FairMormon is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of LDS doctrine, belief and practice.
Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Nauvoo Polygamy
Response to Nauvoo Polygamy: "... but we called it celestial marriage"
A FairMormon Analysis of: Nauvoo Polygamy: "... but we called it celestial marriage", a work by author: George D. Smith
Response to claims made in Nauvoo Polygamy: "... but we called it celestial marriage" by George D. Smith
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claims made in Nauvoo Polygamy, "Preface"
- Response to claims made in Nauvoo Polygamy, "Chapter 1" (pp. 1-25)
- Response to claims made in Nauvoo Polygamy, "Chapter 1" (pp. 26-51)
- Response to claims made in Nauvoo Polygamy, "Chapter 2" (pp. 52-158)
- Response to claims made in Nauvoo Polygamy, "Chapter 2" (pp. 81-158)
- Response to claims made in Nauvoo Polygamy, "Chapter 3" (pp. 159-240)
- Response to claims made in Nauvoo Polygamy, "Chapter 4" (pp. 241-324)
- Response to claims made in Nauvoo Polygamy, "Chapter 5"
- Response to claims made in Nauvoo Polygamy, "Chapter 6"
- Response to claims made in Nauvoo Polygamy, "Chapter 7"
- Response to claims made in Nauvoo Polygamy, "Chapter 8"
- Nauvoo Polygamy: Use of sources
- Nauvoo Polygamy: Loaded and prejudicial language
- Nauvoo Polygamy: Presentism
- Nauvoo Polygamy: Mind reading
- Nauvoo Polygamy: Censorship
- Nauvoo Polygamy: Romance
- Nauvoo Polygamy: Assumptions and presumptions
- Nauvoo Polygamy: Magick
- About this work
- Reviews of this Work
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claim: flyleaf - The book claims that Bishop Edwin Woolley married a plural wife without having her first divorce her legal husband
- Response to claim: ix - Joseph Smith proposed a "tryst" with his plural wife Sarah Ann Whitney
- Response to claim: ix - Joseph Smith was age 36, versus Sarah Ann Whitney at age 17
- Response to claim: ix - The book presents Joseph's letter to Sarah Whitney's parents as analogous to Napoleon's passionate love letter to Josephine
- Response to claim: x - Did Joseph Smith have a "predilection" to "take an interest in more than one woman?"
- Response to claim: x - The author posits that Napoleon's Egyptian findings "lit a fire in Smith that inspired even the language of his religious prose"
- Response to claim: xi - "Little did Napoleon dream that by unearthing the Egyptian past, he would provide the mystery language of a new religion"
- Response to claim: xii - The author discusses Joseph Smith's "quest for female companionship...."
- Response to claim: xii - "...Smith utilized plural marriage to create a byzantine structure of relationships intended for successive worlds"
- Response to claim: xii - After the Nauvoo Expositor was destroyed, Joseph Smith was arrested for "destroying a local press"
- Response to claim: xii - The book claims that it is not known whether or not Joseph's wife Emma consented to plural marriages, and that this "remains a mystery"
- Response to claim: xiii - None of Joseph's plural wives are mentioned in History of the Church
- Response to claim: xiii - "...today, in official Mormon circles, Smith's granting of favors to chosen followers, allowing them to take extra women into the home, is rarely mentioned"
- Response to claim: xiv - It became "difficult to access" Church records regarding polygamy after the 1890 Manifesto was issued
- Response to claim: xiv - "The cyclical nature of this suppression of information, first in Illinois and later in Utah, left a brief window in Mormon history from which most of the documentation has been recovered"
- Response to claim: xiv - "because the history of polygamy in Nauvoo was never officially rewritten, even during the period of openness, Joseph Smith's initiation of the practice has remained in an historical penumbra to this day"
- Response to claim: xiv - Joseph "courted and eloped with his first wife"
- Response to claim: xiv - The author claims that the topic of polygamy was already on Joseph's mind as early as the 1820s
- Response to claim: xv - "...these same polygamists continued marrying to the point that they had acquired an average of nearly six wives per family"
- Response to claim: xv - The Church "suppressed" its history
- Response to claim: xv - Nauvoo was "a more or less insignificant river town"
- Response to claim: xvi - Mormon grandparents considered polygamy "requisite for heaven"
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claim: 1 - The author claims that Louisa Beaman "was about to become the first plural wife of Joseph Smith"
- Response to claim: 1n1 - The author dismisses a marriage with Fanny Alger by simply stating: "There is some evidence that Smith might have engaged in the practice prior to this, but this is the first documented marriage"
- Response to claim: 1 - "Had romance blossomed between" Fanny Alger "and the charismatic...prophet"?
- Response to claim: 1 - It is noted that Joseph is age 35, while Louisa was 26
- Response to claim: 2 - The author claims that Nauvoo was "a bustling Mississippi River town with several thousand inhabitants"
- Response to claim: 2 - "No one knew precisely when the final end would come, but they knew it was imminent"
- Response to claim: 2 - "With an acquisitive eye on neighboring lands and the will to triumph over older settlers through political bloc voting, Joseph's behavior concerned some of the longtime Illinoisans"
- Response to claim: 2 - "Now fear of...city-wide militia, use of local petitions of habeas corpus to dismiss state warrants, and rumors of a 'plurality of wives' had put citizens on edge"
- Response to claim: 2 - The author implies that Latter-day Saints had left their homes in New York "under uneasy circumstances"
- Response to claim: 3 - The author suggests that plural marriage "was central to the broad sweep of LDS experience..."
- Response to claim: 3-4 - The author claims that Joseph "chose some thirty three men...who would join him in denying its practice"
- Response to claim: 4 - The inner circle of plural marriage "would lose one of its key members in 1842 when John C. Bennett quarreled with Smith and then left"
- Response to claim: 5 - The author considers it remarkable that Joseph's involvement in polygamy was "largely excised from the official telling of LDS history"
- Response to claim: 6 - It is claimed that Joseph revealed "God's rule" that "no one can reject" polygamy "and enter into my glory"
- Response to claim: 6 - It is claimed that Joseph predicted that the Second Coming would occur in 1890
- Response to claim: 7 - It is claimed that Joseph "was familiar with nineteenth century writer Thomas Dick"
- Response to claim: 7 - The author states that Joseph "had already proven his own mettle among God's elect when he mastered the use of magic stones and 'translated' the Book of Mormon"
- Response to claim: 8 - It is claimed that Joseph's "dispensationalism had many past antecedents"
- Response to claim: 9 - "Joseph preached as regularly as any other apocalyptic preacher of his day…"
- Response to claim: 9 - The author speculates that Joseph was "understandably hesitant to specify a precise date for the end of the world," but that he knew that "our redemption draweth near"
- Response to claim: 10 - "Without objection from Smith, Matthias asserted: 'The silence spoken of by John the Revelator…is between 1830 & 1851…"
- Response to claim: 11 - "Across the Atlantic, the communal experiment advocated by Marx and Engels appeared in London only a few years later in 1848"
- Response to claim: 12 - "Polygamy was evidently on Smith's mind even before founding the Mormon Church, if that can be deduced from the marriage formula inscribed in the Book of Mormon"
- Response to claim: 12 - Yet again the author mentions "elopement," when he notes that the Book of Mormon was "…begun shortly after he eloped with Emma Hale in January 1827"
- Response to claim: 12 - Joseph is claimed to have performed a "ritualized five-year search for the gold plates…"
- Response to claim: 12 - "the autumnal equinox, which according to rodsmen and seers was a favourable time to approach the spirits guarding buried treasures, Smith had gone to the hill where he sought after the plates"
- Response to claim: 12n29 - "that day in September 1823 was ruled by Jupiter, Smith's ruling planet…"
- Response to claim: 13 - Oliver Cowdery is claimed to have said that Joseph wanted to "commune with some kind of messenger"
- Response to claim: 13 - Oliver Cowdery said Joseph "had heard of the power of enchantment, and a thousand like stories, which held the hidden treasures of the earth"
- Response to claim: 13-14 - "Smith elaborated this idea to 'raise up seed'...and polygamy would be re-introduced"
- Response to claim: 14 - Smith's charge to missionaries to the Indians when he told single and married men alike that they should marry native women
- Response to claim: 14 - "Through intermarriage, Smith said, the Indians would become white, delightsome, and just"
- Response to claim: 14n34 - The 1840 Book of Mormon substituted the word 'pure' for 'white'
- Response to claim: 14n34 - "other passages in the Book of Mormon still refer to 'white' as 'delightsome' and a 'skin of blackness' as a 'curse'"
- Response to claim; 14n34 - The author claims that skin color was important in LDS scriptures, and notes that "blacks of African ancestry were denied full participation in the church until 1978"
- Response to claim: 14n34 - "Interestingly, the rhetoric underlying the theology may have resulted from 1830s Mormons trying to convince their neighbors in the slave state of Missouri that they were not abolitionists"
- Response to claim: 15 - Ezra Booth claimed that the mission to the Lamanites was to secure a "matrimonial alliance with the natives"
- Response to claim; 15 - "As Emma regarded her handsome spouse, what in Joseph's youthful experiences may have suggested the unusual family arrangements that were to follow?"
- Response to claim: 15 - "We know Joseph often stayed overnight on visits with other families. Was Emma aware that later marriages would develop out of these family visits among their close friends?"
- Response to claim: 15-16 - "An examination of Smith's adolescence from his personal writings reveals some patterns and events that might be significant in understanding what precipitated his polygamous inclination"
- Response to claim: 19-20 - William Stafford is quoted as remembering "Joseph…looking in his glass" and seeing "spirits…clothed in ancient dress" standing guard over treasures"
- Response to claim: 20 - Joseph is claimed to have cut "a sheep's throat" and led it "around a circle while bleeding," in order to "appease the evil spirit"
- Response to claim: 20 - It is claimed that Joseph "'professed to tell people's fortunes' by gazing at a 'stone which he used to put in his hat'"
- Response to claim: 21 - Joseph's 1842 letter to John Wentworth "left out any reference to the sinful thoughts he had previously mentioned"
- Response to claim: 21 - Joseph "took an interest in polygamy at an early period, beyond what we read in his autobiographies or in the Book of Mormon"
- Response to claim: 21 - What was new about this 1838 account of Moroni's visit "was that this time the 1823 angelic announcement was preceded by an 1820 'First Vision'"
- Response to claim: 22 - "Joseph would give us some of the most amusing recitals"
- Response to claim: 22 - It is noted that there is nothing in Lucy Mack Smith's history about "women, wives, or early struggles with chastity"
- Response to claim: 22 - in 1832 Joseph had become involved with Fanny Alger
- Response to claim: 22 - "Emma never indicated that her husband had told her anything specifically about his experiences prior to their marriage or the details of his involvement with other women"
- Response to claim: 22 - "…it must have been a fascinating courtship, conducted as it was among unseen spirits and Joseph's unsettling conversations with angels"
- Response to claim: 22 - "Joseph and Emma had been bound by treasure magic from their first meeting in 1825"
- Response to claim: 22 - "It was in a mysterious atmosphere of imaginative lore and a mix of theology and magic that Joseph and Emma eloped"
- Response to claim: 23 - "The treasure seeker presented himself as someone who had special knowledge that was beyond the woman's ken"
- Response to claim: 25 - "the apparent continuum from treasure seeking to finding gold plates or the similar modus operandi in placing a 'seer stone' in a hat"
- Response to claim: 25 - "Joseph's career in money digging was much more extensive than he intimated in his 1838 narrative"
- Response to claim: 25 - The South Bainbridge "glass-looking" appearance is called "a trial"
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claim: 27 - Isaac Hale not being allowed to look at the plates was a "clumsy subterfuge"
- Response to claim: 28 - "Joseph's personal charisma was working its effect where he needed to rely on others for help"
- Response to claim: 28 - The author refers to a talisman that Joseph "is said to have worn while digging"
- Response to claim: 28 - The author notes that Emma "was nevertheless forbidden to see the plates herself"
- Response to claim: 28 - For Joseph and Emma, "Married life was not easy. In fact, it was riddled with doubts, rumors, and deception from the start"
- Response to claim: 28 - Joseph was haunted by the suspicion, which followed him from place to place, that he crossed moral boundaries in his friendship with other women"
- Response to claim: 28-29 - The author claims that Joseph had an affair with Eliza Winters in 1828
- Response to claim: 29 - When Emma's mother, Elizabeth Hale, was asked about the purported seduction of Eliza Winters "in an interview forty-six years later, she declined to comment"
- Response to claim: 29 - The author claims that in the revelation that became D&C 132, that Emma was promised "annihilation if she failed to 'abide this commandment'"
- Response to claim: 29 - The author notes that D&C 132 "did not invoke the Book of Mormon's justification for taking more wives—the call to raise a righteous seed"
- Response to claim: 29 - "The same year he married Emma…Joseph also probably had met Louisa Beaman, then only twelve years old"
- Response to claim: 29 - The author speculates that Joseph's relationships in Ohio "with various families and their daughters...allowed him to invite the young women into his further confidence when they were older"
- Response to claim: 30 - The author notes that "In most cases, the women were adolescents or in their twenties when he met them. About ten were pre-teens, others already thirty or above"
- Response to claim: 30 - "Whitney's daughter Sarah Ann would become one of Joseph Smith's wives, although at the time she was only five years old"
- Response to claim: 31 - Mary Elizabeth Rollings is described as "an excitable and impressionable young woman…at age thirteen…had interpreted words spoken in tongues…."
- Response to claim: 31 - "It was eleven years after the Smiths roomed with the Whitneys that Joseph expressed a romantic interest in their daughter, as well"
- Response to claim: 31 - "Another future wife, Marinda Johnson, was fifteen when she met Smith in Ohio"
- Response to claim: 32 - "The seven-year-old daughter of Apostle Heber C. Kimball was still another future wife"
- Response to claim: 32–33 - "How relevant is it that in many instances he had lived under the same roof as his future wife prior to marrying her?"
- Response to claim: 33 - "probably by 1842," Lucinda Harris "became one more of the prophet's plural wives"
- Response to claim: 34 - The author claims that in Illinois Joseph "was still hunted by law officials for old offenses"
- Response to claim: 35 - Smith's unchartered bank, called the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-banking Company, collapsed
- Response to claim: 37 - "Missourians were alarmed by the influx of Mormons"
- Response to claim: 38 - Joseph and the other prisoners "escaped to join their people in Illinois, where they proceeded to found a theocratic society"
- Response to claim: 38n81 - "I hesitate to concur with Compton's interpretation of their relationship as a marriage"
- Response to claim: 39 - "Joseph had been 'found' in the hay with his housekeeper"
- Response to claim: 39 - Warren Parrish said that Joseph and Fanny were discovered together "as a wife"
- Response to claim: 39 - Oliver Cowdery referred to Joseph's relationship with Fanny Alger as a "dirty, nasty, filthy affair"
- Response to claim: 39–41 - The William McLellin claims
- Response to claim: 40–41 - William McLellin sometimes claims there was also a "Miss Hill" involved with Joseph
- Response to claim: 41–42 - "'Fanny Alger as a wife' employs a Victorian euphemism that should not be construed to imply that Fanny was actually married to Joseph"
- Response to claim: 42 - "There is no evidence to corroborate the claim that Fanny was pregnant"
- Response to claim: 42–43 - Five "primary accounts" of the Fanny Alger relationship
- Response to claim: 44 - "Rumors may have been circulating already as early as 1832 that Smith had been familiar with fifteen-year-old Marinda Johnson"
- Response to claim: 44 - Lucinda Harris is said to have claimed that she was Joseph's 'mistress' four years before an 1842 conversation with Sarah Pratt
- Response to claim: 45 - "Smith introduced members…to the ordinances of…eternal marriage (1841)"
- Response to claim: 44–45 - ""Civil marriage" was claimed to be "an outdated marriage contract"
- Response to claim: 48 - "an otherworldly being Smith called 'the Lord' defends polygamy…."
- Response to claim: 48-49 - D&C 132 "contravenes the Book of Mormon passage where polygamy is said to be allowed under certain conditions but is likely an indication of wickedness"
- Response to claim: 49 - The author speculates that a revelation received by Joseph seemed "to recall Smith's teenage concerns about sinful thoughts and behavior, reiterated this standard: 'Thou shalt not commit adultery….'"
- Response to claim: 50 - "…in 1841, Joseph Smith and Luisa Beaman participated in the first formal ceremony to legitimize a plural coupling"
- Response to claim: 50 - The author suggest that Joseph engaged in "perilous anti-social behavior by indulging in sexual relations with the daughters and wives of close friends"
- Response to claim: 51 - The author states that "…LDS leaders denied violating Illinois law…."
- Response to claim: 51 - Although polygamy has been repeatedly condemned by the modern Church, "the Nauvoo beginnings of the practice remain in LDS scripture as Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants and in the church's temple sealings"
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claim: 53 - the author notes that Joseph "recommended his friend, whose seventeen-year-old daughter he had just married, should 'come a little a head, and nock…at the window'"
- Response to claim: 53 - "The prophet then poured out his heart, writing to his newest wife: 'My feelings are so strong for you…now is the time to afford me succour….I know it is the will of God that you should comfort me now'"
- Response to claim: 53 - "Emma Hale, Joseph's wife of fifteen years, had left his side just twenty-four hours earlier. Now Joseph declared that he was "lonesome"
- Response to claim: 54 - “Did Sarah Ann keep this rendezvous on that humid summer night? Unfortunately, the documentary record is silent"
- Response to claim: 54 - The author states that what interested him the most was how Joseph "went about courting…these women"
- Response to claim: 55 - When polygamy was officially abandoned in 1890, that "what previously had been called 'celestial marriage' was subtly redefined to specify something new
- Response to claim: 55 - "Despite his crowded daily schedule, the prophet interrupted other activities for secret liaisons with women and girls"
- Response to claim: 55 - "Joseph "assured the women and their families that such unions were not only sanctioned but were demanded by heaven"
- Response to claim: 56 - "There may have been even more wives and plural children"
- Response to claim: 63 - "conjugal visits appear furtive and constantly shadowed by the threat of disclosure"
- Response to claim: 65 - "when Joseph requested that Sarah Ann Whitney visit him and ‘nock at the window,’ he reassured his new young wife that Emma would not be there"
- Response to claim: 65 - "One of the instrumental people in the inauguration of plural marriage was John Bennett"
- Response to claim: 65 - John C. Bennett was Joseph Smith's "closest confident"
- Response to claim: 65 - John C. Bennett spoke out against Joseph "and was soon stripped of his offices and titles"
- Response to claim: 65 - John C. Bennett and Joseph each "accused the other of immoral behavior"
- Response to claim: 65 - While some of John C. Bennett's claims "may have been exaggerations, much of what he reported can be confirmed by other eyewitness accounts"
- Response to claim: 65 - John C. Bennett "cannot be merely dismissed as an unfriendly source who fabricated scandal"
- Response to claim: 65 - John C. Bennett "had an ambitious but colorful background"
- Response to claim: 66-67 - John C. Bennett "was well positioned to know all about any behind-the-scenes transactions"
- Response to claim: 68 - Joseph is merely “feigning impartiality” before going on to practice “undemocratic block voting"
- Response to claim: 69 - Joseph was apparently "undeterred" by reports of a negative assessment of Bennett
- Response to claim: 69 - John C. Bennett was Assistant President of the Church
- Response to claim: 69 - John C. Bennett had religious influence by being Assistant President of the Church
- Response to claim: 70 - Joseph Smith and John C. Bennett remained confidants until about March the next year (1842)
- Response to claim: 70 - There seemed to be "no office or honor within reach" that Joseph Smith "did not hasten to grant to" John C. Bennett
- Response to claim: 70 - "Zina Huntington, who married Henry Jacobs instead but then reconsidered seven months later in response to Joseph's restated interest"
- Response to claim: 70-71 - "Joseph soon after married Zina's sister, Presendia, who was also already married"
- Response to claim: 71 - "Bennett alleged that during the summer and fall of 1841, Smith made unsuccessful advances toward Apostle Orson Pratt's wife, Sarah"
- Response to claim: 72 - Orson Pratt eventually accepted Joseph's explanation "that he merely wanted to test Sarah's obedience, and was not seriously courting this married woman"
- Response to claim: 72 - "Meanwhile, Bennett seems to have followed his leader in courting several women himself"
- Response to claim: 72 - John C. Bennett resigned from the church on May 17, 1842
- Response to claim: 72 - John C. Bennett was excommunicated from the Church in "retaliation"
- Response to claim: 72 - John C. Bennett claimed that his excommunication was postdated to May 11 to appear that it had occurred before his resignation
- Response to claim: 73 - "It is entirely plausible that Bennett was then privy to Smith's domestic matters"
- Response to claim: 73 - "In the spring of 1842, the two men quarreled and Smith had Bennett excommunicated"
- Response to claim: 75 - Zina and Henry Jacobs "were apparently willing to let the prophet insinuate himself into their marriage"
- Response to claim: 75 - "In the context of having just married a pregnant wife" Joseph's "words acquire added meaning: 'If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you….'"
- Response to claim: 75 - Joseph's diary and the History of the Church do not "give any hint of conjugal contacts Smith might have had with this wife"
- Response to claim: 77 - "Even though Zina was pregnant with Henry's child when she married Joseph...she and her children would be Joseph's 'eternal possessions,' unconnected to Henry"
- Response to claim: 77 - Brigham Young advised Henry Jacobs "to find a wife who could be his eternal partner"
- Response to claim: 78 - Brigham Young said that "if a woman can find a man holding the keys of the priesthood with higher power and authority than her husband, and he is disposed to take her"
- Response to claim: 79 - Presendia Buell is claimed to have "displayed an affinity for mystical religious experiences as one of the women who began speaking and singing in tongues"
- Response to claim: 79 - Presendia Buell "did not take the prophet's advice" to leave for Illinois while he was in Liberty Jail "prior to his escape from jail on April 16. Nine months later, on January 31, 1841, she gave birth to a son Oliver"
- Response to claim: 80 n. 63 - "There is no DNA connection" between Joseph Smith and Oliver Buell
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claim: 81 - "Occasionally, as King David did with Uriah the Hittite, Smith sent the husband ... away on a mission which provided the privacy needed for a plural relationship to flower"
- Response to claim: 81 - "This" sending away of the husband on a mission "applied to Zina"
- Response to claim: 82 - The author notes a Buell child being sealed to a proxy for Joseph with wording that "hints that it might have been Smith’s child"
- Response to claim: 84 - "From the inception of plural marriage, Smith demanded confidentiality from those whom he taught the principle"
- Response to claim: 85 - Joseph Smith "evidently adapted and redefined" elements from the Masonic in the Mormon temple ceremonies"
- Response to claim: 85 - "The vows of secrecy and threats of blood penalties intensified the mysterious rites of celestial marriage"
- Response to claim: 92 - Sarah Pratt is claimed to have reported in 1886 that Lucinda had told her nearly forty-five years earlier in 1842 that she was Joseph Smith's mistress "since four years"
- Response to claim: 100 - "During these years as Windsor's wife, Sylvia reportedly bore Smith a child in 1844"
- Response to claim: 106 - "Like Smith, followers of Emanuel Swedenborg conceived of a pre-existent life, 'eternal marriage' for couples who had a true 'affinity' for each other, and a three-tiered heaven"
- Response to claim: 106 - "Like some of the other husbands of women who agreed to marry the prophet, John Cleveland nevertheless became 'more and more bitter towards the Mormons'"
- Response to claim: 106 - other polyandrous husbands are claimed to have become more bitter against the Church
- Response to claim: 108 - "Sarah Pratt told…Wyl…'There was an old Woman called Durfee…to keep her quiet, he admitted her to the secret blessings of celestial bliss"
- Response to claim: 110-111 - "When Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798 and exposed the world to then-indecipherable ancient writings...The...rental library, within five miles of the Smith family farm, had acquired a volume on Napoleon"
- Response to claim: 111 - "This is not to suggest that Smith necessarily visited the library"
- Response to claim: 111 - "when he began dictating the Book of Mormon, published accounts of Napoleon and his foray into Egypt would have been available"
- Response to claim: 110 – 111 n. 150 -- Joseph "translated some of the hieroglyphics by means of his white seer stone to produce 'an alphabet…grammar of the Egyptian language'"
- Response to claim: 112 - "a scholar" in 1823 "rightly concluded that these American symbols 'appear to have had little or nothing in common with those of the Egyptians'"
- Response to claim: 112- we should review what was known of the language of ancient Egyptian, not only in 1823 when Smith began to anticipate the Book of Mormon's 'reformed Egyptian records'"
- Response to claim: 112 - Joseph Smith made an association of Native American pictographs with 'reformed Egyptian'
- Response to claim: 112 - "Smith's association" of the cultures of Egypt and the New World "simply reflected the prevailing misperceptions of the pre- to mid-nineteenth century"
- Response to claim: 113 - "The first ancient scripture Smith presented since the Book of Mormon was the Book of Abraham"
- Response to claim: 113 n. 157 - The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible is claimed to have "altered over 3,400 verses but left the deities singular and in a Trinitarian format"
- Response to claim: 114 - Joseph "coalesced astronomy, biblical mystery, ancient Egyptian writing, and Masonic ritual into portentous ceremony for his followers"
- Response to claim: 114 - "The spring of 1842 was also the time when John C. Bennett began to separate himself from Smith"
- Response to claim: 116 - Marinda Johnson "met Joseph while he was retranslating the Bible with Sidney Rigdon in her parents' home in 1831"
- Response to claim: 117-118 - Orson Hyde "was reportedly 'furious'" with Joseph's plural marriage doctrine
- Response to claim: 119 - "after John C. Bennett's disagreement with Smith, the record of his celestial marriages was apparently expunged"
- Response to claim: 119 - "This apparent backdating was an attempt to discredit Bennett"
- Response to claim: 129-134 - Emma Smith pushing Eliza Snow down the stairs
- Response to claim: 131 n. 195 - The author cites BYU Studies on Emma and Eliza, but does not disclose that those authors find that the story is not plausible
- Response to claim: 132 - The author cites Newel and Avery, Mormon Enigma without acknowledging or engaging their arguments against the story of Emma and Eliza
- Response to claim; 133 - "Most convincing of all is to think that these stories were circulating widely and Eliza never bothered to clarify or refute them"
- Response to claim: 138 - The author talks about Joseph's letter to the Whitneys again: "Three weeks after the wedding, Joseph took steps to spend some time with his newest bride"
- Response to claim: 142 - "he made complicated arrangements for a visit from his fifteenth plural wife, Sarah Ann Whitney"
- Response to claim: 142-143 - "Smith urged his seventeen-year-old bride to 'come to night' and 'comfort' him"
- Response to claim: 147 - "Invites Whitneys to visit, Sarah Ann to 'comfort me' if Emma not there. Invitation accepted"
- Response to claim: 149 - Sidney Rigdon "was in many ways a mentor to Joseph"
- Response to claim: 149 - Sidney Rigdon "was not someone Joseph felt comfortable approaching to ask for his daughter's hand in polygamy"
- Response to claim: 149 - Marinda Johnson Hyde stayed in the same house as "Apostle Willard Richards, whose wife, Jennetta, was in Massachusetts….their living arrangements seemed to be an open scandal"
- Response to claim: 154 - Nancy Rigdon and Martha Brotherton were "isolated in a locked room during the persuasive effort"
- Response to claim: 155 - The author refers to Joseph's visit by the Whitneys as a "liaison" with Sarah Ann
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claim: 159 - Orson Pratt, Sidney Rigdon, and Ebenezer Robinson "declined to affirm Smith's good character"
- Response to claim: 160 - Governor Carlin described the Nauvoo statute on writs as an "extraordinary assumption of power….most absurd and ridiculous"
- Response to claim: 161 - The Nauvoo charter is claimed to be "the basis for this presumption of independence from state jurisdiction"
- Response to claim: 162 - The Peace Maker, a non-member's defence of polygamy, "appeared during the hiatus in the erstwhile marriage frenzy of 1842"
- Response to claim: 163 - The book "The Peace Maker" claims that Latter-day Saints were expelled from Illinois "primarily because of the dominant sense they betrayed public trust"
- Response to claim: 185 - Joseph's "summer 1842 call for an intimate visit from Sarah Ann Whitney"
- Response to claim: 190 - The "pretended marriage" of Joseph Kingsbury to the polygamously-married Sarah Ann Whitney is postulated by the author to "have been a precaution against possible pregnancy"
- Response to claim: 193 - Joseph Smith promised Lucy Walker "that if she prayed, she would receive her own personal manifestation from God, which she reported she received"
- Response to claim: 196 - financial and marital issues, "especially concerning the Lawrence sisters" would eventually "inflame public opinion" and result in Joseph's arrest
- Response to claim: 198 - there existed a "conflict of interests between building a church community" and Joseph's "continuing affection for young women"
- Response to claim: 198 - Joseph was "pursuing" Helen Mar Kimball
- Response to claim: 201 Helen Mar Kimball expected her marriage to Joseph Smith to be a ceremony 'for eternity only,' not an actual marriage involving physical relations
- Response to claim: 201 - Helen Mar Kimball was surprised to discover that marriage included "a physical union"
- Response to claim: 201 - Helen "put her ambivalent feelings into verse in her 'Reminiscences'"
- Response to claim: 205 Brigham Young married his cousin Rhoda Richard
- Response to claim: 214 - "Smith and Clayton spent three hours preparing the eloquent language" of D&C 132
- Response to claim: 225-226 - The author intends Joseph to be seen as arrogant...“I combat the errors of ages; I meet the violence of mobs..."
- Response to claim: 227 - The author claims that there is "no reason to doubt that Smith's marriages involved sexual relations in most instances"
- Response to claim: 228-229 - "Until decisive DNA testing of possible Smith descendants...from plural wives can be accomplished, ascertaining whether Smith fathered children with any of his plural wives remains hypothetical"
- Response to claim: 230 - in 1841 "Sarah Pratt firmly rebuffed Smith and remained monogamously committed to her missionary husband"
- Response to claim: 231 - "Cordelia C. Morley Cox rejected Joseph's "amorous proposal"
- Response to claim: 232 - Eliza Winters “perhaps did not” resist Joseph’s advances “but apparently talked about it all the same"
- Response to claim: 234 - "the posthumous sealing meant that Heber would be Smith's son in the eternities, not the son of his biological father"
- Response to claim: 235 - It is claimed that in 1831 Joseph "directed missionaries to marry native American women"
- Response to claim: 236a - Emma would have to sneak up on Joseph to check up on him
- Response to claim: 236b - LeRoi Snow’s account about Emma and Eliza and the stairs "was accurate"
- Response to claim: 236c - "Just as Joseph sought comfort from Sarah Ann the day Emma departed from his hideout"
- Response to claim: 237 - Joseph's "insatiable addition of one woman after another to an invisible family"
- Response to claim: 237 - Joseph had a "prolonged dalliance with Fanny Alger"
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claim: 243 - John Bennett's marriage record "may have been deleted" after his disagreement with Joseph Smith
- Response to claim: 244 - Joseph Smith and William Clayton were "conspiring to alter" his wife's "marital status"
- Response to claim: 245 - Instead of waiting for his wife Sarah's arrival, William Clayton married his legal wife’s sister Margaret on April 27
- Response to claim: 247 - William Clayton wrote on October 19 about needing to protect "the truth" by telling untruths
- Response to claim: 247 - William Clayton was personally suspected of "having had unlawful intercourse with women"
- Response to claim: 249 - Benjamin F. Johnson said that if Joseph Smith "did anything to 'dishonor or debauch his sister, he would have Benjamin to contend with"
- Response to claim: 250 - Benjamin Johnson is said to have been "Impressed by the prophet's inner calm but not fully convinced"
- Response to claim: 252 - Joseph "was able to wrap himself in the authority of the Bible"
- Response to claim: 252 - "partly inspired by convenience, Smith saw the church hierarchy as an extended family that would continue to live together in an afterlife community"
- Response to claim: 253 - Benjamin F. Johnson is claimed to be "representative of the mainstream in LDS practice" because he married seven wives
- Response to claim: 259-260 - Joseph "explicitly addressed the topic" of polygmay in late 1840 and early 1841"
- Response to claim: 263 n. 54 - Ann Eliza Young said that the events she described "have fallen directly under my observation"
- Response to claim: 274 - John C. Bennett is claimed to have "publicized Young's clumsy attempt to entice" Martha Brotherton into plural marriage
- Response to claim: 277 - Brigham Young is claimed to have ridiculed geologists who "tell us that this earth has been in existence for thousands and millions of years"
- Response to claim: 281 and 281 n. 86 - Samson Avard….told men it would soon be their privilege to "….take to yourselves spoils of the goods of the ungodly gentiles"
- Response to claim: 282 - "a history of the Mormons in the West would be … a history of a mad prophet's visions turned by an American genius into the seed of life"
- Response to claim: 285 - "When the opposition newspaper appeared and devoted space to polygamy, Smith and the ruling councils had it destroyed"
- Response to claim: 289 - "the typical Utah polygamist whose roots in the principle extended back to Nauvoo had between three and four wives"
- Response to claim: 295 - The author states that as Nauvoo was gradually depopulated, it became increasingly lawless
- Response to claim: 309 - The author speculates that there would have been six plural husbands in Nauvoo by 1842 if John Bennett "had not been expelled"
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claim: 325 - The author points out that after Joseph's death, Rhoda Richards was sealed to "her cousin Brigham Young"
- Response to claim: 333 - Parley P. Pratt's is claimed to have been seald to his "last wife, Eleanor McComb McLean...without divorcing her legal husband"
- Response to claim: 345 - Edwin Wooley married Louisa Chapin Rising as a polygamous wife even though she was not divorced from her legal husband
- Response to claim: 351 - Ezra Taft Benson was "a correspondent of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover"
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claim: 356 - "Efforts to suppress the story" of polygamy in Nauvoo until the 1852 announcement "restricted the breadth and depth of the records that were kept"
- Response to claim: 356 - After 1890 the church tried to "phase out a practice the prophet had mandated as essential to salvation"
- Response to claim: 356 - "Official accounts" of plural marriage have been "redacted"
- Response to claim: 364-365 - Joseph and Brigham are claimed to have admitted that the practice of polygamy meant they were "free to go beyond the normal 'bounds'"
- Response to claim: 366 - "Elizabeth Whitney "was arranging conjugal visits between her daughter, Sarah Ann, and" Joseph Smith
- Response to claim: 392 - The book has a subsection in "How Plural Marriage Worked," entitled "Female subordination"
- Response to claim: 400 - Joseph Lee Robinson is claimed to have said: "There are some on this stand that would cut my throat or take my hearts blood" if he told them what God had revealed to him
- Response to claim: 408 - The author claims that Joseph fled from three states because he had been suspected of "suspicious relationships with young women"
- Response to claim: 408 - The author claims that Joseph was arrested after the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor for violating "freedom of the press"
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claim: 416 - "the 1846 temple sealings, which re-comemorated previously conducted plural marriages, were carefully noted in Nauvoo temple records"
- Response to claim: 423 - Joseph Smith is claimed to have "appropriated church members' charitable donations for real estate speculation, buying low and selling high to those immigrants who could afford to pay"
- Response to claim: 429 - A friend of Nancy Rigdon, Francis had become concerned in 1842 over Smith's advances toward her"
- Response to claim: 435 - Dallin H. Oaks' assertation that the "abatement of newspapers publishing scandalous or provocative material" was not considered a violation of freedom of the press at the time"
- Response to claim: 438–439 - William Law's claims about Joseph mismanaging or defrauding the Lawrence estate
- Response to claim: 445 - William Clayton's "discussion of plural marriage was at once turned into a charge of having had 'unlawful intercourse with women'"
- Response to claim: 446 - Andrew Jenson published about plural wives, only to have Wilford Woodruff complain about him having done so
- Response to claim: 449 - Latter-day Saints "accepted as sufficient" that Joseph Smith's death was "due to an angry mob, without caring to know specifically what those Illinois neighbors had been angry about"
- Response to claim: 450 - "One LDS educator in 1967 wrote about the 'causes' of conflict in Nauvoo…without mentioning plural marriage"
- Response to claim: 450 n. 106 - The author cites the paper as "Causes of Non-Mormon Conflict"
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claim: 453 - the only mention of a marriage by Joseph is in April 1842 and that the "History of the Church deleted even that one citation"
- Response to claim: 513 - Munster Anabaptists' practices are claimed to be "reminiscent of Brigham Young's policies," and "over hundred women were allowed to divorce the men they had been forced to marry"
- Response to claim: 532 - Orson Hyde "might have been sensitized by Joseph Smith's 1831 suggestion of plural marriage to Native Americans and therefore judged the Cochranites less harshly than otherwise"
- Response to claim: 535 - The author suggests that Joseph Smith had predicted the return of Jesus Christ
- Response to claim: 535-536 - "67 percent in Orderville, Utah" were polygamists
- Response to claim: 541 - "The leaders in Salt Lake…failed to comprehend how unsavoury it appeared for a man of high priesthood rank to claim the wife of someone of lower status"
- Response to claim: 541 - "Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young had set such examples" of wife swapping
- Response to claim: 546 - Communist author Friedrich Engels wrote "that with every great revolutionary movement the question of 'free love' comes into the foreground"
- Response to claim: 546 - Tours of Brigham Young's Salt Lake City home, the Beehive House, "notably omit mention of Young's numerous wives"
- Response to claim: 547 - "Dana Miller of Idaho Falls was told by his church leaders that 'men will have more than one wife in the celestial kingdom"
About this work
In 1994, A letter to the Whitney's...
Three weeks later, while in hiding, Joseph Smith wrote a revealing letter which he addressed to her parents, Newel and Elizabeth Whitney, inviting them to bring their daughter to visit him "just back of Brother Hyrums farm." He advised Brother Whitney to "come a little a head and nock [sic] at the south East corner of the house at the window." He assured them, especially Sarah Ann, that "it is the will of God that you should comfort me now." He stressed the need for care "to find out when Emma comes," but "when she is not here, there is the most perfect safty [sic]." The prophet warned them to "burn this letter as soon as you read it" and "keep all locked up in your breasts." In closing he admonished, "I think Emma won't come to night if she dont[,] dont fail to come to night."
—George D. Smith, "Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy, 1841–46: A Preliminary Demographic Report." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27/1 (Spring 1994): 27.
...in 2008 becomes a "love letter" to Sarah Ann.
A young man of ambition and vision penned his own letter of affection to a young woman. It was the summer of 1842 when thirty-six-year-old Joseph Smith, hiding from the law down by the Mississippi River in Illinois, confessed:
"My feelings are so strong for you . . . come and see me in this my lonely retreat . . . now is the time to afford me succour . . . I have a room intirely by myself, the whole matter can be attended to with most perfect saf[e]ty, I know it is the will of God that you should comfort me."
—George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage", ix-x.
[I]t is a lost opportunity to show that Joseph is a bit dimwitted in the seduction business, not having figured out that an invitation for Sarah to a steamy tryst should perhaps not include her parents.
—Gregory L. Smith, "George D. Smith's Nauvoo Polygamy," Review of George D. Smith. Nauvoo Polygamy: ". . . but we called it celestial marriage.", FARMS Review 20:2
You see, the entire letter is addressed not only to Sarah, but to Sarah's parents as well; and Joseph asks that Mom and Dad come along to the nocturnal tryst. Well, one can see right away that this would have reflected poorly on Joseph's sophistication because it would portray Joseph Smith as something of a klutz in the steamy midnight romancing field. One can imagine the enthusiasm with which those hostile to the Prophet would poke fun at yet another proof that Joseph was only a dumb yokel after all. Worse, because Joseph occupied only a single room, when all the sweating and moaning the book leads us to assume was to be going on, there wouldn't have been much room for Mom and Dad to stand around, let alone sit down to play a game of crib. The author thus conceals the revelation that Joseph was impractical and inconsiderate of older people.
—Robert B. White, "A Review of the Dust Jacket and the First Two Pages," Review of George D. Smith. Nauvoo Polygamy: ". . . but we called it celestial marriage.", FARMS Review 20:2
[Polygamy] occurred within a "perfectionist" society in which selected men were offered the "privilege" of progressing from perfection to perfection until, in another world, they would learn how to govern their own planet and, with their plural wives, populate it with "endless" children.
—"Joseph Smith Had 'Conjugal Relations' with Eight Plural Wives, Says FARMS", Signature Books web site, March 25, 2009.
According to Mormon theology, husbands and wives who have successfully achieved godhood will be required to populate their own planet by procreating as many spirit children as possible.
—The God Makers, an anti-Mormon film produced in 1982.
Reviews of this Work
One cannot, it is said, judge a book by its cover. After reading George D. Smith's Nauvoo Polygamy, however, I've found that one can sometimes judge a book by its first page. "Readers can judge for themselves," promises the book's dust jacket. Why it was felt necessary to state the obvious becomes clear upon reading the first page: this book needs judging, and as that hasn't been done by the author or the editor or the publisher, we, the poor readers (who must pay for the privilege) are obliged to do it ourselves. Fortunately, it isn't hard. Unfortunately, the author won't like it.