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Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy
Volume 2

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 ]

Chapter 7

The Polygamy Crisis in the Fall of 1842

Joseph and Emma Smith

Dr. John C. Bennett continued his efforts to seek revenge upon Joseph Smith and the Saints after Joseph sponsored the anti-Bennett crusade in late August 1842. The corrupt doctor had gone to Carthage and to Missouri in July in an effort to have civil authorities extradite Joseph to Missouri for trial in the Boggs case. Then Bennett traveled to the East where he lectured in prominent cities to crowds who were eager to learn the worst about Latter Day Saints. Newspapers throughout the land published his charges—but a few, with more discerning editors, urged caution in accepting his stories as truth, or condemned his assertions altogether.

Joseph Was Forced to Remain in Hiding

As previously mentioned, Joseph returned from exile in Iowa in August, where he had hidden for a short time from the Missouri law officials. In spite of the fact that the Prophet spent the rest of the year hiding from his would-be captors, he continued his labors as editor, mayor, and president of the Church. Much of that time he was in seclusion at the Homestead with Emma and their children. A secret hiding place in their home enabled him to live with his family and still avoid arrest. Joseph III, Joseph and Emma's eldest son, has written an interesting description of the secret compartment where his father hid:

Shortly after Father's return from Washington [March 4, 1842] an addition was made to the back of the block house in which we lived—"block" meaning squared logs. Our house [the Homestead] faced south, and this addition was to the north. It [the new room] was one-story and but a single room... but it gave us three rooms, the two in the old part being used for sleeping rooms above and below, and the new one, a rather large room as rooms were counted then, becoming the family living room [and kitchen]. . . . Within a few feet of the west door of the new addition there was a little log building such as was common at the time, to be used for cooking in the summertime, a shed roof connecting it with the main part, thus forming a sort of indoor hallway. In cold weather the cooking was done at the fireplace in the main living room. The addition [bedrooms] which at the present time appears to the west of the log part of the house was built years later [by Joseph Smith III]....

Joseph Smith III as a child
Joseph Smith III,
who described his father's hiding place.

As for hiding-places, there was, in this addition to the old building [the original part of the Homestead] ... a small hidden retreat. An outside cellarway led into the cellar between the new part and the log cook-house, over which cellarway the mentioned connecting shed roof extended. Running west under the floor of this area or inside hallway, a small excavation was made. A little way down the stairway to the cellar the bearers of the steps were cut in two and the upper portion of the stairs furnished with hinges to allow that part to be lifted forward. This provided an entrance into the small retreat mentioned.

It was a vaulted place, with a dry floor of brick and bricked walls, and was large enough for a couple of people to occupy, either sitting or lying down, affording a degree of comfort for a stay of long or short duration as was necessary....

This small room was occupied a few times by Father when hunted, and was never, so far as I know, discovered by any of those who sought him, though the members of the family knew of its existence....

I remember once when we were living in the old house, now called "The Homestead," the report came that some officers were coming. Father had been harassed for months by so-called officials from Missouri seeking to arrest him on trumped-up charges and from whom he had reason to expect harsh and unfair treatment. Suddenly Father and the friend who was with him disappeared, and when the men came in they found the household quietly engaged in its customary affairs.

Questioned, Mother said her husband had been there a little while before but was not there then. She invited them in to assure themselves of the fact. They made a thorough search but failed to find him. No doubt they thought it very curious, for they may have seen him about the place. I know I was puzzled myself, but Mother's cool demeanor and the fact that the whole family seemed apparently serene and undisturbed prevented me from feeling alarmed. The suspicions of the man-hunters were disarmed, and they went off about their business, leaving Father and his friend to breathe freely again. (Mary Audentia Smith Anderson, The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith III (1832–1914) [Independence, Missouri: Price Publishing Company, 2001], 19c, 20a–b)

The log cookhouse described by Joseph III, which adjoined the Homestead, had been the first Nauvoo home of Joseph Smith, Sr., and Lucy Mack Smith. He stated:

I remember two places where Grandfather [Joseph Smith I] and Grandmother [Lucy] lived. One was a small log house on the west side of the frame attachment to the block house [the Homestead], (ibid., 5b)

With his convenient hiding place, Joseph was able to remain at home and transact Church and city business. By being watchful, he was also able to go to his office on an adjoining lot and to the printing office two blocks away. It was important that he was able to be with Emma who had been a school teacher, for she was able to assist him with writing documents for his legal defense and his fight against polygamy.

Although Joseph sometimes hid in other homes, writers of LDS history as a rule do not mention the fact that he spent most of the time hiding at his own home. It is almost certain that Dr. Bennett had no knowledge of the secret compartment, or he would have informed the officers who sought to arrest the Prophet. The hideaway was a well-kept secret by the Smith family.

Cannon's Inaccurate Account
of Joseph's Residence and Whereabouts on September 3

Evidently some of the LDS Church officials were also unaware of Joseph's secret, underground hideaway at the Homestead. One of their historians, George Q. Cannon, has given this incorrect account of an incident having to do with Joseph being in hiding:

Homestead in Nauvoo
The Homestead in Nauvoo, showing the living room-kitchen on the left and the reconstructed summer kitchen on the right. Joseph escaped through the door on the left. His underground hiding place was beneath the floor of an enclosed hallway between the two buildings.

About noon on the 3rd [of September 1842], Deputy-Sheriff Pitman [Pittman] with two other men came stealthily upon Joseph's residence and entered it while he was at dinner with his family. Before they reached the room where the Prophet was they met John Boynton and demanded that he should reveal Joseph's hiding place. While Boynton was making some evasive answer, the Prophet walked out through a rear door of the mansion [House], and entering a patch of tall corn in the garden, passed serenely through to the residence of Newel K. Whitney.

In the meantime the officers proceeded to search the house. Emma demanded a sight of the warrant under which they were proceeding. Pitman said he had none authorizing him to search, but insisted upon going through the house. After Emma felt sure that Joseph had escaped, she permitted them to hunt through the building.

Again that night two parties made another search of the residence but failed to discover him. (George Q. Cannon, The Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet [Salt Lake City, Utah: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1888], 389–390)

Cannon made an error when he stated that Joseph was living in the Mansion House when Deputy Pittman gained entrance into the home on September 3,1842, for Joseph and Emma lived in the Homestead on September 3. They did not move into the Mansion House until August 31, 1843, almost a year after Pittman's visit, for it had not yet been built. Therefore, it would have been impossible for Joseph, who resided in the Homestead, to have gone out the back door of the nonexistent Mansion House, into a cornfield, and into the Whitney home on that date.

How Joseph Eluded Deputy Pittman

To better understand how the Martyr escaped from his would-be captors, it is necessary to understand that the Homestead had three doors in 1842, the same as it does now:

  1. the front door on the south facing the Mississippi River;
  2. a door on the east side of the new living room-kitchen; and
  3. a third door on the west side of that room, which led to the secret compartment under the hallway which connected the new room and the summer kitchen.
Homestead Dining Room
Joseph and his family were eating in this room when Deputy Pittman entered the house. The Prophet went to his secret compartment by exiting through the door behind the spinning wheel.

Deputy Pittman evidently entered the south room of the Homestead, where he was met and detained by John Boynton, a former apostle who was visiting Joseph at the time. Joseph was too wise to make an attempt to leave the house at noontime, for he knew he was not free to be upon the streets—even most of the Saints must not know of his whereabouts. The most logical thing for the Prophet to have done when he realized the deputy was a few feet away in the adjoining room, was to quietly pass through the west door and hide in the secret, underground compartment. One thing is certain—Joseph would not have gone out the west door of the Homestead, then to a cornfield, and on to Bishop Whitney's home four blocks away at the corner of Parley and Partridge Streets. (The Whitney home has been restored and now serves as the Nauvoo Land & Records Office.)

It is important to correct George Q. Cannon's account of Joseph's eluding the officers on September 3, for in spite of Joseph's indisputable fight against polygamy during that summer, the LDS Church alleges that only five weeks earlier on July 27, 1842, the Prophet had married Sarah Ann Whitney, Bishop Whitney's seventeen-year-old daughter (Joseph F. Smith, Jr., Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage [Press of Zion's Printing and Publishing Company: Independence, Jackson County, Mo., U. S. A.], 74). While the Prophet may have hidden at times in the Whitney home, it does not appear that he hid in the Whitney home on September 3, but was safely hidden at his own residence in his secret compartment. (The LDS Church's claim that Joseph was married plurally to Sarah Ann Whitney on July 27 will be discussed in a later chapter.)

Joseph Insisted upon Staying with Emma

Although Joseph sometimes hid in the homes of others, the Lord showed him by vision and by a dream, that his safety was with Emma. According to the LDS Church's official history, Joseph received that divine direction about a week after he was forced into hiding on August 8. Various Church leaders were advising Joseph as to what was his best way to escape being captured. Bishop George Miller, who was engaged in obtaining lumber for the Temple in the Pineries of Wisconsin, urged Joseph to seek safety there. On August 16, Joseph wrote to Emma:

Brother Miller again suggested to me the propriety of my accompanying him to the Pine Woods, and then he return, and bring you and the children. My mind will eternally revolt at every suggestion of that kind, more especially since the dream and vision that was manifested to me on the last night. My safety is with you, if you want to have it so. Anything more or less than this cometh of evil. My feelings and counsel I think ought to be abided. If I go to the Pine country, you shall go along with me, and the children; and if you and the children go not with me, I don't go. I do not wish to exile myself for the sake of my own life, I would rather fight it out. It is for your sakes, therefore, that I would do such a thing. (LDS History of the Church 5:104)

The fact that Joseph insisted upon staying with Emma is another proof that he was not a polygamist. When Brigham Young made his journey to what is now Salt Lake City, Utah, he left his legal wife behind, and took a young plural wife, Clara Decker Young, with him. Joseph, in direct opposition to Brigham's conduct, said to Emma, "My safety is with you.... If I go to the Pine country, you shall go along with me, and the children; and if you and the children go not with me, I don't go." The two of them chose to remain together at the Homestead.

On November 2,1842, Joseph said:

Spent this forenoon in removing the books, desk, &c., from my store over to my house. (LDS History of the Church 5:183)

He could now perform his work near his secret hideaway and be near his beloved family.

Joseph Published Much against Polygamy

Joseph did not slacken his intense warfare against polygamy after the three hundred and eighty missionaries left Nauvoo in early September to travel throughout the United States, preaching the gospel and distributing the Affidavits and Certificates Disproving the Statements and Affidavits Contained in John C. Bennett's Letters.

One way in which he continued his efforts was to publish extensive material against polygamy in the Times and Seasons, of which he was editor. As mentioned in a previous chapter, he published in the September 1 issue:

Inasmuch as the public mind has been unjustly abused through the fallacy of Dr. Bennett's letters, we make an extract on the subject of marriage, showing the rule of the church on this important matter. The extract is from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and is the only rule allowed by the church.

"All legal contracts of marriage made before a person is baptized into this church, should be held sacred and 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 one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again." (Times and Seasons 3 [September 1, 1842]: 909)

Note Joseph's assertion that "The extract is from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and is the only rule allowed by the church." The Prophet could not have been more clear and definite in stating his monogamous position. The LDS Church alleges that he was a polygamist at the time. If so, he was purposefully covering up, lying to camouflage his actions and mislead the Saints and the public. For a prophet to lie would have been cowardly, unrighteous, and sinful, and would have disqualified him as a righteous prophet of God. But time is vindicating Joseph. There is mounting evidence that he was making truthful statements as he systematically asserted his innocence and condemned polygamy.

The Prophet's brother, Apostle William Smith, also printed that the only rule on marriage in the Church was the one found in the Doctrine and Covenants as quoted in the September 1, 1842, Times and Seasons. William printed a statement from another newspaper, the Portland American, which had referred to Bennett's charge of a "seraglio" at Nauvoo. According to William, the Portland American printed,

Suppose he [St. James] were to drop into the spiritual Seraglio of Joe Smith at Nauvoo, and see in that city ten thousand honest looking people devoted to that monstrous delusion ... [and William Smith responded:]

All the leaven of the man of sin, we despise:—so when the Portland American, "dropped the spiritual seraglio of Joe Smith at Nauvoo," he told a falsehood without any proof, or color of Proof, more than the say so, of that wretch and outcast of society, J. C. Bennett. For the rule of marriage among the Mormons, see the Times and Seasons of Oct. 1,1842. (Wasp 1 [October 8, 1842]: 2)

Once more the public was directed to the section on "Marriage" in the Doctrine and Covenants.

The "Marriage" Article Was Again Quoted

Exactly one month after Joseph republished the statement that "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 one wife," he published it again. This time he gave it greater emphasis by republishing the complete article on "Marriage," which was Section 109 of the 1835 Edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. (As stated previously, it is presently Section 111 in the RLDS Doctrine and Covenants but was omitted from the LDS Doctrine and Covenants in 1876 when Brigham Young caused Section 132, which favored polygamy, to be inserted.)

A Certificate Signed by Prominent Men

Following the "Marriage" article, Joseph published in the same issue certificates signed by leading men and women of the Church and city. The certificate signed by the gentlemen stated:

We have given the above rule of marriage as the only one practiced in this church, to show that Dr. J. C. Bennett's "secret wife system" is a matter of his own manufacture; and further to disabuse the public ear, and shew that the said Bennett and his misanthropic friend Origen Bachelor [who had joined Bennett in lecturing in New York City against Joseph and the Church], are perpetrating a foul and infamous slander upon an innocent people, and need but be known to be hated and despised. In support of this position, we present the following certificates:—

We the undersigned members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and residents of the city of Nauvoo, persons of families do hereby certify and declare that we know of no other rule or system of marriage than the one [above] published from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and we give this certificate to show that Dr. J. C. Bennett's "secret wife system" is a creature of his own make as we know of no such society in this place nor never did.

S. [Samuel] Bennett,
George Miller [bishop],
Alpheus Cutler,
Reynolds Cahoon,
Wilson Law,
W. Woodruff [apostle],
N. K. Whitney [bishop],
Albert Pettey,
Elias Higbee [high priest, high council, justice of the peace],
John Taylor [apostle],
E. [Ebenezer] Robinson; [high priest, publisher, justice of the peace],
Aaron Johnson. (Times and Seasons 3 [October 1, 1842]: 939–940)

A Certificate Signed by Prominent Women

It is significant that the certificate below was signed by some of Nauvoo' s most prominent women. It is inconceivable that so many women would knowingly lie to cover up a new secret doctrine so foreign to their natures and to the Scriptures which they revered. Those women, led by Emma Smith, bequeathed to the Church this testimony:

We the undersigned members of the ladies' relief society, and married females do certify and declare that we know of no system of marriage being practised in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints save the one contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and we give this certificate to the public to show that J. C. Bennett's "secret wife system" is a disclosure of his own make.

Emma Smith, President [wife of Joseph Smith],
Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Counsellor [wife of Bishop Newel K. Whitney],
Sarah M. Cleveland, Counsellor [wife of Judge Cleveland, a nonmember],
Eliza R. Snow, Secretary [poetess and schoolteacher],
Mary C. Miller [wife of Bishop George Miller],
Lois Cutler [wife of Alpheus Cutler],
Thirza Cahoon [wife of Reynolds Cahoon],
Ann Hunter [wife of Bishop Edward Hunter],
Jane Law [wife of President William Law],
Sophia R. Marks [daughter of Stake President William Marks],
Polly Z. Johnson [wife of Aaron Johnson],
Abigail Works [mother of Angeline Robinson, wife of Ebenezer Robinson; and mother of Miriam Works, Brigham Young's first wife],
Catharine Pettey [wife of Albert Pettey],
Sarah Higbee [wife of Elias Higbee],
Phebe Woodruff [wife of Apostle Wilford Woodruff],
Leonora Taylor [wife of Apostle John Taylor],
Sarah Hillman [wife of Mayhew Hillman],
Rosannah Marks [wife of Stake President William Marks],
Angeline Robinson [wife of Ebenezer Robinson].
(Times and Seasons 3 [October 1, 1842]: 940)

Joseph Published that Hagar Was Sarah's Servant, Not Abraham's Wife

LDS publications printed in Utah contain numerous references to Abraham as an excuse for practicing polygamy. Members of the LDS Church still strongly defend Section 132 of their Doctrine and Covenants, which falsely attributes these words to Joseph:

I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ... as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives.... Go ye [Joseph], therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.... God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. (LDS DC 132: 1, 32–34)

An article in the Church's newspaper at Nauvoo, while Joseph was the editor, contradicts the above and gives one more evidence that Joseph did not regard Hagar as Abraham's wife, but as Abraham's wife's servant. In an article in the Times and Seasons, Hagar, who bore a son for Abraham, is referred to as Abraham's wife Sarah's servant, and not Abraham's wife. The article reported a conversation held between a Saint and a minister of another church, and contained the following:

C. [Clergyman] ... it is next to blasphemy to suppose that God would send a holy angel among men in such an enlightened age of the world.

S. [Saint] ... God never had a church and people upon the earth, without administering to them by angels. Hagar, Abraham's wife's servant saw an angel, to comfort her in the hour of distress. (Times and Seasons 3 [September 1, 1842]: 907)

If Joseph had been an advocate of polygamy, and was using Abraham as an example or excuse, he would not have published an article which referred to Hagar as being only a servant.

The Nauvoo Presses Spread Truth about Monogamy

Times and Seasons Office in Nauvoo
Type displayed presently in trays in the Times and Seasons office in Nauvoo—replicas of those used in the 1840s in the Church's printing office. Each letter had to be taken from its tray by hand and placed in the line of type—a laborious and time-consuming process.

During this period the Prophet also published a statement in which the readers were assured that the presses of the Times and Seasons and the Wasp were publishing the truth—the subject of polygamy being a major topic in both papers. That statement was:

We have two presses doing as much as can be expected from the limited resources of a people twice plucked up by the roots, and plundered, even to their clothes, besides the loss of a good printing establishment [in Missouri]. As far as truth can be spread and lies contradicted by two presses, against several thousand [presses, whose editors were anti-Latter Day Saint], it is done! (ibid. [October 1, 1842]: 937)

Joseph Published that a Man Must Not Covet His Neighbor's Wife

The LDS Church has taught for over a century that Joseph married women who were already married to other men. According to LDS authors, by the fall of 1842 Joseph was married to Mary Elizabeth Rollins, wife of Adam Lightner (see John J. Stewart, Brigham Young and His Wives: And The True Story of Plural Marriage [Salt Lake City, Utah: Mercury Publishing Company, Inc., 1961], 89), and Zina Diantha Huntington, wife of Henry B. Jacobs (ibid., 92; see also Andrew Jenson, Ed., The Historical Record 6 [May 1887]: 233; and Times and Seasons 2 [April 1, 1841]: 374). Both women were living with their husbands at that time.

However, during this same time frame Joseph wrote against coveting other men's wives, when as a part of his "History of Joseph Smith" which was appearing serially in the Church paper, he republished an 1830 revelation in which it was revealed to him:

And again: I command thee, that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife. (Times and Seasons 3 [October 15,1842]: 944)

Joseph could not have taken other men's wives without violating this commandment. If he had been a polygamist in 1842, he would not have republished this 1830 revelation against coveting "thy neighbor's wife."

Joseph Published Elder Winchester's Denial of Polygamy

The Times and Seasons contained a reprint of an article from the Baltimore Clipper, which reported an address by one of the Church's prominent missionaries, Elder Benjamin Winchester. It published:

He [Winchester] spoke of the various publications of Bennett and others, and of the prejudices which they had necessarily excited—that the Mormons were charged with sanctioning a community of wives and of goods, with polygamy, and various other enormities, not one word of which was true. He had belonged to the society almost from its origin, and had always seen vice discountenanced as in other societies. Members retained their own property; were confined to one wife; and required to live morally and uprightly, and were subject to be expelled for misconduct. This was the case with Bennett, who had been expelled for his deviations from virtue.... The society [Church] is governed by rules accessible to all; some of which he read, and to which there could be no exception. (ibid. 4 [December 1, 1842]: 28)

Lorenzo Wasson Came to Joseph's Defense

Lorenzo Wasson, who was Emma's nephew, was devoted to his Aunt Emma and Uncle Joseph. He was the son of Emma's sister, Elizabeth, and her husband, Benjamin Wasson. The Prophet baptized and confirmed Lorenzo a member of the Church on March 20, 1842, in the Mississippi River at Nauvoo (see Times and Seasons 3 [April 15, 1842]: 752–753). Lorenzo was soon ordained and sent forth as a missionary. He had lived at the Homestead, and upon learning of Dr. Bennett's slanderous attack upon Joseph, he wrote a letter to his uncle and aunt in which he offered to make an affidavit "in relation to Bennett." His letter stated:

Philadelphia, July 30,1842.

Dear Uncle and Aunt.... When I arrived in Philadelphia the saints were in a tremendous flustration for the welfare of brother Joseph, and their friends at Nauvoo. The disclosures of J. C. Bennett and his sattelites had just arrived, and the faith of some was failing—others doubting, and those founded on the rock were contending against such unheard of falsehoods and slanders, and turning the reproach where it belongs—upon the heads of those black and midnight fiends who have made this bold attempt to destroy a virtuous people.... If I can be of any service in this Bennett affair I am ready. I was reading in your chamber [upstairs bedroom] last summer— yourself and Bennett came into the lower room [in the Homestead], and I heard you give J. C. Bennett a tremendous flagellation for practicing iniquity under the base pretence of authority from the heads of the church—if you recollect I came down just before you were through talking. There are many things I can inform you of, if necessary, in relation to Bennett and his prostitutes. I am satisfied of your virtue and integrity. I have been with you to visit the sick, and time and again to houses where you had business of importance, you requested me to do so—many times I knew not why, but I am satisfied it was that you might not be censured by those that were watching you with a jealous eye, and I now solemnly protest before God and man, I never saw a thing unvirtuous in your conduct. With sentiments of high esteem to the children and family, I am your most obedient nephew. L. D. Wasson. (ibid. 3 [August 15,1842]: 891–892)

By the time Lorenzo's letter arrived, Joseph was in hiding. On August 16, while the Prophet was hiding, he wrote Emma a letter in which he instructed her to write Lorenzo and ask him to make the affidavit which he had offered to provide. The Prophet wrote:

I want you to write to Lorenzo D. Wasson, and get him to make affidavit to all he knows about Bennett, and forward it. (LDS History of the Church 5:105)

There is every reason to believe that Emma notified Lorenzo of Joseph's request, and that Lorenzo supplied Joseph with the "many things I can inform you of, if necessary, in relation to Bennett and his prostitutes."

From the day of Lorenzo's baptism until Joseph's death, Lorenzo did all that was in his power to assist Joseph, as the following shows. In June 1843, while Joseph, Emma, and their children were visiting Lorenzo's parents, Elizabeth and Benjamin Wasson, near Dixon, Illinois, Sheriff Joseph H. Reynolds of Jackson County, Missouri, and Constable Harmon T. Wilson of Carthage, Illinois, served Joseph with a warrant and took the Prophet into custody. Joseph III recalled:

I think it was through the active interest of my cousin Lorenzo and the influence of Uncle Benjamin that by the time the officers and their prisoner reached the town of Dixon some stir in Father's behalf had already been made, legal counsel secured, and a proper appeal made to the Court there. (Anderson, Memoirs of President Joseph Smith III, 36c)

In recalling his father's return to Nauvoo, Joseph III said:

The news of Father's arrest had spread about and a cavalcade of troops, under command of one of the Legion officers and acting upon a request sent by Mother's nephew, Lorenzo, went out to meet him and the officers who had him in custody, (ibid., 37a)

LDS history records that it was Lorenzo who drove Emma and her children back to Nauvoo. They quote Joseph's record as saying:

Immediately after I left Dixon, my wife and children started with my carriage from Inlet Grove for Nauvoo being driven by her nephew, Lorenzo D. Wasson. (LDS History of the Church 5: 445)

Joseph III remembers Lorenzo in a sadder scene. When recalling the assassination of his father, Joseph III stated:

About the first that now occurs to my memory was the appearance of the messenger announcing the death of Father; I think it was Lorenzo Wassen, my mother's nephew, the son of Benjamin Wassen and my mother's sister Elizabeth. He came in, covered with dust, bringing the news. (Anderson, Memoirs of Joseph Smith III, 37b–c)

Judging from Lorenzo's faithfulness, did he make the affidavit which Joseph requested? If so, what happened to it? No affidavit by Lorenzo was published in Joseph's lifetime.

A few weeks after the Prophet made the request to Lorenzo, Joseph resigned the editorship of the Times and Seasons. Apostle John Taylor, who secretly favored the practicing of polygamy, replaced him as editor. There was an immediate and substantial decrease in the publication of materials against polygamy from then until Joseph's death.

If Lorenzo made the affidavit, and if it still exists, a revealment of its contents would no doubt supply more testimony of Joseph's innocence.

The above quotations from the Times and Seasons, the Wasp, and the LDS History of the Church give added evidence that while Joseph was hiding to avoid arrest in 1842, he waged a tremendous battle to uproot polygamy from the Church. He never changed his course, never deviated from his role of a monogamous husband, and gave no indication of lying or attempting to cover up a polygamous way of life. He bore faithful witness in easy-to-understand language that he was not a polygamist, and that he abhorred that doctrine and would not tolerate it in the Church.

He and Emma were an exemplary couple—unified in marriage fidelity and Church doctrine. Obedient to the vision and dream that had been given him, Joseph worked closely with Emma, knowing that with her was safety. Likewise, Emma put her trust in Joseph as false polygamous accusations tried to engulf them. Emma must have found comfort in the revelation which the Lord had given to her in 1830—for with his hands upon her head, Joseph had prophetically proclaimed:

Emma Smith, my daughter... thou needest not fear, for thy husband shall support thee in the church. (RLDS DC 24:2d; LDS DC 25:9)

This prophecy was in part fulfilled because Joseph supported her "in the church" by never taking a plural wife. The two of them stood as one in their fight against polygamy.


[ 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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