Charles A. Shook
True Origin of Polygamy
(Cincinnati: Standard Pub. Co., 1910, 14)
(1914 edition text used here)
Charles A. Shook
return to page 102
THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO SMITH'S ASSASSINATION.The trouble at Nauvoo reached a climax on the 18th of April, 1841, when several prominent Mormons were cut off from the church on the charge of "unchristianlike conduct" and without a trial. The notice of this
1 "I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions they can not stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unanle to say, as many are called, but few are chosen." -- Extract from a sermon preached by Smith at Nauvoo, January 20, 1844 (Millennial Star, Vol. XXII., p. 664). Polygamy was contrary to "tradition" and was that "celestial law" by which the Saints received their "exaltation." (See "Revelation on Celestial Marriage," paragraph 8.)
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action, which appeared in the Times and Seasons, reads as follows:
NAUVOO, April 18, 1844
Robert D. Foster, Wilson Law, William Law, and Jane Law, of Nauvoo, and Howard Smith, of Scott County, Illinois, for unchristianlike conduct, were cut off from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by the authorities of said Church, and ordered to be published in the TIMES AND SEASONS.
W. RICHARDS, Church Recorder.
This was followed, on the 6th of May, with the arrest of Smith by F. M. Higbee, another dissenter, who claimed damages to the amount of five thousand dollars for slander. The warrant having been issued by the clerk of the circuit court of Carthage, Smith secured a writ of habeas corpus and was tried before the municipal court at Nauvoo with the result that he was discharged, the complainant not daring to appear against him.
On the I8th of the same month, Higbee, with Austin Cowles, James Blakeslee 1 and Charles Ivins, was excommunicated on the charge of apostasy.
On June 7, the Nauvoo Expositor made its appearance. It was published by Sylvester Emmans and was backed by the Laws, Fosters and other apostates. In it, certain charges were made against the Smiths and a number of affidavits were given to sustain them.
On the 10th of June, the city council declared the Expositor a nuisance and the mayor was ordered to have
1 "Last week, individuals of the Mormon faith (Messrs. Blakesly and Higbee), representing the dissenters, addressed a large number of our citizens in reference to the 'flare-up' at Nauvoo. We were not present, but have it from others who were, that the dissenters made out that Joe Smith was pretty much of a rough customer, especially in relation to the 'spiritual wife' doctrine. Their whole aim was principally against the church, of which they still claimed to be members. They painted Smith as anything but the saint he claims to be, and, as a man, to the last degree corrupt in his morals and religion." -- Quincy Whig, May, 1844. Blakeslee afterwards became an apostle in the Reorganized Church.
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it removed in any way he might see fit. The latter, who was none other than Smith himself, then issued an order to the marshal, John P. Green, who proceeded with a posse to the office of the Expositor and destroyed the press, type, paper and fixtures.
Following this, the apostates fled from the city and procured a warrant for the arrest of Smith and several of his followers on the charge of riot. When the warrant was served, the Prophet played his habeas corpus game again and so secured a hearing before the municipal court at Nauvoo, by which he was discharged.
By the advice of Judge Jesse B. Thomas, however, he again submitted to arrest, evidently to satisfy some legal technicality, and was tried before Daniel H. Wells, justice of the peace of Nauvoo, by whom he was again discharged.
Following this, the writ for riot in destroying the Nauvoo Expositor being renewed, he and Hyrum fled to Iowa, from which State they returned to Carthage on the 24th of June and gave themselves up to be tried on the charge of treason. Here, on the 27th of the same month, they met their tragic end.
THE CHARGES OF THE EXPOSITOR.Having given the events that occurred during the two or three months preceding the Prophet's death, I now pass to the charges that were made against him and his associates in the Nauvoo Expositor, and let the reader keep in mind that this paper was published twenty days before his assassination.
These charges, in brief, were: (1) Unfairly cutting individuals off from the church. (2) Introducing false and damnable doctrines, such as Adam-god-ism and polygamy. (3) Attempting to unite church and state.
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(4) Manifesting a spirit toward Missouri contrary to Christianity. (5) Screening certain individuals from justice. (6) Employing their ecclesiastical positions as an influence in secular affairs. (7) Countenancing attendance at houses of reveling, dramshops, dance-halls and theaters. (8) Teaching the doctrine of gathering in haste and by sacrifice. (9) Using the church funds in speculation. (10) Organizing secret societies in the interest of the church and under penal oaths and obligations. And (11) countenancing the spoiling of the Gentiles.
There is no question that the authorities of the church proceeded unfairly, and with the evident design of keeping hid the Prophet's sins, when they expelled the Laws, Foster and Smith. The account of their action, as given in the Expositor, is as follows:
On Thursday evening, the 18th of April, there was a council called, unknown to the Church, which tried, condemned, and cut off brothers Wm. Law, Wilson Law, and sister Law (Wm.'s wife), brother R. D. Foster, and one brother Smith, with whom we are unacquainted; which we contend is contrary to the book of Doctrine and Covenants, for our law condemns no man until he is heard. We abhor and protest against any council or tribunal in this church which will not suffer the accused to stand in its midst and plead his own cause. If an Agrippa would suffer a Paul, whose eloquence surpassed, as it were, the eloquence of men, to stand before him and plead his own cause, why should Joseph, with others, refuse to hear individuals in their own defense? We answer, it is because the court fears the atrocity of its crime will be exposed to public gaze. We wish the public to thoroughly understand the nature of this court, and judge of the legality of its acts as seem to them good.
On Monday, the Isth of April, brother R. D. Foster had a notice served on him to appear before the High Council on Saturday following, the 20th, and answer to the charges preferred against him by Joseph Smith. On Saturday, while Mr. Foster was preparing to take his witnesses, 41 in number, to the
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council-room, that he might make good his charges against Joseph, president Marks notified him that the trial had been on Thursday evening, before, the 15th (18th), and that he was cut off from the Church, and that same council cut off the brothers Law, sister Law, and brother Smith, and all without their klowledge. They were not notified, neither did they dream of any such thing being done, for William Law had sent Joseph and some of the Twelve special word that he desired an investigation before the Church in General Conference, on the 6th of April. The court, however, was a tribunal possessing no power to try Wm. Law, who was called by special revelation to stand as councillor to the President of the Church (Joseph) which was twice ratified by General Conferences assembled at Nauvoo, for Brigham Young, one of the Twelve, presided, whose duty it was not, but the President of the High Council.
This puts the matter in an unfavorable light for Joseph for the following reasons: First, the Laws, and their supporters, had made certain grave charges against him; secondly, they had the witnesses to prove their charges; thirdly, they were prevented from doing so by being cut off secretly, not by the church nor the High Council, but by the "authorities" of the church; and, fourthly, it was Brigham Young, the arch-polygamist, who presided over the "court" that excommunicated them. This cowardly and unfair procedure plainly indicates that there was a "nigger" in the Mormon woodpile at Nauvoo. Smith was, evidently, afraid to have Law and his witnesses appear before the General Conference.
The Nauvoo Expositor boldly charged Smith with practicing spiritual wifery:
It is a notorious fact that many females in foreign climes and in countries to us unknown, even in the most distant regions of the Eastern Hemisphere, have been induced, by the sound of the gospel, to forsake friends and embark upon a voyage across waters that lie stretched over the greater portion of the globe, as they suppose to glorify God. that they might thereby stand acquitted in the great day of God Almighty. But
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corroborated in the minds of the people, by the fact that the people of Nauvoo had petitioned Congress for a Territorial Government, to be established there and to be independent of the State Government. It was a fact also, that some larcenies and robberies had been committed, and that Mormons had been convicted of the crimes, and that other larcenies had been committed by persons unknown, but suspected to be Mormons. Justice, however, requires me here to say, that upon such investigation as I then could make, the charge of promiscuous stealing appeared to be exaggerated.
The foregoing disclosures prove that Joseph Smith was not only guilty of immorality, but that he was also guilty of a number of other crimes, both against the State and the Nation, and yet we are told that he was "as great a lover of his country as could be found among men" and that "he often wept that mobs should arise under the glorious institutions of the United States!"
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It is sometimes asked: "If Joseph Smith was a polygamist, where are the offspring of his polygamous marriages?"
1 In an interview with Apostle Blair, Josephite, he was asked the following question: "Did Joseph the Seer teach that polygamy was essential to salvation and a fullness of glory?" To which he replied: "My answer is, Joseph taught no polygamy -- not to my knowledge." But this is too thin. William claimed to be a stickler for the doctrines taught by Joseph, and yet he was the first to preach polygamy from the stand after his death; was excommunicated from the Strangite faction for adultery, and, in 1851, introduced polygamy into his own faction, according to the ex-Josephite Jason W. Briggs, "in the name of God and his brother Joseph." His system must have been even more corrupt than that of Young, for the first document put out by the Josephite Church ("A Word of Consolation," p. 21) speaks of it as "the fouler system (of whoredom) taught by William Smith."
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AFFIDAVIT OF WILLIAM LAW.William Law, the Second Counselor of Joseph Smith, was a Canadian by birth, and was a man of more than ordinary intelligence and of considerable wealth. He united with the Mormons under the preaching of Elders
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John Taylor and Almon W. Babbitt, and soon after removed to Nauvoo. On January 24, 1841, he was called to fill the office mentioned, which had been made vacant by the appointment of Hyrum Smith to the Patriarchate. Law Continued as Smith's Second Counselor until after the latter had brought out his "Revelation on Celestial Marriage," when he apostatized and led a party of dissenters in opposing Smith and his practices. After the death of the Prophet, he removed to Rock Island, Illinois, but during the latter part of his life, he made his home at Shullsburg, La Fayette County, Wisconsin.
In July, 1885, he made an affidavit in which he declared that polygamy, and other corrupt practices, existed in the Mormon Church at Nauvoo during the Prophet's lifetime, and with his knowledge and sanction. This affidavit is now in the possession of Mr. Zenas H. Gurley, 1 of Canton, Missouri, son of one of the founders of the Reorganized Church, and himself an Apostle in that church at the time of his apostasy in 1886. Mr. Gurley informs me that Law "during his life objected to publication in newspapers, but directed to publish in book," and that this is the reason why it has never been given to the public before. The following is an exact copy, carefully prepared by myself with the full consent of the owner of the original, and properly attested to put it above reasonable question or doubt. This document, coming as it does from one of the original leaders of the Mormon Church, is one of the most damning pieces of evidence that has ever been put before the public on the character of Joseph Smith and his confederates.
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.I, the undersigned, being aware that many contradictory reports are in circulation as to the origin of Polygamy in the
1 since deceased.
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Mormon Church, make the following statements concerning polygamy and some other matters. In 1843 Hyrum Smith handed to me a writing to read, and to be returned to him. I took it home and upon reading found that it purported to be a revelation to Joseph Smith, authorizing polygamy in the Church. After reading it I went directly to Joseph Smith and showed him the document. He looked at it, and said it was all right. Said it was a great privilege granted to the High Priesthood. He spoke strongly in its favor. I remarked that it was in contradiction to the “Doctrine and Covenants.” He said they were given when the Church was in its infancy, when they were babes, and had to be fed on milk, but now they were strong and must have meat. He seemed much disappointed in my not receiving the revelation. He was very anxious that I would accept the doctrine and sustain him in it. He used many arguments at various times afterwards in its favor. I suppose he dreaded my official influence in opposing and utterly rejecting the so-called revelation as I was at that time a member of the First Presidency. Joseph told me that he had several wives sealed to him and that they afforded him a great deal of pleasure. He kept some of them in his own house. He said his wife Emma had annoyed him very much about it, but he thought the revelation would cause her to submit peaceably, as it threatened her removal if she did not. Mrs. Smith complained to me about Joseph keeping his young wives in her house and elsewhere and his neglect of her. She spoke freely about the revelation and its threat against her life, etc. She seemed to have no faith in it whatever. From what she said to me and from what I learned from other sources, I have good reason to believe that Joseph and Hyrum Smith and others in the Church had been practicing polygamy for a long time before the revelation came forth, although it was vehemently denied from the public stand, and those who spoke of its existence were denounced as slanderers of the Church. But after the revelation came out, polygamy was rampant and the man who dared to speak against it was considered an apostate. Joseph Smith required every man and woman to believe in him, to believe in all his revelations, believe in all his teachings, and uphold and sustain him in every thing right or wrong, without any regard for the teachings of Christ and His Apostles, as recorded in the scriptures. Smith
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was opposed to the use of the Scriptures for I heard him say that "the time would come when it would be a curse to any family to have a Bible in their house." The teaching of Christ was in direct opposition to the teachings of the Smiths, taught polygamy, spoiling (robbing) the Gentiles, murder, swindling. lying and many other evils. I do not say that Joseph Smith murdered any one with his own hand, but I say this, that Joseph told me that he had sent a man to kill Governor Boggs of Missouri. The fellow shot the Governor in his own house, shot him through a window, wounding him severely, but failed to kill him. In looking over the whole field at that time, the past and the then present of the Chuch, I could see no God in it, but a great deal of Satan. Consequently I withdrew from it forever. And now after more than forty years, I am thoroughly convinced that I was right, that it never was a Church of Christ, but a most wicked blasphemous humbug, gotten up for the purpose of making money. Had it been the Church of Christ, its ministers would have taught the Doctrine of Christ, would have taught the Gospel of Christ, which is the Gospel of Salvation, to them that believe. If the Gospel was Salvation to believers in the days of the Apostles, it is Salvation to believers now, and always will be. And if so, what more do we want. Paul said, "Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel, let him be accursed." The Mormon Church has been running for more than fifty years and what has it done for the Cause of Christianity or Mortality? Nothing that I know of, but a great deal against both. It must be a bad tree to bear such evil fruit, evil all the way from the Kirtland Bank Swindle down to the present time, and yet I have no doubt thousands of honest virtuous people have joined the Church not knowing (at the time) anything of the wicked workings of the leaders, and thousands (probably in ignorance) still cling to the delusion.
After I withdrew from the Mormons, I had several public meetings in the City, told the people many things that I thought they ought to know. I warned them of the ruin they would bring upon themselves by obeying the unchristian teachings of the Smiths and others. I called on the Smithites to come forward and defend their cause, and have an open discussion of the questions at issue between us. But there was not a man to open his mouth in their defense. The fact was they had no ground
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to stand on. I next went to my friends and talked over the propriety of purchasing a Printing Press and publishing Paper to be called the Nauvoo Expositor. We concluded to do so. We bought a Press, paper and issued No. 1 of the Expositor. No. 2 we had printed on one side when the City Council and Joseph Smith, Mayor, ordered the destruction of the Press, which was done immediately by the breaking the press into pieces with sledges, throwing the type into the street and burning up the furniture, printing paper, etc.
This unlawful destruction of private property and infringement on the Sacred Freedom of the Press sealed their doom. It was more than the people would bear. What followed is already known to the Public.
After the Press was destroyed, my friends came to me and urged me to leave Nauvoo immediately for my personal safety. So on the second day after the destruction of the Press I with my family and some friends, left for Burlington, Iowa. This was in June, 1844.
More than forty years have pass'd since the foregoing events transpired, therefore I may not have been able to give the precise words used in the conversations referred to, but the substance of what I have stated is positively true. I speak from actual knowledge.
I hope my testimony may be of use to those who are seeking after the truth, for truth's sake. It is much safer to trust in God, than in man. The wisdom of man may perish but the wisdom and goodness of God endureth forever.
July 17th, 1885. WM. LAW.
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 17th day of July,
A. D. 1885. C. T. Douglas,
(Seal) Notary Public.
This is to certify that Charles A. Shook, being duly sworn according to law, desposeth and saith that the foregoing is a verbatim copy of an affidavit bearing the signature of a certain William Law and also the official seal of Charles T. Douglas, Notary Public, LaFayette Co., Wisc., which affidavit is now the property of Mr. Zenas H. Gurley, of Canton, Missouri, and which was loaned to the deponent by the said Zenas H. Gurley that he might make the foregoing copy.
CHARLES A. SHOOK.
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scenes, and once, when her husband was upon a mission in England, Joseph Smith made an immoral proposal to her. The following statement was made to Dr. W. Wyl, a German author, who at that time was collecting material for a work on Mormonism, on May 21, 1886:
I have told you that the prophet Joseph used to frequent houses of ill-fame. Mrs. White, a very pretty and attractive woman, once confessed to me that she made a business of it to be hospitable to the captains of the Mississippi steamboats. She told me that Joseph had made her acquaintance very soon after his arrival in Nauvoo, and that he had visited her dozens of times. My husband (Orson Pratt) could not be induced to believe such things of his prophet. Seeing his obstinate incredulity, Mrs. White proposed to Mr. Pratt and myself to put us in a position where we could observe what was going on between herself and Joseph the prophet. We, however, declined this proposition. You have made a mistake in the table of contents of your book in calling this woman "Mrs. Harris." Mrs. Harris was a married lady, a very great friend of mine. When Joseph had made his dastardly attempt on me, I went to Mrs. Harris to unbosom my grief to her. To my utter astonishment, she said, laughing heartily: "How foolish you are! I don't see anything so horrible in it. Why, I am his mistress since four years!"
Next door to my house was a house of bad reputation. One single woman lived there, not very attractive. She used to be visited by people from Carthage whenever they came to Nauvoo. Joseph used to come on horseback, ride up to the house and tie his horse to a tree, many of which stood before the house. Then he would enter the house of the woman from the back. I have seen him do this repeatedly.
Joseph Smith, the son of the prophet, and president of the reorganized Mormon church, paid me a visit, and I had a long talk with him. I saw that he was not inclined to believe the truth about his father, so I said to him: "You pretend to have revelations from the Lord. Why don't you ask the Lord to tell you what kind of a man your father really was?" He answered: "If my father had so many connections with women, where is the progeny?" I said to him: "Your father had mostly
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intercourse with married women, and as to single ones, Dr. Bennett was always on hand, when anything happened."
It was in this way that I became acquainted with Dr. John C. Bennett. When my husband went to England as a missionary, he got the promise from Joseph that I should receive provisions from the tithing-house. Shortly afterward Joseph made his propositions to me and they enraged me so that I refused to accept any help from the tithing-house or from the bishop. Having been always very clever and very busy with my needle, I began to take in sewing for the support of myself and children, and succeeded soon in making myself independent. When Bennett came to Nauvoo, Joseph brought him to my house, stating that Bennett wanted some sewing done, and that I should do it for the doctor. I assented and Bennett gave me a great deal of work to do. He knew that Joseph had his plans set on me; Joseph made no secret of them before Bennett, and went so far in his impudence as to make propositions to me in the presence of Bennett, his bosom friend. Bennett, who was of a sarcastic turn of mind, used to come and tell me about Joseph to tease and irritate me. One day they came both, Joseph and Bennett, on horseback to my house. Bennett dismounted, Joseph remained outside. Bennett wanted me to return to him a book I had borrowed from him. It was a so-called doctor-book. I had a rapidly growing little family and wanted to inform myself about certain matters in regard to babies, etc., -- this explains my borrowing that book. While giving Bennett his book, I observed that he held something in the left sleeve of his coat. Bennett smiled and said: "Oh, a little job for Joseph; one of his women is in trouble." Saying this. he took the thing out of his left sleeve. It was a pretty long instrument of a kind I had never seen before. It seemed to be of steel and was crooked at one end. I heard afterwards that the operation had been performed; that the woman was very sick, and that Joseph was very much afraid that she might die, but she recovered.
Bennett was the most intimate friend of Joseph for a time. He boarded with the prophet. He told me once that Joseph had been talking with him about his troubles with Emma, his wife. "He asked me," said Bennett, smilingly, "what he should do to get out of the trouble ?" I said, "This is very simple.
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person and shows on the face of it that it was framed by some other person for her, and she in some way induced to subscribe to it.
But there is no force to this objection for the reason that it is only legal form, most affidavits being written in the third person. But Mr. Smith's inconsistency is betrayed only two pages further over in his own book, where he introduces the testimony of R. W. Southard, one of his own witnesses, which is also stated in the third person. Was Southard's affidavit framed for him, and was he in some way induced by the Josephites to subscribe to it?
As for the objection that Mrs. Young could not have been married to the Prophet "under the revelation on plural marriage" on May 11, 1843, because it is claimed that that revelation was not given until July 12 following, we have only to say, as has been said before, that it never has been claimed that the revelation of July 12, 1843, was the only revelation that Smith ever received on celestial marriage. It was only a restatement of what both Smith and the "Revelation" itself claim was revealed before.
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But very few of those who were prominent in the affairs at Nauvoo in the days of Joseph Smith, and who were in a position to know at first-hand of his polygamous practices, ever united with the Josephites. Indeed, either the factions of Rigdon or Strang had a greater number of the leaders of the original church among them than
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were ever to be found among the followers of Briggs and Gurley, while the whole number of original Mormons who united with the Reorganization would not exceed one thousand, and would probably fall far below that number. 1
Most conspicuous among those who, after filling positions of prominence in the original church, united with the Reorganization, may be mentioned Emma Smith. wife of the Prophet; William Smith, who became connected with it in 1878; William Marks, former President of the High Council at Nauvoo, and Ebenezer Robinson, one-time editor of the Times and Seasons. Of these Marks and Robinson both confessed that polygamy had been taught by the church officials at Nauvoo, while William Smith, himself, advocated it at a conference of his faction held at Palestine, Lee County, Illinois, in 1851. The authorities of the original church, evidently, steered clear of the Reorganization because they could not truthfully say, either that Joseph Smith had not practiced polygamy or that he had repented of his connection with it before his death.
At first, in fact as late as 1860, the leading Josephites acknowledged that Smith had been connected with polygamy, but claimed that he afterwards repented of it and had the revelation enjoining it burned. But, subsequently, when the son of the Prophet became their leader, they changed their position and denied that Joseph had ever taught or practiced it, claiming that it originated with Brigham Young or some one else.
David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the
1 W. W. Blair, Josephite, in the Temple-lot Suit, said that "one thousand was probably too high an estimate for the members of the original church that joined the 'Reorganized' Church." The number that followed Young was at least twenty thousand.
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Book of Mormon, who, falling out with Smith, apostatized in 1838, but who ever afterwards watched the movements of the church with great interest, says on this point:
I see that when the Reorganized Church was established, the fact that Joseph received this revelation was then known and acknowledged in editorials in the Herald. The reason why these articles were written in the Herald was to explain why the Reorganized Church rejected the revelation received by Brother Joseph on polygamy, and to explain that he repented of his connection with polygamy just previous to his death. As time rolled on, many of the Reorganization saw that to continue to acknowledge that Brother Joseph received this revelation would bring bitter persecution upon themselves, as the public feeling, at that time, was very bitter.... The leaders of the Reorganized Church, after a time, began to suppress their opinions concerning this matter. They would answer the question when asked about it: "I do not know whether Joseph Smith received that revelation or not." This was a truthful but evasive answer, as it was not a matter of knowledge, except with a few. All, or nearly all, of the pioneers of the Reorganization who were living in Nauvoo in 1843 and 1844 have now passed away, and you see what time has done in this regard. To-day nearly all of the Reorganization do not believe that Brother Joseph received the revelation on polygamy, or ever had any connection whatever with the doctrine of polygamy, openly and firmly denying this fact; some through ignorance, and some who should not be so ignorant about this matter. They charge it all to Brigham Young. -- An Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 39.
The first position assumed by the Reorganized Church was that the Prophet had received the "Revelation on Celestial Marriage" attributed to him, but that he had been deceived, that the revelation was a false revelation given to those who had set up idols in their hearts, and that, as a consequence of giving this false revelation, he had been cut off from the midst of the people. This position was defended by both Isaac Sheen and W. W.
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Blair, 1 who based it upon the language of the prophet Ezekiel ( 14: 7-11):
For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the Lord will answer him by myself:
And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.
And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him;
That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith the Lord God.
It is my purpose in this chapter to lay before the reader some of the admissions that have been made by the leaders of the Reorganized Church which plainly connect Joseph Smith with both the doctrine and practice of polygamy.
ADMISSION OF ISAAC SHEEN.Isaac Sheen became connected with the Reorganized Church in the year 1859. In the following January, he became editor of its official organ, the True Latter-day Saints' Herald, which office he filled up to 1865. At a conference held at Amboy, Illinois, in April, 1860, he was ordained President of the Quorum of High Priests,
1 The True Latter-day Saints' Herald, March, 1860 (p. 64), July 15, 1864 (pp. 23, 24), and November 15, 1864 (pp. 155, 156).
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which position, I believe, he held the remainder of his life.
In an article published in the first issue of the paper mentioned, he says:
The Salt Lake Apostles also excuse themselves by saying that Joseph Smith taught the spiritual-wife doctrine, but this excuse is as weak as their excuse concerning the ancient kings and patriarchs. Joseph Smith repented of his connection with this doctrine, and said that it was of the devil. He caused the revelation on that subject to be burned, and when he voluntarily came to Nauvoo and resigned himself into the arms of his enemies, he said that he was going to Carthage to die. At that time he also said, that if it had not been for that accursed spiritual-wife doctrine, he would not have come to that. By his conduct at that time he proved the sincerity of his repentance, and of his profession as a prophet. If Abraham and Jacob by repentance can obtain salvation and exaltation, so can Joseph Smith.
Over forty years after the foregoing was published, the editor of the same paper tried to explain away its evident sense in the following:
It is possible that if there was anything of the kind going on Joseph Smith may have had some knowledge of it, without being implicated in it. In this there is not a suggestion as to what was the connection of Joseph Smith to the dogma, or practice of polygamy. Isaac Sheen was not a resident of Nauvoo, and was not a leading man in the church in 1844, and possibly had never more than seen Joseph Smith, and could have known nothing personally about it. He is in error about causing the revelation to be burned, or, if not, he makes the case better for Joseph Smith in connection with that paper; for if he burned it, or caused it to be done, no one had the right to revive it, or reproduce even a copy of it. Again, he makes Joseph Smith to say it is an accursed doctrine and "of the devil," a thing incredible upon the assumption that he had a revelation authorizing it which he believed to be from God. The statement made by Isaac Sheen does not implicate Joseph Smith as either teaching or practicing polygamy.
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That Isaac Sheen could have known nothing personally about Joseph Smith's polygamous relations, I readily concede, but that he believed that the Prophet had been guilty of favoring such relations and that he was expressing a well-founded conviction, which at that time was practically unquestioned, I most emphatically affirm. That his sentiments in this particular were not questioned, even by the Reorganizers, is proved by the facts that not a voice was raised against him for publishing this article and that he continued for a number of years an honored and official member of their church. His statement plainly shows that it was the general, if not the universal, belief among even the Josephites that polygamy existed before the Prophet's death and that there was a revelation on the subject; that Smith, himself, had some connection with this doctrine; that he afterwards repented of this connection, which shows that it must have been one of favor and advocacy; and that he had the revelation commanding it burned. No amount of special pleading can destroy the force of Sheen's admission; it is before the public as conclusive proof that even the Reorganizers, in the early days of their movement, conceded that their Prophet was connected with the doctrine of polygamy, though it also proves that they differed from the Brighamites in the claim that he had repented of his connection with it before his death. 1
1 Since writing the above, I have had the pleasure of examining the first six volumes of the True Latter-day Saints' Herald, which I have done with some care, and nowhere have I found a denial that Joseph Smith taught and practiced polygamy, although the doctrine itself is condemned in the strongest terms. The writers for this paper seem to have avoided as much as possible any reference to his polygamous teachings, but where they have referred to them they give the impression that they believed that there was a revelation on polygamy, but that it was not given to the church as a body, only to those who had set up idols in their hearts, in agreement with Ezek. 14: 7-11.
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In an editorial in the same paper, Sheen says of the Mormon people:
This adulterous spirit had captivated their hearts and they desired a license from God to lead away captive the fair daughters of His people, and in this state of mind they came to the Prophet Joseph. Could the Lord do anything more or less than what Ezekiel hath prophesied? The Lord hath declared by Ezekiel what kind of an answer he would give them, therefore he answered them according to the multitude of their idols. Paul had also prophesied that "for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." Both these prophesies agree. In Ezekiel's prophecy the Lord also says, "I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him and I will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity; the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him; that the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God saith the Lord God," 8c., 11v. We have here the facts as they have transpired and as they will continue to transpire in relation to this subject. The death of the prophet is one fact that has been realized although he abhorred and repented of this iniquity before his death.
Here polygamy is called an "iniquity," and, as the Prophet "repented" of it before his death, he must have been at some time in his career guilty of either advocating or practicing it, or both.
ADMISSIONS OF WILLIAM MARKS.William Marks was born in Rutland, Vermont, November 15, 1792. Just when he united with the Mormon Church, is not known, but he is prominently mentioned
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as early as 1837, ill which year he was chosen a member of the High Council at Kirtland. In July, 1838, he and N. K. Whitney were commanded to remove to Missouri, where he lived until the Mormons were driven from that State, when he went to Illinois. He was chosen President of the High Council at Nauvoo on October 3, 1839, and held that position until after the Prophet's death, although part of the time he was without the latter's favor. After the assassination of Smith, he supported the claims of Rigdon for a time, but finally dropped him and threw in his fortunes with the polygamous Twelve, as the following will show:
NOTICE!!!After mature and candid deliberation I am fully and satisfactorily convinced that Mr. Sidney Rigdon's claims to the Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, are not founded in Truth. I have been deceived by his specious pretenses, and now feel to warn every one over whom I have any influence to beware of him and his pretended visions and revelations. The Twelve are the proper persons to lead The Church. WILLIAM MARKS.
NAUVOO, Dec. 9, 1844.
After this, however, he left the Twelve and became a member of the Strangite faction, but, becoming dissatisfied, he subsequently renounced Strang and threw in his fortunes, for a time, with the Baneemyites under Charles B. Thompson. He next, with others, started an independent faction, but this soon went to pieces. As a last resort, he united with the Reorganized Church on June 11, 1859, and the year following assisted at the ordination of Joseph Smith to the First Presidency, to whom he later became First Counselor.
Having had ample opportunity to know what was going on in the inner circles at Nauvoo, his testimony is
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of very great importance. In a letter, dated at Shabbona, DeKalb County, Illinois, October 23, 1859, and addressed to Isaac Sheen, he says:
About the first of June, 1844 (situated as I was at that time, being the Presiding Elder of the Stake at Nauvoo, and by appointment the Presiding Officer of the High Council), I had a very good opportunity to know the affairs of the Church, and my convictions at that time were, that the Church in a great measure had departed from the pure principles and doctrines of Jesus Christ. I felt much troubled in mind about the condition of the Church. I prayed earnestly to my Heavenly Father to show me something in regard to it, when I was wrapt in vision, and it was shown me by the Spirit, that the top or branches had overcome the root, in sin and wickedness, and the only way to cleanse and purify it was, to disorganize it, and in due time, the Lord would reorganize it again. There were many things suggested to my mind, but the lapse of time has erased them from my memory. A few days after this occurrence, I met with Brother Joseph. He said that he wanted to converse with me on the affairs of the Church, and we retired by ourselves. I will give his words verbatim, for they are indelibly stamped upon my mind. He said he had desired for a long time to have a talk with me on the subject of polygamy. He said it eventually would prove the overthrow of the Church, and we should soon be obliged to leave the United States, unless it could be speedily put down. He was satisfied that it was a cursed doctrine, and that there must be every exertion made to put it down. He said that he would go before the congregation and proclaim against it, and I must go into the High Council, and he would prefer charges against those in transgression, and I must sever them from the Church, unless they made ample satisfaction. There was much more said, but this was the substance. The mob commenced to gather about Carthage in a few days after, therefore there was nothing done concerning it. After the Prophet's death, I made mention of this conversation to several, hoping and believing that it would have a good effect, but to my great disappointment, it was soon rumored about that Brother Marks was about to apostatize, and that all that he said about the conversation with the Prophet was a tissue of lies.
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Apostle Heman C. Smith, of the Reorganized Church, in his "The Truth Defended," pages 181, 182, says on the foregoing:
The purport of this testimony is:
1. That Joseph Smith declared it (polygamy) to be "a cursed doctrine."
2. That he would proclaim against it in the public congregation.
3. That he would prefer charges against those in transgression.
4. He instructed the President of the High Council to "sever them from the Church, unless they made ample satisfaction."
All this is commendable and a credit to Joseph and the church.
It is not very probable either, that Joseph Smith would publicly proclaim against a doctrine, and prefer charges against those practicing it, when he himself was practicing it, and it was known to those against whom he was proceeding.
Let the reader observe that Mr. Smith draws the above deductions wholly from the latter part of Marks' letter; they do not cover the whole. He has nothing to say about "the top or branches" overcoming "the root in sin and wickedness" or the "long time" in which polygamy had been tolerated (?) in a church of which Joseph was the Prophet, Priest and King and in a city of which he was Mayor, with a legion back of him of which he was Lieutenant-General. If Joseph Smith had power, on the 1st day of June, 1844, to put down polygamy, did he not have the same power a "long time" before ? If he was not a friend to this doctrine and practice, why did he tolerate (?) it so long, until it threatened the church with destruction and himself with death?
The deductions of Mr. Smith only about half explain the situation. The facts are that Joseph had come to see where he and the church were drifting, and to save both he made a show of repentance because of
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which he could with apparent consistency proceed against those who, like he himself had been, were in transgression. Marks was a man who never fell in with polygamy, and it was to him that the Prophet came with his confession, hoping thereby to save himself and the church from ruin.
In a letter to the Zion's Harbinger and Baneemy's Organ of July, 1853, Marks gives a slightly different version of his conversation with Joseph to that given in his letter to Isaac Sheen. He says:
During my administration in the Church I saw and heard of many things that was practiced and taught that I did not believe to be of God; but I continued to do and teach such principles as were plainly revealed, as the law of the Church, for I thought that pure and holy principles only would have a tendency to benefit mankind. Therefore when the doctrine of polygamy was introduced into the Church as a principle of exaltation, I took a decided stand against it; which stand rendered me quite unpopular, with many of the leading ones of the Church. I was also witness of the introduction (secretly) of a kingly form of government, in which Joseph suffered himself to be ordained a king, to reign over the house of Israel forever; which I could not conceive to be in accordance with the laws of the Church, but I did not oppose this move, thinking it none of my business.
Joseph, however, became convinced before his death that he had done wrong; for about three weeks before his death, I met him one morning in the street, and he said to me, "Bro. Marks, I have something to communicate to you," we retired to a byplace, and sat down together, when he said: "We are a ruined people." I asked, how so? he said: "This doctrine of polygamy, or spiritual-wife system, that has been taught and practiced among us, will prove our destruction and overthrow. I have been deceived," said he, "in reference to its practice; it is wrong; it is a curse to mankind, and, we shall have to leave the United States soon, unless it can be put down, and its practice stopped in the Church. Now," said he "Bro. Marks, you have not received this doctrine, and how glad I am. I want you to go into
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the high council, and I will have charges preferred against all who practice this doctrine; and I want you to try them by the laws of the Church, and cut them off, if they will not repent, and cease the practice of this doctrine; and," he said, "I will go into the stand and preach against it, with all my might, and in this way, we may rid the Church of this damnable heresy."
If polygamy was introduced into the church "as a principle of exaltation," who introduced it? There can be but one answer -- Joseph Smith.
From the two letters of William Marks, we draw the following deductions:
1. The "top or branches," having "overcome the root in sin and wickedness," polygamy was introduced "as a principle of exaltation" and was both "taught and practiced."
2. This principle, on June 1, 1844, had been in the church "for a long time."
3. Joseph on that date had become convinced "that he had done wrong" and had been "deceived."
4. He stated that it was a "cursed doctrine" and a "damnable heresy" that would have to be put down or the church would have to leave the United States. And
5. He said that he would go into the stand and preach against it, and he ordered Marks to sever from the church those who would not repent.
The evident import of these two letters is, that Joseph Smith, being influenced by certain wicked and designing men, introduced into the Mormon Church the doctrine and practice of polygamy; that, after a long time, the opposition which was caused by the introduction of this principle became so bitter that it threatened to disrupt and destroy the church; that the Prophet, foreseeing the impending storm, became alarmed, repented of his connection with it and acknowledged his mistake;
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and that, having done this, he began laying plans to cleanse his church by casting out of it those who would not follow his example and give up their sinful practices. It may be charitable to say that, had the Prophet lived and had the opportunity, the latter might have been the program.
ADMISSIONS OF JASON W. BRIGGS.Jason W. Briggs, while on the stand in the Temple-lot Suit, admitted that he had heard of a revelation on polygamy, or plural marriage, before the death of the Mormon Prophet. He says:
I heard something about a revelation on polygamy, or plural marriage, when I was in Nauvoo, in 1842. I heard there was one: there was talk going on about it at that time, and continued to be; but it was not called plural marriage; it was called sealing.
I was asked in my direct examination if I did not hear of the doctrine of polygamy, etc., and I answered that I talked with members with reference to [sealing], and I understood that the doctrine of sealing, was for eternity; it was sealing a man's wife to him for eternity, or wives either. 1 -- Record, pp. 349, 505.
On February 13, 1888, Mr. Briggs, writing from Wheeler, Iowa, addressed a letter to Mr. J. T. Clark, part of which, relating to the origin of the "Revelation on Celestial Marriage," is as follows:
BRO. J. T. CLARK: -- Yours of late date duly received. The excessive cold weather and some ill health has prevented my writing sooner. The experiences at Nauvoo and Independence were characteristic of the times and places named. I was at Nauvoo
1 In his "Diary," Joseph says of marriage, or sealing, for eternity: "Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the Priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in celestial glory." -- Millennial Star, Vol. XXI., p. 108.
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in 1843, the year it was found necessary to legalize polygamy by a revelation. No, I have no doubt as to the authorship of that (so-called) revelation of July 12, 1843. It has all the earmarks to identify it as the production of the mouthpiece 1 of those days. William, the only surviving brother, got up a similar one (at Palestine near Amboy) in 1851. I united with the church at Potosi, Grant Co., Wisconsin, in 1841. The following year I settled near Beloit, Rock Co., Wisconsin, where I raised up a branch in 1843. When the Twelve assumed the leadership in 1844, we gave a nominal adherence to them until the spring of 1846, when we, as a branch, rejected them and accepted James J. Strang as the true successor, on the authority of the letter of appointment from Joseph Smith -- but polygamy and other kindred teachings and practices cropping out, we dropped Strang, and in 1850-51 accepted William Smith as the successor, so so; -- but in less than one year he exhibited the cloven foot and boomed polygamy afresh in the name of God and his brother Joseph. -- Published in the Return (Whitmerite paper), December 1, 1895.
ADMISSION OF W. W. BLAIR.William W. Blair, one of the early leaders of the Reorganization, serving first in the capacity of Apostle and afterwards as First Counselor to the President, Joseph Smith, the present Prophet, made the following admission, relative to the existence of the "Revelation on Celestial Marriage," in the True Latter-day Saints' Herald of March, 1860 (p. 64):
The plurality-wife revelation was never given unto the church by Joseph, and when it was made public, the first organization of the church had ceased. The church had been rejected of God, and counterfeit churches under the direction of greedy wolves had supplanted the true church. The church was not commanded to give heed unto revelations which were
1 "Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments, which he shall give unto you, as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; for his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith." -- Revelation concerning Smith, "Doctrine and Covenants," Sec. 19, par. a.
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not given unto them, but only those which Joseph gave unto them, and as that revelation was withheld from the church, and was repudiated and denounced by him, and as it was only intended for those, who (according to the prophecy of Ezekiel), had "set up their idols in their hearts," therefore the church was not commanded to receive it. The Lord knowing that Joseph would never give any revelation unto the church that was contrary to the mind and will, and holy law of God, therefore he commanded the church to "give heed unto all his words and commandments," otherwise he could not consistently with his love for the saints have given them such a commandment, for their future observance, to be a law unto them, from the commencement of the organization of the church.
In the foregoing, Mr. Blair admits that the "plurality wife revelation" was in existence before Smith's death, as it "was repudiated and denounced by him;" but, he tells us, that it was not given to the church, as a body, only to those who had, in fulfillment of Ezek. 14:7, "set up their idols in their hearts." But, no matter to whom it was given, if that revelation existed, as admitted, it proves Joseph Smith guilty of teaching the doctrine of polygamy, frees Brigham Young from the stigma of being the author of this revelation, and gives it a birth some years anterior to the date commonly fixed upon by the Josephites of to-day.
ADMISSIONS OF THE ROBINSONS.Ebenezer Robinson united with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the 16th of October, 1835, the same year being united in marriage to Miss Angeline Works. In 1838, he became clerk of the High Council, and in November, 1839, he and Don Carlos Smith became joint editors of the Times and Seasons, he continuing with that paper, except for a short time, up to February, 1842. After the death of Smith, he united with the Rigdonites and became Sidney Rigdon's Second Counselor,
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but, subsequently, left them and afterwards, in 1863, Joined the Reorganization, in which he was ordained a High Priest in April, 1866. Sometime later, he and his wife made the following affidavits:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
We, Ebenezer Robinson and Angeline Robinson, husband and wife, hereby certify that in the fall of 1843 Hyrum Smith, brother of Joseph Smith, came to our house in Nauvoo, Illinois, and taught us the doctrine of polygamy. And I, the said Ebenezer Robinson, hereby further state that he gave me special instructions how I could manage the matter so as not to have it known to the public. He also told us that while he had heretofore opposed the doctrine, he was wrong and his brother Joseph was right; referring to his teaching it.
ANGELINE E. ROBINSON.
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 29th day of December, 1873.
J. M. SALLEE, Notary Public.
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
This is to certify that in the latter part of November, or in December, 1843, Hyrum Smith (brother of Joseph Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) came to my house in Nauvoo, Illinois, and taught me the doctrine of spiritual wives or polygamy.
He said he heard the voice of the Lord give the revelation on spiritual wifery (polygamy) to his brother Joseph, and that while he had heretofore opposed the doctrine, he was wrong, and his brother Joseph was right all the time.
He told me to make a selection of some young woman and he would send her to me, and take her to my home, and if she should have an heir, to give out the word that she had a husband who had gone on a mission to a foreign country. He seemed disappointed when I declined to do so.
DAVIS CITY, Iowa, October 23, 1885.
Subscribed and sworn to before me, a Notary Public in and for Decatur County, Iowa, this 24th day of October, A. D. 1885.
Z. H. GURLEY. Notary Public.
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D. H. Bays introduces these affidavits in his "Doctrines and Dogmas of Mormonism," and says, further, that Robinson assured him in 1865 that he knew more about the early days of the church than he cared at that time to disclose. In his reply to Bays, "The Truth Defended," pages 190, 191, Apostle Heman C. Smith tries to overthrow this testimony.
He says, in the first place, that "these statements, if true, implicate no one but Hyrum Smith." While it is true that they implicate no one directly but Hyrum Smith, it is also true that indirectly they implicate Joseph. Robinson tells us what Hyrum said, that much is established by the testimony, and as Hyrum was the brother of Joseph and was one of his most confidential advisers, one of two things is true: either he lied about Joseph or else the latter did advocate polygamy. Let the Josephites fall on either horn of the dilemma that they may choose.
The second objection that Mr. Smith urges against the foregoing statements, is that Robinson and his wife "were associated with the Reorganization for many years, right at the time when representatives of the church from pulpit and press were demanding evidence that polygamy was taught by Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and they were as silent as the tomb, until they became disaffected, and in various ways tried to destroy the fair fame of the church and its founders." But, according to the statement of Bays, Robinson was not "as silent as the tomb" in 1865 when he told him that "he knew more about those early days than he then wished to disclose, but that he intended at some future time to make a statement of facts as he knew them to exist," and if I am not misinformed it was the very claim that he makes in his
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affidavits which was one of the reasons why he was not in harmony with the Reorganization. 1
Lastly, Mr. Smith objects to the testimony of the Robinsons on the score that it conflicts with other testimony given by Mr. Bays.
It will be observed that these witnesses claim that this interview with Hyrum Smith took place in the fall of 1843 -- November or December -- and that he then said "he had heretofore opposed the doctrine;" while three of Bays' witnesses; viz.: Mrs. Thompson (p. 171), Leonard Soby (p. 174), and David Fullmer (p. 175), declare that Hyrum Smith read the revelation and indorsed the doctrine on the 12th of August before. Bays should notice that his witnesses condemn each other.
Now, I may be blind, but I can not see the force of this argument. These witnesses do not contradict one another, but are in perfect agreement. In his affidavit, Robinson says that Hyrum said "he heard the voice of the Lord give the revelation on spiritual wifery (polygamy) to his brother Joseph, and that while he had heretofore (before July 12, 1843) opposed the doctrine, he was wrong, and his brother Joseph was right all the time." Mr. Smith makes his mistake by supposing that "heretofore" means before "the latter part of November, or in December, 1843," whereas it means before July 12,
1 In the Return of January, 1889, Robinson says of his opposition to certain teachings of the Reorganized Church: "United with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April, 1863, having been acquainted with it for several years. Protested from the first against some of its practices and teachings. Was baptized into the church of Christ (Whitmerites) on the 13th day of April, 1888, by Elder John C. Whitmer, of Richmond, Mo." As Robinson made his first affidavit in 1873 and did not leave the Reorganization until 1888, he stands as publicly charging that the Smiths taught polygamy at Nauvoo for fifteen years while a Josephite. So, for fifteen years, while associated with that church, Robinson was not "as silent as the tomb" on the origin of polygamy, and it was not after he left that church that he began to charge this on Joseph and Hyrum, but before -- fifteen years before, and right at the very time, too, "when representatives of the church from pulpit and press were demanding evidence that polygamy was taught" by these men.
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1843, the date on which the "Revelation on Celestial Marriage" is said to have been received. And this explanation agrees with the facts as we know them. When Udney Jacobs' pamphlet was published in the fall of 1842, Hyrum Smith, according to John D. Lee, was very much opposed to it and denounced polygamy as "from beneath;" on the 12th of July following, he was very favorable to it, according to William Clayton, and said that he could convince any reasonable man or woman of the truthfulness of the "Revelation," and this agrees with what Hyrum told Robinson that he had, on that date, heard the voice of the Lord and had been converted to the doctrine of polygamy; on the 12th of August he read the "Revelation" to the High Council, as claimed by Mrs. Thompson, Fullmer and Soby, and again expressed himself as favorable to it; and later he had the conversation with the Robinsons given in their affidavits, at which time he also favored it. Where do these "witnesses condemn each other" ?
ADMISSION OF JUSTUS MORSE.The original of the following affidavit was for a number of years in the possession of Mr. Zenas H. Gurley, of Canton, Missouri, but has recently been turned over by him to R. B. Neal, of Pikeville, Kentucky. While Mr. Morse was not a leader among the Josephites, he was a member of their church, which makes his testimony most important. It plainly shows that polygamy was strongly intrenched at Nauvoo as early as 1842, which never could have been had Joseph Smith been opposed to it. Although this affidavit covers more ground than we have been considering, as it plainly shows that Joseph Smith was guilty of a number of things denied by the Josephites, I give it in full.
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TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
This is to certify that in the year 1833, I was made member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and have been a member in fellowship since then, uniting with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the beginning of the year of 1870. Held the offices of an Elder, of Seventy, and of High Priest, in the first Church under Joseph Smith, the founder, and the office of an Elder and of High Priest, which last I now hold in the Reorganization, of which Joseph Smith, the second, is President.
In the year 1834, I was numbered with the "Camp of Zion" -- or "Zion's Camp," numbering some 233 men, w ho were led by the Prophet Joseph Smith, according to Revelation into the State of Missouri, for the purpose of delivering "Zion" (the lands previously purchased of the Government by members of the Church). I was chosen with nine others out of the "Camp" as sharp shooters. The whole company were armed with guns, pistols and knives, and we expected to deliver said "lands" from the mob who occupied them, and to avenge the Lord on His enemies as provided in the Prophet's revelations -- but the latter part of June (the 22nd day I believe), of the year 1834 aforesaid we were visited by the Sheriff of Clay County, Missouri, we having camped on what is known as Fishing River, who wished to know the object and purpose we had in coming into the State as an armed body of men -- whereupon the Prophet receiving another revelation, that we had been "brought thus far as a trial of our faith, etc.," we disbanded, some settling in Missouri, others returning to their homes in the eastern states.
In the year 1838, at Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri, I was made a Danite, in an organized meeting for that purpose in a schoolhouse at that place. Brother Dr. Sampson Avard had charge in organizing this Band, divided into tens, fifties, and hundreds -- Joseph Smith, Sydney Rigdon, and Hyrum Smith were present frequently at our meetings and were cognizant of what was going on, being present at our secret meetings when a guard were placed around us admitting none but members, excepting the said Joseph Smith, Sydney Rigdon, and Hyrum Smith -- I further state that in company with nine others of the Danites I was taken not far away from Far West, in a deep ravine, in
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the year 1838, aforesaid, and with a guard around us on the high ground to prevent interruption or being heard, was there taught and instructed by Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and Hyrum Smith, that the Church could not advance without means, and we must obtain, must get money and means to carry on the work whether right or wrong, honest or dishonest -- that the Church should "suck the milk of the Gentiles," that we had been injured by the mob in Missouri, and to take from the Gentiles was no sin, but should we get caught in this work then in that case, we were to stand by each other and help each other out of trouble at any cost or hazard, and the said Hyrum Smith particularly emphasized, that if we found it necessary in helping each other out of trouble to swear to a lie, to do so, and to do it with such positiveness and assurance that no one would question our testimony. Shortly after these events, the troubles increased between the Saints, and the mob, finishing with the expulsion of the Saints, in 1839, from the State; prior to our expulsion and during our troubles, Joseph Smith, Sydney Rigdon, and other leaders of the Church were incarcerated in Liberty Jail, Clay County, Mo. While there several epistles were sent by the Prophet to the brethren, in one of which he refers to the organization of "bands or companies, by covenant or oaths, by penalties or secrecies," etc., suggesting their "impropriety" -- this news was received with thankfulness by me as it took a great burden off of my mind, for I felt it my duty to obey the heads of the Church in all matters -- but to my sorrow this hope proved fallacious, for in the year 1841 or 2, Danite brethren came to my house in McDonough County, Illinois, and asked me to secrete goods which they had taken from a store, one of whom stated to me when and how, they had "sucked the milk of the Gentiles" by robbing this store. I refused to accommodate them at this time, and they never forgave me up to the time of their death, dying in full faith. And I further state as I have reason to believe that this and similar practices was continued by members of the Church during the remainder of their stay at Nauvoo.
I further state that in the year 1842, at Nauvoo, Illinois, Elder Amasa Lyman, taught me the doctrine of sealing, or marrying for eternity, called spiritual wifery, and that within one year from that date my own wife and another woman were
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sealed to me for eternity in Macedonia, by father John Smith uncle to the Prophet. This woman was the wife of another man, but was to be mine in eternity -- and the said father John Smith, also taught me that if an unmarried woman was sealed to me that she was mine for time as well as eternity and that I was not limited as to number.
In the years 1843-4, at Macedonia, Illinois, father John Smith aforesaid, instructed me in the things of the kingdom, and stated that Joseph fearing he would be killed before the mysteries of the Endowment were given, had given Endowment to twenty-four of the priesthood, with their wives at Nauvoo, Ill. And having been shown the Endowment Garment, and Robe, by father John Smith, at the time aforesaid, and subsequently at Nauvoo, and in Utah having seen their Endowment Garments and Robes -- I testify and say that to all appearance of style they are identical with those shown me by the said father John Smith.
In the years 1843 and 4, Elder Amasa Lyman and father John Smith again taught me the doctrine of spiritual wifery or polygamy, and in the years 1845 and 6 Brigham Young and Heber C Kimball taught me the doctrine also, and this doctrine was commonly talked, discussed and argued among the Saints during these years, especially was this the practice among those who were able to stand strong meat.
In May, 1844, was sent by the Prophet Joseph Smith, to Ohio, and instructed by him and councilors to electioneer and work for Joseph's election to the Presidency of the United States, was thoroughly provided with papers and documents showing the Prophet's views on Government, etc. Just before getting on board the boat in Nauvoo, Ill., was blessed by the Prophet at the water's edge and promised great blessings on my mission, and especially instructed to maintain his character against all calumnies, which thing I was bound to do under any and all circumstances and to sustain him, because of my oath as a Danite.
I am now just turning seventy-eight years. And after fifty-four years of experience in the Church as aforesaid, and seeing now the errors and wrongs of the past committed in the name of the Lord by the Prophet and his people, and while I still believe that Joseph Smith was called of God, I feel it my duty to give
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and make this statement that whoever reads these lines that they may be benefited by them, and take heed and be wise, and never follow any man, excepting those who follow Christ, accepting no man as an exemplar no, none but the Lord Jesus Christ, for, I do not know as I testify, that men who are recognized and noticed in the revelations of Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants as men of God, were Danites and practiced the obligations of their oaths at the selfsame time.
PLEASANTON, Iowa, March 23, 1887.
Witness: -- S. Beach.
(Seal) ROYAL RICHARDSON, Notary Public.
STATE OF KENTUCKY,
County of Pike. ss
I, W. B. Taylor, Clerk of the Pike County Court for the County and State aforesaid, certify that the foregoing is a true and correct copy of an original affidavit produced to me by Rev. R. B. Neal, of Pikeville, Pike County, Kentucky, of Justus Morse, an Elder and High Priest of The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Given under my hand and seal of office this 22nd day of December, 1909.
(Seal) W. B. TAYLOR, Clerk Pike County Court.
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But these denials are stated in such ambiguous language that they leave the impression that they were intended, simply, to silence the suspicions of the Gentiles, while at the same time they did not necessarily deny the practices of the Mormons.
It is my purpose, in this chapter, to examine these denials to ascertain just how far they go to sustain the Josephite position, and to uncover the corruption and wickedness that they have been made so long to conceal from the eyes of the casual and uncritical reader.
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THE DENIALS OF BENNETT'S CHARGES.In the Times and Seasons of October 1, 1842, Joseph Smith replied to the charges of John C. Bennett. He first quoted the following rule of marriage from the "Doctrine and Covenants":
Marriage should be celebrated with prayer and thanksgiving; and at the solemnization, the persons to be married, standing together, the man on the right, and the woman on the left, shall be addressed by the person officiating, as he shall be directed by the Holy Spirit; and if there be no legal objections, he shall say, calling each by their names: "You both mutually agree to be each other's companion, husband and wife, observing the legal rights belonging to this condition; that is, keeping yourselves wholly for each other, and from all others, during your lives." And when they have answered "Yes," he shall pronounce them "husband and wife" in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by virtue of the laws of the country and authority vested in him: "May God add His blessings and keep you to fulfill your covenants from henceforth and forever. Amen."
He then said:
We have given the above rule of marriage as the only one practiced in the church, to show that Dr. J. C. Bennett's secret-wife system is a matter of his own manufacture; and further, to disabuse the public ear and to show that the said Bennett and his misanthropic friend, Origen Bachelor, are perpetrating a foul and infamous slander upon an innocent people, and need but be known to be hated and despised.
With this denial of Joseph Smith, appeared two certificates from residents of Nauvoo, as follows:
We, the undersigned, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and residents of the city of Nauvoo, persons of families, do hereby certify and declare that we know of no other rule or system of marriage than the one published from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and we give this certificate to show that Dr. John C. Bennett's secret-wife system
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is a creature of his own make, as we know of no such society in this place, nor never did...
(pp. 174-191 under construction)
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would behave as they should; but they would not; and, besides, it was contrary to the will of heaven." Reader, do you think that a man who was an out-and-out opponent of polygamy, as the Josephites try to make Smith out to have been, would say: "Well, such a system might possibly be, if everybody was agreed to it and would behave as they should?" Do these very words not make it appear that he was not so much opposed to the principle of polygamy after all, only to the abuse of that principle? No matter what the Josephites may say, or how they may try to explain away their force, these words will strike the ordinary reader as being the glimmerings of plural wifery through the thin ganze of Mrs. Bidamon's purported statement.
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Of the original twelve Apostles, nine went to Utah, viz.: Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Parley Pratt, Orson Hyde, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards and George A. Smith. Of the remaining three, Lyman Wight broke off from the main body in 1844 or 1845 and organized a party of his own; John E. Page threw in his fortunes, first with Strang, and afterwards with Hedrick; and William Smith first affiliated with the Brighamites, then with the Strangites, then headed a faction of his own, and, lastly, in 1878, united with the Reorganization.
There is one significant fact which it is difficult for the Josephites, satisfactorily, to explain: Every member of the original Quorum of Twelve Apostles, and at least six of the factions, are known to have advocated the doctrine
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and practice of polygamy...
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CHARLES A. SHOOK'S 1910 BOOK