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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 ]

The Peace Maker—Another Source of LDS Polygamy

Joseph and Emma Smith

Cochranism and the spiritual wifery teachings of Dr. John C. Bennett were tremendous influences in the infiltration of polygamy into the doctrines of the Church, but the dogma probably would not have been successfully introduced by Brigham Young and those leaders close to him without the theology provided by a spurious pamphlet published by Udney Hay Jacob, a polygamous-minded nonmember.

Prior to March 1840, Jacob wrote a long manuscript for a book to prove that women should be completely subservient to men and that polygamy should be practiced in order to bring peace to the earth. He lacked funds to print his book, so on March 19,1840, he wrote to the president of the United States, Martin Van Buren, and asked him to assist in publishing the book. His letter stated:

I hold in my hands a manuscript, which if it was published seasonably, and sufficiently circulated, would I humbly conceive be the certain means of insuring your Election. Of this I have no doubt. I am thorily acquainted with the religious principals and minds, of every sect, and denomination of men in this land. And I now offer to place this almighty power for the time being at your disposal: merely, by a publication of the book alluded to.... I remember you in the Citty of Hudson when a Lawyer there. And I now reside in Hancock Co. Illinois, in the vicinity of the Mormons who have by their delegates visited you this winter past. These Mormons know but very little of me; but Sir, I know them—and I know them to be a deluded and dangerous set of fanatics, dangerous I say, as far as their influence goes. [Joseph] Smith has returned home [from Washington, D.C.], and I am informed is determined to throw his weight with all his deluded followers into the scale against you. They are at this time in the United States a large body rapidly increasing. J. Smith and Rigdon hold their [the Saints'] consciences. Now Sir, a system of religious, as well as political truth. Supported by irresistible and admitted Testimony, calculated to cut it's own way to the very center of any rational mind; be their oppinions what they may; and compelling them to believe verily, that by their coming votes their own destiny, not only for time but for an endless Eternity is absolutely involved, would produce a tremendious effect. This my dear Sir can be done, even by your humble Servant. Observe, I do not pretend to say that every vote in the Union shall be thus influenced. But, I say this. That by the means which I hold in my power [my manuscript] if assisted reasonably by your aid. It [the book] shall throw such a weight into the right scale as shall bring the other infallibly to kick the beam [tip the scales]. (Udney H. Jacob to Martin Van Buren, president of the United States [March 19, 1840], Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Illinois)

Udney's letter reveals his bitterness toward Joseph and the Church and that Jacob regarded the Saints as enemies.

It is evident that President Van Buren did not give Jacob the financial aid which he requested, for in the fall of 1842, two and a half years after he wrote the letter to Van Buren, Udney extracted two chapters from his manuscript and had them printed as a pamphlet on the Times and Seasons press at Nauvoo.

The title to Jacob's pamphlet and other information which appeared was An Extract. From a Manuscript entitled The Peace Maker, or the Doctrines of the Millennium: Being a treatise on religion and jurisprudence. Or a new system of religion and politicks.

Following the title was the statement: "For God, my Country, and my Rights. By Udney Hay Jacob. An Israelite, and a Shepherd of Israel. Nauvoo, 111. J. Smith, Printer. 1842[.]"

This pamphlet, generally referred to as The Peace Maker, supplied a supposed Bible-based (though false) theological foundation for LDS polygamy as it was later practiced in Utah. The LDS Church still uses the pamphlet's theology to make polygamy sound acceptable. Some of the wording and concepts expressed in The Peace Maker are reflected in Section 132 (the polygamy revelation) of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants, and also in Apostle Orson Pratt's official writings in The Seer, which he edited under the leadership of Brigham Young, beginning in January 1853.

In the fall of 1842 while Joseph was in hiding to avoid capture by the Missourians, and while he was busy supervising the anti-Bennett crusade and attempting to care for other Church and city business, workers at the Times and Seasons printing office printed the pamphlet for Jacob. On the cover they placed the words: "J. Smith, Printer." Because of this, people have assumed to this day that Joseph knew about the pamphlet and its polygamous contents before it was printed, and that he approved of it being published. Over the years since then, some have insisted that the Prophet had Udney Jacob write and publish it as a "feeler" to see if the Saints would accept polygamy in the Church.

But when Joseph saw a copy after it came off the press, he was surprised and angry that his name was associated with the polygamous pamphlet. He responded by publishing in the Times and Seasons:

There was a book printed at my office, a short time since, written by Udney H. Jacobs, on marriage, without my knowledge; and had I been apprised of it, I should not have printed it; not that I am opposed to any man enjoying his privileges; but I do not wish my name associated with the authors, in such an unmeaning rigmarole of nonsense, folly, and trash.

JOSEPH SMITH.
(Times and Seasons 4 [December 1,1842]: 32)

The Pro-polygamist Apostles Added Joseph's Name

How is it that Joseph's name was printed on the pamphlet if he opposed it and its contents?

Inasmuch as Joseph was president of the Church and editor of the Times and Seasons at the time, he was also considered by some to be the owner of the Church's printing establishment; and therefore, they assume that he had to have known of its publication and had approved its contents. But this is a false assumption, for the Quorum of Twelve owned the Times and Seasons press and printing office at that time. Joseph, as the nominal editor, was able to get some valuable articles published that year, but otherwise the editing and printing was done under the Twelve's direction. Joseph was not only too busy to know what was being printed, but the actual printing was conducted by some of the apostles and their employees—men who were already secretly leaning toward the practice of polygamy. They were the ones who added the words "J. Smith, Printer" to the spurious pamphlet.

When the facts are examined, it can only be assumed that they added Joseph's name purposefully to cause the Saints to believe that Joseph supported polygamy. And, although Joseph was standing firmly against that doctrine, they hoped to ensnare him in a plural marriage web and eventually convince him to travel the path which they were preparing to go.

The Times and Seasons was started in 1839 by Ebenezer Robinson and Joseph's younger brother, Don Carlos Smith. But by February 1842 Don Carlos had died and Ebenezer was forced to sell the entire publishing plant to the Twelve. Ebenezer published:

On the 6th of Feb. I gave possession of the [printing] establishment, to [Apostle] Willard Richards the purchaser on the behalf of the Twelve; at which time my responsibility ceased as editor. (Times and Seasons 3 [March 15, 1842]: 729)

At that time, some of the employees at the printing office were also replaced, for Ebenezer reported that "the boy [who helped with the printing], together with other journeymen, had been discharged by the purchasers [the Twelve]" (ibid.).

The Times and Seasons had reported earlier:

The Editorial chair will be filled by our esteemed brother, President Joseph Smith, assisted by Elder John Taylor, of the Quorum of the Twelve, (ibid. [February 15, 1842]: 695)

One author has written:

the Prophet became the editor of that publication [the Times and Seasons], and Elder Taylor his assistant. However, because of Joseph's preoccupation with other weighty responsibilities [such as being forced into hiding], Elder Taylor was from the beginning of his connection with the Times and Seasons its chief editor in fact if not in name. And a year later, the formal title was conferred upon him. (Francis M. Gibbons, John Taylor—Mormon Philosopher, Prophet of God [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1985], 48–9)

Apostle Wilford Woodruff served as business manager for both the Times and Seasons and the Nauvoo Neighbor:

Elder Taylor and his fellow apostle, Wilford Woodruff, who was associated with him as business manager of the Nauvoo Neighbor and the Times and Seasons, earned their living from the revenues generated by these publications. When this was found to be insufficient, they had to improvise imaginatively to develop other sources of income. This led them into job printing. (ibid., 50)

So, Apostles Taylor, Woodruff and Richards were directly involved in the printing establishment when Udney Jacob's Peace Maker was printed in the fall of 1842, and they and/or their employees, were responsible for the "job printing." Those apostles were very close to Brigham Young, who was president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He had already secretly married a plural wife the previous June. Taylor, Woodruff, and Richards later became polygamists. So it is easy to see why they, who were believers in the doctrine of plural marriage, did not tell Joseph about the polygamous contents of The Peace Maker before it was published and why they attached Joseph's name to it as the printer. They were the ones, and not Joseph, who wanted The Peace Maker to be used as a "feeler" to see if the Saints would tolerate polygamy in the Church. The apostles, not Joseph, should have been listed as the printers of the pamphlet.

Map of Pilot Grove Corners Area
Udney Jacob lived in a village of 35 to 40 people known as "Jacob Corners" and also as "Pilot Grove Corners" about fifteen miles east of Nauvoo. (See Historic Sites and Structures of Hancock County, Illinois, Hancock Historical Society, 1979, 243.)

Udney Jacob's Background

Udney Jacob lived at Pilot Grove Corners (also called Jacob Corners) in eastern Hancock County (see map). Jacob, a nonmember who despised Mormons, had never met Joseph Smith. He had lived in Hancock County before the Saints gathered to Nauvoo. He wanted to publish his large manuscript as a book, but when he could not raise the money to have it printed, he had the extract printed at Nauvoo because it had the nearest printing press.

The Peace Maker's Theology

The thesis of the pamphlet was that all the world's ills were caused by men not being allowed by law to rule as masters over their wives, and by the wives not being completely submissive to their husbands. The husbands were supposed to have complete control—the wives were simply property. The husbands could even seduce maidens and take plural wives at will. Udney Jacob proposed that the nation's civil laws concerning marriage should be changed to comply with his new system of plural marriage, and that would make universal peace—hence the name The Peace Maker. To justify this cruel system, Jacob misused scriptural quotations from the Bible, especially the Old Testament. The following excerpts from The Peace Maker, along with the page numbers upon which they appear, demonstrate Jacob's theology:

It is written Mal. 4:5–6. Behold I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. The author of this work professes to be the teacher here foretold. (Udney Jacob, The Peace Maker, see Preface)

So in the case of the wife, when she refuses to submit cheerfully to her husband in all things; (a broad commandment this, but limited by reason and love only,) when she ceases to reverence her husband, to be submissive to him; trusting in her husband, and believing in him, then she commits fornication against the law of marriage, and against him; even as the false church has against Christ. And in no other possible way can she commit this act and it then becomes the right of her husband, to write her a bill of divorcement according to the strict letter of the law of God given by Moses: and to put her away unless she repent. A right understanding of this matter, and a correct law properly executed, would restore this nation to peace and order; and man to his true dignity, authority and government of the earthly creation....

And under existing circumstances [1840 laws] our wives can never become the daughters of Sarah in the spirit, or enjoy the inheritance with her in a glorious immortality.... (9–10)

The Jacob Store Building
The Jacob store building of pioneer days, which belonged to the Jacob family, stood in Jacob Corners until 1868 when it was moved to Burnside. (Courtesy of Hancock County Historical Society.)

if a woman be alienated in her heart the case is different. There is then a serious reason why she must be put away. Children begotten and born of an alienated woman, are born of fornication in the spirit or mind. This is a great injury to the minds of such children. It injures their intellectual powers, and disposition of mind. Hence we have often observed that children born of young women in an unmarried state, the production of an illicit love, are often the most bright and active, and possessed of greater natural gifts than many other children. God who knows the nature of his own work has therefore forbiden the propagating our species from an alienated woman. But in the case of the affectionate girl, saith Paul, there is no sin, let them marry, and so saith the law of God expressly. But a bastard, that is a child born of fornication, or of an alienated woman, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation. Here we are taught that the injury is so great as to disqualify them from becoming saints to the tenth generation! What do you think of this my countrymen?... It is evident that minds or souls are propagated by natural generation as well as bodies.... (12)

in the holy decalogue [Ten Commandments], written with the finner [sic] of God himself, it is not said; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's husband, no verily, she has no such property. But thou shalt not covet thy Neighbor's wife, nor his man servant, nor his maid servant, his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing thy neighbor possesses. Here the wife is pronounced the husband's property, as much so as his man servant, his maid servant, his ox, or his horse.... But the man is in no sense of the word the property of his wife. How can property possess its owner? How can the owner be put under the law and government of his property? When God made the woman he gave her to the man; but he never gave the man to the woman. Therefore the woman has no power to divorce the man. How can property divorce its owner?... (15)

In ancient times under the law of God [the Law of Moses], the permission of a plurality of wives had a direct tendency, to prevent the possibility of fornication in the wife.... (16)

But suppose a married man entice a maid: shall not the wife be entitled to a bill of divorce against him? This is not an offence against his wife; neither is it against the maid; but altogether in the maid's favor. It is not against the wife, for the man is not under the law of marriage to his wife in any sense whatever .... (18)

we now enter the Millennium.... The wife has no right to teach, admonish, reprove, rebuke, or to exercise any kind of dictation whatever.... Here we are informed that an attempt, even to teach her husband is an usurpation of power forbidden by the holy spirit.... (19)

Hence it is written of me [Udney Jacob]. That kings shall shut their mouths at him; for that which has not been told them shall they see; and that which they have not heard shall they consider. Isa. 52:15.... The fact is. the man is under the law to Christ ... but not under the law of marriage to his wife: or in any sense obligated by it.... (22)

Before she travailed, (that is, before Zion travailed) she brought forth: before her pain came she was delivered of a man child (even the author of this book).... (25)

O ye miserable fanatics of New England, who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Teaching an endless torment of some of your fellow men; while you strain at the idea of negro slaves not being made equal with the chosen people of God.... Abolitionists like other fanatics, pretend to quote scripture in support of their unlawful doctrine.... (26)

But suppose a man (that has already a wife) entice a maid; how then could he marry her? If a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. Ex. 22:16. There is no condition that can justify him in refusing to marry her. The kind hearted and affectionate maid or wife, shall not be put away or neglected, on pain of death. There is no positive law of God against a man's marrying Leah, and Rachel both.... A man cannot be put lawfully under the law of marriage to the woman; she is his property in marriage.... (28)

By taking away a man's lawful right of giving divorcement, when his wife rebels; and by depriving him of the right of marrying more than one wife, you totally annihilate his power of peaceable government over a woman, and deprive the family of its lawful and necessary head.... The expense and care of a numerous family, and support of many wives, will be a sufficient check to men in ordinary circumstances, not to go to excess in multiplying wives which they must support, and cannot put away, or wilfully neglect on pain of death.... (29)

As we have before said, the woman cannot mar[r]y. But the man marries the woman, and she is given in marriage. The law which forbids a man to marry any free woman whom he pleases; is a particular mark of antichrist.... (31)

If a child curse father or mother, let him be put death.... (34)

While on the other hand polygamy regulated by the law of God as illustrated in this book could not possibly produce one crime; neither could it injure any human being. The stupidity of modern Christian nations upon this subject is horribly astonishing. (35)

A careful study of the above passages from Jacob's book provides evidence that these doctrines were produced by one who had the same Satanic mind-set as Jacob Cochran and Dr. Bennett—and that they are contrary to all the teachings of Joseph Smith which he preached and published during his lifetime. A detailed analysis of how many of Jacob's teachings were adopted by the apostles after Joseph's martyrdom, and were made part of the LDS Church's polygamy theology, will be given in a future chapter.

Joseph Did Not Have Jacob Write The Peace Maker

As previously noted, in order to justify the practice of polygamy, some have implied that the Prophet had Udney Jacob publish this treatise as a "feeler" to see if the Saints would allow polygamy to be practiced in the Church. The points given below (and page numbers) provide additional evidence that Joseph did not conspire with Jacob to have the pamphlet written, and that the Prophet told the truth when he denounced the pamphlet and denied knowledge of it prior to its printing:

1. The Peace Maker Degraded Women.

Even though Udney Jacob promoted polygamy in his pamphlet, most of it was a tirade insisting that wives must be completely subservient to their husbands, even being considered the husband's property. In all of Joseph Smith's extensive writings published during his lifetime, there are no examples of his believing or teaching such an evil system. His respect and treatment of his wife, adopted daughter, mother, and sisters show him to have been compassionate to women. His wife, Emma, and his mother, Lucy, exercised great freedom in testifying and in expounding Church doctrine. He, by revelation, confirmed upon Emma the title of the "elect lady." Certainly, Joseph did not conspire with Udney to publish that pamphlet which advocated the abuse of women and the promotion of polygamy.

2. Udney Jacob As a Prophet.

The pamphlet declared that Udney Jacob was the Prophet Elijah (2), the prophet who would stop the mouths of kings (22), and the man child spoken of in Isaiah 66:7–8 (25) who was to precede Christ's return. Elijah had already appeared as a heavenly messenger sent from the throne of Heaven to Joseph and Oliver Cowdery, in a vision in Kirtland Temple in 1836 (see RLDS History of the Church 2:47; LDS History of the Church 2:436).

There is no way that Joseph, who had beheld Elijah in that glorious vision, could believe that Jacob was the reincarnation of that Old Testament prophet. Elijah had, among other things, committed the keys of this dispensation into Joseph's hands, while Udney Jacob on the other hand claimed he, as the reincarnation of Elijah, was to change the world by bringing about a worldwide system of polygamy which would rob women of their agency to act and choose for themselves.

3. The Law of Moses Should Be Restored.

The Peace Maker declared that the Law of Moses should be restored (35); advocated making sin offerings and forty stripes for some punishment (26); death as the only punishment for adultery (7); and death to a child who cursed father or mother (34). In view of the fact that Joseph had spent the previous twelve years restoring the New Testament law of grace, the Prophet would not have had any part in producing a book which called for a return to the Law of Moses.

4. Scriptural References.

Had the pamphlet been written by Joseph, it would have had references to the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the New Testament, and Latter Day Saint history. It is devoid of such, however. Yet it has numerous biblical references.

5. The Millennium Now.

Jacob wrote, "For we now enter the Millennium" (19). Throughout Joseph's writings, the Millennium is spoken of as not to begin until after the day of great judgments upon the earth, the binding of Satan, the gathering of the Saints, and the advent of our Lord (see RLDS DC 43:7).

6. Slavery.

The Peace Maker advocated slavery for those of African descent, calling abolitionists fanatics and their beliefs "absurdities" (26). Joseph and the Latter Day Saints were antislavery in sentiment and were favorable to abolitionists. One of the main reasons the Saints were driven from Missouri was the fact that they were against slavery. There were African-American Church members both at Kirtland and Nauvoo. Elijah Abel, the first black elder, was ordained a seventy December 20, 1836 (see Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker, A Book of Mormons [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1982], 2).

7. Condemning U.S. Law.

The pamphlet proclaimed that since the American Government had laws which upheld the rights of women, that it was "the most outrageous crime that a nation can be guilty of. Sodomy itself, is a trifle to this" (33). In contrast, Joseph declared that the Saints should uphold and obey the laws of the land (RLDS DC 58:5; LDS DC 58:21). The Doctrine and Covenants records that the Saints were to respect the marriages of those whose marriages had been performed by civil authority (1835 DC 101:1; RLDS DC 111:1c). The same section also declares that "one man should have one wife."

8. Condemning New Englanders.

In his pamphlet Jacob wrote, "O ye miserable fanatics of New England..." (26). Joseph was proud of his New England heritage, and appreciated the thousands of Saints from New England who had been baptized and were making worthwhile contributions as Church members.

9. Jacob's testimony.

As previously mentioned, Jacob plainly stated that he was the author of the work and was "not a Mormon" (2). Jacob was certain that he was "Elijah the Prophet" reincarnated and that his book, with its polygamous teachings, was destined to fulfill the prophecy in Malachi by turning the hearts of the children to their fathers. There is no way that Jacob would have had anything to do with Joseph. Jacob considered himself to be such a great prophet that he would not have teamed up with one such as Joseph, whom he, according to his letter to President Van Buren, considered to be a dangerous fanatic.

10. Joseph's Quick Response.

Another failing of the theory that Joseph had Jacob produce The Peace Maker is the matter of timing, for if Joseph had sponsored the publication of the pamphlet he would not have condemned it immediately. He would have quietly waited to see how the Saints in Nauvoo would have reacted to it. There was not time for The Peace Maker to be condemned or accepted by the Saints at Nauvoo before Joseph issued his statement: "There was a book printed at my office, a short time since." It is not known just how much time elapsed between the pamphlet coming off of the press, and Joseph's statement being printed. However, it is known that the Times and Seasons was printed only every two weeks, which would have made it impossible for him to have his notice printed sooner. However, it is certain that Joseph was the first and only member of the Church at Nauvoo to denounce Jacob's pamphlet in print.

11. Udney Hated Joseph and the Saints.

In his letter to President Martin Van Buren, Jacob showed his hatred of Joseph and the Saints by writing:

These Mormons know but very little of me; but Sir, I know them—and I know them to be a deluded and dangerous set of fanatics.

12. Udney and Joseph Did Not Know Each Other.

Although The Peace Maker was published late in 1842, Joseph and Jacob still had not met by January 26,1844, according to a statement made by Jacob in a personal letter which he penned to Joseph. Jacob wrote the Prophet:

I hope you will not consider this letter an intrusion—I have not to be sure the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with you nor do I know that I am worthy of that favor; yet I believe that I am worth saving.... (Brigham Young University Studies 9, No. 1 [Autumn 1968]: 53)

This statement in the letter from Jacob to Joseph completely exonerates Joseph of having collaborated with Jacob in publishing The Peace Maker. Coauthoring the book would have meant the same kind of close working relationship with Jacob that Joseph had with Oliver Cowdery in producing the Book of Mormon, or Sidney Rigdon during the correcting of the Inspired Version. This never happened according to the testimonies of both men.

The above points are just some of the evidence that Joseph was not party to the writing or the printing of Jacob' s Peace Maker. It is true that doctrines found in The Peace Maker are found in the LDS Church's theology—but they cannot be tied to Joseph or his teachings. Jacob's doctrines were incorporated by Brigham Young and his followers after Joseph's death.

Summary

Some of the theology of Utah LDS plural marriage was first expressed in The Peace Maker. Those who have wanted to promote the belief that Joseph was a polygamist, have encouraged the people to believe the theory that Joseph had Udney Jacob write it to prepare the Saints to accept polygamy. But all evidence shows that Joseph had no part in having it written, and that he was telling the truth when he condemned it. The circulating of The Peace Maker added to the teachings of Cochranism and Bennettism, and aided leaders (including Brigham Young, Willard Richards, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Orson Pratt) in the developing of their own polygamy theology. Joseph had no part in the writing or publishing of The Peace Maker.

Some who still want to believe that Joseph was a polygamist, associate him with the pamphlet's writing and publication. Among those who do so are some nonmember authors, members of the LDS Church, and the Revisionists in the RLDS Church (Community of Christ members). They believe that Joseph had Jacob publish The Peace Maker as a "feeler" to test the Saints, to see if they would allow polygamy to be practiced in the Church.

 

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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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