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Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy
Vision Articles

How Men Nearest the Prophet Attached Polygamy to His Name
in Order to Justify Their Own Polygamous Crimes

By Richard and Pamela Price

"What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives,
when I can only find one"
—Joseph Smith (LDS History of the Church 6:411).

[ Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy Index ]

Joseph's Fight against Polygamy Continued Throughout 1843

Joseph and Emma Smith

In the previous chapter, a poem entitled "The Vision," composed by Joseph Smith the Prophet was discussed. All seventy-eight stanzas were published in the Church's official paper, the Times and Seasons, February 1, 1843, pages eighty-two to eighty-five. Stanza number sixty-seven described how Joseph had beheld a heavenly vision in which he was shown the condition of those individuals who inherit Celestial Glory. He tells of having been given the knowledge that they who attain Celestial Glory will be "equal in power, dominion and might, With a fulness of glory and grace, round his [the Heavenly Father's] throne." (See LDS Doctrine and Covenants 76:92–96; RLDS Doctrine and Covenants 76:7:i–k.)

Not only was Joseph's divinely given knowledge made available to the Church members in America, but it was also published in Liverpool, England, in the Church's paper, The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star for August 1843, pages fifty through fifty-five. It was also printed in New York City in the New York Herald.

Apostle John Taylor Endorsed Joseph's Poem

Apostle John Taylor
Apostle John Taylor

Apostle John Taylor, who succeeded Joseph as editor of the Times and Seasons, prefaced the printing of Joseph's poem with statements which pointed to Joseph's prophetic insight. Taylor wrote:

Uncontrolled by the narrow limits of this earth, and raised above all sublunary objects, his mind soars aloft unto other kingdoms, unravels the secrets of eternity, and contemplates the organization of worlds, in other spheres: the destiny of the living, the dying, and the dead are developed; together with the laws that govern other worlds, and the state of their inhabitants; the "heavens of heavens," open before his gaze, and the celestial kingdom; the habitation of the great "I Am," with all its resplendant, brilliant, and dazzling glory, bursts upon his sight. The Celestial, the Terrestrial and the Telestial worlds, with all their magnifence and beauty are open to his view; whilst the various states of their respective inhabitants, are presented before his vision.... Our poet seems to be perfectly at home among heavenly worlds, and converses about their proceedings with as much familiarity as one could do about his domestic economy. He unlocked great, and important principles which were indeed made known to the ancients; but which have been hid for ages: and when we contemplate the things that are unfolded we shall be led to say with Paul, "great is the mystery of godliness." (Times and Seasons 4 [February 1, 1843]: 81)

This commentary by Apostle Taylor certainly gives the impression that he believed Joseph's poem to have been inspired. "The Vision" poem published in 1843, and Section 76 given in 1832, were both given through the Prophet. They are very important in light of the contradictory doctrine found in the LDS Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132, and alleged to have been dictated into a document by the Prophet five months after the poem was published.

Joseph's Poem in the New York Herald

Editor James Gordon Bennett
Editor James Gordon Bennett

Joseph's poem and its message went to many who did not belong to the Church after the February first issue of the Times and Seasons was sent to James Gordon Bennett, editor of the New York Herald. Joseph's bold claim that he had beheld a vision on the subject of the heavenly glories received much publicity, and his testimony of celestial equality went to the world. The poem was a poetic version of an earlier revelation which became Section 76, and had already been printed in the Doctrine and Covenants. Many who would never have had the opportunity to read the Doctrine and Covenants read Joseph's poem in the newspaper, which expressed an identical message. That equality which exists in Celestial Glory, and is spoken of in the poem, did not require that an individual (during earthly life) accept and practice the doctrine of a plurality of wives, as is set forth in Section 132 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants. Instead, Joseph's poem, published in 1843, is an added testimony that the Prophet did not practice polygamy or dictate Section 132 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants in July 1843, as is claimed by LDS historians and stated in the preface to Section 132 in the LDS Doctrine and Covenants.

The editor of the New York Herald, in explaining how he came to possess the February 1, 1843, issue of the Times and Seasons, made an interesting statement in reference to the Prophet and his wife, Emma. Editor James Gordon Bennett asserted:

We received by yesterday's mail a whole batch of dispatches from Nauvoo.... Joe Smith the Prophet, and his beautiful and talented wife, Emma, are living in the greatest happiness. Joe is prophesying and Emma singing. (New York Herald [March 8, 1843], 2)

Emma would not have been living in the "greatest happiness" if Joseph had been married to other women.

Editor Bennett's statement that "Joe is prophesying" is in reference to a statement in Joseph's poem in which the Prophet boldly refers to himself as "I, Joseph, the prophet." The comment that "Emma [is] singing" has reference to the following notice printed in the same issue of the Times and Seasons:

SACRED HYMNS.

Persons having Hymns adapted to the worship of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, are requested to hand them, or send them to Emma Smith, immediately.

Nauvoo, Feb. 15, 1843. (Times and Seasons 4 [February 1, 1843]: 95)

The fact that Joseph was writing and publishing prophetic poetry and Emma was compiling a new hymnal certainly demonstrates that the couple was unified in maintaining their home and working for the Church. There was nothing in their demeanor to suggest that they were divided, and their household in disarray, over the question of the doctrine of plural marriage. But, judging from what one can observe from Joseph and Emma's public actions, Editor James Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald was right when he wrote, "Joe Smith the Prophet, and his beautiful and talented wife, Emma, are living in the greatest happiness."

Joseph's Poem Published Again in Its Entirety

All seventy-eight stanzas of the poem were published in the New York Herald, but only excerpts pertaining to Celestial Glory are printed below:

I will go, I will go, to the home of the Saints [Celestial Glory],
Where the virtue's the value, and life the reward;
But before I return to my former estate
I must fulfil the mission I had from the Lord....

I, Joseph, the prophet, in spirit beheld,
And the eyes of the inner man truly did see
Eternity sketch'd in a vision from God,
Of what was, and now is, and yet is to be....

For while in the act of translating his word [producing the Inspired Version],
Which the Lord in his grace had appointed to me,
I came to the gospel recorded by John,
Chapter fifth and the twenty ninth verse, which you'll see.

Which was given as follows:

"Speaking of the resurrection of the dead,—
"Concerning those who shall hear the voice of the son of man—
"And shall come forth:—
"They who have done good in the resurrection of the just.
"And they who have done evil in the resurrection of the unjust."

I marvel'd at these resurrections, indeed!
For it came unto me by the spirit direct:—
And while I did meditate what it all meant,
The Lord touch'd the eyes of my own intellect....

I beheld the celestial, in glory sublime;
Which is the most excellent kingdom that is,—
Where God, e'en the Father, in harmony reigns;
Almighty, supreme, and eternal, in bliss.

Where the church of the first born in union reside,
And they see as they're seen, and they know as they're known;
Being equal in power, dominion and might,
With a fulness of glory and grace, round his throne.

(Times and Seasons 4 [February 1, 1843]: 82, 85; see also The Latter-Day Saints Millennial Star 4 [August 1843]: 50, 51, 55; and the New York Herald [March 8, 1843], 2)

There can be no doubt but that the Prophet's message to the Church and to the world in February, March, and August 1843, was that those individuals who attain Celestial Glory are "equal in power, dominion and might, with a fulness of glory and grace, round his throne." Joseph made his doctrinal belief on the subject as plain as it was humanly possible for him to do. His poem was another avenue in which he could restate the words of the vision given to him and Sidney Rigdon in February 1832. Section 76, which is still published as the law in both the LDS and RLDS Doctrine and Covenants, declares:

And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which excels in all things— where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever; before whose throne all things bow in humble reverence, and give him glory forever and ever.

They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fullness and of his grace; and he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.

And the glory of the celestial is one, even as the glory of the sun is one. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 76:92–96; RLDS Doctrine and Covenants 76:7i–k)

Editor James Gordon Bennett published this opinion of Joseph's poem:

In enthusiasm, fancy, originality, and power, this "Vision" is equal to any lecture that was ever given by Emerson, or Brownson, or any other newlight philosopher. It may lack in grammer—but what is grammer? In its practical operation, it entirely outstrips and outgenerals not only the Fourierites, but also Father [William] Miller and his calculations [that Jesus Christ would return in April 1843]. (New York Herald [March 6, 1843], 20)

Joseph's poetic rendition on celestial equality is in agreement with Section 76 as found today in both the RLDS and LDS Doctrine and Covenants. And according to Section 76, equality in Celestial Glory is not determined by, nor dependent upon, whether an individual accepts the doctrine of a plurality of wives as set forth in Section 132 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants.

It is important to remember that Section 132:19–21 in the LDS Doctrine and Covenants teaches that men who practice polygamy will be gods in Celestial Glory, while those who have not obeyed and married plural wives will be only angels who are "subject [servants] unto them."

The assertion that in Celestial Glory the angels will be subject to the polygamous gods, instead of all being equal, makes Section 132:19–21 in the LDS Doctrine and Covenants false. It is also contradictory to Section 76:92–96, which says that all who obtain Celestial Glory shall be "equal in power, and in might, and in dominion."

This is one more evidence that Joseph did not give Section 132 in July 1843, as is proclaimed by the LDS Church. It is also additional evidence that the entire doctrine of polygamy is false, and was only a figment of the imagination and lust of Jacob Cochran and Brigham Young, who both promoted a Garden of Eden ceremony as part of their polygamous programs.

In 1843 Eliza Snow Viewed Emma Smith As a "Noble Lady"

In 1843, Miss Eliza Snow composed a new song, in which Emma Smith, wife of the Prophet, was over and over referred to as a "noble lady." Miss Snow's song was sung publicly at Nauvoo for the first time on January 18, 1843. The composition consisted of fifteen stanzas and a refrain, which referred to Emma as a "noble lady." Eliza Snow's writing and singing of Emma as a "noble lady," in January 1843, is a direct contradiction to accounts by LDS writers and historians of a dangerous relationship between Eliza and Emma during 1843. Some LDS accounts falsely allege that Emma, in a jealous rage, beat Miss Snow over the head with a broom handle, knocked her down the Mansion House stairs, and forced her out of the house on a cold night. These LDS testimonies were shown to be false in the book, Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, volume one, chapters eight and nine. There seems to have been nothing but respect and friendship between Miss Snow and Emma during 1842, 1843, and 1844. Miss Snow's poem, entitled "Jubilee Song," was composed specifically for a dinner party given by Joseph and Emma to celebrate two events—their fifteenth wedding anniversary and Joseph having been absolved of the false charges that he had been the instigator behind the attempted murder of ex-Governor Lilburn Boggs of Missouri.

It may be recalled that ex-Governor Boggs was shot and wounded in Independence, Missouri, in May 1842. Although Joseph had not been outside the state of Illinois, he was accused of being an accessory to the crime of the attempted murder of Boggs. Missouri officials dogged the Prophet's footsteps, wishing to arrest him and extradite him to Missouri for trial. Not believing he could get a fair trial, Joseph stayed in hiding from May 1842 until December of 1842. In late December the Prophet surrendered to Illinois authorities, and was taken to Springfield, Illinois, where the Circuit Court of the United States of the District of Illinois was sitting. There was a thorough investigation of the charges against Joseph before Judge Nathaniel Pope, who made the decision to free Joseph of all charges.

Inez Smith Davis, Joseph and Emma's great-granddaughter, wrote:

His release was ordered by the court (Judge Nathaniel Pope) on the ground that he could not be extradited and tried for a crime committed in Missouri, when he was not out of Illinois during the time the crime alleged was committed. (Inez Smith Davis, The Story of the Church, 318)

Joseph and Emma were so thankful and elated by Judge Pope's decision that they planned to celebrate by giving a dinner party for some of their friends. In spite of the fact that Joseph and Emma lived in the tiny log house known as the Homestead, the happy couple sent over fifty invitations to the dinner. News of the forthcoming dinner party prompted Miss Eliza Snow to write a song in Joseph and Emma's honor to be sung at the dinner party. Miss Snow was at the time boarding with Joseph and Emma, while teaching school in the large upstairs room of Joseph's Red Brick Store. The Smith children attended Miss Snow's school, and it was the custom in the 1800s for the parents of school pupils to provide room and board for the teacher if such was needed. This may have been the case with Miss Snow since she was no longer able to live in her parental home. Her parents had moved from Nauvoo because her father had become upset over circumstances surrounding the case of Dr. John C. Bennett. After her parents left Nauvoo, Eliza stayed in the homes of different Saints. She began boarding at the Smith home on August 18,1842, and moved away on February 11,1843, one month after the Jubilee dinner party (see Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 54, 64). Eliza boarded at the Homestead with the Smith family almost six months. However, in spite of what has been written, she never boarded with Joseph and Emma while they resided in the Mansion House. (For more on Miss Snow during 1842 and 1843 see Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, volume one, chapters eight and nine.)

The "Jubilee Song," which had fifteen stanzas and a refrain, was sung at the dinner party on January 18. The words became widely known after Apostle Taylor published the song in the Times and Seasons, along with an introduction to it. Taylor published:

The following beautiful verses were written and sung as will be seen from their reading on the occasion of Joseph Smith's release from the hands of his persecutors.

Mr. Smith and his Lady [Emma] made a feast and invited upwards of fifty of their friends to partake with them; which was indeed a day of conviviality and rejoicing, and might properly be called a day of jubilee or release.

JUBILEE SONG.
BY MISS E. R. SNOW

That deed—that time we celebrate,
So rife with liberty; When the official pow'rs of State Pronounc'd the Prophet free.

CHORUS.
When foul oppression's hand was stay'd
—A feast of Liberty, The Prophet and his Lady made,
To crown the jubilee....

Now let the Prophet's soul rejoice—
His noble Lady's too; While praise to God with heart and voice
Is heard throughout Nauvoo.

CHORUS.
When foul oppression's hand was stay'd,
A feast of Liberty; The Prophet and his Lady made,
To crown the jubilee.

(Times and Seasons 4 [February 1, 1843]: 96)

The "Jubilee Song" was also published in the New York Herald (March 6,1843, page two), along with Joseph's poem entitled "The Vision." The author was again given as "Miss Eliza R. Snow" (which was a statement to the world that she was an unmarried lady). Eliza's words certainly attested to the fact that she considered her hostess and landlady, Emma Smith, not a tyrant and enemy, but "a noble Lady."

Joseph and Emma's unity and happiness was evident as they worked as host and hostess at their dinner party, which lasted eight hours. Joseph is reported to have written:

At ten o'clock in the morning, the party invited began to assemble at my house.... I distributed cards among them, printed for the occasion, containing the Jubilee Song ... by Sister Eliza R. Snow ... which were sung by the company with the warmest feelings.... Conversation continued ... until two o'clock, when twenty-one sat down to the dinner-table, and Emma and myself waited on them, with other assistants. My [dining] room was small, so that but few could be accommodated at a time. Twenty sat down to the second table, which was served as the first, and eighteen at the third, among whom were myself and Emma; and fifteen at the fourth table.... One thing more, which tended to give zest to the occasion, was, that it was fifteen years this day since I was married to Emma Hale. (LDS History of the Church 5:252–253)

Joseph and Emma certainly gave the appearance in 1843 of being a happily married couple, with no conflicting doctrinal differences. Another poem by Miss Snow was soon published in which she referred to Emma as one much loved by Joseph. That poem, entitled "The Kidnapping of Gen. Joseph Smith," referred to the kidnapping of Joseph in June 1843, while he and Emma and their children were in Dixon, Illinois, visiting Emma's sister and her family. In this poem, "BY MISS E. R. SNOW," Eliza wrote of Joseph's love for Emma in these words:

With brutish haste they tore him [Joseph]
From her [Emma] he loves so well, And far away they bore him
With scarce the word "farewell!"....

But hear it, O Missouri!
Once more "the prophet's free"— Your ill-directed fury
Brings forth a "jubilee."

(Times and Seasons 4 [August 1, 1843]: 288)

Joseph Found Another Way to Say, "I Am Innocent"

Joseph took every opportunity to declare, "I am innocent." He even chose to express his innocence by writing a parable for his valedictory article when he left the position of editor of the Times and Seasons. He could have written upon many other subjects, but he chose to tell of his innocence in the form of a parable. In it, the Prophet depicted himself as an innocent fawn, a young deer, and he referred to the powerful newspaper editors of his day as lions. In the parable, Joseph told the story of his constant life-threatening struggles against the false charges hurled at him in the pages of the newspapers. To fully understand the parable, the reader must be aware that polygamy was one of those false criminal charges, and it was the most sensational crime with which the Prophet was charged by the lions (the editors). Here are excerpts from the Prophet's parable of the fawn and the lions:

Mr. Editor,—Sir, ever since I gave up the editorial department of the "Times and Seasons," I have thought of writing a piece for publication, by way of valedictory.... My principal remarks I intended to apply to the gentlemen of the quill, or, if you please, that numerous body of respectable gentlemen who profess to regulate the tone of the public mind, in regard to politics, morality, religion ... the editors of the public journals; or, if you please, I will disignate them, the lions of the forest ... because of the tremendous noise that they make when they utter their voice.

It came to pass that as I [Joseph] went forth like a young fawn, one day, to feed upon the green grass in my pasture, an ass [Dr. John C. Bennett] saw me, and brayed, and made a great noise; which a neighboring lion [editor] hearing roared, even as a lion roareth when he beholds his prey: at the sound of his voice the beasts of the field were alarmed, and the lions in the adjoining jungles pricked their ears and roared in their turn; and behold all the lions [editors] of the forest, alarmed by the noise, opened their mouths and uttered forth their voice which was as the roaring of a cataract, or as the voice of thunder; so tremendous was their roaring that the trees of the forest shook, as if they were shaken by a mighty wind; and all the beasts of the forest trembled, as if a whirlwind were passing. I lifted up mine eyes with astonishment when I heard the voice of the lions, and saw the fury of their rage. I asked, is it possible that so many lords of the forest, such noble beasts, should condescend to notice one solitary fawn, that is feeding alone upon his pasture; without attempting to excite either their jealousy or anger? I have not strayed from the fold, nor injured the trees of the forest, nor hurt the beasts of the field, nor trampled upon their pasture, nor drunk of their streams; why then their rage against me? When lo! and behold! they again uttered their voices, as the voice of great thunderings, and there was given unto them the voice of men; but it was difficult for me to distinguish what was said, among so many voices; but ever and anon I heard a few broken, incoherent sentences, like the following:— Murder! Desolation!! Bloodshed!!! Arson!!! Treason!!! Joe Smith and the Mormons!... I then lifted up my voice and said, hear me, ye beasts of the forest! and all ye great lions [editors] pay attention! I am innocent of the things whereof ye accuse me. I have not been guilty of violating your laws, nor of trespassing upon your rights. My hands are clean from the blood of all men, and I am at the defiance of the world to substantiate the crimes whereof I am accused; wherefore, then, should animals of your noble mein stoop to such little jealousies, such vulgar language, and lay such unfounded charges at the door of the innocent (italics added)? It is true that I once suffered an ass [Dr. Bennett] to feed in my pasture; he ate at my crib and drank at my waters, but possessing the true nature of an ass, he began to foul the water with his feet, and to trample under foot the green grass, and destroy it. I therefore put him out of my pasture, and he began to bray. Many of the lions in the adjoining jungles mistaking his braying for the roaring of a lion, commenced roaring. When I proclaimed this abroad many of the lions began to enquire into the matter.... And they felt ashamed of themselves for being decoyed into such base ribaldry, and foul-mouthed slander [Dr. Bennett's polygamous charges against Joseph]. But there were many that lost sight of their dignity, and continued to roar.... Among these was a great lion, whose den was on the borders of the eastern sea [Editor James Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald].... His might, his influence were felt to the ends of the earth; when he lashed his tail the beasts of the forest trembled; and when he roared all the great lions and the young lions crouched down at his feet.*

This great lion lifting up himself and beholding the fawn afar off [in Illinois], he opened his mouth, and joining in the common roar, uttered the following...

JOE SMITH IN TROUBLE.—By a letter which we published on Sunday, from Springfield, Illinois, it appears that Joe Smith, the great Mormon Prophet, has at last given himself up to the authorities of Illinois.... why does not Joe try his power at working a miracle or two? Now's the time to prove his mission—besides being very convenient for himself."

When I heard it, I said poor fellow! How has thy dignity fallen!...

And now, friend B. [James Gordon Bennett] allow me to whisper a word in thine ear. Dost thou not know that there is a God in the heavens that judgeth? that setteth up one and putteth down another according to the counsel of his own will? That if thou possesses! any influence, wisdom, dominion, or power, it comes from God, and to him thou art indebted for it? That he holds the destinies of men in his power, and can as easily put down as he has raised up? Tell me when hast thou treated a subject of religious and eternal truth with that seriousness and candor that the importance of the subject demands from a man in thy standing, possessing thy calling and influence? As you seem to be quite a theologist, allow me to ask a few questions, why did not God deliver Micaiah from the hands of his persecutors? Why did not Jeremiah "work a miracle or two," to help him out of the dungeon? It would have been "very convenient." Why did not Zacheriah, by a miracle prevent the people from slaying him? Why did not our Saviour come down from the cross? The people asked him to do it; and besides he had "saved others," and could not save himself, so said the people. Why did he not prove his mission by working a miracle and coming down? Why did not Paul by a miracle prevent the people from stoning and whipping him? It would have been "very convenient." Or why did the saints of God, in every age, have to wander about in sheep skins and goat skins? Being tempted, tried, and sawn asunder; of whom the world was not worthy....

I listened, and lo! I heard a voice, and it was the voice of my shepherd [Jesus Christ], saying, listen all ye lions [editors] of the forest; and all the beasts of the field give ear; ye have sought to injure the innocent [with many false charges, including plural marriage]; and your hands have been lifted against the weak, the injured and the oppressed. Ye have pampered the libertine, the calumniator, and the base. Ye have winked at vice, and trodden under foot the virtuous and the pure. Therefore hear, all ye lions of the forest. The Lord God will take from you your teeth, so that you shall no longer devour. He will pluck out your claws, so that you can no longer seize upon you[r] prey. Your strength will fail you in the day of trouble, and your voice will fail, and not be heard afar off; but mine elect [the righteous Saints] will I uphold with mine arm, and my chosen shall be supported by my power. And when mine annointed shall be exalted [proven innocent], and all the lions of the forest shall have lost their strength [be proven to have reported falsehoods], then shall they remember that the Lord he is God.

JOSEPH SMITH.

(Times and Seasons 4 [February 15, 1843]: 97–98)

Conclusion

Authors from the 1840s to the present have chosen to ignore Joseph's repeated statements that he was innocent of all polygamy charges. Instead, they have based their evidence and references upon the false articles published by the "lions," the writers and editors of Joseph's day. However, Joseph struggled throughout 1843 to leave testimonies against the doctrine of plural marriage, and his testimonies are recorded in the printed pages of history, both in and out of the LDS Church. The authors of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy have sought, and will continue to seek, to tell the story from Joseph's point of view, and by publishing his own words, allow the Prophet to speak for himself!

*Joseph's parable was printed in LDS History of the Church, volume 5, pages 274 through 277. On page 275, at this identical place in their printing of the parable, an asterisk references a note which explains: "This alludes to the New York Herald, published by James Gordon Bennett, who had been influenced by the misrepresentation of affairs at Nauvoo, by John C. Bennett."

 

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Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy—Volume I, by Richard and Pamela Price, can be purchased at the Restoration Bookstore or from our online store.  Articles on this subject continue to be published in Vision magazine, which also can be purchased at the Restoration Bookstore or online. It is planned that this additional material will be compiled into future volumes.

For a general understanding of both the origins of polygamy among the Latter Day Saints and the several conspiracies to falsely implicate Joseph in polygamy, read the article on our Web site, "Joseph Smith: Innocent of Polygamy," by Richard Price.

 
 

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