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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 ]

In 1844 Joseph Continued His Valiant Fight against Polygamy

Joseph and Emma Smith

January 1,1844, was the beginning of a new year for the Church and the Prophet. What the Saints did not know was that the Prophet Joseph and his brother, Presiding Patriarch Hyrum Smith, would be assassinated in less than six months. The year 1843 had passed away, but the testimonies of Joseph and Hyrum against plural marriage would live on long after their deaths in the pages of the Church's papers, the Times and Seasons and the Millennial Star, as well as in the Nauvoo newspaper, the Nauvoo Neighbor. The courageous stand by Joseph and Hyrum for monogamy has been preserved to this day in those papers, that millions may read and discern the truth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with headquarters in Salt Lake City, has taught for over one hundred and fifty years that Joseph received a polygamous, celestial marriage revelation on July 12, 1843, and that Hyrum presented it to the Nauvoo High Council the next month, August 1843. Throughout the entire year of 1843 there was no hint in the three publications named above that such a revelation had been received. To the contrary, both the Prophet and the Patriarch left their testimonies that no such revelation had been given. It is the belief of the authors that Joseph and Hyrum were brave, truthful men. Hence, their testimonies are declared to be true and unchangeable, and those who testify that the two Martyrs were polygamists are calling Joseph and Hyrum liars. The position herein is to affirm that the two Martyrs did not bear false witness to avoid persecution for themselves or the Saints, but to give evidence that the closer they came to their deaths the harder they fought against polygamy in all forms.

It was in the spring of 1844, shortly before Joseph's death, and not in 1843, that Joseph's enemies within the Church charged him in the courts of the land and in the Nauvoo Expositor with having recorded a plural marriage revelation, and also with the crime of practicing polygamy. Joseph vigorously denied those charges until his death. As his death drew nearer, the Prophet's fight against polygamy increased from month to month. In the last six months of his life, his stance became stronger and bolder as he denounced plural marriage in its various forms.

Joseph Called Emma "Kind and Provident"

Joseph's association with his wife Emma continued to be that of contentment and husbandly devotion. At a time when many have proclaimed that their relationship was stormy and shaken by Joseph's having taken numerous plural wives, Joseph complimented Emma in the most tender language. The LDS History of the Church states that on January 4, 1844, Joseph recorded the following:

At home.

I took dinner in the north room, and was remarking to Brother [W.W.] Phelps what a kind, provident wife I had,—that when I wanted a little bread and milk, she would load the table with so many good things, it would destroy my appetite. At this moment Emma came in, while Phelps, in continuation of the conversation said, "You must do as Bonaparte did—have a little table, just large enough for the victuals you want yourself." Mrs. Smith replied, "Mr. Smith is a bigger man than Bonaparte: he can never eat without his friends." I remarked, "That is the wisest thing I ever heard you say." (LDS History of the Church 6:165–166)

Not one testimony exists which claims that Joseph the Prophet showed this same husbandly attention and respect to any woman other than Emma.

It is recorded that on January 5, the eve of the next day, Joseph attended a special session of the Nauvoo City Council where it was reported that the Prophet had enemies within the city. Joseph, in referring to those claims, indicated that he had spent much time at home. He stated, "[I] Did not know I had any enemies in this city: have stayed at home and heard but little: did not know that there was so much evil surmising among the people" (ibid., 166; italics added). The important statement here is that the Prophet asserted that he had "stayed at home and heard but little." Now, staying at home to that extent would not have been possible if he had been the husband of dozens of plural wives and the father of a multiplicity of children born of plural marriages.

On the following day, January 6, Joseph is said to have recorded two short sentences which reveal that in spite of his busy schedule of conversing with a myriad of visitors and his responsibilities as Prophet of the Church and Mayor of Nauvoo, he continued to spend quality time with Emma. He wrote: "Snow about four inches deep. I rode out with Emma in a sleigh" (ibid., 170). Joseph and Emma had a deep affection for each other, and enjoyed one another's company.

Joseph's devotion to his home, his wife Emma and their children, did not go unnoticed by many visitors. It is a matter of record that his home was filled daily with throngs of people, who were members of the Church as well as nonmembers. On January 20, 1844, Orson Hyde wrote a letter from Nauvoo to Editor Thomas Ward in England in which he stated: "Brother Joseph Smith is daily thronged with visitors of every grade, from different parts of the United States" (The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star 4 [March 1844]: 175).

Throngs of individuals crossing Joseph and Emma's threshold was nothing new in 1844. As early as June 1840 the Nauvoo High Council had sought to lift the burden of a great number of visitors imposing upon the Prophet and his family. They published:

Also, that whereas, in times past, the house of Joseph Smith Jr. has been much thronged with crowds of visitors, to the great inconvenience of his family. It is by this Council thought advisable, that in future, he be exempt from the burthen and inconvenience thereof. (Times and Seasons 1 [June 1840]: 127)

Over three and a half years later numerous people were still coming to Joseph's home. The Prophet's eldest son, Joseph III, stated:

Our house was a convenient place of gathering and was always more or less crowded with those who came from a distance. (Mary Audentia Smith Anderson, The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith III 1832–1914, 22)

The myriad of visitors appeared to have no difficulty in locating the Prophet. No suspicious acts on his part are recorded in official or public papers, as would have been the case if the Prophet had been secretly juggling his time between dozens of alleged plural wives.

One writer, who stated that he was a resident of Nauvoo, and signed himself "A CONSTANT READER," wrote a letter dated April 15, 1844, in which he gave his "impressions" of Joseph that provide yet another glimpse into Joseph's family life and what his family meant to him. The writer asserted:

He is easy, affable, and courteous in his manners; kind and obliging, generous and benevolent, sociable and cheerful, and sometimes even playful; yet he is possessed of a mind of a contemplative and reflective character; he is honest, frank[,] fearless, and independent, and as free from dissimulation as any man I have ever seen. But it is in the gentle charities of domestic life, as the tender and affectionate husband and parent, the warm and sympathizing friend; the prominent traits of his character are revealed; ...and I feel assured that his family and friends formed one of the greatest consolations to him, while the vials of wrath were poured upon his head, while his footsteps were pursued by malice and envy, while the arrows of desolation were hurled at him, and reproach and slander were strewed in his path. (Times and Seasons 5 [April 15, 1844]: 507; italics added)

Only Emma Received Expense Money

Emma Smith, as the wife of the Prophet, was supplied money at Joseph's office by both Joseph and High Priest James Whitehead, who was Joseph's private secretary. Whitehead had been keeping records for Joseph for over two years when the Prophet was killed. Whitehead was working in Joseph's office on the day of the assassination. He evidently did not turn Joseph's private records over to the Twelve until 1847, three years later, at Winter Quarters.

Whitehead testified under oath in the famous Temple Lot Case:

I was there in his office, as his private secretary, at the time he was killed. I was in his office on that day, and was keeping the books at that time.

Joseph Smith had one wife and her name was Emma.... I never heard anybody claim, except Emma Smith, that she was the wife of Joseph Smith. There was never any woman who came to me, or Joseph Smith in my presence, during the time of my employment as his private secretary, for money, claiming that she was the wife of Joseph Smith, except his wife Emma.

There was no entry of that kind ever made on the books, of money paid by me or by him [Joseph] to any woman claiming to be his wife, except Emma. (The Temple Lot Case, 476)

Joseph Stressed Monogamy in January 1844

From January 1, 1844, until Joseph's death six months later, polygamy and similar practices were condemned by Joseph and by Church officials in two of the Church's official papers, the Times and Seasons published at Nauvoo and the Millennial Star published in England, as well as in the Nauvoo Neighbor published at Nauvoo by men who were Church officials.

Joseph Published a Former Revelation Commanding a Man Should Have Only One Wife

Joseph began the year of 1844 by republishing a revelation from the Doctrine and Covenants on marriage. As mentioned in earlier chapters, when Joseph was killed he was in the process of publishing his personal history entitled "History of Joseph Smith." In his January 1844 account the Prophet published a revelation which he had received in 1831, which stated that a man was to have but one wife. Joseph prefaced the revelation with an explanation of how he came to receive the word of God on the subject of marriage. Joseph wrote:

About this time came Lemon Copley, one of the sect called Shaking Quakers; and embraced the fulness of the everlasting gospel, apparently honest hearted, but still retained ideas that the Shakers were right in some particulars of their faith [which included the belief that it was not right to marry]; and in order to have more perfect understanding on the subject [of marriage], I inquired of the Lord and received the following revelation.

Revelation to Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, and Lemon Copley, given March 1831....

And again, I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry, is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man: wherefore it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation: and that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made. (Times and Seasons 5 [January 15,1844]: 401–402)

The English Saints Were Warned against Polygamy

The editor of the Millennial Star sounded the warning against polygamy, and quoted from the article "On Marriage" which had been unanimously accepted as the law of the Church at Kirtland, and was published as the marriage law in the 1835 Edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. The writer advised:

And on another subject we wish furthermore to add, that we, as a church, believe that all legal contracts of marriage, made before a person is baptized into this church, should be held sacred and be fulfilled. Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe, that one man should have but one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again....

We wish these doctrines to be taught by all that are in the ministry, that the people may know our faith respecting them, and also to correct the public mind in respect to the church; and we hope, that the Saints will hearken to this counsel for their own good, and for the prosperity of the cause of God. (The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star 4 [January 1844]: 144)

Joseph and Hyrum Expelled Elder Hiram Brown for Teaching Polygamy

Presidents Joseph and Hyrum Smith were informed that Elder Hiram Brown of Michigan was preaching the doctrine of polygamy and other corrupt doctrines, and they took immediate action by cutting him off from the Church. The Saints were notified of this action in the following announcement:


As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching Polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan.

This is to notify him and the Church in general, that he has been cut off from the church, for his iniquity; and he is further notified to appear at the Special Conference, on the 6th of April next, to make answer to these charges.

Presidents of said Church.

(Times and Seasons 5 [February 1,1844]: (423)

The above notice contains some very important and revealing facts, which are:

  1. Joseph and Hyrum, "Presidents" of the Church took the drastic action against Elder Brown. The Prophet and Patriarch could have relegated this action to another Church official, but they wanted the Saints to know that they were opposing polygamy.
  2. Joseph and Hyrum took the drastic action because Hiram Brown had been preaching polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines. Joseph and Hyrum went on record February 1, five months before their deaths, stating that polygamy was a false and corrupt doctrine.
  3. They cut Brown off from the Church on February 1, 1844, just six months after July 12,1843, the date on which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whose headquarters is in Salt Lake City, Utah, has charged that Joseph dictated a polygamous revelation, which is now known as Section 132 in the LDS Doctrine and Covenants.
  4. It had been only five months since the August 1843 date on which they claim that Hyrum Smith introduced that same document to members of the Church's High Council at Nauvoo.

The question is, "Were Joseph and Hyrum honest men?" If they were virtuous and honest, Joseph did not receive, nor did Hyrum introduce to members of the High Council, that plural marriage document. If Joseph and Hyrum were honest, and bearers of truth, Brigham Young and his close associates were the originators of that document. Young was the one who directed that the document be made public for the first time on August 29,1852, in Salt Lake City, eight years after Joseph's death.

On July 11, 1852, six weeks previous to August 29, Brigham Young declared in a sermon that Joseph did not break the laws of the land. In his sermon, in the Tabernacle in Great Salt Lake City, Young spoke of Joseph's virtue and obedience to the laws of the land. In speaking of Joseph's virtue and innocence he assured his listeners:

Joseph Smith was not killed because he was deserving of it, nor because he was a wicked man; but because he was a virtuous man. I know that to be so, as well as I know that the sun now shines.... I know for myself that Joseph Smith was the subject of forty-eight law-suits, and the most of them I witnessed with my own eyes; but not one action could ever be made to bear against him. No law or constitutional right did he ever violate. He was innocent and virtuous; he kept the law of his country, and lived above it; out of forty-eight law suits, (and I was with him in the most of them), not one charge could be substantiated against him. He was pure, just, and holy, as to the keeping of the law. Now this I state for the satisfaction of those who do not know our history; but the Lord and the angels know all about it. (Journal of Discourses 1:40–41)

President Young made a very truthful statement when he declared that Joseph had never broken a law of the land, for the law of the land was that bigamy was a crime. Yet, Young can be found only six weeks later presenting a plural marriage document which he said had been dictated by Joseph eight years earlier. The contents of the document plainly portray Joseph as a polygamist. Both statements by Young cannot be true! If Joseph was a polygamist he broke the laws of the state of Illinois, and was a criminal. If, as Joseph claimed, he had only one wife, then he was innocent.

The Teaching of Polygamy Surged Forward in 1844

Polygamy, or spiritual wifery, was surging forward at an alarming pace early in 1844. So many letters of inquiry were arriving at Joseph's office, the Church's headquarters at Nauvoo, to report the teaching and practicing of spiritual wifery, that it was impossible for Joseph and Hyrum to answer them individually. The case of Elder Hiram Brown, who had been ordered to make an appearance at the April 6, 1844, Special Conference, was only one case of many. The immediate need to stop the preaching and practicing of polygamy and other false doctrines was so great that an article was printed April first in the Church's Times and Seasons, giving elders throughout the world authority to disfellowship any man they found preaching spiritual wifery or anything like unto it. They were told that they had authority to act first, without reporting the transgressions and getting authority from officials at Church headquarters. The editorial stated:


We very frequently receive letters from elders and individuals abroad, inquiring of us whether certain statements that they hear, and have written to them, are true: some pertaining to John C. Bennet's spiritual wife system; others in regard to immoral conduct, practiced by individuals, and sanctioned by the church; and as it is impossible for us to answer all of them, we take this opportunity of answering them all, once for all.

In the first place, we cannot but express our surprise that any elder or priest who has been in Nauvoo, and has had an opportunity of hearing the principles of truth advanced, should for one moment give credence to the idea that any thing like iniquity is practised, much less taught or sanctioned, by the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

We are the more surprised, since every species of iniquity is spoken against, and exposed publicly at the stand, and every means made use of that possibly can be, to suppress vice, both religious and civil; not only so, but every species of iniquity has frequently been exposed in the Times and Seasons, and its practisers and advocates held up to the world as corrupt men that ought to be avoided.

We are however living in the "last days;" a time when the scriptures say "men shall wax worse, and worse; deceiving, and being deceived;" in a time when it is declared, "if it is possible the very elect should be deceived." We have in our midst corrupt men, (and let no man be astonished at this for "the net shall gather in of every kind, good and bad;") these corrupt men circulate corrupt principles, for a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit; these spread their pernicious influence abroad, "they hatch cockatrices eggs, and weave the spider's web; he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper;" their words eat as doth a canker; "the poison of asps is under their tongue, and the way of peace they have not known." Such men not unfrequently go abroad and prey upon the creduly of the people, probably have clandestinely obtained an ordination, and go forth as elders, the more effectually to impose upon the public. Some have got horses, and others money, under specious pretences, from the unwary and unsuspecting, among the newly formed branches who have not had the sagacity to detect them.

There are other men who are corrupt and sensual, and who teach corrupt principles for the sake of gratifying their sensual appetites, at the expense and ruin of virtue and innocence. Such men ought to be avoided as pests to society, and be frowned down upon with contempt by every virtuous man and woman.

All of the above, of whatever name or nature, are "reprobate concerning the faith;" if the[y] write, they write corruptly; if they speak, they speak corruptly. They are such as the apostle speaks of, they speak "great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration."—They are high and lifted up, and would trample upon the humble, and the meek, and the unassuming, and are not afraid to teach for the commandment of God, their own corrupt, and devilish doctrines, and principles; let no man therefore, be deceived by them, let no man harbor them, nor bid them God speed; dont be partakers of their evil deeds.

If any man writes to you, or preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the book of Doctrine and Covenants, set him down as an imposter. You need not write to us to know what you are to do with such men; you have the authority with you.—Try them by the principles contained in the acknowledged word of God; if they preach, or teach, or practice contrary to that, disfellowship them; cut them off from among you as useless and dangerous branches, and if they are belonging to any of the quorums in the church, report them to the president of the quorum to which they belong, and if you cannot find that out, if they are members of an official standing, belonging to Nauvoo, report them to us.

Follow after purity, virtue, holiness, integrity, Godliness, and every thing that has a tendency to exalt and ennoble the human mind; and shun every man who teaches any other principles. (Times and Seasons 5 [April 1, 1844]: 490–491)

The instruction to priesthood members was very plain. No priesthood member, whatever his status, was exempt from being disfellowshiped immediately if he was found teaching that which was contrary to the Three Standard Books of the Church—not even those who "are members of an official standing, belonging to Nauvoo." This included members of the Quorum of Twelve and the Presidency of the Church!

Hundreds of Members of the Ladies' Relief Society Condemned Polygamy

Under the Presidency of Emma Smith, the members of the Ladies' Relief Society voted to accept a document entitled "The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo." That document was one of the strongest antipolygamous documents ever written by a Church member. It bore the signatures of President Emma Smith and H. M. Ells [Hannah Ells], secretary, showing their endorsements. Hundreds of indignant members of the Relief Society, who were enraged by the invasion into the Church of plural marriage under the guise of a variety of names, adopted a preamble and strong-worded resolutions against the men who had or were promoting polygamy and were slandering and defaming Joseph and Hyrum, and the attorneys who were defending the slanderers. "The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo" was possibly the most scathing document adopted and published by a legitimate group within the Church in the fourteen years since the Church had been organized.

"The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo" was written after a man named Orsimus F. Botswick slandered President Hyrum Smith and some of the widows of Nauvoo. That document was omitted from the LDS History of the Church by B. H. Roberts. If the text of "The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo" had been included in their history, it would have strengthened the account of Joseph's heroic fight against polygamy during the last four months of his earthly life. Orsimus Botswick is mentioned several times in the LDS history. Under the date of February 26, 1844, it is stated:

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 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 must have infuriated Emma and the other ladies of the Relief Society for Attorney Francis M. Higbee to represent Botswick in the case, for Higbee had been tried before the members of the Church's High Council in 1842, along with Dr. John C. Bennett, for practicing spiritual wifery.

"The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo" was committed to writing by March 7, 1844, for on that date that document was read to a great gathering of Saints at Nauvoo. It is recorded:

A vast assembly of Saints met at the Temple of the Lord ... by a special appointment of President Joseph Smith, for the purpose of advancing the progress of the Temple, &c.

The Patriarch, Hyrum Smith, was present; also of the Twelve Apostles, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, and George A. Smith; also the temple committee and about eight thousand Saints....

An article was also read by W. W. Phelps, entitled, "A Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo," and all the assembly [eight thousand strong] said "Amen" twice, (ibid., 236,241)

Two days later, on March 9,

The Female Relief Society met twice in the assembly room [over Joseph Smith's Store), and sanctioned "The Voice of Innocence From Nauvoo," and then adjourned for one week to accommodate others who could not get into the room at either of the meetings, (ibid., 248)

One week later, on March 16, two more meetings were held, making a total of four to accommodate the many women who were members of that society:

The Female Relief Society had two meetings in the assembly room, as it would not hold all at once, and sanctioned the "Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo." (ibid., 267)

"The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo" Was Published

The Nauvoo Neighbor for March 20, 1844, published an article entitled "Virtue Will Triumph," in which "The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo" was published. The article informed the readers that members of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo had held four meetings, two on March 9 and two more on March 16, to consider the adoption of certain resolutions contained within "The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo." The meetings were held at Joseph Smith's Red Brick Store, in the large assembly room (which was on the second floor). It was reported that an "overflowing" crowd attended all four meetings, with different ladies being present at each meeting. The women heard the document read, and unanimously adopted the preamble and resolutions presented to them for their consideration. Below are a few excerpts from the document, which was signed by President Emma Smith and secretary pro tern H. M. [Hannah] Ells:

The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo

The corruption of wickedness which manifested itself in such horrible deformity on the trial of Orsemus F. Bostwick last week, for slandering President Hyrum Smith and the widows of the city of Nauvoo, has awakened all the kindly feelings of female benevolence, compassion and pity, for the softer sex to spread forth the mantle of charity to shield the characters of the virtuous mothers, wives, and daughters of Nauvoo, from the blasting breath and poisonous touch of debauchess, vagabonds, and rakes, who have jammed themselves into our city to offer strange fire at the shrine of infamy, disgrace and degradation.... (Nauvoo Neighbor, March 20, 1844)

Here are some, but not all, of the references to the men who were perpetuating iniquity at Nauvoo. They were referred to in "The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo" as ungodly wretches, villains, tormentors of domestic felicity, fag ends of creation as was Cain, cankerworms, mean men, beasts of the field, the prostitute, a bloodthirsty pimp, carrion, a wolf, rotten-hearted ravens, seducer of female chastity, slanderer of female character, defamer of the character of the heads of the Church, miserable dupes of their licentiousness, who were to be shunned as the serpent on the land and the sharks in the sea. These are indeed strong references to the wicked men who were, in March 1844, causing grief and sorrow to the Saints at Nauvoo. "The Voice of Innocence" stated there were many distinguished women at Nauvoo who had suffered, among other things, persecution, sorrow, death, robbery, and loss by death of husbands and children. After listing these it was declared:

but none of these piercing calamities of man touched the heart of woman with such severe poignancy, as the envenomed slander of O. F. Bostwick, that he could "take a half bushel of meal, obtain his vile purpose, and get what accommodation he wanted with almost any woman in the city. (ibid.)

It was resolved unanimously

That Joseph Smith, the Mayor of the city, be tendered our thanks for the able and manly manner in which he defended injured innocence in the late trial of O. F. Bostwick for slandering President Hyrum Smith, and "almost all the women of the city." (ibid.)

It was also

Resolved unanimously. That while we render credence to the doctrines of Paul, that neither the man is without the woman; neither is the woman without the man in the Lord, yet we raise our voices and hands against John C. Bennett's "spiritual wife system," as a scheme of profligates to seduce women; and they that harp upon it, wish to make it popular for the convenience of their own cupidity; wherefore, while the marriage bed, undefiled is honorable, let polygamy, bigamy, fornication[,| adultery, and prostitution, be frowned out of the hearts of honest men to drop in the gulf of fallen nature, "where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched!" and let all the saints say, Amen!

Emma Smith, Prest.

H. M. [Hannah] Ells, Sec. pro tern. (ibid.)


The plural marriage charges and problems within the Church escalated in 1844, but Joseph continued his constant battle against that doctrine. According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with headquarters in Utah, Joseph fought the doctrine of plural marriage openly out of fear of persecution, while living with the many plural wives in secret. According to LDS Historian Andrew Jenson, Joseph had at least twenty-seven wives in 1844 (see Andrew Jenson, Historical Record 6 [May 1887]: 233–234). Author Fawn M. Brodie published the names of forty-nine alleged wives of Joseph Smith (see Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 335-336). Todd Compton, in a more recent publication, lists Joseph's wives as thirty-three, with an additional eight "Possible Wives," increasing the number of alleged wives to forty-one (see Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, Signature Books, 1997,4,6,8).

If any or all of the women named were Joseph's wives, there are many descendants of Joseph and those women as a natural result of the polygamous unions between them and Joseph. Descendants of those women may not be hard to locate, for most of them followed the leadership of Brigham Young, and many of their families may still be connected with the LDS Church.

DNA of the descendants of those women will now make it possible to discover who was telling the truth— either Joseph, who proclaimed his innocence, or those who have disputed his many testimonies and borne witness that they, and not the Prophet, were the bearers of truth. The day of truth is dawning. Those who followed the leadership of Brigham Young, and have proclaimed that certain members of their families were the offspring of Joseph the Prophet, can now, by DNA testing, prove or disprove the validity of those claims which they and their progenitors have proclaimed for over one hundred years.

Truth will prevail! As Joseph so fittingly wrote to J. C. Calhoun on January 2, 1844:

While I have powers of body and mind; while water runs and grass grows; while virtue is lovely, and vice hateful; and while a stone points out a sacred spot where a fragment of American liberty once was; I or my posterity will plead the cause of injured innocence. (Times and Seasons 5 [January 1, 1844]: 395)


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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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