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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 ]

More Evidence That LDS Polygamy Concepts
Were Adopted from The Peace Maker

Joseph and Emma Smith

In previous chapters a number of similarities between the polygamous doctrines of LDS leaders and Udney Jacob's The Peace Maker were explored. There are still other important evidences that the LDS leaders copied concepts from The Peace Maker which also need consideration. These include the testimonies of Mary Page Eaton, Charles Wandell, a document entitled "A Little Known Discourse by Joseph Smith," and President Israel A. Smith's statement.

 

Mary Page Eaton's Testimony

It was pointed out in the previous chapter that Mary Page Eaton, widow of Apostle John E. Page, read The Peace Maker in 1846 at Nauvoo. She later read a copy of the polygamous document (Section 132 in the LDS Doctrine and Covenants) and saw similarities between them.

Mary suggested that others compare The Peace Maker and the polygamous document. Mary declared:

If any others of your readers have read it, and compared it with the spurious revelation [Section 132], 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." (The Saints' Advocate 6 [June 1884]: 450)

Mary's testimonies have not received the consideration which they deserve in view of the fact that she was an apostle's wife and had extensive experience in the Church. John E. Page served in the apostolic office from 1838 to 1846, and was a noted missionary who had baptized over six hundred persons in two years.

Mary was an eyewitness to events at Far West and Nauvoo. Yet, her testimonies exonerating Joseph have been largely ignored by writers on the subject of polygamy. In contrast, the testimonies of Apostle Orson Pratt's wife, Sarah, have been widely publicized in efforts to prove that Joseph was a polygamist.

Mary Page Eaton Also Testified in the Temple Lot Case

During the court case for the possession of the Temple Lot in Independence, Mary was a witness for the plaintiff, the RLDS Church. Mary testified of what occurred before and after Joseph's death. She recalled:

In 1839 I first went to Nauvoo, and in 1840, lived there. I taught school six miles out in the country, at Golden Point, six miles ... [from] Nauvoo; went to meeting frequently at Nauvoo.... I belonged to the church there; I was married while I lived there to John E. Page ... I was frequently there attending meetings and such things.... I went from Nauvoo to Golden Point to teach school; the second time I was there [to live] was in 1845 or 1846; I left there the second time in 1846.... I knew Joseph Smith and conversed with him frequently during his lifetime; knew his wife, and have been at their house.... I believe I knew all of the Twelve in Nauvoo, every one of them. I was only slightly acquainted with Parley Pratt, but I have seen the others frequently. My husband was one of the Twelve at that time. (Temple Lot Case, 270–271)

When questioned about the endowments given at Nauvoo, she said they were not the endowment as described in the Scriptures. She declared:

By endowments in the church I understand as endowments in the Bible is spoken of [as the] endowment of the Holy Spirit. I never knew of any endowments in Nauvoo [which were biblical in nature]; there might have been, but I never knew of any real endowments there.... I never went through all their endowments there at Nauvoo. My husband, from what little he saw of it, said it was of the Devil, and so we rejected it. I never went through all of it, and that was after Joseph Smith died.... There was nothing of the kind in the church in 1840, but in 1846 there was a kind of sham curiosity of an endowment there.... I never saw or heard of it in the church at Nauvoo, or anywhere else until after the time of Joseph Smith's death, and the Twelve were ruling there.

I told you that my husband said all that endowment business was nonsense and of the Devil, and so we never talked about it or cared about it.... My husband and I left Nauvoo, for the purpose of getting away from such a corrupt church.... My husband publicly denounced them for teaching falsehoods. (ibid., 272–273)

Records verify that after Apostle Page and Mary went to the Temple for their endowments, he denounced Brigham Young and others for teaching false doctrines. The "Nauvoo Temple Endowment Register" for December 10,1845, shows that John E. and Mary Page went to the Temple on that date, and received the "ordinance" of "washing and anointing" and "endowment." Apostle Page, who was familiar with the spiritual endowment of the Holy Ghost at Kirtland, lost no time in denouncing his fellow apostles for teaching falsehoods. His criticisms brought swift action. On February 9, 1846, the Quorum of Twelve Apostles met at Nauvoo and "Elder Page was disfellowshipped from that quorum." On June 26, 1846, he was excommunicated (see Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia 1:92–93).

Mary Page Eaton gave more details concerning the Nauvoo endowments in an interview with W. W. Blair, editor and assistant to Joseph Smith III, president of the Reorganized Church. Blair published:

In answer to questions touching the Nauvoo and Utah Endowment, Sister Eaton of Independence, Missouri, the wife of Apostle John E. Page in the days of Joseph the Seer, and after, says:

"Any other secret order, (than Masonry), grips, oaths, signs, robes, or tableaux, I never heard of in Joseph's days; but after his death I lived in Nauvoo in 1845 and 1846, and was taught them under the rule of the Twelve. I can prove, by some of the covenants we were required to make, that Joseph never originated them. Mr. Page was with me, and went through the same ceremonies. The words of our covenants were spoken to us by Brigham. After we had received the endowment in the temple, as soon as we were alone in our house, Mr. Page said to me, 'Mary, I tell you that endowment is all of the devil.' He could not have heard it or polygamy from Joseph." (The Saints' Advocate 5 [March 1883]: 295)

Editor W. W. Blair commented:

This is good testimony in proving that the Nauvoo endowment was not of God; for John E. Page passed through it, and could make a comparison between that and the one he witnessed ten years before in the temple at Kirtland. It proves that some of its covenants, (probably among them that which binds the party to avenge the blood of Joseph and Hyrum on this generation. Ed.), must have been gotten up since the death of the Seer.

It proves that Apostle John E. Page never heard of Polygamy, nor the said endowment, from Joseph, (ibid., 296)

Mary summed up her feelings about those Saints who had followed Brigham Young's teachings with these words:

Some—the tender minded—were made to understand they must believe in patriarchal marriage, or they could not be happy in a future world. The stronger minded were flattered with endearing titles, until they partook of the spirit of their captors, and assisted them in teaching this anti-Book-of-Mormon doctrine. They declared in their public meetings they knew polygamy was true, as their leaders do, thus virtually saying the Book of Mormon is untrue. Professing to be saints, they call evil good, and thus deceive the unwary. (ibid., 328)

Mary also testified concerning Joseph:

"I knew Joseph the Martyr at a time when he was suffering from persecution on every hand. All manner of falsehoods were told concerning him and the direst indignities perpetrated upon him, but like a man of God he bore it all with forbearance and fortitude. When assailed because of false reports which were whispered about, he said, 'My sister, polygamy was wrong when practiced by the ancients, and it's wrong now.'" (The Saints' Herald 51:305)

Norton Jacob Wrote of Apostle Page's Stand against the Leaders

On March 1, 1846, Norton Jacob recorded:

we found John E. Page, one of the Twelve, had been declaring himself opposed to the course of his brethren.... Elder [Orson] Hyde read a communication from the council dated February ninth, in which they withdrew the hand of fellowship from Brother John E. Page; the congregation sanctioned the act by which he was severed from the Church. (Autobiography of Norton Jacob, Typescript, BYU, 14)

Unlike Apostle Page, Norton and his father, Udney, were one hundred percent in favor of Brigham Young's new policies. That is not surprising in view of Udney Jacob's strong belief in the doctrine of polygamy. Udney's pamphlet, The Peace Maker, was published in the fall of 1842. In 1843, he joined the Church, and attended the Pilot Grove Branch of the Church. Then came trouble in the branch, and Udney was so offended that he removed his name from the Church record. Did his polygamist beliefs cause the trouble in the branch? The Saints at Pilot Grove certainly were aware of him and his polygamous pamphlet, and of the Prophet's condemnation of it.

Udney continued to live in Pilot Grove until Saturday, November 1, 1846, when he traveled to Nauvoo, and informed Norton that he wished to be rebaptized. On the following day, Norton baptized Udney in the Mississippi River. He was happy to have his father back in the Church, but recorded:

The rest of my kindred [which included his mother, Elizabeth] are as hard [against the Church] as the nether mill stone. (ibid., 9)

Udney did not return to Pilot Grove to live with Elizabeth, his unbelieving wife, but remained at Nauvoo. On December 23, 1846, Norton recorded:

About the middle of this week the weather set in and was very cold. I found widow Stoel and family suffering intensely with the cold.... I called upon her ... and told her to take her children and go to my house. Afterwards with the assistance of my father I removed her beds, etc. and she tarried with us. On Tuesday the 23rd, my father removed his clothing, etc. [from his home at Pilot Grove ?] and took up his abode with us. We all lived together now very happily, enjoying the comfort of the Holy Ghost. (ibid., 11)

In February, Udney and Norton went to the Temple to be endowed. Norton wrote in his journal:

Friday [February 6, 1846] the endowments were continued. In the evening I again repaired to the House of the Lord with my father Udney, my wife Emily, my daughter Elsie and Miss Matilda Stoel. In the course of the night my father, daughter and Miss Matilda all received their washing and annotating and was ordained a king and priest unto God. (13)

At the time, Udney and Norton were making intense preparations for the journey westward under Brigham Young's direction. Norton wrote:

Father bought him one [a wagon] and proceeded to fit them up for the journey west. He married the widow Snyder. (15)

On June 17,1846, Norton recorded:

I left the bank of the Mississippi for the camp of Israel to the west with my family ... together with my father Udney and his wife. (15)

Friday, March 26th ... a special conference was held preparatory ... to the departure of the pioneers. (21)

Listed among those pioneers was:

Udney H. Jacob.... Family Louisa L. Jacob. (21)

Did Udney desert Elizabeth, his wife of over forty years, the mother of his seven children, because she was an "unbeliever"? Such cruelty was consistent with that taught in The Peace Maker. If this was the case, Udney, under Brigham Young's leadership, was able to put into practice that which Joseph had declared was "folly and trash."

Charles Wandell Linked Polygamy in the Church to The Peace Maker

Seventy Charles Wandell
Seventy Charles Wandell, who declared that polygamy as practiced among the Mormons was traceable to The Peace Maker.

Elder Charles Wandell, a distinguished missionary before and after Joseph's death, stated that polygamy in the LDS Church is connected to Jacob's Peace Maker. While living in Utah, he opposed Brigham Young and his polygamy-oriented governmental system, and wrote a letter to the President of the United States to inform the Government concerning the practice of polygamy, and Brigham's intention to form an independent nation in the West called "Deseret." Concerning the origin of polygamy in the Church, Wandell declared:

In so far as polygamy is concerned, its first connection with the Mormons is traceable to Udney R. Jacobs' pamphlet and no further. This man, an Elder in the Church, in 1843, at Nauvoo published a pamphlet [in 1842], in which he discoursed of the polygamy of the ancient patriarchs and kings of Judea, and defended the practice on both Scriptural and physiological grounds. Joseph Smith before the congregation and elsewhere, emphatically and unmistakeably condemned this pamphlet and its doctrines; as he did also the libertinism of John C. Bennett and others, who were subsequently excommunicated from the Church on that account. (The Saints' Advocate 3 [September 1880]: 19)

Charles Wandell definitely identifies Jacob's The Peace Maker without calling it by name, and shows the tremendous influence the pamphlet had when it was used by propolygamists to promote the practice of polygamy. Truly much of Brigham's polygamy system came from The Peace Maker.

Note also Wandell's statement that "Joseph Smith before the congregation and elsewhere, emphatically and unmistakeably condemned this pamphlet and its doctrines." He personally heard Joseph condemn polygamy. His is an additional testimony of great importance that Joseph not only condemned The Peace Maker in the Times and Seasons as the record shows, but also in public "before the congregation."

Elder Wandell also testified:

Now, I knew Joseph Smith personally, in Nauvoo. I knew him both in private and in public, and his confidence in me was such, that in the spring of 1841, he appointed me president over all the branches of the Church in the State of New York, the most important mission of that year. And I here affirm that he never taught me the doctrine of polygamy. Neither did I ever hear him mention it, nor Bennett's "free love" system, except in condemnation of the same. And if the duty was laid upon me to prove before a legal tribunal, by good and reliable witnesses, that he was either a polygamist or "free lover," I could not do it with any testimony with which I am acquainted. It was Joseph Smith's fate in this life, to be a target for unnumbered calumnies. (ibid., 21)

Wandell was a seventy at the time of Joseph's death. Following the martyrdom, he was employed for a time by Apostle Willard Richards in the Historian's Office. He joined the RLDS Church and served as a seventy until his death, while on a mission to Australia.

"A Little Known Discourse by Joseph Smith" Is a Fraud

According to an article in Brigham Young University Studies for Autumn 1968, pages 49–53, there is a document entitled "A Little Known Discourse by Joseph Smith," which is supposedly a synopsis of a sermon preached by the Prophet in Nauvoo. The article, by Dr. Kenneth W. Godfrey, provides conclusive evidence that this discourse is an almost word-for-word copy of Udney Jacob's The Peace Maker. Dr. Godfrey's article quotes part of the "Little Known Discourse" in which the wording has been copied directly from the Peace Maker, including the following:

"The Prostitution of the body after marriage constitutes adultery; but alienation of the mind or affection from her husband constitutes fornication in a married woman." And, "If the mind of the wife which is equally bound by the body to obey, and be in subjection in all things by the spiritual nature of that covenant (marriage), becomes alienated from her husband, she commits fornication against her husband; because the mind of the wife was bound to yield obedience and submission to her husband in all things, as well as the body, by the spiritual nature of that covenant." And again, "When a woman apostatizes in spirit from her husband she then commits fornication against the spiritual law of marriage, and in no other way can a married woman commit fornication." The Discourse declares that the wife is the property of the husband and should obey his will: "The wife has no right to teach, admonish, reprove, rebuke, or to exercise any kind of dictation whatever. He is her head and she should be guided by the head. If the wife wants to know anything, let her ask her husband at home.

Children born under the marriage covenant while the wife is in "rebellion" against her husband are not entitled nor qualified to enter into the congregation "of the Lord until the tenth generation." (Brigham Young University Studies 9 [Autumn 1968]: 49–50)

When these words are compared with the quotations from The Peace Maker, which are quoted in the last two issues of Vision, it is readily seen that the wording is so similar that it is definite that "A Little Known Discourse by Joseph Smith" is simply a reprint of parts of Jacob's The Peace Maker.

Dr. Godfrey stated that:

This past winter (1967–1968) Thomas G. Truitt of the Church Historian's Library compared the Peace Maker with the Little Known Discourse by Joseph Smith and found that the Discourse was remarkably like Chapter 8 of the Peace Maker "On the Law of Marriage." In fact page after page is almost word for word except for some slight changes in grammar and paragraphing.... Because of Truitt's work it is now apparent that the Peace Maker and the Little Known Discourse by Joseph Smith are the same document or at least written by the same hand. (ibid., 51–52)

Dr. Godfrey did not say in his article when or where the "Little Known Discourse" was published in LDS literature, but it must have been distributed widely at one time for he commented that "Many thoughtful readers of this document have been troubled by its double standard of morality which speaks as an 'unfamiliar spirit' when compared to the authentic writings of the prophet-founder of Mormonism" (ibid., 49).

The findings of Dr. Godfrey and Historian Thomas Truitt are strong evidence that Joseph had nothing to do with the "Little Known Discourse" attributed to him, but someone with access to Jacob's Peace Maker extracted passages from it, and alleged that it was a sermon by Joseph.

Israel A. Smith's Comments Concerning The Peace Maker

President Israel A. Smith
President Israel A. Smith, who read The Peace Maker and agreed with his grandfather that it was "folly and trash."

Israel A. Smith, grandson of Joseph and Emma Smith, and prophet and president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, published an official statement concerning The Peace Maker. Brother Smith published:

In the December 1, 1842, issue of Times and Seasons, Volume IV, Number 2, page 32, Joseph Smith published the following "Notice":

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.... I do not wish to have my name associated with the authors in such an unmeaning rigmarole of nonsense, folly, and trash. JOSEPH SMITH.

We have often wondered what this book was, this "rigmarole of nonsense, folly, and trash." We have never seen Jacobs' book, but a careful examination of a copy in a well-known library has disclosed some of the facts about it....

Here are some of the things in this book that rightfully characterize it as "nonsense, folly, and trash."

On page 29 it states:

LEAH - RACHEL JUSTIFIED

There is no positive law of God against a man's marrying Leah, and Rachel both. So long as he is a good and faithful husband, he is justified. ...if a man has no right to marry another woman while his first wife liveth, then he is under the law of his wife....

Again on page 30:

...it would be as reasonable ... that a man should possess no more than one dollar, one servant, or one cow at a time ... if a man entice a maid ... and lie with her, he shall partly endow her to be his wife. And if the man refuse to marry her, he shall suffer death.(italics added)

Can one question Joseph's opinion of this as "folly and trash"?

And can anyone who believes Joseph Smith was a good man believe that at the time he published this notice over his own signature he was and had been guilty of the crime of polygamy for years as claimed by the Mormons? (The Saints' Herald 97 [July 3, 1950]: 4)

Conclusion

When combining the information about The Peace Maker which is found in the last two issues of Vision with the above information, it is definite that Joseph had no part in writing it, nor that he approved of it or its theology in any way—but that Brigham and the other Utah apostles used it extensively as a basis for their polygamy doctrine. It played an important part in the conspiracy which men nearest the Prophet used when they attached polygamy to Joseph's name in order to cover their own lustful crimes.

Brigham Young and his followers would never have been allowed to make polygamy a doctrine without convincing the membership that Joseph received the polygamy doctrine direct from God. Therefore, Joseph's name was attached to fraudulent documents, and polygamy became an LDS doctrine.

 

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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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