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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 at Nauvoo Purposefully Obstructed Joseph's Defense

Joseph and Emma Smith

The previous chapter gave details of the Francis M. Higbee versus Joseph Smith Case in which Higbee sued Joseph for five thousand dollars for an unspecified damage. It may be recalled that the case was heard on May 8, 1844, before the Nauvoo Municipal Court, and that Higbee did not appear for that hearing. In spite of Higbee's absence, Joseph petitioned the court for a hearing, and gave the following reasons for his request:

I am a prisoner, and by the authority of the circuit court. I petitioned this court for a hearing[.| I am a prisoner, and aver that it is a malicious prosecution, and a wicked conspiracy, got up by men for the purpose of harassing me, and decoying me into their hands. I want to show that this man [Francis M. Higbee] has joined a set of men, who have entered into a conspiracy to take away my life. After hearing the case, you have power to punish, imprison, or fine, or any thing you please, you have a right to punish the offender, if I am a criminal you have a right to punish me, and send me to the circuit court, but if I am as innocent as the angels of heaven, you have power to send the prosecutor to trial if crime is proved against him. They have no merit in their cause, I want to show up their conspiracy, that these men are working the basest corruption, they have lifted up their hands against innocence; you have power to hear the petitioner on his oath.... Suppose that I am an eye witness to the crime of adultery, or any other crime, and know verily for myself, that the man is guilty of adultery, or other crime, and I speak of it, the man may sue me for damages although I know the man to be guilty, but if I swear to it in a court, he cannot hurt me. If I have the privilege of giving testimony under oath, they can never do any thing with me, but if you discharge me on the insufficiency of the writ; they can prosecute me again and again, but if you give me a fair hearing they cannot prosecute me again; 1 want the oath to go to the world; I must make statements of facts in order to defend myself. I must tell the story in its true light, under oath; then I can be forever set free; may I not have the privilege of being protected by law? The peace of myself, my family, my happiness, and the happiness of this city depend upon it.

The court allowed him to proceed with the case. (Times and Seasons 5 [May 15, 1844]: 538)

Joseph gave important reasons in the above statement for wanting to give his testimony under oath. Here is a partial list of what he wished to accomplish:

  1. Joseph wanted to "show up their conspiracy" against him.
  2. He wanted to show that the conspiracy consisted of"men [who] are working the basest corruption."
  3. He wanted to receive a "fair hearing" and then "they cannot prosecute me again."
  4. Joseph declared his innocence by saying, "... they have lifted up their hands against innocence."
  5. He wished to "make statements of facts in order to defend myself."
  6. He declared, "I must tell the story in its true light, under oath; then I can be forever set free."

Joseph could only be "forever set free" by testifying of "the story [of Bennett, Higbee, and Nancy Rigdon] in its true light." His knowledge of Bennett and Higbee, and their involvement in practicing plural marriage, would set the record straight. Joseph could reveal the names and facts of those involved with them. If the truth could become general knowledge it would bring peace to the Prophet, his family, and the Saints and the city of Nauvoo.

Apostle John Taylor and Fellow Apostles Deliberately Withheld Joseph's Testimony

Joseph took an oath to tell the truth and began to relate facts concerning Francis M. Higbee and Doctor John C. Bennett, and others who had been engaged in practicing polygamy, that they called spiritual wifery. Joseph's testimony is vital to understanding his innocence. It is also vital to understand the extent that those who conspired against him went to, to convince the public that Joseph had plural wives.

Brigham Young, John Taylor, and their polygamous fellow apostles kept back much of Joseph's testimony and printed only what they wanted to be printed, as the following condensed version confirms. The court record published by Taylor states:

JOSEPH SMITH sworn-Said, I must commence when Francis M. Higbee was foaming against me, and the Municipal Court, in my house.-Francis M. Higbee said he was grieved at me, and I was grieved at him. I was willing on my part to settle all difficulties, and he promised if I would go before the City Council and tell them he would drop every thing against me forever. I have never mentioned the name of Francis M. Higbee disrespectfully from that time to this; but have been entirely silent about him; if any one has said that I have spoken disrespectfully since then, they have lied; and he cannot have any cause whatever. I want to testify to this court of what occurred a long time before John C. Bennet left this city. I was called on to visit Francis M. Higbee; I went and found him on a bed on the floor, (ibid., 538)

Here the apostles ended Joseph's testimony about his visit with Higbee. The apostles ended this part of Joseph's testimony after he had uttered only one sentence. He was only quoted as saying on the subject of his visit to the sick Higbee,"! was called on to visit Francis M. Higbee; I went and found him on a bed on the floor."

At that point the apostles took great liberty with Joseph's testimony. They reported nothing that he saw or heard on that visit. They refrained from printing the evidence that Joseph gave in his opening defense statement. They refused to print it in the court case report in the Times and Seasons. Just when Joseph was revealing the very foundation upon which he based his defense, the apostles stopped reporting his revealments. They heard the plea that Joseph had made "to testify to this court of what occurred a long time before John C. Bennet left this city," and they allowed him to testify. But then they failed to report the facts of which he spoke.

It is the belief of the authors that the apostles wished to keep the evidence sworn to by the Prophet out of print because he spoke against polygamy, and they were secretly practicing that doctrine. They no doubt were afraid that the Prophet's words would incriminate them and place them and their polygamous families in jeopardy. In place of Joseph's valuable testimony of his visit to the sick Higbee, and what it entailed, Apostle Taylor inserted the following lame explanation for parts of the Prophet's missing testimony:

[Here follows testimony which is too indelicate for the public eye or ear; and we would here remark, that so revolting, corrupt, and disgusting has been the conduct of most of this clique, that we feel to dread having any thing to do with the publication of their trials; we will not however offend the public eye or ear with a repetition of the foulness of their crimes any more.] (ibid., 538–539)

It is doubtful that the Saints and the general public would have been offended by reading the remainder of Joseph's testimony. After all, in the last two years they had been subjected to the scandalous writings of Bennett, Higbee, and others writing their alleged exposes against the Saints.

After Taylor's insertion that is quoted above, he again reported from Joseph's testimony. Because of the apostles' censorship of Joseph's testimony, that document is not easily understood. The apostles reported the following second part of Joseph's testimony without giving names and explaining reasons for certain actions. It was reported:

[Joseph testified] Bennet said Higbee pointed out the spot where he had seduced a girl, and that he had seduced another. I did not believe it, I felt hurt, and labored with Higbee about it; he swore with uplifted hands, that he had lied about the matter. I went and told the girl's parents, when Higbee and Bennet made affidavits and both perjured themselves, they swore false about me so as to blind the family. I brought Francis M. Higbee before Brigham Young, Hyrum Smith and others; Bennet was present, when they both acknowledged that they had done these things, and asked us to forgive them. I got vexed, my feelings had been hurt; Higbee has been guilty of adulterous communication, perjury, &c.; which I am able to prove by men who heard them confess it. I also preferred charges against Bennet, the same charges which I am now telling; and he got up and told them it was the truth, when he pleaded for his life, and begged to be forgiven; this was his own statement before sixty or seventy men; he said the charges were true against him and Higbee. I have been endeavoring to throw out shafts to defend myself, because they were corrupt, and I knew they were determined to ruin me; he has told the public that he was determined to prosecute me, because I slandered him, although I tell nothing but the truth. Since the settlement of our difficulties, I have not mentioned his name disrespectfully; he wants to bind up my hands in the circuit court, and make me pay heavy damages for telling the truth. In relation to the conspiracy, I have not heard Francis M. Higbee say he would take away my life; but Chauncy Higbee, Charles A. Foster and Dr. [Robert] Foster said they would shoot me; and the only offence against me is telling the truth.... I know that they are wicked, malicious, adulterous, bad characters; I say it under oath; I can tell all the particulars from first to last, (ibid., 539)

Nowhere in the above report of Joseph's testimony is there any mention of Joseph's having been charged by Higbee and Bennett of having attempted to convince Nancy Rigdon to become his plural wife. However, this was a key part of Joseph's testimony. Joseph would have spoken on that subject. That part of the story is what the apostles chose not to print.

The unnamed parents whom Joseph testified of having visited were Elder and Mrs. Sidney Rigdon, parents of Nancy Rigdon, whom Higbee was courting. Joseph reported to them the evil conduct of Bennett and Higbee, and Miss Rigdon quit seeing Francis Higbee. This greatly angered Higbee and Bennett, and the two of them made affidavits in which they perjured themselves by swearing falsely against Joseph. These facts were known by all of the apostles at Nauvoo.

The six apostles who were present at the court hearing were Apostles Brigham Young, John Taylor Willard Richards, George A. Smith, Wilford Woodruff, and Heber C. Kimball. They controlled the Church's press and the Church's official publication, the Times and Seasons.

By withholding pertinent facts in Joseph's testimony, the apostles seriously injured the Prophet's defense. While Higbee went about telling that Joseph had insulted Nancy Rigdon by attempting to make her his plural wife, Joseph's testimony on that subject was covered up. The Prophet was at a disadvantage, and although he fought a valiant battle in the next few weeks of his earthly life, he was never afforded another opportunity to "tell the story in its true light." In failing to report the true story told by Joseph before the court, the apostles robbed him of his defense. They also robbed the members of the Church of the truth.

While Joseph was falsely accused of having a plurality of wives and attempting to seduce Sarah Pratt and Nancy Rigdon, the apostles downplayed the conspiracy against Joseph, and made no effort to defend him of the charges. They sought diligently to take the focus off of the conspiracy, and place the focus more upon the alleged peace and prosperity at Nauvoo and the presidential campaign. They were vigorously campaigning to elect Joseph president of the United States-an office Joseph neither sought nor wanted.

It is not likely that Editor John Taylor acted alone in selecting what part of Joseph's testimony was to go into the Times and Seasons report. No doubt Taylor worked in conjunction with President Brigham Young. Apostle Willard Richards was the secretary of the Municipal Court on May 8,1844, and his name is on the record of the case of Francis M. Higbee versus Joseph Smith. The report of the court hearing published in the Times and Seasons was signed by "WILLARD RICHARDS, Clerk" (ibid., 541). No doubt Clerk Willard Richards furnished Editor Taylor with a copy of the record of that court case.

Why did Taylor exclude Joseph's revealment of facts, and promise not to "offend the public eye or ear with a repetition of the foulness of their crimes any more"? The facts that Joseph revealed were not only necessary to his defense, but they were also necessary to help save the Prophet's life. As long as Joseph could not publish his defense, the conspirators were free to relentlessly prosecute him without fear of reprisal.

How unfortunate that the apostles withheld details of Joseph's visit with Higbee and Doctor Bennett. There are many questions that could be asked. Why were names and facts from Joseph's testimony against Higbee and Bennett deleted at a time when Higbee was suing Joseph, and was calling him a liar and a polygamist, and threatening to kill him? Why did the apostles who were in control of the Church choose not to let Joseph tell the truth about Francis Higbee and those conspiring with him?

The conspirators must have been overjoyed to read Taylor's assertion that "we feel to dread having any thing to do with the publication of their trials; we will not however offend the public eye or ear with a repetition of the foulness of their crimes any more." In other words, Taylor would not print Joseph's testimony, which the Prophet felt was necessary for his defense; but Higbee and others could, without restraint, falsely accuse Joseph, and threaten to kill him and his entire family, without suffering reprisal. Taylor had assured them that he would not publish a repeat of "the foulness of their crimes any more."

No matter how "revolting, corrupt, and disgusting" the facts that Joseph revealed might have been, those disgusting facts would have strengthened Joseph's defense. The apostles should have honored their Prophet's wishes and published his entire testimony. Joseph had assured them that his testimony was pertinent to his defense. The apostles should have done everything in their power to give him aid. The Prophet's unedited testimony would have furnished the missing pieces to the polygamy puzzle, which has continued to this day. But the apostles did not want the true story told because it would have given evidence that Joseph did not ask Nancy Rigdon to be his plural wife, and the apostles needed Bennett and Higbee's perjured statements against Joseph to use in their own polygamous interests. Their actions at that time showed that they were already using her case to their advantage. The apostles knew that Joseph had but one wife, but their actions at Nauvoo indicate that they wanted it to appear that Joseph was a polygamist.

The apostles were aware that William Law, Wilson Law, Francis and Chauncey L. Higbee, Charles A. and Robert Foster, and others had purchased a press on which to publish, among many other charges, alleged accusations of Joseph practicing plural marriage. Having a knowledge of such growing evidence against the enemies of Joseph and the Church, why did the apostles worry about offending "the public eye or ear" when reporting the crimes of the conspirators? The apostles knew that the conspirators were planning to publish their paper, the Nauvoo Expositor, for the purpose of destroying Joseph's character and his life. If Apostle Taylor had published Joseph's full testimony, it evidently would have stemmed the tide and counteracted the false affidavits which the owners of the Nauvoo Expositor were getting ready to publish.

The polygamous apostles had a huge problem themselves, and that problem was Joseph. The Prophet was their greatest threat because he was expounding against polygamy at every opportunity, and making threats of bringing charges against anyone found in polygamy. They simply could not hold him back. He was furiously fighting polygamy. His testimonies against that doctrine were inflammatory. At any moment he could divulge information that could, and would, incriminate them. They must try to smooth the waters after Joseph's strong-worded court testimony in his own defense.

Apostle John Taylor's Editorial Misled the Saints by Minimizing the Conspiracy

In the same May 15,1844, Times and Seasons in which the May 8 court case was reported, editor John Taylor portrayed Nauvoo as a peaceful and flourishing city. As for those conspirators threatening to kill the Prophet and the entire Smith family, Taylor published that there were "One or two disaffected individuals." It is evident that he wanted to convince his readers that all was well at Nauvoo. Instead of publishing Joseph's full testimony, and gathering around the Prophet to protect him from being killed, Taylor published:

We take pleasure in announcing to the saints abroad that Nauvoo continues to flourish, and the little one has become a thousand. Quite a number of splendid houses are being erected, and the Temple is rapidly progressing; insomuch that there is one universal expectation, that before next winter closes in upon us, the top-stone will have been raised, and the building inclosed.

The saints continue to flock together from all parts of this wide-spread continent, and from the islands of the sea. Three ships' company have arrived this spring from England, and are now rejoicing in the truths of the everlasting gospel. The prophet is in good health and spirits, and unwearied in his anxiety and labors to instruct the saints in the things of God and the mysteries of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Indeed, we may truly say that those who come to scoff, remain to pray. Many have come here filled with prejudice and strange anticipations, but have been convinced that report is false with her thousand tongues, and have almost invariably left a testimony behind them. Instead of finding Mr. [Joseph] Smith the cunning, crafty and illiterate character that he had been represented to be, they have found in him the gentleman and scholar; frank, open, generous, and brave. But it is his immediate connexions and associates alone, that can appreciate his virtues and his talents. While his face is set as a flint against iniquity from every quarter, while the cries of the oppressed ever reaches his heart, and his hand is ever ready to alleviate the sufferings of the needy.

A few artless villians can always be found who are watching for his [Joseph's] downfall or death, but the Lord has generally caused them to fall into their own pit, and no weapon formed against him has prospered. One or two disaffected individuals have made an attempt to spread dissension, but it is like a tale that is nearly told, and will soon be forgotten. It was first represented as a monster calculated to scatter desolation around, but we are credibly informed by a person who attended their first meeting that there was much difficulty in raising a committee of seven, for there was some objection to Father________ , but as none could be found to fill the vacuum, he constituted one of the seven stars!!

It will be unnecessary for us to say much about those lumaneries of the last days, as they shine forth in their true colors in our columns this week, in the trial of President Smith. But to say any thing by way of warning to the brethren abroad, would resemble the "ocean into tempest tossed to waft a feather or to drown a fly.... (ibid., 535)

Why did Apostle Taylor de-emphesize the conspiracy against Joseph? Why did he delete all major sections of Joseph's testimony? Could it be that the apostles did not want Joseph to give testimony in which he condemned polygamy?

Apostle Taylor scoffed at sending a "warning to the brethren abroad" telling of the true happenings at Nauvoo, although he knew that Joseph's character was being defamed and that his life was threatened daily. A dark storm was quickly approaching the city of the Saints. Taylor and the other apostles knew that the conspirators were busily engaged in installing their press and printing office near the Temple, in a building belonging to Doctor Robert D. Foster. The first issue of the Nauvoo Expositor would be published in a few days.

The apostles were aware that the conspirators were not only going to accuse Joseph of polygamy, but they were going to expose the polygamous marriages of the apostles.

Joseph and the apostles had very different feelings when it came to being charged with the crime of polygamy. Joseph was eager and willing to talk of polygamy and to proclaim that he had only one wife, Emma Hale Smith. He was ready to go before any court and proclaim his innocence.

In contrast, the apostles, who had plural wives, could not defend themselves against the printed accusations of the conspirators. Indeed, the apostles faced a great dilemma. If the Nauvoo Expositor contained threats of exposing the polygamy of the apostles or, worse still, evidence of their plural marriages, would the apostles insist that the Nauvoo Expositor press be destroyed? If so, Joseph would most likely be killed. He was mayor of Nauvoo, and as that officer he would be held responsible for the destruction of the press. If the press were destroyed Joseph could be arrested and taken to Carthage, and there he could be assassinated. If that should happen there would come upon the Church a day of weeping, a day of mourning, a day of sorrow such as had never been known since its organization in 1830. Apostle Taylor had minimized the danger of the conspirators in his editorial, but he and the other apostles at Nauvoo understood the depth of the danger to Joseph. The fate of Joseph rested in their hands.

Deprived of his proper defense, Joseph was viciously attacked day after day by the conspirators. Perhaps they were aware that there was a division between Joseph and the apostles at Nauvoo. Knowing full well that he did not have the support of the apostles, Joseph faced his accusers bravely. But in less than two months he and two of his beloved brothers, Patriarch Hyrum Smith and Bishop Samuel Harrison Smith, were dead!

Francis M. Higbee's Slanderous Statements against Joseph

Although Francis M. Higbee did not appear for the hearing of the May 8 court case before the Nauvoo Municipal Court, he wrote a slanderous article against Joseph titled "Communication." It was printed in the anti-Mormon paper, the Warsaw Signal. Higbee angrily responded to the May 8 court case by writing:


A short dissertation upon the testimony of Joseph Smith, as sworn to before the Municipal Court, at Nauvoo, May 8th, 1844, in the case whereof Francis M. Higbee, was plaintiff, and Joseph Smith defendant.

The nature of the above case was as follows:-On the 1st day of May, 1844,1 sued out a capias, from the Clerk of the Circuit Court, of the Fifth Judicial District of Illinois, against Joseph Smith, who, immediately on being arrested obtained a writ of habeas corpus, from the Municipal Court at Nauvoo, that he might under that garb or semblence of justice, extricate himself from the just demands of violated law, as has always been the case before when men have attempted to bring him to justice. On the return of said writ before the Municipal Court, Joseph Smith in justification of his own wickedness, corruption and infamy, swore first, as follows: "That I was grieved at him, and he was grieved at me;" but he does not tell the cause of my 'grief,' neither does he give the world to understand the cause of his. He, as well as I, recollects well, the cause which first induced me to question his pretentions to sincerity, and which gave rise as he says, to my 'grief:' which was the base attack he (Joseph Smith), made upon the virtue of Miss Nancy Rigdon, in 1842, to whom I was at that time paying my addresses. The attack was of so base, so loathesome, and so detestable a character, that I could not conceal my feelings from the base seducer, and I assailed Joseph Smith about the matter; in (as I think quite likely) rather a rough manner, for I felt much excited indeed; when he (Smith) assured me I must keep perfectly dark, and be quiet or he would serve a quietus upon me.-But I could not feel reconciled toward Joseph, and I made another assault upon him, in front of Mr. James Ivin's store, (or where he at that time kept,) and he upon that occasion told me he would blow my character to 'the four,' winds, if I did not be still, for God would deal with him, if I would be still and mind my own business, and that I was only exciting and agitating the attack, he made upon Nancy for the sake of insuring to myself an imperishable name....

The excitement upon my part was still on the increase, for as I reflected upon the matter, the more and more I became astonished; to think that Joseph Smith, a man professing to be a Messiah, sent by the God of Heaven to revolutionize and christianize this depraved and fallen generation, would have the presumption to attack the virtue of any female, with whom I was corresponding, and that under the cloak of Christianity, was more than I could or ever will bear from him or any other man made in the image of his God;-I care not what his pretentions of Christianity may be, or how many revelations he may call to his aid-he is a dark fiend from (the Tartarian regions, and hell stands wide to swallow him up; and I would here recommend that Joseph Smith should look well to the west; for the finger of the Lord hath written it upon the wall "MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN."

Smith discovered my feelings and commenced raging against me, by assailing my character in every corner of the street and in any private circle, and he soon commenced his outrageous attacks upon my character from the public stand. I met Smith in the public street before Hiram Smith's office, about that time (in '42,) when he presented his hand for my acceptance, I carried mine behind me, and refused to accept his, when he stated that he was sorry the thing had assumed such an aspect, for he always loved me and did still, and I was a good boy, and every body knew it, and if every body did not know it, they were not as smart as he was. At this time he eulogized my moral worth to the skies, but could not come it, for I still persisted, and utterly refused to extend my hand to any one so base, so lost to every sense of honor and virtue."

The above is a brief statement of some things that passed between Joseph and myself, about the time he made the attack upon the virtue of Miss Nancy, sufficient however, to acquaint the public with the reasons for my feeling towards him, as he stated I did. As for himself he could not succeed in his unhallowed attempts, and that is what made him feel so bad, but all the man [Joseph] had to do, 1 suppose in mitigation of the crime, was to offer up the entrails of a lamb, if John T. Barnett would sell another [lamb], as he did when Mrs. Sarah Pratt refused his attempts.

Joseph Smith continues his statement before the Municipal Court, at great length with regard to myself, during which statement he (Joseph) tells but one falsehood, and that includes all the man said from the time he arose to swear, until he closed his testimony-which was a lie of the basest kind, and constitutes him a perjured villian, and so he stands on the docket of that Court, and what is still more painful and desperate, is to know as I do verily know, that he stands before the Bar of Heaven and own that he has lied, and that too, for the sole purpose of destroying him [Francis M. Higbee], who has never harmed the hair of any man's head, or injured any female under Heaven.

Yours Resp't.
F. M. Higbee (Warsaw Signal, May 29, 1844; italics added)

Francis M. Higbee quickly published his version of what happened in the May 8 court case, and how his suit against Joseph was connected to Miss Nancy Rigdon. In contrast, the Twelve chose not to mention Miss Rigdon's name in connection with the Francis M. Higbee versus Joseph Smith Case.

Higbee Used Doctor Bennett's "Lamb" Story to Persecute Joseph

Note that Francis M. Higbee, in his above "Communication," charged Joseph with having made an "attack upon the virtue of Miss Nancy [Rigdon]," and in so doing Higbee made reference to Doctor John Bennett's 1842 allegation that Joseph had sacrificed a lamb upon an altar.

Printed below is a statement by Higbee in which he refers to Doctor Bennett's slanderous 1842 falsehood of Joseph and a sacrificial lamb. Bennett alleged that Joseph tried to convince Sarah Pratt to become his plural wife, and that when she refused Joseph's offer of marriage that Joseph sacrificed a lamb in order to keep the "Destroying Angel" from harming him and others. In Higbee's "Communication" article he referred to Bennett's lamb story to bolster up his own accusation that the Prophet had attempted to take Nancy Rigdon as his plural wife. Higbee made his false claim in spite of the fact that Nancy's father, Sidney Rigdon, was Joseph's counsel in the May 8 court case, and that neither Sidney nor Nancy ever accused Joseph of impropriety. Higbee wrote:

As for himself he [Joseph] could not succeed in his unhallowed attempts [to gain Nancy as his wife], and that is what made him feel so bad, but all the man [Joseph] had to do, I suppose in mitigation of the crime, was to offer up the entrails of a lamb, if John T. Barnett would sell another, as he [Joseph] did when Mrs. Sarah Pratt refused his attempts. (ibid.)

Doctor Bennett Slandered Joseph with "Lamb" Story

In 1842 Bennett published a book, and within its pages was Bennett's fabricated tale of Joseph sacrificing a lamb. Bennett's story of Joseph and the lamb appeared not only in his book, but in newspapers across the nation, and in the lectures that Bennett gave to expose "Joe Smith and Mormonism" in New York, Boston, and other cities in the East. Bennett proclaimed:

Joe [Smith] afterwards tried to convince Mrs. Pratt of the propriety of his spiritual wife doctrine, and she at last told him peremptorily, "Joseph, if you ever attempt any thing of the kind with me again, I will make a full disclosure to Mr. Pratt on his return home. Depend upon it, I will certainly do it." Joe replied, "Sister Pratt, I hope you will not expose me, for if I suffer, all must suffer; so do not expose me. Will you promise me that you will not do it?" "If" said she, "you will never insult me again, I will not expose you, unless strong circumstances should require it." "If you should tell," said he, "I will ruin your reputation; remember that; and as you have repulsed me, it becomes sin, unless sacrifice is offered." He then desired that a lamb should be procured and slain, and the door-posts and the gate sprinkled with its blood, and the kidneys and entrails taken and offered upon an altar of twelve stones that had not been touched with a hammer, as a burnt sin-offering, for the purpose of saving him and his priesthood. His desire was complied with, and the lamb procured from Captain Barnett, and slain by Lieutenant Stephen H. Goddard; and the kidneys and entrails were offered in sacrifice, as Joe desired; and he observed, "All is now safe; the Destroying Angel will pass over without harming any of us." (John C. Bennett, The History of the Saints; or. An Expose of Joe Smith and Mormonism [Boston: Leland & Whiting, 1842], 230–231).

Joseph's testimony as reported by the apostles makes no mention of the real reason for the Francis M. Higbee versus Joseph Smith Case. Their report dealt principally with the unrighteous conduct of Francis M. Higbee and Doctor John C. Bennett. But their conspiracy against Joseph was about their accusation that Joseph was a polygamist and that he had tried to seduce Nancy Rigdon by making her his plural wife. This subject the apostles wished to avoid. They did not wish to address polygamy charges against Joseph because it could easily bring their own polygamy into question.

The next chapter of "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" will address that portion of Joseph's testimony that the apostles avoided printing.


[ Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy Index ]

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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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