Joseph Smith/Polygamy/William Marks claimed Joseph intended to abandon plural marriage

Table of Contents

William Marks claimed Joseph intended to abandon plural marriage

Jump to Subtopic:


Question: Did William Marks claim that Joseph Smith told him that plural marriage had been a mistake and that it would be abandoned?

The evidence for this claim is scant: Joseph continued to propose plural sealings, and approve and teach plural marriage for others until at least May 1844

William Marks, who was president of the Nauvoo stake at Joseph's martyrdom, would later claim that Joseph told him just prior to his death that plural marriage had been a mistake, and that Joseph was going to stamp it out.

The evidence for this claim is scant. Marks' report was late, and Joseph continued to propose plural sealings, and approve and teach plural marriage for others until at least May 1844. (He was killed June 1844.) Furthermore, the mechanism that Marks claimed Joseph wanted to use--a high council investigation of all those practicing plural marriage--would not have been wise or necessary. Publicity toward plural marriage could only bring more persecution, and Joseph had privately taught and approved all those engaged in plural marriage: he thus would have had no need for a public investigation to determine who Nauvoo's practicing polygamists were. Joseph would also have been unlikely to instruct Marks to excommunicate practicing polygamists, since they had all entered into plural marriage solely because Joseph had instructed them to do so.


See also Brian Hales' discussion: Did Joseph Smith Intend to Abandon Plural Marriage?
William Marks related that Joseph’s conversation denouncing plural marriage occurred “three weeks before his death” or around June 6. Perhaps Joseph had such a change of heart during the first week of June, but this seems unlikely and other parts of Marks’ recollection are implausible. (Link)

To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here

Notes