FairMormon is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of LDS doctrine, belief and practice.
Mormonism and polygamy/Twentieth century LDS publications on plural marriage
Twentieth century LDS publications which discuss plural marriage
Summary: Some have claimed that the Church suppressed the fact that Joseph Smith taught plural marriage, or other details. This selection of books published by Church leaders and in presses associated with the Church (e.g., Deseret Books, Bookcraft, BYU) demonstrate that there has not been silence on plural marriage. Not all of the information is entirely correct, given what is now known from the historical record, but are included here as written as a reference for the type of discussions which continued regarding plural marriage.
Eliza R. Snow (1884)
Eliza R. Snow, Biography of Lorenzo Snow, 69 [Joseph Smith teaches plural marriage to Lorenzo Snow] (1884; numerous reprints)
CHAPTER XIII. (69-70)
Plural Marriage.—It tries the Prophet.—God commands, and he must obey.—Interview on the bank of the river.—The Prophet's words.—Gives Lorenzo a precious promise.—Lorenzo and myself visit our Parents, and return.—Lorenzo goes to Ohio.—Where he finds me on his return.—Close of 1843.—A social gathering.—Extract from Lorenzo's speech.—He organizes a company.—The General's compliment.—Lorenzo's experience in an unfortunate school.—Makes a success.—Mobbing at Lima.
IT was at the private interview referred to above, that the Prophet Joseph unbosomed his heart, and described the trying mental ordeal he experienced in overcoming the repugnance of his feelings, the natural result of the force of education and social custom, relative to the introduction of plural marriage. He knew the voice of God—he knew the commandment of the Almighty to him was to go forward—to set the example, and establish Celestial plural marriage. He knew that he had not only his own prejudices and prepossessions to combat and to overcome, but those of the whole Christian world stared him in the face; but God, who is above all, had given the commandment, and He must be obeyed. Yet the Prophet hesitated and deferred from time to time, until an angel of God stood by him with a drawn sword, and told him that, unless he moved forward and established plural marriage, his Priesthood would be taken from him and he should be destroyed! This testimony he not only bore to my brother, but also to others—a testimony that cannot be gainsayed.
From my brother's journal: "At the interview on the bank of the Mississippi, in which the Prophet Joseph explained the doctrine of Celestial Marriage, I felt very humble, and in my simplicity besought him earnestly to correct me and set me right if, at any time, he should see me indulging any principle or practice that might tend to lead astray, into forbidden paths; to which he replied, 'Brother Lorenzo, the principles of honesty and integrity are founded within you, and you will never be guilty of any serious error or wrong, to lead you from the path of duty. The Lord will open your way to receive and obey the law of Celestial Marriage.' During the conversation, I remarked to the Prophet I thought he appeared to have been endowed with great additional power during my mission in England. He said it was true; the Lord had bestowed on him additional divine power."
James E. Talmage (1899)
James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith (Deseret Book Company 1899; 1913; 12th edition 1924; 1961)
384An Illustration of such suspension of divine law is found in the action of the Church regarding the matter of plural marriage. This practise was established as a result of direct revelation, [D&C 132] and many of those who followed the same felt that they were divinely commanded so to do. For ten years after plural marriage had been introduced into Utah as a Church observance, no law was enacted in opposition to the practise. Beginning with 1862, however, Federal statutes were framed declaring the practise unlawful and providing penalties therefor. The Church claimed that these enactments were unconstitutional, and therefore void, inasmuch as they violated the provision in the national Constitution forbidding the government making laws respecting any establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Many appeals were taken to the national court of final resort, and at last a decision was rendered sustaining the laws as constitutional and therefore binding. The Church, through its President, thereupon discontinued the practise of plural marriage, and announced its action to the world, solemnly placing the responsibility for the change upon the nation by whose laws the renunciation had been forced. This action has been approved and confirmed by the official vote of the Church in conference assembled. [see Appendix 23. 4] (424)
Appendix 23. 4 Discontinuance of Plural Marriage The official act terminating the practice of plural marriage among the Latter-day Saints was the adoption by the Church, in conference assembled, of a manifesto proclaimed by the President of the Church. The language of the document illustrates the law-abiding character of the people and the Church, as is shown by the following clause: ‘Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I [President Wilford Woodruff] hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.’ In the course of a sermon immediately following the proclaiming of the manifesto, President Woodruff said regarding the action taken: ‘I have done my duty, and the nation of which we form a part must be responsible for that which has been done in relation to that principle’ (i.e., plural marriage). See D&C pp. 256, 257)” (524-5)
Joseph F. Smith (1902)
http://archive.org/stream/improvementera0512unse#page/988/mode/2up EDITOR'S TABLE. PLURAL WIVES OF JOSEPH SMITH, THE PROPHET. Improvement Era, 5.12 (October, 1902)
A subscriber in Oregon writes: "I have it in the 'Succession in the Presidency' that the Prophet Joseph Smith had plural wives. A Josephite preacher proselyting here says that the prophet never had plural wives, and that Brigham Young was the author of the revelation on plural marriage, and the founder of polygamy. In view of this, will you kindly name the plural wives of the Prophet Joseph Smith?"
Taking into account the interest in this subject, awakened by a recent article in the Arena, by Joseph Smith, president of the Re-organized church, and the replies thereto touching the origin of polygamy in America, an answer to the question, is timely and appropriate, although it can be given here only in brief.
I can positively state, on indisputable evidence, that Joseph Smith was the author, under God, of the revelation on plural marriage. On this subject, we have the affidavit of William Clayton, private secretary of Joseph Smith, that he wrote the revelation as it was given through the lips of the Prophet, and that he himself sealed to Joseph Smith as a plural wife, Lucy Walker, at Joseph Smith's own residence, on May 1, 1843. This lady is still living, in Salt Lake City, and is willing to testify at any moment to this fact. Following are some of the names of young ladies who were sealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, as testified to under oath by themselves—this during the lifetime of the prophet: Eliza R. Snow, Emily D. Partridge, Eliza M. Partridge, Melissa Lot, Lucy Walker, Sarah Ann Whitney, Helen Mar Kimball, Fanny Young (sister to Brigham Young), and Rhoda Richards (sister to Willard Richards who was with the Prophet at his martyrdom in Carthage jail). All these noble women have testified, under oath, giving names and dates, that they were sealed, during his lifetime, to the Prophet Joseph Smith. These facts have been published in Jenson's Historical Record, and in the Deseret News, in years past; and I know, by the established and virtuous character of these noble women, that their testimonies are true.
A careful reading of the revelation on plural marriage should convince any honest man that it was never written by Brigham Young, as it contains references to Joseph Smith himself, and his family, which would be utterly nonsensical and useless if written by President Young. The fact is, we have the affidavit of Joseph C. Kingsbury, certifying that he copied the original manuscript of the revelation within three days after the date on which it was written. I knew Joseph C. Kingsbury well. Furthermore, the revelation was read by Hyrum Smith to a majority of the members of the High Council, in Nauvoo, at about the time it was given, to which fact we have the sworn statements of the members of the High Council. As inquiries on this subject are becoming very frequent, the publication of these affidavits and facts in pamphlet form or in the ERA may be considered.
Joseph F. Smith.
Joseph W. McMurrin
https://archive.org/stream/improvementera0607unse#page/506/mode/2up Elder Joseph W. McMurrin, “An Interesting Testimony”, Improvement Era 6. 7 (May 1903): 507-510.
Many testimonies concerning the teachings of Joseph Smith have been borne by those who were personally acquainted with the great modern Prophet. Those who can testify to having heard from the mouth of the Prophet the doctrines advanced by him are fast passing away. It will only be a few years when there will not be left a man upon the earth who can bear such a record. Many of the testimonies of those who were personally acquainted with the Prophet have been carefully preserved, and are now greatly prized. As time advances, these declarations will become more and more important.
The writer, by appointment from the Presidency of the Church, has for some weeks past been engaged in missionary work in the city of Boise, Idaho, where he came in contact with a gentleman, Mr. Richard S. Law, not connected with the Church, who has related a circumstance concerning the teachings of Joseph Smith that is of sufficient importance to be preserved. After listening to Mr. Law's statement, on a number of different occasions, it was incorporated in a letter by the writer of this article to a friend. Before mailing the letter, the contents were read to Mr. Law, in order that any mistakes might be corrected. The following is an extract from the communication referred to:
"Shortly after my arrival in Boise, I was introduced to a gentleman by the name of Richard S. Law. I was greatly surprised, also very much pleased, to learn that he is a son of William Law, who, in the early days of the Church, was a counselor to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
"Mr. Law is now seventy-seven years of age. He is, however, a well-preserved man, erect in bearing, active in his movements, and possessing a vitality that many a younger man lacks. He has a high forehead, blue eyes, and a very intelligent face. His manners are very pleasing, and, in conversation, he is agreeable and entertaining. I have enjoyed several conversations with the gentleman, during the few weeks that I have been located here. Among the various themes we have discussed, the topic in which I have been most interested has been plural marriage.
"Mr. Law was quite surprised to learn that Mr. Joseph Smith, the president of the Reorganized or Josephite Church, has often denied, and again recently denied, in an article in the North American Review, that his father, the Prophet Joseph, introduced the doctrine of plural marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"He is very pronounced in the statement that Emma Smith knew that her husband, the Prophet Joseph Smith, claimed to have received a revelation commanding him to teach the doctrine of plural marriage. He also asserts that this fact was well known to many of the people of Nauvoo.
"Mr. Law has related to me, and to others, the following circumstance:
"About the year 1842, he was present at an interview between his father and the Prophet Joseph. The topic under discussion was the doctrine of plural marriage. William Law, with his arms around the neck of the Prophet, was pleading with him to withdraw the doctrine of plural marriage, which he had at that time commenced to teach to some of the brethren, Mr. Law predicting that if Joseph would abandon the doctrine, 'Mormonism' would, in fifty or one hundred years, dominate the Christian world. Mr. Law pleaded for this with Joseph with tears streaming from his eyes. The Prophet was also in tears, but he informed the gentleman that he could not withdraw the doctrine, for God had commanded him to teach it, and condemnation would come upon him if he was not obedient to the commandment.
"During the discussion, Joseph was deeply affected. Mr. Richard S. Law says the interview was a most touching one, and was riveted upon his mind in a manner that has kept it fresh and distinct in his memory, as if it had occurred but yesterday.
"Mr. Law also says, that he has no doubt that Joseph believed he had received the doctrine of plural marriage from the Lord. The Prophet's manner being exceedingly earnest, so much so, that Mr. Law was convinced that the Prophet was perfectly sincere in his declaration.
"The gentleman says his father believed that Joseph had become possessed of an evil spirit and had been deceived. He also claims that the foundation for his father's disaffection, and final withdrawal from the Church, was owing to the teaching of plural marriage to him by the Prophet Joseph Smith. He declares further that his mother was taught the same doctrine by the 'Mormon' Prophet.
"Mr. Law speaks in high terms of Joseph Smith, and says he was one of the most lovable men in his disposition and temperament he had ever met. While speaking with the utmost respect and affection of the Prophet Joseph as a man, he has no faith whatever in the Gospel as revealed through him in this dispensation.
"The matter herein presented was read to Mr. Law in the presence of two witnesses, and he acknowledged the same to be correct:
"We, the undersigned were present when Elder McMurrin read the above statement to Mr. Richard S. Law. We heard him declare that the items therein mentioned are correct in every particular. "MELVIN J. BALLARD, LOGAN. "L. E. CARTER, 326 Dooly Building, Salt Lake City."
The first witness was appointed by the Church as a missionary in that district, and resides in Logan, Utah. The other witness, Mr. L. E. Carter, is a non-"Mormon," and became interested in Mr Law's statement through the following circumstance: Mr. Carter has a friend, who is a member of the Reorganized Church, by the name of Edmund Ford, who had written him from Curlew, Iowa, a letter in which he attempted to prove that the Prophet Joseph never introduced the principle of plural marriage. Mr. Carter came to me and asked if I could answer the statements made by his friend. As Mr. Law was sitting in the hotel office, at the time, I introduced him to Mr. Carter, at the same time saying: "The testimony of a living witness to the fact that Joseph Smith did teach plural marriage, from one who has no connection with the 'Mormon' Church, will probably be more satisfactory than anything I could say. Mr. Law then repeated to Mr. Carter the substance of what I have written. Mr. Carter is fully convinced, by the statement, made to him by Mr. Law, that Joseph Smith did introduce the doctrine of plural marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The home of Mr. Richard S. Law is in San Francisco. He is interested in mining properties in Idaho, and has been in Boise for some weeks, waiting for the weather to moderate, in order that he may get into the mountains and commence work upon a mine recently purchased. He has been a practising physician in former days, but for many years he has followed mining, and during these years he has traveled practically around the world.
B.H. Roberts, History of the Church (1909)
Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, vol. 5, edited by B. H. Roberts (Deseret Book 1909; 1949; 1980): 29-46.
Introduction to Volume 5.
This volume deals with the History of the Church from May 3, 1842, to 31st of August, 1843. It, therefore, covers a period of about sixteen months. …
…[xxix] But the climax in doctrine as in moral daring is reached in this volume by the Prophet committing to writing the revelation on the eternity of the marriage covenant, and, under special circumstances and divine sanction the rightfulness, of a plurality of wives. As the time at which this revelation was given has been questioned, and also the authorship of it, extended consideration is given to both these matters in the following treatise :
The Time When the Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, Including a Plurality of Wives, Was Given, and its Authorship.
I. The Date of the Revelation.
The date in the heading of the Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, Including the Plurality of Wives, notes the time at which the revelation was committed to writing, not the time at which the principles set forth in the revelation were first made known to the Prophet. This is evident from the written revelation itself which discloses the fact that Joseph Smith was already in the relationship of plural marriage, as the following passage witnesses:
"And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me."
There is indisputable evidence that the revelation making known this marriage law was given to the Prophet as early as 1831. In that year, and thence intermittently up to 1833, the Prophet was engaged in a revision of the English Bible text under the inspiration of God, Sidney Rigdon in the main acting as his scribe. As he began his revision with the Old Testament, he would be dealing with the age of the Patriarchs in 1831. He was doubtless struck with the favor in which the Lord held the several Bible Patriarchs of that period, notwithstanding they had a plurality of wives. What more natural than that he should inquire of the Lord at that time, when his mind must have been impressed with the fact—Why, O Lord, didst Thou justify Thy servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; as also Moses, David, and Solomon, in the matter of their having many wives and concubines (see opening paragraph of the Revelation)? In answer to that inquiry came the revelation, though not then committed to writing.
Corroborative evidences of the fact of the revelation having been given thus early in the Prophet's career are to be found in the early charges against the Church about its belief in "polygamy." For example: When the Book of Doctrine and Covenants was presented to the several quorums of the priesthood of the Church for acceptance in the general assembly of that body, the 17th of August, 1835, an article on "Marriage" was presented by W. W. Phelps, which for many years was published in the Doctrine and Covenants. It was not a revelation, nor was it presented as such to the general assembly of the priesthood. It was an article, however, that represented the views of the assembly on the subject of marriage at that time, unenlightened as they were by the revelation already given to the Prophet on the subject. What the Prophet Joseph's connection was with this article cannot be learned. Whether he approved it or not is uncertain, since he was absent from Kirtland at the time of the general assembly of the priesthood which accepted it, on a visit to the Saints in Michigan (see History of the Church, Vol. I, pp. 243-53).
In this article on marriage the following sentence occurs:
"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."
From this it is evident that as early at least as 1835 a charge of polygamy was made against the Church. Why was that the case unless the subject of "polygamy" had been mooted within the Church? Is it not evident that some one to whom the Prophet had confided the knowledge of the revelation he had received concerning the rightfulness of plural marriage—under certain circumstances—had unwisely made some statement concerning the matter?
Again, in May, 1836, in Missouri, in a series of questions asked and answered through the Elder's Journal, the following occurs:
"Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one?"
To which the answer is given:
"No, not at the same time."
This again represents the belief of the Saints at that time, unenlightened as they then were by the revelation received by their Prophet. But again, why this question unless there had been some agitation of the subject? Had some one before the time had come for making known this doctrine to the Church, again unwisely referred to the knowledge which had been revealed to the Prophet some seven years earlier?
All these incidents blend together and make it clearly evident that the revelation on marriage was given long before the 12th of July, 1843. Doubtless as early as 1831.
In addition to these indirect evidences is the direct testimony of the late Elder Orson Pratt, of the council of the Twelve Apostles. In 1878, in company with President Joseph F. Smith, Elder Pratt visited several states east of the Mississippi in the capacity of a missionary; and at Plano, Illinois, at a meeting of the so-called Reorganized Church of the Latter-day Saints, he was invited by the presiding officer, a Mr. Dille, and the meeting, to occupy the time, which he did. In his remarks, according to his own and his companion's report of the meeting—
"Elder Pratt gave a plain, simple narration of his early experience in the Church, relating many interesting incidents connected with its rise; explained the circumstances under which several revelations were received by Joseph, the Prophet, and the manner in which he received them, he being present on several occasions of the kind. Declared [that] at such times Joseph used the Seer-stone when inquiring of the Lord, and receiving revelation, but that he was so thoroughly endowed with the inspiration of the Almighty and the spirit of revelation that he often received them without any instrument, or other means than the operation of the spirit upon his mind. Referred to the testimony which he received of the truth of the great latter-day work while yet a boy. Testified that these things were not matters of belief only with him, but of actual knowledge. He explained the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the revelation on plural marriage. Refuted the statement and belief of those present that Brigham Young was the author of that revelation; showed that Joseph Smith the Prophet had not only commenced the practice himself, and taught it to others, before President Young and the Twelve had returned from their mission in Europe, in 1841, but that Joseph actually received revelations upon that principle as early as 1831. Said 'Lyman Johnson, who was very familiar with Joseph at this early date, Joseph living at his father's house, and who was also very intimate with me, we having traveled on several missions together, told me himself that Joseph had made known to him as early as 1831, that plural marriage was a correct principle. Joseph declared to Lyman that God had revealed it to him, but that the time had not come to teach or practice it in the Church, but that the time would come.' To this statement Elder Pratt bore his testimony. He cited several instances of Joseph having had wives sealed to him, one at least as early as April 5th, 1841, which was some time prior to the return of the Twelve from England. Referred to his own trial in regard to this matter in Nauvoo, and said it was because he got his information from a wicked source, from those disaffected, but as soon as he learned the truth, he was satisfied.
(Signed) "Orson Pratt,
(Signed) "Joseph F. Smith"
(The above is taken from a signed report of Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith of the Council of the Twelve on the occasion of their visit to the East in 1878, and is to be found in the Millennial Star, Vol. 40, Nos. 49 and 50.)
Relative to committing the revelation to writing on the 12th of July, 1843, that can best be told by the man who wrote the revelation as the Prophet Joseph dictated it to him, William Clayton; and the man who copied it the day following, Joseph Kingsbury; and from which copy the revelation was afterwards printed as it now stands in the current edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. In a sworn statement before John T. Caine, a notary public in Salt Lake City, on February 16th, 1874, William Clayton said:
"On the 7th of October, 1842, in the presence of Bishop Newel K. Whitney and his wife, Elizabeth Ann, President Joseph Smith appointed me Temple Recorder, and also his private clerk, placing all records, books papers, etc., in my care, and requiring me to take charge of and preserve them, his closing words being, 'when I have any revelations to write, you are the one to write them.' * * * On the morning of the 12th of July, 1843; Joseph and Hyrum Smith came into the office in the upper story of the brick store, on the bank of the Mississippi river. They were talking on the subject of plural marriage. Hyrum said to Joseph, 'If you will write the revelation on celestial marriage, I will take it and read it to Emma, and I believe I can convince her of its truth, and you will hereafter have peace.' Joseph smiled and remarked, 'You do not know Emma as well as I do.' Hyrum repeated his opinion, and further remarked, 'The doctrine is so plain, I can convince any reasonable man or woman of its truth, purity and heavenly origin,' or words to that effect. Joseph then said, 'Well, I will write the revelation and we will see.' He then requested me to get paper and prepare to write. Hyrum very urgently requested Joseph to write the revelation by means of the Urim and Thummim, but Joseph in reply, said he did not need to, for he knew the revelation perfectly from beginning to end.
"Joseph and Hyrum then sat down and Joseph commenced to dictate the revelation on celestial marriage, and I wrote it, sentence by sentence, as he dictated. After the whole was written, Joseph asked me to read it through, slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct. He then remarked that there was much more that he could write on the same subject, but what was written was sufficient for the present.
"Hyrum then took the revelation to read to Emma. Joseph remained with me in the office until Hyrum returned. When he came back, Joseph asked him how he had succeeded. Hyrum replied that he had never received a more severe talking to in his life, that Emma was very bitter and full of resentment and anger.
"Joseph quietly remarked, 'I told you, you did not know Emma as well as I did.' Joseph then put the revelation in his pocket, and they both left the office.
"The revelation was read to several of the authorities during the day. Towards evening Bishop Newel K. Whitney asked Joseph if he had any objections to his taking a copy of the revelation; Joseph replied that he had not, and handed it to him. It was carefully copied the following day by Joseph C. Kingsbury. Two or three days after the revelation was written Joseph related to me and several others that Emma had so teased, and urgently entreated him for the privilege of destroying it, that he became so weary of her teasing, and to get rid of her annoyance, he told her she might destroy it and she had done so, but he had consented to her wish in this matter to pacify her, realizing that he knew the revelation perfectly, and could rewrite it at any time if necessary.
"The copy made by Joseph C. Kingsbury is a true and correct copy of the original in every respect. The copy was carefully preserved by Bishop Whitney, and but few knew of its existence until the temporary location of the Camps of Israel at Winter Quarters, on the Missouri
River, in 1846. * * * * * (Signed) "Wm. Clayton. "Salt Lake City, Feb. 16th, 1874."
On May 22, 1886, Joseph C. Kingsbury made the following statement before Charles W. Stayner, a notary public, in Salt Lake City:
"In reference to the affidavit of Elder William Clayton, on the subject of the celestial order of patriarchal marriage, published in the Deseret Evening News of May 20th, 1886, and particularly as to the statement made therein concerning myself, as having copied the original revelation written by Brother Clayton at the dictation of the Prophet Joseph, I will say that Bishop Newel K. Whitney, handed me the revelation above referred to either on the day it was written or the day following, and stating what it was, asked me to take a copy of it. I did so, and then read my copy of it to Bishop Whitney, we compared it with the original which he held in his hand while I read to him. When I had finished reading, Bishop Whitney pronounced the copy correct, and Hyrum Smith coming into the room at the time to fetch the original, Bishop Whitney handed it to him. I will also state that this copy, as also the original are identically the same as that published in the present edition  of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.
"I will add that I also knew that the Prophet Joseph Smith had married other women besides his first wife, Emma; I was well aware of the fact of his having married Sarah Ann Whitney, the eldest daughter of Bishop Newel K. Whitney and Elizabeth Ann Whitney, his wife. And the Prophet Joseph told me personally that he had married other women, in accordance with the revealed will of God, and spoke concerning the principle as being a command of God for holy purposes. (Signed) "Joseph C. Kingsbury."
II. Authorship of the Revelation.
In addition to the testimony of these affidavits as to the authorship of the revelation, and many more on file in the Church Historian's office, equally positive and unimpeachable, which might be quoted, there is another sort of evidence as to the authorship, not before used, so far as I know, to which I desire to appeal, and which is even more certain and convincing on this subject than the testimony of any affidavit by whomsoever given. I refer to the internal evidence that Joseph Smith, under the inspiration of God, of course, is the author of it. The revelation carries with it so many characteristics of his style found in other revelations given through him, that to doubt his authorship of it is impossible. Let us consider these characteristics.
1. The Revelation Was Given in Answer to the Prophet's Inquiry—A Characteristic of Nearly All his Revelations.
The revelation was given in answer to the Prophet's inquiries upon one branch of the subject of which it treats, viz., the justification of some of the Bible Patriarchs and Prophets in having a plurality of wives. It is so generally the case that the revelations the Prophet received came in response to inquiries either by himself or by those who sought to learn their duty or to know some truth, that such inquiries may be considered as a condition precedent to his receiving revelations; at any rate it is plainly a characteristic of the whole volume of revelations which Joseph Smith gave to the world.
The Prophet's first revelation, the one respecting the errancy of the religious world, accompanied as it was by a full view of God the Father, and God the Son, was received in answer to a most earnest inquiry to know what course he should pursue in the midst of the religious confusion then existing—which church should he join. (History of the Church, Vol. I, chapt. 1.)
The first of that series of meetings with the angel Moroni, which finally resulted in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, was brought about through the Prophet asking for a spiritual manifestation from the Lord, that he might know of his "state and standing before Him." (History of the Church, Vol. I, chapt. 2.)
The series of revelations given during the time the Book of Mormon was in course of translation were chiefly given in response to inquiries on the part of the persons who came to the Prophet seeking to know the will of the Lord with reference to the relationship they should assume towards the work then coming forth. See Doc. and Cov., Sec. 10; History of the Church, Vol. I, p. 23, also pp. 28-33, 36, 45, 48, 49, 51, 53. These revelations are found in the Doc. and Cov., Sec. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17.)
The revelation authorizing the organization of the Church and outlining that organization and some of the fundamental doctrines of the Church (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 20), was given in answer to most earnest inquiry as to how the Prophet and his associates should proceed with the work of organization. "We had for some time made this matter a subject of humble prayer," writes the Prophet, "and at length we got together in the chamber of Mr. Whitmer's house, in order more particularly to seek of the Lord what we now so earnestly desired; and here to our unspeakable satisfaction, did we realize the truth of the Savior's promise, 'ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you'—for we had not long been engaged in solemn and fervent prayer, when the word of the Lord came to us in the chamber." (History of the Church, chapt. 7.) Then follows the revelation on Church organization and doctrine.
I may say that all the great revelations of the Church, as well as those which might be regarded as merely personal, were received in response to earnest inquiries of the Lord. Thus the revelation which in 1831 was regarded as making known the moral law of the Gospel was received after earnest inquiry. (History of the Church, Vol. I, p. 148; Doc. and Cov., Sec. 42, par. 3.) So also the great revelation on priesthood. (History of the Church, Vol. I, p. 287; Doc. and Cov., Sec. 84.) The great revelation on the order of the priesthood and the relations of the quorums to each other was given in response to a formal and very earnest petition on the part of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (History of the Church, Vol. II, pp. 219, 220; Doc. and Cov., Sec. 107.) So also as to the revelation on tithing and the disposition of it. (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 119, 120; History of the Church, Vol. III, p. 44.) So the great revelation setting in order the affairs of the Church at Nauvoo, given January 19, 1841. "Your prayers are acceptable before me," said the Lord to the Prophet, "and in answer to them I say unto you," then continues that great revelation. (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 124:2.) In fact, to particularize no further, it may be said that by far the greater number of the revelations received by the Prophet were in response to his petitions and inquiries or the Lord; and therefore the fact that this revelation on marriage was given in response to inquiries by the Prophet, to know why the Lord justified the worthy patriarchs named, and some of the prophets, in their plural marriage relations, is characteristic of practically all the revelations received by him.
2. It Possesses the Characteristic of Frankness in Reproving the Prophet.
Another characteristic of the Prophet Joseph's revelations is the frankness with which the Prophet himself is reproved for his follies and transgressions of the counsels of the Lord. He is never shielded; never justified when he steps aside from the path direct; reproof, chastisement and warnings are administered to him. God in these revelations deals with him indeed as with a son whom he loves, if it be true—and we have warrant of holy writ that it is—that God chasteneth whom he loveth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Heb. 12:6-8.) The following quotations from the revelations will illustrate what I mean. The Lord thus reproved the Prophet in 1829: "And behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men. * * * * You should not have feared man more than God. * * * * Thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware, thou wilt fall. * * * Repent. * * * Except thou do this, thou shalt be delivered up and become as other men, and have no more gift. * * * Thou hast suffered the counsel of thy director to be trampled upon from the beginning." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 3.)
Again in 1829 this: "I command you my servant Joseph to repent and walk more uprightly before me, and yield to the persuasions of men no more." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 5.)
This was said of the Prophet in a revelation given in 1830: "After it was truly manifested unto this first elder (Joseph Smith) that he had received a remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world. But after repenting and humbling himself sincerely, through faith, God ministered unto him by an holy angel," etc. that is, took him again into divine favor. (See Doc. and Cov., Sec. 20.)
Again in 1830: "Thou art not excusable in thy transgressions; nevertheless, go thy way and sin no more." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 24.)
In 1831 this was said of the Prophet: "There are those who have sought occasion against him without cause; nevertheless he has sinned, but verily I say unto you, I the Lord, forgive sins unto those who confess their sins before me and ask forgiveness, who have not sinned unto death." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 64.)
In 1833, this: "Verily, I say unto you, my son, thy sins are forgiven thee, according to thy petition, for thy prayers, and the prayers of thy brethren, have come up into my ears." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 90.)
In the same year this: "Verily, I say unto Joseph Smith, Jr., you have not kept the commandments, and must needs stand rebuked before the Lord." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 93.)
In 1841 this was said to the Prophet: "Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph Smith, I am well pleased with your offering and acknowledgments, which you have made, for unto this end have I raised you up, that I might show forth my wisdom through the weak things of the earth." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 124.)
It is but in harmony then with the whole course of God with this man that in this revelation on marriage his sins should be referred too. It is particularly Joseph Smith-like that it should be done, and it is done: "Let my handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses; and then shall she be forgiven her trespasses wherein she has trespassed against me. * * * * * * Let no one, therefore, set on my servant Joseph; for I will justify him; for he shall do the sacrifice which I require at his hands, for his transgressions, saith the Lord your God." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 132:56-60.)
Thus it will appear that all the frankness with which the Prophet was reproved in other revelations is manifested in this revelation on marriage; and hence, to the extent of that characteristic, identifies this revelation on the marriage covenant with the other revelations received by the Prophet.
3. The Evidence of the Largeness of Range in the Revelation on Marriage.
The next characteristic to be noted is the largeness of range in this revelation so characteristic of all the Prophet's revelations. His main inquiry was why God justified the ancient patriarchs in having many wives. The answer went far beyond the inquiry, and there was given to the Prophet a new marriage law, so far transcending the conceptions of men concerning marriage, as the thoughts of God transcend the thoughts of men on all subjects. The marriage covenant must be an eternal one, not marriage "until death does you part." The marriage relation will exist in heaven. Procreation within the marriage covenant of man is to be an eternal, creative power. It shall people the increasing heavens as it has the multiplying worlds with offspring of the Sons of God. It is to be of the things that shall not pass away, but a means of perpetuating the lives and all their purifying, and uplifting relationships. And the power to establish these relationships is in the Priesthood of God, the keys of which were restored through Joseph Smith.
4. The Evidence of Identical Phraseology in This and Other Revelations.
The recurrence and peculiar use of certain phrases to be found in both this revelation on Marriage and the other revelations given out by Joseph Smith, establish clearly the authorship to be the same. Such, for example, as the peculiar use of "mine" instead of "my." In the revelation on marriage we have this: "Behold! mine house is a house of order" (v. 8); "If a man be called of my Father, * * * by mine own voice," etc., (v. 59). "Through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed," etc., (v. 7); and are sealed * * * according to mine appointment (v. 26); and let mine handmaid Emma Smith, (v. 54); "verily I say, let handmaid forgive my servant Joseph," etc., (v. 56).
Let these expressions be compared with the following phrases from various revelations: "Behold this is mine authority and the authority of my servants" (Doc. and Cov. sec. 1: 6); "They have strayed from mine ordinances (v. 15); "that mine everlasting covenant be established," etc., (v. 22); "shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants" (v. 38); "it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles" (sec. 19:8); "ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect for mine elect hear my voice" (sec. 29: 7); "it hath gone forth * * * that mine apostles, the Twelve," etc. (v. 12) ; "it is the workmanship of mine hand" (v. 25); "Michael, mine archangel, shall sound his trump" (v. 26); "through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son" (v. 42); "from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten" (v. 46); "according to mine own pleasure" (v. 48). And so on throughout the revelations this phrase occurs. It is used eight times in the revelation on marriage and runs through nearly all the revelations sometimes fewer, sometimes more than this. In section 101 it occurs eleven times, in section 103 six times. But it is always used sufficiently to make it a characteristic of the revelations received by Joseph Smith.
(2) The phrase "as touching," is used several times in this revelation on marriage; "as touching the principle and doctrine," etc., (v. 1); "will answer thee as touching this matter" (v. 2); "and as touching Abraham and his seed" (v. 30); "as touching the law of the priesthood," etc., (v. 5). The same expression is found in Sec. 42—"As ye * * * are agreed as touching this one thing" (v. 3). Also in the Book of Mormon: "He spake as touching all things concerning my people."
(3) Such phrases as "I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee," etc., are frequent in this revelation. The above is in verse 2; then again, "I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law," etc., (v. 28); "I am the Lord thy God, and I gave unto thee an appointment (v. 40); the same in verse 57; indeed it comes in almost as a refrain of poetic emphasis at about equal distances throughout the revelation, giving them in places almost rhythmic effect. This will be found characteristic of several other revelations, notably section 1: The Lord speaking of His servants says: "I, the Lord, have commanded them" (v. 5); "Wherefore I, the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come," etc., (v. 17); "for, I, the Lord, cannot look upon sin," etc., (v. 31.)
So also in slightly different form the peculiarity will be found in section 12: "Behold, I am God and give heed, etc., (v. 2); "behold, I speak unto you," etc., (v. 7); "behold, I am the light and life of the world," etc., (v. 9). Also in section 29: "Thus did I the Lord God appoint unto man" (v. 43); "wherefore I, the Lord God, will send forth flies" (v. 18); "wherefore I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out," (v. 41); "and thus did I, the Lord God, appoint unto man the days," etc., (v. 43). Again in section 50: "Behold, I, the Lord, have looked upon you" (v. 4); wherefore I, the Lord, ask you this question" (v. 13). Also section 52; "Behold, thus saith the Lord unto the Elders," etc., (v. 1); "I, the Lord, will make known unto you" (v. 2); "behold I, the Lord, will hasten the city," etc., (v. 43.)
The peculiar use of "none other," in place of "no other," and of "none" instead of "no one," is an expression both in the revelation on marriage and a number of other revelations about which there is no question of the authorship being Joseph Smith's. In the revelation on marriage we have this: "Abraham * * * abode in my law, as Isaac also, and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation (v. 37). In section 43 we have the same phrase: "There is none other appointed unto you," etc., (v. 3); "I say unto you that none else shall be appointed unto this gift" (v. 4); also in Section 61, the following: "It shall be said in days to come that none is able to go up to the land" (v. 16); also Section 82, "and none doeth good, for all have gone out of the way (v. 6); and they * * * shall find none inheritance in that day," etc., (Sec. 85:9).
The use of the plural "Gods" in the revelation on marriage and in other revelations, tends to prove common authorship. In the revelation on marriage we have the following: "And henceforth are not Gods, but are angels of God forever and ever" (v. 17); "it cannot be received there because the angels and the Gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass" etc. (v. 18); "then shall they be Gods because they have no end; then shall they be Gods because they have all power (v. 20); and sit upon thrones, and are not angels, but are Gods (v. 36); in the revelation called the Vision, Doc. and Cov. Sec. 76, which revelation was given in February, 1832, and first published in the Evening and Morning Star of July, 1833, (vol. 1, number 2, p. 28) occurs the following: "And are priests of the most high, * * * wherefore, as it is written, they are Gods even the Sons of God (v. 58) also in Sec. 121; "Nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many Gods, they shall be manifest (v. 28); according to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other Gods, before this world was" (v. 32).
The phrase, "My house is a house of order," is used in the revelation on marriage (v. 18), also in Doc. and Cov., section 88, the phrase occurs, "a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God" (v. 119); "this shall be the order of the house of the presidency" (v. 128).
In closing the revelation on marriage the paragraph reads as follows: "And now, as pertaining to this law, verily, verily I say unto you, I will reveal more unto you hereafter; therefore let this suffice for the present. Behold, I am Alpha and Omega. Amen." This is some-what characteristic of the closing of a number of revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. The revelation in section 60 closes with—"Behold, this is sufficient for you * * * the residue hereafter. Even so. Amen." Section 84 closes, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Amen" (v. 120). Section 94 closes: "And now I give you no more at this time (v. 17). Section 95 closes "Let the higher part of the inner court be dedicated unto me for the school of mine apostles, saith Son Ahman; or in other words, Alphus, or in other words, Omegus, even Jesus Christ your Lord. Amen" (v. 17).
In other revelations the expression Alpha and Omega comes in the body of the revelation as for instance in section 45, "Verily I say unto you that I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the light and life of the world" (v. 7). The same phraseology is used in the body of section 63, v. 60.
In section 19 it opens the revelation, "I am Alpha and Omega, Christ the Lord, yea even I am He, the beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world" (v. 1). "Behold, and hearken unto the voice of Him who has all power, who is from everlasting to everlasting, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end" (section 61, v. 1).
Other revelations close in the same impressive manner and with the somewhat equivalent expressions in English, instead of the use of the Greek terms, Alpha and Omega. Thus section 18 closes: "Behold, I Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God and your Redeemer by the Power of my spirit have spoken it" (v. 47). Section 1 ends, "For behold and lo, the Lord is God and the Spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth abideth forever and ever. Amen" (v. 39).
The same occurs in section 75 and 14; but whether the phrase occurs in the opening of the revelation or the middle of it, or in the closing paragraph, it occurs with sufficient frequency to be noted as a peculiarity of the Prophet's phraseology, and aids in the identification of his inspired style.
The term "forgiveness of sin" occurs in the revelation on marriage as follows: "Behold, I have seen your sacrifices [Joseph's], and will forgive all your sins." This is both a principle and phraseology frequent in the revelations, as an example, section 64: "There are those who have sought occasion against him (Joseph) without cause; nevertheless he has sinned, but verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, forgive sins unto those who confess their sins before me" (v. 7). Let the spirit of this be compared with the following from the revelation on marriage: "Let no one, therefore, set on my servant Joseph, for I will justify him, for he shall do the sacrifices which I require at his hands for his transgressions, saith the Lord your God" (v. 60). "Again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses, and then shall she be forgiven her trespasses wherein she has trespassed against me" (v. 56).
In the revelation on marriage occurs the following phraseology: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth, shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name, and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens" (v. 46). The same phraseology is used in section 124 in speaking of Hyrum Smith, who was appointed to hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of God's people; namely, "Whosoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whosoever he curses shall be cursed; and whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (v. 93). In section 128 the same phraseology is used in describing the power of the priesthood (v. 8). And again in v. 10, quoting it from the New Testament (Matt. 16:18, 19).
In verse 26 on the revelation on marriage, this phraseology is found: "They shall be destroyed in the flesh and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan, unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God." The same phraseology occurs in section 82. "The soul that sins * * * shall be delivered over to the buffeting of Satan until the day of redemption" (v. 21). The same phraseology occurs in section 78, v. 12; section 104, v. 9, 10. In the revelation on marriage this passage occurs: "I give unto my servant Joseph, that he shall be made ruler many things, for he hath been faithful over a few things." Section 117 practically the some phraseology occurs with reference to William Marks, "Let my servant, William Marks, be faithful over a few things, and he shall be a ruler over many."
Again it is said: "and if they commit no murder, wherein they shed innocent blood—yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God (v. 26). "The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world, nor out of the world is in that ye commit murder, wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant (v. 27). That is to say, the doctrine is here set forth that the murderer hath not eternal life abiding in him (1 Jno. 1:15). There is no forgiveness for him in this world or in the world to come. The same idea is to be found in other revelations of Joseph Smith. Notably in section 42: "Behold, I speak unto the Church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come" (v. 18); "if any persons among you shall kill, they shall be delivered up and dealt with according to the law of the land; for remember, that he hath no forgiveness" (v. 79); then again and in connection with breaking covenant, note the following expression: "And this is all according to the oath and covenant of the priesthood. * * * But whoso breaketh this covenant, after he hath received it, and altogether turned therefrom, shall not have forgiveness in this world or in the world to come (v. 39-40).
The expression "new and everlasting covenant" (v. 4) occurs several times in the revelation on marriage: "as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant it was instituted," etc. (v. 6); "if a man marry a wife * * * * * by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed, etc. (v. 19). The phrase occurs a number of other times in the revelation, viz., in verses 26, 27, 41 and 42. It occurs also in many other revelations by Joseph Smith: In section 1—"That mine everlasting covenant might be established" (v. 22); "this is a new and ever lasting covenant" (Sec. 22:1); "I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world" (Sec. 45: 9); same in Sec. 49, 9; 66, 2; 76, 101; 78:11, and in at least a score of other sections
5. The Evidence of Recurrence of Principles in the Revelation on Marriage That are Found in Other Revelations Through Joseph Smith.
Principles that appear in previous revelations reappear in this revelation on marriage: for example, it is said in Sec. 130: "There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven, before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated; and when we obtain any blessing from God it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." In Sec. 88, occurs the following: "All kingdoms have a law given: and there are many kingdoms; and unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions. All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified," verse 36 to 38. In the revelation on marriage this doctrine is set forth in the following passage: "No one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory; for all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world. * * * * * * * * * And will I appoint unto you, saith the Lord, except it be by law, even as I and my Father ordained unto you, before the world was! * * * * * * * * * * * I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law of my Holy Priesthood, as was ordained by me, and my Father, before the world was," verses 4, 5, 11, 28. The identity of the principle is complete, and tends to establish identity of authorship.
6. The Evidence of the Particularization of Ideas.
In the revelation on marriage there is a singularity of expression, which, for want of a better term, I will call a particularization of ideas, that is decidedly peculiar to the Prophet, for example: "And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made, and entered into, and sealed, by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power, (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth, at a time, on whom this power and the keys of this Priesthood are conferred,) are of no efficacy, virtue or force, in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end, have an end when men are dead. * * * * And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me, or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God!" (verses 7, 13).
A similar particularization of things is found in verses 15, 18, 19, 26, 30, 59, 61, of the revelation on marriage.
With the above quoted passage compare the following: "Whoso receiveth you receiveth me, and the same will feed you, and clothe you and give you money. And he who feeds you, or clothes you or gives you money, shall in no wise loose his reward: And he that doeth not these things is not my disciple; by this you may know my disciples. He that receiveth you not, go away from him alone by yourselves, and cleanse your feet even with water, pure water, whether in heat or in cold, and bear testimony of it unto your Father which is in heaven, and return not again unto that man. And in whatsoever village or city ye enter, do likewise. Nevertheless, search diligently and spare not; and wo unto that house, or that village or city that rejecteth you, or your" words, or your testimony concerning me. Wo, I say again, unto that house, or that village or city that rejecteth you, or your words, or your testimony of me." Sec. 84:89-95. Similar passages of particularization frequently occur in other revelations. The following is a notable example:
"All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and also if there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas; or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars; all the times of their revolutions; all the appointed days, months and years, and all the days of their months and years, and all their glories, laws and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fullness of times, according to that which was ordained in the midst of the council of the eternal God of all other Gods, before the world was" (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 121:29-31).
7. The Evidences of Identity in Grandeur of Style.
One other peculiarity in the inspired style of the Prophet is seen in a certain growing grandeur in statement, by means of repetitions—repetitions, too, that make a paragraph fairly scintillate with prismatic hues as well as giving to it a crescendo of emphasis: for example, in speaking of the glory that shall come to those who keep covenant with the Lord, it is written in this revelation on marriage:
"And they shall pass by the angels, and the Gods which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fullness and a continuation of the seeds for ever and ever.
Then shall they be Gods, because they have no end;
Therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue;
Then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them.
Then shall they be Gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them" (verses 19-21).
With this compare the following:
"The power and authority of the Higher or Melchisedek, Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the Church—to have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven—to have the heavens opened unto them—to commune with the general assembly and church of the first born, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant" (Sec. 107:18, 19). Also this:
"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all; art thou greater than he?"
And as covering both the two last peculiarities—particularization of things and a growing grandeur in statement by repetition, consider the following passage:
"I the Almighty have laid my hands upon the nations, to scourge them for their wickedness: and plagues shall go forth, and they shall not be taken from the earth until I have completed my work which shall be cut short in righteousness, until all shall know me, who remain, even from the least unto the greatest, and shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and shall see eye to eye, and shall lift up their voice, and with the voice together sing this new song, saying—
The Lord hath brought again Zion; The Lord hath redeemed His people, Israel, According to the election of grace, Which was brought to pass by the faith And covenant of their fathers. The Lord hath redeemed His people, And Satan is bound and time is no longer: The Lord hath gathered all things in one: The Lord hath brought down Zion from above. The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath. The earth hath travailed and brought forth her strength: And truth is established in her bowels: And the heavens have smiled upon her: And she is clothed with the glory of her God: For He stands in the midst of His people: Glory, and honor, and power, and might, Be ascribed to our God; for He is full of mercy, Justice, grace and truth, and peace, For ever and ever. Amen.
It should be remarked, in conclusion, that these peculiarities of scope, structure, phraseology, re-appearance of principles, texture of composition and the like, which identify this revelation on marriage as the composition of Joseph Smith (under the inspiration of the Lord, of course) are not forced into the revelation. Its composition gives no evidence of being a conglomerate of Joseph Smith's thought-gems held together by some one else's clay. It is all of one piece, it is not patch work. Unity above all things is characteristic of it. Words, phrases, sentences, ideas all blend together, preserving strict unity of style and that style Joseph Smith's. No one else could have written it. The literary peculiarities of that revelation as readily proclaim it to be Joseph Smith's composition to those familiar with his literary style, as the contour of his face, the form of his features, the color of his hair and eyes, the tint of his complexion, the intonation of his voice, together with his form and bearing would reveal his physical personality to those who familiarly knew him in life. There will be no doubt whatever as to Joseph Smith being the author of it in the minds of those who will give it literary analysis. Whatever has come of it, or whatever may come of it in the future, Joseph Smith is the author of that revelation, and is responsible before God and the world for the introduction of that marriage law into the Church—the law that contemplates marriage as an eternal union, and the rightfulness of a plurality of wives under certain conditions and divine sanctions, when permissible under the laws of the land and the law of the Church.
Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl (1919)
The Doctrine and Covenants containing revelations given to Joseph Smith, Jr., The Prophet with an introduction and Historical and Exegetical Notes by Hyrum M. Smith of the Council of the Twelve Apostles and Janne M. Sjodahl. Revised edition 1962 (1951; 1st published 1919) [1919, 1923, 1927, 1945, 1951, 1960, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978; Kindle versions recently made available] [gospelink uses 1923 edition]
Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, including Plurality of Wives. Given through Joseph, the Seer, in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, July 12th, 1843.
[Note on first page of text] This Revelation is dated the 12th of July, 1843. William Clayton, who was Temple Recorder and private clerk of the Prophet Joseph at that time, relates the following:
"On the morning of the 12th of July, 1843, Joseph and Hyrum Smith came into the office of the upper story of the 'Brick-store,' on the bank of the Mississippi River. They were talking of the subject of plural marriage, [and] Hyrum said to Joseph, 'If you will write the Revelation on celestial marriage, I will take and read it to Emma, and I believe I can convince her of its truth, and you will hereafter have peace.' Joseph smiled and remarked, 'You do not know Emma as well as I do.' Hyrum repeated his opinion, and further remarked, 'The doctrine is so plain, I can convince any reasonable man or woman of its truth, purity, and heavenly origin,' or words to that effect. * * * Joseph and Hyrum then sat down, and Joseph commenced to dictate the Revelation on Celestial Marriage, and I wrote it, sentence by sentence, as he dictated. After the whole was written, Joseph asked me to read it through slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct"(Hist. Rec. pp. 225-6).
This was not the first mention of the subject among the Saints. Sarah Ann Kimball and many others knew of it in 1842, and Joseph B. Noble heard of it in the fall of 1840. Orson Pratt says that the Prophet Joseph, in the forepart of 1832, while he was living at the house of Father Johnson at Hiram, Ohio, told Church members that he had enquired of the Lord concerning this doctrine, and received the answer that it was true, but that the time to practice it had not come (Discourse by Orson Pratt, Salt Lake City, October 7th, 1869). Consequently, the Law of the Church remained as stated in Doctrine and Covenants 42:22, and as it is to-day, "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall cleave unto her and none else." The Revelation is divided into two parts. The first, comprising vv. 3-33, deals mainly with the principle of celestial marriage, or marriage for time and all eternity; the second, comprising the remaining verses, deals with plural marriage. The doctrine of celestial marriage remains in force; the practice of plural marriage was abandoned by the acceptancy by the Church, in Conference assembled October 6th, 1890, of the Manifesto of President Woodruff.
Section 132 contains (1) an introductory statement (1-2); (2) a reminder to the Prophet that knowledge demands obedience (3-6); (3) a definition of the celestial law (7-14), and (4) how the law applies to marriage covenants (15-20); (5) a demand for obedience (21-7); (6) the Law of the Priesthood (28-33); (7) the doctrine of plural marriage (34-40); (8) a declaration that plurality of wives is not adultery (41-9); (9) that it is a sacrifice (50-7); (10) that it is a law of the Priesthood (58-66).
1. Introductory Statement.
1-2. From this introductory statement it is evident that the Prophet had made the question of marriage a subject of earnest prayer, as he did with matters concerning which he was perplexed and desired to know the truth. He did not understand how the Patriarchs, and David and Solomon could find favor with the Lord, while living in a manner contrary to certain modern moral standards, and he asked the Lord for light. Elder B. H. Roberts (Hist. of the Church, Vol. V., Intr., p. 29) suggests that it was in the year 1831, when the Prophet was studying the lives of the Patriarchs in the Old Testament, in the course of his Bible revision, that he was led to offer the prayer referred to in the first verse, and received the answer contained in this Section, though it was not then committed to writing. ….
7. Plural Marriage.
34-40. In the preceding sections, this Revelation deals with celestial marriage—marriage for eternity. In this section and those following, plural marriage is the subject; and it is first shown that some of the greatest characters in the Old Testament had wives and concubines.
34. Because this was the law] Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham in accordance with law. It is known now that, according to the Code of Hammurabi, which, in many respects, resembles the later Mosaic law. if a man's wife was childless, he was allowed to take a concubine and bring her into his house, though he was not to place her upon an equal footing with his first wife, or the first wife might give her husband a maid-servant. This was the law in the country from which Abraham came. A concubine was a wife of inferior social rank.
37. Isaac also] There is no other record of any plural marriage of this Patriarch, but, aside from this Revelation, the probability is that he followed the custom of his age. How is it, on any other supposition, to be explained that Jacob accepted Laban's arrangement without protest? Where, if not in his home, had he learned that plural marriage was not at that time unlawful?
"It is not to be supposed that, in a time when polygamy was usual, the young sheyk remained celibate till forty. The marriage to one of the kin, Rebekah, was the political marriage for the clan, to set up a fresh chieftainess after Sarah was dead." (W. M. Flinders Petrie, Egypt and Israel, p. 24.)
8. Plural Marriage Is Not Adultery.
41-9. The Prophet, in his prayer on this subject, had asked the Lord for information concerning the ground on which the Patriarchs were justified in their domestic relations, and the answer was the definition of adultery here given. Plural marriage, the Revelation says, in substance, is not adultery, but to violate the marriage covenant is to commit that sin, the penalty being destruction (vv. 41, 52); but God Himself will execute that judgment (v. 54).
9. Plural Marriage a Sacrifice (50-7)
A very common impression in the world is this that plural marriage was instigated for the gratification of carnal lusts. Nothing is further form the truth. To Joseph Smith obedience was a ‘sacrifice’ (v. 50), and it was no less a trial to others. Brigham tells us his feelings, in these words:
‘Some of these my brethren know what my feelings were at the time Joseph revealed the doctrine; I was not desirous of shrinking form any duty, nor of failing in the least to do as i was commanded, but it was the first time in my life that i have desired the grave, and i could hardly get over it for a long time. And when I saw a funeral, I felt to envy the corpse, its situation, and to regret that I was not in the coffin, knowing the toil and labor that my body would have to undergo; and I have to examine myself, from that day to this, and watch my faith, and carefully meditate, lest I should be found desiring the grave more than I ought to do’ (Journal of Discourses 3. 266)
Brigham Young also says: ‘I did not ask Him [God] for the Revelation upon this subject. When that Revelation was first read to me by Joseph Smith, I plainly saw the great trials and the abuse of it that would be made by many of the Elders, and the trouble and the persecution that it would bring upon this whole people. But the Lord revealed it, and it was my business to accept it’ (Journal of Discourses 11. 268)
Heber C. Kimball’s experience was very remarkable. He and his wife had been sealed to each other for time and eternity, before the Prophet told him that the Lord required him to take another wife, an English lady, named Sarah Noon. Helen Mar Kimball Whitney tells the story. She says her father, after having received this command, would walk the floor till nearly morning, and sometimes the agony of his mind was so terrible that he would wring his hands and weep like a child, and beseech the Lord to be merciful and reveal the principle to his wife. This prayer was heard. Mrs. Kimball had a vision, and ‘with a countenance beaming with joy, for she was filled with the Spirit of God, she returned to my father, saying, ‘Heber, what you kept from me, the Lord has shown me’’ (Orson F. Whitney’s Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp. 335-8)
Benjamin F. Johnson testifies that the Prophet Joseph, on the 1st of April, 1843, came to his house, at Ramus, Ill., and revealed to him the doctrine, and then asked him for his sister. Johnson says: ‘’I looked him calmly in the face and told him that I believed him to be a good man and wished to believe it still and would try to; and that I would take for him a message to my sister, and if the doctrine was true, all would be well, but if I should afterwards learn that it was offered to insult or prostitute my sister, I would take his life.’ With a smile he replied, ‘Benjamin, you will never see that day, but you shall live to know that it is true and rejoice in it’’ (Jenson, Historical Record, p. 221).
These quotations show how the doctrine at first was received by Joseph’s most intimate friends. To them obedience was a sacrifice, as it was to the Prophet. For they were good men, who loved their wives with pure and undivided affection. It was no doctrine for libertines, who hate the restraints and responsibilities of a law-protected marriage and care only for the gratification of their desires. Some libertines have joined the Church under the mistaken impression that ‘Mormonism’ was a religion adapted to a carnal state, but they quickly discovered that plural marriage multiplied both their responsibilities and their burdens, and thus placed the strongest possible restrictions on licentiousness, and they became bitter opponents for that very reason.
Special instructions are given to Mrs. Emma Smith (vv. 51-6). She did never accept the doctrine with the full understanding of it that some of the other sisters—Eliza R. Snow and Vilate Kimball, for instance—had. A few days after the Revelation had been read to her, she coaxed her husband to give her the written copy, and, as another identical copy had been made, there was no objection to granting the request. Emma destroyed the document handed to her. Afterwards she repented and even went so far as to consent to the marriage of the Partridge girls to Joseph. But, finally, if a statement by her son, Joseph, can be accepted as true, she denied that the Prophet ever taught or practiced plural marriage (See Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, pp. 219-34; also History of the Church, Introduction to Volume V). It is evident that the failure of Emma to give heed to this Revelation caused her to lose the Spirit of the gospel.
As has been stated in the introductory notes, the doctrine of plural marriage was made known to the Prophet in 1831, or 1832, although the Revelation on the subject was not committed to writing until the year 1843. It should be noted that even then it was not given to the Church. This step was taken on the 29th of August, 1852, when the Revelation was read to a General Conference in the "Old Tabernacle," Salt Lake City, and accepted by the assembly as a revelation from God and part of the law of the Church. In voting for the Revelation, the Saints firmly believed that they were only exercising their legal right as American citizens. They believed that, as a majority, they had the indisputable constitutional right to regulate their domestic affairs, within the boundaries of their own territory, and that the Supreme Court of the United States would uphold this view, even if Congress should be of a different opinion. And they were strengthened in their position by the fact that not until ten years after the action taken by the Church in 1852 was any effort made by Congress to stamp plural marriage as illegal.
The first Congressional enactment against plural marriage, passed in 1862, remained a dead letter for twenty years. By that time. the anti-Mormons had evidence that the Supreme Court would uphold legislation of that kind, and laws more drastic than the first were passed by Congress. The Church leaders appealed to the Supreme Court, as was their prerogative. For years there was a legal conflict. At last, when the Supreme Court had declared the anti-polygamy laws constitutional and there was no prospect that there would be a reversal of this decision, the Church loyally and gracefully accepted it. President Wilford Woodruff issued his Manifesto against the practice of plural marriage, and this was accepted by a unanimous vote of the General Conference assembled in Salt Lake City, Oct. 6th, 1890. This was done by divine revelation to President Wilford Woodruff.
This is the full text of the Manifesto:
"Press dispatches having been sent for political purposes, from Salt Lake City, which have been widely published, to the effect that the Utah Commission, in their recent report to the Secretary of the Interior, allege, that plural marriages are still being solemnized and that forty or more such marriages have been contracted in Utah since last June or during the past year, also that in public discourses the leaders of the Church have taught, encouraged and urged the continuance of the practice of polygamy, "I, therefore, as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage nor permitting any person to enter into its practice, and I deny that either forty or any other number of plural marriages have during that period been solemnized in our temples or in any other place in the Territory. "One case has been reported, in which the parties allege that the marriage was performed in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake City, in the spring of 1889, but I have not been able to learn who performed the ceremony; whatever was done in this matter was without my knowledge. In consequence of this alleged occurrence the Endowment House was, by my instructions, taken down without delay. "Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise. "There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy, and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land. WILFORD WOODRUFF, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
After the Manifesto had been read to the Conference, President Lorenzo Snow offered the following:
"I move, that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the manifesto which has been read in our hearing and which is dated Sept. 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding."
The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous.
By this action the Church voted to conform to the laws of the land as interpreted by the highest tribunal, and to leave the issue with God. Since that conference, and, in fact, for some time previous to the acceptance of the Manifesto, no plural marriage has been performed anywhere with the sanction of the Church, or the approbation of the First Presidency, or anyone representing them, as was fully proved during the so-called Smoot investigation in the United States Senate, which commenced January 16, 1904.
"I want to say to this congregation, and to the world, that never at any tune since my presidency in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have 1 authorized any man to perform plural marriage, and never since my presidency of the Church has any plural marriage been performed with my sanction or knowledge, or with the consent of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and therefore such unions as have been formed unlawfully, contrary to the order of the Church, are null and void in the sight of God, and are not marriages" (President Joseph F. Smith, at the General Conference of the Church, Oct. 4th, 1918).
Joseph Fielding Smith (1922)
Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History (Deseret 1922) proclaims that Joseph was taught the principle as early as the summer of 1831, but hesitated for as long as he could, due to "his own prejudices" as well as the traditions of those converting to LDS.
"However, the Lord had commanded him and he must act." He revealed it to some in Nauvoo and married some of the leading brethren. (1950: 341; 1st 1922; 4 editions in English by 1930, also one in German by that date).
It was announced publicly in 1852 (480-1). [1974 edition = 27th edition: 394 contains data on public announcement]
The Manifesto was discussed 606-609). The second manifesto of 1904 was discussed page 630; as was the case of Taylor and Cowley being excommunicated for continuing it (630).
1950: 341; 1st 1922; 4 editions in English by 1930, also one in German by that date
Franklin S. Harris and Newbern Isaac Butt (1925)
Franklin S. Harris, and Newbern Isaac Butt, The Fruits of Mormonism (New York: The Macmillan Company 1925).
“The Mormon philosophy of marriage has been the subject of relentless attack, probably in large measure because it has not been thoroughly understood. The belief concerning marriage is closely tied up with the doctrines of resurrection and salvation which have just been discussed. It is held that the family relation continues in the hereafter and that one of the elements in celestial joy is the proper marital condition. Just as a worthy family here is one of the greatest sources of happiness, it is believed that one’s posterity will throughout all eternity be one of the important elements in contentment. Plural marriage, which was at one time practiced to a limited extent in the Mormon church, found its justification in the possibility it afforded for a large posterity which would contribute to eternal joy.” (8-9)
“In any scientific study of Mormonism the question of chastity must be given consideration. In the early days of the Church when there was a limited practice of polygamy, opponents of this system based their excuse for persecution largely on the question of morality. To many of them polygamy was synonymous with unchastity. This was doubtless based on an ignorance of the intimate life of those who practiced this principle, since it is claimed by those who made the most through observations [citing Remy and Brenchley, Phil Robinson, Carlton, etc] that rarely ahs any large body of people been found in which personal chastity has been held in high regard, and in which irregular sexual relations have been more vigorously condemned, than among the Mormons” (116).
Susa Young Gates (1930)
Life Story of Brigham Young Susa Young Gates (New York: The Macmillan Company 1930) Also (London: Jarrolds Publishers Limited 1930) © 1930 Deseret Book Company
III GROWTH IN THE CHURCH [23-35]
Mission to England—Emigration of British Converts to the New Zion—The Doctrine of Baptism for the Dead—Celestial Marriages—Man's Pre-existence—Plural Marriages—Not Established by Brigham Young—Consent of First Wife—A Religious Versus Civil Practice—Church To-day Opposed to Plural Marriages.
On his return from a brief eastern trip on Church business in July, 1843, Brigham Young attended a council meeting held at the Prophet's home where Elders Young, Kimball, and George A. Smith were present, when the doctrine of celestial marriage as revealed to the Prophet was expounded to them. The marriage ceremony in the Christian world is bounded only by time—"till death do ye part." Nor is it solemnised by one holding the authority from God to "seal on earth and it shall be sealed in Heaven, to loose on earth and it shall be loosed in heaven."
The revelation rests upon the glorious principle of the eternity of the marriage covenant. The union of man and woman, when solemnised by one holding the authority to seal for time and the endless ages of eternity, is of eternal binding force. Children born of that union will remain in the patriarchal family group for ever, unless individuals forfeit the blessings through breaking the laws of chastity, of loyalty, or are guilty of the crime of murder.
The fundamental truth of the Gospel rests upon the eternal nature of man, and concerns itself with the eternity of the family relationship. The heavenly family, our Father, our Mother, the Divine Son, together with all the brothers and sisters of Jesus, from Adam and Eve to the last child born on earth, constitute the past, present and future glory of God. As with the heavenly family so with the earthly family. In the resurrection, husbands and wives with their children will, where worthy of exaltation, preserve and enlarge their united relations for ever and ever.
The Prophet taught that life did not, could not originate or be created on this earth. The life of plant and animal, as that of man himself, is eternal. Each spirit, clothed as it may be in an earthly tabernacle, is co-existent with God, our Father. The earth-life is our second estate, and we pass on from experience to experience, from glory to glory throughout the countless ages of eternity—if we will to progress rather than to retrograde. Our priceless possession is our free agency, and we may use it as we will. The whole purpose and concern of God and His Son Jesus Christ, is to help His children to know truth and obey law; to progress throughout eternity.
The glory of God is to bring to pass the salvation and exaltation of His children. If His happiness centres in His children, so much more does that of His earthly children who bear and rear their children revolve around the family altar. "His course is one eternal round." All men should be privileged to become husbands and fathers in righteousness. All women should be blessed with wifehood and motherhood.
Understanding the eternal nature of man, and that his progression is from sphere to sphere, from life existence to life existence, then the right to be born on earth and partake of a mortal tabernacle becomes a priceless privilege of the spirits yet unborn. For they cannot partake of the next "glory" of the world beyond this until they have become possessed of a mortal tabernacle. Therefore, does man become a solemn partner with his Maker in providing tabernacles for the waiting spirits—spiritual children of our Heavenly Father. Parenthood is, therefore, akin to Godhood, in so far as it is righteous in inception and development. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" taught both ancient and modern prophets. The Prophet's mind was enlightened to understand these great truths and these he taught to his followers.
The privilege of having more than one woman sealed to the same husband is not by any means a corollary of the sealing law. Indeed, all couples married in the Temples are and always have been sealed for time and for eternity.
Plurality of wives is entirely Biblical and was permitted by our Heavenly Father in this dispensation solely for the purpose of giving mortal tabernacles through a worthy lineage to spirits who are waiting on the Other Side for that glorious privilege and who cannot advance until they are possessed of mortal tabernacles. Thus parenthood becomes a solemn privilege and thus that order of marriage was held as a religious sacrament to all those who lived it in righteousness. If undertaken merely for unworthy physical reasons it would and did destroy those who practised it.
William Clayton, a clerk in the Prophet's employ, who wrote the revelation concerning plural marriage at the Prophet's dictation, made the following statement some years later in Salt Lake City: "One day in the month of February, 1843, the Prophet invited me to walk with him. . . . This was the first time he talked with me on the subject of plural marriage. He informed me that the doctrine and principle was right in the sight of our Heavenly Father, and that it was a doctrine which pertained to Celestial order and glory." In the following July Brother Clayton wrote out the revelation at the Prophet's dictation which was read by several of the authorities of the Church.
It is generally believed in the outside world that Brigham Young introduced the principle of plural marriage into the Church after the martyrdom of the Prophet. This is untrue. The grandnephew of the Prophet, Joseph Fielding Smith, son of the late Pres. Joseph F. Smith, writes in his recently published history of the Church: "The doctrine of Plural Marriage was made known to the Prophet as early as the summer of 1831, and by him was taught to a few others, but it was not practised until the Lord commanded it. Secrecy was imposed until such time as He saw fit for its introduction. When the Prophet was commanded to practise this principle, he hesitated and deferred taking action for some time. To do so was one of the greatest trials of his life. He knew the doctrine was in conflict with the traditions and teachings of the world and would arouse increased persecution; moreover, his own prejudices were in opposition to the doctrine. However, the Lord had commanded Him and he must act." No matter what people may think to the contrary the matter was viewed with profound dread and dismay by the men and women who first received and practised it.
Brigham Young as one of the great defenders of the Prophet would naturally be one of the first to whom this revealed truth would be made known. He could not deny that the practice was entirely Biblical and he could not deny that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. To accept one truth was to accept all. However, his natural Puritanic chastity of mind and spirit revolted at this principle; yet once accepted, it must enter into his life's experience.
A few of the leading men and women accepted the principle and following the example and counsel of the Prophet, entered into the Patriarchal Order of Marriage with the full approval of their first wives, taking their other wives into their homes or arranging separate homes where possible.
Some of his associates waited not for counsel or permission. They set themselves up as arbiters of their own destiny and corrupted women under pretence of following the Prophet's example. These apostates from the Church would not and could not accept nor comprehend the difference between unbridled licence and that Order which is inspired and accepted as an eternal contract between two or more parties binding them to rear families and to support and sustain virtue, sobriety and unselfish justice. The man who elects to become a law unto himself puts himself without the pale of earthly and divine government. Of such were Joseph's enemies.
In this as in every vital truth of the revealed word of God, Brigham Young was not slow to make action follow upon the heels of belief in the teachings of the modern Prophet. He married Miriam Works first in 1824. Left a widower in 1832 he married Mary Ann Angell as this narrative has shown. He was sealed by the Prophet, and with full approval of "Mother" Mary Ann, to Lucy Wheeler Decker, on June 15, 1842. Harriet Cook Campbell was also sealed to him by the Prophet, June, 1843, and Clara Decker, sister of Lucy Decker, was sealed to him on May 8, 1844.
The associates of the Prophet, especially the men nearest him in council, accepted, as did Brigham Young, the principle of Celestial and of Plural Marriage, as of divine origin. Some, indeed, there may have been, whose motives, human complexes that they were, savoured quite as much of physical as of spiritual reactions. Any such soon discovered that marriage solemnly entered into with attendant family burden-bearing definitely assumed, involved vast mental resources of self-control and self-denial, varied with occasional emotional tempests. Yankee-bred women were "individuals" and there were no age-old Oriental backgrounds of traditions and domestic regulatory usage in that day.
Any man who fancied that the women of his household would have the heavy end of the trouble-balance while he soared into easy indulgence was due for a rude awakening. Mormon women were persons, not a sex-group. The man soon found that his particular life-job was that of domestic moderator. What he most wanted was a mere bagatelle compared to the insistently declared desires of two or more wives. Any man who then or thereafter made what might be termed "a success" of Plural Marriage had an instinctive well-poised character, a keen sense of human values, and an abiding trust in the divinity of the revelation with an accompanying trust in God. The women who accepted it rightly were noble in spirit, unselfish and ready to forget and forgive. They reasoned: better a part of a pure and a devoted man's love, than all of a corrupt or even a selfish, sordid man's companionship.
Our Father in heaven may not be the Avenger of the broken commandments which He has committed to His earthly children; but He knows all law, is governed by law and cannot in the nature of law act independently of law and its fulfilment. Men and women who keep righteous law reap the blessings. Those who break God's law, which is the enunciation of divine, eternal principle, suffer the consequences. The Prophet taught all these truths in their plainness and simplicity. His associate Elders knew, according to their intelligent capacities, that the vital principle of marital relations could be assumed and maintained righteously only on the principle of justice and rigid virtue in both parties. Few men, comparatively speaking, chose to assume the domestic burdens involved in this marital order; never more than four per cent. Those who did were as a rule of the best type of citizens. Their lives, their families and descendants, even to the sixth and seventh generations, are the best existing testimony of the nobility and purity of their motives and of their parenthood.
If it required courage, self-control and faith on the part of the men who entered that Order of Marriage; what of the women? They, whose age-long traditions, fierce maternal jealousies and emotional reactions rendered them at once a prey to their own suspicious watchfulness and sex-selfishness? Only faith could sustain them in this modern domestic innovation. Reason was invoked only at the call of prayer; tolerance was possible alone when faith held the anchor. That these brave women succeeded in establishing individual friendly contacts with the other wives; nay, at times actually achieved lasting, close friendships with one another and the children of the household, is a monument to them, while it also constitutes the best argument in support of the sacred character of that one-time Marital Order. There were heroines in those days!
Very few of all these plural wives in the Church ever invoked public condemnation of that Order through press or on platform; while the percentage of divorces, always very easy to obtain, was so small as to be negligible. There was as little domestic unhappiness in that Order, nay less, strange as that may sound, than in the monogamic form of marriage. Yet these women were intelligent, alert to truth, wide of vision and progressive American citizens.
It was expected, nay required, that the consent and approval of the first wife to the entrance of another wife in the home be obtained. As a rule this was done; where men failed, disaster and confusion resulted, unless the first wife was bigger-minded, nobler-hearted than her unwise husband. Not a few happy plural families owed much of their peace and harmony to the generous and saintly character of the "first wife." But there was no discrimination as to the order of entrance into the family. The last wife had as many privileges as the first. They were equal in all matters in the home and before the law.
The home life in Nauvoo flowed calmly and steadily about the hurrying, harassed feet of the men who planted and sowed, hammered and forged, travelled and preached. This toil of mind and strain of body dropped away when tired husband and father stepped over the threshold of those homes, where peace and faith kept the hearth fire bright and the altar-flame constant. Those wives, mothers and restless-bodied children knew the joy of true home-building and pure soul expansion. Struggle, toil, trouble, sickness, death, persecution, scorn, all these reactionary wave forces might swirl and beat about the outer walls of their homes, but were never allowed to enter within the sacred portals which guarded the love and confidence of hearts united for earthly and heavenly existence. The women baked and churned, scrubbed and spun, coloured and wove with their little ones about their knees and all sharing, according to size and strength the family burdens. They were happy and busy.
The foregoing statement of authenticated fact is in no sense an advocacy of present-day plural marriage. For to-day sees the Mormon Church as faithfully committed to the monogamic form of marriage, as it was to another form in past years.
It is a long page of Church history which covers the efforts of the American Government to compel the Mormon Church to abandon that form of marriage. The Church claimed that plural marriage was a vital part of their religion, while the Government insisted that it was a civil practice only. That is the very rock upon which marriage is splitting into fragments in the Christian world to-day. Congress ignored petitions, listened to no appeals. The Edmunds law of 1882 made the contracting of plural marriage and living in that order, punishable by law. Contested again and again, the Supreme Court finally declared the law constitutional. Meanwhile prosecution, persecution and imprisonment occurred, and Church property was escheated and the leaders imprisoned.
The practice of plural marriage was accepted as a sacrament, however, and God knew the people were honest and true. But the laws of the land must be obeyed. No community can exist without just laws which all must obey; and the saints had always held the law in respect. It is a cardinal principle of their religion to honour and obey all the laws of the land in which they live.
Then came a revelation to President Wilford Woodruff in 1890 that the people were no more required to enter into that order of marriage. The Church in solemn assembly accepted President Woodruff's Manifesto in 1890, prohibiting plural marriages, and the members who wish to retain standing and fellowship in the Church are bound to accept and abide by that action.
There were a few members of the Church—which is built on man's use of his own free agency—who refused to give assent to the termination of that order of marriage. However, the Church had ruled and the people voted to sustain the new revelation. Those who since that time have refused to abide by that law are not only out of harmony with the Church but are excommunicated from its membership. It must be remembered that never more than a small minority of the people ever practised this order of marriage.
As might be surmised, marriage in a Church that seals husband and wife together for all eternity is a very solemn affair. Young people have always been taught that marriage is a holy sacrament and a necessary part of mortal experience as well as a glorious privilege and a source of incomparable earthly and heavenly joy when lived righteously.
Without love, men and women cannot serve each other and certainly may not serve God. Yet if any man or woman wishes freedom from Church or family ties within the fold of Christ, let them but announce that desire, and every door is opened. The sealing power given to Peter and to Joseph Smith has the key to "bind on earth and it shall be bound in heaven; to loose on earth and it shall be loosed in heaven."
Brigham Young used to say that the cause for divorce, was a bitter estrangement of the heart, brought about in practically all cases through the selfishness, drunkenness, adultery or cruelty of the husband. But it is readily granted also that women, being human, may and do give vent to their selfish desires and through wilful inefficiency give cause for permanent estrangement of affection. Therefore, separations are possible for unworthiness or deep-seated incompatibility. A man who might complain was first reprimanded and taught to remove the cause of his own conduct. So with the woman.
For just cause, men and women under all circumstances are given divorce, but they are taught that it must be a last resort, granted after all means of prevention have failed. Contrary to the customs of some communities, the women here are not the sole sufferers under such circumstances; for no possible disgrace is attached to the divorced wife, unless her own acts have disgraced her. She and her children are almost invariably sheltered in some other good man's home, through a second honourable and congenial marriage.
XXVII HIS HOME LIFE [320- 333]
Description by His Daughter—Cherished Memories—Plural Marriage and Brigham Young's Hesitancy—Builds Homes for His Family—The Lion House—Colonial Dwelling of Many Rooms—Domestic Conveniences—Separate Rooms for Wives—A Home Well Furnished—Children Welcomed—Doctoring Childish Ailments—Food and Meal Times—Fifty at one Sitting—Simple but Ample Fare—The Leader's Diet.
THERE is a natural curiosity to hear of the intimate life and characteristics of great men; and this questioning becomes doubly insistent and interesting when the family relations of such men present anything out of the ordinary. When you transplant to modern American soil a fragment of the ancient patriarchal form of martial relations, with other particular and peculiar religious beliefs and practices, the curiosity assumes abnormal proportions, and vague surmises as to such people sprouting horns instead of hair are actually considered by otherwise sensible people.
It is idle and foolish to approach the study of deep religious or sociological problems with ridicule and levity. The sacrifice and death, the mobbings and drivings of a whole people cannot be sneered away nor scorned into silence.
The Pilgrim Fathers set up their religious homes in the New World in 1620, dedicating the land as a free religious republic. The second genuine, original American religious civilisation was established by a maligned people who were driven into the isolation of the heart of the Rocky Mountains.
The centuries are the only historians! Men do not enter a Chinese joss house nor a Moslem mosque to ridicule and despise, but to inform the eye with the outer symbols of worship and to acquaint the mind with the deep significance which permeates every temple where a Supreme Being is worshipped!
Therefore I plead for a respectful consideration of the matters I am about to disclose regarding my father and his intimate home life. My childhood's home was as beautiful to me as love and happiness could make it. The other noble women who were my father's wives are as sacredly enshrined in my heart as is the memory of my own dear mother. My brothers and sisters are all as dear and precious to me, as I am to each one of them, wherever they may be.
Like other proud beings, we shrink from lifting the veil which enfolds the sanctity of our home life. However, when the motive prompting inquiry is one of deep interest, I can put aside the feelings of nature, and for the sake of truth and to vindicate the memory of my idolised father and mother, I am glad to set down here some facts and items. And let me speak as the daughter and not as the historian! For the things about which I am to write are the priceless memory of a carefree childhood, a happy joyous youth and a long life of deep satisfaction.
The principle of plural marriage was adopted by my father as it was taught him by the Prophet Joseph Smith, after great inner struggle and earnest prayer, as has been told in a former chapter. His strict puritanical training ill-fitted him to accept such a doctrine. He foresaw—as who would not—the storm of abuse and opposition which such action would arouse. And it was as death to him.
He told my mother once that he brooded and sorrowed for months, unreconciled in reason, yet converted in his spirit to its truth. And when he saw a funeral procession pass his door, he cried out in the bitterness of his soul: "O, that I could exchange places with the one who lies in that quiet coffin!"
Finally converted to the principle, he did not doubt the future, himself, nor God. But the fact remains that the men and women who entered into that relationship in early days, did so from purely religious motives. It was a high and sacred undertaking with them, involving much suffering and sacrifice on the part of both men and women. We say this, we who ought to know; we who were born under its influence and who owe our lives to the parents who lived and practised this principle in righteousness. That all men in those days did not live it in righteousness does not alter its being held as a sacrament. Are all monogamous marriages rightly lived and wholly successful? The majority of the relatively few who practised this order of marriage did so with righteous motives. Of that fact I can bear witness.
Some of my father's wives were married to him in Nauvoo, Illinois, by the Prophet himself, as I have heard him testify and as the Nauvoo records prove. After the Prophet's death others were married to him in Winter Quarters, where the saints were resting after being driven from Nauvoo. On the arrival in the Valley, my father, after the necessary interval in log houses, built good homes for his loved wives. The "White House" sufficed for "Mother" Young and her large family. The Bee Hive House was used as his official residence from the first. There he had his private office, entertained callers, and carried on his public affairs that were not prosecuted in the Church offices which were built next to the Bee Hive House.
My father had been so impressed with the economic advantages of the communal family experiment so far developed in 1852-55, that in the fall of 1855 he began to build what was called the Lion House, as a home for most of his family. "Mother" Young was in the White House and Aunt Lucy Decker Young in the Bee Hive House, the others were to be housed in the large, many-roomed, economically-planned Lion House of New England atmosphere, built and dedicated in 1856.
The Lion House, so called because of the crouching lion on top of the front portico, was built of native adobe with very thick walls. It had many windows, good chimneys, stone flagged cellars, connected by long-outstretching halls. There were kitchens, store rooms, a large dining-room, a weave room, a wash-room, and a temporary schoolroom in the lower or basement floor.
The wash-room was fitted with two built-in great copper boilers heated by a brick fireplace beneath. The wooden tubs were supplemented by a huge "pounding" barrel in the corner, with its large wooden hammer or pestle, wherein clothes were placed for the "second wash." This hammer was manipulated by one of the hired men, our good old friend, Jimmie Works, who also carried the water for all culinary purposes from the pump in the central court of the home. The wives had regular days and hours of washing and Jimmy Works was always there to pound the steaming clothes in the barrel, lift the wooden tubs and carry the heavy baskets out to the clothes lines across the yard.
There was an efficient system of drainage and the kitchen garbage was carried away daily and used to feed the farm animals, though we did not keep pigs. Father taught us that pork was not healthful, and he set the example in his own family.
All the store rooms were stone flagged. In one were shelves where milk was kept and cheese piled; stored fruit was in another; vegetables in stone bins in another. In the weave room, cloth was spun and woven, until the local woollen mills put the hand-loom out of use. Then this room was used for various household purposes. The daughters gathered here in the summer time to look over strawberries and green peas for the large family table. Outside in the central courts was the stone receptacle for ashes, lest live coals start fires.
In the basement, on the north-west side of the house, was a long hall which we called the schoolroom because the children were taught here until the school-house was built six years later. The basement hall was then, in 1862, used as a gathering room for the young people and fitted up with a "stepstove" on which they popped corn and made molasses candy. Between the windows were marble-topped tables and above them two large silver hooks on which the candy was "pulled." We all had a great deal of fun in this room. The boys would pop the corn and the girls would cook the candy and twist it into fancy patterns.
This room served occasionally as a little private theatre. Here my sister Dora produced her original play "Love and Prejudice." Costumes were borrowed from the Salt Lake City Theatre and the play was produced entirely by us children. Father came with the manager of the theatre, Hyrum B. Clawson, and no doubt they found as much humour in the crudity of the production as they ever found when professionals produced laboured farces.
In that home, built in a far desert land in 1856 every room was well ventilated, and had good windows. All but a few of the upper bedrooms had fireplaces. Father knew that fresh air was vitally necessary in homes and public assemblies. Chimneys and open windows provided good outlets and inlets. All the family were taught hygienic principles and rules of simple living and high thinking.
On the main floor were the sitting-rooms of the wives who had children and a large front parlour which was used as a prayer-room and as a gathering place for the family. The upper floor held twenty rooms, a few of which were used as sitting-rooms by some of my father's childless wives and as bedrooms for the older children. Each sitting-room was fitted with a roomy clothes closet, and there were plenty of windows for light and ventilation and a big fireplace, although in later years some open Franklin stoves were used to make the larger rooms perfectly comfortable in mid-winter.
The stairs had wide short treads and graceful banisters, while the halls were divided by glass partitions. Hallways on the first and second floors led out to the small courtyard where stood the pump from which water was drawn by the hired man, for all culinary purposes. The court was roomy enough to give light to the buildings which surrounded the square on three sides—the Bee Hive House on the east, the Church offices on the south, and the Lion House on the west.
The lion on the front portico, over the entrance, is the famous stone lion by the English artist, William Ward, who had made the stone font in the Nauvoo Temple, which was supported on the backs of twelve oxen. Father was fond of symbols, especially when the representations were artistic and had meaning. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah was well known to this Bible student. The Bee Hive was the state symbol of Utah, and the wide pinioned eagle carved over the gate was the symbol of American freedom, and a frequent air denizen of these mountain heights.
A long porch was added by father to the west side of the Lion House in the early 'sixties to serve as a home gymnasium, where we all took our regular exercises. In the summer this was used as a sleeping porch for the younger members of the family.
The workmanship of this building, as well as that of the Bee Hive House built two years previously, was of superior honest quality for my father superintended every detail of it. The wood, native yellow pine, was beautifully painted and so skilfully done that to-day over seventy years after its erection, no door has ever sagged, the paint has never peeled off and the whole house is a study in colonial form.
The furnishings of those early homes were all hand-made and of the finest colonial types, for Brigham Young's skill as a cabinet-maker was well utilised here—tables with claw legs, sofas of perfect line, four-poster beds with canopies, light stands and chairs. The latter were made to fit exactly the backs and shoulders of women and children. Father used to say that men could sit comfortably on chairs four and six inches higher than women should use. He took mother and the other wives up to the cabinet-maker to have them try out patterns of chairs so that they should be comfortable.
The lace curtains which hung in graceful folds above the window line probably came from Nottingham. The floor coverings in the sitting and bedrooms were rag carpets woven by the skilled hands of the wives in the weave room. The parlour had from the first a real "store" carpet of ingrainwool.
Everywhere there were closets with handy hooks and shelves, built-in cupboards in the parlour and all sitting-rooms which father planned to provide his family with every convenience possible. The simple, colonial patterns of all these is to-day a joy to an artistic eye. In one of the parlour cupboards were many books filled with exquisite steel engravings which came out Sundays and evenings for our delight and cultural education. The central cupboard held some lovely South Sea shells and corals with other choice rarities. On the walls of the sitting-rooms hung some rare and often beautiful engravings framed by our cabinet-maker.
The Lion House was the loved home of as healthy and happy a family of mothers and children as ever dwelt beneath a roof. On this I speak with knowledge in this intimate revelation of Brigham Young's home life, for I was the first child born under its unique roof. The wives moved in as fast as rooms were finished, my own mother moving into her sitting-room suite as the boards were being nailed on the floors and just in time for my own birth (March 18, 1856) to synchronise with the emergence of the house into livable reality.
The entrance of a spirit from the Higher World into an earthly tabernacle was a sacred event in our happy home life. Many were so born, and all were lovingly welcomed. There was always joy and gladness attaching to such an event for we were always taught that "children are 'an heritage of the Lord."
Dear, great-hearted Aunt Zina was the gentle priestess who presided over most of the beds of birth and death, sickness and pain. She, together with Aunt Clara, my own mother (Lucy Bigelow) and splendid Aunt Eliza R. Snow, were the various nurses and authorities on all the ills humanity is heir to. Aunt Zina had her hands full always for she had been given excellent training as a midwife and nurse by Dr. Willard Richards and other pioneer physicians.
Although Aunt Zina and Aunt Eliza were frequently the nurses in the household, each mother was herself self-reliant and skilled in the uses of herbs and ointments. But these two tender souls added the gift of powerful faith and there was healing power in their ministering hands. All the infantile diseases went the rounds—measles, whooping cough, mumps and chicken-pox. We never suffered from diphtheria and typhoid fever; our rigid sanitary arrangements prevented that. The cows and their milkers were made the subject of local soap ablutions before the milking process began, a most advanced step for those days. Consumption was practically unknown, although father's first wife died of that disease in New York State, just after he joined the Church.
We wore the usual asafetida bag in times of measles, were kept shut up with sulphured sheets over the doorways if a contagious disease was suspected, and were carefully nursed with herbs and "consecrated oil" and blessed frequently according to the faith or otherwise of our particular mothers. It may be explained that the power of faith in healing has been recognised by the Church from the beginning; and that administration, following the practices of the early Christian Church, is to anoint the patient with pure olive oil blessed for that purpose, and then to pray for him.
Wise old Dr. Sprague sometimes looked at our protruded tongues and put us through a course of odious steam baths over a tub of hot water and gave us an occasional gargle or a lobelia emetic as he or nature seemed to require.
If there were any heavy hearts, except when sore sickness or death invaded the home, we children knew nothing of it. It is singular, but true, that in all those years the shadow of death hung over the Lion House only four times, and that was for Aunt Clara Chase and for three children in their very early years.
Our marriages were performed in the Temple of House of the Lord. There was a quiet supper given, but never great social affairs with guests and presents and cards of invitation. Again, the New England customs formed the basis of our traditions and habits. Luxury was unknown, fashion riots were deplored, and we were married in all simplicity, with a deeply sacred atmosphere pervading the event rather than any hilarious or unseemly display. The great majority of my brothers and sisters were well and happily married. There were a few marital disasters; only enough to punctuate the rule. All were married, none remained single. Father himself, when able, performed the ceremony over the sacred altar, sealing husband to wife and wife to husband for the endless ages of eternity, unless sinning broke the covenant and released the innocent party. He gave homes to his daughters, as to his sons.
Food and meal-times in the Lion House were necessarily exact as to time and measured as to servings. Plenty of milk, vegetables, and fruit, but careful helpings of meat and desserts. Simple as it was, the food was of the very best quality, and the cooking could not have been excelled by any foreign chef. All father's wives were excellent cooks.
One of the very best cooks and managers was "Aunt Twiss," and she was in charge of the kitchen staff in the Lion House. She had no children and she loved her work. System was her second name. She had two hired cooks and two dish washers and she needed them. At first the bread was "salt risen" (no yeast but raised with "sponge") and it was baked in the brick oven in the kitchen, but when Henry Golightly established a bakery in the city, father had the bread brought from there. He was ever eager to minimise labour for women as well as for men; that is why he wanted to establish community living.
When fifty or more people are fed three times a day some system must be observed. Breakfast was always ready at 8 o'clock in the summer and 8.30 in the winter. The bell rang five minutes before that time and I can assure you that every child was waiting for the sound of the bell for if they were not there on time they failed to get their meals. The meal hours struck regularly in our hungry interiors, strange as that may seem. Nothing was allowed between meals (except apples or other fruit) unless unavoidable circumstances made us late for meals when served. Father was keenly sensible as to the conservation of time and strength in order to achieve comfort with the least possible friction in human operations.
Breakfast consisted of eggs and toast with milk and fruits or with "warmed over" potatoes, a little baked squash or other vegetables in the winter; these with tomatoes, always milk gravy, and fruit, varied the breakfast monotony. Buckwheat cakes appeared occasionally in winter with real maple syrup. Father never lost his Vermont taste for maple syrup and used to send to Vermont for the sugar, and the cooks made it into syrup.
At dinner time there was plenty of good bread, the flour not too well rolled and therefore not robbed of its life-giving properties; potatoes usually cooked in their skins and other vegetables all "in the season thereof" and plenty of them. Beef or mutton was served sparingly, with chicken on Sunday and occasionally mountain trout in summer time. Turkey always came on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year. Sunday's roast or stewed chicken was sometimes varied with venison, bear steak, or wild fowl. The best of pie, cakes or pudding was served for a simple dessert.
The pie was cut into six pieces and noses were counted. Never was it cut into four pieces or eight pieces, always six. In my childhood days this measured amount of pie seemed a great affliction. But there was no restriction on the quantity of the other items, only the desserts and "sweets." Many a time I have traded off my piece of pie to some of the girls or have "swapped" my seat in the theatre (the family all had seats in the theatre) to one of the cooks for an extra piece of pie. The filling of dried apples, squash, native black currants, gooseberry, plum, or custard and reasonably rich, flaky crust made it always the acme of culinary perfection.
The day's work for father did not begin till after 9 o'clock in the morning, for he rarely arose before 8 o'clock, as he held his most important council meetings in the evening or went to other meetings. These meetings were interspersed occasionally with his few recreations—the theatre, or an occasional dancing party—so he seldom retired before mid-night. Yet he slept soundly when he did get to bed. He said that he had trained himself to "shut up his thinker" when he went to bed and to go to sleep at once. The rule of eight hours' sleep, eight hours' work, and eight hours' recreation was a plan he himself carried out fairly well.
His breakfast was a simple meal of bread, milk, a boiled egg, and fruit; eaten always in the Bee Hive House where his private apartments were for a number of years; it was quiet there. Aunt Lucy Decker Young who presided there, was also an exquisite housekeeper and knew how to smooth over the rough exteriors of life's hardest burdens for her adored husband.
Father ate no luncheon, or dinner as we called it then. The day's work for him was continuous, sometimes broken by meetings or business, by funeral calls, by trips here and there or by visits to inspect waterways or roadways, public works on the Temple or other public buildings. Every strenuous moment was filled, yet never with exhausting hurry or worry. Either was impossible where he was concerned.
Supper was ready at 5 o'clock. Father had his "cooked meal" at that hour. Aunt Eliza R. Snow always sat at his right and Aunt Twiss usually sat on his left, where she could serve the meal as necessary. No wife was ever jealous of the seat of honour accorded to Aunt Eliza. Her superior gifts and tender spiritual sympathy endeared her to the wives and children as well as making her a womanly counsellor for father. We all loved and honoured her. The rest of the family had mush and milk (corn meal mush or hominy usually) with plenty of good milk and cheese, bread, fresh fruit, or baked apples or stewed fruits in the season.
Supper-time was a time to listen to good and jovial conversation, yet there was never anything approaching boisterous laughter or unseemly mirth. It was just a happy carefree release from the day's study or burden when the father and his adoring family would join in congenial intercourse.
Father oftentimes brought visitors. Especially was he fond of the young and handsome representative of the Prophet's family, Joseph F. Smith, son of the martyred Patriarch, Hyrum Smith. Often there would be out-of-town visitors and occasional strangers who were deserving of some unusual attention.
On Sundays and holidays, only two meals were served. At 9.30 came breakfast so that we could go to the meeting or Sunday School in the morning, and supper was at 4.30 after the afternoon meeting. In this new country, when each man was a pioneer, we ate, "dinner and supper" rather than "luncheon and dinner."
Cold water or buttermilk was father's only drink. If he was chilled he sometimes had a cup of "composition" or "peppermint tea." His preferred diet, when he could regulate it without offence to his own family or to his many hosts while travelling, was buttermilk and Johnny cake, the New England fare upon which he was reared.
"When we go on a trip to the settlements," he said, "and stop at the brethren's houses it is 'Brother Brigham, let us manifest our feelings toward you and your company.' I tell them to do so, but to give me a piece of Johnny cake; I would rather have it than their pies and tarts and sweetmeats. Let me have something that will sustain nature and leave my stomach and whole system clear to receive the Spirit of the Lord and be free from headache and pains of every description."
Fruit he always enjoyed, especially apples. His favourite occasional sweet was molasses cake or candy, and honey or maple syrup. He carried a peppermint drop or a few raisins always in his pocket—not for himself, but for little children, his own and others, who loved him dearly because of his kindness and attention.
In his later years he was troubled with rheumatism, which is now known to be a nutritional disease. It may have been partly due to the rich foods which he felt he must accept or give offence when visiting friends or on his many trips. But he was ever a moderate eater though not abstemious and always believed in eating wholesome nourishing foods.
His habits in life were regular and exceedingly simple. The last twenty-five years of his life were spent in mental rather than physical toil and he himself complained that his diet was chosen for him rather than by him. Because of his involuntary lack of exercise (there was no golf in those days) he became rather portly as he grew older.
XXVIII HOME MORALE [333-345]
A Strict Observer of the "Word of Wisdom"—Gives up Tobacco Chewing—Denounces the Liquor Traffic—Evening Prayers at the Lion House—Family Gatherings—A Juvenile Court—Sleeping Habits—Strict Observance of the Sabbath—Pastimes—Love of Music—Leader's Daily Routine—Office Work—Days of Council-Taking—Meeting Stopped Because of Sick Child—No Class Distinction in the House-hold—Servants as Members of the Family—Pervasive Influence—Courtesy to His Wives—Neither Feeble-Minded nor Saints—Domestic Harmony Assured by Their Sacrificial Sprit—The Farm House—A Place of Entertainments and Picnics.
BRIGHAM YOUNG was a strict observer of the "Word of Wisdom" as revealed by the Prophet in 1833 which prohibits the use of all stimulants and tobacco. His wives may not always have been as rigid as he was concerning the use of tea and coffee, but the family was certainly taught that its careful observance was the way of health.
As a young man my father chewed tobacco. In after years he told the story of that conquered appetite. "I carried a half plug of tobacco in my pocket for a long time," he said. "When the gnawing for it seemed unbearable I would take it out, look at it, and say 'Are you, or is Brigham going to be master?' Then it went back untouched into my pocket." He denounced the liquor traffic and all drunkenness; "If I had the influence the world gives me credit for," he once said, "I would not have a single drunkard, thief, or liar in this society. I do not profess to have that influence, but I can raise my voice against these evils."
The custom of evening prayer-time in the Lion House was as fixed as the stars. About seven o'clock the rhythmic sound of the prayer-bell was heard as father's hand lifted it in regular light-stroke counts, and the flying feet of children, the quiet coming of his lady wives (for they were "ladies" every one of them) filled the halls with clatter and soon every chair was taken while the patriarch and his goodly family sat beside the centre-table and waited till the last child came in.
A hymn or two was joyously sung, for we were a happy lot of singers. Then came the quiet prayer of gratitude and adoration; of appeal for each loved one and for all the world; for the work of the Lord in the various priestly functionings and for protection from evil and accident. Then the family arose after the generous responses of "Amen," while the younger children flitted off to bed, perhaps, and older ones hurried to study or to prepare for theatre or ball if it was winter or holiday time, or for quiet reading and chatting in the various sitting-rooms of the several mothers. Father often remained to talk over the events of the day with such of his wives as cared to remain, and some of the older children. Around that evening counsel table golden words of wisdom and guidance were uttered, and out of those councils have come many of the splendid opportunities for woman's advancement and her mission within and without the home.
After the prayers were over father would often turn to us and say: "Come, girls, let's have some music," for they were all musicians of sorts those Young boys and girls, and father loved to hear us sing and play. We would gather round the piano and sing his favorite "Hard Times Come Again No More," or "Auld Lang Syne," or, in the later years, "Silver Threads Among the Gold." Hymns were sung Sunday evenings, for he did not allow us to play dance music on the Sabbath.
After prayer-time also there were family councils held about forthcoming family policies, picnic parties, and sometimes there were juvenile troubles to settle, with father as judge of the Juvenile Court. One such event had its humorous side as so many of our family episodes had.
It happened that some of the boys were playing at the pump, squirting water upon each other, from hands pressed at the nozzle mouth. All were wet after this performance and then Ernest took the occasion to indulge in the strictly forbidden prank of stone-throwing, delivering a smashing blow on Hydie's head. The injured boy went howling to his mother, and later of course a Juvenile Court was convened at prayer-time.
"Ernest," asked father after hearing several tearful charges and counter-charges, "did you throw the stone that hit Hydie on the head?"
"Well it was like this, father," he answered. "What goes up must come down, on your head or on the ground. And the rock came down, and Hydie didn't get out of the way and so he got hit."
"Well," said father, judicially, while struggling with laughter inside, "did you see this take place?" and on his replying in the affirmative he was instructed to tell exactly how it all happened. He did so honestly and frankly in great minuteness of detail. Then father said:
"What did you do, Ernest?"
"I just looked on."
Court adjourned amid peals of laughter.
There were occasional childish quarrels, for we were a healthy vigorous lot and exceedingly human. Boys were often rough and little girls were easily teased. However, there was nearly always an elder brother or sister to take the part of little ones and to fight childish battles for the weaker ones.
I recall a youthful tragedy. Mother had clothed me in the splendour of starched pink cambric and ruffled pantalettes to go to some festival. I slipped out and ran across the road to the font where many children were splashing and swimming.
"Oh," I said, "I wish I was in there!"
"Then go!" cried one of my brothers as he pushed me headlong into the pool. At mother's rebuke for the soiled finery I sobbed: "I should think you'd be glad I didn't get drownded!" There was something to do every minute, plenty of places for play in play hours, and certainly no chance for loneliness.
We were extremely regular in our sleeping habits as well as in our eating habits. The outer gates of the high stone wall around the Lion House were always locked at 10 o'clock at night. When we were at the theatre or a party we had to come in through the office door and be scrutinised there by the watchman. He noted if you had come home with desirable or undesirable company. Under these circumstances one did not linger on the corner gossiping with the girls or sparking one's "Best Beau" more than a quarter of an hour after the close of the theatre or one might get reported to father.
Lights were pretty generally out at 10 o'clock, and we were all up by seven or half-past seven in the morning. In the summer time, the boys slept on the lower porch, and the girls, on the upper porch, in the happiest and gayest of child companionship, innocent and unafraid. Straw beds and feather beds spread on canvas with a good quilt for cover, and an uplifted prayer of praise gave us a sense of nearness to the stars that compensated for the shudder with which little girls sometimes heard the coyotes howling in the near-by hills. All sorts of ghost stories and jokes passed from bed to bed on those lovely summer evenings. When we slept indoors, mother insisted on opening our windows even in winter, for father was quite "set" upon having ample ventilation in both winter and summer.
The fireplaces and later the stoves, in all the sitting-rooms were somewhat of a care, for father was extremely cautious of fires. Each night, when the family had retired, he came with his candle in each of the sitting-rooms to see that there were no live coals on the hearth.
The Sabbath was strictly observed. No play, no secular reading or music, or roaming the hills. Little bodies might grow restless, nerves frazzled and eyes sleepy during the Sunday School and afternoon meetings, but they were Puritan descendants and the spirit of modern "jazz" was an unknown human problem in those days. Visitors to the young people were welcomed Sunday evenings, but they must attend prayers and gaiety must be measurably subdued.
Card playing was never allowed. We could play checkers and chess on week-days, but not on Sundays. Father was ever averse to games of chance that encouraged or suggested gambling in any form. But we were never dull. Far from it. Our music helped us and then we played other interesting games for there were thirty or forty of us. Father was a natural musician and knew the value of music and the important part it plays in the life of a great people. He fostered and encouraged the study and practice of music, not only in his own family, but among the people. We had three organs and two pianos. One of the latter was brought across the plains in 1848 and is still in existence in our Church Museum.
Father's habits were regular and well ordered. The office force were all at work when he entered his own private office between 9 and 10 o'clock, and no ripple or flurry ever marked his coming or going. One knew instantly when he was in the room, but his penetrating influence had been there all the time, resting peacefully over everything and everybody so that no one was surprised to see him enter. His presence was like light and sunshine and "benediction after prayer."
Clerks brought in correspondence, officials and people came for counsel or help. The stream of visitors poured steadily through the outer office and trickled in orderly sequence into his own office, hour after hour. No one was ever denied admittance. His two counsellors, various members of the Twelve who were at home, sat with him and gave opinions or help in the various matters presented for the Leader's decision.
He was exceedingly quick at reaching the core of any matter brought to his attention, and was sometimes impatient with the circumlocution or hesitancy of his callers, especially so if guile were used in leading up to the point of issue. At such times he would interrupt a caller or a council meeting, would state the issue and answer yes or no, quietly and decisively. He was never ambiguous or involved in answer or statement, nor did he waste time or words. The kindly tone, the sympathetic glance, softened the rigour of the denial, added joy to the affirmative yes. He used to say that he knew when men wanted him to say yes and he usually gratified that desire. Again he advised men and women not to ask for counsel when they were sure they were not going to take it. And that was the day of counsel-taking and counsel-receiving. It was a day when the building of houses, planting of farms and gardens, cities and mills, roads and canyon-logging—all was in process of swift evolution and adjustment. Bishops and Apostles could answer the great mass of detailed questions, but they often lacked the larger vision and the relative values of men and measures.
And the people sought their leader. Many of them felt that their own single problems could be solved by him as by no other. The orphaned child, the struggling emigrant who came out of former professional life and therefore had difficulty of adjustment to pioneer conditions; the widow, the oppressed wife, the man with the new project, these and thousands more like them knocked at that freely opened door to be received by "Brother Brigham" and helped as they needed help, one and all.
Father loved all the people, and the people returned that affection in full measure. He loved his family with a deep and tender concern which expressed itself not only in providing them all with good homes, opportunities for education, healthful recreation, but he also surrounded his household with a spirit of courtesy and consideration which became a part of the inheritance of every child. Mothers differ greatly in temperament and looks, yet each child bore upon face and form, in mind and spirit, so deep an impress of the father himself, that looks and characteristics of the Youngs passed into a social proverb. It is given to few men so to impress history that names live on while cities crumble and die. It is given to few men so to etch their lives and spirits into the character of their descendants that even to the fifth and sixth generation strangers find the impress of the ancestor indelibly fixed upon the physical and mental traits of all who bear his name.
This great leader was so just, so true, so genuine in his domestic relations that those who came into the household to assist, either within the confines of the house itself or without, as helpers in all the many-sided domestic, farm and field activities which marked his wide circle of home life, felt that each "belonged" to him and his family. Each man, each woman became a very part of Brigham Young's life and were interwoven into the domestic fabric for ever. Two of his daughters married his business manager, another married the telegraph clerk in his office, another his teamster, while still another married a salesman in the shop.
There was no possible class distinction in the household. If an emigrant was brought in by a sympathetic mother or child, the whole household hastened to welcome the traveller and supply all wants both social and physical. If a girl worked in the kitchen she was welcomed in the social circle and married off to relatives of the family or friends in exactly the same way that daughters were remembered. Indeed, we were all "one in Christ Jesus."
Since mature vision has provided me with mental balancing scales, I have compared this community family life with the drab institutional life of "homes" and "retreats." We were all as happy, mothers and children, as we could have been anywhere or under any other circumstances. Incredible as this sounds, the law of compensation, and the spirit or genius of the Lion House makes it true. Work and the mean pressure of grinding poverty was minimised and shared willingly by all. Above the whole of life bent an azure sky of divine conviction and conversion, lit by twinkling stars of human love, child to child, mother to mother, each conscious that God and our adored earthly father approved of us and shared our every joy and sorrow. His influence actually pervaded every corner of that Lion House and its vast surroundings. His love, we all knew, was as deep as that of our mothers, as understanding as was that of a bosom companion, and as surrounding as warmth and sunlight.
On one occasion when he learned that one of his children was very ill and calling for him he stopped a council meeting declaring to the assembly that the meeting could wait, but his sick child could not.
Father was great in his handling of large affairs, in his infinite power to mould men and measures; but if he had failed, as he himself once said, in his duties as husband and father, "he would have waked up in the morning of the First Resurrection to find that he had failed in everything." He was so eminently successful in his home that no one ever related to him, or who benefited by his friendship, ever failed to return in full the measure he gave of love, heaped and running over.
His beautiful courtesy was never more in evidence than when he approached any one of his wives whom he loved and who loved him. Especially was that so when in the company of Mother Young, whose health was rather poor and who had borne the heat and burden of the day for him and with him. To her he paid exquisite attention, quiet, composed but sincere. His attitude of consideration towards her was reflected in that of every other wife and child he had.
The wives of Brigham Young lived together without outer friction or violent disagreement so far as any of us children knew. That they were all equally congenial could not be expected for they were not weaklings and all "had minds of their own." But their differences, if and when they existed, were their own affairs and were settled amongst themselves without disturbing in the slightest degree the serene tranquility of our family life. They were ladies, and lived their lives as such. The children were never aware of any quarrels and indeed they could not have been serious or the children must have been aware of them.
Such a condition can only be explained in one of two ways: either these women were feeble-minded, or they were consecrated saints, who accepted the psychology of their situation as a necessary part of the revealed Gospel. They had themselves drawn from the lessons of family adjustments, learned around their own early home hearths, the truth that personal desire, of necessity, gave way to parental discipline; as well as the associated fact that peace and family progress can proceed only along more or less self-denying lines. These women were all converts to the new and violently unpopular religion.
The joy, the happiness of their lives came through the delightful upspringing growth in spiritual beauty, in the confidence and friendship of each other, and in the reverence and love manifested by their intelligent God-fearing husband, Brigham Young, who knew the difficult upward path they each were treading because of the strain which justice and mercy put upon him in the adjustments and readjustments necessary for himself.
Not all these good women were sweet-tempered or unselfish—not by any means. They were just mortals. But there were enough of them who radiated love and comradeship in ever-widening circles to humanise the group. If all wanted to be happy, each must share in unselfish contribution to family harmony; at least they all tried, and all succeeded, so far as my brothers and sisters or I can remember.
What was true of Brigham Young's family is true also in the case of most of those other great and good men who entered into this patriarchal order of marriage. There may have been exceptions—there must have been, because men and women in those days were only human as they are to-day. But there were truly many successful happy patriarchal families.
The "ups and downs" of the founding and living of this order of marriage may only be guessed at by the thoughtful reader. That such conditions exist even in the most rigid monogamous relationship no one may deny. And so long as people are human there will remain the inevitable crossing of human wills and the undeniable right to change one's mind.
Such right was claimed by only one of father's many wives, one of the Bigelow sisters whom he married in Winter Quarters, Aunt Mary Jane, the sister of my own dear mother. Because of conditions, neither of the sisters was wife in fact either at Winter Quarters or during the journey. After arrival in the Valley, Aunt Mary Jane decided that it would be impossible for her to be happy as the plural wife of any man, even a Prophet of the Lord. So she went to father, explained her feelings, and asked to be released from her vows.
Her wish was readily granted with no bad feeling on either side, for Brigham Young believed that in all respects and in marriage especially women should exercise their complete free agency. She was the only wife to voluntarily leave father's home and protection, except Ann Eliza who "loving not wisely but too well," yielded to the temptation of filthy lucre to show her revenge. All others remained loyal and true throughout their lives.
Around the Lion House father planted noble gardens of trees, shrubs and flowers, to gladden the eye and beautify the surroundings as well as to give wholesome food to the family. Here were grown the choicest of apples, pears and plums, as well as many kinds of fruits, such as grapes, currants, raspberries and gooseberries. Beyond the corrals was a peach orchard with its shed, put up by father, where we girls were allowed to dry all the peaches we desired and to sell them for pin money. There was a good market for them in the stores.
That was a glorious week during the peach-drying season. We often invited friends to come in and help us, and the boys would spread the peaches on the benches outside, or come and gather them all in out of the threatening showers. On the last evening of the drying season we had a feast and a dance in the school-house. In the lower garden there was an apple cellar. Here all kinds of apples were deposited on shelves and every Saturday we used to repair to the cellar with our baskets and bring away our regular portion of apples for the week's use.
After settling in the Valley a few years Brigham Young decided that a farm in the outskirts of the city was necessary for his large family and their various needs. A farm house of adobe was built, with a milk and cheese house a few feet away, the two connected by a closed porchway. Here one of his wives, Aunt Susan Snively, lived, cooking for the men who attended to the farm, and directing the making of the cheese and butter with the care of the poultry also. Others of his wives were here at times for a year or more. My mother, Lucy Bigelow Young, lived in the old farm house for a year with her two little girls about 1861. A year or so later the modest dwelling was replaced by a modern cottage of generous proportions and was known as "The Farm House."
It was the centre of a generous tract of land with meadows, great waving fields of grain, potato and corn-fields, and in two sections of it were growing forests of mulberry and black locust trees. The object of the mulberry trees was to establish sericulture in the State and the locust trees were to be used for making domestic furniture.
The farm house, which was four miles out of the city, became a favourite place for entertainments and picnics. Sometimes father would have a party for us all when we stayed the night, making beds on the floor, girls sleeping with mothers and the boys up in the hay loft.
The farm was occasionally the scene of festivities on a most generous scale. For a number of years New Year's Day was celebrated by father and his numerous family with a few of his closest associates in house parties at the farm house. It was here that upon two occasions he brought the famous actress, Julia Dean Hayne, as a guest for these gay festivities. It was in her honour that the sleigh was named—the mammoth long sleigh with its high driver's seat, its green painted sides outspringing in graceful curves and holding in its capacious hay - and buffalo-robe-filled box a bevy of nearly fifty children of various ages all cuddled down under the buffalo robes on hay and all bubbling with laughter and excitement over the expected festivities of the holiday season. Drawn by six spirited horses all jingling and jangling with the most musical of sleigh bells, the driver's long whip used skilfully and delicately on the glossy sides of the prancing teams, the brilliant stars overhead saw no merrier sight than this sleigh full of unalloyed happiness just behind the Leader's cutter, and followed by the more dignified sleighs holding the mothers of these children on their way for a gala house party at the farm.
Entering the front door we were at once in the dining-room with its odorous breath from bake-ovens of mince-pies and roast-beef with the more delicate aroma of stewing chickens and squash pies. The hungry children were crowded through the dining-room into the great central sitting-room and then raced upstairs to remove neck comforters and cloaks, with the heavy outer woollen stockings, which served as both leggings and overshoes, that they might race the faster back into the long dancing hall which spread across the south end of the house. In the sitting room was the wonderful music-box whose exquisite selections from "Il Trovatore" and "The Swiss Echo Song" trilled and pealed along its curved and pin-pointed rollers in the most mysterious and uncanny fashion. Here, too, were the winged rocking chairs of home manufacture, rush bottomed, feather cushioned and antimacassared in the latest pioneer fashion.
The usual band of musicians sat in the end of the hall and sometimes even the music-box was sufficient for eager couples to "Chasse to the right," "Balance on the corner," and "All promenade." Jim Currie was the popular "caller" of the day and the leader's son-in-law, Hyrum B. Clawson, was a past grand master at floor managing, and, indeed, as the master of ceremonies, on all such occasions.
Here the "Ten Big Girls," came with their crowd of beaux, usually brought down in individual cutters, or at most in double sleighs beneath the warm shelter of soft buffalo robes. Here also came the First Presidency as invited guests. It was a big, happy, jovial house party. There were the occasional resting places in the festivities when a good story teller was brought out, singers heard in ballad or choral music, these intermissions being rounded off with stirring patriotic and apt remarks from the leader or his associate brethren applicable to the time and place.
The farm house served an even greater purpose than the special one for which it was designed, for it embodied the realisation of a domestic ideal which carried its message, through example, into every hamlet and house in the Church. No need to urge the Elders of Israel to "live with the children," to "get back to Nature," to "find God through flowers and fields and clouds." The old farm house was a beacon light and shining example to all Israel and to the world itself during the years of its active existence.
XXIX HOME PRACTICES [346-356]
Leader Builds a School for His Children—Specially Equipped and Furnished—Recess Hours and Vacations—Boys who Preferred Work to School—One Son Enters the Army—All Wives Good Housekeepers—Summer Picnics—Home-Made Gymnasium—Dancing Lessons—Ann Eliza Webb Pleads for Marriage—Only Wife that Turned against Brigham Young—Home as Woman's Right—Leader's Impartiality—Finances of the Lion House—Justice to Wives and Children—Testimony of His Living Children.
THE Lion House was finished in 1856 and six years later father built a large school-house, as his children had long outgrown the school room in the Lion House. The windows were built comparatively high as father declared that the light should not fall directly on the pupils' eyes. The benches and desks were unique. We sat on benches or wooden chairs with desks in front of us, the little ones in the front row. Both benches and desks exactly fitted to our backs and legs so that we suffered no discomfort by having to hang our feet or to stoop over the desk. Each child had a separate desk with sloping lid and place for ink bottles in the corner. I preserved my desk which I have recently placed in the Museum.
School opened at 9 o'clock and was dismissed at 4 p.m. with a dinner interval from 12 to 1.30. In the morning there was a recess of an hour and another half hour diversion in the afternoon. How delightful were those breaks! In the summer the near-by hills furnished romping space if we did not go too far. The grassy surroundings of the school-house permitted all sorts of games and plays. In the winter we could go "coasting" down the many hills, and the pond was not far away where we could skate—weather permitting. Roller skates were all right for summer, but oh, the joy of skimming the ice with sharp-shod skates under one.
The long three months summer vacation was spent by us out on the hills and canyon back of our house; the little girls flower-and sego-hunting and the small boys playing games. The big girls had to weave, colour, spin, sew and knit. The big boys helped out on the farm, hauling wood, and doing other useful labour. The girls were early trained in all the domestic arts of knitting, spinning, weaving, sewing, embroidering, cooking and cleaning. A little pin money was most desirable, and if we wanted extra ribbons or finery we had to earn it. The boys had various ways of earning money also: ushering in the theatre, chores for others, etc.
Father believed in work as well as play. He saw to it that his boys, eager for fun and action, had a chance to translate their superabundant vitality into productive action. One of my brothers, Willard, tells a story about this. He with another brother, Ernest, tried father out on the "work question."
They appealed to him one day when they were about thirteen years of age to let them go to work and leave school. Father told them they must go back and talk it over with their mothers and older sisters and then come to him. They returned with the desired consent and then father told them that he wanted them to stay by their decision; they could work a while and then go to school a while. He was quite willing that they should work for one or more years and then they would perhaps be willing to go to school and work hard at that. They went to work on the farm in teaming and wood-hauling. After a year they were eager enough to get back to school.
Father gave opportunity for any of his children to go East to become proficient in any chosen profession. Some of the children accepted his offer. But at that time in pioneer history and in most places in the United States there were few colleges open to women and it was not "the thing" for girls to get a college education as it is to-day. So most girls married young. Then, too, the problem of pioneer progress pressed so heavily upon young as well as old that most young men were forced into the field of active life before many years of schooling could be enjoyed.
But Willard early decided that he was going into the army. When his decision was made and arrangements completed for him to go to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, father gave him a special blessing to "gain this useful knowledge and through the light of truth make it subservient for the building up of the Kingdom of God." In one of his letters home Willard spoke of his attending the Protestant Episcopal Church to which father replied: "I have no objections whatever; on the contrary I would like to have you attend and see what they can teach you about God and Godliness more than you have already been taught." After a long and useful military career, Willard is now a retired colonel in the United States army.
Many of the children and grandchildren have received advanced education and made honoured names for themselves and the Church to which they belong.
All of our mothers, or "aunts" as we called them, were good housekeepers and they divided up the home tasks so that there was both system and lack of friction in the labours. The care of the parlours, the halls, attic, and each one's sitting-room, with the laundry, sewing, weaving in the earlier years, with baby-tending and Relief Society work, kept our mothers and ourselves busy all day. My mother's task was the care of the Lion House parlour. And if there was ever a spot of dust on the chairs or mouldings, a stain on the curtains or a chair awry I cannot recall such a tragedy! However, all was not monotonous toil. Mothers and father also took children on trips here and there; and had picnics and fun generally.
The greatest fun of all was enjoyed in the "Front." Father had built a small water pool, with canyon cold water running in and out constantly, and there we would take our daily plunge; the girls at one time and the boys at another. Separate dressing rooms, permitted us to be secluded, and on each side of the font were two big wooden doors, which protected the girls from the gaze of curious and mischievous brothers and boy friends. Cold as the water was, running down from the snowclad hills, the sun would warm it by recess or noon; then it was delightful.
Then there was the joy of the Great Salt Lake in which bathing and swimming were welcome diversions to the usual Saturday picnic or canyon excursion.
Another delightful excursion was to the Hot Springs, discovered by the pioneers on their entrance into the Valley. These springs furnished a winter swimming pool with hot baths for all. A dancing hall was built here and our bathing was often followed by feasting and dancing.
We had a home-made gymnasium which was generally pure enjoyment, unless we wanted sometimes to go to the font or off into the hills after school. Then it was a bit of a bore; but we had to take exercises whether we liked it or not.
One of father's sons-in-law and his business manager, Hyrum B. Clawson, was a Yankee genius, genial, sympathetic and always courteous. Yet he knew how to exact respect and obedience both from hired men and all the children. He not only seconded all father's advanced ideas on health and hygiene, but added a few of his own. While on an eastern trip in 1862 he ran into the new craze for Dio Lewis's "gymnastics," and brought back with him both plans and specifications for the simple apparatus.
It was on his return that father had a big porch added to the west side of the Lion House where we had our "gymnastics" daily, winter and summer, as I have said. This he fitted up with wooden steps, or stools, trapezes, vaulting and climbing poles, wands, hoops, back boards and jumping ropes. Here we did our "daily dozen," and those back boards and the accompanying exercises gave us all as straight backs as I have seen in a family of women and men anywhere. I have my back board still. We had bloomers of linsey to the ankles, wrists and necks, and the boys had overalls and shirts. The era of semi-nudity had not reached the so-called "civilisation" at that day!
Some of the girls took dancing lessons. Two of the littlest of the eight-year-olds, my sister Louise and I, were noted as "Fairy Dancers." We, together with Tottie Clive and Sarah Alexander, the charming and graceful teacher, danced in many a "fairy extravaganza" on the stage of the Salt Lake City Theatre. The dancing master put all of the children through their paces and the art of "left foot," "right foot," "forward," "backward" was accomplished daily with more or less agility and grace.
For ten or fifteen years all the family practically lived in the Bee Hive and Lion House. But as the children multiplied and grew up, father built or bought separate homes for most of his wives.
Mother Young had charge while in the Bee Hive House, not only of her own family but of the official duties of the home. She lived there for a short time only. The work was very heavy as all of the hired men ate there, and frequent emigrants and visitors crowded the spacious dining-room. So she moved back to the White House on the hill, and Aunt Lucy Decker Young moved into the Bee Hive House, where she lived for many happy and useful years.
It was at the close of father's life that he decided to build an official residence, as the Bee Hive House was itself now crowded with Aunt Lucy Decker Young's large and growing family. He needed a home where he could entertain strangers who came from afar to see him, as well as his many friends and official callers. It was understood that Aunt Amelia, his last wife, would live there—everybody was quite willing to have her assume these large social responsibilities. However, the house, still unfinished at father's death, was completed by President John Taylor, and named the Gardo House. It was never occupied by any member of father's family.
Father bought a fine house on upper Main Street, built by his deceased friend and Counsellor, Jedediah M. Grant, where he moved Aunt Emmeline with her large and growing family. He moved sainted Aunt Emily with her family into a smaller house on upper State Street; later building her a comfortable two-story home on 3d East Street. Aunt Zina had her cozy home on 3d South Street. Aunt Clara chose to have hers next door to the Social Hall on State Street. And what hospitality over-flowed those peaceful dwellings. Like Aunt Zina's home, Aunt Clara's was a refuge for all the troubled hearts of married or unmarried sons and daughters.
Father bought a charming old colonial house in Provo, where he moved Aunt Eliza Burgess-Young with her son Alfales. Here father had commissioned his tried and trusted friend, Abram O. Smoot, to preside over the newly organized Utah Stake of Zion. And here in 1869 father established the Provo Co-operative Woolen Mfg. Co. with himself as President and A. O. Smoot as Vice-President. A year or two later when he decided to found a Church School, he consulted with Bro. Smoot concerning this project and appointed him as business manager or President of the Board of Trustees for the Brigham Young Academy to be located in Provo. Together they selected Bro. Karl G. Maeser, a cultured Professor—formerly of the Dresden University of Germany—to act as the President of this Brigham Young University. Father always regarded Bro. Maeser as Zion's noblest and greatest educator. Here Prof. Maeser opened the school, inviting later two of father's daughters into the faculty: one to organize a Musical Department; the other, my sister Zina, to establish a Domestic Art Department, and to act as Matron.
Father often visited Provo, for he was deeply interested in the school there. He had talked over with President Smoot and Prof. Maeser the idea, which was originally suggested to him by his wise and far-sighted First Counsellor, George Q. Cannon, of building and endowing two other Church Schools, one in Logan, and the other in Salt Lake City. The Provo Institution was to be the parent Institution, for there lived Prof. Maeser and Pres. Smoot. Above all, Provo was more or less isolated from the distractions of a large city.
In 1870, father moved my mother to St. George, where he bought a good house, surrounded by a semi-tropical garden of grapes, almonds, peaches and other luscious fruits. Here he spent the last seven winters of his life, in this Dixie-land. Here lived his associate state-founder, great leader and Apostle, Erastus Snow, with his own large family; together with that other stalwart pioneer, Jacob Gates, who was one of the seven Presidents of the Seventies.
At first, father brought his friends and Aunt Amelia, as well, to spend the winter at mother's home, who rejoiced in these social contacts. But when Gen. Thomas L. Kane brought his family down to St. George in the winter of 1873, father had to ask Uncle Erastus Snow to entertain the distinguished visitors at his own spacious home, the Big House, presided over by kind Aunt Libbie Snow. Mother's home was always over-crowded. So then father built a two-story adobe house, surrounded by porches, and here, during his last two winters, Aunt Amelia or Aunt Eliza B—welcomed father's guests.
Aunt Harriet B—Young was located in a good home opposite the south Temple Gate. Just close by was the home of father's last beautiful wife, Mary Van Cott-Young.
It is a fact not unworthy of note that only one of his wives ever turned against father or her religion. Not one of his wives married again after his death though some were comparatively young women. My own mother was but little past forty-seven and Aunt Amelia was but thirty-nine years of age. Mother's love of father—her lavish devotion to him in life and to his memory after his death amounted almost to worship! That all the others felt as did my mother is proved in part by the way in which they cherished his memory and respected their widowhood.
By the years 1875-77 all the mothers with large families had moved out of the Lion House into homes of their own, and all of the older boys and girls were married.
I think that father settled his wives into homes of their own in his later years to correct what he esteemed to be a mistake of his early judgment. For when he gave me the deed to my first home in the city, in 1876, he told me that he had made a mistake. If he had his life to live over again, he said, he would give every wife a home of her own and give her the deed to it; for that was every wife's right, and nothing more than justice. He cautioned me not to deed nor give away my home, not to anyone; but to remember that a home was a woman's first possession. He brought out and showed to me at that time, the plot of the big tract of land called the Upper Garden, east and north of the Lion House, where he had marked sites for homes for all his children. Especially was he solicitous over his daughters.
The story of the finances of these homes is most interesting. "Mother Young," the first wife who lived in the Bee Hive House, also had placed in her care at first all the family supplies and material which father had gathered and purchased for domestic uses in his family.
Some of the other wives went to father one day and objected to the necessary humiliation of appealing to Mother Young for material required for clothing themselves and their children. To say that the husband and father was surprised at the unusual action states the case mildly. At once, however, he saw the point involved and he realised that neither his first wife nor the other one quite grasped the fundamental principle of that order of marriage; so he decided in his usual simple manner to illustrate the matter to them.
He invited Mother Young into their counsel. Then he held up a ring asking: "Do you see any head or tail to this ring?"
"Why, no," Mother Young replied.
"Then this," said Brigham Young, "illustrates my thought. I sit in the centre of my family, the children in a circle around their mothers, and so on and on, and each is independent, yet dependent on the others. Now these wives of mine are bearing children and when they want any supplies or material I will see that such is furnished to them."
Directly after this a storehouse was erected wherein were kept groceries, clothing, implements and necessary equipment for farming, blacksmith and carpenter supplies and all domestic necessities. John Haslam, a faithful and devoted friend, was placed in charge of this store. A monthly credit was issued to each wife, in proportion to the number of her children and her own needs.
After that, when purchases were made of dress goods, hats or shoes, the quality and price were equalised, but each one might choose for herself colours or styles. Thus were obviated opportunities for friction on financial matters, and any wife knows justice in domestic financial propositions is quite as important to happiness as justice in social and moral relations.
It is generally understood that my father had nineteen wives; but of that number some were widows and wives in name only, to whom father gave a home. Of his wives, sixteen bore him children, six of them having but one child. The rest of them had children varying from two to ten. He had fifty-six living children, ten of them dying in infancy. There were twenty-six sons and thirty daughters; twenty-one sons and twenty-five daughters lived to maturity.
It is fitting that the author should add this testimony. I was born and reared in the Lion House. In all my life in that beloved home I never heard my father speak an unkind or irritable word to one of his wives. I never heard a quarrel between my father's wives. All of them possessed the innate training of restraint mingled with religious impulse which was so much a part of the Puritan inheritance.
I never heard one of my father's wives chastise or correct another wife's children. I have heard the children quarrel, naturally, but very little of that indeed, for we were not a contentious family. Much less did I ever hear or see anything but the utmost courtesy and kindliness between my father and his wives. Correct his children he did, but each with that dignity and deliberation that neither humiliated the child nor lowered his own self-respect. He met the situation man to man, woman to man.
I saw him pick up a noisy baby girl, who was running about and squealing with laughter out of reach of her mother's anxious arms during the solemn hour of prayer when the whole family were bowed in devotion! Father stopped his prayer, got up deliberately, caught the baby, spanked her lightly, laid her down sobbing in her mother's waiting arms, returned to his own chair where he knelt and quietly concluded his family orisons. Brutal he could not be, firm he always was. But the corrected child, inheriting his own poise, subconsciously admitted the justice of the rebuke and was first to fly for forgiveness to his fatherly bosom.
The family life was as ideal as human relations could ever be. There may have been tragedies of death, of suffering and of toil, yes, but we had little sickness and few deaths or funerals. All these sorrows flowed about us, never in between us. To-day, always in the past, and please the Lord, for ever on the Other Side, we Youngs shall be with each other with father, mothers and with God!
In this statement all of my father's living children coincide. Another point on which they all agree is that no other fact of father's life was so profound a proof of his true nobility and greatness as his life at home and the influence which he radiated there. He was ever present in spirit, and we were not surprised, certainly never alarmed, to see him at any unexpected moment or place.
The world knows Brigham Young as a statesman and coloniser; but to his children he was aforen ideal father. Kind to a fault, tender, thoughtful, just and firm. He spoke but once, and none were so daring as to disobey. But that his memory is almost worshipped by all who bear his name is an eloquent tribute to his character. None of us feared him; all of us adored him. If the measure of a man's greatness is truly given by Carlyle, as bounded by the number of those who love him and who were loved by him; then few men are as great as was my father, Brigham Young. What his life and love meant to his family only their subsequent lives may testify. What he did as state-founder, commonwealth builder, only the pages of history may imperfectly recall.
John Henry Evans (1933)
John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith an American Prophet (1933 (Macmillan); 1940 (Macmillan); 1960 (Macmillan) 1961 (Amy W. Evans); 1961 (Deseret Book [not sure if this is same as previous by Amy Evans]) 1989 Classics in Mormon Literature Series (Deseret Book): 264-74. Deseret Book 2010 [gospelink.com 1946 Deseret Book] [Offered for sale, Improvement Era 48. 1 (January 1945): 5; April 1945]
Preface to Classics edition, by Larry C. Porter (1989): xi [regarding the 1933 publication, Porter writes] “Calling it an impartial biography of the founder of Mormonism, a Deseret News review of the book suggested that "probably no more complimentary description of the life and attainments of Joseph Smith, the 'Mormon' prophet, has ever been published by the non-Mormon press for the consumption of non-members of the Church." (Deseret News, 8Apr. 1933.)
56. Mormon Polygamy
On a certain starlit night in 1843 two men and a woman might have been seen walking out of Mulholland Street in Nauvoo toward the river bank. They were Joseph Smith, the prophet, Dimmick Huntington, and Prescindia Huntington, Dimmick's sister, who was thirty-three years old. When they had reached the water's edge, they sat down on a log.
Now, the purpose of this meeting was extraordinary, to say the least. Joseph Smith, a married man according to the law of the land, there and then proposed marriage to Prescindia Huntington, a single woman.
What else he said to her on this occasion, we do not know—except that he asked her to "think it over" and, after she had made up her mind, to let him know her decision. At a second meeting a few nights later, on the same spot and under the same conditions, Prescindia accepted the Mormon leader as her husband, and her brother, who had previously been given the necessary authority by the Prophet, thereupon performed the ceremony that made them husband and wife under "the law of the Lord."
After the death of Joseph Smith, Prescindia Huntington-Smith was married under the same law to Heber C. Kimball, by whom she had a son.
"Mother," asked this son, when he became a full-grown man and his mother was in her last illness, "if you had your life to live over again, would you do as you have done—I mean live in polygamy?"
"I would that," she answered promptly and emphatically, and added: "The principle of plural marriage is true, and, if properly lived, would redeem woman from slavery and put her on a higher plane than she has ever occupied before. There would be no prostitution in the world, and every normal woman would have a husband and children."
That is almost the whole story of Mormon polygamy, as it was practiced in Nauvoo and Utah. There are some interesting details, however.
It was undoubtedly a social reason primarily that gave rise to polygamy among the Mormon people. One cannot read the sermons and writings on the subject by church leaders, from Joseph Smith down, and come to any other conclusion. And these clear-sighted and earnest men attacked the social problem with a courage and boldness that did credit both to their hearts and to their heads.
"If all the inhabitants of the earth at the present time," said Orson Pratt in 1869, "were righteous before God, keeping his commandments, and if, further, the numbers of the sexes were exactly equal, there would be no necessity for any such institution as polygamy. Every righteous man could have his wife, and there would be no surplus of females." That was an enormous concession.
But the professor-apostle went on to say that "the numbers of the sexes of marriageable age" were by no means "exactly equal." And he gave figures in proof. "If you go to the published statistics, you will find, almost without exception, that in every State a greater number of males die in the first year of their existence than females. The same holds good from one year to five years, from five years to ten, from ten to fifteen, and from fifteen to twenty." Thus in Pennsylvania there were more than seventeen thousand females between the ages of twenty and thirty in excess of males of the same age; in Massachusetts, more than thirty-three thousand; and in New York, more than forty-five thousand. These figures were quoted from the United States census reports for 1860. In 1930 the excess of females between the ages of twenty and thirty in the entire country was one hundred thirty-five thousand eight hundred eighty-five.
"What is to be done with this surplus of females?" inquired the noted philosopher. "I will tell you what Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York say. They say, virtually: 'We will pass a law so strict that, if these females undertake to marry a man who has another wife, both they and the men they marry shall be subject to a term of imprisonment in the penitentiary.' Indeed! Then what are you going to do with these thousands of females of a marriageable age? 'We are going to make them either old maids or prostitutes, and we would a little rather have them prostitutes; then we men would have no need to marry.'
"This is the conclusion many of these marriageable males between twenty and thirty years of age have come to. They will not marry because the laws of the land have a tendency to make prostitutes, and they can purchase all the animal gratification they desire without being bound to any woman."
These laws, incidentally, were not Christian laws at all. They were heathen laws. "Since old pagan Rome and Greece—worshippers of idols—passed a law confining a man to one wife, there has been a great surplus of females, who have had no possible chance of getting married." The nation from which present-day Christianity, for the most part, was derived, was a polygamous nation. But when the Reformers of the sixteenth century undertook to change certain aspects of the faith, they overlooked this greater aspect of marriage. And now all the so-called Christian peoples had the notion, in spite of the widespread and deep-rooted blight of prostitution, that they had made a notable advance in culture by adopting the monogamic system of marriage, in place of the polygamic.
That, as we said, was in 1869. Even before this, however, another Pratt, the mathematician's brother Parley, had expounded what may be termed the "limitation" theory, of which the "surplus" argument by Orson was the supplement.
"A wise legislation, or the law of God," said the poet-apostle, in a remarkable little book called A Key to the Science of Theology, first published in 1855, "would punish, with just severity, the crimes of adultery and fornication, and would not suffer an idiot, the confirmed, irreclaimable drunkard, or the man of hereditary disease or vicious habits, to possess or retain a wife; while, at the same time, it would provide for a good and capable man to honorably receive and maintain more wives than one. Indeed, it should be the privilege of every virtuous female who has the requisite capacity and qualifications for matrimony, to demand, either of individuals or government, the privilege of becoming an honored and legal wife and mother, even if it were necessary for her to be married to a man who has several wives."
[Photo page 267, caption reads] Five Plural Wives of Joseph Smith - Left to right, top to bottom: Zina Huntington-Smith, Prescindia Huntington-Smith, Eliza Snow-Smith, Helen Kimball-Smith, Emily Partridge-Smith
It remained for the apostle George Q. Cannon, a highly intelligent and widely read and traveled man to set forth a third reason for polygamy. This found its cogency in the leveling of the whole female sex.
"The practice of the world," said this alert statesman, also in 1869, "is to select a few of the sex and elevate them. There is no country in the world, probably, where women are idolized to the extent they are in the United States. But is the entire sex in the United States thus honored and respected? No; it is not. Any person who will travel, and observe while he is traveling, will find that thousands of women are degraded, and treated as something vile, and are terribly debased in consequence of the practice of men towards them.
"But the gospel of Jesus and the revelations which God has given to us concerning patriarchal marriage, have a tendency to elevate the entire sex, and give to all the privilege of being honored matrons and respected wives. There are no refuse among us—no class to be cast out, scorned, and condemned; but every woman who chooses can be an honored wife, and move in society in the enjoyment of every right which woman should enjoy to make her the equal of man, as far as she can be equal."
To the "surplus" theory of Orson Pratt, the "limitation" theory of Parley P. Pratt, and the "equalizing" theory of George Q. Cannon, must be added another, which, although it cannot be ascribed to any particular individual, somehow filtered through into the general mind of the Mormon commonwealth. It is the "character" theory. According to this idea the polygamous family, partly because it is large, is more conducive to the development of the personality than the monogamous family.
It will be remembered that the underlying principle in the religion of Joseph Smith is the preciousness of the soul—not a few souls merely but all souls. That is why the Mormon leaders, including the founder of the faith, were so deeply stirred over the problem of the underworld, and led them to reach out for a solution of it by removing the cause. Individual growth was the ultimate goal of Mormonism—a process rather than an end.
But personal development was impossible in a state of isolation. It was possible only in the group. Character was chiseled out through attrition, through human contacts, through the method of give and take. "I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain," the Prophet said once in Nauvoo, "and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women—all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty, who will give me dominion over all and every one of them, when their refuge of lies shall fail, and their hiding place shall be destroyed." It was this knocking off of corners that brought character to perfection.
The primitive group, the family, contributed more to this "smoothing and polishing" process than any other of the social groups. This was especially so in the polygamous family.
Here the children enlarged the scope of their natural associations and made greater and more numerous contacts than in the average monogamous family—which helped them to fit themselves into the mosaic of the larger group, the community. This was true whether the families lived together or in different homes. The wife and mother, in addition to increasing the number of objects of her affection, made at least an attempt to subject her petty irritations, jealousies, what not, to the larger ends of life. And the husband and father, besides having to adjust himself to a new set of conditions, would be called upon to fight a stiff battle for an ideal of justice, fair-dealing, and suspended judgment, in the home; and this ideal, of necessity, would carry over into other and larger social contacts. No one realized better than the polygamous husband, if he tried at all to "live the principle," what Professor Foerster meant when he said: "Only people whose thoughts are entirely removed from the realities of life can fail to realize that the small and intimate circle of the family must afford to the human personality a much richer and more secure development than the best public educational institution."
Polygamy or, as the Mormons prefer to call it, "plural marriage," was first introduced among the Saints in Nauvoo, in 1841—although the Prophet had had the idea in mind ever since 1831.
Bold and courageous as Joseph Smith undoubtedly was, yet he shrank for years from venturing upon a revelation of his secret. He had been reared under the monogamic ideal; his disciples likewise; and they had been taught, and believed, that any deviation from the moral law was not only a wrong in the eyes of the law and of society, but a grave sin in the sight of God. How, then, was he to break the news to his first lieutenants and later to others of the faithful? Lorenzo Snow tells of an all-night conversation with the Prophet on the river bank (a favorite spot, it seems), concerning this very topic, and of the great anxiety of the leader as to its effects on the community. He was under no illusion as to the consequences himself—that it might eventuate in his death. It required, one gathers, more than Joseph Smith's sex-urge, however great that may have been, to fly in the teeth of the age-old convention of monogamy, especially under the circumstances.
Already he had had an inkling of the commotion, even upheaval, such a doctrine as he had in mind would stir up. At intervals, during those ten years, the charge of polygamy was often hurled at the Mormons. Most of them did not know what it was all about. The fact is that Joseph Smith had confided his secret to some intimate friends—one of the Johnsons; and the secret had become known to others, who could not keep it. There is no doubt that polygamy had a good deal to do in bringing about the Prophet's death.
In April, 1841, however, the Mormon leader launched his sensational craft, by taking to himself another wife. The woman was not Prescindia Huntington. There were several before Prescindia Huntington, and several after her—some twenty-seven in all, not counting Emma. One of these was Eliza Snow, sister of Lorenzo Snow, an intelligent woman of poetic ability. Having thus set the example, the Prophet required that the apostles enter the order—which they did after a mental struggle, we are told, and holding out on grounds of fear. By the time of the martyrdom of the Smiths it was an open secret, in Nauvoo and in Hancock county generally, that the Mormons were practicing polygamy.
More or less confusion followed. Once it became known that the principle was practiced, such men as John C. Bennett took advantage of the situation to play fast and loose erotically, without forming the ties that the Prophet had intended. They thus ignored all moral bonds. And when the head of the church publicly rebuked them for their immoralities, they fell upon him in fury.
For, as a matter of fact, the Prophet drew a very sharp distinction between a sexual relation within polygamy, as within monogamy, and a sexual act outside the polygamous bond. Plural marriage was a marriage, just as a single marriage was a marriage. The only difference was that the second had the sanction of the state, while the first had the sanction of the church only. But they were equally binding on the conscience; both proscribed sexual relations outside these ties. In neither case could any moral excursions be tolerated.
This lack of discrimination on the part of both men and women created difficulty among disciples and outsiders. Also it laid the Prophet open to misinterpretation and misunderstanding.
In 1852, after the Mormons had found a home in the West, Brigham Young made a public acknowledgment of the doctrine, and urged its practice. Doubtless among the reasons for this public announcement were: That it explained the marital relations of those who had already embarked on the practice, that it would head off prostitution, and that it would increase the Mormon population. Utah therefore presents an advanced phase of polygamy.
Here are the conditions, in general, under which the doctrine was put into effect:
To begin with, not every married man might take another wife. He had first to secure the permission of the president of the church. For only he, or some one delegated by him, could perform a plural marriage ceremony. Otherwise it was a case of adultery, and thus punishable by excommunication. Presumably the candidate for a second wife had the necessary qualifications—physical, mental, moral, spiritual, and financial. That was the theory. Polygamy was therefore limited to those who were "fit."
And then, whoever wished to marry in polygamy had next to obtain the "consent" of the wife he already had. If, however, that consent was denied, he was free to do as he pleased in the situation. Usually approval was granted—for reasons the wife probably kept to herself. Indeed, quite often the wife not only chose the second helpmeet, but carried on the preliminary negotiations. In some cases two women were taken to the altar at the same time, although of course one of them had to be "first."
As for the manner of living, sometimes there was but one home, sometimes there were as many different homes as there were wives. The separate home system was found to be more satisfactory on the whole. Staying at each home for a day or a week at a time, the husband endeavored to show as little partiality as possible—although doubtless in his heart he may have had a "favorite," as Brigham Young is said to have had.
Always, moreover, there was equality as between the wives and as between the children. No distinction was made between the first wife and the second or the fifth, nor between the children of the legal and those of the plural wife. And, as George Q. Cannon asserted, there was no class of women to be cast out on account of their station. No prostitution existed in Utah till the non-mormon took it there; and few, if any, old maids.
Polygamy died hard among the Mormons. But it is now as dead as the proverbial door nail. When Congress, in answer to a popular demand by men and women all over the United States, passed anti-polygamy laws, the Saints refused to give up their doctrine, till after the highest court had rendered a decision on their constitutionality.
For this apparent disloyalty there were two principal reasons. One was that they did not believe any law could legislate out of existence a religious belief, such as polygamy was in their view. And then the law would require the polygamists to disown women with whom they had lived and by whom they had borne children, and to bastardize the offspring of their plural wives. And this they would not do. They preferred to go to jail—as hundreds of them did. In those days the "co-hab," as he came to be called, who "promised to obey the law" against polygamy was looked upon by his own people as a renegade.
The practice of polygamy among the Mormons, however, was not effected without some opposition from the women. Emma Smith was particularly recalcitrant. William Clayton, secretary to the Prophet in 1843, and the apostle Orson Pratt, give us glimpses of her mind in the matter.
One morning, says Clayton, Joseph and Hyrum came into the office together. They were talking about plural marriage. Hyrum wanted his brother to reduce his ideas on the subject to writing, so that he might convert Mrs. Smith. After that Joseph would have "peace." Any woman, he added, could easily be convinced that the principle was true. "You don't know Emma as well as I do," Joseph commented, but sat down and dictated to his secretary. Hyrum then took the document away with him.
When he returned, Joseph asked him how he had fared. Hyrum answered, "I have never had such a talking to in my life. Emma was very resentful."
The fact is that, later, Mrs. Smith burned the original document, which she had coaxed away from her husband for the purpose. Fortunately Bishop Whitney had made a copy of it.
Emma, Pratt tells us, was "embittered against Joseph, and at times fought against him with all her heart; then again she would break down in her feelings, and humble herself, and would lead forth ladies and place their hands in the hands of her husband, and they were married to him, according to the law of God."
On the whole, however, the Mormon women accepted the principle of plural marriage in the same spirit as the men, especially those who had been taught to look at it in the larger way.
We have already seen what Prescindia Smith-Kimball thought on the subject. Helen Mar Whitney, daughter-in-law of Bishop Whitney, after she had been "a spectator and a participator in this order of matrimony for over thirty years," declared that "the system tends to preserve social purity" and that "it alone can remedy the great social evils of the present day," adding that "when lived up to as the Lord intended, it will exalt the human family." And one of Orson Pratt's eight wives says that all the twenty-five children of her husband were "endeared to her by mutual affection," and their mothers "by mutual and long-continued exercises of toil, patience, and sisterly kindness," notwithstanding they were conscious of "imperfections in this life." Eliza R. Snow-Smith, plural wife of the Prophet, says this: "Virtue is the foundation of the prosperity of any nation; and this principle of plural marriage tends to virtue, purity, and holiness."
As a matter of fact, the Mormon women of Utah were as reluctant as the men to abandon the practice of polygamy—at least those who had been inducted into the principle during the first generation. When anti-polygamy laws were about to be passed, fifteen hundred women met in Salt Lake City "to protest against the misrepresentation of the ladies engaged in anti-polygamy crusades, and to declare their sentiments on the subject." One of these sentiments was thus expressed by Mrs. Snow-Smith:
I am proud to state before this large and honorable assembly that I believe in the principle of plural marriage just as sacredly as I believe in any other institution which God has revealed. I believe it to be necessary for the redemption of the human family from the low state of corruption into which it has fallen. And I truly believe that a Congress composed of polygamic men who are true to their wives would confer a far higher honor upon a nation, and would perform better service to this country than a Congress composed of monogamic unreliable husbands.
William E. Berrett (1936)
The restored church ; a brief history of the origin, growth and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints. William E. Berrett (William Edwin) Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Department of Education. Salt Lake City : Department of education of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints 1936 Available at TC Wilson Library General Collection (298 B458 )
William E. Berrett. The Restored Church. A Brief History of the Growth and Doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [gospelink.com 1958 edition] 1936; 1947; 1958; 1961; 1964; 1965; 1969; 1973 Deseret Book) (Deseret Book. 1964; 12th edition; 10th edition, revised and Enlarged 1961): 181-3, 185; [1947 edition: 260-4]
Third: Differences in Religious Beliefs.[1964: 181-5; 1947: 260-4]
…. One of these doctrines was especially responsible for bringing persecution upon the Church. That was the doctrine of plural marriage by divine sanction. As early as 1831, Joseph Smith claimed a revelation upon the subject and spoke of it to a few close associates. It was not, however, placed in writing, practiced or generally made known at that time. In 1840, the doctrine was taught to a few leading brethren who, with the Prophet, secretly married additional wives in the following year. This secrecy could not be long kept, yet the doctrine was not openly discussed. This state of affairs gave rise to serious slander outside the Church. On July 12, 1843, the Prophet caused the revelation on the "Eternity of the Marriage Covenant and Plural Marriage" to be set down in writing and read to the High Council at Nauvoo. Perhaps no doctrine of the early Church so caused dissension within and without the organization. It is well that we pause for a moment and contemplate the way in which the doctrine was received. For years after learning of the doctrine, through revelation from God, Joseph could not bring himself to practice it or to teach others to do so. The whole Anglo-Saxon training of the Church was opposed to Plural Marriage, although it had never been forbidden by either the State or Federal Constitution. Even after settling in Nauvoo, when the Prophet says he was commanded of the Lord to put the Law of Plural Marriage into operation, he hesitated to do so. Night after night he paced the banks of the Mississippi, at times accompanied by his brother, Hyrum, wrestling with the problem. He was convinced that the practice of the doctrine would bring bitter persecution upon the Church and eventually cause him to lose his life. No greater mistake could be made than to suppose that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, or any of the Church leaders hailed the Doctrine of Plural Marriage with delight or introduced it through lustful desires. Brigham Young later said: "If any man had asked me what was my choice when Joseph Smith revealed that doctrine (Plurality of Wives) provided that it would not diminish my glory, I would have said, 'Let me have but one wife. * * * I was not desirous of shrinking from any duty, nor of failing in the least to do as I was commanded, but it was the first time in my life that I had desired the grave and I could hardly get over it for a long time. [Discourse at Provo, July 14, 1855] John Taylor, who became the third president of the Church adds: "I had always entertained strict ideas of virtue, and I felt as a married man that this was to me, outside of this principle, an appalling thing to do. The idea of going and asking a young lady to be married to me when I already had a wife! It was a thing calculated to stir up feelings from the innermost depths of the human soul. I had always entertained the strictest of chastity. * * * With the feeling I had entertained nothing but a knowledge of God, and the revelations of God, and the truth of them, could have induced me to embrace such a principle as this." [BH Roberts, The Life of John Taylor, page 100] To Heber C. Kimball and his wife, Vilate, the commandment of the Prophet that Heber take another wife was an unusually severe trial. This commandment was kept from Heber's wife for a time. Vilate noticed that Heber was greatly perplexed. She claimed that in answer to her prayer, concerning what  it was that was causing her husband such concern, she received a vision of the eternal world. Just what she witnessed is not known, but at any event, thereafter she became a staunch advocate of the doctrine of plural marriage. If the doctrine caused such a struggle on the part of the staunchest men of the Church, it is little wonder that large numbers would not receive it. Only the secrecy surrounding its practice prevented a wholesale apostasy from the Church in 1844. When the doctrine was publicly announced in the mission fields, opposition to the Church greatly increased and mob violence was often resorted to. The secrecy which surrounded the introduction of the practice led to gross misrepresentations and charges of adultery. This was a most important factor in embittering both Mormon and non-Mormon against the Prophet. None of the teachings of the Church clashed so directly with the social order of the day or aroused such bitter resentment.
The Philosophy of Mormonism and the Circumstances of the Time led to the Introduction of Plural Marriage. It must be constantly borne in mind that the doctrine of marriage for time and eternity, contained in Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants, with all the blessings promised therein, does not necessarily involve plural marriage. The doctrine that marriage may be eternal when that ordinance is performed by the Priesthood of God is one of the unique contributions to religious thought, and gives definite meaning to Mormon philosophy. The fundamental principles of the philosophy Joseph Smith introduced must be kept before us. First, the primary purpose of existence is to develop human personality to its greatest capacity for happiness. Secondly, this development of God-like attributes can be best accomplished when individuals pass through the experience of fatherhood or motherhood and share the responsibilities of a home. This marriage relationship is obtained for life and eternity when sanctioned by God, through his Priesthood. Joseph Smith taught that those who were married for time and eternity might, after gaining their exaltation, continue to propagate spirit children, and eventually become as Gods to those children. Naturally under such a plan the greatest development for the race would be accomplished where every man and every woman, fit mentally and physically for marriage, would enter into the marriage relationship and become parents. As the sexes are approximately equal in number under normal conditions, a system of monogamous marriage, one man and one woman, would normally prevail. Such a law was given by the Lord to the Nephites, "For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none." 5 If, when the sexes are equal, a system of plural marriage should prevail, many men physically and mentally fit would be deprived of an opportunity for marriage and the subsequent development of personality. In the early period of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints an unusual condition prevailed. More women than men joined the Church. This was true of the period at Nauvoo and for a number of years after the arrival of the Saints in Utah. It  remained true so long as converts made up the mass of Church membership. The Saints were as isolated a people as if they had been on an island of the sea. Marriage outside the Church was discouraged. There were not enough men to go around. Many women must live and die singly, deprived of the opportunity for development which marriage and a home brings. The alternative was plural marriage. It was not to stop prostitution that plural marriage was introduced. It was not to satisfy the lusts of himself or his followers that Joseph Smith taught and practiced the doctrine. The men and women who entered into plural marriage were among the most moral people this world has ever known. It is true that among the early Mormons prostitution was unknown, but that would have been true with such a people if plural marriage had never been practiced. Plural marriage was never at any time a general law for the entire Church, and was never at any time practiced by over two percent of the adult male population. The President held the keys to its practice, and only those supposedly able to live the law in righteousness were permitted to enter into such relationships. That the surplus women of the Church were absorbed into family life is an undeniable fact. That some of the finest people of the Church and of the world came from such plural households is equally undeniable. It is a sad fact that some few abused the law and the trust which was placed in them and gave grounds for slander and ridicule against the Church. Despite the social reasons which may be advanced in justification of plural marriage, it must be admitted that it was directly contrary to the traditions of the people both in and out of the Church. The very secrecy involved prevented any explanations to these people. The vaguest of rumors were multiplied and enlarged by the tongue of gossip.
Supplementary Readings [include the following]
1. History of the Church 6. 46a [on plural marriage] 2. John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith an American Prophet (1933 (Macmillan); 1961 (Amy W. Evans); 1989 (Deseret Book) [266-75: social theories of polygamy from Mormon leaders: ‘surplus theory’ of Orson Pratt; ‘limitation’ theory of Parley P. Pratt; ‘equalizing’ theory of George Q. Cannon.] 3. Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (331-339) [“Interesting experiences involving Joseph Smith, Heber C. Kimball, and Vilate Kimball, his wife, and their daughter, Helen Kimball, gathering around the Prophet’s revelation and teaching on plural marriage”] 4. Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History: 337-342 [plural marriage]; 606-9 [Woodruff manifesto]; 5. Eliza R. Snow, Biography of Lorenzo Snow, 69 [Joseph Smith teaches plural marriage to Lorenzo Snow]
Plural Marriage. (316-9) [1947 edition: 462-8]
At a special conference held in Salt Lake City, August 28 and 29, 1852, the doctrine of "plural marriage" was first publicly declared. The revelation to Joseph Smith upon the subject was read, and Orson Pratt gave a discourse from the standpoint of the Bible. The bounds and restrictions of the law as laid down by modern revelation were clarified. As previously discussed, a number of the leading brethren were already practicing the doctrine. Following this conference, others received the sanction of President Young, who held the keys of this order of marriage, to enter into its practice. In certain instances the President urged Church leaders to marry and provide a home for worthy women of the community, who had been denied the opportunity for the development of personality which comes from married life. The philosophical reasons for the doctrine of plural marriage have been previously discussed (see topic 71). At the end of the first year's migration to Utah the number of women exceeded the number of men. That excess of women continued for half a century. Under the Mormon practice of "plural marriage" these women were absorbed into family life in the several communities. The practice was necessarily limited, only about two per cent of the men eligible for marriage having more than one wife. Nor was the law applicable to the general population of the territory or even to the general membership of the Church. Only those men who obtained the sanction of the President, who kept in mind the character and fitness of the individual, could marry a second wife, and then only with the consent of the first wife. In the operation of such a social law there developed irregularities and abuses. The practice of the doctrine required a degree of self-sacrifice and an unselfish devotion to principle beyond the power of most people. The practice of plural marriage, or as it was erroneously called, "polygamy," created a considerable stir in the press and became the center of attack against the Church by its enemies. As Utah was a territory of the United States and as the laws for territories are passed by Congress, the discussion of "polygamy" was carried to that body and became the chief argument against the admission of Utah as a State. So bitter did the attacks against the Church become that Congress, under the influence of lobbyists and of the press, passed an "anti-bigamy law" in 1862, aimed at the suppression of "polygamy" among the Mormons. The bill was signed by President Lincoln, July 8, 1862, and made the contracting of a plural marriage punishable by a fine of $500 or imprisonment for a term of five years, or both. In the main the President and members of Congress were not hostile to the Mormon people, but they were opposed to the practice of polygamy. They appear to have been conscientious and genuine in their feeling that polygamy was a bad social practice and should not be tolerated upon those grounds. The political platform upon which Lincoln was elected, contained a plank condemning the practice of polygamy. Out of friendship for the Mormons, with whom he had become acquainted in Illinois, President Lincoln neglected to appoint officers to enforce the anti-bigamy law. The enemies of the Church, who were seeking its destruction, were not content with letting the issue drop. The law contained a provision forbidding a religious body in a territory to hold real estate in value to exceed $50,000. This was aimed directly at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. An effort made by Governor Harding of Utah in 1863 to have Brigham Young punished under this law failed, the constitutionality of the whole law being questioned. The agitation against polygamy grew more bitter as the years progressed, but it was not until 1874 that the constitutionality of the "anti-bigamy law" was tried and an attempt made to enforce it. The Mormon people were confident that the law was unconstitutional and that if a trial case was carried to the higher courts it would be so declared and the uncertain state of affairs cleared up. Accordingly, George Reynolds, the private secretary of Brigham Young, volunteered to test the law. The Federal officers of the territory seemed equally desirous of clarifying the matter by a friendly suit. Accordingly, Reynolds was indicted. He voluntarily appeared in court and furnished the evidence of the facts whereby he had violated the law. He was convicted, sentenced to one year's imprisonment, and ordered to pay a fine of $500. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the territory, where it was dismissed on the grounds that the grand jury which found the indictment against Reynolds was an illegal jury. The constitutionality of the law still being undecided, a second trial was held in 1875, before Alexander White, Chief Justice of Utah. The friendly nature of the previous trial was entirely lacking, the prosecution becoming bitter toward the accused, and the accused in his turn refusing to furnish the evidence to prove a violation of the law. A conviction was obtained, however, and Reynolds received the severe sentence of $500 fine and two years in the penitentiary at hard labor. The Supreme Court of Utah confirmed the decree, and the case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which upheld the constitutionality of the law, to the surprise of the Church and many constitutional lawyers. It was a stunning blow to the Church and the forerunner of a period of intense persecution. The decision was not given, however, until January 6, 1879. In the meantime Brigham Young had died, and the quorum of the Twelve Apostles became the presiding authority of the Church. An attempt to have the trial of George Reynolds reopened, and a petition to have him pardoned, met with failure. He was committed to prison, June 16, 1879. In October, 1880, the first presidency was again organized with John Taylor as President of the Church. Upon his administration fell the brunt of the "anti-bigamy" campaign. Following the death of Brigham Young and especially after the decision of the Supreme Court on the Reynold's case, an effort was made by bitter enemies to bring about the end of polygamy and to crush the Church. Their agitation and false representations through the press resulted in the passage of new legislation aimed at the suppression of polygamous practices. In March, 1882, Congress passed the "Edmund's Bill," amending the "anti-bigamy law" of 1862. This measure added to the punishable offense of plural marriages, "polygamous living," which was defined as "unlawful cohabitation." The law deprived all who lived the polygamous relationship of the right to vote, or to hold public office. Further it abrogated the right of the traditional jury trial in that a mere belief in the doctrine of plural marriage was sufficient to bar an individual from jury service. This law further declared all registration and election offices vacant in the territory and provided for Federal appointees in their place. The Edmunds law virtually deprived Utah of those rights of self-government which had become a definite factor in the government of territories. The law was made retroactive in regard to the franchise. No individual who had ever lived the law of plural marriage was allowed to vote, regardless of whether he was then living that law or not. A campaign of bitter persecution began against those men who had entered into plural marriage before or after the passage of the law. This campaign lasted throughout the entire administration of President Taylor. Hundreds of homes were broken up, the fathers and husbands being sent to the penitentiary. Women were sent to prison for "contempt of court," because they refused to testify against their husbands. Following the severe sentence given Rudger Clawson in October, 1884, there developed what was termed the "segregation ruling." This was a ruling of the courts that separate indictments might be found against a man for every day he was found guilty of living with a plural wife. This ruling of the courts was responsible for driving the leaders of the Church into exile, for it amounted to an announcement that a man who practiced polygamy, or even attempted to provide for his several wives, might by an accumulation of separate charges, be sent to prison for life. This "segregation policy" was condemned by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Lorenzo Snow, which came before it in February, 1887. In March of 1887, Congress passed a still more rigid measure to suppress polygamy, known as the "Edmunds-Tucker Law." This law provided for the disincorporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which taught the doctrine, and of the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company. The property of these corporations was to escheat to the Federal Government to be used for the benefit of schools in the territory. Buildings and grounds used exclusively for religious services, and burial grounds, were alone exempted from the law. This infamous law was denounced in Congress by many notable non-Mormons, but the popular clamor against polygamy secured its passage. The United States Marshal Dye took charge of the real and personal property of the Church. In order to retain the use of the tithing offices, and historian's office, the Church was forced to pay the government an annual rental of $2,400. Four hundred fifty dollars a month was paid to retain the use of the Guardo house, and the use of the temple block was retained by paying a high rental. During this period the Church was under heavy financial stress. It could not borrow a dollar. Only the faithful payment of tithes enabled it to weather the storm. From hiding places, generally called the "underground," the exiled First Presidency conducted the affairs of the Church. John Taylor died in exile July 27, 1887, at Kaysville, Utah. After the death of John Taylor, the crusade against polygamy continued, but with considerable tolerance on the part of the officers. President Grover Cleveland pardoned a number of men who had been given extraordinarily severe sentences, among them Charles Livingston, Rudger Clawson and Joseph H. Evans. In Idaho and Arizona the feeling against polygamy became intense. In 1885, the Idaho Legislature passed a law which disfranchised all members of the Church which taught such a doctrine as this, deprived all Mormons of the right to vote or hold office, regardless of whether or not they practiced polygamy themselves. The constitutionality of the law was questioned. It was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in a decision of February 3, 1890. Such a bill was introduced in Congress for the Territory of Utah, called the "Stubble Bill," but even prominent non-Mormons of Utah opposed it, and it was defeated. In the midst of these trying difficulties, Wilford Woodruff, who had been sustained President of the Church, April 7, 1889, appealed to the Lord in prayer. In answer he received a revelation, suspending "plural marriage." The anti-polygamy laws had placed the members of the Church on the horns of a dilemma. They must disobey the laws of God or the laws of the land. The revelation brought them relief. On September 25, 1890, President Woodruff issued his famous "Manifesto" which declared an end to the contracting of plural marriages in the Church and called upon the members to obey the law of the land. In the October conference the "Manifesto" was sustained and thus became binding upon the Church. In that conference President Woodruff said: "I want to say to all Israel that the step which I have taken in issuing this manifesto has not been done without earnest prayer before the Lord. * * * I am not ignorant of the feelings that have been engendered through the course I have pursued. * * * The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as the President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that the Lord would move me out of my place." The results of the manifesto was a noticeable change in attitude toward the Church. President Harrison issued a proclamation of amnesty on January 4, 1893, to those who had entered into "polygamous marriages" prior to November 1, 1890. The restrictions against voters were removed, and in 1893 the personal property of the Church was returned to its rightful owners. Three years later, when Utah achieved Statehood, the real estate which had been confiscated was likewise returned to the Church.
1. BH Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, volume 2: 92-110; volume 5: 287-94; 295-301; 471-2; 472-4 (Notes 29, 30); 541-545 (Notes 7, 8); volume 6: 226, 228, 229. 2. Memoirs of John R. Young. 242-263 [comments and incidents about polygamy, and his relations with his four wives…]; 305-317 [Crusade] 1. John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations. Aids to Faith in a Modern Day 2nd edition (Bookcraft 1943) 2. John A. Widtsoe, Gospel Interpretations. Aids to Faith in a Modern Day. Being a Companion Volume to Evidences and Reconciliations (Bookcraft 1947) 3. John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations volume 3 (1951) 4. [John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations 3 Volumes. Arranged by G. Homer Durham Bookcraft (1960). This 3 in 1 was reprinted at least in 1976 [8th printing], 2009, and 2011. Probably other reprints as well.
John A. Widtsoe (1943)
John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations. Aids to Faith in a Modern Day 2nd edition (Bookcraft 1943)
https://archive.org/stream/improvementera4311unse#page/n33/mode/2up Improvement Era January 1940 Was the "Manifesto" Based On Revelation? [85-89; in 1960 3 in 1 volume: 103-6] The October, 1890, General Conference of the Church was history-making. On Monday, October 6, 1890, Wilford Woodruff, President of the Church, presented for the action of the people an "Official Declaration" discontinuing the practice of plural marriage. Upon the motion of Lorenzo Snow then the president of the Twelve Apostles, and by vote of the conference the official declaration "concerning plural marriage" became "authoritative and binding" and therefore the law and order of the Church. This official declaration has since been known, in common speech, as the "Manifesto." The practice of plural marriage had subjected the Church, from the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith to continuous opposition and severe persecution. Nevertheless, the Saints -- only about two percent of whom had practiced plural marriage, as reported by the Utah Commission -- continued to teach and defend the principle which had come to them through revelation. At length, acts of the Congress of the United States (1862, 1882, and 1887) made plural marriage an unlawful and punishable offense. The Church, believing these laws to be unconstitutional because they abrogated the right of religious freedom, sought protection from the courts of the land. During this period furious persecution followed those who had entered into this order of marriage. Under a righteous enforcement of the laws in question, many were fitted and given penitentiary sentences, the property of the Church has confiscated, and the cessation of many of the activities of the Church was threatened. At length, in May, 1890, the Supreme Court of the land, with three members dissenting, ruled that the acts prohibiting plural marriage and confiscating Church property were constitutional.
Now the Lord had expressly declared that His people should be obedient to any constitutional government under which they might live. (D. & C. 98:5, 6) Further, the revelations of the Lord declare that if such a government should prevent the practice of any command given to the Church, the people and the Church would be held guiltless. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings. (D. & C. 124:49)
After the Supreme Court had spoken, there was no further opportunity for appeal. All lawful means had been used. The action proposed by President Woodruff was therefore wholly in keeping with authoritative Church procedure.
Nevertheless, it must be kept in mind that this Church founded by revelation, is ever guided by revelation. It may be held with certainty that when the President of the Church presents a momentous matter, such as the "Manifesto," to the people it is by the spirit of revelation from God. It is not the product of man's thinking or desire. It must also be remembered that the power which has the right to command, also has the right and power to revoke. The principle of plural marriage was revealed through Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and the "Manifesto" came through Wilford Woodruff, who held the same keys of authority as were possessed by Joseph Smith.
With this in view, Yes, is the unhesitating answer to the question as to whether the "Manifesto" was based upon revelation.
Fortunately, however, there is direct evidence that the "Manifesto" was the product of revelation.
President Woodruff himself declared at the said conference that "to have taken a stand in anything which is not pleasing in the sight of God, or before the heavens, I would rather have gone out and been shot."
The Church had courageously supported what they believed to be a command of God. Any change would have to come from a revelation from God. President Woodruff had prayed about the matter, and had besought God repeatedly what to do. On September 24, 1890, "the spirit came upon him" and the "Manifesto" was the result. This was publicly stated at the time of the conference of October, 1890. In his journal of September 25, 1890, President Woodruff writes: . . . after praying to the Lord and feeling inspired I have issued the following declaration [the 'Manifesto'] which is sustained by my counselors and the Twelve Apostles."
On December 19, 1891, in a Church petition for general amnesty, signed by the Presidency and the whole Council of the Twelve, occurs the following statement:
According to our faith the head of the Church receives from time to time, revelations for the religious guidance of his people. In September, 1890, the present head of the Church, in anguish and prayer, cried to God for help for his flock, and received the permission to advise the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that the law commanding polygamy was henceforth suspended. Even with these statements, the nature of the "Manifesto" became a subject of discussion among the people. The question that captions this chapter was asked by many. When these controversies reached the ears of President Woodruff be proceeded to answer them in public. This was done in unmistakable words, notably on one occasion, on Sunday, November 1, 1891, in Logan, reported in the Deseret Weekly News, of November 7, 1891 (Vol. 43, pp. 659, 660)
The report of this sermon, by Elder Arthur Winter, was published in President Woodruff's lifetime, and therefore subject to his correction, if inaccurate.
In Logan he said among other things:
. . . This Church has never been a day except by revelation. And He will never leave it. It matters not who lives or who dies, or who is called to lead this Church, they have got to lead it by the inspiration of Almighty God. If they do not do it that way, they cannot do it at all. . . .
I do not want the Latter-day Saints to understand that the Lord is not with us, and that He is not giving revelation to us; for He is giving us revelation, and will give us revelation until this scene is wound up. I have had some revelations of late, and very important ones to me, and I will tell you what the Lord has said to me. Let me bring your minds to what is termed the Manifesto. The Lord has told me by revelation that there are many members of the Church throughout Zion who are sorely tried in their hearts because of that Manifesto. . . . The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. If we had not stopped it you would have had no use for . . . any of the men in this temple at Logan; for all ordinances would be stopped throughout the land of Zion. Confusion would reign throughout Israel, and many men would be made prisoners. This trouble would have come upon the whole Church, and we should have been compelled to stop the practice. Now, the question is, whether it should be stopped in this manner, or in the way the Lord has manifested to us, and leave our Prophets and Apostles and fathers free men, and the temples in the hands of the people, so that the dead may be redeemed. . . .. . . The Lord . . . has told me exactly what to do, and what the result would be if we did not do it. . . . But I want to say this: I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of Heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was clear to me. I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write. . . .[complete sermon Collected Discourses 2. 284-9]
At the same meeting in Logan, President George Q. Cannon said:
We have striven to the utmost extent of our ability to convince this nation that this is a true principle of religion. I myself have testified before Presidents of the United States, before Cabinet officers, before the judges of the Supreme Court, before members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, and before committees of Congress, that I knew that doctrine was from God. I told them I felt that if I had not obeyed it I would have been damned, because the Lord gave to me a direct command to obey that principle. . . .
Over a thousand have gone to prison to show our sincerity. A prominent official of this Territory said to a gentleman the other day: "They say to me that these people are not sincere." "Why," says he, "I know they are sincere. I went myself to the penitentiary and I labored with all the power I had to convince Lorenzo Snow that he should express his willingness to obey the law; but notwithstanding all my persuasions, and notwithstanding he had a year and a half sentence upon him, I could not move him. I believe he would have gone out and been shot rather than to have said he would get out of prison on such terms. . . ."God gave the command and it required the command of God to cause us to change our attitude. President Woodruff holds the same authority that the man did through whom the revelation came to the Church. It required that same authority to say to us, "It is enough. God has accepted your sacrifice. He has looked down upon you and seen what you have passed through, and how determined you have been to keep His commandments, and now He says. It is enough." It is the same authority that gave us the principle. It is not the word of man. (Deseret Weekly News, November 21, 1891, Vol. 43, p. 689) [cf Coll Dis 2. 290-6]
Certainly, the "Manifesto" was based on revelation. It has the full effect of a commandment of God. Those who ignore it are breakers of the law of the Church. And, it must be kept in mind that, under divine procedure, whenever the Church of God is established on earth, no legitimate Priesthood power operates outside of the Church.
John A. Widtsoe (1943)
John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations. Aids to Faith in a Modern Day 2nd edition (Bookcraft 1943) https://archive.org/stream/improvementera4603unse#page/n33/mode/2up Improvement Era (March 1943): 161, 191. Why Did the Church Practice Plural Marriage In Earlier Days? 306-310 [1960 edition: 390-393] Plural marriage was practiced by between two and four percent of the Church membership from 1843 to 1890 (according to the Utah Commission appointed by Congress) . In the latter year the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the constitutionality of the congressional laws against the practice. Obedience to constitutional law is a fundamental tenet of the Church. (D. & C. 98:5, 6) Therefore, after Wilford Woodruff had sought guidance from the Lord, the Church suspended the practice. However, it had been declared, long before, that the Church would cease the practice if constitutional laws against it were enacted. For example, "Would it be right for the Latter-day Saints to marry a plurality of wives in any of the states or territories, or nations, where such practices are prohibited by the laws of man? We answer `No, it would not be right'; for we are commanded to be subject to the powers that be . . . unless their laws are unrighteous." (Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 111, June, 1853) Today any Church member who enters into plural marriage or who teaches its propriety in these days is promptly excommunicated. Plural marriage has been a subject of wide and frequent comment. Members of the Church unfamiliar with its history, and many non-members, have set up fallacious reasons for the origin of this system of marriage among the Latter-day Saints. The most common of these conjectures is that the Church, through plural marriage, sought to provide husbands for its large surplus of female members. The implied assumption in this theory, that there have been more female than male members in the Church, is not supported by existing evidence. On the contrary, there seem always to have been more males than females in the Church. Families -- father, mother, and children -- have most commonly joined the Church. Of course, many single women have become converts, but also many single men. The United States census records from 1850 to 1940, and all available Church records, uniformly show a preponderance of males in Utah, and in the Church. Indeed, the excess in Utah has usually been larger than for the whole United States, as would be expected in a pioneer state. The births within the Church obey the usual population law -- a slight excess of males. Orson Pratt, writing in 1853 from direct knowledge of Utah conditions, when the excess of females was supposedly the highest, declares against the opinion that females outnumbered the males in Utah. (The Seer, p. 110) The theory that plural marriage was a consequence of a surplus of female Church members fails from lack of evidence. Another theory holds that plural marriage resulted from licentiousness of the Church leaders. This is refuted by the evidence at hand. The founders and early leaders of the Church were reared under the strictly monogamic system of New England. Plural marriage seemed to them an unholy and repellent practice. Joseph Smith has told that he hesitated to enter the system until he was warned of his destruction if he did not obey. (Jenson, Historical Record 5:222) Brigham Young said that he felt, when the doctrine was revealed to him, that he would rather die than take plural wives. (Life Story of Brigham Young, Gates and Widtsoe, p. 242) Others of the early Church leaders to whom the principle was first taught have related their feeling of resistance to the practice. Undoubtedly the women felt much the same about the practice. However, numerous plural wives have testified to the high moral tone of their relationship with their husbands. Not only was every wife equal in property rights, but also treated with equal deference, and all children were educated and recognized equally. Mormon plural marriage bore no resemblance to the lewd life of the man to whom woman is but a subject for his lusts. Women were not forced into plural marriage. They entered it voluntarily, with open eyes. The men and women, with very few exceptions, who lived in plural marriage, were clean and high-minded. Their descendants, tens of thousands of whom are living, worthy citizens of the land, are proud of their heritage. The story of the Latter-day Saints, fully available, when read by honest men and women, decries the theory that plural marriage was a product of licentiousness or sensuality. There is a friendlier, but equally untenable view relative to the origin of plural marriage. It is contended that on the frontier, where the Church spent its earlier years, men were often unlettered, rough in talk and walk, unattractive to refined women. Female converts to the Church, coming into the pioneer wilderness, dreaded the possible life-long association with such men and the rearing of their children under the example and influence of an uncouth father. They would much prefer to share a finer type of man with another woman. To permit this, it is suggested that plural marriage was instituted. The ready answer is that the great majority of men who joined the Church were superior, spiritually inclined seekers after truth and all the better things of life. Only such men would be led to investigate the restored gospel and to face the sacrifices that membership in the Church would require. Under such conditions, since, as has been stated, there was no surplus of women in Mormon pioneer communities, there was no need of mating with the rough element, which admittedly existed outside of the Church. Another conjecture is that the people were few in number and that the Church, desiring greater numbers, permitted the practice so that a phenomenal increase in population could be attained. This is not defensible, since there was no surplus of women. The simple truth and the only acceptable explanation, is that the principle of plural marriage came as a revelation from the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith for the Church. It was one of many principles so communicated to the Prophet. It was not man-made. It was early submitted to several of his associates, and later, when safety permitted, to the Church as a whole. The members of the Church had personal testimonies of the divine calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith. They had individually accepted the gospel as restored through the Prophet. When he announced a doctrine as revelation coming from above, the people, being already convinced of the reality of Joseph's prophetic calling and power, accepted the new doctrine and attempted to put it into practice. Members of the Church who were permitted to take plural wives, did so because they believed that they were obeying a commandment of God. That faith gave them strength to meet the many problems arising from plurality, and to resist the encroachments of enemies upon their sacred right of freedom of religious belief and practice. We do not understand why the Lord commanded the practice of plural marriage. Some have suggested that it was a means of trying and refining the people through the persecution that followed. Certainly, one must have had faith in the divine origin of the Church to enter it. Another suggested explanation is based upon the doctrine of pre-existence. In the spirit world are countless numbers of spirits waiting for their descent into mortality, to secure earth bodies as a means of further progress. These unborn spirits desired the best possible parentage. Those assuming plural marriage almost invariably were the finest types in the community Only men who were most worthy in their lives were permitted to take plural wives; and usually only women of great faith and pure lives were willing to become members of a plural household. (It should be remembered that permission to enter the system was granted only by the President of the Church, and after careful examination of the candidate.) However, this is but another attempted explanation by man of a divine action. It may be mentioned that eugenic studies have shown the children of polygamous parents to be above the average, physically and mentally. And the percentage of happy plural households was higher than that of monogamous families. The principle of plural marriage came by revelation from the Lord. That is the reason why the Church practiced it. It ceased when the Lord so directed through the then living Prophet. The Church lives, moves, and has its being in revelation.
John A. Widtsoe (1947)
“Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage”, John A. Widtsoe, Gospel Interpretations. Aids to Faith in a Modern Day. Being a Companion Volume to Evidences and Reconciliations (Bookcraft 1947): 147-152. [1960: 340-344] [cannot find it in online archives]
Moral purity is required of all Latter-day Saints. Men must be as clean as women, and both must be free from any violation of the moral law. That is the basis of all marriages performed under the authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church solemnizes two kinds of marriages. First, those that unite husband or wife for the duration of mortal life. These marriages end with death. Second, those that continue the family relationship after death, in the hereafter. This is often known as eternal or celestial marriage. Faithful members of the Church seek to enjoy both of these kinds of marriages. They wish to be wedded for time and eternity, that is, to continue their associations forever. To be able to do this is one of the happiest privileges of Church membership. Such marriages, usually called sealings, must be performed in the temples, whenever they exist. Several approaches to eternal marriage may be made: Two living person may be sealed to each other for time and eternity. A living man may be sealed for eternity to a dead woman; or a living woman to a dead man. Two dead persons may be sealed to each other. It is also possible though the Church does not now permit it, to seal two living people for eternity only, with no association on earth. Further, under a divine command to the Prophet Joseph Smith, it was possible for one man to be sealed to more than one woman for time and for eternity. Thus came plural marriage among the Latter-day Saints. By another divine command, to Wilford Woodruff, a successor to Joseph Smith, this order of marriage was withdrawn in 1890. Since that time the Church has not sanctioned plural marriages. Anyone who enters into them now is married unlawfully, and is excommunicated from the Church. That Joseph Smith actually was the person who introduced plural marriage into the Church and that he practiced it himself are amply proved by existing facts. 1. The revelation known as section one hundred thirty-two in the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains the doctrine of celestial marriage and also the practice of plural marriage, was dictated to his scribe, William Clayton, by Joseph Smith on July 12, 1843, a year before the martyrdom of the Prophet. It had been received by the Prophet some years before, and taught to many, but was not reduced to writing until 1843. William Clayton lived as an honorable citizen, of the highest character until December 4, 1879, thirty-six years after the revelation was written. He never wavered in his simple declaration that the revelation as now found in the Doctrine and Covenants was dictated to him, sentence by sentence. He adds that "after the whole was written, Joseph asked me to read it through, slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct." (Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, Volume VI, pp. 225, 226) On the day the revelation was written, or the day after, Joseph C. Kingsbury was asked to make a copy of it. This copy was carefully compared with the original by Bishop Newell K. Whitney, and preserved by him. Elder Kingsbury, of unblemished character and reputation lived fifty-five years after this event (dying October 5, 1898), and always bore solemn testimony to the written origin of the revelation in 1843, through the lips of the Prophet. In further corroboration of the claim that the revelation came from the lips of the Prophet, are the statements of numerous men and women, then living, who either saw the revelation or heard it read. In fact, the document was read to the high council in Nauvoo. 2. A number of men, who in their lives showed themselves honest, have testified that they actually performed the ceremonies that united Joseph Smith to plural wives. Among these were Joseph B. Noble, Hyrum Smith, James Adams, Newell K. Whitney, Willard Richards, and others. Several of these men lived long after the Prophet's death and always declared that they officiated in marrying the Prophet to a plural wife, giving place, date, and the witnesses present. 3. Many of the women who were thus sealed to Joseph Smith lived long after his death. They declared that they lived with the Prophet as husband and wives. These women were of unblemished character, gentle and lovely in their lives who spoke with loving respect of their martyr husband. They substantiated in detail the statements of those who performed the ceremonies. 4. Many of the elders in Nauvoo entered into plural marriage, under the authority of Joseph Smith who was yet living, as certified to by the men and their wives. Among these were William Clayton, Orson Hyde, Hyrum Smith John Smith, Erastus Snow, Lyman Wight, James J. Strang, Gladden Bishop, William Smith, Heber C. Kimball, and Brigham Young. These men and their wives who survived the Prophet, made affidavits of their marriages in Joseph's day in answer to the charge by enemies of the Church that plural marriage was not instituted nor practiced, neither authorized by the Prophet. These men and women were good citizens, so well-known over such long periods of time that their concordant declarations cannot be gainsaid. 5. The Nauvoo Temple records, which are in the possession of the Church likewise furnish evidence that Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage. Before the completion of the temple, marriage sealings were usually performed in rooms in the home of the Prophet. When the temple was dedicated in 1846 for such ceremonies, the plural marriages of Joseph were given temple sanction, and where the marriages were for time only, they were often made to continue through eternity. This was done within a year and a half of the assassination of the Prophet. Many received plural wives in the Nauvoo Temple. It is utterly improbable, if not impossible, that such a new doctrine could have been conceived and carried out by the men who succeeded the Prophet. There would have been a serious resentment among those who entered the temple, if the teachings of the Prophet had been violated. Such criticism would have overflowed to the outside. 6. After the death of the Prophet, women applied for the privilege of being sealed to him for eternity. They felt no doubt that in the eternal ages they would then share the companionship of the Prophet. They wanted to enjoy eternity with the man whom they revered as one chosen of God to open the last dispensation of the gospel on earth. To these requests, assent was often given. Such action by women who lived in the days of the Prophet implies a belief in plural marriage. These women, who were not in any sense earthly wives of the Prophet, have been counted by uninformed or antagonistic writers as wives of the Prophet. Women no longer living, whether in Joseph's day or later have also been sealed to the Prophet for eternity. The request for such unions has usually come from relatives or friends who would have their loved one share eternity with the Prophet, rather than with anyone else. Unscrupulous and unreliable writers have even added such marriages to the list of Joseph's wives. 7. Another kind of celestial marriage seems to have been practiced in the early days of plural marriage. It has not been practiced since Nauvoo days, for it is under Church prohibition. Zealous women, married or unmarried, loving the cause of the restored gospel, considered their condition in the hereafter. Some of them asked that they might be sealed to the Prophet for eternity. They were not to be his wives on earth, in mortality, but only after death in the eternities. This came often to be spoken of as celestial marriage. Such marriages led to misunderstandings by those not of the Church, and unfamiliar with its doctrines. To them marriage meant only association on earth. Therefore any ceremony uniting a married woman, for example, to Joseph Smith for eternity seemed adulterous to such people. Yet in any day, in our day, there may be women who prefer to spend eternity with another than their husband on earth. Such cases, if any, and they must have been few in number, gave enemies of the Church occasion to fan the flaming hatred against the Latter-day Saints. The full truth was not told. Enemies made the most of the truth. They found it difficult to believe that the Church rests on truth and virtue. The literature and existing documents dealing with plural marriage in Nauvoo in the day of Joseph Smith are very numerous. Hundreds of affidavits on the subject are in the Church Historian's office in Salt Lake City. Most of the books and newspaper and magazine articles on the subject are found there also. (For a fairly condensed but complete discussion consult Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, Vol. VI, pp. 219-236; Joseph Fielding Smith, Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage, pp. 67-94; Woman's Exponent, Vol. III and IV; The Deseret News, especially in 1886) [Andrew Jenson account https://archive.org/stream/historicalrecord06jens#page/218/mode/2up ] The careful study of all available information leads to but one conclusion. Joseph Smith received the revelation in question, and practiced plural marriage. The issue is not one of doctrine hut of history. No honest student can declare the host of witnesses, hundreds of them, from Nauvoo days, Mormon and non-Mormon of various residence, pursuits and temperaments to have united in lying about the matter. The evidence is confirmed by those who place the introduction of plural marriage on others, for they seek feeble, unworthy shelter in the statement that Joseph Smith did practice plural marriage, but later repented of it. (The Saints Herald, Vol. 1, pp. 9, 26, 27) That is throwing dust in the eyes of seekers after truth. The case is clear. Authentic history says that plural marriage originated with Joseph Smith the Prophet. And so it did. The apparent denials by Church leaders in Nauvoo days that the Church practiced plural marriage were correct. At that time the Church members as a whole had not heard the revelation, nor had they been given an opportunity to accept it. But many of the leaders knew of it and were polygamists. The chaotic conditions of the years immediately following the Prophet's death, delayed the formal presentation of the revelation. Soon after the Church was established in the Great Salt Lake region, at the conference in 1852, the doctrine of celestial and plural marriage was accepted by the Church as a whole. During the intervening years, however, it was taught and practiced.
Principles of the Gospel (for those in military service) (1943)
Principles of the Gospel [for service men and women]
A Brief Statement of Principles of the Gospel Based Largely Upon the Compendium (Richards-Little) with Excerpts From other Writings. Including also Church Chronology, Priesthood Ordinances, Selected Hymns (Published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1943)
“Chronology’ “Manifesto, prohibiting plural marriages, accepted by the Church”, October 6, 1890 (page 299)
Preston Nibley (1944)
Preston Nibley. Joseph Smith the Prophet (Deseret News Press 1944; 1946; 1947)
“On Wednesday, July 2th, 1843, Joseph dictated to his secretary, William Clayton, the revelation known as section 132 in the Doctrine and Covenants on ‘the eternity of the marriage covenant, including the plurality of wives.’ This revelation led to the practice of ‘plural marriage’ by the Mormon people until October Conference in 1890, when the members of the Church were advised by President Wilford Woodruff, ‘to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.’ Certain descendants of the Prophet Joseph Smith have endeavored to maintain that he was not the author of the above named revelation and that he did not institute the practice of ‘plural marriage.’ Such a view is contrary to the facts which are well known to the historians of the Church; but we do not have space nor time to go into this matter here” (470)
Orson F. Whitney (1888, 1945, 1967)
Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (1888 1945 1967: Chapter 46: 321-328)
[“Interesting experiences involving Joseph Smith, Heber C. Kimball, and Vilate Kimball, his wife, and their daughter, Helen Kimball, gathering around the Prophet’s revelation and teaching on plural marriage”]
A startling innovation, a test designed to try, as never before, the faith and integrity of God's people now came upon them. Not in the shape of fire and sword, nor toilsome pilgrimage, nor pestilence, nor wealth, nor poverty. Ah! no; something far different from these, and far more difficult to bear.
A grand and glorious principle had been revealed, and for years had slumbered in the breast of God's Prophet, awaiting the time when, with safety to himself and the Church, it might be confided to the sacred keeping of a chosen few. That time had now come. An angel with a flaming sword descended from the courts of glory and, confronting the Prophet, commanded him in the name of the Lord to establish the principle so long concealed from the knowledge of the Saints and of the world—that of plural marriage.
Well knew the youthful Prophet the danger of his task. Well knew he the peril and penalty of disobedience. Fearing God, not man, he bowed to the inevitable, and laid his life—aye, was it not so?—upon the altar of duty and devotion.
Among those to whom Joseph confided this great secret, even before it was committed to writing, was his bosom friend, Heber C. Kimball. Well knowing the integrity of his heart, so many times tested and found true, he felt that he ran no risk in opening to Heber's eyes the treasured mysteries of his mighty soul.
But why careful, among so many friends, to select only a few as the recipients of such a favor? Would not the Saints have died to a man in defense of their Prophet—God's seer and revelator? Alas, none knew so well as Joseph the frailty of man, the inherent weakness and wickedness of the human heart.
"Many men," said he, "will say, 'I will never forsake you, but will stand by you at all times.' But the moment you teach them some of the mysteries of the kingdom of God that are retained in the heavens, and are to be revealed to the children of men when they are prepared for them, they will be the first to stone you and put you to death.
"It was this same principle that crucified the Lord Jesus Christ, and will cause the people to kill the prophets in this generation."
What! would even the Saints have so done? Did not some of those who were Saints then, so do?
Had not Joseph said many times—are not men now living who heard him say: "Would to God, brethren, I could tell you who I am! Would to God I could tell you what I know! But you would call it blasphemy, and there are men upon this stand who would want to take my life."
"If the Church," said he, "knew all the commandments, one-half they would reject through prejudice and ignorance."
No wonder, then, that he should choose his confidants, for their sakes no less than his own. For these also are Joseph's words:
"When God offers a blessing, or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned."
Revelation is ever the iconoclast of tradition, and such is the bigotry of man, his natural hatred of the new and strange, as opposed to his personal interests or private views, that the very lives of those whose mission is to introduce and establish new doctrines, though designed as a blessing to humanity, are ever in danger from those whose traditions would thus be uprooted and destroyed.
Joseph was not a coward. It was he who said that a coward could not be saved in the kingdom of God. But neither was he lacking in caution, especially when warned of the Lord of the necessity for its exercise. Therefore, was he now revealing, to a chosen few, whom God had prepared to receive what he should tell them, one of the grand principles of the everlasting Gospel, "unlawful to be uttered" to the multitude, yet one day to be thundered from the house-tops in the ears of all living, with many other mighty truths locked in the treasure house of future time, of which eternity still holds the key.
Before he would trust even Heber with the full secret, however, he put him to a test which few men would have been able to bear.
It was no less than a requirement for him to surrender his wife, his beloved Vilate, and give her to Joseph in marriage!
The astounding revelation well-nigh paralyzed him. He could hardly believe he had heard aright. Yet Joseph was solemnly in earnest. His next impulse was to spurn the proposition, and perhaps at that terrible moment a vague suspicion of the Prophet's motive and the divinity of the revelation, shot like a poisoned arrow through his soul.
But only for a moment, if at all, was such a thought, such a suspicion entertained. He knew Joseph too well, as a man, a friend, a brother, a servant of God, to doubt his truth or the divine origin of the behest he had made. No, Joseph was God's Prophet, His mouthpiece and oracle, and so long as he was so, his words were as the words of the Eternal One to Heber C. Kimball. His heart-strings might be torn, his feelings crucified and sawn asunder, but so long as his faith in God and the Priesthood remained, heaven helping him, he would try and do as he was told. Such, now, was his superhuman resolve.
Three days he fasted and wept and prayed. Then, with a broken and a bleeding heart, but with soul selfmastered for the sacrifice, he led his darling wife to the Prophet's house and presented her to Joseph.
It was enough—the heavens accepted the sacrifice. The will for the deed was taken, and "accounted unto him for righteousness." Joseph wept at this proof of devotion, and embracing Heber, told him that was all that the Lord required. He had proved him, as a child of Abraham, that he would "do the works of Abraham," holding back nothing, but laying all upon the altar for God's glory.
The Prophet joined the hands of the heroic and devoted pair, and then and there, by virtue of the sealing power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, Heber and Vilate Kimball were made husband and wife for all eternity.
Heber's crucial test was in part over. Vilate's trial was yet to come. The principle of celestial marriage was now known to them, so far as their own eternal covenant was concerned, but the doctrine of plurality of wives which it involves, was yet to be revealed. How Heber and Vilate received and embraced this feature of the principle is thus tenderly told by their daughter Helen:
"My mother often told me that she could not doubt the plural order of marriage was of God, for the Lord had revealed it to her in answer to prayer.
"In Nauvoo, shortly after his return from England, my father, among others of his brethren, was taught the plural wife doctrine, and was told by Joseph, the Prophet, three times, to go and take a certain woman as his wife; but not till he commanded him in the name of the Lord did he obey. At the same time Joseph told him not to divulge this secret, not even to my mother, for fear that she would not receive it; for his life was in constant jeopardy, not only from outside influences and enemies, who were seeking some plea to take him back to Missouri, but from false brethren who had crept like snakes into his bosom and then betrayed him.
"My father realized the situation fully, and the love and reverence he bore for the Prophet were so great that he would sooner have laid down his life than have betrayed him. This was one of the greatest tests of his faith he had ever experienced. The thought of deceiving the kind and faithful wife of his youth, whom he loved with all his heart, and who with him had borne so patiently their separations, and all the trials and sacrifices they had been called to endure, was more than he felt able to bear.
"He realized not only the addition of trouble and perpiexity that such a step must bring upon him, but his sorrow and misery were increased by the thought of my mother hearing of it from some other source, which would no doubt separate them, and he shrank from the thought of such a thing, or of causing her any unhappiness. Finally he was so tried that he went to Joseph and told him how he felt—that he was fearful if he took such a step he could not stand, but would be overcome. The Prophet, full of sympathy for him, went and inquired of the Lord. His answer was, 'Tell him to go and do as he has been commanded, and if I see that there is any danger of his apostatizing, I will take him to myself.'
"The fact that he had to be commanded three times to do this thing shows that the trial must have been extra-ordinary, for he was a man who, from the first, had yielded implicit obedience to every requirement of the Prophet. 326"When first hearing the principle taught, believing that he would be called upon to enter into it, he had thought of two elderly ladies named Pitkin, great friends of my mother's who, he believed, would cause her little, if any, unhappiness. But the woman he was commanded to take was an English lady named Sarah Noon, nearer my mother's age, who came over with the company of Saints in the same ship in which father and Brother Brigham returned from Europe. She had been married and was the mother of two little girls, but left her husband on account of his drunken and dissolute habits. Father was told to take her as his wife and provide for her and her children, and he did so.
"My mother had noticed a change in his manner and appearance, and when she inquired the cause, he tried to evade her questions. At last he promised he would tell her after a while, if she would only wait. This trouble so worked upon his mind that his anxious and haggard looks betrayed him daily and hourly, and finally his misery became so unbearable that it was impossible to control his feelings. He became sick in body, but his mental wretchedness was too great to allow of his retiring, and he would walk the floor till nearly morning, and sometimes the agony of his mind was so terrible that he would wring his hands and weep like a child, and beseech the Lord to be merciful and reveal to her this principle, for he himself could not break his vow of secrecy.
"The anguish of their hearts was indescribable, and when she found it was useless to beseech him longer, she retired to her room and bowed before the Lord and poured out her soul in prayer to Him who hath said: 'If any lack wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.' My father's heart was raised at the same time in supplication. While pleading as one would plead for life, the vision of her mind was opened, and, as darkness flees before the morning sun, so did her sorrow and the groveling things of earth vanish away.
"Before her was illustrated the order of celestial marriage, in all its beauty and glory, together with the great exaltation and honor it would confer upon her in that immortal and celestial sphere, if she would accept it and stand in her place by her husband's side. She also saw the woman he had taken to wife, and contemplated with joy the vast and boundless love and union which this order would bring about as well as the increase of her husband's kingdoms, and the power and glory extending throughout the eternities, worlds without end.
"With a countenance beaming with joy, for she was filled with the Spirit of God, she returned to my father, saying: 'Heber, what you kept from me the Lord has shown me.' She told me she never saw so happy a man as father was when she described the vision and told him she was satisfied and knew it was from God.
"She covenanted to stand by him and honor the principle, which covenant she faithfully kept, and though her trials were often heavy and grevious to bear, she knew that father was also being tried, and her integrity was unflinching to the end. She gave my father many wives, and they always found in my mother a faithful friend."
Helen also refers in her narrative to the sensation caused in Nauvoo, one Sabbath morning, prior to the return of the Twelve from England, by a sermon of the Prophet's on "the restoration of all things," in which it was hinted that the patriarchal or plural order of marriage, as practiced by the ancients, would some day again be established. The excitement created by the bare suggestion was such that Joseph deemed it wisdom, in the afternoon, to modify his statement by saying that possibly the Spirit had made the time seem nearer than it really was, when such things would be restored.
These facts serve to show something of the nature and extent of the sacrifice made by the Saints, in accepting this principle, and likewise the pure, lofty, religious motives actuating both men and women who could thus heroically embrace a doctrine against which—as is generally the case with the gospel's higher principles—their traditions and preconceived notions instinctively rebelled.
Soon after the revelation was given a golden link was forged whereby the houses of Heber and Joseph were indissolubly and forever joined. Helen Mar, the eldest daughter of Heber Chase and Vilate Murray Kimball, was given to the Prophet in the holy bonds of celestial marriage.
Chapter 47 (329 ff) Without doubt, the revelation of the great principle of plural marriage was a prime cause of the troubles which now arose, culminating in the Prophet's martyrdom and the exodus of the Church into the wilderness. True, the old causes remained, sectarian hatred and political jealousies, and these were the immediate reasons for such results. But back of all was the eternal warfare of truth and error, battling each for the world's supremacy, and the mailed hand of Omnipotence pushing the chosen people along the thorn-strewn, blood-sprinkled path of a glorious destiny.
Leah D. Widtsoe (1947)
Leah D. Widtsoe, Brigham Young. The Man of the Hour (Bookcraft 1947)
“The home life of this large family is of especial interest. Indeed it must have been unique where many mothers and children grew up in love and harmony that is seldom achieved in family relationships. And while the families did not always live together, yet the great majority f them lived in or near the Bee Hive and Lion Houses and on frequent occasions throughout the year the entire family was together. That the unusual life in this family with many mothers may be understood, let one of the members of that family (my own dear mother, Susa Young Gates, who was the first child born in the Lion House) tell the story of this interesting home [Gates, Life Story of Brigham Young (New York and London 1930)]:
Plurality of wives is entirely Biblical and was permitted by our Heavenly Father in this dispensation solely for the purpose of giving mortal tabernacles through a worthy lineage to spirits who are waiting on the Other Side for that glorious privilege and who cannot advance until they are possessed of mortal tabernacles. Thus parenthood becomes a solemn privilege and thus that order of marriage was held as a religious sacrament to all those who lived it in righteousness. If undertaken merely for unworthy physical reasons it would and did destroy those who practised it. (Gates, 28)
We were all as happy, mothers and children, as we could have been anywhere or under any other circumstances. Incredible as this sounds, the law of compensation, and the spirit or genius of the Lion House makes it true. Work and the mean pressure of grinding poverty was minimised and shared willingly by all. Above the whole of life bent an azure sky of divine conviction and conversion, lit by twinkling stars of human love, child to child, mother to mother, each conscious that God and our adored earthly father approved of us and shared our every joy and sorrow. His influence actually pervaded every corner of that Lion House and its vast surroundings. His love, we all knew, was as deep as that of our mothers, as understanding as was that of a bosom companion, and as surrounding as warmth and sunlight. On one occasion when he learned that one of his children was very ill and calling for him he stopped a council meeting declaring to the assembly that the meeting could wait, but his sick child could not. [Gates 339-40]
His beautiful courtesy was never more in evidence than when he approached any one of his wives whom he loved and who loved him. Especially was that so when in the company of Mother Young, whose health was rather poor and who had borne the heat and burden of the day for him and with him. To her he paid exquisite attention, quiet, composed but sincere. His attitude of consideration towards her was reflected in that of every other wife and child he had. [Gates 340]
The wives of Brigham Young lived together without outer friction or violent disagreement so far as any of us children knew. That they were all equally congenial could not be expected for they were not weaklings and all "had minds of their own." But their differences, if and when they existed, were their own affairs and were settled amongst themselves without disturbing in the slightest degree the serene tranquility of our family life. They were ladies, and lived their lives as such. The children were never aware of any quarrels and indeed they could not have been serious or the children must have been aware of them. [340-1]
The joy, the happiness of their lives came through the delightful upspringing growth in spiritual beauty, in the confidence and friendship of each other, and in the reverence and love manifested by their intelligent God-fearing husband, Brigham Young, who knew the difficult upward path they each were treading because of the strain which justice and mercy put upon him in the adjustments and readjustments necessary for himself. [Gates 341]
The world knows Brigham Young as a statesman and coloniser; but to his children he was an ideal father. Kind to a fault, tender, thoughtful, just and firm. He spoke but once, and none were so daring as to disobey. But that his memory is almost worshipped by all who bear his name is an eloquent tribute to his character. None of us feared him; all of us adored him. If the measure of a man's greatness is truly given by Carlyle, as bounded by the number of those who love him and who were loved by him; then few men are as great as was my father, Brigham Young. What his life and love meant to his family only their subsequent lives may testify. What he did as state-founder, commonwealth builder, only the pages of history may imperfectly recall. [Gates 356]
The foregoing statement of authenticated fact is in no sense an advocacy of present-day plural marriage. For to-day sees the Mormon Church as faithfully committed to the monogamic form of marriage, as it was to another form in past years.  (Widtsoe, 139-141)
John A. Widtsoe (1951)
John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith; Seeker after Truth, Prophet of God (Bookcraft 1951; Collector’s edition 1991; Second Collectors edition 1993; Deseret News Press 1952; 1957; 1993; Kindle 2009) Chapter 38 Plural Marriage: 234-242.
Moral purity is required of all Latter-day Saints. Men must be as clean as women, and both must be free from any violation of the moral law. That is the requirement of all marriages performed under the authority of the restored gospel in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Church solemnizes two kinds of marriages: first, those that unite husband and wife for the duration of mortal life; second, those that continue the family relationship after death, in the hereafter. The latter are known as eternal or celestial sealings or marriages.
Faithful members of the Church hope to enjoy celestial marriage. They wish to be wedded for time and eternity, that is, to continue their wedded associations forever. To be able to do this is one of the happiest privileges of Church membership. Such marriages, properly called sealings, must be performed in the temples, whenever they exist.
Several approaches to eternal marriage may be made. Two living persons may be sealed to each other for time and eternity. A living man may be sealed for eternity to a dead woman or a living woman to a dead man. Two dead persons may be sealed to each other for eternity. It is also possible, though the Church does not now permit it, to seal two living persons for eternity only, with no association on earth.
Further, under a divine command to the Prophet Joseph Smith, it was possible for one man to be sealed to more than one woman for time and for eternity. This sealing of husbands and wives is one of the important rituals of temple service. It is an earth ordinance since there is no marriage or giving in marriage in heaven.
The remarkable and soul-stirring doctrine of eternal or celestial marriage came as the result of a question presented to the Lord, as to how the early patriarch, Abraham, was justified in having more than one wife. In the revealed answer came also the principle of plural marriage among the Latter-day Saints. By another divine command to Wilford Woodruff, a successor to Joseph Smith, this order of marriage was withdrawn in 1890. Since that time the Church has not sanctioned plural marriages. Anyone who enters into it now is married unlawfully by persons who have no authority, and is excommunicated from the Church.
Nevertheless, almost the first question asked by strangers to the Church is about the practice of plural marriage in the early days of the Church. The young people of the Church likewise ask why the Lord authorized his Church to practise a principle obnoxious to many in the world.
In the absence of the revealed answer to the question, it may be suggested that the philosophy of the Church implies an answer.
Those who live faithfully to the Lord's commandments may receive the sealing blessings of the gospel. They are then wedded for time and for all eternity. They and their children are then the ones who in the eternal ages will constitute eternal families, and will increase in the eternal years toward the very likeness of God. It becomes therefore a priceless privilege to be born into such a family, sealed for eternal existence in the holy temples of God. The waiting spirits destined to come on earth, and understanding the vast meaning of the gospel, perhaps asked, perhaps pleaded to come through such a worthy lineage, even if the man, the coming father, had to assume the responsibility of a plural household. Perhaps in that manner came the practice on earth of plural marriage. Moreover, the practice is Biblical. It is in line with the fundamental gospel doctrine of eternal progression, and provides for the use of man's free agency. Thus the practice of plural marriage takes its place with the spiritual gifts of the gospel.
Looked upon in this light it becomes a glorious privilege of begetting bodies for the waiting spirits.
It is granted that this or any other explanation carries along with it many unanswerable questions. Certainly, however, plural marriage did not come because of economic or social reasons as some have suggested.
The principle and the practice came to the Prophet through revelation from the Lord. Its practice was always permissive. Plural wives could be taken only under severe restrictions and upon the recommendation of bishops, stake presidents, General Authorities, and finally by the President of the Church. The man who entered plural marriage must be fitted in every way for this holy privilege.
The divine purpose of plural marriage, since the Lord has not explained it, is but dimly understood by man.
That Joseph Smith actually was the person who introduced plural marriage into the Church and that he practised it himself are amply proved by existing facts.
The revelation known as D&C 132 in the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains the doctrine of celestial marriage and also the permission to practice plural marriage, was dictated to his scribe, William Clayton, by Joseph Smith on July 12, 1843, a year before the martyrdom of the Prophet. It had been received by the Prophet some years before and taught to many, but was not reduced to writing until 1843.
The evidence seems clear that the revelation on plural marriage was received by the Prophet as early as 1831. A sermon delivered by Joseph F. Smith, then a counselor in the First Presidency, later the President of the Church, was reported as follows:
Here the speaker said, perhaps for the first time in public, that the women who entered into plural marriage with the Prophet Joseph Smith were shown to him and named to him as early as 1831, and some of them were given in marriage to him as early as that date, although it was not then prudent, under the circumstances, to make these facts public. And when the Lord showed those women to Joseph some of them were not even acquainted with the Church much less him. God knew their hearts, as is proved by the fact that they have been true and faithful through all the trying vicissitudes through which they have passed, and that too in the face of a frowning world; they have endured it all, and are today examples of womanhood and purity.
It seems that Fannie Alger was one of Joseph's first plural wives. She lived many years after the Prophet's death and never denied her relationship to him. There were other noble, pure women who gave like testimonies.
William Clayton lived as an honorable citizen of the highest character. On December 4, 1879, thirty-six years after the revelation was written he died. He never wavered in his simple declaration that the revelation as now found in the Doctrine and Covenants was dictated to him, sentence by sentence, by the Prophet. He adds that "after the whole was written, Joseph asked me to read it through, slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct."
On the day the revelation was written, or the day after, Joseph C. Kingsbury was asked to make a copy of it. This copy was carefully compared with the original by Bishop Newel K. Whitney and preserved by him. Elder Kingsbury, of unblemished character and reputation, lived fifty-five years after this event (he died October 5, 1898), and always bore solemn testimony to the written origin of the revelation in 1843 through the lips of the Prophet. In further corroboration of the claim that the revelation came from the lips of the Prophet are the statements of numerous men and women, then living, who either saw the revelation or heard it read. In fact, the document was read to the high council and presidency of the stake of Nauvoo on August 12, 1843, a month after it had been reduced to written form on July 12, 1843. Many of the council members testified that the revelation was read at that time.
In 1886, President Smith of the Reorganized Church attempted to secure from Leonard Soby, estranged from the Church, but a member in 1843 of the Nauvoo high council, a statement to the effect that the revelation was not read at the said high council meeting. This Soby refused to do, but volunteered to testify that the revelation was actually read at that meeting in his hearing.
A number of men, who in their lives proved themselves honest, have testified that they actually performed the ceremonies that united Joseph Smith to plural wives. Among these were Joseph B. Noble, Hyrum Smith, James Adams, Newel K. Whitney, Willard Richards, and others. Several of these men lived long after the Prophet's death and always declared that they officiated in marrying the Prophet to a plural wife, giving place, date, and the witnesses present.
Many of the women who were thus sealed to Joseph Smith lived long after his death. They declared that they lived with the Prophet as his wives. These women were of unblemished character, gentle and lovely in their lives, who understood this to be a righteous principle as revealed to their Prophet-husband. They always spoke with loving respect of their martyr-husband and they substantiated in detail the statements of those who performed the ceremonies.
Many of the elders in Nauvoo entered into plural marriage under the authority of Joseph Smith while he was living, as certified to by the men and their wives. Among these were William Clayton, Orson Hyde, Hyrum Smith, John Smith, Erastus Snow, Lyman Wight, James J. Strang, Gladden Bishop, William Smith, Heber C. Kimball, and Brigham Young. These men and their wives who survived the Prophet made affidavits of their marriages in Joseph's day in answer to the charge by enemies of the Church that plural marriage was not instituted nor practised, neither authorized by the Prophet. These men and women who assisted in the sealings or were sealed to plural wives, were good citizens, so well-known over such long periods of time that their concordant declarations cannot be gainsaid.
The Nauvoo Temple records, which are in the possession of the Church, likewise furnish evidence that Joseph Smith practised plural marriage. Before the completion of the temple, sealings were usually performed in dedicated rooms in the home of the Prophet. When the temple was dedicated in 1846 for such ceremonies, the plural marriages of Joseph were given temple sanction, and where the original marriages were for time only, they were often later performed as sealings made to continue through eternity.
This was done within a year and a half of the assassination of the Prophet. Later, many more received plural wives in the Nauvoo Temple. It is utterly improbable, if not impossible, that such a new doctrine could have been conceived and carried out immediately by the men who succeeded the Prophet. There would have been a serious resentment among those who entered the temple if the teachings of the Prophet had been violated. Such criticism would have overflowed to the outside.
After the death of the Prophet, women applied for the privilege of being sealed to him for eternity. They felt no doubt that in the eternal ages they would share the companionship of the Prophet. They wanted to share eternity with the man whom they revered as one chosen of God to open the last dispensation of the gospel on earth. To these requests, assent was often given. Such action by women who lived in the days of the Prophet implies a belief in plural marriage. These women, who were not in any sense earthly wives of the Prophet, have been counted by uninformed or antagonistic writers as wives of the Prophet.
Women no longer living, whether in Joseph's day or later, have also been sealed to the Prophet for eternity. The request for such unions has usually come from relatives or friends who would have their loved ones share eternity with the Prophet rather than with anyone else. Unscrupulous and unreliable writers have even added such marriages to the list of Joseph's wives.
Another kind of celestial marriage seems to have been practised in the early days of plural marriage. It has not been practised since Nauvoo days, for it is under Church prohibition. Zealous women, some of them married as well as unmarried, loving the cause of the restored gospel, considered their condition in the hereafter and asked that they might be sealed to the Prophet for eternity. They were not to be his wives on earth, in mortality, but only after death, in the eternities. Such marriages led to much misunderstanding by those not of the Church and unfamiliar with its doctrines and practices. To them marriage meant only association on earth. Therefore any ceremony uniting a married woman, for example, to Joseph Smith for eternity seemed adulterous to such people. Yet in any day, in our day, there may be women who prefer to spend eternity with another than their husband on earth.
Such cases, if any, and they must have been few in number, gave enemies of the Church occasion to fan the flaming hatred against the Latter-day Saints. The full truth was not told. Enemies made the most of untruth. They found it difficult to believe that the Church rests on truth and virtue.
The existing literature dealing with plural marriage in Nauvoo in the day of Joseph Smith is voluminous. Many affidavits on the subject are in the Church Historian's Office in Salt Lake City. Many of the books and newspaper and magazine articles on the subject are found there also.
A clinching proof that the Prophet had taught plural marriage is found in his journal under date of October 5, 1843. He writes:
Gave instructions to try those persons who were preaching, teaching, or practicing, the doctrine of plurality of wives; for, according to the law, I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.
The careful study of all available information leads to but one conclusion. Joseph Smith received the revelation in question and practised plural marriage. This issue is not one of doctrine but of history. No honest student can declare the host of witnesses, hundreds of them, from Nauvoo days, Mormon and non-Mormon of various residence, pursuit, and temperament to have united in lying about the matter. The evidence is confirmed by those who place the introduction of plural marriage on others, for they seek feeble, unworthy shelter in the statement that Joseph Smith did practise plural marriage but later repented of it. That is throwing dust in the eyes of seekers after truth.
The case is clear. Authentic history says that plural marriage originated with Joseph Smith, the Prophet. So it did. The apparent denials by Church leaders in early Nauvoo days that the Church practised plural marriage were correct. At that time, the Church members as a whole had not heard the revelation nor had they been given an opportunity to accept it. But many of the leaders knew of it and were polygamists under Joseph's authority.
The chaotic conditions of the years immediately following the Prophet's death delayed the formal presentation of the revelation to the whole Church. That explains the statement of 1838 in answer to a question whether the Mormons believed in having more than one wife. The principle of plural marriage had not at that time been presented to the Church. Soon after the Church was established in the Great Salt Lake region, at the conference in 1852, the doctrine of celestial and plural marriage was accepted by the Church as a whole. During the intervening years, however, it was taught and practised.
John A. Widtsoe (1961)
Discourses of Brigham Young. Second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Selected and Arranged by John A. Widtsoe. Edition of 1961 (Deseret Book 1961. Second edition preface dated February 15, 1926; 1st ?1925 [Flake 10,060, 10,061]; additional editions published in 1941, 1954; 1961; 1976; 1992]
“This is the reason why the doctrine of plurality of wives was revealed, that the noble spirits which are waiting for tabernacles might be brought forth", ( 197) Journal of Discourses 4. 56
See however the following two articles, appearing in Improvement Era about fifteen months apart https://archive.org/stream/improvementera4407unse#page/n21/mode/2up “Letter from Brigham Young to his wife Mary Ann Angell”, Improvement Era 44. 7 (July 1941): 405, 422 Letter dated June 12, 1844
https://archive.org/stream/improvementera4509unse#page/n21/mode/2up Improvement Era 45. 9 (September 1942): “Excerpts from Letters of Brigham Young to his wife Harriet Cook”, 564- [three letters, all dated to 1846] [fourth wife; third plural wife, first wife having died shortly after joining church]
LeGrand Richards (1950)
LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder (Deseret Book 1950): 421-4 [other editions 1954 (sixth printing); 1958, 1963]
Persecution Because of Plural Marriage There may be some who feel that the reason for the unfavorable attitude of the world toward The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is due to its belief  in and practice of plural marriage in the early days of the Church. This, however, cannot be true, since Joseph Smith was subjected to persecutions from the time he was a boy of fourteen, when he related to some of the ministers, whom he regarded as his dearest friends, the vision he received when the Father and the Son appeared to him. From that time on he was ridiculed and reviled; he was imprisoned time and time again, without cause; he was tarred and feathered. He and those who believed his story were driven from Ohio, then from Missouri, and finally from Nauvoo, Illinois. All of these trials and persecutions took place before the revelation from the Lord on the subject of plural marriage was made known, even to the members of the Church. The Church was organized April 6, 1830; the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded the revelation received by him from the Lord on the subject of the eternity of the marriage covenant and the plurality of wives (D&C 132) at Nauvoo, Illinois, July 12, 1843, less than a year before his martyrdom on June 27, 1844. The attitude of the Church, therefore, toward this principle was scarcely known publicly until after the Saints were driven from Nauvoo, Illinois, and settled in the Rocky Mountains.
What will the people of the world say when all things are known in their true light and relationship to the Lord and his great work, and when they learn it was the Lord who taught the Prophet Joseph Smith this principle, and that it had a sacred and religious aspect and purpose, rather than having been adopted for the gratification of the lusts of men? Only a few of the members of the Church ever lived the principle of plural marriage—never over three percent. There must have been something of outstanding worth and conviction to hold 97 percent of the Church membership true to their  testimonies of the divinity of the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, even when they saw some of the members living this principle. It was apparent to them that those who practiced it were among the finest people in the community, and their children were in every way equal to the children of monogamous marriages. Members of the Church most familiar with the fruits of this principle were the least offended by its practice.
Under the inspired leadership of Wilford Woodruff, fourth president of the Church, "The Manifesto," dated September 24, 1890, was issued, advising Latter-day Saints "to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land." At a general conference of the Church, October 6, 1890, President Lorenzo Snow offered the following motion:
I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present lime who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the manifesto which has been read in our hearing and which is dated September 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding. (The Deseret Weekly, October 11, 1890.)
The vote to sustain the motion was unanimous. The following year, President Woodruff, addressing the Saints in Logan, Utah, November 1, 1891, spoke of the vision and revelation which led him to issue the official declaration known as "The Manifesto":
The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. . . .
I know there are a good many men, and probably some leading men, in this Church who have been tried and felt as though President Woodruff had lost the Spirit of God  and was about to apostatize. Now, I want you to understand that he has not lost the Spirit, nor is he about to apostatize. The Lord is with him, and with this people. He has told me exactly what to do, and what the result would be if we did not do it. . . . I want to say this: I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. (The Deseret Weekly, November 14, 1891.)
Since the date of the Manifesto and its acceptance by the vote of the Saints, the Church has taken a definite stand against the practice of plural marriage, even excommunicating from membership those who are guilty of violating these instructions.
Joseph Fielding Smith (1956)
Doctrines of Salvation. Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith. Compiled by Bruce R. McConkie. Volume III (Bookcraft 1956). 17th printing 1976
WHY ARTICLE ON MARRIAGE WAS DELETED. In the days of Nauvoo, the Lord gave Joseph Smith a revelation on marriage; that revelation appears under date of July 12, 1843. That is not the date that the revelation was given, but the date when the revelation was recorded.
That revelation on marriage was not placed in the Doctrine and Covenants until 1876. In the year 1876, the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants published in the west was published by David O. Calder of the Deseret News.
Orson Pratt, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church, had added to the body of revelations a great many others as we have them now in the Doctrine and Covenants, that were not in these earlier editions, and this section known as section 132, was among those so added. It would not have been consistent to have allowed that article on marriage to stay in when it contradicted the revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, so they took it out, and very properly. That is a matter of history that we ought to be, familiar with.
FALSE TEACHINGS OF ARTICLE ON MARRIAGE. I want to read from this article on marriage to show you that it is not a revelation and could not be: "According to the custom of all civilized nations, marriage is regulated by laws and ceremonies; therefore, we believe that all marriages in this Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints should be solemnized in a public meeting or feast prepared for that purpose,"-(I do not believe that at all. We solemnize marriages in the temple of the Lord, at an altar. We do not have a crowd, and it is not a feast.)-"And that the solemnization should be performed by a presiding high priest, high priest, bishop, elder, or priest, not even prohibiting those persons who are desirous to get married, of being married by other authority."
I do not believe that. I believe every marriage in this Church should be performed by a high priest who is appointed by the one who holds the keys to perform that ceremony for time and eternity, at the altar in the house of the Lord, and it ought not to be performed anywhere else. Of course they had no temples and no understanding of the ceremonies for time and eternity in the year 1835, so we will have to excuse Oliver Cowdery for that. However this article is not the doctrine of the Church, and cannot be; you can see that.
"We believe that it is not right to prohibit members of this Church from marrying out of the Church, if it be their determination so to do; but such persons will be considered weak in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Of course we do not believe that we should prohibit people from marrying outside of the Church; we cannot go to that extent and prohibit them from doing it, but we should counsel against it, and teach against it, and try to persuade them not to do that sort of thing.
"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." [Joseph Smith, History of the Church, ed. B. H. Roberts 2. 246-7]
FIRST REVELATION OF PLURAL MARRIAGE. Of course there was no doctrine of plural marriage in the Church in 1835, but Orson Pratt said (I get this from my father who was his missionary companion) that the Lord did reveal to Joseph Smith, before 1835, and before 1834, and as early as 1832, the doctrine of plural marriage. The Prophet revealed that to some few of the brethren, and Orson Pratt was one of them. He said the Prophet told him that, but it was revealed as a law or principle that was not at that time to be revealed to the Church, or made public or practiced, but something that would yet come, that was future. I have the confidence that Orson Pratt spoke the truth.
So it would be inconsistent, I say, to keep that article in here, when the revelation known as section 132 came to the Prophet Joseph Smith and was added to the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. (195-7) [part of an article first published Relief Society Magazine 21: 22-28]
LeGrand Richards (1961)
Legrand Richards, “Just to Illustrate” (Bookcraft 1961; 2nd printing, 1961)
[missionary in Holland 1905-1908]
“Millions of people accept the Bible as the word of God, but how many believe it and are willing to follow it? When we called at the home of one investigator [in Rotterdam], his friend was there. I asked him if he would be willing to read some of our literature. He agreed that he would….While they were investigating our message and attending our meetings, President Joseph F. Smith and Bishop Charles W. Nibley visited Rotterdam and spoke in our meeting. Upon their return to the United States, President Smith was arrested for the birth of his last child, from a plural wife. This was announced by the Associated Press and carried in the newspapers over the world. It also appeared in the Rotterdam Newspaper, where this investigator read it….. [The investigator asked if the report was true]. I answered, ‘Yes, I guess it is [true]’. He turned pale, and I reached in my pocket for my Bible…. When we had finished [dinner], I asked him to get his Bible and I discussed the principle of plural marriage from the Bible. Then I asked, ‘How much of your Bible do you believe, and how much are you willing to accept? If only a portion, what good is it as a guide anyway?’….
I heard a Missionary tell about being asked by an investigator about the principle of Polygamy, and his reply was that he was proud to be the product of polygamy on both his father’s and mother’s side. “ (32)
Ron W. Doxy (1965)
Roy W. Doxey, Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants , vol. 4 (Deseret Book 1965): 415-458.
Orson Pratt (Joseph F. Smith): Introduction [Elder Pratt, in company with President Joseph F. Smith, spoke at a meeting of the so-called Reorganized Church in 1878.] He explained the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the revelation on plural marriage. Refuted the statement and belief of those present that Brigham Young was the author of that revelation; showed that Joseph Smith the Prophet had not only commenced the practice himself, and taught it to others, before President Young and Twelve had returned from their mission in Europe, in 1841, but that Joseph actually received revelations upon that principle as early as 1831. (HC 5:xxxi, "Introduction," 1878.)
George A. Smith: Introduction In [July 12] 1843, the law on celestial marriage was written [at Nauvoo, Illinois] , but not published, and was known only to perhaps one or two hundred persons. It was written from the dictation of Joseph Smith, by Elder William Clayton, his private secretary, who is now in this city. [Salt Lake City, Utah.] This revelation was published in 1852, read to a general conference, and accepted as a portion of the faith of the Church. Elder Orson Pratt went to Washington and there published a work called the Seer, in which this revelation was printed, and a series of articles showing forth the law of God in relation to marriage. (JD, August 13, 1871, 14:213-14.)
Joseph F. Smith: 1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph He [President Lorenzo Snow] lived to bear his testimony to the world that Joseph Smith, the Prophet, taught him the doctrine of celestial marriage. He lived to declare to the world that he knew positively that Joseph Smith did receive it by revelation and that that doctrine was true and of God. And if he had done no more than this he would have accomplished a great work, because he was a living witness, an eye-witness and an ear-witness, and he knew whereof he spoke. You and I will have to meet his testimony, and so will the people of the world; and when we go to give an account of that which we have heard and known in the world, we cannot dodge this, but will be held to an account for it, just as sure as the Lord lives and that President Snow did his duty. (CR, October 1902, p. 87.)
Joseph Fielding Smith: 4 I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant Each ordinance of the Gospel is a covenant which is new and everlasting. It is new and everlasting because it is divine truth and never grows old. . . . This was said of baptism, and the Lord calls it "a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning." (Sec. 22:1.) It is so with all the covenants and obligations in the Gospel which pertain to salvation and exaltation of man. . . . President Brigham Young has said, that "All Latter-day Saints enter the new and everlasting covenant when they enter the Church. . . ." (Discourses of Brigham Young, pp. 247-248.) There are some members of the Church who seem to think that the new and everlasting covenant is the covenant of celestial marriage, or marriage for eternity, but this is not so. Marriage for eternity is an everlasting covenant, and like the Lord said of baptism, we may say of marriage, it is a new as well as an everlasting covenant because it was from the beginning. It will be, if properly performed according to the law of the Lord, eternal. In the opening verses of Section 132, the Lord draws a distinction between a new and everlasting covenant and the new and everlasting covenant. While the definition is given in the negative form, it is plainly discernible that the new and everlasting covenant is the fulness of the Gospel. In the words of the Lord, [Sec. 132:7, quoted] . (CHMR, 1948, 2:157-58.)
Orson Pratt: 39
There was a man in ancient times, named David, and because he was a man after God's own heart, the Lord chose him to be king over Israel. . . . But after Saul had been cut off and David had been elevated to the throne of Israel, the Lord also gave him all the wives of Saul his master. So says Nathan the Prophet, and he was sent to reprove David. [2 Sam. 12:1-14.] What had he done to need reproof? Why he had taken his neighbor's wife, a person he had no claim upon, and he not only committed adultery by thus taking the wife of another, but by his order her lawful husband was placed in front of the battle that he might be destroyed, and he was destroyed, hence, though he himself did not thrust a dagger to his heart, he became a murderer in the sight of heaven by having this man placed where his blood would be shed. [Ibid., 11:2-27.] After all his goodness, and after all the light and knowledge which God had given to this man, he committed these two great crimes. Nathan the Prophet was sent to reprove him. . . . With what kind of punishment was this man punished? Amongst them was that of suffering in the eternal worlds. How long? I cannot say exactly, but a good many centuries, a thousand years at least; this man, once righteous, now wicked, had to suffer the penalty of that crime. Did he repent? He did. Did he cry unto the Lord? He did. Was he sorely troubled? He was, and he was perhaps as repentant as any one could be; but the decree had gone forth, and hence that man had to endure the penalty of his crime. Peter, when referring to this subject on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, quotes from the Psalms of David, and says, "Thou hast not left my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." [Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27, 31.] It seems that after all, though David's repentance could not wipe away his sin, yet he had a hope, and he looked forward to the time when he would be liberated from hell; when that time arrived he would come forth and receive some kind of a glory, how much I do not know, for it is not revealed; but suffice it to say, he sinned against great light and knowledge and because of his sin he fell from a very high position. (JD, January 19, 1873, 15:316-17.)
Harold B. Lee: 50 The Lord gave to Moses, because of the "hardness of heart" among the Israelites, a code of laws called the "carnal commandments" or the Mosaic Law, and certain of the rights of the higher priesthood were withdrawn from among the people. Does anyone question the right of Moses as God's prophet to take away these rights if the Lord inspired him to do so? (D&C 84:24-26.) In the light of our experience today, I imagine that some in the day of Moses rebelled when their former rights were taken away. What happened to those who continued to attempt to exercise those rights without the authority of the Lord through Moses? The history is complete. They were cut off from among the people and were denied the blessings of the Lord. This same principle has been applied to the doctrine of plural marriage. In the days of Abraham, Jacob and David, by divine commandment through the Lord's mouthpiece, certain leaders were permitted to have more than one wife. At another period on this continent through his prophet, Jacob, son of Lehi, the Lord prohibited the practice of the principle and commanded the Nephites, "For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife and concubines he shall have none." (Jacob 2:27.) Still later in our own dispensation, the Lord through his prophet, Joseph Smith, in 1843 reestablished the practice of plurality of wives by a worthy few who were especially chosen. This practice was commanded as a principle of sacrifice which the Lord compared as similar to that he had commanded at the hands of Abraham, who was told to offer up his own son Isaac. (D&C 132:50.) (Youth and the Church, 1955, p. 109.)
Wilford Woodruff: 52 And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith Emma Smith, the widow of the Prophet, is said to have maintained to her dying moments that her husband had nothing to do with the patriarchal order of marriage, but that it was Brigham Young that got that up. I bear record before God, angels and men that Joseph Smith received that revelation, and I bear record that Emma Smith gave her husband in marriage to several women while he was living, some of whom are to-day living in this city, and some may be present in this congregation, and who, if called upon, would confirm my words. But lo and behold, we hear of publication after publication now-a-days, declaring that Joseph Smith had nothing to do with these things. Joseph Smith himself organized every endowment in our Church and revealed the same to the Church, and he lived to receive every key of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods from the hands of the men who held them while in the flesh, and who hold them in eternity. (JD, May 14, 1882, 23:131.)
First Presidency (Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins, J. Reuben Clark, Jr.): Plural Marriage The First Presidency have recently received letters making inquiry concerning the position of the Church regarding the contracting of polygamous or plural marriages. It is evident from these letters, as well as from certain published material—some of it distributed during our last General Conference—that a secret and, according to reputation, an oath-bound organization of misguided individuals is seeking to lead the people to adopt adulterous relations under the guise of a pretended and false polygamous or plural marriage ceremony. While the position of the Church since 1893 has been repeatedly set forth, namely, that polygamous or plural marriages are not and cannot now be performed, yet in order that there may be no excuse for any Church member to be misled by the false representations or the corrupt, adulterous practices of the members of this secret, and (by reputation) oath-bound organization (of which the history of the Nephites and Lamanites show so many counterparts), it is deemed wise again to set out the position of the Church on this matter, at the same time tracing the outlines of the historical facts lying behind the Church's position, of which many young Church members may not be fully aware. . . . At this period in the history of the Church [1831-1832] the doctrine of the eternity of the marriage covenant and plural marriage had not been revealed. It is obvious that the Church at that time recognized the monogamic system of marriage which prevailed among Christian people of the world. [D&C 42:22-23; 49:15-17.] Twelve years after the foregoing revelations—that is, on July 12th, 1843—the revelation on the eternity of the marriage covenant, including plurality of wives, was announced, one year before the martyrdom of the Prophet and of the Patriarch of the Church. . . . Any ceremony pretending to bind man and woman together beyond the period of mortal life, which is not solemnized by one who has been commissioned and authorized by the man who holds the keys of authority to bind upon earth with a covenant which will be binding in heaven, is of no efficacy or force when people are out of the world. [Sec. 132:7.] There is but one person on the earth at a time upon whom the keys of this sealing ordinance are conferred. That man is the Presiding High Priest, the President of the Church. He is the bearer of this authority, which he may exercise personally or he may commission others to exercise it under his jurisdiction, for such time, long or short, up to the end of his life, as he may desire. It was after the revelation of July, 1843, which provided that under certain conditions, which are clearly defined, a man may receive more than one woman to be his wife, that plural marriage became a recognized doctrine of the Church. Under this system family ties were established and relationships entered into which were held sacred and binding, not alone by those who accepted and entered into the order of plural marriage, but by all those who had become members of the Church. While the practice of plural marriage was severely criticized by the ministers of various religious denominations and others, it was not until 1874 that the Congress of the United States took definite steps looking to the suppression of the practice. A member of the Church who had entered into the order of plural marriage was arrested, tried before a jury, found guilty, and sentenced to pay a fine of five hundred dollars, and be incarcerated for two years at hard labor. An appeal was taken to the Supreme Court of the Territory, which confirmed the decree of the lower court. The case was then carried to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled that the law prohibiting the practice of plural marriage was constitutional and enforceable. From August, 1877, the date of the death of President Brigham Young, until October, 1880, the Council of the Twelve, with John Taylor at their head, directed the affairs of the Church. At the October Conference, 1880, the First Presidency was reorganized, John Taylor was sustained as President, with George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith as his first and second counselors. During the entire period of the presidency of John Taylor, 1880 to 1887, relentless prosecution of men who had entered into the relationship of plural marriage was intensified. Under the provisions of the Edmunds-Tucker law The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was disincorporated, the Perpetual Emigration Fund company was dissolved, and all property belonging to the Church, with the exception of buildings used exclusively for religious worship, was escheated to the government. Hundreds of men who had contracted plural marriages were heavily fined, and imprisoned. All persons who could not subscribe to a test oath which was provided especially for those who practiced or believed in the practice of plural marriage, were disfranchised. It became obvious that no human power could prevent the disintegration of the Church, except upon a pledge by its members to obey the laws which had been enacted prohibiting the practice of polygamy. It was under these circumstances that Wilford Woodruff was sustained as President of the Church in April, 1889. September 24th, 1890, President Woodruff promulgated his official Declaration to the Church and to the people of the United States, commonly referred to as The Manifesto. On the day that The Manifesto was issued President Woodruff wrote in his journal: "I have arrived at a point in the history of my life as the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where I am under the necessity of acting for the temporal salvation of the Church, and after praying to the Lord, and feeling inspired, I have issued the following proclamation, which is sustained by my counselors and the Twelve Apostles." After reviewing the enactment of the law prohibiting the practice of plural marriage, and the effect of its enforcement, President Woodruff, in his declaration, says: "Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise. . . . And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land." The Manifesto was signed by President Woodruff as President of the Church. After the vote approving the Manifesto had been recorded (October 6, 1890) President Woodruff, addressing the Conference congregation said: "I want to say to all Israel that the step which I have taken in issuing this Manifesto has not been done without earnest prayer before the Lord. I am not ignorant of the feelings that have been engendered through the course I have pursued, but I have done my duty." The Official Declaration by President Woodruff and its approval by the members of the Church in General Conference assembled, was accepted by the government as evidence that the practice of plural marriage would be discontinued. Prosecutions under the Edmunds-Tucker bill ceased and a spirit of neighborly good-will was established between members and non-members of the Church. In December, 1891, one year after the announcement of the Official Declaration of President Woodruff, a petition signed by the Presidency of the Church and Council of the Twelve was prepared and forwarded to the President of the United States, asking that amnesty be granted to all violators of the Federal law which prohibited the practice of plural marriage. This petition was also signed by Governor Arthur L. Thomas, Judge Charles S. Zane, and many other non-members of the Church. The petition was approved and the prayer of the signers granted by President Benjamin Harrison, on January 4th, 1893. The prayer of the petitioners was granted with the definite understanding that the practice of plural marriage was to be discontinued. September 6th, 1893, the Enabling Act, granting the people of Utah permission to meet in convention and frame a constitution under which Statehood might be granted, was presented by Joseph L. Rawlins, Representative in Congress, was passed by the Congress, and approved by the President. The Enabling Act provided (Section 3—First): "That perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured, and that no inhabitant of said State shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship: Provided, that polygamous or plural marriages are forever prohibited." The Convention met March 4th, 1895, an acceptable Constitution was framed, and by proclamation of President Grover Cleveland, Utah was admitted to the Union as a sovereign State. Article III, of the State Constitution provides as follows: "The following ordinance shall be irrevocable without the consent of the United States, and the people of this State." Religious Toleration—Polygamy Forbidden 4"First: Perfect toleration of religious sentiment is guaranteed. No inhabitant of this State shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship, but polygamous or plural marriages are forever prohibited." March 28th, 1896, President Grover Cleveland, in response to a memorial which had been presented to and approved by Congress, restored to the Church the property which had been escheated to the Government in 1887. This petition was signed by Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, and Joseph F. Smith, who then constituted the Presidency of the Church, and by the Council of the Twelve. It was also endorsed by Arthur L. Thomas, Governor, and Charles S. Zane, Chief Justice of the Territory. From the foregoing it will be seen by any person of normal intelligence that it was the practice of polygamous or plural marriage which led up to the enactment of the Edmunds-Tucker law and later the enforcement of the law by representatives of the government. It is also obvious that every available means in defense of the contention that polygamous or plural marriage was a religious rite, and therefore could not be attached under the Constitution of the United States, had been exhausted; that thereafter the Church pledge itself, by its Presidency, by its members in General Conference assembled, and by its support of the State Constitution, to discontinue the practice of polygamous or plural marriage. Thus our people sacredly covenanted with the Government of the United States that they would obey the civil law. That the Lord requires from his people no more than that they shall exhaust all human means to obey the law is shown in the following quotations, which are from revelations given to the Church, the first on September 22-23, 1832, and the latter January 19, 1841, nine years later. Revelation, September 22-23, 1832 "A revelation of Jesus Christ unto his servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and six Elders, as they united their hearts and lifted their voices on high. "Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his Church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem. "Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased. "Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. "For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house." (D&C 84:1-5.) In this revelation the Lord definitely declares that a city and temple are to be built at Independence, Missouri, and that this was to be accomplished during the existing generation. Because of wicked persecutions the Church was obliged to leave the State of Missouri, which had been designated as the gathering place of the saints. Under orders signed by Lilburn W. Boggs, Governor of Missouri, twelve thousand members of the Church were compelled to abandon their homes and flee to the State of Illinois, where they established the city of Nauvoo. As stated above, on January 19th, 1841, a revelation was given to the Church at Nauvoo, from which the following was copied: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings. "And the iniquity and transgression of my holy laws and commandments I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my work, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord God. "Therefore, for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those whom I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name, in Jackson County, Missouri, and were hindered by their enemies, saith the Lord your God. . . . "And this I make an example unto you, for your consolation concerning all those who have been commanded to do a work, and have been hindered by the hands of their enemies, and by oppression, saith the Lord your God." (D&C 124:49-53.) At the October Conference of the Church (1890) following the publication of the Manifesto issued by President Woodruff, the document was read before the assembled congregation, after which Lorenzo Snow, at the time President of the Council of the Twelve, arose and made the following motion: "I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider min fully authorizzed, by virtue of his position, to issue the Manifesto which has been read in our hearing, and which is dated September 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding." This motion was unanimously sustained. Notwithstanding this covenant, a few misguided members of the Church, some of whom had been signers of the petition praying for amnesty, and beneficiaries of its provisions, secretly associated themselves together for the avowed purpose of perpetuating the practices of polygamous or plural marriage in defiance of the pledge made to the government, of the terms of the Enabling Act, and of the provisions of the State Constitution to which they had sworn allegiance. Sworn to secrecy, these people promulgated their lawless propaganda, the result being that reports reached the Presidency indicating that certain professed members of the Church were teaching and in some instances entering into polygamous or plural marriage. At the General Conference of the Church, April, 1904, President Joseph F. Smith, who had succeeded President Lorenzo Snow as President of the Church, made the following statement to the assembled congregation: "Inasmuch as there are numerous reports in circulation that plural marriages have been entered into contrary to the official declaration of President Wilford Woodruff of September 24th, 1890, commonly called the Manifesto, which was issued by President Woodruff and adopted by the Church at its General Conference, October 6, 1890, which forbade any marriage violative of the law of the land, I, Joseph F. Smith, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby affirm and declare that no such marriages have been solemnized with the sanction, consent, or knowledge of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "And I hereby announce that all such marriages are prohibited, and if any officer or member of the Church shall assume to solemnize or enter into any such marriage he will be deemed in transgression against the Church, and will be liable to be dealt with according to the rules and regulations thereof, and excommunicated therefrom." The following resolution was presented to the congregation, and unanimously adopted: "Resolved, that we, the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in General Conference assembled, hereby approve and endorse the statement and declaration of President Joseph F. Smith, just made to this conference, concerning plural marriages, and will support the courts of the Church in the enforcement thereof." October 5th, 1910, Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and John Henry Smith, the First Presidency of the Church at the time, addressed a letter to the President of each of the Stakes of the Church, which contained the full text of the statement made by President Joseph F. Smith, at the General Conference, April, 1904. In this letter the Presidents of Stakes were definitely instructed to notify the members of the Church in the Stakes over which they presided, to report any case in which a person had entered into a pretended marriage violative of the civil law, or taught others to do so, and to take action against such persons and excommunicate them from the Church. Notwithstanding all that had been said and done upon this question it became necessary again to call attention of the Presidents of Stakes to it in 1914, as follows: "To Presidents of Stakes and Counselors, "Dear Brethren: "Having reason to believe that some members of the Church are secretly engaged advising and encouraging others to enter into unauthorized and unlawful marriages, we have deemed it advisable to call your attention to the communication we addressed to you on this subject on the 5th of October, 1910, a copy of which is herewith appended. "And believing, as we do, that these people are at the bottom of all the violations referred to in our communication, we direct your special attention to them, with a request that any information received by you from time to time relating to cases of this character, be followed up and investigated with a view to having this class of offenders placed on trial for their fellowship in the Church, as we regard them equally culpable with actual offenders. Please make the same request of your bishops. "Your brethren, JOSEPH F. SMITH, ANTON H. LUND CHARLES W. PENROSE, First Presidency." From the attitude of the Church, the statements of its authorized Priesthood, and the revealed will of the Lord, as shown in the revelations quoted, it is made plain that the discontinuance of polygamous or plural marriage was obligatory and justifiable. In the revelation given September 22-23, 1832, Jackson County, Missouri, was designated as the gathering place of the members of the Church, the spot where a city was to be established, and a temple built. This work was to be accomplished by the people of the present generation. Because of an order issued by its Governor in which the removal of the people from the State or their extermination was ordered, the Church was obliged to leave the State of Missouri. In the revelation given January 19th, 1841, nine years later, the Lord absolved the Church from responsibility, and told them that he required that work no more at their hands, and makes this an example in all things where the people are commanded to do a work, and are prevented by their enemies. This principle applies to plural marriage as it does to all other commandments. The members of the Church are reminded that the practice of polygamous or plural marriage is not the only law whose suspension has been authorized by the Lord and adopted by the people. The law of animal sacrifice, in force in ancient Israel, has been suspended, but the Prophet Joseph asserted it would be again restored, and such is the effect of the statement made by John the Baptist when restoring the Aaronic Priesthood. [Sec. 13.] The law of the United Order has likewise been suspended, to be reestablished in the due time of the Lord. [Sec. 105:34.] Other laws might be mentioned. . . . At President John Taylor's death, the keys of the sealing ordinances, with their powers and limitations, passed by regular devolution, in the way and manner prescribed by the Lord and in accordance with the custom of the Church, to President Wilford Woodruff. At the latter's death they similarly passed to President Lorenzo Snow; and upon his death, they similarly passed to President Joseph F. Smith; and at his death the same keys passed in the same way to President Heber J. Grant. There has been no change in the law of succession of the Priesthood and of the keys appertaining thereto, nor in the regular order of its descent. The keys of the sealing ordinances rest today solely in President Heber J. Grant, having so passed to him by the ordination prescribed by the Lord, at the hands of those having the authority to pass them, and whose authority has never been taken away by the Lord, nor suspended, nor interfered with by the Church. President Grant is the only man on the earth at this time who possesses these keys. He has never authorized any one to perform polygamous or plural marriages; he is not performing such marriages himself; he has not on his part violated nor is he violating the pledge he made to the Church, to the world, and to our government at the time of the Manifesto. Anyone making statements contrary to the foregoing is innocently or maliciously telling that which is not true. Anyone representing himself as authorized to perform such marriages is making a false representation. Any such ceremony performed by any person so making such representation is a false and mock ceremony. Those living as husband and wife under and pursuant to the ceremonies prescribed by President Smith or the ceremonies performed by any person whatsoever since that proscription, are living in adultery and are subject to the attaching penalties. We reaffirm as true today and as being true ever since it was made in 1904, the statement of President Smith which was endorsed by a General Conference of the Church "that no such marriages have been solemnized with the sanction, consent, or knowledge of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Finally, we are in honor bound to the government and people of the United States, upon a consideration we have fully received—Statehood—to discontinue the practice of polygamous or plural marriage, and Latter-day Saints will not violate their plighted faith. The Church reaffirms its adherence to the declarations of Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, and Joseph F. Smith. It adheres to the pledges made to the government of the United States, and to Constitutional law of the State of Utah. We confirm and renew the instructions given to Church officers by President Joseph F. Smith in 1904, in 1910, and in 1914, and direct the officers who administer the affairs of the Church diligently to investigate reported violations of the adopted rule, and if persons are found who have violated President Smith's ruling (adopted by the Church) or who are entering into or teaching, encouraging, or conspiring with others to enter into so-called polygamous or plural marriages, we instruct such officers to take action against such persons, and, finding them guilty, to excommunicate them from the Church in accord with the directions given by President Smith. We shall hold Church officers responsible for the proper performance of this duty. (DNCS, June 17, 1933, pp. 3-21.)
“Elder Martin Dalebout, who was President of a Branch in Amsterdam Holland, had contacted a group of people who had withdrawn from their church because they did not feel that their church had the truth…. As near as I can recall, we baptized over thirty form this group within about six weeks time. We told them all about tithing and polygamy—everything that we felt might make them want to leave us after baptism….” (71).
“While my companion was explaining the importance of our message, this man, having stood it as long as he could said, ‘What about polygamy?’ My companion[‘s reply was, ‘That is a good question—if you hadn’t asked us, we would have told you all about it, but, if you were building a house, a you would not attempt to put the roof on before you had laid the foundation, would you?
He agreed to this. Then my companion said, ‘Get your little memorandum book and write ‘polygamy’ in it so we will not overlook it. We will promise to answer your question later.’ The minute he wrote ‘polygamy in his memorandum book it was just like signing a contract: ‘I hereby agree to let you keep coming to my home until you tell me all about polygamy’” (153).
Bruce R. McConkie (1966)
McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966)
PLURAL MARRIAGE (577-9) See ADULTERY, ARTICLE ON MARRIAGE, CELESTIAL MARRIAGE, CHASTITY, CONCUBINES, KEYS OF THE KINGDOM, MANIFESTO, PRIESTHOOD, SEALING POWER. According to the Lord's law of marriage, it is lawful that a man have only one wife at a time, unless by revelation the Lord commands plurality of wives in the new and everlasting covenant. (D. & C. 49:15-17.) Speaking of "the doctrine of plurality of wives," the Prophet said: "I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise." (Teachings, p. 324.) The Lord, by the mouth of his Prophet Jacob, gave similar direction to the Nephites: "For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. 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." (Jacob 2:27-30.) From such fragmentary scriptural records as are now available, we learn that the Lord did command some of his ancient saints to practice plural marriage. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — among others (D. & C. 132) — conformed to this ennobling and exalting principle; the whole history of ancient Israel was one in which plurality of wives was a divinely accepted and approved order of matrimony. Those who entered this order at the Lord's command, and who kept the laws and conditions appertaining to it, have gained for themselves eternal exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world. In the early days of this dispensation, as part of the promised restitution of all things, the Lord revealed the principle of plural marriage to the Prophet. Later the Prophet and leading brethren were commanded to enter into the practice, which they did in all virtue and purity of heart despite the consequent animosity and prejudices of worldly people. After Brigham Young led the saints to the Salt Lake Valley, plural marriage was openly taught and practiced until the year 1890. At that time conditions were such that the Lord by revelation withdrew the command to continue the practice, and President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto directing that it cease. (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 213-218.) Obviously the holy practice will commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man and the ushering in of the millennium. (Isa. 4.) Plural marriage is not essential to salvation or exaltation. Nephi and his people were denied the power to have more than one wife and yet they could gain every blessing in eternity that the Lord ever offered to any people. In our day, the Lord summarized by revelation the whole doctrine of exaltation and predicated it upon the marriage of one man to one woman. (D. & C. 132:1-28.) Thereafter he added the principles relative to plurality of wives with the express stipulation that any such marriages would be valid only if authorized by the President of the Church. (D. & C. 132:7, 29-66.) All who pretend or assume to engage in plural marriage in this day, when the one holding the keys has withdrawn the power by which they are performed, are guilty of gross wickedness.
ARTICLE ON MARRIAGE (52-3) See CELESTIAL MARRIAGE, DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS, MANIFESTO, PLURAL MARRIAGE, SCRIPTURE. As early as 1832 the Lord revealed to the Prophet the doctrine of celestial marriage, including also the principle of plurality of wives. This was before the restoration of the sealing keys, and so the Lord did not command either the practice of eternal marriage or the practice of the added order of plurality of wives at that time. Monogamy and civil marriage remained and were, at that time, the order of the Church. The revelation setting forth the higher law of temple marriage was not recorded; the doctrine was not taught except in private to some of the leading brethren of the Church; and it was not practiced. In 1835, in connection with the approval of the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants for publication, and in the absence of the Prophet, Oliver Cowdery wrote an article on marriage. The article, dealing with civil and monogamous marriage that is, with the then accepted marriage discipline of the Church — though not particularly a wise and proper presentation of the Church's views even on matters pertaining to civil marriage, was accepted by the people and approved for publication in the same book with the revelations. It was clearly understood by all concerned, however, that the article on marriage was not a revelation, that it contained Oliver Cowdery's views and not necessarily those of the Prophet, and that it was merely a statement of policy bearing on the system of civil marriage then prevailing in the Church and in the world. When the Prophet returned and learned of the action taken relative to the publication of the article on marriage, he was greatly troubled. However, knowing that up to that date the new and everlasting covenant of marriage had only been revealed in principle, that there was as yet no command to practice it, and that the power and keys had not been restored whereby marriages could be solemnized so they would endure for eternity, he let the action stand. The higher order was to come later. Then in 1836 Elijah came and restored the sealing power, the power to bind on earth and have it sealed eternally in the heavens. (D. & C. 110:13-16; 132:45-47.) At a still later date, temple endowments and other ordinances were revealed — all of which are a necessary prelude to the performance of an eternal marriage, a marriage between one man and one woman, or between one man and more than one women, as the case may be. After these things the practice of celestial marriage, including plurality of wives, was commanded. In 1843 the previously revealed doctrine of celestial marriage (including plurality of wives) was recorded for the first time; added truths were also stated in the revelation as finally recorded, as for instance a reference to the fact that the keys of sealing now had been given and also special instruction to Emma Smith relative to plural marriage. (D. & C. 132:45-47, 51-55.) There was, of course, no opportunity to add the revelation on marriage to a new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants until after the saints came west. Temple endowments, celestial marriage, and plural marriage had all been practiced in Nauvoo, but being higher, sacred ordinances their practice had not as yet been announced to the world. After the saints came west the restored order of marriage discipline was taught publicly, and in due course the revelation on marriage was published. Obviously it was good sense to delete from the Doctrine and Covenants the article on marriage because it had application to a lesser order, an order that prevailed before the full law had been restored. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has tried to make it appear that the article on marriage was the only approved order of the Church and that the revelation on marriage was a spurious one authored by Brigham Young. The facts, of course, destroy their specious claims. An understanding of the historical sequences involved and of the doctrinal principles relative to the sealing power make the truth very clear. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 195-198.)
CELESTIAL MARRIAGE (117-8) See ARTICLE ON MARRIAGE, CALLING AND ELECTION SURE, CELESTIAL KINGDOM, CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN, CIVIL MARRIAGE, DAUGHTERS OF GOD, ETERNAL LIFE, ETERNAL LIVES, EXALTATION, FULNESS OF THE FATHER, GODHOOD, JOINT-HEIRS WITH CHRIST, PLURAL MARRIAGE, SALVATION, SALVATION FOR THE DEAD, SEALING POWER, SONS OF GOD.
CONCUBINES (154-55) See CELESTIAL MARRIAGE, PLURAL MARRIAGE. In modern times a concubine is a woman who cohabits with a man without being his wife. But "from the beginning of creation," all down through the history of God's dealings with his people, including those with the house of Israel, concubines were legal wives married to their husbands in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. (D. & C. 132:1, 37-39, 65.) Anciently they were considered to be secondary wives, that is, wives who did not have the same standing in the caste system then prevailing as did those wives who were not called concubines. There were no concubines connected with the practice of plural marriage in this dispensation, because the caste system which caused some wives to be so designated did not exist.
MANIFESTO (466) See CELESTIAL MARRIAGE, DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS, KEYS OF THE KINGDOM, PLURAL MARRIAGE. President Wilford Woodruff issued an official declaration on October 6, 1890, known as the Manifesto which withdrew from the saints the privilege of "contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land." (D. & C. pp. 256-257.) According to the Lord's law the priesthood cannot be used for any purpose without the authorization and approval of the one holding the keys of the kingdom of God on earth. Since these keys are vested in the President of the Church, no person can use that priesthood to seal a plural wife to another person without the approval of the President. (D. & C. 132:7; Teachings, p. 324.) This Manifesto is published in the Doctrine and Covenants. It is a revelation in the sense that the Lord both commanded President Woodruff to write it and told him what to write. It is not, however, the same type of revelation found in most of the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants in that the language, though inspired, is not that of the Lord speaking in the first person. "The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice," President Woodruff said. "He has told me exactly what to do. . . . I saw exactly what would come to pass if there was not something done. I have had this spirit upon me for a long time. But I want to say this: I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write." (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 208-218.)
Bruce R. McConkie (1973)
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, vol. 3 Bruce R. McConkie 1973 Deseret Book Company [tenth printing 1977]
I Timothy 3. 2 (81) 2. Husband of one wife] From the day of Adam to the present, and from this hour to the end of the peopling of the world, the law of God has been, is, and shall be that man should have one wife at a time and one wife only, except when God by revelation specifically directs otherwise. Thus in March of 1831, the Lord said to Joseph Smith: "It is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation; And that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made." (D. & C. 49:16-17.) Thus also "the word of the Lord" in the day of Nephi was: "There shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts . . . 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." (Jac. 2:27-30.) At proper and appointed times the Lord has, of course, given the revelation and issued the command directing certain persons to enter plural marriage in the new and everlasting covenant. (D. & C. 132.)
Hyrum Andrus (1973)
Hyrum Andrus, Doctrines of the Kingdom (Bookcraft 1973): 450-459.
Joseph B. Noble, whose wife was a sister to Louisa, testified that the latter was "a woman of irreproachable morality, who entered into the plural marriage relation on a deep-seated conviction that the doctrine was from God."
George Q. Cannon said: “When I had taken one wife, after I had returned from one of my missions, a spirit rested upon me that I could not resist; I felt that I should be damned if I refused or neglected to obey that law of God. It was not prompted by any improper feeling; it was not prompted by a feeling of lust, or a desire for women; but it was an overpowering anxiety to obey the commandments of God. . . . I have done that which I conscientiously believe to be the will of God; and I believe the majority of my brethren and sisters have done the same, have obeyed the principle in the same way.”(J.D. 13:278-279)
Hyrum Smith confided to a friend that he fought that "principle until the Lord showed him it was true." (Johnson to Gibbs, pg. 13)
Vilate Kimball wrote to her husband, Heber, in a letter from Nauvoo, Illinois: "Sister Pratt told me that she had been railing against these things until a few days past; she said the Lord had shown her that it was all right, and wants Parley to go ahead." ( Letter dated June 27, 1843, in Helen Mar Whitney, "Scenes and Incidents in Nauvoo," Woman's Exponent, (September 15, 1882), p. 58.)
In the month of April, 1843, I returned from my European mission. A few days after my arrival at Nauvoo, when at President Joseph Smith’s house, he said he wished to have some private talk with me, and requested me to walk out with him. It was toward evening. We walked a little distance and sat down on a large log that lay near the bank of the river. He there and then explained to me the doctrine of plurality of wives; he said that the Lord had revealed it unto him, and commanded him to have women sealed to him as wives; that he foresaw the trouble that would follow, and sought to turn away from the commandment; that an angel from heaven then appeared before him with a drawn sword, threatening him with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment. He further said that my sister Eliza R. Snow had been sealed to him as his wife for time and eternity. He told me that the Lord would open the way, and I should have women sealed to me as wives. This conversation was prolonged, I think one hour or more, m which he told me many important things. I solemnly declare before God and holy angels, and as I hope to come forth in the morning of the resurrection, that the above statement is true. Lorenzo Snow. Territory of Utah, Box Elder County. } ss. Personally came before me J. C. Wright, Clerk of the County and Probate Courts in and for the County and Territory aforesaid, Lorenzo Snow, and who being duly sworn deposeth and says that the foregoing statement by him subscribed is true of his own certain knowledge. Witness my hand and seal of Court, at my office in Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah Territory, this 28th day of August, A. D. 1869. [Seal.] J. C. Wright, Clerk.
Lucy Walker Smith Kimball being first duly sworn, says: I was a plural wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith and was married for time and eternity in Nauvoo, State of Illinois, on the first day of May, 1843, by Elder William Clayton. The Prophet was then living with his first wife, Emma Smith, and I know that she gave her consent to the marriage of at least four women to her husband as plural wives, and she was well aware that he associated and cohabited with them as wives. The names of these women are E1iza and Emily Partridge, and Maria and Sarah Lawrence, all of whom knew that I too was his wife. When the Prophet Joseph Smith mentioned the principle of plural marriage to me I felt indignant, and so expressed myself to him, because my feelings and education were averse to anything of that nature. But he assured me that this doctrine had been revealed to him of the Lord, and that I was entitled to receive a testimony of its divine origin for myself. He counseled me to pray to the Lord, which I did; and thereupon received from Him a powerful and irresistible testimony of the truthfulness and divinity of plural marriage, which testimony has abided with me ever since. On the 8th day of February, 1845, I was married for time to President Heber C. Kimball, and bore to him nine children. And in this connection allow me to say to his everlasting credit that during the whole of my married life with him he never failed to regard me as the wife for eternity of his devoted friend, the Prophet Joseph Smith. Lucy Walker Smith Kimball. Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 17th day of December, 1902. [Seal.] James Jack, Notary Public.
George M. McCune (1974)
George M. McCune. The Blessings of Temple Marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Hawkes Publishing, 1974; 1980)
“Some of these [apostate] groups advocated the doctrine of polygamy which was terminated as a practiced principle by the Lord through his Prophet Wilford Woodruff in 1890” (49)
“Polygamy among the Latter-day Saints was abolished as a practice in 1890” (159).
Dean C. Jessee (1974)
Dean C. Jessee, Letters of Brigham Young to His Sons (Deseret Book 1974)
Appendix B. Brigham Young’s Family Lists 16 wives by whom he had children (357-8)
Francis M. Gibbons (1977)
Francis M. Gibbons. Joseph Smith. Martyr. Prophet of God (Deseret Book 1977): 285-9; 302-10. [additional editions 2009;
Chapter 28: The Twelve Return: New Directions and Problems
“In April 1841 the Prophet had married his first plural wife! This step was not taken precipitously nor was it taken in ignorance of the consequences. He was intelligent enough and wise enough in the ways of the world to know that while a large segment of the public might tolerate adultery and fornication, which had been part of human conduct for so long, they would be incensed at the thought of a man having more than one wife, merely because the practice was novel and strange….It was for these reasons, and others equally compelling, that he had suppressed a revelation he received as early as 1831 (HC 5. Xxix). Like many other revelations he received, the one on the eternity of the marriage covenant and the plurality of wives came because of an earnest question he put to the Lord in prayer. While he and Sidney Rigdon were engaged in revising the Bible at Kirtland, Ohio, in the early 1830s, Joseph had begun to wonder about the propriety of the ancient patriarchs having more than one wife…. The revelation he received was not reduced to writing until July 12, 1843, almost twelve years later. The circumstances under which it was recorded on that date are described by William Clayton, who took it in shorthand as the Prophet dictated…. In the discussion that followed, Hyrum persuaded Joseph to reduce the revelation to writing….[HC 4. Xxxii-xxx8iii] …. So widespread were the rumors by 1835 that at a special conference held in August, which Joseph did not attend, the following statement was presented by W. W. Phelps and accepted by the conference: ‘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’ [HC 2. 247] Heber C. Kimball was among the first of the Twelve whom Joseph taught the principles of the eternity of the marriage covenant and the plurality of wives…. [John Taylor, BHR The Life of John Taylor, p. 100 ff.]
[302-10 deal with Emma’s reaction to polygamy]
Edward L. Kimball (1977)
Edward L. Kimball, Andrew E. Kimball, Jr. Spencer W. Kimball. Twelfth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Bookcraft (1977; 14th printing 1979)
“In the summer of 1847 Heber [C. Kimball] was one of an advance company which scouted a trail to the Salt Lake Valley…. Heber left Nauvoo with about twenty of his wives. Two decades later at the funeral of his first, Vilate, he would point at her coffin and say, ‘There lies a woman who has given me forty-four wives.’ She had consented after a personal manifestation persuaded her that the principle of plural marriage had divine sanction. The pressure of this great family bore down on him so heavily that he would often say that plural marriage, with its multiplied cares and perplexities, had cost him ‘bushels of tears.’
Two of his wives were sisters he married in Nauvoo…. Two months after Joseph’s assassination in 1844 the older sister, Ann Alice [Gheen] a delicate intensely spiritual woman, became Heber’s seventh wife…. There in [Salt Lake City] in 1858 Ann Alice bore twins. One of them was a boy, Heber’s thirty-fifth son… Andrew. (11)
“Through the 1880s the Church practice of plural marriage brought mounting federal persecution. The issue became critical during Andrew’s mission in Indian Territory. President John Taylor wrote him that the country was ‘quickly becoming what the prophets of modern times have declared it would become, a nation ruled by mobs.’ He regarded those attacking the Church’s plural marriage system as warring against God. In 1885 nearly all of the Church leaders went ‘underground’ to escape federal prosecution. President Taylor died in 1887. Shortly thereafter the Edmunds-Tucker Act was used to seize all the Church’s property in a direct effort to destroy the temporal power of the Church. Without property, enmeshed in litigation, bereft of much of its leadership, the Church wallowed in heavy seas.
With Mormon polygamists disenfranchised by court order, the anti-Mormon element was close to ruling Utah government. In this chaos Andrew saw his duty in political work. He won the post of election judge in 1889, signing a certificate that he did not aid or abet polygamy, nor associate with ‘polygamously acting persons.’ As mission president he had continual contact with polygamous Church leaders, but he did not have close personal associations with them. He did not himself have plural wives, but he did with Olive’s consent seriously consider taking other wives. The subject was an open matter between them.” (18)
“At October Conference 1890 President Woodruff’s Manifesto received approval. The Manifesto marked the end of open plural marriage in the United States, but ‘the Principle’ was considered by many to be no less binding than before. Mexico and Canada offered haven for men and women willing to make such sacrifice. Many prominent Church leaders had families outside the United States. Andrew consulted his brother-in-law, Joseph F. Smith, and received the advice that he should give up the idea of plural marriage, for its time had passed. For both Andrew and Olive the willingness to obey the Principle would have to serve for the deed” (18)
Richard O. Cowan (1978)
Doctrine and Covenants, Our Modern Scripture Richard O. Cowan BYU 1978 1984 Deseret Book Company [Gospelink CD and online]
D&C 132 and Celestial Marriage (199-202) The teachings in this revelation were received as early as the fall of 1831, when Joseph Smith was preparing his inspired revision of the Bible. He had asked if the ancient patriarchs committed adultery by having more than one wife (see verses 1 and 41). The superscription's statement that this revelation was "recorded" rather than "given" on July 12, 1843, suggests that it was received at some earlier time. Over the years, most nonmembers have thought that the Latter-day Saint doctrine of celestial marriage meant plural marriage. This revelation, however, teaches that celestial marriage means eternal marriage.
Celestial or Eternal Marriage (199-201)
Plural Marriage (201-2)
Polygamy vs. Adultery. If adultery be defined as illicit relationships (verses 41-3), then plural marriages cannot be adultery because the husband receives his wives by recognized authority (see verses 61-62). It was in this light that the Lord justified the ancient patriarchs in their plural marriage relationships. For example, the Lord said that he had given to David and Solomon their many wives and concubines and that they sinned only when they took that which was not given them by the Lord (See verse 38).
Some have questioned this last passage about David and Solomon in the light of Book of Mormon teachings. According to Jacob, chapter 2, the Nephites were excusing themselves in immorality because they did not fully understand the scriptural accounts of David’s and Solomon’s having many wives and concubines—considered an abomination before the Lord (see Jacob 2. 23-24; also I Kings 1. 1-3) These two verses should be read as conveying one thought, because both composed a single sentence in the earliest edition of the Book of Mormon, before it was divided into verses. In this light, the abomination could refer either to the people’s committing whoredoms or to David’s and Solomon’s many wives and concubines. D&C 132. 38 eliminates the latter alternative, and Jacob specifically identifies whoredoms as the abomination (See Jacob 2. 28). There can be no doubt but that the Nephites were commanded to live in monogamy (verse 27); nevertheless, the Lord suggested the possibility that this commandment might be changed at some future time (see Jacob 2. 30).
 Purposes of Polygamy. The faithful Latter-day Saints who entered this ‘difficult’ marriage relationship did so because of their faith that it was a divinely appointed institution. The Lord revealed it perhaps for many of the same reasons which led him to give the law of consecration—it was an essential part of the restoration of all things (verse 45) and a preparation for possible things to come. The Lord further explained that he instituted plural marriage so that his people could ‘multiply and replenish the earth…. That they may bear the souls of men’ (verse 63). (For a consideration of the subsequent history of plural marriage in the Church, see the discuyssoin of the Official Declaration, p. 207)” (202)
Official Declaration 1 or "Manifesto" (207, 209-210; Photo of Wilford Woodruff, 208) Joseph Smith first received revelation concerning the principle of plural marriage during the 1830s (see the discussion of plural marriage under D&C 132 herein) but was not permitted to teach it at that time. It was not until 1841, after the Saints had settled in Nauvoo, that this principle was taught and practiced secretly by the Church. In 1852 the doctrine was announced publicly for the first time.
It is impossible to state exactly how many were involved in the practice of plural marriage. Reliable estimates vary from 2 to 3 percent if only married men are counted, or about 10 to 15 percent if men, women, and children are included. Church leaders enforced strict standards in connection with authorizing plural marriages. Even though there were some abuses which attracted publicity, most plural families enjoyed rich spiritual blessings and a variety of other advantages if they were willing to put forth the requisite effort to live in this system of marriage. Congress passed the first anti-bigamy law in 1862, but concern over the Civil War and Reconstruction delayed enforcement. In 1882 the Edmunds Law made it a crime to marry a plural wife (new plural marriage) or to live with one (polygamist cohabitation). The decade of the 1880s was a period of very bitter anti-Mormon agitation, resulting in the passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Law in 1887 under which Church property was confiscated and many Latter-day Saints were prevented from voting and holding office. By May 1890 the Supreme Court had upheld the Constitutionality of this law, and members of Congress were considering even more strict measures.
In this setting the President of the Church, Wilford Woodruff, had a most difficult decision. His choice was not between obeying a law of God or a law of man, but rather between two divine precepts, because the Lord had commanded obedience to the Constitutional law of the land. (See D&C 98:5; 58:21.) President Woodruff received a revelation showing him that under existing conditions it would be best to suspend the practice of plural marriage.
Consequently, the Endowment House, an adobe structure on Temple Square which had been built as a place where sacred ordinances could be performed until the Salt Lake Temple was finished, was torn down during November of 1889 when President Woodruff learned that unauthorized marriages were being performed there. For nearly a year, charges persisted that the Church was still sanctioning polygamous marriages. To answer these attacks, President Woodruff issued the "Official Declaration" or "Manifesto" prior to the October Conference in 1890. He subsequently explained:
The Latter-day Saints should not get the idea that the Lord has forsaken His people, or that He does not reveal His mind and will; because such an idea is not true. The Lord is with us, and has been with us from the beginning. This Church has never been led a day except by revelation.... Read the life of Brigham Young and you can hardly find a revelation that he had wherein he said, "Thus saith the Lord;" but the Holy Ghost was with him; He taught by Inspiration and by revelation.... Joseph said "Thus saith the Lord" almost every day of his life in laying the foundation of this work. But those who followed him have not deemed it always necessary to say "Thus saith the Lord;" yet they have led the people by the power of the Holy Ghost. I have had some revelations of late, and very important ones to me, and I will tell you what the Lord has said to me.... The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice.... I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do.... I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write. (Deseret News, November 7, 1891.)
Excerpts from this and two other related statements by President Woodruff were included as explanatory material following Official Declaration 1 in the 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. (See pages 292-93.)
It was agreed by Church leaders and non-Mormon officials that new polygamous marriages would not be allowed, but that those who had entered plural marriage before the Manifesto was issued could continue to live with these families without fear of prosecution. It was under these terms that Utah was admitted as one of the United States in 1896. In 1904, President Joseph F. Smith again upheld the principles set forth in the Official Declaration and stressed that the Church would not sanction plural marriages anywhere in the world. Since that time, a few small groups have gained notoriety by their practice of polygamy, but such persons are subject to excommunication from the Church.
Truman G. Madsen (1980)
Truman G. Madsen. Defender of the Faith. The B. H. Roberts Story (Bookcraft1980)
Chapter 9 Castle Prison (182-198)
Roberts's years of "constructive exile" in Britain may have seemed, subjectively, enough expiation for his decision to undertake a second family. It had cost him and his own severe familial isolation. Once he was back home and "on the underground" the situation required him to rally his strength for patience. The "crusade," which John Morgan had five years earlier predicted would last at most a year or two, in fact continued another fifteen years until the Smoot hearings in Washington (from 1904-1905) ended it. During the time Roberts was editing and writing for the Contributor (on the average of one article a month), his visits with his family in Centerville were rare and brief. He could of course visit Louisa's family without legal consequences; but he could not visit Celia and her children, who lived only one block away.
New hope came to his family when Grover Cleveland was elected president of the United States and some federal officers in Utah were replaced. Tensions diminished. There was serious talk of amnesty. One U.S. attorney officially announced that if Mormons who had cohabited would surrender themselves, sentences would be light. After serious introspection and much weighing of the probable costs, Roberts decided to face the court. His mother was under "mental distress" about his decision, so he visited her in Bountiful on his way to Salt Lake. She expressed sober anxieties about him giving himself over to the unpredictable judiciary, but Roberts explained that he was weary and this would be a way of putting the penalty, whatever it was, behind him. He had reason to be optimistic: his attorney, Judge Young, had been assured by a "Mr. Peters" in preliminary hearings in Salt Lake that, provided he would plead guilty, there would be no attempt to collect the thousand-dollar bond and he could count on leniency in the court. His mother's misgivings were prophetic, however:
In court Mr. Peters rather evaded a frank fulfillment of his agreement. In making his statement to the court he took pains to point out that my offense in contracting a plural marriage was in violation of defined law. I had, as he termed it, "pretentiously defended" my action under the plea of exercising what to me was a religious privilege which the Constitution barred the Government from interfering with under the section that included the clause that the government should not prohibit the free exercise of religion, and the same argument was used to justify the continuation of the relationship which began with plural marriage.<BN, pp. 338-39. [“JBN” = “Biographical Notes”, dictated by Roberts to his secretary in January, February and March 1933”, page 391, note 12]</ref>
Roberts was no more in "violation of defined law" and no less committed to his stance than thirteen hundred other Mormon fathers who were sent to prison during this period. But he was one of the more notorious: His series of closely reasoned articles for the Contributor on congressional decisions, written while he was in Liverpool, were addressed mainly to members of the Church, but had also attracted national and international attention. A wave of journalistic interest in Mormon marriage allowed almost anyone's haphazard comment on polygamy to echo around the world. Roberts's series on "Celestial Marriage and Acts of Congress" was in fact later cited by the historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, St., in his account of the great West as defining the official Church position.<"Celestial Marriage and Acts of Congress," Contributor, 6:50, 107, 134-68, 205, 252.</ref> Roberts was also a prime advocate of states' rights and constitutional law.<Roberts also gave critical, straightforward and widely published addresses on two watershed decisions: the decision of U.S. District Judge Anderson on the confiscation of Church property (see John Whitaker Journal, vol. 1, p. 233) and on the Manifesto (John Whitaker Journal, vol. 1, pp. 245-46).</ref> Furthermore, his recent ordination to a high calling in the Church made him a prize for prosecution. Also, in contrast to some of the Mormon prisoners who were aged and infirm, Roberts was young and vigorous: thirty-one (court records say he was thirty-four), five feet nine inches, 190 pounds, with a rugged jaw, brown mustache and piercing eyes. His personality reflected nothing craven or submissive, and he was not-then or ever-willing to get involved in plea bargaining:
Judge Ogden Hyles spoke in an undertone to the Court saying: "This man need not go to prison at all if he will only promise to obey the law for the future." I remarked, soto voce, "Judge, you know that would be a promise impossible for me to make." The Church was still holding out for the rightfulness of the exercise of their religion in obeying and continuing to live the principle of plural marriage. And there were still points in the definition of the law before the Supreme Court of the United States that had not been definitely settled. Hence, to be true to my conviction, and the contention going on as to the rightfulness of the position of the Church, I was under the stress of my moral obligation to uphold the position of the Church, which I did.<BN, p. 339. </ref>
The ambiguity and oscillation of the courts in the cases of the Mormon "cohabs," even of the United States Supreme Court, is clear in the case of President Lorenzo Snow. President Snow, aged, saintly ("a Mormon Chrysostom," one New York reporter said), had been arrested for "unlawful cohabitation" on the evidence that he and his wife were observed walking down a Salt Lake City street together. Since both were living, and since they were together, one court ruled, by a clever display of semantics, that they "were living together." Members of the Church, and even some of their severe critics, were outraged at such abuses. Charles Varian, the hard-line prosecuting attorney in Utah, recommended that Congress enact a law "suspending all these laws for a certain time" and acknowledged to Church officials that otherwise there would be "no cessation" to cruel and arbitrary abuses.
After an appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the decision against President Snow and he was released. But yielding to pressure, the Court then reversed itself and returned the case to the local courts. President Snow was returned to prison. When his attorneys reported this hazardous confusion of liabilities and penalties, President Snow concluded, "I might pass the rest of my days in the penitentiary if the courts segregate the counts."
Roberts wrote of this period "as a regime under which men guilty at most of a misdemeanor, could nevertheless be imprisoned for a term of years covering a lifetime, and fined to the exhaustion of all they possessed, under the beautiful scheme of segregating the offense into numerous counts in each indictment."<Improvement Era 10 (July 1907): 732.</ref> Thus, to the Mormons, it seemed there were no reliable limitations on the statute. Retroactive prosecution became persecution.
Neither as submissive nor as saintly as his honored leader, Roberts remained temperamentally militant. The principle at stake was the same: "I felt like it would have been deserting the cause of God to do it," Roberts explained later in Congress.
Georgia Roberts, Celia's daughter, recorded late in life some tender recollections of her mother which give us a glimpse of the stress endured by Roberts's second family "on the underground." Roberts called this period the "catch as catch can" era, for Celia, shy and sensitive by temperament, had to face the fugitive uprooting of homes-six of them in less than three years-to avoid the intensified raids. In horse-drawn carriages, she raced ahead of spotters all the way from northern Idaho to Clearfield, Utah. Her moves included fifteen miles south to Layton, then twenty miles north to Ogden, thirty miles south to North Salt Lake, and finally north again to Centerville. Through these crises she had two tiny children to care for. To earn her keep and minimize the imposition, she spent her days doing household chores in the homes where she and her children lived in strained anonymity. Her frightened loneliness when Roberts was exiled in Britain was compounded by the goadings of some of her own friends, even Church friends, to break her relationship with him. They did not comprehend her love and loyalty to her husband. During this tense period, Roberts wanted to spare her-at least psychologically-the threat of apprehension. As Elder Francis M. Lyman, another Mormon leader who sought amnesty on prison terms, said, "It was manifested to me that I ought to go to prison to obtain my liberty."<From notes on dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, April 1893, Church Archives, p. 127.</ref> Roberts felt the same, but he also sought the liberty of his family.
Publicity was another consideration. Roberts knew that, were he to escape or postpone conviction by pleading not guilty, he would force federal authorities to rally evidence, and his notoriety and prominence would splash it all over the tabloids. For Celia and her two infants, Lena and Harold, the price was too high. Later Roberts said: "I preferred to spare these women all the publicity, all the court inquiry that it was in my power to spare them. So I ended matters by pleading guilty." But from prison he was powerless to provide for his impoverished children. He had entered the higher order of marriage for the sake of a fuller family life or what he called "race-culture." Prosecution had denied him that.<See North American, 7 December 1899.</ref> Thus the impact of the law-which intended to overcome "barbarism"-was, especially to wives and children, itself barbaric.
Sentence was passed by Judge Elliott F. Sanford on May 1, 1889, in the Third District Court of Salt Lake City.<Jenson, Church Chronology, p. 174.</ref> By that time, the customary sentence for "U.C." was "6 by 3," that is, six months in prison and three hundred dollars in fines.<Roberts's later recollection was slightly inflated: five months and four hundred dollars (CHC, 6:145).</ref> Roberts's penalty was four months and two hundred dollars. That would make him, to use his own phrase, "an inferior hero" among his fellow prisoners.<During Roberts's stay the ratio of toughs to cohabs was about two to one. In the year 1888-1889 some 325 of his brethren came and went; the average number of Mormons in prison varied from between fifty to a hundred.</ref> Having to take the "pauper's oath" (he refused to ask friends for the two hundred dollars) added a month to the total. But due to a time reduction for good behavior, his total time in prison was four months and nine days-from May 1 to September 10.
That afternoon I was taken to the Utah State Penitentiary, arriving in the evening just as the prisoners on the three terraces of the cellhouse were standing in front of their doors preparing to leap back when the turnkey should throw the lever which fastened all the cells at once. (There was something of good-natured rivalry, between prisoners and the turnkey. The prisoners were anxious to stay outside the cells until the very last split-second. The turnkey often resorted to trickery to throw the levers so as to shut them outside the cells. This brought the offenders further punishment. They were assigned sweatboxes where they were confined for a set number of hours or days, in darkness, solitude and without food, except bread and water.) <BN, pp. 339-40.</ref>
Old "Castle Prison" at the mouth of Parley's Canyon was a windowless rectangle. Its uniform, unadorned, faded red brick walls, and its turret guard towers at each corner, gave it a castle-like appearance. Thirty miles north of the prison was Roberts's family homestead in Centerville. It was far enough away that his family would rarely, if ever, visit him.
As soon as I entered and my cell was designated, the prisoners passed the word that a new prisoner had arrived. A clamorous cry, "Fresh fish! Fresh fish!" arose. All were anxious to know whether I was a "tough" or a "cohab." The "toughs" were those imprisoned for violation of the law, in murder, or robberies and other forms of burglary and misdemeanors of legally recognized crime. The "cohabs" were the Mormons imprisoned for violating the Congressional rulings about plural marriage. Prison officials made some distinction between these two groups. The "cohabs" occupied for the most part the upper terrace, the "toughs" were on the terraces below. In a prisoner's library opening to the cellhouse, consultation was had as to my assigned place. Presently, from the bottom terrace, a tough climbed up the bars and inquired whether I was a tough or a cohab. "A cohab," said the turnkey. At this he manifested real and almost tearful regrets. "Mister," he said, "you ought to have cut someone's throat or robbed a bank or something so as to be among the toughs. We'd like you in our crowd." By this time I was assigned to a cell, and the tough had to scramble down and hustle to reach his cell as the lever was drawn and fastened in the bottom terrace for the night.<BN, pp. 340-41.</ref>
There were two occupants to each cell, which was about five by seven feet in size. Lights were dim, though candles were permitted at times. The cells and corridors were de-pressingly dark. The newer cell block (built in 1885) had one large lamp that cast a dim light through the night, but it was a strain to read there day or night. The beds consisted of strips of canvas stretched lengthwise in the cells. Roberts preferred to sleep on the floor. "Slop pails" were the only in-cell sanitary facilities, but certain rules of cleanliness were observed: There was a weekly bath for the cage and for the prisoners. Each man hauled his own water. Inmates were allowed to do their own laundry and sometimes to send it out with their visiting families, who returned it the following week.
By the rigorous schedule, toughs arose at 5:30 A.M., cohabs at 7:30 A.M., and marched to the mess hall. Each prisoner wore a striped uniform, complete with a rounded cap. They marched single file to prison labor, to meals, and to lectures or church services, which were held in the dining room. After 9:00 P.M. all conversation was forbidden. Though Abraham H. Cannon records that the kitchen of the newer cell-wing was clean, the menu was something else: breakfast was a chunk of "meat, usually tough, swimming in soup-gravy" with small potatoes in jackets, two slices of bread and coffee -all served on a tin plate. Mormon prisoners had cold water instead of coffee. Sometimes milk was "furnished" (that is, received from visitors). Midday "dinner" was more of the same. Supper was usually a plate of mush or soup and bread. On Sundays beans were served. Occasionally there was a tidbit of fruit from visitors. Spoons were the only cutlery.
On his first morning Roberts learned some security rules.
Before breakfast was served, the prison bars were opened and the prisoners granted the freedom of the enclosed court. An acquaintance from Provo [Albert Jones], who had been in prison for some time [since November 1, 1888 - exactly six months] a Brother Jones linked his arm in mine, and invited me to take a walk. I remember that we started eastward and Jones explained that we could go as far as we pleased eastward but on the west was the deadline. Anyone who crossed it would likely be shot by the guards. We walked, as if taking a constitutional, rapidly, and I brought Jones up against the wall with a thud. He was startled and Jones asked what was meant by contact with the wall. I said, "Oh, you said we could go as far as we wanted to eastward, and I wanted to go far beyond that wall." Then Jones explained that the east wall was in view of the guns on the west of the wall without limitation. But on the west a deadline was drawn about two rods from the west wall, in order to keep the prisoners always in full view of the wall guards constantly alert for prison breaks.<BN, p. 341.</ref>
The "deadline" also applied to visitors, who approached the enormous iron gate of the prison and were admitted only after the inmate had been called by name from the towers. A chant immediately followed, the men shouting in unison the name of the prisoner wanted in the square until he came to the appointed place. Any conversation with visitors was in the hearing of a guard, who carried a Winchester rifle. Nothing written could be transmitted either way without explicit permission.
Roberts cared less about the conditions than the men:
There was... a great variety of criminals in the prison, the flotsam and jetsam of society, the failures. Here would be seen the natural-born criminals, the unmoral and sometimes immoral, the brutalized, or what would be better said, the evil-minded who had not progressed downward but from the beginning and by the nature of them were brutal in instinct and obsession. Here too were college graduates, men who had known refinement and the uplift of aspiration to the highest ideals, but had failed, their natures perverted. The cohabs, of course, did not fall under these characterizations since they were men not of the criminal class, but sacrificing themselves for the right of conformity to spiritual ideals and as to morals and living in conformity to righteous principles were really exceptional men. <BN, pp. 342-43.</ref>
The Mormons, exceptional or not, had special vulnerabilities. They could be forced to hands-and-knees scrubbing on the Sabbath day, or assigned cells with toughs to endure the goadings of raw language, or forced to stay in their cells for twenty-two of every twenty-four hours. "Spotters" were placed in the Mormon group to ferret out the names and locations of polygamists still at large. The religious undertone and disarming amiability of the Mormons, in addition to their clustering kinship, was out of place and offensive to the retributive prison spirit.
Close confinement meant squalor. A territorial marshal estimated that fourteen thousand bedbugs were at work in the prison, and inmates, who by counting welts were in a position to know, grimly considered that "far short of the number." The water, all of it hand-carried by the prisoners from a stream below, was sometimes putrid. From foul air in the bunkrooms, many suffered with tickling coughs and vomiting. There were cases of pneumonia, typhoid fever, diphtheria, and senseless deaths.
Conditions and the treatment were better during Roberts's internment. The exemplary conduct of leaders such as Francis M. Lyman and Rudger Clawson who preceded Roberts had reverberated through the country, and Chief Justice Sumner Howard in Washington had said that the "American Siberia"-the imprisonment of Mormons in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Nebraska, and Michigan-was "unnecessarily cruel." Generally speaking the trust of guards and turnkeys increased, and one, at least, afterwards said, the Mormons were "the finest men I ever knew."<Diary of James Taylor, 27 August 1888, Church Archives.</ref>
The fear that the Mormons might engineer an escape melted away as men applied their pluck and ingenuity in the same spirit as had Joseph Smith: "We will turn the devil out of doors and make a heaven of it."<HC, 5:517.</ref>
Mormon prisoners had great motivation to do more than just endure, but to build on the experience and to improve or redeem the time. George Q. Cannon during his term earned permission to sit in the improved light of the open corridor and to work, many hours each day, on a biography of Joseph Smith, which is singular in its empathy for Joseph's incarcerations at Richmond and at Liberty, Missouri.<Written in collaboration with his sons Abraham and Frank.</ref> His sons were allowed to bring him galley proofs from the outside almost daily. Francis M. Lyman studied and painstakingly improved his own book on punctuation. George Reynolds (who had offered himself deliberately as a test case in prison in Nebraska) compiled a word-by-word concordance to the entire 522 pages of the Book of Mormon. Men systematized their learning by tutoring each other in languages (for example, Spanish), painting, sculpting, the cleaning and repairing of watches, and dentistry. They set up chess and domino matches and boxing tournaments, sang in choirs, and even did Russian dances. Anything that came into their hands became materials for manual arts: hair, wood, and leather were turned into watch fobs, picture frames, and bridles. Genealogical records were charted and copied; good-humored diaries were kept. One man took group photographs, enlargements of which are still in circulation today.
Yearbooks were kept and inscribed with the names of the prisoners. In one, B. H. Roberts, a five-week prison veteran, inscribed this entry:
Dear Brother Christensen: I think it is Swedenborg who says: "The path of sorrow, and that path alone, Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown; No traveler ever reached that blessed abode, Who found not thorns and briars in his road." And in this I believe he speaks truly. But as the object of our existence is to acquire experience, let us welcome even sorrow if it comes to us while treading the path of duty. Your fellow prisoner B. H. Roberts June 8, 1889 <This yearbook in possession of Sarah Christensen Hansen, Richfield, Utah.</ref>
There were special ironies in Roberts's predicament. His colleague, Seymour B. Young, had had his case dismissed for lack of evidence, though there was far more evidence against him than against Roberts. And Roberts had surrendered when others had fled to Alberta, Canada, on the north or to Mexico on the south to wait out the judicial reign of terror.<Others arrested during the year Roberts went to prison were: Seymour B. Young, Elias Morris, Alexander McRae, John Q. Cannon, William E. Bassett, George F. Gibbs, John H. Rumel, Angus M. Cannon, George B. Wallace, Lorin Farr, Francis A. Brown and Charles O. Card. (See Whitney, History of Utah, 3:519.) Seymour B. Young escaped and returned later to have his case dismissed, and Charles Card went to "British America" (Canada), where he founded Cardston. At least fifty elders were sent to the penitentiary in 1886.</ref>
Roberts had written in praise of John Taylor and others "who tottering under the effects of enfeebled health as under his weight of years" preferred "cruel imprisonment to being untrue to their families." He had said that John Taylor's life would "breathe into other lives the inspiration of a kindred courage, and lead them to emulate its valor."<Millennial Star 49 (26 December 1887): 820.</ref> Roberts now was having the chance to practice what he preached.
Though Roberts's natural inclinations were toward studying, reading, or writing in the prison library in solitude, he steeled himself instead to devote long hours to the toughs. As a recently ordained Seventy, a special witness of Christ, he felt the mantle weighing heavily on him. Because of boyhood roughneck days, he mixed well with the prisoners; he knew their language and could listen to them with understanding and compassion.
Mixing with the "incorrigibles" was enough to convince some of the dogma of original sin and total depravity, and more than enough to vitiate any claim for genuine human freedom; some of the prisoners were so hardened and habituated that they seemed utterly unable to help themselves. But Roberts was not convinced of that, and he applied his total effort to these men. These months of imprisonment were a probing, practical test to his own deepest assurances of the nature of God and the nature of man.
Roberts wrote repeatedly that without the renewing insights of modern revelation no official creed or statement of faith, and no high-sounding abstractions of the philosophers, really answered the question, "Why did God create man?" For him the gloriously emancipating truth was that the self-existence of God is paralleled by the uncreate spark in the spirit of man, and that God transmitted to his sons and daughters the highest potential in the universe-his likeness. Roberts saw these men as divinity distorted, sometimes horribly. But he believed their darkness was self-imposed; so therefore there might be a return to the light.
I became popular among the toughs because of my interest, patience and broadness to listen to the stories of the worst prisoners. They often confided in me the adventures which brought them to their present place of conflict with society and the law. The worst criminals confided in me, not because I sympathized with their lawlessness or warfare upon society, but because I had a habit, while their crimes were hateful to me, of distinguishing the criminal from his crime and holding out hopeful possibilities to him. Likewise, I had opportunity of ministering to a few of their outward comforts. Some outside friends sent me boxes of cigars. These I distributed among the toughs because neither I nor my fellow cohabs used tobacco. Also delicacies of food, wholesome butter, boxes of oranges and preserved fruits were sent to me to ease off the hard fare of monotonous prison food and these things I liberally shared with my fellow-prisoners.<BN, p. 343.</ref>
These encounters and gestures of kindness won Roberts standing among his fellow inmates. He wrote some years later:
I have seen men laboring under a very agony of mental and spiritual distress because of their sins. I have seen them break down and cry out in their agony that they would be willing to give a right arm if only such and such things as they had done could have been undone. They would gladly give their lives if they could only be washed clean of the crimson stain of human life. I have seen men under the stress of agony until I have, in part at least, been led to appreciate how blessed the boon is that we may have forgiveness of sins.<Conference Report, April 1921, p. 123.</ref>
But for some, he observed sorrowfully, there was not only an absence of guilt but an apparent absence of conscience.
A Sunday School was organized in the prison which all of the cohabs and a few of the toughs attended. Among the few toughs who attended Church services were some young men of Mormon parentage whom Roberts struggled day after day to befriend. A talented "Mr. Lee" also formed glee clubs and quartets. Roberts joined one of these but often said, "It stands to reason that Mr. Lee must be an excellent musician if he can get anything out of my voice." Because they sang with zest and worship, singing became a privilege and release for many of these men. Mr. Lee's fondness for his chorus lasted through the years. More than once he approached Roberts in the midst of dignitaries and said, "I taught this man to sing-in the pen!"
The prison Sunday School was of high quality, since all the cohabs had been ordained to the priesthood and had served in many leadership positions. To these bishops, quorum presidents, stake presidents, and high councilors, it was sheer relief to teach, pray, bear witness, and administer the sacrament. Most had been on foreign missions, and all were eager to pool their understanding of languages and cultures. Scriptural study was a favorite, and a whole day could be devoted to five chapters in Matthew. If someone said, "There isn't time to go into that," he met the standard reply, "Where do you think you're going?" Bible classes were held day and night.
Roberts claimed no prerogatives but often took the lead in expounding upon the scriptures. Some of the insights achieved by his patient word-by-word exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount would be included in his later books. More than once he found himself at the prison pulpit:
Ministers of Salt Lake Churches had been assigned religious services in the prison. We were required, regardless of the sect represented, to attend. Sometimes these ministers failed to keep their appointments. In such cases the Warden to the prison, knowing of my calling in the Church, invited me to be the minister.<In congressional testimony Roberts said, "four or five times perhaps." See Election Case of Brigham H. Roberts of Utah (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1899), pp. 115-245; copy in Utah Historical Society.</ref> But he ruled that the prisoners were not to be compelled to attend when I held forth. (It was actually against prison rules for one prisoner to act as preacher to the others.) Still, my services were well-attended, in fact, as well-at-tended as the services conducted by outside ministers. Frequently visitors from other states stopped over on Sunday in Salt Lake. They made it a point to visit the State Prison where, they had been told, a large number of Mormons were held. They came, filled with curiosity. Imagine such visitors entering upon the scene of several hundred convicts in religious worship, many of them Mormons, while another Mormon, in prison garb, was standing and expounding the elements of the Christian faith and life. Visitors were no doubt scandalized. But I never heard any formal protest or objection.<BN, p. 344. There is a twinkle in this reference to his imprisonment. "I responded to the teachings she (the Church) imparted to me, in common with her membership, and I obeyed all of them. In consequence of this I found myself behind prison walls, and with the stripes of shame upon me. For amid those strange circumstances, which now seem like a dream, I was called upon by the Warden of the prison, even there, to teach my faith among "the spirits in prison." See Instructor (March 1932).</ref>
Other outstanding Mormon speakers came, including Charles H. Wilcken and Dr. James E. Talmage. For these Mormon men, solid brotherhood took the curse off prison. Christopher Arthur spoke of the otherwise impossible privilege of prolonged close contact with "kingly men" in "associations, walks and talks."<See Diary of Christopher Arthur, 24 October 1889, BYU Special Collections.</ref> "If I were here for a crime I would consider this part of my life literally wasted," wrote Levi Savage, "but as it is I rejoice."<Levi Savage Jr. Journal, comp. Lynn M. Hilton (John Savage Family Organization, 1966), p. 132.</ref> So congenial and compassionate were the men with each other that for some the prison experience was physically therapeutic. "I note that my nerves are much steadier since I came here," one recorded; and another wrote, "I sleep well and have a good appetite."
Roberts impressed prison officials enough that several times they offered him a "trusteeship," which would have put him in charge of herding turkeys on a nearby prison farm. His reply was characteristic, "I am a prisoner of honor and will serve my term without favors." Prior to a July 4 banquet and program planned for leading Utah lawyers, who were for the most part federal officers, Roberts was called in and asked to be the supervising head waiter on the condition that he would not have to appear in the banquet hall itself. (Liquor and wine were to be part of the festivities, and the officials could not trust the toughs in the role of waiters.)
Roberts replied with much feeling, "I would rather be a waiter to all the toughs in the prison than to have any part in serving these men who are locked in severe conflict with my people in Utah.'<BN, pp. 347-48.</ref> The prison officials eventually were forced to use the toughs as waiters.
Though he refused to serve the oppressors, he went out of his way to aid the oppressed. Many of the toughs ran afoul of regulations and were confined to the sweatbox, restricted to bread and water and tormented by strict denial of cigarettes. Patience and stealth enabled Roberts to be the "delivery boy," and he passed into the sweatboxes unobserved small pieces of meat or potatoes and cigarettes. Thus he became "a waiter to all the toughs in the prison."<One tough, a waiter before his imprisonment, asked to borrow a dress shirt from Roberts for the occasion of the banquet. Roberts would not permit the loan. Instead he records: "I made him a present of it. I didn't even want the ownership of a shirt that had served these officials." BN, p. 348.</ref>
Prison rules required a barber to shave the cohabs up until thirty days before their sentence elapsed. Two months before Roberts's release, his barber, a convicted murderer, refused to clip his hair or shave his mustache. The man assumed that Roberts could raise the two hundred dollars to pay his fine-from well-to-do friends, his family, or the Church. He believed Roberts would not submit to the humiliation of the "pauper's oath" and spend an extra thirty days in prison. But Roberts in fact did not even intend to ask anyone for funds, and it took much persuasion to get the barber to continue shaving him. A decade later when Roberts was under fire in the United States House of Representatives, the fact became public that he had taken the pauper's oath and served extra time. Many of his friends, in and out of the Church, expressed astonishment that he had not called upon them for help. Roberts admitted it had been "awkward and humiliating," but out of temperamental necessity he had had to go it alone.<BN, p. 169.</ref> "They might have saved their wonder," Roberts wrote, "because from the nature of me I could not have been expected to appeal for help in such a matter."<BN, p. 351.</ref>
As Roberts's release approached, many of the toughs became anxious, and in some cases desperate, for his ear. They unfolded to him their names, backgrounds, families, and friends. Quite a few of their relatives, he learned, were prominent officials in Washington, D.C., England, and in the established churches. Six of the young toughs were Mormons. "I will keep their secret," Roberts wrote of all these.
Anticipating his release, a number of his confidants among the toughs wrote long letters to their friends and families, omitting specific names in the letters but arranging that Roberts, once free, insert them for mailing. He was asked to direct relatives and friends on the outside to write replies in care of his own Salt Lake City address, where he in turn would copy them and omit the sender's names. In this way these men of the underworld sought to have touch with their families without betraying identity at either end. Had Roberts been searched and the letters found, he might well have been sentenced to another prison term, this time with the toughs. He never regretted the risk or the results.
It may be considered by some an unwarranted thing to do, but it was something I always prided myself upon, though technically in violation of prison rules. Nevertheless it was an act of humanity and good fellowship... to aid the under-dog in strife or those under the wheels of society's juggernaut.<BN, p. 347.</ref>
Aiding the underdog was a drive that touched many levels of Roberts's life. For years he worked in the "vocations and crafts department of the Church," struggling to motivate men to excellence but also consciously trying to erase the assumed distinction between "manual" and "mental" labor. John Henry Evans, who observed much of his Church work in these departments, praised him as a "champion of the common man." ("To see one that is hurt hurts me," Roberts wrote in his journal.) He taught that exemplary leadership in or out of the Church requires one to do his share of the dirty work. His identification with the unpopular cause, especially when his congressional battle became an international issue, attracted the admiration of prominent observers in the world: the defense attorney Clarence Darrow, Russian novelist Leo Tolstoi, British socialist-reformer H. G. Wells, and others.
On September 10, 1889, Roberts was called in, "duly advised and admonished to abide by the law in the future," and released. The new warden from Ohio "expressed the hope I would not be seen in prison again. I joined him in that hope. But I did not intend, then or ever, to abandon my families."
One wonders if this prison nightmare-he occasionally spoke of it as a dream-influenced Roberts's written accounts of Christian sufferings, especially of Paul and of the Prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail. Roberts chose to call Liberty Jail a "temple prison" and wrote: "as in all cases where the servants of God are imprisoned, the sweet and peaceful influences of the Holy Spirit were enjoyed. Within these gloomy walls some important revelations were received; petitions and remonstrances drafted, and letters of counsel and direction written to the Saints."<See B.H. Roberts, "Mormonism Survives Liberty Jail," Improvement Era 31 (July 1928): 740-43.</ref> And, "when truth is to be defended and injustice resented, then all places [are] the temple and all seasons summer."<Improvement Era 10 (July 1907): 689.</ref> It was faith in Christ that heartened the imprisoned men. "I have always wanted to live the United Order," Lorenzo Snow had said, half seriously, comparing the common dinner table in the prison to the pattern of having all things in common. In like spirits George Q. Cannon emerged one morning from his cell and asked himself if he could have been happier had he walked out of his bridal chamber: "During these days I have felt very well. My cell has seemed a heavenly place, and I feel that angels have been there."<Diary of George Q. Cannon, 1888-89, Church Archives, p. 5.</ref> The loathesomeness and lonesomeness of prison life were balanced by the wave of unity that developed. It seemed no strange thing to some thirty-five or forty brethren when, one Sabbath, Lorenzo Snow assembled them and said, "Brethren, we have a right to give the hosannah shout." (This was April 8, 1886, just after the Mormon prisoners had missed the annual conference of the Church.) As with one voice they shouted: "Hosannah, Hosannah, Hosannah, to God and the Lamb. Amen, Amen, and Amen," a shout reserved as the climactic act in temple dedicatory services, and they followed it by the antiphonal anthem, "The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning."<Conference Report, October 1901, p. 95.</ref>
Roberts had no misgivings about the effect of prison life on such men. But he felt exactly the opposite way about the predicament of the toughs. In Justin McCarthy's History of Our Own Times, which portrays the severity of the prison system in Great Britain and Ireland, Roberts underlined the sentence, "The evidence of one convict thus relegated was that the heart of a man went out of him, and the heart of a beast came in."<Justin McCarthy, History of Our Own Times (Chicago: Gelford Clark and Co., n.d.), 3:395.</ref> For these, Roberts believed that some forms of prison life are worse than death. "When B. H. Roberts talked of the prison life," a missionary recalled, "he said vehemently a man should be executed if he had more than six months to spend in a 'Pen' - that it was a fearful existence. Society would do him a service to shoot him rather than leave him longer in those circumstances.'<Harold Glen Clark to Truman G. Madsen, 25 April 1966.</ref>
On September 16, Roberts met with his friend John Whitaker, and the same week he met with the First Council of the Seventy. He reported that in confinement he "had a great deal of pleasure mixed with perplexing and anxious feelings for the future." The officers, he reported, were "fairly kind" and he was grateful to have gained the goodwill of the guards. Some young men of Mormon parentage had been, in his judgment, excessively punished. He had labored with them, he said, and six of the number had promised that once out of prison they would put the criminal life behind them and live as men of God.
Gustive O. Larson, whose balanced account of the Mormon experience behind bars was the preface to his volume The Americanization of Utah for Statehood, concludes that, despite appearances, the offense of plural marriage was not the prime root of conflict of Mormons with the national temper or with government officialdom. It was only the war cry. Judge Elliott F. Sanford and others<Whitney, History of Utah, 3:548.</ref> candidly defined the problem as "your political and commercial solidarity," the unfamiliar spiritual-temporal unity of the Mormons as a state within a state-what Thomas F. O'Dea calls a "near-nation phenomenon." It was the suspicion-and if we can trust Harvard's political scientist Louis Hartz, a kind of national paranoia-that the Mormon organization was a threat to American institutions and ideals. Roberts, in his life as in his writings, embodied the "blend," though sometimes in tension, that few could understand: religious commitment so pervasive that he could say like Paul "nothing can separate me from the love of God," and constitutional loyalty in the Jeffersonian tradition. In his time few who read of him in the press could believe that either loyalty actually motivated him. It is clear today that both did. Proudly therefore he could "wear the stripes of shame." And later on he could proudly wear the uniform of the U.S. Army. That was B. H. Roberts.
[ADDITIONAL NOTES REGARDING POLYGAMY]
In the last year of his life, Roberts said, "If I had my life to live over again I would spend more time with my family." His regret was never more keen than theirs. Three wives and fifteen children survived and grew, less because of his resourcefulness than that of his wives. (273)
And as for plural marriage: The Saints did not accept into their faith and practice the plural wife system with the idea that it increased the comfort, or added to the ease of anyone. From the first it was known to involve sacrifice, to make a large demand upon the faith, patience, hope, and charity of all who would attempt to carry out its requirements. Its introduction was not a call to ease or pleasure, but to religious duty; it was not an invitation to selfindulgence, but to self-conquest; its purpose was not earth-happiness, but earth-life discipline; undertaken in the interest of special advantages for succeeding generations of men. That purpose was to give to succeeding generations a superior fatherhood and motherhood, by enlarging the opportunities of men of high character, moral integrity, and spiritual development to become progenitors of the race. To give to women of like character and development a special opportunity to consecrate themselves to the high mission of motherhood. [From an Appendix on Marriage to Truth, Way, Life, vol. 3, p. 32; see also CHC, 5:796ff.] (275-6)
Polygamy, it was said, did not always bring happiness, but it did bring beauty of character. This statement was attributed to Margaret, who had earlier seen the pointlessness of correcting the printed word and had been openly patient with reporters. A woman essayist from Boston came, however, to ask if this sentiment were accurate. Margaret's reply was printed but not widely quoted or even widely believed.[ The woman essayist was Anne Laurie, who wrote for the New York World and the San Francisco Examiner.] She said that plural families were not a burden or a cross and that "if there is one woman in all Mormondom who is happy, I am that woman. My life has come to be one sweet, lovely day, such as comes to few mortals I imagine. Whatever happens [in the congressional battle] I shall be a soul companion to him forever." [Arena Magazine (June 1899): 118. Theodore Schroeder insinuated that B. H. Roberts wrote this-or outlined it. It is more consistent with Margaret's attitudes and behavior.] She continued: The only thing which makes a woman's life worth living is love, the love of some one man in whom she believes and trusts, and the love of her children. A good husband, healthy children, and a revealed religion -these are the three things that help a woman stand being alive. A lady told me just the other day that she wondered what it was that made the Mormon women look so peaceful and contented. The idea! How could she help knowing it was our religion, the perfect faith and trust that everything is for the best, that gives us peace that the world cannot know. Why, how could we live without it?[ Ibid.] (279-80)
In October 1899 only 1543 polygamous families were still in existence-so few that the Tribune could argue with inverted logic that Roberts could not properly represent Utah since only 2 percent of the state was involved in polygamy. At the time of the Manifesto there had been 2,451 polygamous families within the United States, so the figures indicate a decrease of 37 percent in nine years. (See Office Journal of Lorenzo Snow, p. 167; cf. CHC. 6:436.) In 1900 six hundred of these families at the most were still raising children. There are no figures on how many were in that interval bearing children, but the decrease was at least two-thirds. (:425, note 74 [to chapter 12: The Lone Fight])
Clyde J. Williams (1984)
The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow. Edited by Clyde J. Williams (Bookcraft: 1984; Collector’s edition. 1996)
The Manifesto came from God. When we were placed in certain circumstances with our wives and children, and the nation was pursuing us with the intention of destroying us, the Lord opened our way in a manner that we never expected. Very few indeed thought our deliverance would come in the way which the Lord saw proper to bring it. A sacrifice had to be made—a greater one than had ever been made before. The Church itself depended upon the Saints acting in a wise and prudent manner, and making the sacrifice that was required at that time. The word of the Lord came to President Woodruff. When that Manifesto was issued, you knew what it meant. Some were alarmed. They thought the Church would go to pieces; thought they were breaking their covenants; thought the Lord had withdrawn from them. But that Manifesto was issued by the command of the Lord; and the Saints humbled themselves before the Lord and bowed to the requirement, The heavens rejoiced and God smiled upon us. He blessed His people, and delivered us from our enemies, and they were brought to shame and disgrace. They thought to destroy the Latter-day Saints, but they failed in their attempt. Nevertheless, we had to make the sacrifice, and it was right that we should. The Lord could have delivered us in some other way, had He so wished; but He knew best, and that was the course He required us to pursue and the sacrifice He desired us to make. We made it, and He has blessed us wonderfully from that time to the present. He has given us power among the nations, and in various ways the people have been raised in the estimation of the world. Men of great wisdom have looked upon us, though they may have been silent, and they have honored the course we have taken. The Lord required that of us. (18 May 1899, MS, 61:532; delivered May 8, 1899, St. George Utah).
Millet and Jackson (1984)
Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1: The Doctrine and Covenants by Robert L. Millet, Kent P. Jackson (Sandy, Utah: Randall Book 1984)
Chapter 47 A New and Everlasting Covenant (D&C 132) Robert L. Millet
President Brigham Young spoke eloquently concerning the infinite scope of marriage:
The whole subject of the marriage relation is not in my reach, nor in any other man's reach on this earth. It is without beginning of days or end of years: it is a hard matter to reach. We can tell some things with regard to it: it lays the foundation for worlds, for angels, and for the Gods; for intelligent beings to be crowned with glory, immortality and eternal lives. In fact, it is the thread which runs from the beginning to the end of the holy Gospel of Salvation—of the Gospel of the Son of God; it is from eternity to eternity.<JD 2:90.</ref>
The profound truths contained in section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants (when read in conjunction with other revelations, particularly section 131) constitute the scriptural authority for the unique and exalted concept of marriage and family among the Latter-day Saints. In a day when iniquity abounds and the love of many has begun to wax cold (D&C 45:27), the revelations of God through his prophets provide an anchor to the troubled soul. D&C 132 is a message which is both peaceful and penetrating, a revelation which can bring order and organization to things on earth, as well as point man toward his infinite possibilities among the Gods.
The fulness of the gospel is called by the Lord his "new and everlasting covenant." In a revelation given in October, 1830 Joseph Smith was told: "Verily I say unto you, blessed are you for receiving mine everlasting covenant, even the fulness of my gospel, sent forth unto the children of men, that they might have life and be partakers of the glories which are to be revealed in the last days, as it was written by the prophets and apostles in days of old" (D&C 66:2; cf. 39:11; 45:9; 133:57). Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written:
The gospel is the everlasting covenant because it is ordained by Him who is Everlasting and also because it is everlastingly the same. In all past ages salvation was gained by adherence to its terms and conditions, and that same compliance will bring the same reward in all future ages. Each time this everlasting covenant is revealed it is new to those of that dispensation. Hence the gospel is the new and everlasting covenant.<Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), pp. 529-30.</ref>
Eternal Marriage, the ordinance by which couples enter into the Patriarchal Order (D&C 131:1-2), is a new and everlasting covenant within the fulness of the gospel. In our day it is a crucial element in the restitution of all things (D&C 132:40, 45). Eternal Marriage is the ordinance and covenant which leads to the consummate blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ; it is that order of the priesthood which, when put into effect, will bind ancestry to posterity and thus prevent the earth from being utterly wasted at the time of the Savior's Second Coming (D&C 2).
As the introductory material to section 132 states, the basic doctrines of this revelation were received as early as 1831, yet the full application and historical context reflect its 1843 recording. A statement from Joseph Noble, a close associate of Joseph Smith the Prophet, is instructive. Noble observed that the revelation on eternal marriage was given to Joseph "while he was engaged in the work of translation of the Scriptures."<The minutes of the Davis Stake Conference, published under "Plural Marriage," in Millennial Star 16:454; cited by Danel Bachman in "New Light on an Old Hypothesis: The Ohio Origins of the Revelation on Eternal Marriage," Journal of Mormon History 5 (1978): 22. [NOTE: MS 16 is clearly wrong; but it is also in Bachman article cited]</ref> The opening verse of the revelation suggests that Joseph had inquired concerning Old Testament personalities and their participation in plural marriage. The Prophet would have been involved in the study of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the book of Genesis—in 1830 and 1831.<Robert J. Matthews, A Plainer Translation: Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible, A History and Commentary (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1975), pp. 96, 257.</ref> Elder B. H. Roberts has given the following extended explanation:
There is indisputable evidence that the revelation making known this marriage law was given to the Prophet as early as 1831. In that year, and then intermittently up to 1833, the Prophet was engaged in a revision of the English Bible text under the inspiration of God, Sidney Rigdon in the main acting as his scribe. As he began his revision with the Old Testament, he would be dealing with the age of the Patriarchs in 1831. He was doubtless struck with the favor in which the Lord held the several Bible Patriarchs of that period, notwithstanding they had a plurality of wives. What more natural than that he should inquire of the Lord at that time, when his mind must have been impressed with the fact—Why, O Lord, didst Thou justify Thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; as also Moses, David and Solomon, in the matter of their having many wives and concubines (see opening paragraph of the Revelation)? In answer to that inquiry came the revelation, though not then committed to writing.<HC 5:xxix-xxx.</ref>
The Prophet Joseph Smith shared many of the details of the revelation with intimate associates, particularly when he felt one could be trusted to value and preserve a sacred matter. Between 1831 and 1843 a number of the leaders of the Church were instructed concerning the eternal marriage covenant (including the plurality of wives) and were told that eventually many of the faithful would be called upon to comply with the will of the Lord. In speaking to a gathering of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Plano, Illinois in 1878, Orson Pratt
explained the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the revelation on plural marriage. Refuted the statement and belief of those present that Brigham Young was the author of the revelation; showed that Joseph Smith the Prophet had not only commenced the practice of that principle himself, and taught it to others, before President Young and the Twelve had returned from their mission in Europe, in 1841, but that Joseph actually received revelations upon that principle as early as 1831.<Millennial Star, 9 December 1878, p. 788; cited in Matthews, A Plainer Translation, p. 258.</ref>
As one might expect, the doctrine of plural marriage was not easily received, even by those who were otherwise counted as faithful. President John Taylor, known to be one of the purest men who ever lived, explained that "when this system [polygamy] was first introduced among this people, it was one of the greatest crosses that was ever taken up by any set of men since the world stood."<JD 11:221.</ref> Helen Mar Whitney, one of Joseph Smith's plural wives, recalled that Joseph "said that the practice of this principle would be the hardest trial the Saints would ever have to test their faith."<"Scenes and Incidents in Nauvoo," Woman's Exponent 10 (1 November 1881): 83.</ref> One of those for whom the principle was particularly difficult was Emma Smith, wife of the Prophet. It appears, therefore, that one of the major reasons for the formal recording of the revelation in 1843 was to assist Emma to recognize the divine source of this doctrine. William Clayton, private secretary to Joseph Smith, recorded the following:
On the morning of the 12th of July, 1843, Joseph and Hyrum Smith came into the office of the upper story of the "Brick-store," on the bank of the Mississippi River. They were talking of the subject of plural marriage, [and] Hyrum said to Joseph, "If you will write the revelation of celestial marriage, I will take and read it to Emma, and I believe I can convince her of its truth, and you will hereafter have peace." Joseph smiled and remarked, "You do not know Emma as well as I do." Hyrum repeated his opinion, and further remarked, "The doctrine is so plain, I can convince any reasonable man or woman of its truth, purity, and heavenly origin," or words to that effect. . . . Joseph and Hyrum then sat down, and Joseph commenced to dictate the Revelation on Celestial Marriage, and I wrote it, sentence by sentence, as he dictated. After the whole was written, Joseph asked me to read it through slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct.<The Historical Record, pp. 225-26; cited in Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, reprint 1965), pp 820-21.</ref>
The following entry from William Clayton's diary for 12 July 1843 is interesting: "This A.M. I wrote a Revelation consisting of 10 pages on the order of the priesthood, showing the designs in Moses, Abraham, David and Solomon having many wives & concubines &c. After it was wrote Prests. Joseph & Hyrum presented it and read it to E[mma]. who said she did not believe a word of it and appeared very rebellious."<Cited in Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Provo, Ut.: Seventy's Mission Bookstore, 1981), p. 294.</ref>
D&C 132 is a revelation dealing with celestial marriage. It also contains information and explanations concerning the practice of plural marriage. One Latter-day Saint historian, Danel Bachman, has suggested that section 132 consists largely of the Lord's answers to three critical questions posed by the Prophet Joseph Smith.<See "New Light on an Old Hypothesis," pp. 19-32.</ref> We will consider the questions and answers more carefully as we come to them in the text of the revelation.
The Lord's Justification (vv. 1-6)
The first question asked by the Prophet Joseph was simply why the polygamous actions of notable Old Testament prophet-leaders had received divine approval. Why was it, the Prophet wanted to know, that prophets, patriarchs, and kings could have many wives and concubines?<A concubine was a wife who came from a position of lower social standing, and who thus did not enjoy the same status as one of higher birth. Under ancient practice, where caste systems were much more common than at present, a man could take a slave or non-citizen as a legal wife, but it was understood that she was of a lower status. This was the case with Sarah (the first wife) and Hagar (the servant who became a concubine).</ref> In the Lord's response, Joseph was told to prepare his heart for the instructions about to be given (v. 3); in this instance the explanation for the ancient phenomenon was to be accompanied by a commandment to institute the practice in modern times. Seeking further light and knowledge had led the Prophet to further and greater obligations; much was about to be given, and much would soon be required (cf. D&C 82:3). Salvation in the highest heaven was at stake. Those who received this new and everlasting covenant (and thereafter chose to abide by its terms and conditions) qualified themselves—through the eternal principle of obedience (cf. D&C 130:20-21)—for the fulness of the glory of the Father, "which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever" (v. 19). These are they who shall be enlarged, that is, have an increase—spirit children into the eternities. They enjoy eternal lives (D&C 131:1-4; 132:17, 24). Joseph had taught these principles only two months earlier: "Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory."<TPJS, pp. 300-1.</ref>
Salvation consists in the blessing of eternal lives, the continuation of the family unit in eternity. Damnation is the result of rejecting this new and everlasting covenant and is due largely to pursuing the broad and wide ways of the world; the punishment is "the deaths," the dissolution of the family unit beyond the grave (D&C 132:17, 24-25).
Marriage in the Lord: Sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise (vv. 7-27, 49-50)
The second question posed by the Prophet Joseph Smith seems to be associated with the cryptic statement by Jesus in response to a Sadduceean trap: "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven" (Matt. 22:29-30; cf. Luke 20:34-36). This expression, little understood in the days of the Prophet, is repeatedly given today as scriptural evidence against the Latter-day Saint doctrine of eternal marriage. Joseph Smith's question concerning its meaning led to a modern revealed commentary upon the passage and pointed us to the reality that Jesus Christ had taught the doctrine of eternal marriage during his mortal ministry.<See Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966-73), 1:604-6; The Mortal Messiah, 4 books (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-81), 3:374-81.</ref>
From section 132 we learn that THEY who neither marry nor are given in marriage in eternity are they who choose not to enter in by the strait gate and partake of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. Even persons who qualify in every other way for the glories of the celestial kingdom, but who for selfish reasons reject opportunities for celestial marriage, cannot attain unto the highest degree of the celestial glory (cf. D&C 131:1-4). Such persons are "appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory." The Lord continued: Because they did not abide by his law, "they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever" (D&C 132:16-17). In commenting upon the status of angels, Joseph Smith said: "Gods have an ascendency over the angels, who are ministering servants. In the resurrection, some are raised to be angels, others are raised to become Gods."<TPJS, p. 312.</ref>
The Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit promised to the faithful. The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead with vital and important roles in the salvation of the people of the earth. He is a revelator and a testator, the means by which a witness of the truth is obtained. He is a sanctifier, the means by which filth and dross are burned out of the human soul as though by fire. One of the highest functions the Holy Ghost serves is to be a sealer, as the Holy Spirit of Promise. In this capacity he searches the heart, certifies a person is just, and thereafter seals an exaltation upon that person. That is to say, to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is to be sealed unto eternal life. In commenting on v. 7 in section 132 (regarding all covenants, contracts, bonds, etc. having the seal of the Holy Spirit of Promise), Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written:
By way of illustration, this means that baptism, partaking of the sacrament, administering to the sick, marriage, and every covenant that man ever makes with the Lord . . . must be performed in righteousness by and for people who are worthy to receive whatever blessing is involved, otherwise whatever is done has no binding and sealing effect in eternity. Since "the Comforter knoweth all things" (D&C 42:17), it follows that it is not possible "to lie to the Holy Ghost" and thereby gain an unearned or undeserved blessing, as Ananias and Sapphira found out to their sorrow (Acts 5:1-11). And so this provision that all things must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, if they are to have "efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead" (D&C 132:7), the Lord's system for dealing with absolute impartiality with all men, and for giving all men exactly what they merit, neither adding to nor diminishing from. When the Holy Spirit of Promise places his ratifying seal upon a baptism, or a marriage, or any covenant, except that of having one's calling and election made sure, the seal is a conditional approval or ratification; it is binding in eternity only in the event of subsequent obedience to the terms and conditions of whatever covenant is involved. But when the ratifying seal of approval is placed upon someone whose calling and election is thereby made sure—because there are no more conditions to be met by the obedient person—this act of being sealed up unto eternal life is of such transcendent import that of itself it is called being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, which means that in this crowning sense, being so sealed is the same as having one's calling and election made sure.<Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:335-36.</ref>
Without question, one of the most misunderstood (and misquoted) verses of scripture is D&C 132:26. Some members of the Church have wrested the scriptures to the point where they have concluded that a temple marriage alone (which they equate with being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise) will assure them of an exaltation, in spite of "any sin of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies." When it is fully understood, however, that the marriage ceremony performed in the House of the Lord—though performed by worthy priesthood bearers granted sacred sealing powers—is a conditional ordinance, a rite whose eventual blessings are contingent upon the faithfulness (in years to come) of the participants, then v. 26 is recognized as being consistent with other related principles—obedience, endurance to the end, and appropriate reward. Verse 26 has reference to those who have received the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, have complied with all its conditions, and have passed the tests of mortality. These are they who, paraphrasing Joseph Smith, have lived by every word of God, and are willing to serve the Lord at all hazards. They have made their callings and elections sure to eternal life.<TPJS, pp. 149-50.</ref> Persons who attain to this level of righteousness "are sealed up against all manner of sin and blasphemy except the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost and the shedding of innocent blood."<McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 110.</ref>
The Prophet Joseph Smith extended the challenging invitation to the Saints: "I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it."<TPJS, p. 299.</ref> Latter-day Saints who are married in the temple may thus press forward in the work of the Lord and with quiet dignity and patient maturity seek to be worthy of the certain assurance of eternal life before the end of their mortal lives. But should one not formally receive the more sure word of prophecy in this life, he has the scriptural promise that faithfully enduring to the end—keeping the covenants and commandments from baptism to the end of his life (Mosiah 18:8-9) eventuates in the promise of eternal life, whether that promise be received here or hereafter (D&C 14:7; cf. 2 Ne. 31:20; Mosiah 5:15).
All men are subject to temptation and mortal weaknesses and therefore commit some sin, even those whose callings and elections have been made sure (see D&C 20:32-34; 124:124). Though the disposition to commit grievous sin would certainly be less among such individuals, yet the principles of repentance and forgiveness are as highly treasured by these as by any of our Father's children. At the same time, where much is given, much is expected and required. Joseph Smith taught: "If men sin wilfully after they have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin."<Ibid., p. 128.</ref> In the words of a modern apostle: "Suppose such persons become disaffected and the spirit of repentance leaves them—which is a seldom and almost unheard of eventuality—still, what then? The answer is—and the revelations and teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith so recite!—they must then pay the penalty of their own sins, for the blood of Christ will not cleanse them."<Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:343.</ref>
When one is guilty of serious transgression and loses the right to the Spirit and the protective blessings of the priesthood, he is essentially "delivered unto the buffetings of Satan" (D&C 132:26), such that "Lucifer is free to torment, persecute, and afflict such a person without let or hindrance. When the bars are down, the cuffs and curses of Satan, both in this world and in the world to come, bring indescribable anguish typified by burning fire and brimstone"<Mormon Doctrine, p. 108.</ref> (cf. D&C 78:12; 82:20-21; 104:9-10; 1 Cor. 5:1-5).
Once one has been sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, he is in a position to either rise to exaltation or (through rebellion and apostasy) fall to perdition. Verse 27 has specific reference to those who have received the new and everlasting covenant of marriage and proven faithful enough to have the final stamp of approval from the Holy Ghost. One who has been sealed up unto eternal life and thereafter proves to be a total enemy to the cause of righteousness is guilty of "shedding innocent blood," the innocent blood of Christ, and assenting unto his death.<McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:161, 345; The Mortal Messiah, 2:216.</ref> Such a vicious disposition would lead the transgressor to reject and crucify the Son of God afresh (cf. Heb. 6:4-6).
Among the most beautiful and touching verses in section 132 are vv. 49 and 50, wherein the Lord seals an exaltation upon the head of Joseph the Seer. What a comfort to a troubled and weary mind to hear such words as these: "Verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father." The reader of this revelation is also given a meaningful insight into how to qualify for such a transcendent promise: "Behold I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac." The key element in obtaining the promise of exaltation is sacrifice. It was to the School of the Prophets in the Winter of 1834-35 that Joseph had given profound counsel: only through the sacrifice of all things could one come to the point of faith or confidence wherein he could have an actual knowledge that the course in life he was pursuing was according to the divine will. "Those, then, who make the sacrifice," the Prophet had taught, "will have the testimony that their course is pleasing in the sight of God; and those who have this testimony will have faith to lay hold on eternal life."<Lectures on Faith, Lec. #6, Par. 10. </ref> That principle of truth was now realized and confirmed directly upon the head of the one who had declared it less than ten years earlier; no matter what the eventuality, nothing could separate the man of God from the love of his God.<For detail concerning Joseph Smith receiving the fulness of the priesthood, see Ronald K. Esplin, "Joseph, Brigham, and the Twelve: A Succession of Continuity," Brigham Young University Studies 21.3 (Summer 1981): 30141; Andrew F. Ehat, "Joseph Smith's Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question," Unpublished Master's Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1982.</ref>
Marriage Among the Ancients (vv. 28-40)
As a type of follow-up on his first question, Joseph Smith was given additional insights into requirements made of individuals in ancient times. The Patriarch Abraham was instructed to take Hagar, the servant of Sarah, as a second wife, in order to bring to pass the promises made earlier to the Father of the Faithful—that his posterity would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens or the sands upon the seashore (Gen. 22:17; Abr. 3:14). This modern revelation helps to clarify the Old Testament story considerably (see Gen. 16), and shows that the decision to take an additional wife was a God-inspired directive, and not simply a desperate move by Sarah to insure posterity for her grieving husband. Joseph Smith was told that because of Abraham's perfect obedience he was granted the privilege of eternal increase. The Lord then said to Joseph: "This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham." Then came the command to Joseph Smith, who had in 1836 received the keys necessary to become a modern Faither of the Faithful (D&C 110:12): "Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved" (D&C 124:31-32; cf. 124:58).
The Lord further explained that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had attained godhood because of their implicit obedience. More specifically, because they only took additional wives as those wives were given by God, they have entered into their exaltation. David and Solomon were also given directions (through the legal administrators of their day) to take additional wives, and enjoyed the approbation of the heavens as they stayed within the bounds the Lord had set. When they moved outside the divinely given channel, however, and began to acquire wives and concubines for selfish or lustful reasons (e.g., David in the case of Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11; Solomon in the case of taking "strange women" as wives, women who "turned away his heart" from the things of righteousness, 1 Kgs. 11), they offended God and forfeited the eternal rewards that might have been theirs. Jacob in the Book of Mormon, speaking in behalf of the Lord, warned his people: "Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord" Jacob 2:24). When both scriptural passages are read together Jacob 2 and D&C 132), it becomes clear that the Lord was condemning—in no uncertain terms—unauthorized plural marriages, and not the principle of plurality of wives per se. Later in that same chapter of Jacob the word of the Lord came: "For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me [through plural marriage] I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things" (Jacob 2:30). Note the words of Joseph Smith as late as October of 1843: "[I] Gave instructions to try those persons who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives; for, according to the law, I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise."<TPJS, p, 324.</ref>
Concerning Adultery (vv. 41-48, 58-62)
Verse 41 of section 132 suggests the third question that Joseph Smith must have asked of the Lord. In essence, the question of the Prophet was: "Why were not such polygamous relationships violations of the law of chastity? Why was this not considered adultery?" The Lord's answer was simple and forthright, although considerable space was devoted to the issue in the revelation: any action inspired, authorized, or commanded of God is moral and good. More specifically, marriages approved of the Almighty are recognized and acknowledged as sacred institutions, despite the values or opinions of earth or hell. Joseph wrote in 1839: "How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart!"<Ibid., p. 137.</ref> Verse 36 of this section sheds light on this principle, the idea that whatever God requires is right: "Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac; nevertheless, it was written: Thou shalt not kill. Abraham, however, did not refuse, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness." In a letter written to Nancy Rigdon in 1842, Joseph sought to explain (albeit in veiled language) the appropriateness of plural marriage when divinely sanctioned:
Happiness is the object and design of our existence, and will be the end thereof if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know, unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be and often is, right under another. God said thou shalt not kill,—at another time he said thou shalt utterly destroy. This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added. So with Solomon—first he asked wisdom, and God gave it him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which may be considered abominable to all who do not understand the order of heaven only in part, but which, in reality, were right, because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation. . . . Every thing that God gives us is lawful and right, and 'tis proper that we should enjoy his gifts and blessings whenever and wherever he is disposed to bestow; but if we should seize upon these same blessings and enjoyments without law, without revelation, without commandment, those blessings and enjoyments would prove cursings and vexations in the end, and we should have to go down in sorrow and wailings of everlasting regret. . . . Blessings offered, but rejected are no longer blessings, but become like the talent hid in the earth by the wicked and slothful servant—the proffered good returns to the giver, the blessing is bestowed upon those who will receive.<From Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984), pp. 507-9; see also HC 5:134-36; TPJS, pp. 255-57.</ref>
In section 132 Emma Smith was encouraged to submit to the will of the Lord pertaining to her husband—to yield her heart to the mind of God with regard to the matter of plural marriages. Obedience would lead to glorious blessings; disobedience would lead to damnation, for the covenant people are to abide by this "law of the priesthood" whenever it is specifically given to them by new revelation through the living prophet.
We may rest assured that whatever God reveals is given for the benefit and fulfillment of his children—for their happiness. Celestial or eternal marriage has been given to man, according to the word of the Master, in order that man might "multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and . . . fulfill the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified" (D&C 132:63; cf. v. 31). One of the most popular and important scriptural passages in the Church is found in the Pearl of Great Price. The Lord explained to Moses the purpose of creation and existence: "For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). That the Prophet understood early in his ministry that God's progression and development was accomplished through the exaltation of his children, is evident from an early recording of Moses 1:39. Note a variant rendering of this statement in the Prophet's first draft of the Bible translation: "Behold, this is my work TO my glory, to the immortality and eternal life of man."<See Old Testament Manuscript #2 in Matthews, A Plainer Translation, p. 222, emphasis added.</ref> In short, God's work—creating worlds without number, peopling them with his spirit sons and daughters, and providing the truths of the gospel for their edification and salvation (Moses 1:27-38)—not only benefits his children, but further glorifies himself. In speaking by the inspiration of the Lord, Joseph the Prophet explained the following in the famous King Follett Sermon on 7 April 1844:
What did Jesus do? Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of his Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all his children.<TPJS, pp. 347-48.</ref>
Francis M. Gibbons (1985)
Francis M. Gibbons. John Taylor. Mormon Philosopher. Prophet of God (Deseret Book 1985; 2009; 2010; Kindle 2012)
“However, the apparent rise in family influence and affluence was accompanied by an unexpected upheaval in the family structure. The source of this upheaval was Elder Taylor’s entry into the system of plural marriage. This was the most difficult ordeal John was to encounter during his long journey along the pathway of Mormonism….. [quotes from BHR, Life of John Taylor, 100] The novelty of this principle, which seemed to run counter to the concepts of morality he had observed from childhood, caused Elder Taylor and the other members of the Twelve to procrastinate in accepting it. At length the Prophet confronted John in a way that left no middle ground on which to stand…. John would approach Leonora’s thirty-two-year-old cousin, Elizabeth Kaighin…. Elizabeth’s marriage to John Taylor on December 12, 1843… And these and other difficulties were multiplied and magnified as John married other polygamous wives…. (52-3)
Chapter Seventeen: Caesar, the Gentiles, and Polygamy (159-177)
Acting in these diverse roles and given his experience and skill, the apostle was in a unique position to observe and influence major issues of policy and preference affecting the Latter-day Saints. Preeminent among these was the issue of polygamy, which, in one way or another, would dominate the thinking and the activities of John Taylor throughout the remainder of his life (160-1)
John’s vigorous and skillful defense of both the theory and practice of polygamy in the pages of The Mormon [published by him in New York City] affirm these views. And, in the process of defending polygamy in New York City,….
[Schuyler Colfax and John Taylor debate on polygamy 166-173]
[only 2% practiced it: 255-8]
Truman G. Madsen (1989)
Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet (Bookcraft 1989)
William Law had first wept at the Prophet's announcement of the principle of plural marriage, and with his arms around Joseph's neck had pleaded that he not teach it. His son Richard, who said this took place about 1842 and who was present at the time, later related the incident to Joseph W. McMurrin, who summarized his remarks as follows: "William Law, with his arms around the neck of the Prophet, was pleading with him to withdraw the doctrine of plural marriage, which he had at that time commenced to teach to some of the brethren, Mr. Law predicting that if Joseph would abandon the doctrine, 'Mormonism' would, in fifty or one hundred years, dominate the Christian world. Mr. Law pleaded for this…. with tears streaming from his eyes. The Prophet was also in tears, but he informed the gentleman that he could not withdraw the doctrine, for God had commanded him to teach it, and condemnation would come upon him if he was not obedient to the commandment."<See Joseph W. McMurrin's report of his interview with Richard S. Law in IE 6 (May 1903): 507-10. https://archive.org/stream/improvementera0607unse#page/506/mode/2up </ref> In conversation with others of the brethren Joseph said the Lord had told him that keys would be turned against him if he did not obey the commandment. How early did he know that plural marriage would be restored? At least as early as 1832.<Brigham Young and Joseph F. Smith, among others, assert that the Prophet understood as early as 1831 that the principle of plural marriage would be reestablished in modern times. See Journal History, February 17, 1882; The Deseret News, February 17, 1882; Widtsoe, Joseph Smith, p. 237.</ref> By 1842, ten years later, he had introduced it. (Of that principle, Joseph told the brethren, "I shall die for it."<According to a recollection of Brigham Young, unpublished discourse of October 8, 1866, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.</ref>) Over that William Law became bitter, and soon he was excommunicated.<The Laws and Robert D. Foster were excommunicated in April 1844. A few days later they organized their own church, making Law its president. They had been holding secret meetings that plotted against the Prophet since March of 1844. See HC 6:341,347.</ref>
Rodney Turner (1990)
Rodney Turner, “Morality and Marriage in the Book of Mormon,” in The Book of Mormon: Jacob through Words of Mormon, To Learn with Joy, eds. Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr., (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1990), 271–94, @279-93.
The Book of Mormon has been cited by those who, in the main, do not really believe in it, as an argument against the “notorious” LDS doctrine of plurality of wives. Let us consider the problem in its historical setting.
While no specific information is provided, modem revelation states that plural marriage was practiced by the earliest patriarchs, meaning, presumably, Adam and/or his sons and grandsons, “from the beginning of creation” (D&C 132:38). However, the first identifiable polygamist in the Bible was Lamech, a great-great-great-grandson of Cain. He had two wives, Adah and Zillah (Gen 4:19). They despised him and betrayed his secret murder of his own great-grandfather, Irad. Like Cain, his fellow murderer, Lamech became a fugitive from justice and a vagabond in the earth (see Moses 5:42–54).
Jaredite Polygamy. The Jaredites of the Book of Mormon arose a century or so after the Flood. It is possible, though by no means certain, that at least some in the early colony were polygamists (the brother of Jared had 22 sons and daughters [Ether 6:20]). In any event, polygamy was definitely practiced in the first half of their approximately two-thousand-year-plus history. One of their earlier kings, Riplakish, was not unlike the later Solomon. He burdened his people with heavy taxes, built numerous large buildings with forced labor, had “many wives and concubines . . . [and] did afflict the people with his whoredoms and abominations” (Ether 10:5–7). Jaredite polygamy was not restricted to royalty. Moroni recorded that in the final fratricidal war of the Jaredites every man kept his sword in hand “in the defence of his property and his own life and of his wives and children” (Ether 14:2).
Old Testament Polygamy. Abraham, who lived about 2000 BC, is the first righteous polygamist identified in the Old Testament. He had one wife, Sarah, and at least two concubines, Hagar and Keturah.
A word about concubinage. Concubines were not mistresses or prostitutes, they were lawful wives—usually captive slaves or foreigners—who had legitimacy but not full honor. Their children enjoyed no rights of inheritance.<For example, Abraham sent Hagar and her son Ishmael away with no inheritance (Gen 21:14). Following Sarah’s death Abraham married Keturah, by whom he had six sons, but we read: “And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country” (Gen 25:5–6). </ref> It was a case of social inferiors becoming part of a man’s family.
Concubinage reflected the realities of the ancient world. It was a lesser law for a lesser time. In viewing those times the issue is not what was ideally right or wrong, fair or unfair, but what was workable. If concubinage was a relative evil, it was the lesser of evils; better a concubine than a woman alone, or a harlot. That the Lord justified his servants in having concubines—and he did—is no proof that he viewed the practice as more than a necessary, albeit unfortunate aspect of an imperfect order of things.
The patriarchs who followed Abraham, notably Isaac and Jacob, were also polygamists. The law of Moses (introduced about 1300 BC) acknowledged the legitimacy of the practice (Moses himself had at least two wives [see D&C 132:38]). But polygamy on an extended scale was introduced into Israel by Saul’s successor, David (see 2 Sam 5:13). Solomon, his son by Bathsheba, caught the spirit of the practice with a vengeance and acquired seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. In this Solomon the Wise proved a fool, for “his wives turned away his heart” (1 Kings 11:3). Solomon introduced idolatry into Israel and thereby set the stage for Israel’s subsequent bondage and dispersion.
The Nephites and Polygamy
Although the law of Moses permitted wives and concubines, the Lord forbade the practice for the house of Joseph in the Promised Land, in the Americas. This was probably in part because of its historic abuses, but also because the basis for such marriages did not exist in Lehi’s colony.
The Nephites did not practice slavery, nor did they take female captives and make wives of some of them as had their Israelitish ancestors even in the days of Moses.<The law of Moses specifically permitted Israelites to marry captive women (Num 31:9; Deut 21:11). The Lamanites took women and children as prisoners of war, and on several occasions placed their Nephite captives in virtual servitude (see Mosiah 7:15; 9:12; Alma 58:30). </ref> As for the many war-produced widows found at times among the Nephites, the policy was to care for their temporal needs rather than to marry them (see Mosiah 21:10, 17; Moroni 9:16).
Jacob’s Denunciation. Following the death of Nephi (about 540 BC), pride and the “grosser crime” (see Jacob 2:22) of whoredoms appeared for the first time among the Nephites. Certain men “began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son” (Jacob 1:15).
Jacob, Nephi’s younger brother, was instructed by the Lord to denounce this evil in its incipiency. Only some Nephites were actually engaged in polygamy; others probably contemplated doing so, while still others remained “pure in heart.” So it was a mixed audience—as such groups usually are—that Jacob addressed. The heart of his message on the subject was as follows:
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. [Today, it is Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.] Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph. Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. 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; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts (Jacob 2:23–28). Jacob did not proclaim a new doctrine. He told the Nephites: “Ye know that these commandments were given to our father, Lehi; wherefore, ye have known them before” (Jacob 2:34; see also 3:5).
The effort to introduce forbidden practices and to justify them by appealing to scriptural precedents was clearly out of order. It was so then, and it is so now. If ancient scripture does not justify disobedience to the counsel of the Lord’s living prophet, how can modern historical examples do so? The Lord’s people are bound by the commandments given them through the prophet of their day, not those of an earlier time. They are accountable to the prophets they raise their hands to sustain. President Benson has said, “The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet. . . . Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence” (“Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet” 27). Where obedience is concerned, dead prophets belong to the dead.
Thus Jacob cut to the heart of the matter. What prominent men did and what the Lord approved could be two very different things. Further, no man was justified in deviating from the commandments of the Lord for his time because of the commandments of the Lord to others in another time.
Plural Wives Not Wrong Per Se. In saying that “whoredoms are an abomination before me” (see Jacob 2:28), the Lord was not equating the principle of plural marriage with whoredoms or declaring that all such marriages—including those of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—are abominable in his sight. He was denouncing the abuse of a sacred principle, not the principle itself.
But what is abominable to him in any form of marriage is when the relationship is motivated by lust, or when it robs one’s wife of her personhood and reduces her to the level of a thing to be used, mistreated, manipulated, or whimsically abandoned. In that regard, some monogamous marriages among us are abominations.
When wives are neglected, subjected to physical or verbal abuse, to emotional trauma, or to humiliating and degrading conduct by their husbands, the spirit of chastity in them is violated. For chastity is more than a sexual matter, it is also a state of mind, heart, and spirit toward one’s whole being. The very soul is at issue.
On the part of husbands, the spirit of chastity implies a conscious commitment to the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of their wives and of all women. When a woman is rendered a mere object, a piece of chattel, the spirit of chastity leaves her. She does not feel toward herself as she has the right to feel.
For example, Mormon wrote to his son Moroni that certain Nephites had made captives of Lamanite women “and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue—And after they had done this thing, they did murder them in a most cruel manner, torturing their bodies even unto death; and after they have done this, they devour their flesh like unto wild beasts, because of the hardness of their hearts; and they do it for a token of bravery” (Moroni 9:9–10).
Such barbarism is probably unparalleled in all history. These Lamanite daughters, though robbed of their physical virginity, died virtuous and innocent in God’s eyes. Because, in truth, virtue cannot be taken, it must be willingly given. So these girls were no less chaste and pure of soul because of being violated, but they had been deprived of the spirit of chastity, of their God-given feelings of dignity and worth as human beings. Their own holy of holies in the temples of their spirits had suffered defilement—an “abomination of desolation.” It was in this sense that their chastity and virtue were stolen from them. Can anyone doubt that the all-too-prevalent crime of rape is nothing less than a form of spiritual murder? It was this crime—albeit less vicious in degree—that the Lord declared an abomination among the Nephites.
Those who sought to “indulge themselves,” as Jacob expressed it, in plural wives were not motivated by a caring love and concern for these women, but rather by pride and lust in their hardened hearts (see Jacob 1:15–16). For was there not a connection between the sin of pride in consequence of their material wealth and their “grosser crime” (see Jacob 2:22) of whoredoms? Not only could they afford wives and concubines, they reasoned, but their very status in society warranted them. Citing the conduct of David and Solomon, who were also wealthy and prominent, was designed to cloak their actions with moral approval.
But the consequences of all such infidelity were vividly described by Jacob: “Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them, and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds” (Jacob 2:35). How many hearts die today because of marital infidelity and insensitivity?
Jacob’s message seems to have had the desired effect. Other than the aberrant case of king Noah, polygamy was apparently stamped out for all time among the Nephites. He tells us: “And now I, Jacob, spake many more things unto the people of Nephi, warning them against fornication and lasciviousness, and every kind of sin, telling them the awful consequences of them” (Jacob 3:12).
Nevertheless, Jacob’s prophetic warning that unless the Nephites repented the Lamanites “shall scourge you even to destruction” (Jacob 3:3) was fulfilled. In the third century BC, prior to that destruction, king Mosiah led the righteous remnant of the Nephites from the land of Nephi northward to the land of Zarahemla (Omni 1:12–14; compare Jacob 3:4). The fall of the first Nephite civilization suggests that harlotry and other evils—if not polygamy—finally took their toll. Modem prophets have warned of a similar fate for an unrepentant America.
An Apparent Contradiction
Critics have been quick to point out the apparent contradiction between Jacob’s denunciation of plural wives and concubines (Jacob 2:23–28) and the subsequent defense of both by Joseph Smith (D&C 132:1, 30, 37–39). How can plural marriage be “abominable” in the Book of Mormon and a righteous principle associated with heaven’s highest rewards in the Doctrine and Covenants?
Joseph Smith Knew Moral Law. First, let us grant the Prophet some common sense and at least a modicum of integrity. He was certainly aware of Jacob’s teachings in the Book of Mormon (published in 1830) when he first learned of the doctrine of plural marriage (before or in 1831). His initial inquiry of the Lord concerning polygamy in the Old Testament probably came about in connection with his labors on his inspired revision of the Bible—starting with Genesis where the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are recorded. This labor began in the summer of 1830. Secondly, the Prophet was also aware of the moral law of the Church revealed in February 1831 in which the Lord instructed: “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else” (D&C 42:22). In March 1831 the Lord added that it was “lawful that he [any man] should have one wife” (D&C 49:16).
Joseph Smith was also aware of God’s strong condemnation in August of the same year of adultery among the Saints: “And verily I say unto you, as I have said before, he that looketh on a woman to lust after her, or if any shall commit adultery in their hearts, they shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear. Wherefore, I, the Lord, have said that . . . the whoremonger, and the sorcerer, shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (D&C 63:16–17). In October he gave Apostle William E. McLellin a personal revelation which told him the following: “Commit not adultery—a temptation with which thou hast been troubled” (D&C 66:10).
Was Joseph Smith a fool or a hypocrite in all of this? Did he publicly denounce, in the name of Jesus Christ, immoral practices he was privately contemplating? The foregoing pronouncements were made in the same time frame in which he first received the answer to his question on plural marriage in Old Testament times. Thus it was by revelation that Joseph Smith learned that the restriction on the Nephites was neither universal nor absolute.
David and Solomon. Still, it may be argued, in the Book of Mormon God condemns David and Solomon for having “many wives and concubines” (see Jacob 2:24), while in the Doctrine and Covenants he says, “I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines” (D&C 132:1). How can both statements be true?
The answer, I believe, is that in the Book of Mormon the Lord was speaking specifically of two men who had been cited by the Nephites in defense of their own misbehavior. However, in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord, speaking generally, alluded to all those polygamists in the Old Testament about whom Joseph had made inquiry, including David and Solomon.
These men were justified in “the principle” of having additional wives given them by authorized servants of God. “Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment” (D&C 132:29). He “received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him” (D&C 132:37). But such was not always the case with David and Solomon. They committed abominations when they took wives not given them by those holding the sealing power. Their sheer excessiveness and their indifference toward the Lord’s duly authorized servants brought them under condemnation.
In Doctrine and Covenants 132, Christ speaks of the “principle and doctrine of [his servants] having many wives and concubines” (v 1). But how many is “many”? Presumably, the prophets cited in verse one had many of each. Yet Abraham had but one wife and two known concubines, and Isaac had but one wife and no concubines insofar as the Old Testament has recorded. Jacob had two wives and two concubines, and Moses had two known wives and no known concubines.<Since wife and concubine are often used as interchangeable terms, Moses’ Ethiopian wife (Num 12:1) was probably a concubine. </ref> David, on the other hand, had a large but unspecified number of wives and concubines. Solomon, as previously noted, had a thousand. Plainly, in referring to “many wives and concubines,” the Lord was speaking of a general principle applying only to those he cited.
Insofar as his ancient servants’ being justified in taking plural wives, the Lord told Joseph Smith: “In nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me” (D&C 132:38). David did not receive Bathsheba from the Lord. His adulterous relationship with her, followed by his murder of her husband, Uriah, cost Israel’s king his exaltation. His lawful wives were forfeited and sealed to another unidentified man (D&C 132:39).
Thus, although Jacob denounced Nephite polygamists in the strongest terms, it is clear that he did not make an absolute statement on the subject for all times and all peoples. He knew that plurality of wives was a divine principle, hence the addendum in Jacob 2:30: “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.” What “things”? Jacob’s teachings on monogamy. How else would the Lord raise up a more numerous people unto himself save it were by magnifying the monogamous principle of marriage into plurality of wives even as he had done with Abraham? (see Abr 1:2; D&C 132:34). But it was not for the Nephites, or any later individual or group, to presume to expand the principle; the Lord would command. He alone would determine when conditions warranted its introduction and what its manner of implementation would be.
And when he did so, it would not be in a dictum to the world, but to “my people” (Jacob 2:30). They alone, a holy people, would be permitted to perpetuate and expand the doctrine of marriage (whether monogamous or plural) into eternity. For, as stated before, marriage is a celestial talent which can only be retained by celestial men and women. Those who bury it by unworthiness, abuse, or neglect will be saved, but single, worlds without end (see D&C 132:17).
Nor, I believe, will there ever be concubinage again. Those lesser times with their lesser laws are gone forever. Every sealed woman is a full wife with access to every right and blessing enjoyed by her sisters. For the Lord has revealed that the purpose of plural marriage is not to gratify the lusts or ambitions of men, but to magnify celestial women. It is to recognize their divine right to self-fulfillment, worthy husbands, and honorable motherhood; and to thereby raise up a holy posterity to themselves and to their God. Eternal marriage (whichever form) is the only way the immortality and eternal life of man and woman—the endless work of God—can continue (see D&C 132:63; Moses 1:38–39).
Relative Laws. The attempt to circumscribe God’s moral sphere of action, to delimit what he can and cannot do, or, as the Prophet Joseph put it, “to set up stakes and set bounds to the works and ways of the Almighty” (TPJS 320), is characteristic of Spiritless men and religions. The very diversity in the natures and conditions of people requires diverse application of the laws and commandments leading to salvation. This means that while certain specific commandments may be binding on one people under a given system of law, they are not necessarily binding on another people subject to a different system of law.<Varying but harmonious systems of law are found throughout all organized existence (see D&C 88:37–39). </ref> For example, the spiritual law of Christ (the gospel) was binding on God’s people from the time of the antediluvian patriarchs to the time of Joseph, while the carnal law of Moses was not imposed on their descendents until a thousand years after the Rood. Not only this, but changing circumstances within a given system may call for the modification or revocation of a former commandment and the introduction of a new one (see for example, D&C 56:3–4).
Such occurred when the doctrine of plural marriage was introduced by Joseph Smith. In a letter written justifying such marriages, he wrote:
That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. God said, “Thou shalt not kill;” at another time He said, “Thou shalt utterly destroy.” This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire (TPJS 256).
If we understand the Prophet’s words, we can understand why the Nephites were forbidden to have plural wives and why the early Latter-day Saints were enjoined to do so. The time to “raise up seed unto me” (see Jacob 2:30) came with the Latter-day Saints, not the Nephites. Much of the leadership of the Church has been drawn from just that seed. Many members of the Church today are also products of plural marriage. So the temporary need was met and the commandment suspended. Of course, there are still eternal needs yet to be met, so in due time the Lord will speak again on the subject.
Joseph Smith, the Prophet. If Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and he was, the Church is obliged to accept all that he received from the Lord, both in the Book of Mormon and in those revelations which followed. We have no human basis for redefining the meaning, much less determining the validity, of any of the revelations given the Lord’s anointed. Yet there are some prominent writers in the Church today—self-appointed ark-steadiers—who have presumed to do just that. But only a new revelation can qualify or set aside another revelation. And we cannot receive revelation for those to whom we are subordinate. The Prophet Joseph stated: “I will inform you that it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or any one, to receive instruction for those in authority, higher than themselves” (TPJS 21; see also 214- 15). Consequently, only a prophet can qualify the words of a previous prophet—and that, only when inspired to do so.
In being commanded to take wives for eternity, the Prophet Joseph Smith was instructed to “do the works of Abraham” (D&C 132:32), not the works of David or Solomon. And because Joseph did the “works of Abraham,” he became a son of Abraham and, therefore, an heir of the blessings of Abraham. In receiving the more sure word of prophecy (D&C 131:5), the Prophet was told: “For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father” (D&C 132:49). If Joseph Smith was esteemed by Jesus Christ to be worthy of exaltation, he should be esteemed by every Latter-day Saint to be worthy of his prophetic calling.
In referring to his own record, Nephi wrote: “And it speaketh harshly against sin, according to the plainness of the truth; wherefore, no man will be angry at the words which I have written save he shall be of the spirit of the devil” (2 Nephi 33:5). The Book of Mormon is speaking to us today. Are we listening? It is commanding us. Are we obeying? We cannot plead ignorance or confusion for its message is presented clearly and unmistakably, in the language of virtue. Although it deals at times with unsavory themes, it does not do so in a prurient manner. The impure is treated purely.
Indeed, in discussing problems of immorality, the Book of Mormon is far more discreet than the Old Testament. The Old Testament as we have it is a product of many minds reflecting the religious and cultural character—the ethos—of an ancient people. Much of it was written by unknown chroniclers of Israel’s history.<With the qualified exception of the five books of Moses (the Pentateuch) and the 16 books named for the prophets, beginning with Isaiah and ending with Malachi, the authors of the 39 books comprising the Old Testament are completely anonymous. </ref> Because it recounts in some detail certain rather unsavory events, and contains graphic metaphors by some of the prophets, it has even been accused of being salacious. While the accounts are forthright, they are not salacious; unlike pornography they are not told in a manner to promote prurient thoughts and feelings. In its defense, I quote from Paul who said: “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled” (Titus 1:15).
Actually, specific accounts of immorality are comparatively few in the Old Testament when we recall that it covers a span of four millennia and was written over a period of about nine hundred years. Contrast its ten or so incidents with the steady stream of stories of adultery, rape, and perversion appearing in our news media every day!
Those who gave us the Book of Mormon were clearly sensitive and circumspect in their accounts. This is a testimony of the sensitivity and purity of mind, not only of the original prophets who wrote and abridged it, but also of the prophet who translated it. Joseph Smith was a virtuous man. Out of the abundance of his heart he spoke the sanctifying word of the Lord. The Book of Mormon is not only a witness of the prophetic calling of Joseph, but of his moral character as well. No unclean mind produced the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants or the Pearl of Great Price. I say this because Joseph Smith has been maligned and vilified from the very beginning by enemies both in and out of the Church. Since 1945, biographies and articles on his life, written by supposedly loyal members of the Church, as well as admitted apostates, have been published in ever-increasing numbers. Some of the more sensational—and therefore more popular—contain subtle (and sometimes not too subtle) innuendos that the Prophet’s personal moral behavior left much to be desired. This is a demeaning lie.10 It demeans the Prophet, but more especially it demeans the Lord who raised him up. A holy God does not, and is not obliged to, use unholy prophets to accomplish his righteous purposes.
The life of Joseph Smith is reflected in his writings, both public and private. As he was the first witness of the heavenly origin of the Book of Mormon, so is the Book of Mormon an unassailable witness of the virtue, integrity, and divine appointment of Joseph Smith. Their common testimonies pertaining to the law of chastity flow forth from God, the “fountain of all righteousness” (Ether 12:28). May we all drink from that fountain so that when we stand before the judgment bar of the Almighty we, too, may be found worthy of the eternal blessings of a virtuous life.
Bibliography Benson, Ezra Taft. “Cleansing the Inner Vessel.” Ensign (May 1986) 16:4–7. Benson, Ezra Taft. “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.” 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year. Provo, UT: Brigham Young Univ, 1980.26–30. Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. 1854–86. The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball. Ed. Edward L. Kimball. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Comp. Joseph Fielding Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976. Turner, Rodney. Woman and the Priesthood. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1972.
Danel Bachman in Encyclopedia of Mormonism (1992)
Danel Bachman page History of Plural Marriage By Danel Bachman and Ronald K. Esplin Encyclopedia of Mormonism, volume 3
Plural marriage was the nineteenth-century LDS practice of a man marrying more than one wife. (See Doctrine of Plural Marriage) Popularly known as polygamy, it was actually polygyny. Although polygamy had been practiced for much of history in many parts of the world, to do so in "enlightened" America in the nineteenth century was viewed by most as incomprehensible and unacceptable, making it the Church's most controversial and least understood practice. Though the principle was lived for a relatively brief period, it had profound impact on LDS self-definition, helping to establish the Latter-day Saints as a "people apart." The practice also caused many nonmembers to distance themselves from the Church and see Latter-day Saints more negatively than would otherwise have been the case. Rumors of plural marriage among the members of the Church in the 1830s and 1840s led to persecution, and the public announcement of the practice after August 29, 1852, in Utah gave enemies a potent weapon to fan public hostility against the Church. Although Latter-day Saints believed that their religiously-based practice of plural marriage was protected by the U.S. Constitution, opponents used it to delay Utah statehood until 1896. Ever harsher antipolygamy legislation stripped Latter-day Saints of their rights as citizens, disincorporated the Church, and permitted the seizure of Church property before the manifesto of 1890 announced the discontinuance of the practice. Plural marriage challenged those within the Church, too. Spiritual descendants of the Puritans and sexually conservative, early participants in plural marriage first wrestled with the prospect and then embraced the principle only after receiving personal spiritual confirmation that they should do so. In 1843, one year before his death, the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated a lengthy revelation on the doctrine of marriage for eternity (D&C 132; see Marriage: Eternal Marriage). This revelation also taught that under certain conditions a man might be authorized to have more than one wife. Though the revelation was first committed to writing on July 12, 1843, considerable evidence suggests that the principle of plural marriage was revealed to Joseph Smith more than a decade before in connection with his study of the Bible (see Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible), probably in early 1831. Passages indicating that revered Patriarchs and prophets of old were polygamists raised questions that prompted the Prophet to inquire of the Lord about marriage in general and about plurality of wives in particular. He then learned that when the Lord commanded it, as he had with the Patriarchs anciently, a man could have more than one living wife at a time and not be condemned for adultery. He also understood that the Church would one day be required to live the law (D&C 132:1-4, 28-40). Evidence for the practice of plural marriage during the 1830s is scant. Only a few knew about the still unwritten revelation, and perhaps the only known plural marriage was that between Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger. Nonetheless there were rumors, harbingers of challenges to come. In April 1839, Joseph Smith emerged from six month's imprisonment Liberty Jail with a sense of urgency about completing his mission (see History of the Church c: 1831-1844). Since receiving the sealing key from Elijah in the Kirtland Temple (D&C 110:13-16) in April 1836, the Prophet had labored to prepare the Saints for additional teachings and ordinances, including plural marriage. Joseph Smith realized that the introduction of plural marriage would inevitably invite severe criticism. After the Kirtland experience, he knew the tension it would create in his own family; even though Emma, with faith in his prophetic calling, accepted the revelation as being from God and not of his own doing, she could not reconcile herself to the practice. Beyond that, it had the potential to divide the Church and increase hostilities from outside. Still, he felt obligated to move ahead. "The object with me is to obey & teach others to obey God in just what he tells us to do," he taught several months before his death. "It mattereth not whether the principle is popular or unpopular. I will always maintain a true principle even if I Stand alone in it" (TPJS, p. 332). Although certain that God would require it of him and of the Church, Joseph Smith would not have introduced it when he did except for the conviction that God required it then. Several close confidants later said that he proceeded with plural marriage in Nauvoo only after both internal struggle and divine warning. Lorenzo Snow later remembered vividly a conversation in 1843 in which the Prophet described the battle he waged "in overcoming the repugnance of his feelings" regarding plural marriage. "He knew the voice of God—he knew the commandment of the Almighty to him was to go forward—to set the example, and establish Celestial plural marriage. He knew that he had not only his own prejudices and pre-possessions to combat and to overcome, but those of the whole Christian world…; but God…had given the commandment" [The Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, pp. 69-70 (Salt Lake City, 1884)]. Even so, Snow and other confidants agreed that Joseph Smith proceeded in Nauvoo only after an angel declared that he must or his calling would be given to another (Bachman, pp. 74-75). After this, Joseph Smith told Brigham Young that he was determined to press ahead though it would cost him his life, for "it is the work of God, and He has revealed this principle, and it is not my business to control or dictate it" (Brigham Young Discourse, Oct. 8, 1866, Church Archives). Nor did others enter into plural marriage blindly or simply because Joseph Smith had spoken, despite biblical precedents. Personal accounts document that most who entered plural marriage in Nauvoo faced a crisis of faith that was resolved only by personal spiritual witness. Those who participated generally did so only after they had obtained reassurance and saw it as religious duty. Even those closest to Joseph Smith were challenged by the revelation. After first learning of plural marriage, Brigham Young said he felt to envy the corpse in a funeral cortege and "could hardly get over it for a long time" (JD 3:266). The Prophet's brother Hyrum Smith stubbornly resisted the very possibility until circumstances forced him to go to the Lord for understanding. Both later taught the principle to others. Emma Smith vacillated, one day railing in opposition against it and the next giving her consent for Joseph to be sealed to another wife (see comments by Orson Pratt, JD 13:194). Teaching new marriage and family arrangements where the principles could not be openly discussed compounded the problems. Those authorized to teach the doctrine stressed the strict covenants, obligations and responsibilities associated with it—the antithesis of license. But those who heard only rumors, or who chose to distort and abuse the teaching, often envisioned and sometimes practiced something quite different. One such was John C. Bennett, mayor of Nauvoo and adviser to Joseph Smith, who twisted the teaching to his own advantage. Capitalizing on rumors and lack of understanding among general Church membership, he taught a doctrine of "spiritual wifery." He and associates sought to have illicit sexual relationships with women by telling them that they were married "spiritually," even if they had never been married formally, and that the Prophet approved the arrangement. The Bennett scandal resulted in his excommunication and the disaffection of several others. Bennett then toured the country speaking against the Latter-day Saints and published a bitter anti-Mormon exposé charging the Saints with licentiousness. The Bennett scandal elicited several public statements aimed at arming the Saints against the abuses. Two years later enemies and dissenters, some of whom had been associated with Bennett, published the Nauvoo Expositor, to expose, among other things, plural marriage, thus setting in motion events leading to Joseph Smith's death (see Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith). Far from involving license, however, plural marriage was a carefully regulated and ordered system. Order, mutual agreements, regulation, and covenants were central to the practice. As Elder Parley P. Pratt wrote in 1845, "These holy and sacred ordinances have nothing to do with whoredoms, unlawful connections, confusion or crime; but the very reverse. They have laws, limits, and bounds of the strictest kind, and none but the pure in heart, the strictly virtuous, or those who repent and become such, are worthy to partake of them. And…[a] dreadful weight of condemnation await those who pervert, or abuse them" [The Prophet, May 24, 1845; cf. D&C 132:7]. The Book of Mormon makes clear that, though the Lord will command men through his prophets to live the law of plural marriage at special times for his purposes, monogamy is the general standard (Jacob 2:28-30); unauthorized polygamy was and is viewed as adultery. Another safeguard was that authorized plural marriages could be performed only through the sealing power controlled by the presiding authority of the Church (D&C 132:19). Once the Saints left Nauvoo, plural marriage was openly practiced. In winter quarters, for example, discussion of the principle was an "open secret" and plural families were acknowledged. As early as 1847, visitors to Utah commented on the practice. Still, few new plural marriages were authorized in Utah before the completion of the Endowment house in Salt Lake City in 1855. With the Saints firmly established in the Great Basin, Brigham Young announced the practice publicly and published the revelation on eternal marriage. Under his direction, on Sunday, August 29, 1852, Elder Orson Pratt publicly discussed and defended the practice of plural marriage in the Church. After examining the biblical precedents (Abraham, Jacob, David, and others), Elder Pratt argued that the Church, as heir of the keys required anciently for plural marriages to be sanctioned by God, was required to perform such marriages as part of the restoration. He offered reasons for the practice and discussed several possible benefits (see JD 1:53-66), a precedent followed later by others. But such discussions were after the fact and not the justification. Latter-day Saints practiced plural marriage because they believed God commanded them to do so. Generally plural marriage involved only two wives and seldom more than three; larger families like those of Brigham Young or Heber C. Kimball were exceptions. Sometimes the wives simply shared homes, each with her own bedroom, or lived in a "duplex" arrangement, each with a mirror-image half of the house. In other cases, husbands established separate homes for their wives, sometimes in separate towns. Although circumstances and the mechanics of family life varied, in general the living style was simply an adaptation of the nineteenth century American family. Polygamous marriages were similar to national norms in fertility and divorce rates as well. Wives of one husband often developed strong bonds of sisterly love; however, strong antipathies could also arise between wives. Faced with a national antipolygamy campaign, LDS women startled their eastern sisters, who equated polygamy with oppression of women, by publicly demonstrating in favor of their right to live plural marriage as a religious principle. Judging from the preaching, women were at least as willing to enter plural marriage as men. Instead of public admonitions urging women to enter plural marriage, one finds many urging worthy men to "do their duty" and undertake to care for a plural wife and additional children. Though some were reluctant to accept such responsibility, many responded and sought another wife. It was not unheard of for a wife to take the lead and insist that her husband take another wife; yet, in other cases, a first marriage dissolved over the husband's insistence on marrying again. As with families generally, some plural families worked better than others. Anecdotal evidence and the healthy children that emerged from many plural households witness that some worked very well. But some plural wives disliked the arrangement. The most common complaint of second and third wives resulted from a husband displaying too little sensitivity to the needs of plural families or not treating them equally. Not infrequently, wives complained that husbands spent too little time with them. But where husbands provided conscientiously even time and wives developed deep love and respect for each other, children grew up as members of large, well-adjusted extended families. Plural marriage helped mold the Church's attitude toward divorce in pioneer Utah. Though Brigham Young disliked divorce and discouraged it, when women sought divorce he generally granted it. He felt that a woman trapped in an unworkable relationship with no alternatives deserved a chance to improve her life. But when a husband sought relief from his familial responsibilities, President Young consistently counseled him to do his duty and not seek divorce from any wife willing to put up with him. Contrary to the caricatures of a hostile world press, plural marriage did not result in offspring of diminished capacity. Normal men and women came from plural households, and their descendants are prominent throughout the Intermountain West. Some observers feel that the added responsibility that fell early upon some children in such households contributed to their exceptional record of achievement. Plural marriage also aided many wives. The flexibility of plural households contributed to the large number of accomplished LDS women who were pioneers in medicine, politics and other public careers. In fact, plural marriage made it possible for wives to have professional careers that would not otherwise have been available to them. The exact percentage of Latter-day Saints who participated in the practice is not known, but studies suggest a maximum of from 20 to 25 percent of LDS adults were members of polygamous households. At its height, plural marriage probably involved only a third of the women reaching marriageable age—though among Church leadership plural marriage was the norm for a time. Public opposition to polygamy led to the first law against the practice in 1862, and, by the 1880s, laws were increasingly punitive. The Church contested the constitutionality of those laws, but the Supreme Court sustained the legislation (see Reynolds v. United States), leading to a harsh and effective federal antipolygamy campaign known by the Latter-day Saints as "the Raid." Wives and husbands went on the "underground" and hundreds were arrested and sentenced to jail terms in Utah and several federal prisons. This campaign severely affected the families involved, and the related attack on Church organization and properties greatly inhibited its ability to function (see History of the Church: c. 1877-1898). Following a vision showing him that continuing plural marriage endangered the temples and the mission of the Church, not just statehood, President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto in October 1890, announcing an official end to new plural marriages and facilitating an eventual peaceful resolution of the conflict. Earlier polygamous families continued to exist well into the twentieth century, causing further political problems for the Church, and new plural marriages did not entirely cease in 1890. After having lived the principle at some sacrifice for half a century, many devout Latter-day Saints found ending plural marriage a challenge almost as complex as was its beginning in the 1840s. Some new plural marriages were contracted in the 1890s in LDS settlements in Canada and northern Mexico, and a few elsewhere. With national attention again focused on the practice in the early 1900s during the House hearings on Representative-elect B. H. Roberts and Senate hearings on Senator-elect Reed Smoot (see Smoot Hearings), President Joseph F. Smith issued his "Second Manifesto" in 1904. Since that time, it has been uniform Church policy to excommunicate any member either practicing or openly advocating the practice of polygamy. Those who do so today, principally members of fundamentalist groups, do so outside the Church. Bibliography Bachman, Danel W. "A Study of the Mormon Practice of Plural Marriage before the Death of Joseph Smith." M.A. thesis, Purdue University, 1975. Bashore, Melvin L. "Life Behind Bars: Mormon Cohabs of the 1880s." Utah Historical Quarterly 47 (Winter 1979): 22-41. Bennion, Lowell ("Ben"). "The Incidence of Mormon Polygamy in 1880: "Dixie' versus Davis Stake." Journal of Mormon History 11 (1984): 27-42. Bitton, Davis. "Mormon Polygamy: A Review Article." Journal of Mormon History 4 (1977): 101-118. Embry, Jessie L. Mormon Polygamous Families: Life in the Principle. Salt Lake City, 1987. Foster, Lawrence. Religion and Sexuality: The Shakers, The Mormons, and the Oneida Community. Oxford, 1981. James, Kimberly Jensen. ""Between Two Fires': Women on the "Underground' of Mormon Polygamy." Journal of Mormon History 8 (1981): 49-61. Van Wagoner, Richard S. Mormon Polygamy: A History. Salt Lake City, 1986. Whittaker, David J. "Early Mormon Polygamy Defenses." Journal of Mormon History 11 (1984): 43-63. Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 3, Plural Marriage Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
Cowan and Backman (1992)
Joseph Smith and the Doctrine and Covenants. Ed. Richard O. Cowan, Milton V. Backman (Deseret Book 1992)
“An important addition to the Doctrine and Covenants was made just after the turn of the century. President Wilford Woodruff's 1890 "Official Declaration," or "Manifesto," ending the performance of plural marriages was incorporated into the Doctrine and Covenants beginning with the 1908 printing. In England, a page bearing the Manifesto was glued into copies of the book that had been printed there two years earlier (Robert J. Woodford, "The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants," PhD dissertation, BYU 1974, pp. 92-93)” (4)
Eternal marriage was among the blessings unfolded during these years. Although a couple was married for eternity as early as 5 April 1841, there were few of these "sealings" at first. The number of marriages for eternity increased in 1843. In May of that year the Prophet instructed the Saints that to attain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, they must enter "the new and everlasting covenant of marriage" (D&C 131:1-4). Two months later, on 12 July 1843, Joseph recorded another revelation (D&C 132) in the presence of his brother Hyrum and his private secretary, William Clayton, which declared that only through the power of the priesthood can marriage covenants for eternity be performed. This revelation also confirmed the principle, revealed as early as 1831, that authorized worthy men to marry more wives than one (D&C 132:34-65).
According to Joseph F. Smith, "Joseph Smith was commanded to take wives, he hesitated and postponed it, seeing the consequences and the trouble that it would bring and he shrank from the responsibility, but he prayed to the Lord for it to pass as Jesus did, but . . . the Lord had revealed it to him, and said now is the time for it to be practiced but it was not untill he had been told he must practice it or be destroyed that he made the attempt—in 1841 he had wives sealed to him—from that time untill his death he had wives sealed unto him. Emma, his wife yielded but it was not without considerable argument that she consented and with her own hand gave to Joseph Smith four wives in this new and everlasting covenant their names are Emily and Eliza Partridge and Sarah and Maria Lawrence the latter two being sisters. . . . Soon after the marriage of Joseph to the four ladies mentioned Emma repented of having given them to Joseph and told Joseph that if [he] would not give them up, she would bring him up before the law and became very bitter about this time under this threat and on account of the determined manner of Emma, Joseph went to his brother Hyrum and had a talk with him about it. Hyrum told Joseph if you will write the Revelation [D&C 132] I will take it and go and see Emma for I can convince her that it is true. Joseph smiled at Hyrum saying you do not know Emma as well as I do—but Hyrum said he still had faith that he could do as he said, and to satisfy his brother Hyrum, Joseph caused the Revelation to be written on the 12th July 1843. Joseph with Hyrum went into the office and Joseph commanded Wm. Clayton to write as he should dictate. Joseph was asked by Hyrum to get the Urim and Thummim. Joseph said he knew it from beginning to end, he then dictated it word for word to Wm. Clayton as it is now in the Doctrine and Covenants it was written for this purpose at Hyrum's suggestion, after it was done, Joseph said there that is enough for the present, but I have a great deal more, which would be given hereafter; Hyrum went to Emma and returned without making any impression upon her" (Lyndon W. Cook, ed. Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Deseret Book 1985), pp. 347-48).
Learning that William Clayton had written the revelation as it was dictated by the Prophet, Edward Stevenson commented: "By this revelation, not only a flood of light followed, but bitter persecution as well. Those principles had been lost to the human families for centuries and now in the midst of tradition, it cost precious blood to establish them again. In a public discourse 16 July 1843, Joseph said to some sitting on the stand when he was preaching and he placed his hand on one or two saying, 'If I were to reveal the things God has made known unto me, my life would be sought in the streets of Nauvoo"' (Edward Stevenson, "Autobiography of Edward Stevenson" (1820-96) p. 94).
Warren Foote was one of many Saints who recorded his response to various distinguishing doctrines that were unfolded by the Prophet during the Nauvoo years: "We went to see Brother Duncan McArthur, with whom we were well acquainted. Having learned that he was one of the number who had been appointed to teach the principle of Celestial Marriage to the Saints, according to the revelation [D&C 132] given to Joseph Smith on that subject, we desired to get some correct information on that principle. The doctrine having never been taught publicly, there were all sorts of reports concerning it. He very willingly taught and explained to us that doctrine in such a simple manner. . . . He showed us the necessity of marriage for eternity in order to obtain an exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom. I felt to rejoice, that the doubts and fears that had been resting on my mind with regard to plural marriage caused by the traditions of the Fathers, were all removed. By the aid of the light of the Spirit, I could in a measure see the glory and beauty of that principle. It was very plain that our marriage covenants were only for time, they last only through this life. We are not bound as husbands and wives for eternity but all our domestic relations were dissolved at death. We learned that the celestial law binds for time and eternity, and our connection as husbands and wives, parents, and children never ceases in time nor all eternity, and we will continue to increase while eternities roll around" (Warren Foote, "Autobiography,"(1817-46), Typescript. Special Collections, BYU, p. 64).
During the winter of 1839-40, Joseph met Parley P. Pratt and taught him for the first time the doctrine of celestial marriage. As Elder Pratt considered that glorious principle, he gained a new understanding of other principles of the gospel, including man's relationship to God, characteristics of the Godhead, plurality of gods, and premortal life. He further recognized that there was a harmony among these teachings and, being acquainted with various religious systems, understood that these concepts were distinct theological contributions of Joseph Smith. Recalling this sudden expansion of knowledge, he wrote:
"It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love. It was from him that I learned that we might cultivate these affections, and grow and increase in the same to all eternity; while the result of our endless union would be an offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, or the sands of the sea shore.
"It was from him that I learned the true dignity and destiny of a son of God, clothed with an eternal priesthood, as the patriarch and sovereign of his countless offspring. It was from him that I learned that the highest dignity of womanhood was, to stand as a queen and priestess to her husband, and to reign for ever and ever as the queen mother of her numerous and still increasing offspring. . . .
" . . . I felt that God was my heavenly Father indeed; that Jesus was my brother, and that the wife of my bosom was an immortal, eternal companion; a kind ministering angel, given to me as a comfort, and a crown of glory for ever and ever. In short, I could now love with the spirit and with the understanding also.
"Yet, at that time, my dearly beloved brother, Joseph Smith, had barely touched a single key; [he] had merely lifted a corner of the veil and given me a single glance into eternity" (Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt. Edited by Parley P. Pratt, Jr., (Deseret 1966), pp. 297-98).
Merrill et al. (1992)
The Heavens Are Open: The 1992 Sperry Symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Compiled by Byron R. Merrill, Brent L. Top, David R. Seely, Vern D. Sommerfeldt (1993 Deseret Book)
Chapter 15 The Restoration of All Things: What the Doctrine & Covenants Says Robert J. Matthews Brigham Young University
Celestial Marriage We do not know the exact date on which the doctrine of celestial marriage (including plural marriage) was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was sometime in 1831, although the written document, Doctrine and Covenants 132, was not composed until 12 July 1843 (see headnote to D&C 132). (233)
…..The Prophet was well aware of the difficulty that would arise in implementing the doctrine and practice of plural marriage. The following is from an account by Heber C. Kimball's daughter:
"[There was a] sensation caused in Nauvoo, one Sabbath morning [in 1840 or 41] . . . by a sermon of the Prophet's on 'the restoration of all things,' in which it was hinted that the patriarchal or plural order of marriage, as practiced by the ancients, would some day again be established. The excitement created by the bare suggestion was such that Joseph deemed it wisdom, in the afternoon, to modify his statement by saying that possibly the Spirit had made the time seem nearer than it really was, when such things would be restored" (Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, 1945], p. 328).
Because this earth will be a celestial kingdom, and Abraham, and others, including Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Heber C. Kimball, each of whom had plural wives, will live here, plural marriage will exist again on the earth in that kingdom. That does not mean that everyone will be required to live that law. It may not be for everyone. (235)
Larry Dahl (1995)
Larry E. Dahl, “The Joseph Smith Translation and the Doctrine and Covenants”, in Plain and Precious Truths Restored. The Doctrinal and Historical Significance of the Joseph Smith Translation. Edited by Robert L. Millet and Robert J. Matthews (Bookcraft 1995): 104-133.
“Other parts of the Doctrine and Covenants which reflect information that might have been revealed earlier to the Prophet during the translation of the Bible include….section 132, which responds to the question of plural marriage among the ancient patriarchs” (126)
Note 30 to the above: “The section heading for D&C 132 indicates that ‘the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831’. For a discussion of evidence that this is so see the Introduction to volume 5 of the History of the Church, pp. xxix-xxxiv, written by Elder B. H. Roberts” (132, note 30.
Maureen Ursenbach Beecher (1995)
The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow. Edited by Maureen Ursenbach Beecher (University of Utah Press, 1995) [At the time of publication, Beecher was “a professor of English and research historian in the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History, Brigham Young University]
“Take Annie Clark Tanner, for example. Under the title A Mormon Mother, her autobiography was edited and published by her son Obert in 1969. In it, from first to last, we have a later account of the child Annie growing up, the girl Annie attending Brigham Young Academy, the young woman Annie marrying into polygamy, the mother Annie rearing her children alone in Farmington, Utah. Each part is cut to shape and placed in the whole to reveal the mature, reflecting Annie and her present view of the meaning of the events of her life. In composing the autobiography, Annie drew on her diaries and letters, which, her son later told me, were afterwards destroyed. What she left, her autobiography, is her recreation of her life as she wanted her children and others to perceive it (for in encouraging her to write Obert must have suggested the possibility of publication)” (xvi-xvii)
Eliza Roxcy Snow left both a brief autobiography and occasional diaries. The contrast between the two is characteristic. The ‘Sketch of My Life’ is carefully crafted gloss over some seventy years of its author’s life. At the time of its writing, the 1870s, Snow was queen among Mormon women. Wife of Brigham Young…. But a second agenda also underlies the story: the work will be published in New York, to an audience critical of Mormons, most especially of their practice of polygamy. Her account of her 1842 marriage to Joseph Smith, for example, is carefully presented in the light of the prejudices she imagines her readers to espouse, prejudices she herself had initially held, and her witness of the spirit by which she overcame them. At the time of writing, her account was tailored to fit both audiences. When, however, the ‘Sketch’ was edited for serial publication to a Mormon audience in the 1940s, when Latter-day Saints were putting on an acceptable American face, the whole section on her plural marriage significantly was omitted [Relief Society Magazine 31 (April 1944): 209]” In contrast, the diary account of Eliza’s plural marriage from the Nauvoo 1842-44 journal reveals more about its times than about the event itself. Secrecy was essential at the time because of the threat of persecution, so no direct mention of the ceremony or its participants was appropriate. Far different from the reasoned statement of the autobiography, the diary entry recording the marriage is jumbled, its meanings obscured, the whole lurching through a confused allusion to living arrangements to an impassioned metaphor of a rain storm, and concluding in a statement of faith which seems more a plea for succor than a convincing affirmation. It bears no resemblance to the account composed thirty years later for the autobiography” (xviii)
“Eliza R. Snow also had arrived at a position of prominence in Mormon society. In 1842, just before she was married in polygamy to Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of Mormonism, she had become an officer in the church’s Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. Four months after Joseph Smith’s death, she wed his successor Brigham Young, under whose direction she arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. From its completion in 1856 to her death, Eliza resided in the Lion House as chief among Young’s plural wives” (2)
“[From ‘Sketch of my Life] In Nauvoo I first understood that the practice of plurality was to be introduced into the church. The subject was very repugnant to my feelings—so directly was it in opposition to my educated prepossessions, that it seemed as though all the prejudices of my ancestors for generations past congregated around me. But when I reflected that I was living in the Dispensation of the fulness of times, embracing all other Dispensations, surely Plural Marriage must necessarily be included, and I consoled myself with the idea that it was far in the distance, and beyond the period of my mortal existence. It was not long however, after I received the first intimation, before the announcement reached me that the ‘set time’ had come—that God had commanded His servants to establish the order, by taking additional wives—I knew that God, who had kept silence for centuries, was speaking—I had covenanted in the waters of baptism to live by every word He should communicate, and my heart was firmly set to do His bidding. As I increased in knowledge concerning the principle and design of Plural Marriage, I grew in love with it, and today esteem it a precious, sacred principle—necessary in the elevation and salvation of the human family—in redeeming woman from the curse, and world from corruptions” (16-7)
I was sealed to the Prophet, Joseph Smith, for time and eternity, in accordance with the Celestial Law of Marriage which God has revealed—the ceremony being performed by a servant of the Most High—authorized to officiate in sacred ordinances. This, one of the most important circumstances of my life, I never have had cause to regret. From personal knowledge I bear my testimony that Plural Celestial marriage is a pure and holy principle, not only tending to individual purity and elevation of character, but also instrumental in producing a more perfect type of manhood mentally and physically, as well as in restoring human life to its former longevity” (17).
“’As I increased in knowledge concerning the principle and design of Plural Marriage, ‘ she reflected thirty years later, ‘I grew in love with it’” (51; citing ‘Sketch of My Life’)
“Even when in October 1844 Brigham Young took her as a plural wife, as he did others of Joseph’s widows….” (110).
“Occasionally in all of this she found solace in the friendly concern of several of the women, named in her diary as ‘sister’ this or that: ‘Sis. Whitney—Sis. Kimball, Sis. Young, Sis. Lott, Sis. Holmes & Sis. Taylor. Without whose attentions I must have suffer’d much more,’ she acknowledged. The list is significant: all of these women were participants in plural marriages. Since their crossing of the Mississippi River, which took them away from their critics and the threat such information had presented, the women had begun to share information about their secret alliances” (111)
Robert Millet (1995)
Robert L. Millet, “The Joseph Smith Translation, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Book of Mormon”, in Plain and Precious Truths Restored. The Doctrinal and Historical Significance of the Joseph Smith Translation. Edited by Robert L. Millet and Robert J. Matthews (Bookcraft 1995): 134-162.
“Joseph Smith seems to have learned of eternal and plural marriage as early as 1831, as a result of his inspired translation of Genesis. Plural marriage was introduced to some of the Saints in Nauvoo. It remained for Elder Orson Pratt to deliver the first public discourse on the subject in 1852. The revelation we now have as section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants was first recorded on 12 July 1843 but was not included in the Doctrine and Covenants until 1876. The practice continued until after the Manifesto of President Wilford Woodruff in 1890 called for its cessation” (156)
David R. Crockett (1996)
David R. Crockett. Saints in Exile. A Day by Day Pioneer Experience Nauvoo to Council Bluffs (LDS Gems Press 1996; third printing April 2000)
Nauvoo, Illinois. Friday January 23, 1846 (132-3) The Warren Foote family were among those who received their endowments. His sister also received her ordinances. She was so feeble that she had to be carried up to the attic. The Footes were not sealed on this day because of the large crowds. After the Footes left the temple, they went to Elder George A. Smith’s home to receive their Patriarchal Blessings from his father, John Smith, who lived in the adjoining room. Before they received their blessings, they chatted with Elder George A. Smith, who had married Warren Foote’s niece Betsey, for his third wife. Elder Smith related to them how it was a trial to receive the revelation on plural marriage. He was first told about it from the Prophet, Joseph Smith. He did not feel at first as though he could receive it as from the Lord, but since he knew Joseph was a prophet, ‘he durst not reject it.’ Thus he reasoned with himself until he obtained a testimony from the Lord for himself” (132) [sources HC 7. 573; Warren Foote Autobiography, typescript, 73; Hosea Stout Diary, 2. 129-30; Thomas Bullock Journal]
Guy R. Dorius (1996)
The Doctrine and Covenants. A Book of Answers. The 25th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium. Edited by Leon R. Hartshorn, Dennis A. Wright, Craig J. Ostler (Deseret Book: 1996) Guy L. Dorius, “Marriage and Family: ‘Ordained of God’.: 155-168
“There is evidence that Joseph had received earlier revelations that gave him insights concerning future laws and keys that would seal a husband and wife in the covenant of marriage after the resurrection. Elder Roberts wrote that there is good reason to believe that Joseph had received the information in section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the section on eternal marriage, as early as 1831[note 6] (158)
Note 6, page167: “B.H. Roberts, Introduction to History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by Joseph Smith, ed. B.H. Roberts, 2d ed. Rev., 7 vols (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-51) 5. Xxix-xxx. Elder Roberts taught: ‘There is indisputable evidence that the revelation making known this marriage law was given to the Prophet as early as 1831. In that year, and thence intermittently up to 1833, the Prophet was engaged in a revision of the English Bible text under the inspiration of God, Sidney Rigdon in the main acting as his scribe. As he began his revision with the Old Testament, he would be dealing with the age of the Patriarchs in 1831. He was doubtless struck with the favor in which the Lord held the several Bible Patriarchs of that period, notwithstanding they had a plurality of wives. What more natural than that he should inquire of the Lord at that time, when his mind must have been impressed with the fact—Why, O Lord, didst Thou justify Thy servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; as also Moses, David, and Solomon, in the matter of their having many wives and concubines (see opening paragraph of the Revelation [D&C 132. 1])? In answer to that inquiry came the revelation, though not then committed to writing. ‘Corroborative evidences of the fact of the revelation having been given thus early in the Prophet’s career are to be found in the early charges against the Church about its belief in ‘polygamy.’’ Elder Roberts continues: ‘In this article on marriage the following sentence occurs: ‘’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.’ “From this it is evident that as early t least as 1835 a charge of polygamy was made against the Church. Why was that the case unless the subject of ‘polygamy’ had been mooted within the Church? Is it not evident that some one to whom the Prophet had confided the knowledge of the revelation had had received concerning the rightfulness of plural marriage—under certain  circumstances—had unwisely made some statement concerning the matter?’” (167-8)
“Many suppose that we do not have the fullness of the law because we don’t practice plural marriage. Indeed, the remaining verses of section 132 deal with the plural marriage application of this law. But we would be wise to remember that this law is administered through the living prophet and the Lord directs him as to its current application. On 6 October 1890, President Wilford Woodruff issued a manifesto declaring the revealed end of the practice of plural marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since that time, the law of celestial marriage has been applied to the marriage of one man and one living woman at a time. Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated: ‘Plural marriage is not essential to salvation or exaltation. Nephi and his people were denied the power to have more than one wife and yet they could gain every blessing in eternity that the Lord ever offered to any people. In our day, the Lord summarized by revelation the whole doctrine of exaltation and predicated it upon the marriage of one man to one woman (D&C 132. 1-28). Thereafter he added the principles relative to plurality of wives with the express stipulation that any such marriages would be valid only if authorized by the President of the Church (DYLC 132. 7, 29-66)’ [McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966): 578-9 [s.v. “Plural Marriage”]
David R. Crockett (1997)
David R. Crockett. Saints Find the Place. A Day-by-Day Pioneer Experience. Winter Quarters to the Salt Lake Valley (Lehi, Utah: LDS-Gems Press 1997; third printing 2000)
Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Wednesday, February 10, 1847
“Mary Richards visited the home of Helen Mar Whitney. Sister Whitney shared with her a poem that her mother (Vilate Kimball) wrote upon giving birth to her new son, Solomon Kimball. J The first verse was:
The Lord has blessed us with another Son This is the seventh I have Born May he be the father of many lives. But not the Husband of many Wives.
[sources: Elden Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 523-4; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3. 126; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 69-70; Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, 109; Our Pioneer Heritage, 2. 63; Bigler, The Gold Rush Journal of Azariah Smith, 76] (17)
Winter Quarters, Tuesday February 16, 1847
At 10.30 am Brigham Young’s extended family…started to assemble for a family meeting…. President Young then addressed another sensitive area—causing ‘uneasiness and trouble… the idea of some men having more wives than one.’ He tried to calm the fears of those who did not yet understand the principle. He stated: ‘You see the propriety of the Lord calling upon men who bear the priesthood to take to themselves wives from among the daughters of men and raise up a righteous seed unto Him that he might fill up the measure of their creation and hasten the consummation of his purpose in righteousness in this dispensation.’ He condemned the practice of taking additional wives without the knowledge or counsel of the authority of the Church. Finally, President Young spoke about the ‘law of adoption,’ the practice of sealing members of the Church to worthy priesthood leaders [sources: Elden Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 526; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 75-90; Wilford Woodruff’s Journal 3. 127-37; Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, 111; Journal of Robert S. Bliss” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4. 87] (26-9
Davis Bitton (1999)
Davis Bitton. George Q. Cannon. A Biography (Deseret Book1999)
“As Nauvoo continued to grow, so did opposition. When a revelation authorized it, Joseph Smith had privately taken plural wives, and several prominent men followed his lead. The relatively small number of adults who began participating in the new marriage organization usually did so with reluctance [Citing Lawrence Foster, Religion and Sexuality (1981); Richard Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy (1981); Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness (1997)] …. On Friday, 7 June 1844, a new newspaper, the Nauvoo Expositor, made its appearance. The voice of a small group of dissidents, who denounced Joseph Smith in intemperate language and blew the whistle on polygamy, the Expositor did not last long enough to bring out a second issue…. (43-4)
[following his mission to Hawaii, Cannon edited a San Francisco paper, Western Standard] “The argument over Mormon polygamy was not new, but neither was it very old. The practice had been publicly acknowledged only in 1852, and in 1853, as we have seen, Cannon had cautiously presented the doctrine in Hawaii while clearly stating that it could not be practiced there. Now he printed twelve hundred copies of Parley P. Pratt’s Scriptural Evidences in Support of Polygamy , an expanded edition of an earlier work [Marriage and Morals in Utah Liverpool 1856]. The issues in the debate over polygamy were already becoming standardized. Indeed, some of them remained at the center of the argument for the next forty years. When he heard of a bill in the California senate providing that ‘no person who shall practice, or profess to believe in, this doctrine of Polygamy, as taught or practiced by the (so called) Mormon Church, shall be eligible to hold any office in this State, nor to exercise the right of suffrage,’ Cannon was eloquent in his criticism: ‘What, disfranchise men for believing the Bible! Tell it not in Sacramento, publish it not in San Francisco, let not the sound reach Europe, that, in the nineteenth century, a Senator in the free and enlightened State of California, introduced a Bill, into the body of which he was a member, proposing to withhold the right of suffrage from men whose only crime was belief in the Holy Scriptures…. [Western Standard 23 February 1856]…. Then the newspaper Golden Age [San Francisco] denounced the Mormons as ‘recklessly depraved’…. Cannon tried patiently to educate his journalistic adversary. ‘He ought to know that we do not substantiate it [polygamy] from the Book of Mormon, but from the Bible, and King James translation, too [Western Standard 5 April 1856]….” (82-4)
“The writing that engaged him most seriously during early 1879 was his A Review of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the Case of George Reynolds vs. the United States (Deseret News 1879)
Commentary on the Reynolds Decision (226-32)
“A dark omen, from their point of view, was the naturalization case of John Moore. When his case came up in Third District Court in November , Judge Thomas J. Anderson refused to grant citizenship until he could determine whether Moore and other Latter-day Saints had taken an oath against the government in the Endowment House. Hearings were scheduled. Presidents Woodruff, Cannon, and Smith cut short their trip to Canada and rushed back[Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 3. 171-4]. Then Cannon received a letter from John W. Young urging the First Presidency to issue a statement that no more plural marriages would be solemnized…. When Judge Anderson ruled against Moore, accepting the hostile allegations about Mormon disloyalty to the country and setting the stage to deny the vote to all Latter-day Saints in Utah, an emergency meeting of the Church leadership was held at the Gardo House. The result was an ‘official declaration’ or ‘manifesto’ signed by all three members of the First Presidency, all of the Twelve (including three absent members), and counselors to the Twelve Daniel H. Wells and John W. Young. Denouncing ‘gross misrepresentations of the doctrines, aims and practices’ of the Church, the document flatly denied allegations of ‘blood atonement’ (the alleged killing of Church members or apostates) with a simple statement: ‘No case of this kind has ever occurred.’…” (300-2)
“In the Woodruff Manifesto of 1890 the Latter-day Saints agreed to obey ‘the law of the land.’ When appearing before the Master in Chancery in 1891, the First Presidency had stated that the practice of polygamy was being stopped throughout the world. For about two years there was a virtual cessation, but then ‘new’ plural marriages began to occur. After importuning from individuals, some specific authorizations were given for Mexico. It was a natural conclusion, perhaps, that the United States had no authority to dictate what happened outside the national boundaries. With the concurrence of President Woodruff, George Q. Cannon became the key man in a guarded, limited renewal of plural marriages, signing most of the  authorization letters sent to Mormon leaders in Mexico between 1892 and 1898. In addition, a few plural marriages were secretly solemnized in the United States.407-8, 522 , 15
Scott H. Faulring
https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1092&index=7 Scott H. Faulring, “The Return of Oliver Cowdery”, in The Disciple as Witness. Essays on Latter-day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson. Edited by Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges (BYU and FARMS 2000): 117-174.
“Sometime in July , Oliver Cowdery received a letter from Phebe Jackson, his other half-sister. In her communique, she confided to her brother the emotional distress she felt concerning the trials and tribulations anticipated in the trek west. She also expressed personal anxiety with the emerging practice of plural marriage among the Saints. Oliver, evidently uninformed by Phineas [Young] about the continuance of polygamy at Nauvoo, wrote an emotional reply to Phebe and her husband, Daniel. A brief excerpt reads, Now, brother Daniel and Sister Phebe, what will you do? Has Sister Phebe written us the truth?... I can hardly think it possible, that you have written us the truth, that though there may be individuals who are guilty of the iniquities spoken of—yet no such practice can be preached or adhered to, as a public doctrine
Cowdery’s response to this news is intriguing. He spoke from personal experience when he pointed out the imprudence of plural marriage as a ‘public doctrine.’ Recorded in historical records are credible witnesses to the fact that Oliver himself was involved in and censured for an unauthorized polygamous relationship during the church’s stay in Kirtland, Ohio, during the 1830s [note 43]. In this period, Joseph Smith married his first plural wife—‘Fanny Alger [note 44]. It is unclear why Cowdery, on his own authority, felt the need to take an additional wife. By 1835, the Mormon Church was being publicly ‘reproached’ for the ‘crime’ of polygamy. In Oliver’s carefully worded ‘Article on Marriage,’ which first appeared in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, a public statement was made defending the church against immoral conduct. In this article, polygamy was renounced and monogamy declared to be the belief of the church. Later in Missouri, one charge preferred against Cowdery was that he accused Joseph Smith of adultery. Two years after this emotionally charged social issue was  brought to his attention in 1846, during his lengthy private conversations with Elders Orson Hyde and George A. Smith at Kanesville in October-November 1848, Oliver was evidently brought up-to-date on the Nauvoo-era application of the plural-marriage doctrine” (131-2)
Note 43: “In spite of some minor differences in details, the essence of these reports is that Oliver Cowdery learned about plural marriage while serving as the Prophet Joseph Smith[s assistant and that he (Cowdery) practiced it without the Prophet’s consent during the 1830s. A sample of statements by early church leaders regarding Oliver Cowdery and plural marriage include Brigham Young, 26 August 1857, LDS Church Archives, quoted in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1833-1898, ed. Scott G. Kenney (Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983-85), 5. 84; Brigham Young, in Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1857, 439 (based on Woodruff’s journal entry with added detail), LDS Church Archives; Heber C. Kimball (Comment made 24 May 1868) in “Record of the Provo Stake of Zion,” LDS Church Archives; Brigham Young in Joseph F. Smith diary, 9 October 1869, LDS Church Archives; Brigham Young in Charles Walker Diary 26 July 1872, LDS Church Archives; Joseph F. Smith, 7 July 1878, in Journal of Discourses 20. 29; George Q. Cannon in Juvenile Instructor 16 (15 September 1881): 206; and Joseph F. Smith (comment made 4 March 1883) in ‘Provo Utah Central Stake, Historical Records and Minutes, 1877-1888”, LDS Church Archives. This episode of Cowdery’s life has been examined recently by several scholars. Not all agree whether Oliver practiced an early form of plural marriage. For instance, Richard S. Van Wagoner, in Mormon Polygamy: A History, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 11, reported that Oliver Cowdery ‘never became reconciled to Mormon polygamy.’ I disagree with Vann Wagoner’s interpretation. I believe that evidence suggests Cowdery believed in and practiced this Kirtland-form of plural marriage (1833-34), got in trouble for it (1834), and for many years (1835-48) was opposed to the practice. This opposition mellowed when he returned to the church in 1848. Nine days after arriving at Kanesville in October 1848, Oliver had a ‘lengthy and agreeable interview’ with the presiding officials at Council Bluffs—Elders Orson Hyde and George A. Smith. During their evening discussion, Cowdery affirmed that  he had come to ‘listen to [their] counsel and would do as [they] told him.’ He recognized the need to be rebaptized and bore sincere testimony that Joseph Smith had ‘fulfilled his mission faithfully before God until death.’ Oliver assured Elders Hyde and Smith that he sought no position or office in the church; he only wanted to be ‘one among us, and live with the Saints.’ At this point in 1848, it is reasonable to assume that Oliver Cowdery was, if he had not already been, made aware that plural marriage was commonly practiced within Mormon society. Unfortunately we do not know Oliver’s reaction, but until his death in 1850, Cowdery was making serious plans to move to Utah. If his deteriorating health had not prevented him, he would have come to Utah and served the church in whatever capacity they wanted him to serve. It is logical that if Cowdery was as morally offended by the Saints’ plural marriage relationship as Van Wagoner and others have suggested, he would not have wanted to immigrate to Utah and live as ‘one’ among them. During his ‘interview’ with Elders Hyde and Smith, Oliver said that he ‘was determined to rise with the Church, and if it went down he was willing to go down with it.’ See George A. Smith to Orson Pratt, 31 October postscript to 20 October 1848 letter, in Millennial Star 11 (1 January 1849): 14; and Orson Hyde, George A. Smith, and Ezra Taft Benson, “A Report to Presidents Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards and the Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,”: 5 April 1849, 4-5, Robert Campbell, clerk, Kanesville, Iowa, BYC (Ms 1234), LDS Church Archives” (162-3, note 43)
Note 44: See Todd Compton, “Fanny Alger Smith Custer: Mormonism’s First Plural Wife?”, Journal of Mormon History 22. 1 (1996): 174-206, republished in Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1999), chap. 2; and Danel W. Bachman, “ A Study of the Mormon Practice of Plural Marriage before the Death of Joseph Smith” (M.A. thesis, Purdue University, 1975), 81-83.
- Doctrine and Covenants 132:61-62.
- History of the Church, vol. 5, p. 501; Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, pp. 224-226.
- Journal History, February 17, 1882; Deseret News, February 17, 1882.
- Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, pp. 233, 942.
- Ibid., pp. 225-226.
- Ibid., p. 227.
- George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith, p. 412.
- George Q. Cannon, op. cit., p. 413; Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, p. 227.
- Journal History, January 6, 1886, p. 4; Deseret Evening News, January 6, 1886.
- Andrew Jenson, op. cit., pp. 221-233.
- Ibid., pp. 233, 240.
- There can be no question about the matter since the written records are so extensive as to places, dates, and witnesses. See the records in the Historian's Office, L.D.S. Church Office Building, Salt Lake City, Utah, also the Nauvoo Temple Records.
- See Nauvoo Temple Records.
- Nauvoo Temple Records.
- For a fairly condensed but complete discussion consult Andrew Jenson, op. cit., pp. 219-236; Joseph Fielding Smith, Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage, pp. 67-94; Women's Exponent, volumes 13 and 14; Deseret News, especially in 1886.
- History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 46.
- Saints Herald, vol. 1, pp. 9, 26, 27.
- Elder's Journal, vol, 1, p. 3.