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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 ]

Hyrum Smith Fought Polygamy

Joseph and Emma Smith

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, alleges that Hyrum Smith was married to his legal wife and three or more plural wives at the time of his death. Authentic records show that Hyrum's first wife, Jerusha Harden, bore him six children and died at Kirtland in 1837. He then married Mary Fielding who bore him two children (see Lucy Smith Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations [Lamoni, Iowa: Herald Publishing House for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1908], 35).

Various writers give differing numbers of how many plural wives Hyrum Smith supposedly married. Some LDS records state that Hyrum had four living wives during 1843 and 1844. Early historians in Utah asserted that in 1843, while Hyrum was married to Mary Fielding and living at Nauvoo, he married three additional wives. Some present-day authors assert this also, as the following shows:

In 1843 he [Hyrum] married Mary's sister Mercy Fielding Thompson, Catherine Phillips, and Lydia Dibble Granger. (Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker, A Book of Mormons [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1982], 283)

It is important to establish what is true and what is false in Hyrum's case because he was Joseph's main witness in the fight against polygamy, and Brigham Young made Hyrum his main character in his battle to prove how polygamy entered the Church. Hyrum had been dead for years when Brigham first told his version of how Hyrum introduced the so-called plural marriage revelation to Emma Smith.

William Clayton, the Lone Scribe and Witness

According to William Clayton, he himself was the lone scribe and witness to the circumstances and writing of the time and eternity plural marriage document, known today as Section 132 in the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Clayton claimed that he was the only person with Joseph and Hyrum during the "three hours" it took him to write it, and then he read the entire document aloud to Joseph "slowly and carefully." This would have required more than another hour. William Clayton wrote the following statement in a letter dated November 11, 1871:

I did write the revelation on celestial marriage given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, on the 12th of July, 1843.

When the revelation was written there was no one present except the Prophet Joseph, his brother Hyrum and myself. It was written in the small office upstairs in the rear of the brick store which stood on the banks of the Mississippi river. It took some three hours to write it Joseph dictated sentence by sentence, and I wrote it as he dictated. After the whole was written Joseph requested me to read it slowly and carefully, which I did, and he then pronounced it correct... The original was destroyed by Emma Smith. (Joseph F. Smith, Jr., Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage [Salt Lake City, Utah: The Deseret News Press], 77)

Church historian Andrew Jenson published another testimony by William Clayton in his effort to prove that Joseph and Hyrum introduced plural marriage into the Church. Jenson published:


The following statement was sworn to before John T. Caine, a notary public, in Salt Lake City, Feb. 16,1874....

"On the morning of the 12th of July, 1843, Joseph and Hyrum Smith came into the office in the upper story of the 'brick store,' on the bank of the Mississippi River. They were talking on the subject of plural marriage. Hyrum said to Joseph, 'If you will write the revelation on celestial marriage, I will take and read it to Emma, and I believe I can convince her of its truth, and you will hereafter have peace.' Joseph smiled and remarked, 'You do not know Emma as well as I do.' Hyrum repeated his opinion and further remarked, 'The doctrine is so plain, I can convince any reasonable man or woman of its truth, purity or heavenly origin,' or words to their effect Joseph then said, 'Well, I will write the revelation and we will see.' He then requested me to get paper and prepare to write. Hyrum very urgently requested Joseph to write the revelation by means of the Urim and Thummim, but Joseph, in reply, said he did not need to, for he knew the revelation perfectly from beginning to end.

"Joseph and Hyrum then sat down and Joseph commenced to dictate the revelation on celestial marriage, and I wrote it, sentence by sentence, as he dictated. After the whole was written, Joseph asked me to read it through, slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct He then remarked that there was much more that he could write, on the same subject, but what was written was sufficient for the present.

"Hyrum then took the revelation to read to Emma. Joseph remained with me in the office until Hyrum returned. When he came back, Joseph asked him how he had succeeded. Hyrum replied that he had never received a more severe talking to in his life, that Emma was very bitter and full of resentment and anger.

"Joseph quietly remarked, 'I told you you did not know Emma as well as I did.' Joseph then put the revelation in his pocket, and they both left the office. (Andrew Jensen, The Historical Record 6 [May 1887): 224, 225–226)

When William Clayton gave his testimony in 1887, long after the questionable document was made public, Joseph and Hyrum had been dead for over forty years. Clayton was the only person who ever claimed to have been a witness to the dictating and writing of the document, and he involved Hyrum deeply in the entire process. According to Clayton, Hyrum was the principle actor in the introduction of the plural marriage for time and eternity document. According to Clayton's testimonies the following took place:

  1. On the morning of July 12, 1843, Joseph and Hyrum came into Joseph's office, located in his store. The two men were conversing "on the subject of plural marriage." William Clayton was already in the office.
  2. Hyrum told Joseph that if he would write a revelation on "celestial marriage" that he, Hyrum, would take the document to Emma and read it to her, and he believed that he could con vince her of its truth.
  3. Joseph informed Hyrum that, "You do not know Emma as well as I do."
  4. Hyrum supposedly answered that the doctrine was so plain that he could "convince any reasonable man or woman of its truth."
  5. Joseph agreed to write it and requested William Clayton to get pa per and prepare to record the document.
  6. Hyrum "urgently requested" Joseph to use the Urim and Thummim to dictate the alleged revelation.
  7. For three hours Joseph dictated and Clayton wrote. When Joseph had finished dictating, Clayton "slowly and carefully" read the words of the document back to Joseph.
  8. Joseph pronounced the written document "correct."
  9. Hyrum then took the document to Emma at the Homestead and read it to her, while Joseph remained at his office with William Clayton.
  10. Hyrum returned and Joseph asked him "how he had succeeded."
  11. Hyrum replied that he had never received a more severe talking to in his life, that Emma was very bitter and full of resentment and anger.
  12. Emma destroyed the original document.

There are many questions which need to be asked about Clayton's story. For instance, he writes as if Joseph had the Urim and Thummim in his possession, yet there is no evidence that Joseph possessed the Urim and Thummim at Nauvoo. Another questionable statement is that Clayton asserts that Joseph and Hyrum arrived at the store in the morning, perhaps around nine o'clock, and that Joseph dictated for three hours before the document was finished. Then, according to Clayton, he slowly read the document back to Joseph which would have required more than another hour. Then Hyrum went to Emma's home and read her the lengthy document and received her angry response—which would have taken at least another hour.

This would have placed the time Hyrum returned to the office at around two o'clock or later, and there is no mention of interruptions by dozens of persons coming into Joseph's office on business. The little room that served as Joseph's office was also the Church's headquarters and the mayor's office, since Joseph was the Nauvoo mayor. Joseph's private secretary, High Priest James Whitehead, and several other clerks, would also have been present. Many individuals would have arrived with the business of tithing, land sales, recording of deeds, and other civil and Church business. Yet, Clayton's account reads as if not one person came to Joseph's office from approximately nine in the morning until mid-afternoon or later. There is no mention of the noontime meal, which Emma would have prepared for Joseph and the unexpected guests he often brought home, and the feeding of their children.

The Purported Revelation Threatened to "Destroy" Emma

Clayton portrays Hyrum as eager to read the eternity-plural marriage document to his sister-in-law, Emma. Clayton would have everyone believe that Hyrum was anxious to read it to Emma in spite of the fact that the document was written to frighten her into accepting polygamy. The document portrays the Lord as threatening again and again to "destroy" her (take her life) if she did not obey the command to give Joseph plural wives. The document threatens:

Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your [Joseph's] wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice.

And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those [plural wives] that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they [the plural wives] were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God....

And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law....

And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man [this includes Joseph] have a wife [Emma], who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him [give him plural wives], or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 132:51–52, 54, 64; italics added)

Joseph Would Not Have Acted So Cowardly

According to Clayton's account of the coming forth of Section 132, Joseph allowed Hyrum to inform Emma that a revelation had been given because of her hatred of polygamy, and that her life would be taken if she did not obey. If such had happened, it would have been a cowardly act by Joseph to allow Hyrum to be the bearer of such a horrible threat of death to his wife, the mother of his children. Joseph would not have been so cruel to Emma as Young and Clayton have portrayed him. And, there is evidence to support the position that Hyrum never showed Emma a plural marriage document, but that the entire story was fabricated by Young, Clayton, and others.

Emma testified to the end of her life that Hyrum never showed her the polygamous document, now known as Section 132. She also stated that she never saw or burned a copy of the document as Brigham Young and William Clayton accused her of doing.

If Hyrum had read her a document which allegedly gave her the choice of embracing polygamy or being "destroyed" (killed), Emma would have considered Hyrum an apostate, and would have shunned and scorned him as she did Brigham Young. But Emma showed the utmost respect for Hyrum and defended him while he lived, and honored him after his death.

If Hyrum had had plural wives and was trying to secretly bring a plural marriage revelation into the Church, while he was assuring the Saints that no plural marriage was being practiced or taught by Church leaders at Nauvoo, Emma would have labeled him a liar, a deceiver, and a coward. However, the authors of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy are convinced that Hyrum was truthful and that he was also the victim of a cruel conspiracy that falsely attached polygamy to his name.

Emma was not afraid to stand for that which she felt was right, or against that which she felt was wrong. Her grandson, Frederick Alexander Smith, who lived with her most of the time until he was fourteen, recalled a story that she told which illustrates how strong she was. Frederick recalled his Grandmother Emma's account of how prior to Joseph's death, she ordered an elder to leave their home, and how Joseph the Prophet upheld her decision. Frederick said that his Grandmother Emma was suffering from a backache, and an elder was in Joseph and Emma's home offering prayer in her behalf. The elder, knowing of Emma's refusal to obey the counsel of certain Church leaders, prayed not only about Emma's backache, but made Emma's disobedience a part of his prayer. Frederick noted:

Story about Grm[other's] backache— plaster [was applied] Elder offer[ed] prayer [for] S[iste]r Emma [to be] subservient to powers that be—When they got up [from prayer, she said,]— "There's the door You go out." [Grandmother] appealed to Joseph—He said "What she says goes here"—He went She said "that cured my backache." (Buddy Youngreen, Reflections of Emma, Joseph Smith's Wife [Orem, Utah: Grandin Book Company, 1982], 115)

If, as Brigham Young and William Clayton claimed, Hyrum had angered Emma by trying to convince her to obey an alleged revelation that allowed Joseph to take plural wives, Emma would have shown Hyrum the door and ordered him out of the house. And she would not have respected Hyrum for the rest of his life any more than she respected the praying elder. But there is proof that Emma honored Hyrum and vigorously came to his defense by promoting an antipolygamous document entitled "The Voice of Innocence From Nauvoo," which defended Hyrum whose name was linked with "certain widows."

Both Emma and Joseph Came to Hyrum's Defense

There was a man at Nauvoo by the name of Orsimus F. Botswick who accused Hyrum Smith of having sexual relationships with "certain females of Nauvoo." The LDS Church published the following as Joseph the Prophet's record of what happened on February 26, 1844:

In the afternoon, held court at the Mansion. City of Nauvoo versus Orsimus F. Botswick, on complaint of Hyrum Smith for slanderous language concerning him and certain females of Nauvoo. Bostwick [sic] was fined $50 and costs. Francis M. Higbee, his attorney, gave notice he should appeal to the municipal court, and then to the circuit court I [Joseph] told Higbee what I thought of him for trying to carry such a suit to Carthage —it was to stir up the mob and bring them upon us. (LDS History of the Church 6:225)

It is significant that Francis M. Higbee, who had practiced spiritual wifery (plural marriage) with Dr. John C. Bennett and his clique, was the attorney for Orsimus Botswick. Higbee was, at the time of the Botswick trial, conspiring with William Law against Joseph and Hyrum. It is stated above that Botswick's court case was held at the Mansion House, which was Joseph and Emma's home. Emma, who was president of the Ladies' Relief Society could very well have been an observer at the Botswick hearing, and would have heard Botswick's accusations against Hyrum and certain ladies of Nauvoo, Attorney Francis M. Higbee's arguments for Botswick and against Hyrum, and Hyrum's defense against Botswick's accusations.

As stated above, Botswick was found guilty of slandering Hyrum, and was fined. In an attempt to stop the conspiratorial slandering and the infiltration of polygamy and like sins into the Church, Joseph directed the writing of a paper entitled "A Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo" (see Vision 57: 27–28, 31). The paper condemned polygamy and it was read and approved by thousands of Saints at a meeting of the Church membership, and by over one thousand ladies belonging to the Relief Society. "A Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo" strongly condemned Botswick for his false charges against Hyrum and those who were conspiring against Hyrum and Joseph. It may be recalled that M. G. Eaton made affidavit that he had heard Attorney Chauncey L. Higbee, Francis Higbee's brother, state that Hyrum was involved in secretly practicing spiritual wifery, which was another term for polygamy. Eaton swore:

the said Higbee commenced talking about the spiritual wife system. He said he had no doubt but some of the Elders had ten or twelve [wives] apiece. He said they married them whether the females were willing or not; and they did it by recording the marriage in a large book; which book was sealed up after the record was made, and was not to be opened for a long time, probably not until many of the husbands of those who were thus married were dead. They would then open the book and break the seals in the presence of those females, and when they saw their names recorded in that book they would believe that the doctrine was true and they must submit He said this book was kept at Mr. Hyrum Smith's. I asked the said Chauncy Higbee * * * *

[Here follows some expressions too indecorous for insertion.] (Times and Seasons 5 [May 15, 1844]: 541–542)

Emma's response to the charges against Hyrum, and the widows that he was accused of being sexually involved with, was to publicly come to his and the women's defense, and commend Joseph for his ruling that Botswick was guilty of slander. Her actions show that she believed Hyrum to be monogamous and innocent. If, as Brigham Young and William Clayton claimed, Hyrum went to Emma, and read her the polygamous document, Emma would have known firsthand that Hyrum believed in the doctrine of polygamy and was the husband of plural wives. It would have been impossible for Hyrum to have had plural wives and Emma not to have known it, because, according to Clayton, Hyrum tried to convert her to accept the doctrine of polygamy. The authors of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy are convinced that the entire story of Hyrum's visit to Emma, told by Brigham Young, William Clayton, and others, was fabricated years after Hyrum and Joseph were murdered in order to make polygamy acceptable to the Saints. Emma's high respect for Hyrum is evidence that Hyrum never visited her and read the polygamous eternal marriage document to her.

Emma Denied that Hyrum Showed Her a Polygamy Document

On August 8,1852, when Brigham Young introduced the document now known as Section 132, he stated:

The original copy of this Revelation was burnt up; William Clayton was the man who wrote it from the mouth of the Prophet. In the meantime, it was in Bishop Whitney's possession. He wished the privilege to copy it, which brother Joseph granted. Sister Emma burnt the original. The reason I mention this, is, because that the people who did know of the Revelation, suppose it is not now in existence. (The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star 15 [Supplement, 1853]: 31)

Emma Smith declared until her death that she never saw the polygamous document until it was published by Apostle Orson Pratt in The Seer in 1853. She also asserted that when Brigham Young said she "burnt the original" he told a falsehood.

In April 1867, Elder Jason W. Briggs of the Reorganized Church visited Emma Smith Bidamon at her home in Nauvoo, Illinois, and questioned her about the polygamous document. Emma had remarried by this time and was known as Emma Bidamon. Below is an extract from Briggs' interview with Emma. Editor Jason Briggs published:

And when [the polygamy document was] introduced, certain statements are made.... that when the revelation was given, Emma Smith got possession of it in its original and 'burnt it.' Upon this point we subjoin the following questions and answers from a memorandum of an interview with the Sister Emma Smith referred to (now Mrs. Bidamon), at Nauvoo, in April, 1867.

"J. W. Briggs.—Mrs. Bidamon, have you seen the revelation on polygamy, published by Orson Pratt, in the Seer, in 1852?

"Mrs. [Emma] B.—I have.

"J. W. B.—Have you read it?

"Mrs. B.—I have read it, and heard it read.

"J. W. B.—Did you ever see that document in manuscript, previous to its publication by Pratt?

"Mrs. B.—I never did.

"J. W. B.—Did you ever see any document of that kind, purporting to be a revelation, to authorize polygamy?

"Mrs. B.—No; I never did.

"J. W. B.—Did Joseph Smith ever teach you the principles of polygamy, as being revealed to him, or as a correct and righteous principle?

"Mrs. B.—He never did.

"J. W. B.—What about that statement of Brigham Young, that you burnt the original manuscript of that revelation?

"Mrs. B.—It is false in all its parts, made out of whole cloth, without any foundation in truth. (RLDS History of the Church 3:351–352; The Messenger of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 1 [April 1875]: 23)

Testimony of Apostle Edmund C. Briggs

Edmund C. Briggs, brother of Jason W. Briggs, was present when Jason interviewed Emma. Edmund wrote:

I was also present when my brother, Jason Briggs, asked Sister Emma in relation to the purported revelation on polygamy, published by Orson Pratt in 1852, and she again denied that her husband ever taught polygamy, or that she ever burned any manuscript of a revelation purporting to favor polygamy, and that "the statement that I burned the original of the copy Brigham Young claimed to have, is false, and made out of whole cloth, and not true in any particular." My brother [Jason W. Briggs] was quite particular in his inquiry, when she said, "I never saw anything purporting to be a revelation authorizing polygamy until I saw it in the Seer, published by Orson Pratt" Several were present at the time, and I shall never forget the candid manner of her expression when she, without a single hesitancy, with honesty and truthfulness marking her countenance, gave the lie to Brigham Young's assertion on the twenty-ninth of August 1852 in Salt Lake City, when he said, "The original of this revelation was burned up. ... Sister Emma burned the original. The reason I mention this is because that the people who did know of the revelation, supposed it was not now in existence." Mark the thought: "The people who did know of the revelation, supposed it was not now in existence."

Brigham Young, at the very instance when it was introduced, claimed that no one else on earth except himself knew of the existence of this purported copy of a revelation which is sweeping in its character. (Apostle Edmund C. Briggs, Early History of the Reorganization [Independence, Missouri: Price Publishing Company, 1998], 95)

Emma Named Her Newborn Son Hyrum

On June 23, 1844, when Joseph was preparing to go to Carthage, he prophesied to Emma who was four months pregnant. He prophesied to her that the unborn child would be a son and that she was to name him "David."

The Mansion House and surrounding area was crowded with approximately one hundred men who had come to accompany Joseph and Hyrum to Carthage, where they planned to surrender to law officials. At least one man, Seventy Libbeus Coons, who was a physician and one of Joseph's personal guards, witnessed a touching scene between Joseph and Emma as Joseph said his final goodbye to her. Elder Edmund Briggs later interviewed Coons, who described what he heard and saw that fateful day. Briggs recorded:

In the week [August 22,1859], I visited ... Libbeus T. Coons.

The latter tells me of a remarkable incident that occurred in Nauvoo, Illinois. He says, "I was present at the Mansion House, or hotel, ostensibly kept by Sister Emma, Joseph's wife, when he was about to start for Carthage, the county seat of Hancock County, Illinois, where he [Joseph] was arrested for treason at the time of his martyrdom. There were quite a number of men, all on horseback, and Joseph got off his horse and went into the hotel. He seemed to be in deep thought, and looked around as though he had forgotten something he wanted. He returned and got onto his horse again, but he still looked perplexed and in deep thought, as though in trouble. The second time he dismounted and went into the house, and again seemed confused, and looked around the room as though distressed in mind. He returned and remounted his horse, pulled up the reins to start, but a third time dismounted and went into the hotel, and immediately stepped to Emma, who was sitting in a chair, and laid his hands on her and blessed her, and said, 'Thou shall bear a child, and though he should be incarcerated in solid rock, yet he shall come out and make his mark in the world. Call his name David.' Emma said, 'Suppose it be a girl?' He answered, Call him David!'" (ibid., 154–155)

Four days later Joseph and Hyrum were murdered at Carthage. Nearly five months later, on November 17, 1844, Emma gave birth to a son and named him David, as Joseph had directed her to do. Then she gave him a middle name. She named the baby Hyrum, in honor of the martyred Patriarch Hyrum Smith, her brother-in-law. If Hyrum had been a polygamist who had angered her by trying to entice her to give Joseph plural wives, Emma would not have given her newborn son his name. The fact that she did name him Hyrum testifies of her sisterly love and respect for Hyrum, and to her firm conviction that he had only one wife, and that he never tried to convert her to the doctrine of polygamy.

Hyrum's Alleged Wives

Hyrum allegedly married three plural wives at Nauvoo in 1843. They are listed as Mercy Fielding Thompson, a sister of Hyrum's wife, Mary, and a widow of Robert Thompson; Catherine Phillips; and Lydia Dibble Granger. Some authors list more plural wives; however, these three are most often listed.

The Testimony of Mercy R. Thompson

Mercy Fielding Thompson was not only a sister to Hyrum's legal wife, Mary, but she was Joseph Fielding Smith's aunt because his mother, Mary, was Mercy's sister. Mercy at one time married Apostle John Taylor, who also married her sister, Mary, who was Hyrum Smith's widow. Mercy later divorced Apostle Taylor, but remained close to Mary and Hyrum's son, Joseph Fielding Smith, who, while she was married to Taylor, was her stepson and her nephew. Joseph Fielding was active in gathering the affidavits which appeared in the Historical Record and asserted that Joseph and Hyrum had introduced polygamy into the Church. On September 5,1883, Mercy Thompson of Salt Lake City wrote the following to Joseph Smith III, president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

"My beloved husband, R. B. Thompson, your father's private secretary to the end of his mortal life, died August 27th, 1841.... Nearly two years after his death your father [Joseph the Prophet] told me that my husband had appeared to him several times, telling him that he did not wish me to live such a lonely life, and wished him to request your uncle Hyrum to have me sealed to him for time. Hyrum communicated this to his wife (my sister) who, by request, opened the subject to me, when everything within me rose in opposition to such a step, but when your father [Joseph the Prophet] called and explained the subject to me, I dared not refuse to obey the counsel, lest peradventure I should be found fighting against God; and especially when he told me the last time my husband appeared to him he came with such power that it made him tremble. He then enquired of the Lord what he should do; the answer was, 'Go and do as my servant hath required.' He then took an opportunity of communicating this to your uncle Hyrum who told me that the Holy Spirit rested upon him from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet The time was appointed, with the consent of all parties, and your father sealed me to your uncle Hyrum for time, in my sister's room, with a covenant to deliver me up in the morning of the resurrection to Robert Blaskel Thompson, with whatever offspring should be the result of that union, at the same time counseling your uncle to build a room for me and move me over as soon as convenient, which he did, and I remained there as a wife the same as my sister to the day of his death.... MERCY R. THOMPSON." (Andrew Jenson, The Historical Record 6 [Salt Lake City, Utah, May 1887]: 229)

After Mercy divorced Apostle Taylor she married James Lawson. Years later she testified in the famous Temple Lot Case that she had been married to Hyrum Smith.

The Affidavit of Catherine Phillips, Another Alleged Wife

Catherine Phillips gave a sworn testimony on January 28,1903, asserting that she had been the wife of Hyrum Smith. She declared:

I was married to Hyrum Smith, brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as his plural wife, and lived with him as his wife. The sealing was performed by the Prophet Joseph Smith himself, in Nauvoo, State of Illinois, in August, 1843, in the brick office belonging to my husband [Hyrum Smith], and occupied at the time as a dwelling by Brother and Sister Robert and Julia Stone, and was witnessed by my mother, Sister Stone and her daughter Hettie.

In consequence of the strong feeling manifested at the time against plural marriage and those suspected of having entered into it, I, with my mother, moved to St Louis near the close of the year, where I was living when the Prophet Joseph and my husband [Hyrum] were martyred.... Catherine Phillips Smith. (Joseph F. Smith, Jr., Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage [Salt Lake City, Utah: The Deseret News Press], 70)

The words of Catherine Phillips' affidavit are misleading because they lead the readers away from the truth that it was Hyrum, Joseph, and Emma who were in the forefront in the fight against plural marriage. Of all the people in Nauvoo, those three manifested the strongest feelings against those who were practicing polygamy. They condemned polygamy as long as they lived, and they put great pressure on polygamous couples. The opposite to this truth has been trumpeted until the truth is hardly discernible. When Hyrum was accused of promoting polygamy he, with great courage, took the slanderer to court.

Lydia Dibble Granger Purported to Have Been Hyrum's Plural Wife

It is alleged that Lydia Granger at age fifty-three became Hyrum's plural wife in 1843. Lydia was born in 1790, and was the widow of Oliver Granger, who died in 1841 (see Times and Seasons 2 [September 15, 1841]: 550). She, like Mercy Thompson and Mary Smith, later became another one of Apostle John Taylor's plural wives (see George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 2008], 627, 628).

Mercy Thompson's Contradictory Testimony

Mercy Thompson, whose letter to Joseph Smith III appears above, later contradicted the testimonies about other plural wives. Mercy testified in the famous Temple Lot Case in which the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sued the Church of Christ at Independence for possession of the Temple Lot, where Joseph the Prophet pointed out the "spot" for the Temple of the Lord. Mercy asserted under oath that she was Hyrum's only plural wife.

The record shows that Mercy, a witness for the Church of Christ, gave her testimony in the presence of her nephew, Joseph F. Smith, son of Hyrum and Mary Fielding Smith, and that at times he prompted her in testimony. Her statements that she was Hyrum's only plural wife and that he fathered no children by her or any other plural wife were not disputed by Joseph F. Smith, who became the sixth president of the Mormon Church. Mercy testified:

I was married to Hyrum Smith.... He made an agreement that he would deliver me up on the morning of the resurrection to my husband, Robert Blashel Thompson, but would take charge of me for life with the agreement to deliver me up to my husband on the morning of the resurrection.... I was only married to Hyrum Smith for time.... He was to deliver the children up, too, if we had any, but we did not have any.... I told you there were no children from that sealing or marriage.... Hyrum Smith never had any wives except the one that died [Jerusha Harden Smith] and my sister [Mary Fielding Smith] and myself.

I never went by the name of Mrs. Smith when I lived hi Nauvoo during the lifetime of Hyrum Smith. I went by the name of Thompson. I never was called Mrs. Smith.

She [Mary] was always called Mrs. Smith, because she was his wife. I do not know exactly that I was his wife in the same sense that she was, for I was his wife for time....

No, sir, I never saw, while I lived in Nauvoo, any child, boy or girl, of Hyrum Smith's, or that was claimed to be his, except the children of his first wife. There were no others that I know of. (Complainant's Abstract of Pleading and Evidence, In the Circuit Court of the United States, Western District of Missouri, Western Division, at Kansas City: The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Complainant, vs. The Church of Christ at Independence, Missouri. . . . Respondents. [Lamoni, Iowa: Herald Publishing House and Bindery, 1893], 345, 346,351)

And so Mercy Thompson, an alleged plural wife who claimed that she lived with Hyrum as his wife, testified that Hyrum had only one plural wife and no children by her or any other plural wife. The authors of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy believe that Hyrum fathered no children by plural wives, because he had no plural wives. Before his death, conspirators slandered him by saying he had plural wives. He fought those slanderers in 1844 in the courts of the land on at least three occasions: the Botswick Case and two other cases, one in May and one in June, shortly before his death. After his death, brethren and sisters who were caught in the web of polygamy, built upon those evil falsehoods concocted at Nauvoo in 1842, 1843, and 1844. While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with headquarters in Salt Lake City, declares that Hyrum had plural wives, the testimonies of their witnesses contradict one another. This provides more evidence that their witnesses are not credible and that Hyrum fought polygamy, and that he never showed Emma a polygamous document of any kind.


[ 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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