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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 Apostles Adopted Jacob's Polygamous
Concepts from The Peace Maker

Joseph and Emma Smith

The leading apostles in the Quorum of Twelve were secretly practicing polygamy in Nauvoo before Joseph's death. Within a year after his death, they began a process of making polygamy a public doctrine, and in order to do so they needed a theological basis for it. That is, they had to have a set of doctrines which could be used to justify the practice in order to get the Saints to accept it. They had borrowed and built a foundation upon Jacob Cochran and Dr. John C. Bennett's spiritual wifery systems, but they also needed a more scriptural basis. Udney Hay Jacob's The Peace Maker came upon the scene just at the right time to fill their need. They adopted a number of doctrines from it, which were used over a period of years by the primary LDS leaders.

The doctrines gleaned from The Peace Maker are still being used by the LDS Church as part of their polygamy theology. Some of its scriptural passages had to do with the subject of the prophet Elijah—a subject with which the Saints were familiar. The Saints were aware that the Lord had sent the angel Moroni to Joseph six years before the Church was organized, with a message involving the work of Elijah in the last days. During the night of September 21–22, 1823, Joseph was visited by Moroni, who quoted from the book of Malachi in the Old Testament:

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. (Malachi 4:5–6)

Moroni quoted the above scripture to Joseph, with a slightly different wordage. Joseph wrote:

After telling me these things he commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament, he first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi; and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles.... [He] quoted the fifth verse thus, "Behold I will reveal unto you the Priesthood by the hand of Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." He also quoted the next verse differently, "And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises [of salvation and redemption] made to the fathers [found in the Book of Mormon, Inspired Version of the Holy Scriptures, and the Doctrine and Covenants], and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers [they shall believe the words of the righteous prophets and obey the gospel], if it were not so the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming." (Times and Seasons 3:753; RLDS History of the Church 1:13; LDS History of the Church 1:12]

Moroni's words that "he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises ..." bring additional meaning to the prophecy concerning Elijah. There is nothing mysterious nor secretive in those words, and there is not the slightest hint of the doctrine of celestial marriage for time and eternity or a plurality of wives. Yet, Malachi 4 became one of the pillars for Brigham Young and his associates, for they placed a different interpretation on it than had ever been proclaimed in the Church, and used it as a means of making celestial marriage a doctrine of their church.

Elijah's Role in the Church in the Latter Days

The promise to send the prophet Elijah was fulfilled when he appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery during a worship service in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836. In that tremendous vision Elijah conferred on Joseph and Oliver "the keys of this dispensation." Joseph testified:

After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us, for Elijah the Prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said—

Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi, testifying that he (Elijah) should be sent before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse. Therefore the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands, and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors. (Millennial Star 15:739; RLDS History of the Church 2:47; LDS History of the Church 2:436)

Foundation for Polygamy Publicly Promoted After Joseph's Death

The practice of associating Elijah's work in the last days with polygamy was the brainchild of Udney Jacob, and the apostles adopted Jacob's concept and expanded on it. Jacob claimed that he was Elijah reincarnated, and Young claimed that the "keys" (the power) which Elijah bestowed upon Joseph and Oliver were now upon him. These keys supposedly gave him the sole right to seal plural marriages for time and eternity (see LDS Doctrine and Covenants 132:7). Udney Jacob published that he was Elijah and that if his plan for polygamy was followed, it would bring peace to the world. He declared it would be a glorious reward both in this life and beyond the grave, in time and eternity (see The Peace Maker, pages 18–19).

"The Spirit of Elijah" Taught as a Stepping Stone

It was easy for Brigham, Orson Pratt, and others to take Jacob's doctrines and deliver them to the Saints, couched in their own terminology, but with the declaration that polygamy in the Church had been introduced by Joseph. The Prophet, of course, was dead and could no longer defend himself.

Brigham Young, who was secretly involved in polygamy even while Joseph was living, began to pave the way for it to be practiced publicly early in 1845. As a part of that effort, a new program was promoted which was called "the spirit of Elijah." Bishop John D. Lee, Brigham Young's adopted son, tells how Young started the program by having "the spirit of Elijah" taught in Nauvoo. Lee asserted:

In the Winter of 1845 meetings were held all over the city of Nauvoo, and the spirit of Elijah was taught in the different families as a foundation to the order of celestial marriage, as well as the law of adoption. Many families entered into covenants with each other—the man to stand by his wife and the woman to cleave unto her husband, and the children to be adopted to the parents. I was one of those who entered into covenants to stand by my family, to cleave to them through time and eternity.... Others refused to enter into these obligations, but agreed to separate from each other, dividing their substance, and mutually dissolving their former relations [marriages] on friendly terms. Some have mutually agreed to exchange wives and have been sealed to each other as husband and wife by virtue and authority of the holy priesthood. One of Brigham's brothers, Lorenzo Young, now a bishop, made an exchange of wives with Mr. [Isaac] Decker.... They both seemed happy in the exchange of wives.... This doctrine extends much further. All persons are required to be adopted to some of the leading men of the Church. In this, however, they have the right of choice, thus forming the links of the chain of priesthood back to the father, Adam, and so on to the second coming of the Messiah. (John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled; or The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee [St. Louis: Bryan, Brand and Company, 1887], 165)

Lee's statement shows how bold the apostles were in introducing changes in basic Church doctrines so shortly after Joseph's death. Also, it is important to notice that they were justifying their actions by incorrectly inferring that their practice of "adoption" of families to the leaders was a fulfillment of the prophecy that Elijah would turn the hearts of the children to the fathers, and the fathers to the children by "forming the links of the chain of priesthood back to the father, Adam, and so on." Here we see a likeness to Udney Jacob's teachings.

John D. Lee's biography reveals another important factor—that polygamy was introduced to the Saints by the apostles in 1845. Lee declared:

The ordinance of celestial marriage was extensively practiced by men and women who had covenanted to live together, and a few men had dispensations [permissions] granted them to enter into plural marriages, which were taught to be the stepping-stone to celestial exaltation. Without plural marriage a man could not attain to the fullness of the holy priesthood and be made equal to our Saviour.... My second wife, Nancy Bean... was sealed to me in the Winter of 1845.... Plural marriages were not made public. They had to be kept still.... In the spring of 1845 Rachel Andora was sealed to me. (ibid., 166–167)

Imagine the dynamic impact of convening meetings "all over the city of Nauvoo" to teach "the spirit of Elijah," as a step to indoctrinate the Saints in the practice of polygamy for time and eternity—a doctrine strongly condemned by Joseph Smith and by the Book of Mormon, which he brought forth.

The "spirit of Elijah" is a term which has continued to be used in the LDS Church. One LDS author has given it this definition:

"This is the spirit of Elijah, that we redeem our dead, and connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven, and seal up our dead to come forth in the first resurrection; and here we want the power of Elijah to seal those who dwell on earth to those who dwell in heaven." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine [Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1979], 223)

Celestial Marriage as Taught in Early 1845

Part of the "spirit of Elijah" teaching was that a husband and one wife or more could be sealed on earth so they would be married in Heaven for eternity. The apostles moved quickly to insure that they had complete control of the Saints who entered into this program. They did this by ruling that only Brigham Young had authority to grant this right to enter into such covenants. On August 25, 1845, Apostle Orson Pratt, the newly appointed president of the Eastern States division of the Church, published that all such celestial marriages were void unless they were done with the approval of Brigham Young (meaning that Young alone had the power to approve such, by virtue of "the sealing power" as conferred by Elijah). Pratt published:

All covenants and promises which may have been entered into by any of the saints in the east, in relation to the eternal union, independent of the sanction and approbation of him who holds the keys of the sealing power as conferred by Elijah are null and void, being made in unrighteousness, and directly in opposition to the order of the kingdom of God.

If a husband and wife wish to enjoy each others society in the world to come, let all their covenants and promises be made at a proper time—in a proper place; and under the sanction and approbation of the ONE [Brigham] holding the legal authority and keys of these sacred things.

And if any of the saints shall be found violating any of these sacred, virtuous and holy principles, let them be reported and dealt with strictly. (Times and Seasons 6 [August 15, 1845]: 996)

So a giant step toward making the plurality of wives a doctrine of the Church was made in Nauvoo in 1845 under the "spirit of Elijah" teachings.

Similarities in the Teachings of the Apostles and Udney Jacob

The writings of Udney Jacob and the statements of Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, Heber C. Kimball, and others are so similar that it is apparent that the LDS leaders obtained some of their beliefs from The Peace Maker, as the following examples show:

Their Claims about Elijah

Jacob: 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 ... And when the whole work [Jacob's complete manuscript] shall be published, and its glorious object [of causing polygamy to become universal] accomplished; then will the whole world know assuredly that he [Udney Jacob] is indeed the teacher foretold by the Prophet Malachi, more than two thousand years ago. (Preface to The Peace Maker)

Young: Joseph in his life time did not receive every thing connected with the doctrine of redemption, but he has left the key with those who understand how to obtain and teach to this great people all that is necessary for their salvation and exaltation in the celestial kingdom of our God. (Times and Seasons 6 [July 1, 1845]: 955)

Eight years after Joseph's death, Young released a polygamous time and eternity marriage document (LDS Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132), which was purported to be a copy of a copy dictated by Joseph Smith nine years earlier. According to that document, Young, in 1852, held rights which no other man on earth held at that time—the right to direct the sealing of marriages on earth and in Heaven! Young's newly presented document stated:

And verily I say unto you, that ... All covenants ... that are not made and entered into and sealed ... of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity ... 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... and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred). (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 132:7)

So Young unveiled a secret document, which acclaimed that he alone held the keys of Elijah. Young, while claiming to hold those keys, introduced the doctrine of polygamy and other new and strange dogmas, including sealings, blood atonement, and the Adam-god doctrine.

The New and Everlasting Covenant Meant Marriage for Eternity

Jacob's plans for marriage, like those of Young's, were for time (in this world) and for eternity (beyond the grave). He even referred to marriage after death as "the everlasting covenant."

Jacob: The earth is also defiled under the inhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance broken the everlasting covenant. Isa. 24:5. That is the ordinance and covenant of marriage; spoken of in the singular number and deffinite manner; because there is no everlasting ordinance that man ever had the power to change. The everlasting covenant of the gospel found first in Gen. 3:15—is ordered in all things and shure. It is the covenant of life beyond the grave. (The Peace Maker, 23)

Young: For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant [plural or celestial marriage]; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory. (DC 132:4)

The Supremacy of Husbands

Jacob: If she will seek any other guide, depending on something else besides her husband, (except it be the Lord who is head of all,) she must be miserable; she is out of the order which God has established in the creation, and wretchedness is the inevitable fruit. Therefore the law should confine her completely under her husband's power for good, but not for evil. Has the church a right to admonish or dictate Christ? But the head of the woman is the man, and the head of the man is Christ.... But according to the law of Christ there is but one supreme governor only [the husband] ... who has power thereby, if his subjects [his wives] rebel to banish them [from] his dominions. (The Peace Maker, 19, 23)

Young: I wish my own women [wives] to understand that what I am going to say is for them as well as others.... I am going to give you from this time [September 21,1856] to the 6th day of October next, for reflection, that you may determine whether you wish to stay with your husbands or not, and then I am going to set every woman at liberty and say to them, Now go your way, my women with the rest, go your way. And my wives have got to do one of two things; either round up their shoulders to endure the afflictions of this world, and live their religion, or they may leave, for I will not have them about me. I will go into heaven alone, rather than have scratching and fighting around me.... True there is a curse upon the woman that is not upon the man, namely, that "her whole affections shall be towards her husband," and what is the next? "He shall rule over you," (Journal of Discourses 4:55, 57)

Death for Disobedient Children

Jacob: If a child curse father or mother, let him be put to death. (The Peace Maker, 34)

Young: And when I undertake to conquer a child who wants to conquer me, it shall be death to him before I yield. I would rather see every child I have, go into the grave this day, than suffer them to rise up and have control over me. (Journal of Discourses 1:68)

Interpretation of Apostle Paul's Statement

Apostle Paul wrote: "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach" (1 Timothy 3:2).

Jacob: It is said, 1 Tim. 3:2. That a bishop must be a man of one wife.... A bishop or an elder in the church, must however have at least one wife, which is in fact the principle meaning of this passage. (The Peace Maker, 29–30)

Young: Instead of my believing for a moment that Paul wished to signify to Timothy that he must select a man to fill the office of a Bishop that would have but one wife, I believe directly the reverse; but his advice to Timothy amounts simply to this—It would not be wise for you to ordain a man to the office of a Bishop unless he has a wife; you must not ordain a single or unmarried man to that calling.... [S]ee that he has a wife to begin with; he [Paul] did not say, "but one wife." (Journal of Discourses 2:88–89)

Husbands Adversely Affected by Monogamy

Jacob: For they well knew that putting the man under the woman [one wife], would degrade his mind, and that of his posterity in many cases wretchedly: and produce imbecility of mind, disorder and confusion therein. (The Peace Maker, 16)

Apostle Heber C. Kimball: I have noticed that a man who has but one wife, and is inclined to that doctrine, soon begins to wither and dry up, while a man who goes into plurality looks fresh, young, and sprightly. (Journal of Discourses 5:22)

Apostle George A. Smith: ... if they envy us our position, well they may, for they are a poor, narrow-minded, pinch-backed race of men, who chain themselves down to the law of monogamy, and live all their days under the dominion of one wife. (Journal of Discourses 3:291)

Death for Adulterers

Jacob: But if a man commits adultery with another man's wife.... He therefore, and the adulteress shall be put to death. (The Peace Maker, 18)

Young: Let me suppose a case. Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God. I would at once do so in such a case ... I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands. (Journal of Discourses 3:247)

Apostle Orson Pratt: The people of Utah are the only ones in this nation who have taken effectual measures ... to prevent adulteries and criminal connections between the sexes. The punishment in that territory, for these crimes is DEATH TO BOTH MALE AND FEMALE. (Orson Pratt, Editor, The Seer 2 [Washington City, D.C.: Orson Pratt, publisher, February 1854]: 223)

The Millennium

Jacob: Such men, if any there be among us, ought not to be fathers of the rising generation; for we now enter the Millennium. (The Peace Maker, 19)

Young: Know ye not that the millennium has commenced? We have had Zion upon the earth this fourteen years. Peace reigns among this people which is Zion. (Times and Seasons 6 [July 1,1845]: 956)

Mary Page Eaton Believed Section 132 Was a "Rehash" of The Peace Maker

The similarities between the teachings of Jacob and Young are not only readily seen today, but they were observed by Saints in the early Church. One of those was Mary Page Eaton, widow of Apostle John E. Page. After Apostle Page's death she married William Eaton. She joined the Church in 1836 in Canada and traveled with a group of Saints to Far West, Missouri, in 1838. She was driven from there in the spring of 1839 and arrived at Nauvoo that same year. At Nauvoo she married Apostle John E. Page, whose wife and two children had died in Missouri due to sicknesses brought on by persecution. In 1846 Mary read The Peace Maker at Nauvoo, and after reading the alleged polygamous revelation brought forth under Young's direction (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 132), she concluded that President Young had founded his polygamous, celestial marriage theology upon that book. Mary expressed her belief by writing an article entitled "The Foundation of Polygamy." She wrote:

When I lived in Nauvoo in 1846,1 read a book on marriage. Its author was Udney H. Jacobs. He named it The Peace Maker. When I read the pretended revelation today [Section 132 in the LDS Doctrine and Covenants], I saw the same vile doctrine I read in that book, and it occurred to me, This is a rehash, with a little remodelling. It [The Peace Maker} is mentioned in volume 4, Times and Seasons, page 32, by Joseph the Martyr. He calls it "An unmeaning rigmarole of nonsense, folly, and trash," and says it was written by Udney H. Jacobs on marriage. If any others of your readers have read it, and compared it with the spurious revelation, they will see the sameness of the two, and condemn them as Joseph did. Both teach much cruelty to women who do not obey their husbands' mandates, and say they "shall be destroyed" for an offense which the man has no punishment for, only that his wife shall be given to another man! They teach concubinage by saying the Lord gave wives and concubines to David and Solomon.

I think Udney H. Jacobs could then have been punished for his obsceneness; but now it is termed a revelation! ... How can men believe in God, or expect his mercy, who cause such misery to such loving wives! This yoke of bondage [polygamy] is obviously Satan's device; for Christ says, "Take my yoke upon you; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." The prophet Jacob [in the Book of Mormon] says the Lord has seen the sorrow and heard the mourning of the daughters of his people [who were under the bondage of polygamy]. He is the same merciful God forever, to all that trust in Him.

MARY [Page] EATON
INDEPENDENCE, Mo., Feb 24th, 1884.

(The Saints' Advocate 6 [June 1884]: 450–451)

Mary Page Eaton was an eyewitness to many events which transpired in the early Church. She was correct in her conclusion that there is a similarity between The Peace Maker and Young's polygamous document, Section 132. She was also correct in calling The Peace Maker "The Foundation of Polygamy," for it certainly gave major support to that false doctrine.

Summary

Since so much evidence exists which shows that Joseph Smith did not introduce the practice of polygamy in the Church, it is necessary to know where the dogma had its origins. The connections between the teachings of Udney Jacob and Brigham Young are obvious if one studies The Peace Maker along with LDS publications, such as the 1845–1846 Times and Seasons, Journal of Discourses, and The Seer.

As the practice of plural marriage grew in the LDS Church under Young's leadership, Jacob's views were incorporated. Many of the polygamous doctrines which Young and eight other apostles introduced came from Jacob Cochran of Saco, Maine, and Dr. John C. Bennett of Nauvoo. However, much of the false scriptural theology to support Cochran and Bennett's plural marriage doctrines came from Jacob's The Peace Maker. Young and his fellow apostles incorporated the teachings of Cochran, Bennett, and Jacob, but they conspired to make it appear that the doctrine of polygamy originated with Joseph.

 

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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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