article from the Rev. C. C. Thorne, of Manchester, New York, which contained a number of testimonies relative to the poor character of the Smiths and Cowdery, as follows:

    I knew Joe Smith, personally to some extent, saw him frequently, knew well his reputation, he was a lazy, drinking fellow, and loose in his habits in every way. -- Danford Booth.

    Smith's reputation was bad. I was acquainted with Oliver Cowdery. He was a low pettifogger, the cat's-paw of the Smiths to do their dirty work. -- Orrin Reed.

    I knew the Smiths, but did not associate with them, for they were too low to associate with. There was no truth in them. Their aim was to get in where they could get property. They broke up homes in that way. Smith had no regular business. He had frequent revelations. -- Wm. Bryant. 

    This stirred the Mormons, who at that time were carrying on mission work in Cadillac, to action, and, in the spring of 1881, two of their elders, W. H. and E. L. Kelley, went to Palmyra and vicinity, concealed their identity, interviewed the parties who made the foregoing statements, and others, and published their purported interviews in the Saints' Herald, of Plano, Illinois, for June 1, 1881, Their purported interviews with Booth, Reed, Bryant and also J. H. Gilbert, reported by the first named, I now give:

    Having the names of Messrs. Bryant, Booth, and Reed, obtained from a published communication in the Cadillac News, of Michigan, about a year ago, by Rev. A. Marsh, of that place, who had received it from a brother Reverend, one C. C. Thorn, of Manchester, New York, who claimed to have interviewed the above named gentlemen, and obtained from them wonderful revelations about the Smith family, Cowdery, etc., making Mr. Bryant to say that Smith was "a lazy, drinking fellow, loose in his habits every way;" and Mr. Booth to say that their reputation

    26                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    was "bad," and that Oliver Cowdery was "a low pettifogger," and "cat's-paw of the Smiths, to do their dirty work," etc.; and Mr. Reed to say, "they were too low for him to associate with," with a citation of the black sheep story, etc.; all of whom were "astonished beyond measure" at the progress of this "imposture, which they thought would not amount to anything." All of which was sent to Rev. A. Marsh, of Cadillac, in order to counteract the influence which had been created in favor of the faith in that place, by the efforts of M. H. Bond and myself.

    Believing then that the whole story was a trumped up thing, I was determined to call on these gentlemen, and ascertain whether this pious Rev. told the truth about what they said or not.

    At about 10 a. m. we called at the house of Mr. Bryant, and knocked at the door, which was answered by a lady who gave her name as Mary Bryant. She gave us seats in the room where her husband, William Bryant, was sitting. He is now eighty-five years of age, tall, and lean in flesh, and, during our interview, sat in a stooping posture, with open mouth. His wife informed us that for the last few years his mind had been somewhat impaired. She has a good memory, is seventy-five years of age, intelligent, and seemingly a great talker. We announced that the purpose of our visit was to ascertain some facts from the old settlers, with reference to the people known as Mormons, who used to live there, as it is understood to have been the home of the Smith family and others at the time the Book of Mormon is alleged to have been discovered.

    To this Mr. Bryant in a slow voice replied, "Yes, that big hill you saw coming along, is where they say Joe Smith got the plates; you must have seen it coming along. Well, you can't find out much from me; I don't know much about them myself; I have seen Joe Smith once or twice; they lived about five miles from where I did; was not personally acquainted with any of them -- never went to any of their meetings, and never heard one preach."

    What do you know about the character of the family? How were they for honesty? Were they industrious or lazy? We want to know their character among their old neighbors.

    "Well, I don't know about that. I never saw them work; the people thought young Joe was a great liar."


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     27

    What made them think that?

    "They thought he lied when he said he found that gold bible."

    Before this what was thought of him, as to his telling the truth?

    "I never heard anything before this."

    What else did he lie about? And how did he get the name of being such a great liar?

    "The people said he lied about finding the plates; I don't know whether he lied about anything else; they were all a kind of a low, shiftless set."

    What do you mean by that?

    "The people said they were awful poor, and poor managers. Joe was an illiterate fellow. If you come from Palmyra, you could have got Tucker's work there and it would have told you all about them. I have read a great deal about them."

    Yes, we have seen Tucker's work, but there are too many big stories in that. Thinking people don't believe them; they ridicule them, and demand the facts; we wish to get some facts which we can stand by.

    "I don't know anything myself; I wish I did. Have you been to see Mr. Reed? He lives up north of Manchester; he knows."

    Mrs. Bryant -- "My husband don't know anything about them; they did not live in the same neighborhood that we did, and he was not acquainted with them; he don't know anything."

    Well, were they drunkards?

    Mr. Bryant -- "Everybody drank whiskey in them times."

    Did you ever see Joe Smith drunk or drinking?

    "No, I can't say that I did; I only saw him once or twice, when he came to the woolen mill where I worked."

    Did you not see Joe drink sometime?


    Mrs. Bryant -- "He ought not to say anything, for he knows nothing about them; then it has been a long time ago."

    Have you stated now all that you know about them?

    Mr. Bryant -- "Yes; I never knew much about them anyway."

    Did you know any of their associates -- Cowdery, Harris or others?

    "No, I never knew any of them."

    Mrs. Bryant -- "I knew Cowdery; Lyman Cowdery, I believe,

    28                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    was his name. They lived next door to us; they were low shacks, -- he was a lawyer, -- he was always on the wrong side of every case, they said."

    Did he ever teach school?

    "No, not this one."

    Did you know any other one?

    "No, I only knew this one and his family; I know they borrowed my churn once, and when it came home, I had to scour it all over before I used it. My father owned the largest house there was in the country at that time."

    How were they about being honest, and telling the truth ?

    "I don't remember anything about that now."

    Were they religious people -- pious?

    "No, they did not belong to any church; I know they didn't, for there were only two churches there, the Baptist and Methodist, -- sometimes the Universalists preached there -- they did not belong to either of those churches."

    Mr. Bryant -- "He (Cowdery) was strong against the Masons; he helped to write Morgan's book, they said."

    What do you know, now, about the Smiths or others; you have lived here about seventy-five years, have you not, Mrs. Bryant?

    "Yes, I have lived here all my life, but I never knew anything about the Smiths myself; you will find it all in Tucker's work. I have read that. Have you been to see Mr. Booth? He lives right up here, on the road running south; he knows all about them, they say."

    Very good; we will call and see him. Thank you for your kindness in allowing us to trouble you.

    "Oh, it is no trouble; I wish we knew more to tell you."

    We then called upon Mr. David Booth, an intelligent gentleman, hale and hearty, and upwards of seventy years of age -- and made known our business.

    Mr. Booth promptly stated that he knew nothing of the Smiths, or their character; did not live in their neighborhood, and never saw either of them; did not know anything about them, or their book.

    Did you know the Cowderys?

    "I knew one -- the lawyer."

    What kind of a character was he?


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     29

    "A low pettifogger."

    What do you mean by that?

    "Why, he was not a regular lawyer, but took small cases and practiced before the justices of the peace. We call them pettifoggers here."

    What was his given name?

    "Lyman; he never taught school; guess he was no church member; he was a Mason; that was all there was to him. They called him loose Cowdery."

    What did they mean by that?

    "Why, he would take small cases; would be on the wrong side, and pettifog before justices, was the reason, I suppose."

    Are you certain his name was Lyman? Wasn't it Oliver?

    "It has been a long time ago. I think maybe his name was Oliver."

    Did he drink?

    "Everybody drank then. I never saw Cowdery drink."

    Mr. Bryant, here in the village, told us that he was a strong Anti-Mason, and helped to write Morgan's work.

    "Oh, that is all nonsense; they don't know anything about it. Mr. Bryant hasn't been here more than thirty-five years; his wife was raised here -- is his second wife. Cowdery was a strong Mason, so they all said; that is all the religion he had."

    Do you know Rev. Thorn, a Presbyterian minister at Manchester?

    "Yes, I know him."

    What kind of a fellow is he?

    "He is a pretty sharp fellow, and will look after his bread and butter, you may depend on that."

    Did he ever interview you on this subject?

    "No, sir; he never did."

    Did he not call to see what you knew about the Smiths and Cowderys about a year ago?

    "No, he never did, to my recollection."

    Did you know he had a statement of yours published in Michigan, in regard to this last year?

    "No, sir; I never heard of it before."

    Did you ever give him one to publish?

    "I never did -- did not know he wanted one."

    He will look out for himself, will he?

    30                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    "He will that; that is him."

    You have lived here all your life. Tell us of some one who can tell us all about the people we wish to learn about -- some of the old settlers.

    "Squire Pierce and Mr. Reed live a few miles north from here, in the neighborhood where the Smiths lived; they know all about them, they say. The Smiths never lived in this neighborhood."

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    Mr. Pierce having referred us to Mr. Reed, Orlando Saunders, and Abel Chase, we took leave of him and his intelligent family, and called next at the residence of Mr. Orrin Reed.

    He was at his home doing some work about the barn. He is a gentleman of about seventy years of age, hard of hearing, and of pleasant and intelligent countenance. Breaking the object of our call to him, he readily informed us that he knew nothing whatever in regard to the character of Joseph Smith, or his family.

    Mr. Reed, were you not acquainted with the Smith family, or some of those early connected with them?

    "No, I was not. I lived in the town of Farmington when the Smiths lived here. I knew nothing about any of them; was not personally acquainted with them, and never heard any of them preach, nor ever attended any of their meetings. I have seen Hyrum Smith. He bought a piece of land near here, and lived on it sometime after the others left; but I don't know anything against him."

    We were given your name by a number of persons, who claimed that you did know all about them, Mr. Reed.

    "Is that so? Well, they are mistaken; I don't know anything about it. I think Mr. Orlando Saunders, living up on the road to Palmyra, will know more about that people than anyone around here. He was better acquainted with them, or lived right by them, and had a better opportunity of knowing them."

    Yes, we have his name already, but have not seen him yet. Do you know Mr. Thorn, the Presbyterian minister at Manchester, over here?

    "Yes, I know him slightly."

    Did you not make a statement to him in regard to the


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     31

    character of these men; that they were low persons' and not good associates, or something of the kind?

    "I never did."

    Did he call on you to find out what you knew about it?

    "No, sir, he never did; at least he never let me know anything about it if he did."

    Did you ever see a statement he sent to Michigan last year, and had published, purporting to be what you and others knew about the Smiths and Cowderys?

    "No, I never did; did not know that one was ever published before."

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    Early in the evening we called upon Mr. John Gilbert, at his residence, and made known our desire for an interview, etc. He seemed quite free to give us all the information he had upon the subject, and said he had been for the past forty-five or fifty years doing all he could to find out what he could about the Smiths and Book of Mormon. He is a man seventy-nine years of age, and quite active even in this time of life.

    What did you know about the Smiths, Mr. Gilbert?

    "I knew nothing myself; have seen Joseph Smith a few times, but not acquainted with him. Saw Hyrum quite often. I am the party that set the type from the original manuscript for the Book of Mormon. They translated it in a cave. I would know that manuscript to-day, if I should see it. The most of it was in Oliver Cowdery's handwriting. Some in Joseph's wife's; a small part though. Hyrum Smith always brought the manuscript to the office; he would have it under his coat, and all buttoned up as carefully as though it was so much gold. He said at the time it was translated from plates by the power of God, and they were very particular about it. We had a great deal of trouble with it. It was not punctuated at all. They did not know anything about punctuation, and we had to do that ourselves."

    Well; did you change any part of it when you were setting the type?

    "No, sir; we never changed it at all."

    Why did you not change it and correct it?

    "Because they would not allow us to; they were very particular about that. We never changed it in the least. Oh, well;

    32                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    there might have been one or two words that I changed the spelling of; I believe I did change the spelling of one, and perhaps two, but no more."

    Did you set all of the type or did some one help you?

    "I did the whole of it myself, and helped to read the proof too; there was no one who worked at that but myself. Did you ever see one of the first copies ? I have one here that was never bound. Mr. Grandin, the printer, gave it to me. If you ever saw a Book of Mormon you will see that they changed it afterwards."

    They did! Well, let us see your copy; that is a good point. How is it changed now?

    "I will show you" (bringing out his copy). "Here on the title page it says" (reading), "'Joseph Smith, Jr., author and proprietor.' Afterwards, in getting out other editions they left that out, and only claimed that Joseph Smith translated it."

    Well, did they claim anything else than that he was the translator when they brought the manuscript to you?

    "Oh, no; they claimed that he was translating it by means of some instruments he got at the same time he did the plates, and that the Lord helped him."

    Was he educated, do you know?

    "Oh, not at all then; but I understand that afterwards he made great advancement, and was quite a scholar and orator."

    How do you account for the production of the Book of Mormon, Mr. Gilbert, then, if Joseph Smith was so illiterate?

    "Well, that is the difficult question. It must have been from the Spaulding romance -- you have heard of that, I suppose. The parties here then never could have been the authors of it, certainly. I have been for the last forty-five or fifty years trying to get the key to that thing; but we have never been able to make the connecting yet. For some years past I have been corresponding with a person in Salt Lake, by the name of Cobb, who is getting out a work against the Mormons; but we have never been able to find what we wanted."

    If you could only connect Sidney Rigdon with Smith some way, you could get up a theory.

    "Yes; that is just where the trouble lies; the manuscript was put in our hands in August, 1829, and all printed by March, 1830, and we can not find that Rigdon was ever about here,


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     33

    or in this state, until sometime in the Fall of 1830. But I think I have got a way out of the difficult now. A fellow that used to be here, by the name of Saunders, Lorenzo Saunders, was back here some time ago, and I was asking him about it. At first he said he did not remember of ever seeing Rigdon until after 1830 sometime; but after studying it over awhile, he said it seemed to him that one time he was over to Smith's, and that there was a stranger there he never saw before, and that they said it was Rigdon. I told him about Cobb, of Utah, and asked him if he would send Cobb his affidavit, that he saw Rigdon before the book was published, if he (Cobb) would write to him; he finally said he would, and I wrote to Cobb about it, and gave Saunders' address, and after a long time, I got a letter from him, saying he had written three letters to Saunders, and could get no answer. I then sat down and wrote Saunders a letter myself, reminding him of his promise, and wrote to Cobb also about it, and after a long time Cobb wrote me again, that Saunders had written to him; but I have never learned how satisfactory it was, or whether he made the affidavit or not."

    Is that Saunders a brother of the Saunders living down here, Orlando Saunders?

    "Yes, sir; they are brothers."

    Is he older or younger?

    "Younger; about fifteen years younger."

    Then he must have been quite young before the Book of Mormon was published?

    "Yes, he was young."

    This Saunders down here don't talk like a great many people; he seems to think the Smiths were very good people; we have been there to-day.

    "Oh, I don't think the Smiths were as bad as people let on for. Now Tucker, in his work, told too many big things; nobody could believe his stories."

    Did the Smiths ever dig for money?

    "Yes; I can tell you where you can find persons who know all about that; can take you to the very place."

    Can you? All right, give us their names.

    "The Jackaway boys -- two old bachelors, and their sister, an old maid, live together, right up the street going north, near

    34                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    the north part of the town; they can tell you all about it, and show you the very places where they dug."

    What will you take for your copy of the Book of Mormon; or will you sell it?

    "Yes, I will sell it."

    How much for it?

    "I will take Five Hundred Dollars for it, and no less; I have known them to sell for more than that."

    Well, I am not buying at those figures, thank you. What kind of a man was Martin Harris?

    "He was a very honest farmer, but very superstitious."

    What was he before his name was connected with the Book of Mormon?

    "Not anything, I believe; he was a kind of a skeptic."

    What do you mean by his being superstitious? Was he religious?

    "Well, I don't know about that; but he pretended to see things."

    What do you think of the Book of Mormon, as a book; you are well posted in it?

    "Oh, there is nothing taught in the book but what is good; there is no denying that; it is the claim of being from God that I strike at."

    Well, is it any more wonderful than that God gave the Bible?

    "No, not a bit; and there is a good deal more evidence to show that that is divine than there is for some of the books in the Bible. Why, it is all nonsense to think that Moses wrote some of the books attributed to him, in the Bible."

    Then you don't believe the "fish story," either, Mr. Gilbert?

    "No; nor that Jonah swallowed the whale."

    How about Sampson catching the three hundred foxes, and the firebrands?

    "Yes, that is a good one; you fellows will do."

    Much obliged, Mr. Gilbert.

    "You are quite welcome. I wish I could give you more than I have." -- From Palmyra to Independence, pp. 342-368.

    Others who were interviewed at the time that the


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     35

    foregoing persons were seen, were Ezra Pierce, Orlando Saunders, Abel Chase, the Jackaway brothers, Dr. John Stafford and Thomas Taylor. Mr. Pierce was made to say that he knew the Smiths; that Joseph was ignorant; that he heard he had dug for money, and that the people thought the family were counterfeiters; the conversation ending with a discussion on the divinity of the Book of Mormon, the gift of tongues, etc. Mr. Saunders stated that they had come to a poor place to find out anything; that he knew the Smiths well; that "they were very good people," "the best family in the neighborhood in the case of sickness;" that Harris was an honorable man, and that Joseph was "always a gentleman." Mr. Chase said that the family were poorly educated, ignorant, superstitious and shiftless and that Joseph used a "peepstone." The Jackaways stated that they had seen the Smiths a number of times; that they knew them; that they heard they had dug for money; that Joseph and his father got drunk on cider once, and that Harris and the Cowderys were good people. Dr. Stafford told the interviewers that Joseph "was a real clever, jovial boy;" that the Smiths dug for money; that Joseph got drunk once on boiled cider; that he would do a good day's work, but was a poor manager; that he (Stafford) did not believe the story told about Smith and the black sheep, which it was said the latter obtained from his father; that Cowdery was a man of good character; that Harris was an honorable farmer, and that he could not connect Rigdon with Smith before the Book of Mormon appeared. Mr. Taylor stated that the Smiths were "nice men," ahead of the people of their time; that they had been persecuted; that the people who told things about them were d -- d liars; that he thought that Smith had really found plates in Mormon Hill; that he had never seen the

    36                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                      

    Book of Mormon, and that Rev. Mr. Thorne was stuck up and was preaching for his bread and butter.

    If these reports of the interviews of the Kelleys with the old residents of Palmyra and vicinity were correct and truthful, there is no question that the characters of Smith and Cowdery would be cleared somewhat, though not entirely, from the stigma that has been attached to them, for, according to these reports, some of those interviewed seem to have had a better opinion of them than they have generally been considered worthy of. But, unfortunately for the Smiths and Cowdery in particular and the Mormon Church in general, the interviewers are charged with having taken undue liberties and not publishing the questions and answers exactly as they were given. No sooner did the reports of these interviews appear than at least three of the parties concerned indignantly and emphatically denied under oath ever making some of the answers attributed to them, two of them reaffirming what had appeared over their names in the article in the Cadillac News written by Rev. Mr. Thorne. Their affidavits follow: 

    Danford Booth, of the town of Manchester and County of Ontario, N. Y., being duly affirmed, deposes: He has read the article in the Cadillac Weekly News of April 6th, 1880, respecting "Cowdery and the Smith family," over the signature of C. C. Thorne. The interview therein mentioned between deponent and Thorne did take place. The matters therein set forth, alleged to have been stated by the deponent to Thorne, were so stated by deponent to Thorne. He has read also in a paper called the Saints' Herald, of June 1st, 1881, an article purporting to give what was said in an interview between W. H. Kelley and another party and the deponent, in which it is stated that deponent informed said parties that deponent and Thorne never had an interview as alleged by Thorne. Deponent declares that he did not so inform said parties and that he has


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     37

    no recollection of such a question being asked him by them.
                                  (Signed) DANFORD BOOTH.

    Sworn to and subscribed before me, July 1st, 1881.
                                  (Signed) N. K. COLE, J. P.

    Orrin Reed, of the township of Manchester, county of Ontario, N. Y., being duly affirmed, deposes: His age is 77. He was born in the town of Farmington, about four miles from what is called "Mormon Hill." During the last forty-six years he has resided in the town of Manchester, and in the same school district in which Joseph Smith and family, of Mormon notoriety, resided, and three-fourths of a mile from "Mormon Hill." He has read an article published in the Cadillac News of April 6th, 1880, respecting "Cowdery and the Smith family," over the signature of C. C. Thorne. The matters therein set forth and alleged to have been stated by deponent to Thorne were so stated by deponent, at the time and in the manner stated in said published article.       (Signed) ORRIN REED.

    Affirmed and subscribed before me, June 29th, 1881.
                                  (signed) N. K. COLE, J. P.

    John H. Gilbert, of the town of Palmyra, Wayne county, N. Y., being duly sworn, deposes: That in the article published in the Saints' Herald, at Plano, Ill., June 1st, 1881, over the signature of W. H. Kelley, purporting to give an interview with the deponent on Mormonism, the deponent is grossly misrepresented in almost every particular. Words are put in the mouth of the deponent that he never uttered. The pretended answers to questions that the deponent did answer, are totally at variance with the answers that the deponent really gave. The deponent believes that such misrepresentation was done designedly.
                                  (Signed) JOHN H. GILBERT.
    Sworn to and subscribed before me, July 12th, 1881.
                                  (Signed) M. C. FINLEY, J. P. 

    Mr. Gilbert, in regard to this interview, wrote the following letter to Mr. Thomas Gregg, of Hamilton, Illinois, dated at Palmyra, New York, June 19, 1881:

    I am in receipt of the Saints' Herald you sent me, also your letter. I had received a Herald several days before I received the one you sent, probably from Kelley, who signs the article. His report of the conversation had with me is full of misrepresentations

    38                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    In the first paragraph, Hyrum said, "It was translated from plates by the power of God," etc., is utterly false. I never had any conversation with Hyrum in regard to the translation. In regard to the change of spelling two words, he words my answer entirely different from what I said to him. I told him distinctly that I changed the spelling of one word, which occurred twice in one form -- no believing about it. The word changed was "travail," spelled "travel" in both instances, showing that the copyist did not know the difference. I did not tell him I set all the type, as he reports me saying. In regard to Smith claiming to be author, etc., I told him I understood in later editions he only claimed to be translator, etc.; the balance of the story in regard to this authorship, is all his own coining and answering. I told Kelley I thought the Spaulding MS. was the foundation of the M. B., and gave him my reasons for thinking so. The long paragraph in relation to Mr. Cobb and Lorenzo Saunders is a mixed mess of truth and falsehood. When I asked Mr. S. if he knew whether Rigdon was hanging around Smith previous to the publication of the M. B., he said, "Yes, at least eighteen months before." There was no hesitancy about it; and this is what I told Kelley. You can see how he reported the matter. I did not tell Kelley that I had known a copy or copies of the M. B. to sell for $500, or more than that; that is one of his misrepresentations. What he charges me with saying about the Smiths and Tucker's book, is all his own coining.

    Mr. Jackaway tells me he did not tell Kelley that Joe and his father got drunk on cider, but on whiskey.

    I do know that Kelley has misrepresented me in his report of my answers and statements, and I have no doubt he has misrepresented others also. What his object was I cannot divine. He may think it will strengthen the faith of Mormons a little. Well, if people are fools enough to believe in it, let them; it is no worse than some other humbugs.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    If you have any Mormon friends in your vicinity, who have read Kelley's report in the Saints' Herald, you can say to them that he is a great falsifier, and I consider him the champion liar of America.      Yours truly,
                                     J. H. GILBERT.

    The bold, but unsuccessful, attempt of the Kelley


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     39

    brothers to relieve the character of Smith from the stigma that has so long been attached to it is only another example of the extreme to which Mormonism has gone, while the denials of Reed, Booth and Gilbert leave Smith's reputation just about where it was before. 


    It can no longer be successfully maintained that Mormon polygamy was an after-thought, first conceived of and practiced at Nauvoo, for the facts that have leaked out all tend to show that it was one of the first principles of the Mormon faith that entered into Smith's mind. Indeed, so convincing are these facts that a certain Gentile scoffer 1 suggests that the first revelation on the subject may have come during the period of pubescence, if not before, while no less an authority than Apostle Orson Pratt publicly declared that the principle was first made known to the Prophet in the year 1831, though he claims that the latter did not enter upon its practice until some ten years afterwards.

    As the laws of those States in which the Mormons had their principal centers were particularly rigid against the crimes of adultery and bigamy, Smith took great pains to keep his practices secret, and this is, undoubtedly, the reason why the evidences of plural wifery were so meager before 1842, when Bennett came out with his expose. Suffice it to say, however, that the conduct of the leading Mormons prior to that date was of such a character as to raise the suspicions of their Gentile neighbors that some form of immorality was practiced among them.

    Whenever one of Smith's confederates turned traitor and revealed the immoral conduct of his chief, he was

    1 Dr. Wyl, "Mormon Portraits," p. 93.

    40                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    promptly cut off from the church, often on the same charge that he had made against Smith and generally without a hearing, while his accusations were met with emphatic denials and protestations of innocence. The Prophet's own denials and protestations were sometimes accompanied with certificates of good character signed by numbers of his followers, plenty of whom could be found willing to attach their names to such a statement. Many of these were undoubtedly ignorant of his private life and signed their names in good faith, but some of them, who had been let into his secrets, knowingly signed a falsehood, having been taught that it was right and proper to lie in the interests of the church and the "Lord's Anointed." 1

    That Smith had in mind the introduction of polygamy into the church, when he was pretending to translate the Book of Mormon, is proved by the qualifying clause of the passage prohibitive of polygamy in that book, "For if I will, saith the Lord of hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things." This qualifying clause was, without doubt, intended to be a suggestion to the believers in the Book of Mormon that God might, at some future time, command his people to practice plural wifery.

    That Joseph, at this time, was not opposed to the principle is proved by the testimony of Rev. Levi Lewis, an uncle of his wife, who says:

    I heard Joseph Smith and Martin Harris both say that adultery was no crime. I saw him three times intoxicated while he was composing the Book of Mormon and heard him use language of the greatest profanity.

    1 See the affidavits of Law, Robinson and Morse and the statement of Sidney Rigdon.


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     41

    After the Mormons had settled at Kirtland, a number of things leaked out which have given the Gentiles the right to suspect that the Prophet was not the pure, virtuous servant of the Lord he let on to be. 1 W. W. Phelps stated that, while he was translating the Book of Abraham, he said that polygamy would yet be a practice of the church. W. S. Smith declared that spiritual wifery was so much talked of in Kirtland that it became a byword on the street, while J. M. Atwater stated that Martin Harris told him that the doctrine was first announced as a revelation by Rigdon in a meeting of the church officials held in an old building near the temple. Fanny Brewer, who for a time lived with the Saints at Kirtland, but who afterwards apostatized because of the evil and dishonest practices of the church leaders, made a statement at Boston, Massachusetts, before Bradford Sumner' J. P., September 13, 1842, nearly two years before Smith's assassination, part of which is as follows:

    In the spring of 1837, I left Boston for Kirtland, in all good faith, to assemble with the Saints, as I thought, and worship God more perfectly. On my arrival, I found brother going to

    1 An attempt was made at the close of the celebrated Braden-Kelley debate at Kirtland, Ohio, in 1884, to get testimonies from the old residents of Kirtland favorable to the Smiths and their followers. Sworn statements were obtained from Reuben P. Harmon, A. E. Sanborn, J. M. Plaisted, Ezra Bond and F. C. Rich. These witnesses seemed to know little one way or another, but generally stated that the character of the Mormon leaders was usually considered good, although one of them stated that there were reports about them. That their testimony can have but little weight will be seen from two significant facts first, none of them were connected with the church, hence could not know what was going on on the inside; and, secondly, most of them were too young at the time the Smiths left in 1838 (some of the other leaders left before that year) to know much about them personally, Harmon being twenty-three; Rich, seventeen; Bond, twelve, and Plaisted, only seven, while Sanborn did not move to Kirtland until 1836. At the same time, one of Braden's witnesses, William S. Smith, testified that the report was circulated before the Mormons left Kirtland that Rigdon had fallen out with Smith because the latter wanted his daughter, Nancy, sealed to him.

    42                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    law with brother, drunkenness prevailing to a great extent, and every species of wickedness. Joseph Smith, a prophet of God, (as he called himself,) was under arrest for employing two of the Elders to kill a man by the name of Grandison Newell, belonging to Mentor; but was acquitted, as the most material witness did not appear!!! I am personally acquainted with one of the employees, Davis by name, and he frankly acknowledged to me, that he was prepared to do the deed under the direction of the Prophet, and was only prevented from so doing by the entreaties of his wife. There was much excitement against the Prophet, on another account, likewise, -- an unlawful intercourse between himself and a young orphan girl residing in his family, and under his protection!!! Mr. Martin Harris told me that the Prophet was most notorious for Iying and licentiousness!!

    In the year 1835, when the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants" was compiled, a section on marriage was inserted, one article of which reads:

    All legal contracts of marriage made before a person is baptized into this church, should be held sacred and fulfilled. 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 case of death when either is at liberty to marry again.

    This article shows that, at this early date, both fornication and polygamy were charged against the Latter-day Saints and it was evidently intended to appear as a denial of the charge. In reality, however, it is a mere subterfuge, for, while it denies a belief in polyandry, a practice never charged against the Mormons, it does not necessarily deny a belief in polygamy. The restrictive adverb "but," which appears before "one husband," is omitted before "one wife," on account of which the Brighamites, who employed this ceremony in their polygamous marriages, construe it to mean: "One man should have one wife, at least, and one woman but one


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     43

    husband." Besides, notice, also, that fornication alone is said to be a crime. This is only another case where language has been made to quiet the suspicions of the Gentiles, while at the same time it does not necessarily deny the practices of the Mormons.

    By the year 1838, the opinion had become so general that the Mormons taught and practiced certain obnoxious doctrines that it became necessary, in order to quiet the public mind, for Joseph Smith to publish a number of questions that were repeatedly propounded to him, and his answers to the same. The seventh reads:

    "Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one?" No, not at the same time. But they believe that if their companion dies, they have the right to marry again. -- Millennial Star, Vol. XVI., p. 150.

    In a letter to the church, dated December 16, 1838, which was published in the same paper, Vol. XVI., page 627, Joseph says:

    We have heard that it is reported by some, that some of us should have said, that we not only dedicated our property, but our families also to the Lord; and Satan, taking advantage of this, has transfigured it into licentiousness, such as a community of wives, which is an abomination in the sight of God. 1

    That Smith was boldly accused of adultery by some of the other leaders of the Mormon Church, is proved by one of the charges preferred against Oliver Cowdery on April 11, 1838:

    2nd. For seeking to destroy the character of President Joseph Smith, Junior, by falsely insinuating that he was guilty of adultery. -- Millennial Star, Vol. XVI., p. 133.

    Parley P. Pratt, in a letter to the Millennial Star, Vol. III., page 74, says:

    1 See also Times and Seasons for April, 1840, for a similar admission.

    44                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     

    But for the information of those who may be assailed by those foolish tales about the two wives, we would say that no such principle ever existed among the Latter Day Saints and never will.

    The foregoing was written in August, 1842, and shows that the report, that the Mormons believed in polygamy, had even reached England at that early date.

    The same writer, in 1840, in his "Persecutions of the Latter-day Saints," page 10, states that it was a belief held by the "ignorant" of Missouri that the Mormons allowed "unlawful intercourse between the sexes."

    I must, however, before leaving this subject, contradict certain reports concerning our principles in regard to property, and also in regard to matrimony.... It is also a current report among the ignorant that we do away (with) matrimony, and that we allow unlawful intercourse between the sexes. Now this idea originated and has been kept alive by wicked and designing persons, and by the credulity of those who are more ready to believe falsehood than they are to believe truth. There has never been the shadow of anything to cause such a report.

    In the summer of 1842, Dr. John C. Bennett openly charged Smith with practicing polygamy. That this was common report throughout the country before, is proved by the following extract from a letter written by James Arlington Bennett to Joseph Smith from the Arlington House, New York, August 16, 1842:

    You have nothing to expect from that part of community who are bigotedly attached to the other churches. They have always believed and still believe everything said to your disadvantage; and what General John C. Bennett is now saying in the papers is nothing more than what was common report before, throughout this whole community, insomuch that I had to contradict it in the Herald under the signature of "Cincinnatus," and even requested the Elders of the Mormon Church to do so long ago. -- Millennial Star, Vol. XIX., p. 711.

    These quotations, from Mormon publications, show


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     45

    conclusively that there was a generally prevailing opinion, even before the year 1840, that the Mormons were guilty of practicing polygamy or licentiousness, while their persistent denials count for little when viewed either from the viewpoint of their reputation for veracity, their subsequent history or their later admissions.


    46                                     THE TRUE ORIGIN OF                                     


    The Bennett Expose -- Bennett Unites with the Mormons -- Bennett Apostatizes and Exposes Joseph Smith -- The Denials of the Mormon Church to Bennett's Charges -- Bennett's Charges Sustained.

    On the 9th of May, 1839, Joseph Smith and his family left Quincy, Illinois, where they had found a refuge and a welcome in their flight from Missouri, and on the Ioth reached the little village of Commerce, in Hancock County, where land had been purchased for a Mormon settlement and which became the gatheringpoint for the scattered bands of the Mormon people. On the 21st of April, 1840, the name of this place was changed to Nauvoo, "The Beautiful," and, on the 16th of the following December, charters were granted to the city of Nauvoo, the Nauvoo Legion and the Nauvoo University.

    The year 1841 opened with the brightest prospects for the Mormon people. Their Prophet and leading officials had escaped out of the hands of the Missourians; they had found refuge in a State whose citizens were particularly friendly to them; they had begun a city which claimed three thousand inhabitants; their ministry had been eminently successful both at home and abroad; and proselytes were flocking in daily to add to the strength and glory of Nauvoo. Under these hopeful conditions, the corner-stone of a large temple was laid with appropriate ceremonies on the 6th of April, 1841, and, at a conference held immediately after, larger plans were laid for future work.

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    The Mormon women were not behind the Mormon men in their efforts to defend Joseph Smith, and the "Ladies' Relief Society" drew up a paper signed by about one thousand of the women of Nauvoo which spoke in the highest terms of their Prophet's virtue, philanthropy and benevolence. Later, in October, a similar paper, stating that "John C. Bennett's 'secret-wife system' is a disclosure of his own make," was signed by Emma Smith, President; Elizabeth Ann Whitney and Sarah M. Cleveland, Counselors; Eliza R. Snow, Secretary, and fifteen other leading Mormon women.


    But, notwithstanding the vehement denials of the Mormon people and Bennett's poor reputation for veracity, the evidences which he produced, or which came out at the same time from other sources, are so strong that we are led to believe that there was something more than bare falsehood in his charges. 1 And this belief is strengthened by the fact that some of those who were the most emphatic in their denials afterwards confessed that they

    by the public prints. From these I learn that Brother O. Pratt is still a member of the church." -- Millennial Star, April, 1843, p. 206.

    1 Since first writing the above, I have had the pleasure of reading the Times and Seasons, Joseph Smith's "Diary" in the Millennial Star, and other Mormon and anti-Mormon papers and documents of that period, and, from the direct and incidental confirmations of Bennett's charges, I am convinced, no matter what his foibles may have been, that he told the truth in regard to the utter licentiousness of the Mormon Prophet. The only objection to be made to his "Expose" is that he has told only one-half of the truth: he has left out that part relating to himself. On this point, Gregg, in his "History of Hancock County," page 288, says: "We have been utterly unable to obtain possession of the Wasp, the Nauvoo paper of that period. (The period of the controversy between Bennett and Smith.) The Mormon side in the controversy, it is remembered, was not left behind in the use of 'names' and invective. So that about the proper conclusion for the outside public to adopt was to believe both sides, a conclusion which time has only strengthened."

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    The "Revelation on Celestial Marriage" -- Preparation of the People for the "Revelation" -- How the "Revelation" Came to be Written -- Text of the "Revelation on Celestial Marriage" -- Proof that the "Revelation" came from Joseph Smith.

    On the 12th day of July, 1843, Joseph Smith received his famous, or infamous, "Revelation on Celestial Marriage," "Patriarchal Order of Matrimony" or "Plurality of Wives." Prior to this date, he had claimed divine authority for his licentious practices, but the time had come when some of his followers demanded a "thus saith the Lord," and this "Revelation" was given to satisfy them. Mrs. Sarah M. Pratt, who had not merely a peep, but a continuous view, behind the scenes at Nauvoo, declares that the "Revelation" was first suggested by Bennett. The Prophet complained to him that he had had trouble with Emma over his intimacy with other women, when Bennett said: "Get a revelation that polygamy is right, and all your troubles will be at an end." The "Revelation" came, but Joseph found that with its appearance his troubles did not end, but grew in magnitude and intensity.

    That Joseph claimed a revelation, or revelations, upon the subject of polygamy before July 12, 1843, is established beyond question of doubt. Even one of the founders of the Josephite Church, Jason W. Briggs, when on the stand in the celebrated Temple-lot Suit, in which the Josephites and Hedrickites fought for possession of the Temple lot at Independence, Missouri, conceded that he had heard rumors of such a revelation in 1842. He said:


                                       MORMON POLYGAMY                                     79

    "I heard something about a revelation on polygamy, or plural marriage, when I was in Nauvoo, in 1842." The claim of Orson Pratt was that Joseph had the principle revealed to him as early as 1831, and that he had plural wives sealed to him as early as 1841. The probability is, as we have shown, that the principle was in his mind as early as 1827, and the reports circulated about him and other leading Mormons in the '30's would lead us to suspect that he was guilty of licentious conduct before he reached Nauvoo. On this point, the Deseret News, a Brighamite organ, says:

    The revelation on celestial marriage, published in the Doctrine and Covenants, was given July l2, 1843. The principles it contains, with further intelligence on the same subject, were revealed to the Prophet many years before, but not formulated in writing for the church. Acting under instructions from the Lord, the Prophet had several wives sealed to him before the date of that revelation. There are other matters spoken of in the revelation that pertained to the time when it was written, showing that the statement in the heading, as it appears in the book is correct; namely, that the revelation was given on that date, although the doctrines it contains were known and had been acted upon under special instructions previous to that date.


    In order to ascertain just how the Mormon people would take the "Revelation on Celestial Marriage," Smith hit upon a novel plan. He appointed a man by the name of Udney H. Jacobs to select from the Old Testament those passages pertaining to polygamy, put them in pamphlet form and advocate the doctrine. This Jacobs did, and the pamphlet was published by the Mormon paper, the Times and Seasons, of which Smith was the editor. But the pamphlet caused such a stir in the Mormon camp that Smith published a notice in the issue


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    refused to accept it as from the Lord, viz.: Presidents Marks and Cowles, and Counsellor Leonard Soby. At that time and place, and on that occasion, President Austin Cowles resigned his position as one of the presidents of the High Council, which necessarily included his prcsidency of the church at Nauvoo. After this he was looked upon as a seceder, and no longer held a prominent place in the church, although morally and religiously speaking, one of the best men in the place. 1

    1 The Return, February, 1891.

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