“My Joseph”: Meg Stout and Polygamy, Part 2

Moving along with Meg Stout’s series of posts on Joseph Smith’s plural marriages …

She begins her next section, “Six Funerals and a Blessing,” by restating the straw man argument she opened with previously:

When discussing Joseph Smith’s plural marriages, many have simply presumed that Joseph initiated marriages whenever there was a plausible opportunity for Joseph to be in the same town or house or room as a putative wife. This seems to be the rationale behind Compton’s assertion that Joseph married Lucinda Pendleton in 1838 or the belief that Joseph fathered children with Hannah Dubois in the early 1830s.

As I said before, I don’t believe any serious historian has ever said that Joseph Smith entered into plural marriage with any available woman, apparently to satisfy his lusts. Certainly, that is not the reason Todd Compton lists Lucinda Morgan as one of Joseph Smith’s wives. But let’s get into the heart of her arguments.

The main thesis of this section is that several deaths, including that of Joseph’s father, in 1840 opened Joseph’s mind to the need to seal parents to children and thus hastened the practice of plural marriage. She first notes the untimely death of Jane and William Neyman’s teenaged son, Cyrus, who had not been baptized, correctly linking that death with Joseph’s explication of baptism for the dead a few months later at the funeral of Seymour Brunson.

At this point, the connection between these deaths and the introduction of plural marriage is not clear, but then Ms. Stout brings up the death of Marietta Carter Holmes, who was killed as a result of an attack by a mob. After Holmes’s death, Marietta’s husband and two daughters were taken into the Smith home, where one of the children died shortly thereafter. At this point, Ms. Stout launches into pure conjecture:

I imagine Marietta being carried from her burning home to the homestead. Jonathan hurries in, stopping in horror as his worst fears are realized. Joseph Smith watches, knowing that Marietta bears the wounds intended for Emma and himself.

It seems clear to me that Joseph would have comforted Jonathan and Marietta. Though death was imminent, their union and their love could persist despite the cruelty of the mob, despite the tragedy of a life ended so young.

Marietta died August 20, 1840. She was only twenty years old.

Joseph knew of the New and Everlasting Covenant that could bind husbands and wives together for eternity. He had received the keys of that power more than four years earlier, but had yet to use that power to bind his own marriage, much less the marriage of any other couple. As they buried Marietta, I believe Joseph must have realized that the ordinance of marriage could also be performed for those now dead, just as baptism could be performed by proxy.

When Marietta’s daughter died, Ms. Stout again has Joseph pondering baptism for the dead:

I believe it was in this crucible that Joseph finally understood that the sealing power could bind parents to their children and children to their parents. It could seal infant Mary to Jonathan and Marietta. It could seal his own departed children to himself and Emma. It could seal him to his own father, bedridden since March 1840.

Finally, Joseph’s own father died two days after the death of Mary Holmes. Once again, Ms. Stout veers far away from the historical record into speculation:

I submit Joseph’s attempt to obey the 1831 commandment regarding plural marriage and the New and Everlasting Covenant did not start in earnest until September 14, 1840, at the deathbed of his father.

What reason does she give to support this belief? None that I can see, but her next chapter is based on the assumption that these deaths spurred Joseph to begin seeking plural wives in earnest. Accordingly, he approached Joseph Bates Nobles in the fall of 1840 to teach him about the principle and ask for his help in securing Noble’s sister-in-law Louisa Beaman as a wife. Around the same time he approached Zina Huntington, who refused him.

Now things get a little muddled in Stout’s telling. By this time John C. Bennett had firmly established himself as one of Joseph Smith’s chief lieutenants and confidants, as Bennett had been instrumental in getting the state legislature to approve Nauvoo’s city charter. In March 1841, Joseph received confirmation from George Miller that Bennett had abandoned a still-living wife in Ohio. When further confirmation came in June of that year, Smith confronted Bennett, who admitted his guilt. It would be another year before Bennett lost his position in the church.

In the fall of 1840, Elvira Annie Cowles was living in Joseph Smith’s home as a governess for the Smith children. She would not marry Joseph until 1843, a fact that puzzles Ms. Stout. Once again Ms. Stout abandons the evidence and weaves a narrative that suits her:

Here was a possible answer, then. Elvira Annie Cowles, of all the plural wives Joseph would covenant with, appears to have promised Emma that she would not enter into a Covenant with Joseph until after Emma herself had accepted the Covenant.

Even though Elvira Annie wasn’t the first plural wife, there is no reason to think she was not the first woman Joseph talked with after his father’s death. She was an intimate of the Smith family. Emma loved Elvira and trusted her. Elvira may have witnessed the conversation between Joseph and the dying Marietta Holmes and the death bed blessing Father Smith pronounced on Joseph’s head. With this background, Elvira would be uniquely prepared to comprehend the strange doctrine of plural marriage.

Assuming Joseph approached Elvira about joining him in the New and Everlasting Covenant as a plural wife during September 1840, Elvira also understood one other thing about plural marriage. The first wife had to agree–Emma would have to give her consent. There is no good reason to suppose Joseph and Elvira kept this from Emma. If Elvira was going to refuse Joseph, then it seems only natural that she was doing so based on knowledge of Emma’s wishes.

To be clear, there is no evidence that:

1. Joseph Smith approached Elvira Cowles about plural marriage, let alone that she was “the first woman Joseph talked with after his father’s death.”
2. Elvira Cowles made any promise to Emma about marrying Joseph.
3. Elvira Cowles knew that “the first wife had to agree,” as Joseph entered into other marriages without Emma’s knowledge or consents.
4. Elvira Cowles refused any proposal of Joseph’s for any reason, including “Emma’s wishes.”

It’s difficult to overstate how problematic this is. Once again, we have a whole lot of assertions based on no evidence. This is not reputable history; it’s not even good apologetics.

But it gets worse. Next Ms. Stout asserts, again with no evidence, that Dr. Bennett must have pursued Elvira Cowles after Joseph refused to “excoriate” him for his transgressions: “More importantly for Bennett, the reprieve would give him time to secure the affections of his new beloved.” Who was this new beloved? Elvira Cowles:

When Dr. Bennett began to court, I suggest Elvira Annie Cowles was very likely the woman he sought.  When Joseph learned of Bennett’s shady past, it became a matter of significant importance to warn the young woman involved of the impropriety, to break off the acquaintance, as Joseph termed it. Significantly, it was around the timeframe of the Miller letter that Bennett moved out of the homestead, apparently taking a room in the home of Sarah Pratt.

Why is Ms. Cowles “very likely the woman [Bennett] sought”? No reason in particular. She was at the house, so why not? Based on this conjecture, we get a second conjecture, that Joseph tried to warn Elvira about Bennett’s shady past. What evidence is there of such a warning? None, just the suggestion that since Bennett moved out of the house in May, it must have had something to do with improper advances on Elvira.

More speculation follows, including Ms. Stout’s apparent belief that Joseph Smith tried to persuade Noble to enter into plural marriage:

Was it not possible that Joseph Smith was trying to convince Joseph Bates Noble to enter into plural marriage himself? The sight of Joseph Bates Noble assisting his wife and sister-in-law down the street must have been arresting to Smith–so like a vision of plural marriage at its best. If Smith attempted to persuade Noble to take on a plural wife, however, Noble did not act in the winter of 1840/41.

Is it possible? Anything’s possible, but is there any evidence? Again, no. So, to sum up, she says:

By April 1841 Joseph Smith knew he couldn’t trust Dr. Bennett. Elvira Cowles wouldn’t marry him. Zina Huntington wouldn’t marry him. Joseph Bates Noble wouldn’t take a plural wife.

Is there any evidence that Joseph had lost trust in Bennett by April 1841? No. Is there any evidence Elvira Cowles refused a marriage proposal? No. Nor is there evidence that Joseph Noble refused to take a plural wife. The only statement that can be substantiated is that Zina Huntington refused Joseph’s proposal in the fall of 1840.

Finally, Stout explains that Louisa Beaman consented to marry Joseph in April 1841 and that the newlyweds spent the night in Joseph Noble’s house. But even here she can’t bring herself to acknowledge that anything sexual might have occurred. “Despite Joseph and Louisa spending their wedding night under the same roof, Joseph Bates Noble was unable to testify that he’d actually seen the couple get in bed together. ”

I will just quote from Joseph Noble’s actual testimony to show how preposterous this is.

Q. Do you know whether Joseph Smith ever lived any with Louisa Beaman as his wife?. . .

A. I know it for I saw him in bed with her. . . .

Q. What made you say the other day that Joseph Smith and that woman you sealed to him slept together that night?

A. Because they did sleep together.

Q. If you were not there that night, how do you know they slept together?

A. Well, they slept together I know. If it was not that night it was two or three nights after that.

Q. Where did they sleep together?

A. Right straight across the river at my house they slept together. . . .

Q. Did he sleep with her the first night after the ceremony was performed?

A. He did.

Q. Now you say that he did sleep with her?

A. I do.

Q. How do you know he did?

A. Well I was there.

Q. And you saw them go to bed together?

A. I gave him counsel . . . .

Q. What counsel did you give him?

A. I said “blow out the light and get into bed, and you will be safer there,” and he took my advice or counsel . . . .

Q. Well did you stay there until the lights were blown out?

A. No sir I did not stay until they blowed out the lights then.

Q. Well you did not see him get into bed with her that time?

A. No sir.

Q. And so you don’t know whether he followed your advice from your own knowledge?

A. No sir, I did not see him, but he told me he did.

Q. Well, you know from your own knowledge that he did?

A. Well, I am confident he did.

Q. But you don’t know it of your own knowledge from seeing him do it?

A. No sir, for I was not there.

Corroboration comes from Benjamin Winchester:

Q. Were you personally acquainted with any of Smith’s wives?

A. Yes, but especially with Louisa Beaman from a girl. About the year 43 Joseph Smith took rooms for her in my father’s house, and Smith came to see her about once a week.

Q. Did they sleep together?

A. Yes they did.

Q. Was there only one bed in the room?

A. Yes just one bed.

Q. Are you sure it was in 1843?

A. No, but it was about that time, or from 42 to 44

Apparently, Ms. Stout believes that, unless a third party actually watched them have sex, it’s unreasonable to believe that, when they spent the night together in a bedroom with the lights out, they didn’t actually share a bed and “the marriage between Joseph Smith and Louisa Beaman likely remained unconsummated.” Indeed, Joseph Smith must have lied when he told Joseph Nobles he slept with Louisa.

I am trying very hard not to condemn or ridicule Ms. Stout, but I will simply say that this kind of stuff strains credulity.

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17 Responses to “My Joseph”: Meg Stout and Polygamy, Part 2

  1. Meg Stout says:

    Yet Louisa manages to not get pregnant until after Joseph’s death, at which point she has five children in five years.

    Sex wasn’t like now, where various illnesses and contraceptives could prevent pregnancy, or where safe surgical abortion could be “blamed” for the lack of offspring (even assuming one presumes abortion was consistent with Joseph’s teachings regarding marriage).

    For what it’s worth, I would categorize Benjamin Winchester as a Striker (one of the seducers).

    Joseph Bates Noble did think sexuality in Nauvoo-era plural marriages, which is why we find him as one of only two men who I assert can confidently be seen as having engendered a child with a plural wife prior to 1844. However even George Smith agrees that Noble’s testimony, though suggestive, is not sufficient to be certain sexual relations occurred between Joseph and Louisa Beaman.

    Again, recall that when I wrote these early posts, I was merely laying out the plausible (and it is plausible, even if you find it problematic) history behind a narrative I planned to write as fiction. It is as I get into the later posts that I found substantial meat to bolster what had previously merely been plausible “storylines.”

    I was wrong when I asserted that Joseph did not turn on Bennett until June. The tirade we know of in July 1841 was not regarding Bennett’s still-living wife, but about Backestos’ report that Bennett had been caught in media res with Sarah Pratt. Lorenzo Wasson’s description of the flagellation, as he called it, fits discovery of adultery but does not fit having merely hidden marital status. But I had not put those pieces together when I wrote these earlier posts.

    • runtu says:

      Lack of pregnancy does not equal lack of sex. It might make sense if we assumed that Joseph was having sex regularly with any of his wives other than Emma, but I don’t assume that. In fact, I think that’s highly unlikely, given the historical evidence.

      And no, it’s not plausible to say that newlyweds spent the night in a bedroom and did not have sex.

    • Jeff Seaman says:

      But surgical abortion was happening in Nauvoo, and it was said to be done to cover the “consequences” of polygamy. We even know who performed them, John C. Bennett. Eventually John’s philandering and abortions were enough rumored about to cause his excommunication. There’s no proof he performed abortions for Joseph, but it’s plausible. So to assert there was no way at all for there to be sex with no children ignores that it is actually possible by at least abortion which was available to Joseph. Also your assertion about birth control in that era is just wrong. Look up sheep intestine condoms. The timeline for their use fits perfectly. (Google wikipedia for “history of condoms” *fun extra quote: “From the 1820s through the 1870s, popular women and men lecturers traveled around America teaching about physiology and sexual matters. Many of them sold birth control devices, including condoms, after their lectures.”)

    • Andrew says:

      See my comment from Part 1. I’ll just repeat, what is the basis for assuming that children should exist? For this to be a persuasive argument you would have to provide such a basis. Show us a model that predicts how many children we should expect Joseph to have fathered.

      All we know about Joseph’s fertility is that he was able to father children with Emma. We however know nothing beyond this. What was his sperm count? How about motility? How long did it take him to get Emma pregnant? How many times did they have to have intercourse before she would conceive? How many opportunities where there for Joseph to have sex with his polygamous wives? etc., etc., etc.

    • Substantial Meat says:

      > It is as I get into the later posts that I found substantial meat

      …is no one going to address that?

    • Will Roberts says:

      Meg, has the thought ever crossed your mind that maybe Joseph Smith was smart enough, as if it takes much brainpower, to realize that if he didn’t ejaculate inside a woman that she would be far less likely to get pregnant? This was not a foreign idea in the 19th century. Apostle Albert Carrington was excommunicated for this practice, rationalizing that he had committed no major sin if he did not ejaculate inside a woman that wasn’t his wife. See http://i.imgur.com/omCDCKS.png

      Your apparent inability to come up with simpler explanations for the evidence at hand is just absolutely baffling.

    • Azagthoth says:

      “Sex wasn’t like now, where various illnesses and contraceptives could prevent pregnancy, or where safe surgical abortion could be “blamed” for the lack of offspring (even assuming one presumes abortion was consistent with Joseph’s teachings regarding marriage).”

      So the pullout method, rhythm method, oral, and other methods weren’t in use? Sorry, but even though they aren’t 100% effective I’ve yet to knock up my wife while using any of these. They have all been used for thousands of years as a means of birth control. Sex doesn’t have to end with insemination.

  2. steelhead says:

    There are also other methods of birth control, condoms, coitus interruptus, etc that were known at the time. The lack of offspring does not necessarily equate to a lack of sex, and as several of the wives testified that they did indeed have sex; that sex occurred seems the most obvious answer.

    Interesting that for apologist absences of evidences does equal evidence of absence when talking about Joseph Smith’s sex life, but not when talking about the lack of nephite artifacts.

    These apologists like to have their cake, and eat it too.

  3. CAB says:

    Why the (desperate) need to believe that Joseph Smith did not have sex with his plural wives? At least one of them firmly believed that her daughter was the child of Joseph, and told the daughter so on her deathbed. It is not plausible that she considered her an immaculate conception.

  4. Meg Stout says:

    List me the women who asserted they did indeed have sex. They used euphemisms that suggested sex, but did not go so far as to assert actual sexual contact. They said things like “I was his wife in very deed.” “Emma knew I was his wife.” “We roomed together.” “We slept together.”

    The one exception is Emily Partridge in her “Yes, sir” to the question regarding carnal intercourse. Given the circumstances and stakes at hand, it can’t be ruled out that she was plain out lying.

    My ancestor actually used language along those lines, describing the fact that she had been Joseph’s wife and lived in the household with Emma’s full knowledge to convince her second surviving daughter that it was acceptable to marry a polygamist. But Elvira was sufficiently fertile that she’d conceive if you breathed on her.

    Any of these statements can be true and not necessitate actual sexual contact.

    As for abortions, the lack of understanding regarding bacteria in those days means the doctor’s hands and his instruments would not have been sterile. The assertions that abortions were common come from Sarah Pratt. If she had been “a first rate go” with Bennett, then it’s logical he would have explained why she needn’t be panicked about a possible pregnancy, along with showing her his tool kit (surgical instruments).

    At any rate, this is why I am asking you to unpack your assumptions and cite chapter and verse. Because I assert that the actual testimonies and data do not support what you have inferred.

    When Sarah Lawrence and Emma Hales [Smith] broke ranks and claimed Joseph did not have sex (Sarah speaking of her own experience, Emma apparently relating what she believed Joseph had told her), the reaction was not that they were lying, but that they “knew better.” Which seems like the same thing, but is subtly different. “They knew better” is the kind of thing you say about someone who tells a truth that is supposed to be kept secret, like when exmormons publish books about the temple ceremonies.

    You can believe what you wish about Joseph and his final years. But I am not an apologist but an individual who has spent years trying to find the most accurate way to thread the massive amount of data and rumor available about that timeframe. All I’m hearing here are the standard exmormon soundbites.

    • starienite says:

      I am LDS, and I don’t find your essays that persuasive. The whole meat commerce idea is just so silly that it really taints anything you have to say on the matter if that is something that you think she meant when she confirmed that she was intimate with Joseph Smith.

    • Jeff Seaman says:

      One thing remains devastatingly consistent and that’s human behavior. You’d have us believe Joseph had access and influence over women in situations that would normally lead to sex (and in fact he spent a lot of time and effort to arrange these situations), but for some reason never pulled the trigger. I think you aren’t seeing the forest for the trees. Polygamy as an eternal situation doesn’t even make sense beyond a justification for behavior in the here and now. You’re a prisoner of belief and you’re too far in the cell to see past the bars.

    • Ryan says:

      > But Elvira was sufficiently fertile that she’d conceive if you breathed on her.

      For anyother person I would think you are trying to be funny, but in light of your meat commerce theory and defense I cannot be sure.

  5. steelhead says:

    And all we have from you is naked unsupported assertion……. As entertaining as “meat commerce” has become, there is little reason to not call “carnal intercourse” – sex.

  6. jeanikins says:

    I had unprotected ‘carnal intercourse’ very often for 3 years without getting pregnant, then went on to give birth to 3 children with the same partner.

    Eleven of Joseph’s wives were married to other men so a pregnancy might be easier to cover up

    Meg, I understand your desire to defend Joseph Smith but you really are grasping at straws here regarding abortion:

    ” Colonial home medical guides gave recipes for “bringing on the
    menses” with herbs that could be grown in one’s garden or easily found in the woods. By the mid eighteenth century commercial preparations were so widely available that they had inspired their own euphemism (“taking the trade”). Unfortunately, these drugs were often fatal. The first statutes regulating abortion, passed in the 1820s and 1830s, were actually poison-control laws: the sale of commercial abortifacients was banned, but abortion per se was not. The laws made little difference. By the 1840s the abortion business — including the sale of illegal drugs, which were widely advertised in the popular press — was booming. The most famous practitioner, Madame Restell, openly provided abortion services for thirty-five years, with offices in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia and traveling salespeople touting her “Female Monthly Pills.”
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1997/05/abortion-in-american-history/376851/

    Not all abortions led to sepsis or death of the mothers:
    “Abortion, while controversial and considered largely immoral, was relatively common. It is estimated that in the 1840’s, one in every thirty pregnancies was terminated by abortion. Methods ranged from surgery, poisons, home remedies from plants and herbs, and mechanical means such as striking the woman’s abdomen repeatedly. Abortion was considered illegal in the United States by 1880 in most cases, with the exception being those considered “necessary to save the life of the woman”. Caucasian urban women from affluent society had greater access to abortion by a physician. Rural and non-white women were much more likely to depend on herbal or mechanical means.

    Why do you find it necessary to prove that Joseph did not have sexual relations with his wives anyhow?
    Think about this very carefully Meg –

    Jacob 2:23 But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they *seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms,* because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son.

    24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, *which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.*
    27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have *save it be one wife;* and concubines he shall have none;
    30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, **raise up seed unto me,** I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

    Why was Joseph practicing plural marriage if not to raise up righteous seed according to the book that he himself translated? Being that sexual intercourse was the only way to get pregnant, if Joseph was not having sex with his wives he was disobeying the commandment of God.

  7. grindael says:

    Folks, I have to chime in on this one too. On Mary Heron Snider, here are the full minutes as recorded by Mike Quinn,

    1850 Sept. 2, 2 P. M
    A Council met in WR’s East Room Present—B[righam] Y[oung] – H[eber] C K[imball] – W[illard] R[ichards] – O[rson] H[yde] P[arley] P P[ratt] E[zra] T[aft] B[enson], G[eorge] A. S[mith], O[rson] Spencer, T. B – D[aniel] Carn – A[lexander] Neibaur – J[oel]H. Johnson, B[enjamin] F. Johnson, and Joseph Kelly [clerk] –
    [***]
    O. Hyde [:] there is a matter of bro: Johnson to be laid before the Council—this matter was brot. before Council in Kanesville his Priesthood was required to be laid down until he came here—a Miss Goddard wife of Lorenzo Snow became in a family way by Bro Johnson—she was living in his house—we deemed it improper for her to be there he sent her away to a retired place—she was delivered of a child—she is again living at his house in Kanesville—he wishes to retain his fellowship in the Church. He says he has bro: Snow & he was satisfied.“
    Joseph E. Johnson [:]—I am come purposely if possible to get the matter settled & atone for the wrong I av done—I av neglected to lay it before you before this—bro Hydes statements r all correct—true—all I can do is beg for mercy—I became acquainted with the girl, & the consequences r as the[y] r—I saw bro. Snow at Kanesville & he was satisfied—I am come here to atone for the wrong I av done.
    [***]
    “Ansr. I av not ad connection with Devol’s daur – as God is my judge this is true. I never herad [heard] any conversation to say it was right to go to bed to a woman if not found out – I was aware the thing was wrong. – had been with – he sd. He was familiar with the first frigging – that was done in his house with his mother in law—by Joseph.
    “O.H. sd. Kelly told him Johnson knew what he was about—it was done in his house by bro Joseph that the Ch had tried to break down bro. Babbitt & the Ch Therefor—I knew at the time I was doing wrong—I never av taken any body as a excuse—I never plighted my faith on Joseph’s transactions.
    [***]
    “J. Kelly—It as taken me by surprise—in our conversation—Johnson introduced the subject—as to himself—& many scenes that r familiar in the Ch—he sd. It was a matter of his own concern & interested nobody else but those he wod. av to bow to him.” (Source: Misc Minutes, Brigham Young Collection, d 1234, CHL, Sept. 2, 1850, restricted; excerpts transcribed by D. Michael Quinn, bx 3 fd 2, Quinn Collection, Yale Library.)
    [Quinn note:]
    Brigham Young reproves him and has him rebaptized.

    The facts of this case are,

    1. Joseph E. Johnson was accused of committing adultery and was “on trial” for it, and was disfellowshipped until the trial.
    2. Joseph E. Johnson admitted he committed adultery.
    3. Joseph E. Johnson admitted that what he did “was wrong”.
    4. Joseph E. Johnson claimed that it is wrong for anyone to “go to bed with a woman if not found out”, and therefore that it was wrong, even if it was kept hidden.
    5. Joseph E. Johnson claimed that it “had been [wrong] with” and then brings up Joseph Smith and that he was familiar with the “first frigging” (or sexual intercourse) between Smith and Johnson’s mother-in-law, Mary Heron. It is obvious that he is saying that it was wrong when Joseph did it too.
    6. Joseph E. Johnson claims again that he knew at the time he was doing wrong and that he had never taken anyone else as an “excuse” to do wrong and that he “never plighted my faith on Joseph [Smith’s] transactions”. Again, clear evidence that Johnson considered what Smith did as wrong, or adultery.
    7. The only person who seems the least bit surprised by this is the clerk Joseph Kelly. Brigham Young reproved Joseph E. Johnson for his adultery and had him rebaptized. There are no objections or accusations directed at Johnson for lying, or giving false information, or that Johnson’s observations that what Joseph Smith did with his mother in law was NOT something that he would “plight his faith on” was anything most of those in attendance were surprised or offended at.

    Marvin Hill wrote in 1989,

    Joseph told a city council in Nauvoo in 1844 that “the people’s voice should be heard, when their voice was just,” but that when it was not “it was no longer democratic.” He said that “if the minoritys views are more just then Aristocracy should be the governing principle.” For the most part, this meant that Joseph himself would decide what was just. He told the Saints in Kirtland that “he was authorized by God Almighty to establish his Kingdom–that he was God’s prophet . . . and that he could do whatever he should choose to do, therefore the Church had NO RIGHT TO CALL INTO QUESTION ANYTHING he did . . . he was responsible to God Almighty alone.” (Marvin S. Hill, Counter-revolution: The Mormon Reaction To The Coming Of American Democracy, Sunstone 13:3/31 (Jun 89).

    This was affirmed by Henry Jacobs — the living husband of Zina Huntington while Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were married to her – for he believed that:

    …whatever the Prophet did was right, without making the wisdom of God’s authorities bend to the reasoning of any man; for God has called and empowered him, and no man has a right to judge their works. (Oa Jacobs Cannon, “History of Henry Bailey Jacobs,” MS 6891 1, Church History Library).

    Smith was claiming that “adultery was no crime” as early as 1831. Ezra Booth exposed this (that Smith likened himself to David), Levi Lewis heard it from Joseph and Martin Harris and it is borne out in all of Smith’s “transactions” during the Nauvoo period when he claimed that “some sin is not sin,” and Brigham Young (during the Orson/Sarah Pratt fiasco) referred to Joseph Smith as “David”.

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