Friday, June 22, 2012

Part 6 - A Case for Joseph Smith; A Case Against Polygamy

A Case for Joseph Smith; A Case Against Polygamy

“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 a right to marry again.” – Joseph Smith, July 1838

The Relief Society’s Certificate against the Polygamy Charges

The Ladies’ Relief Society was only a few months old, having had its first meeting on March 24, 1842.  Times and Seasons 3 [April 1, 1842]: 743.  In response to Bennett’s libelous statement that the Relief Society was a “seraglio,” the Relief Society published the following statement:

“We the undersigned members of the ladies’ relief society, and married females do certify and declare that we know of no system of marriage being practised in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints save the one contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants,[1] and we give this certificate to the public to show that J. C. Bennett’s “secret wife system” is a disclosure of his own make.

Emma Smith, President,
Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Counsellor,
Sarah M. Cleveland, Counsellor,
Eliza R. Snow, Secretary,
Mary C. Miller,
Catharine Pettey,
Lois Cutler,
Sarah Higbee,
Thirza Cahoon,
Phebe Woodruff,
Ann Hunter,
Leonora Taylor,
Jane Law,
Sarah Hillman,
Sophia R. Marks,
Rosannah Marks,
Polly Z. Johnson,
Angeline Robinson,
Abigail Works.

Times and Seasons 3 [October 1, 1842]: 940 (emphasis added).

Most of the above women were wives of the leaders of the Church.  Like Joseph Smith, either these women told the truth and knew there was no plural marriage system in the Church or they manifestly lied to the world.  Notice that the Relief Society did not limit their condemnation as to only the form of polygamy.  It is noteworthy that the name “Eliza R. Snow, Secretary,” appears.  This indicates that the statement she made many years later that she was married to Joseph Smith was false.  

Hyrum Smith’s Letter in March 1844 

After being informed by Elder Richard Hewitt of polygamous teachings in the Church, Hyrum Smith wrote the following letter:

“Nauvoo, March 15, 1844.

To the brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, living on China Creek, in Hancock County, Greeting:—Whereas brother Richard Hewitt has called on me to-day, to know my views concerning some doctrines that are preached in your place, and states to me that some of your elders say, that a man having a certain priesthood, may have as many wives as he pleases, and that doctrine is taught here [at Nauvoo]:  I say unto you that that man teaches false doctrine, for there is no such doctrine taught here; neither is there any such thing practised here.  And any man that is found teaching privately or publicly any such doctrine, is culpable, and will stand a chance to be brought before the High Council, and lose his license and membership also:  therefore he had better beware what he is about.” 

Times and Seasons 5 [March 15, 1844]: 474 (emphasis added).

Hyrum’s Affidavit Against Dr. John C. Bennett

Hyrum Smith provided the following affidavit concerning Dr. Bennett:

“On the seventeenth day of may, 1842, having been made acquainted with some of the conduct of John C. Bennett, which was given in testimony under oath before Alderman G. W. Harris, by several females, who testified that John C. Bennett endeavored to seduce them and accomplished his designs by saying it was right; that it was one of the mysteries of God, which was to be revealed when the people was strong enough in the faith to bear such mysteries—that it was perfectly right to have illicit intercourse with females, providing no one knew it but themselves, vehemently trying them from day to day, to yield to his passions, bringing witnesses of his own clan to testify that their was such revelations and such commandments, and that it was of God; also stating that he would be responsible for their sins, if their was any; and that he would give them medicine to produce abortions, providing they should become pregnant.

One of these witnesses, a married woman [who was not named] that he attended upon in his professional capacity, whilst she was sick, stated that he made proposals to her of a similar nature; he told her that he wished her husband was dead, and that if he was dead he would marry her and clear out with her; he also begged her permission to give him [her husband] medicine to that effect; he did try to give him medicine, but he would not take it—on interogating her [of] what she thought of such teaching, she replied, she was sick at the time, and had to be lifted in and out of her bed like a child.  Many other acts as criminal were reported to me at the time.  On becoming acquainted with these facts, I was determined to prosecute him [Bennett], and bring him to justice.—Some person knowing my determination, having informed him of it, he sent to me Wm. Law and Brigham Young, to request an interview with me and to see if their could not be a reconciliation made.  I told them I thought there could not be, his crimes were so heinous; but told them I was willing to see him; he immediately came to see me; he begged on me to forgive him, this once, and not prosecute him and expose him, he said he was guilty, and did acknowledge the crimes that were alleged against him; he seemed to be sorry that he had committed such acts, and wept much, and desired that it might not be made public, for it would ruin him forever; he wished me to wait; but I was determined to bring him to justice, and declined listening to his entreaties; he then wished me to wait until he could have an interview with the masonic fraternity; he also wanted an interview with Br. Joseph; he wished to know of me, if I would forgive him, and desist from my intentions, if he could obtain their forgiveness; and requested the privilege of an interview immediately.

I granted him that privilege as I was acting as master pro. tem. at that time; he also wished an interview first with Br. Joseph; at that time Brother Joseph was crossing the yard from the house to the store, he immediately come to the store and met Dr. Bennett on the way; he reached out his hand to Br. Joseph and said, will you forgive me, weeping at the time; he said Br. Joseph, I am guilty, I acknowledge it, and I beg of you not to expose me, for it will ruin me; Joseph replied, Doctor! why are you using my name to carry on your hellish wickedness?  Have I ever taught you that fornication and adultery was right, or poligamy or any such practices?

He said you never did.

Did I ever teach you any thing that was not virtuous—that was iniquitous, either in public or private?

He said you never did.

Did you ever know anything unvirtuous or unrighteous in my conduct or actions at any time, either in public or in private? he said, I did not; are you willing to make oath to this before an Alderman of the city? he said I am willing to do so.

Joseph said Dr. go into my office, and write what you can in conscience subscribe your name to, and I will be satisfied—I will, he said, and went into the office, and I went with him and he requested pen ink and paper of Mr. Clayton, who was acting clerk in that office, and was also secretary pro. tem. for the Nauvoo Lodge U. D.

Wm. Clayton gave him paper, pen and ink, and he stood at the desk and wrote the following article which was published in the 11th No. of the Wasp [newspaper]; sworn to and subscribed before Daniel H. Wells, Alderman, 17th day of May, A. D. 1842; he [Bennett] called in Br. Joseph, and read it to him and asked him if that would do, he [Joseph] said it would, he then swore to it as before mentioned; the article was as follows:

City of Nauvoo.

Personally appeared before me, Daniel H. Wells, an Alderman of said city of Nauvoo, John C. Bennett, who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith: that he never was taught any thing in the least cantrary to the strictest principles of the Gospel, or of virtue, or of the laws of God, or man, under any occasion either directly or indirectly, in word or deed, by Joseph Smith; and that he never knew the said Smith to countenance any improper conduct whatever, either in public or private; and that he never did teach me in private that an illegal illicit intercourse with females was, under any circumstances, justifiable, and that I never knew him so to teach others.


Sworn to, and subscribed, before me, this 17th day of May, 1842.

DANIEL H. WELLS, Alderman.”  Times and Seasons 3 [August 1, 1842]: 870–871 (emphasis added).

It is noteworthy that polygamy was identified among the “illegal illicit intercourse with females.”  Why would the debase Dr. Bennett tearfully admit that Joseph never taught anything regarding polygamy?  Further, why would Hyrum subscribe to such a false testimony in the form of an affidavit if it weren’t the truth? 

On June 15, 1842, less than one month after the Chauncey Higbee-John Bennett Church trials ended, Brigham secretly took Lucy Decker Seely (Mrs. William Seely) as his first plural wife.  See Stewart, Brigham Young and His Wives, 85.  Did Bennett’s lascivious and sinful ideas influence Brigham?
“The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo” (March 20, 1844)
The Nauvoo Neighbor for March 20, 1844, published an article entitled “Virtue Will Triumph,” in which “The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo” was published.  The article informed the readers that members of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo had held four meetings, two on March 9 and two more on March 16, to consider the adoption of certain resolutions contained within “The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo.”  The meetings were held at Joseph Smith’s Red Brick Store, in the large assembly room (which was on the second floor).  It was reported that an “overflowing” crowd attended all four meetings, with different ladies being present at each meeting.   The women heard the document read, and unanimously adopted the preamble and resolutions presented to them for their consideration.   Among other declarations is the following (signed by Emma Smith and H. M. [Hannah] Ells):

Resolved unanimously.  That while we render credence to the doctrines of Paul, that neither the man is without the woman; neither is the woman without the man in the Lord, yet we raise our voices and hands against John C. Bennett’s ‘spiritual wife system,’ as a scheme of profligates to seduce women; and they that harp upon it, wish to make it popular for the convenience of their own cupidity; wherefore, while the marriage bed, undefiled is honorable, let polygamy, bigamy, fornication[,| adultery, and prostitution, be frowned out of the hearts of honest men to drop in the gulf of fallen nature, ‘where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched!’ and let all the saints say, Amen!”

Again, polygamy is unequivocally categorized as a sin along with bigamy, fornication, adultery, and prostitution.  At no time is there any equivocal language identifying Bennett’s unsanctioned form of polygamy as different from Joseph’s form of polygamy. 

Joseph never corrected or denounced these repeated official publications against polygamy (Joseph was murdered on June 27, 1844).  Yet, according to LDS Historian Andrew Jenson, Joseph had at least twenty-seven wives in 1844.  See Andrew Jenson, Historical Record 6 [May 1887]: 233–234.  Author Fawn M. Brodie published the names of forty-nine alleged wives of Joseph Smith.  See Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 335-336.  Todd Compton, in a more recent publication, lists Joseph’s wives as thirty-three, with an additional eight “Possible Wives,” increasing the number of alleged wives to forty-one.  See Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, Signature Books, 1997,4,6,8. 

Again, either Joseph Smith was one of the biggest liars in history who was able to convince a thousand others to also lie, or the above scholars and the LDS Church have it wrong.  There is no other alternative.


Please continue to Part 7 (

[1] “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.” D&C [1835 Edition] 101:4. 

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