About four years ago I wrote a post showing evidence that Joseph Smith married additional wives without the knowledge or consent of his legal wife, Emma. You can read the post here:
The evidence is quite clear, and it’s also clear that Emily Partridge spent the night in bed with Joseph Smith on their wedding night, and when asked, she confirmed under oath that she had “carnal intercourse” with Smith. Their wedding night was spent in the home of Benjamin Johnson, who confirmed that they occupied the same room and bed.
That would seem fairly straightforward: a man and woman who have just been married and retire to the bedroom are likely to have sexual relations. It strains credulity to believe that they would have gone to the bedroom, closed the door, and spent the night playing cards.
Apparently, it’s not that clear to some people, as I received the following comment this evening. I’m not sure why the comment came four years after the post, but here it is:
Emily Partridge was sufficiently uninformed that she thought Mrs. Durfee’s original questions in 1842 regarding spiritual wifery were germane to Joseph wanting to get it on with her as per Emily’s interpretation of the conversation he tried to have with her and the letter he tried to pass to her.
Lucy Walker’s refusal to testify regarding whether she was intimate with Joseph is telling. This same manner of refusal occurred with Malissa Lott with respect to her own family (who would have loved to know she was Joseph’s factual bedded wife). Malissa always refused to confirm or deny.
I grant that we have Joseph spending the evening in the same room as women who would later be known as his plural wives, per the attestation of Benjamin Johnson. But Benjamin wasn’t watching through the knothole to confirm sexual intercourse. He was merely presuming what activity was occurring.
It all boils down to the one admission from Emily, where she responded “Yes sir.” when asked if she had engaged in carnal intercourse with Joseph Smith. But recall that this Emily had been the wife of Brigham Young, had lived through the culture wars of the 1870s and later, when her people were being put in jail for polygamy, when women were going on the underground with fake identities to avoid being forced to testify against husbands and fathers.
Had Emily not replied “Yes sir.” to that question, she believed that the temple lot of prophesy would be awarded to Joseph’s sons and their Church and therefore forever made unavailable to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Besides this, Emily was by then 70 years old, and knew her way around the English language. Carnal refers to meat. Intercourse refers to commerce or trade (ever visited Intercourse, PA?). Therefore “carnal intercourse” would also be a legitimate description of passing Joseph a platter of turkey or chicken or mutton or beef at a meal, an activity the young Emily had almost certainly engaged in.
As I recall the testimony, Emily was really testy after her “Yes sir.” Which I would be too, if I had technically told the truth but actually implied a falsehood.
I would respond to this point by point, but it just doesn’t merit it. I’m sure my commenter is sincere, but anyone who argues that “carnal intercourse” refers to the commercial exchange of meat is not to be taken seriously. If you have to do such violence to language and logic to support your belief, it’s quite likely your belief is erroneous.
Honestly, that is perhaps the worst apologetic argument for polygamy that I have ever read. And that’s saying something.
For what it’s worth, she apparently has a web site dedicated to proving that Joseph Smith did not have sex with those women.