14. History and Analysis of D&C 132
1. Hyrum read the revelation to the High Council, later in a June 10, 1844 city council meeting he discusses the contents.
“Councilor H. Smith continued; … Referred to the revelation read to the High Council of the Church, which has caused so much talk about a multiplicity of wives; that said revelation was in answer to a question concerning things which transpired in former days, and had no reference to the present time.
If you are going to claim that Hyrum was a polygamist, you have to conclude that he is lying in this High Council meeting. The only other possibility is to acknowledge that Hyrum is telling the truth and to conclude that he and Joseph were not polygamist.
Earlier in the same meeting Joseph Smith (the mayor) said, "if he had a city council who felt as he did, the establishmnt, (refering to the Nauvoo Expostor) would be a Nuisan[c]e before night. . . Read Statemets of Austin Cowles— & said he had never had any privite convesation with Austin Cowles on these subjcts, that he preahed on the stand from the bible showing the order in ancient days having nothing to do with the present time."Nauvoo City Council Rough Minute Book, February 1844–January 1845," p. 24, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 28, 2019, (https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/nauvoo-city-council-rough-minute-book-february-1844-january-1845/26)
Temple Lot Case
Abstract of Evidence
Temple Lot Case U.S.C.C.
James Whitehead, being sworn on the part of the Plaintiff testified as follows in Rebuttal:—
I testified in this case in February last, and on that occasion testified that I was the private secretary of the prophet Joseph Smith,and I was.
I was engaged in that capacity a little over two years, and was so engaged at the time of the death of the prophet. I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, during the time that I acted in the capacity of private secretary for the prophet Joseph Smith.
I do not know anything about the doctrine of polygamy ever having been taught in the church by Joseph Smith, at any time prior to his death. I never heard him teach it, either publicly or privately, he never said a word to me about it at all, and. I never heard it taught either publicly or privately by him, or by an elder or any other officer in the church prior to his death; and I had a good opportunity of knowing it if any such a thing had been taught by the prophet or anyone else, because I was there in his office and with him continually.
I was well acquainted with his family and with his wife Emma, and I never saw anything, or heard of any such a thing, being taught there in Nauvoo, prior to the time of the death of the prophet. I never even heard of it one way or the other.
There was no elder in the church nor anyone else in authority in the church, during the time I was there in Nauvoo, occupying the position of private secretary to the prophet, that taught or practiced polygamy. I never heard anybody teach any such principles prior to the prophet's death. I have heard persons holding office in the church preach upon doctrinal points a great many times, both Joseph Smith and others.
I have heard Joseph Smith talk to the elders and other officers in the church upon doctrinal points; have heard him preach to them a great many times, upon doctrinal points, and heard him talk to them in a conversational way, upon doctrinal points or upon the doctrine of the church.
These conversations took place frequently in the office when I was there, but they would not always be in his office, sometimes talks would occur at his house. I have heard him talk in his office and in his house, about the doctrines of the church, upon the doctrines of the faith of Christ, in fact all the leading doctrines, tenets, and principles of the church. I never heard him say anything about a plurality of wives.
I knew a man by the name of Kingsbury, he was in the storeroom there in Nauvoo, as a clerk, delivering supplies, provisions, etc., to the ones that labored on the Temple, and other places for the church, under the direction of Newell K. Whitney, Bishop of the church. His name was Joseph C. Kingsbury, he did not have anything to do whatever, with the duties of secretary to the prophet Joseph Smith.
I also knew William Clayton, knew him in England before he came to this country, and also knew him after he came to Nauvoo. During the time that I was performing the duties of private secretary to the Prophet, he was a clerk in the office for quite a while; he did not have the same duties to perform that I had; he was there helping on the books and doing whatever he was directed to do. He was a clerk and attended to a great deal of the out door business, while I was the private secretary of the prophet; had his private papers and did that kind of work.
William Clayton was Joseph Smith's private secretary in some parts of the business. He attended the outside business and did whatever he was directed to do. William Clayton was there in the office before I was, but was not there all the time after I came. He was removed from his position as private secretary, by Joseph Smith and the committee- - the temple committee—about the time I was appointed, because there was something took place in connection with Clayton's work that gave dissatisfaction; there was some money disappeared and he was blamed for it, and for that reason he was removed from that office, that occurred in 1843, in the beginning of the year.
After he was removed as private secretary or clerk in the office, he did outside work, looking after the property of the church out side. The church at that time owned considerable property, and would buy in property and sell it out again; and he attended to that kind of business.
I heard about the order of the church on the question of sealing, I cannot tell the date that I first heard of it, that is the time of the year, but it was in the early part of the year 1843, I think it might possibly be the latter part of 1842, but I would not be positive about the date. That was the ordinance of sealing as they called it, of husband and wife. They would be married according to the ordinances of the laws of God, not only for time but for eternity as well.
That applied only to husband and wife, and a man could not have but one wife, they were not allowed to have more than one wife, but could have one wife and could be sealed to her for this life, as well as for the life to come.
Newell K. Whitney, the bishop at one time showed me a revelation on the question of sealing. The revelation that Whitney showed me was on the matter of sealing, that was before they went to Salt Lake City, it was after the death of Joseph Smith that he showed me the revelation on sealing.
The circumstances under which he came to show it to me were; I went up to Winter Quarters or to Omaha to settle my account with the church, and make my report. That was after they had left Nauvoo, and were in Winter Quarters at Omaha, or near there. I went there to make my report and settlement with the church, and while I was there I stayed all night with Bishop Whitney, and he showed me this revelation; that was in the spring of 1848.
I do not recollect the date that the revelation purported to have been given; I do not recollect the date positively, but my recollection is that it purported to have been given in 1842, or 1843. The document was about as much as would fill both sides of a sheet of foolscap, about three sides of a sheet of paper like that. It was written, I did not write it. I read it. I think it was in the handwriting of William Clayton. I have never seen it since that time. I have never been near the Utah Church since that time. I do not know what became of it. I never saw it in print. I saw what they claimed was it, or what purported to be it, published in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, by Brigham Young in Salt Lake.
But the one published in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants by the Utah Church was not the one that Bishop Whitney showed me at Winter Quarters. It was not the same at all. It was entirely changed. It was so changed that it sanctioned polygamy, and that change was made by the Brighamites. For there was no such thing in it when I read it. You can find it for yourself in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants published by the Brighamites in Salt Lake, and you will see in it, as published by them, that it sanctions and imposes polygamy on the church, but there was no such thing in the revelation that Whitney showed me.
I remember when I first saw that revelation, they have in their Book of Doctrine and Covenants, it was brought to me by a man from Salt Lake, and he showed it to me, and asked me what/ I thought of it, and I told him that it was spurious. I did not recognize the revelation published in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants from Salt Lake, as the revelation I had seen at Winter Quarters. It was not the same. It was changed so that it sanctioned polygamy, and there was nothing about polygamy or plural marriage in the revelation that Whitney showed me. It was entirely changed, but there were some points of similarity in it. It did not have the same language at all. I knew, that, when I read it I considered that they had got that revelation from Bishop Whitney, and had changed it and added to it, it had nothing to do with polygamy when I read it at Winter Quarters; and when it was published, they had changed it around until they made it sanction polygamy; and the revelation that Whitney had, did not say any thing about polygamy.
When I lived at Nauvoo, I resided, maybe, three hundred yards from where Joseph Smith's house was, I saw him there frequently, perhaps not every day, but almost every day, that he was in Nauvoo. 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 do not know any other woman who claimed to be the wife of the prophet, there at Nauvoo, nor at any other place. I do not know of any other wife he had other than Emma, at any time or place. I never heard of such a thing during his lifetime.
I do not know of any woman who claimed to be his wife or plural wife. I never saw any of them, do not know anything about that. 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 to any woman claiming to be his wife, except Emma.
The book marked Exhibit "A," and entitled "The Doctrine and Covenants," published by the Utah Church at Salt Lake City, is the book that contains the revelation on polygamy, I believe. I have read page (464). I have read what is in that book before, but I never heard of it or saw it anywhere but in there. I knew nothing about that at all until I saw it in that book.
I can swear positively that it is not the same as the Whitney revelation that was handed to me and that I read at Winter Quarters; because that revelation that Whitney had, had no such words in it to my knowledge, that was put into it by Brigham Young, or some of his clique, for it was not in there at the time that Whitney showed it to me, of that I am positive. I did not say that there was enough of the Whitney revelation in this revelation in the Utah Book of Doctrine and Covenants for me to identify it. I did not say any such thing. There was nothing of the sort in it.
I said they had taken parts of that revelation and added to it in such a way as to change its meaning entirely. I did not say that was the same revelation, and I do not say now that it is or that it is not, but if there is any part of the revelation that Whitney showed me in this, it has been so mutilated, and changed around, as to entirely change its meaning from what it was. I say that I could read over two or three pages of manuscript forty years ago, and now tell the substance that was in it, for it was some thing that particularly impressed itself on my memory, and was something that left a very strong impression on my mind, for that was the first time I had seen that revelation on sealing, and the only time I saw it, and I was interested in it to a great extent, and I observed it closely, and I remember about what the doctrine was that it taught, and I know that this doctrine of polygamy was not taught in it.
I will swear positively that that revelation that Whitney showed me was not the same as this published in this book, they were not the same at all. I can tell from my memory that there are principles taught in this book, "Exhibit A," in this alleged revelation, that were not taught in the revelation that Whitney had. I know that of my own knowledge. I have given the reasons why I would be likely to remember this revelation, and what was in it, that Whitney showed me, and I do remember it in substance, and I know that the principles that were taught, in the one that Whitney showed me, are not the ones in this book, "Exhibit A." and if it is the same revelation, it has been added to. and changed, so that there is not the same meaning in it, that was in the original. The one that Whitney showed me did not teach any such stuff as this here in "Exhibit A," nor any like stuff.
I knew William Law. at Nauvoo. while I was private secretary to Joseph Smith, he became disaffected towards the church while I was there at Nauvoo, and went off along with John C. Bennet, before Joseph Smith's death.
I was not the secretary of the church, I was the private secretary of Joseph Smith, and kept his journals and his letter books.
Brigham Young was never chosen President of the church to my knowledge. If he was ever chosen President I do not know any thing about it. They claimed at Winter Quarters that he was chosen President, at the time they held a conference there at Kanesville, but I was not there, and do not know anything about it of my own knowledge. He was the President of the "Twelve" while I was at Nauvoo, before the death of Joseph Smith, but I do not know when he was chosen President of the Twelve. He was not accepted at Nauvoo, after the death of Joseph Smith as the President of the church, not at Nauvoo, no, sir. I am positive that he was not chosen President of the church at Nauvoo.
I am acquainted with the publication known as the Times and Seasons, that was the church publication just the same as the Herald is now. I have read from page (637), of the Times and Seasons the part you requested me, as follows:—
On the eighth of August, 1844, at a special meeting of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, convened at the stand in the city of Nauvoo, President Brigham Young called the audience to order, and arranged the several quorums according to their standing and the rules of the church. The meeting had been previously called, as stated, to choose a guardian or trustee for said church.
That does not refresh my recollection, I knew that before I read it to-day, as well as I do now, and I say now, notwithstanding the quotation I have read, that Brigham Young, on the eighth of August, 1844. was not the President of the church, and I say at that time he was not elected President of the church, and he was not the acting President of the church at that time. He was the President of the Quorum of Twelve and that was all.
William Clayton’s Account Differs from That of Others.In Clayton’s account, he indicated that he was the only person with Joseph and Hyrum when he wrote (recorded) the polygamy revelation, as well as when he read it back to Joseph “slowly and carefully.” Clayton also alleged that it took him only three hours to write it. On the other hand, W. W. Phelps, Joseph’s clerk, main-tained it did not take three hours for Clayton to write the “plural marriage document,” but that it took ten to twelve days, and that he (Phelps) also helped write it! (See Jason W. Briggs, The Basis of Brighamite Polygamy: A Criticism upon the (so-called) Revelation of July 12th, 1843, 8.)
Charles Derry, an RLDS missionary to Salt Lake City, was a former resident of Salt Lake City and a member of the LDS Church under Brigham Young’s leadership. Derry, in his Autobiography of Charles Derry, wrote:
Joseph F. Smith says the “Revelation on Polygamy” was given at different times. W. W. Phelps says he wrote part of it, also that Brigham and Joseph wrote part, and that Clayton wrote a part. While Clayton swears he wrote it all, Brigham says, “Phelps lies.” (Journal of History 7 [July 1914]: 340)
In the above accounts, the discrepancies about the fundamental parts of the polygamy revelation story (the length of time to write it and the number of people involved) are so major that it gives strong credence to the belief that the entire story is false.
Clayton Claimed There Was Uninterrupted Solitude at the Busiest Place in Town. Clayton asserted that when Joseph and Hyrum arrived at the store that morning, they decided that Joseph should dictate the revelation. It took them three hours to do so. Then, more time (possibly up to an hour) would have been needed for Clayton to slowly read it back to Joseph for proofing. If they started at nine o’clock in the morning, they would have been finished about one o’clock. Then, Hyrum supposedly went to Emma’s home (the Homestead cabin) to read her the lengthy document. While there, she allegedly gave him a very angry response. This could have taken about another hour, advancing the time to approximately two o’clock. Afterwards, Hyrum reportedly returned to Joseph’s store to report on the ill-fated adventure, bringing the time to nearly two-thirty. Clayton insisted that during the time they worked on the revelation (over three hours) he, Hyrum, and Joseph were not interrupted by anyone. Not a single soul other than the three of them were present! Clayton’s claim of solitude during this time seems very unlikely, for Joseph’s store was the busiest place in town!
The store was built on a foundation measuring only forty by twenty-three feet (or about twice the size of the average two-car garage of the typical suburban home in our day). The downstairs served as a general store offering food and other daily necessities.It also served as a banking outlet where loans and repayments were transacted.
The upstairs consisted of the Assembly Room and Joseph’s two tiny adjoining office rooms. These were used as headquarters for conducting Church business—including receiving tithing payments. The space was also occupied by clerks Willard Richards and W. W. Phelps, who were then writing Joseph’s history of the Church (see General Editors Ronald K. Esplin and Matthew J. Grow, The Joseph Smith Papers—Journals, Volume 3: May 1843–June 1844[The Church Historian’s Press, Salt Lake City, Utah], 127).
Since Joseph was also mayor of Nauvoo, he conducted city business there too. This included the constant registration of land sales and the recording of deeds in what was one of the fastest growing cities in Illinois. To assist Joseph in these varied duties, his private secretary, High Priest James Whitehead, constantly served him.Yet, Clayton would have us believe that during the three or more hours that they worked on the revelation, both clerks, Joseph’s private secretary, citizens needing banking and city services, and Church members needing Joseph’s counsel and ministry were absent. Not only is Clayton’s claim of complete solitude unlikely, but as the following section will show, it can be proven to be untrue.
Clayton Said No One Else Was Present, but the Newspaper Revealed Dozens of School Children Were in the Assembly Room That Day. As previously stated, Clayton claimed that none but the trio of Joseph, Hyrum, and Clayton were present during the time that the plural marriage revelation was written. Clayton even implied that the Assembly Room was empty at that time. As Joseph and Hyrum walked past it toward Joseph’s office, they had no concern about being overheard by others. Thus, they felt free to openly discuss the then-banned and illegal subject of plural marriage.
But the Assembly Room that Clayton inferred was empty was in fact filled with people that day. It was packed with dozens of boisterous school children! According to public records, on just the previous day an entire grade school of children, plus two teachers, had moved into the very upstairs Assembly Room adjoining Joseph’s office that Clayton indicated was unoccupied! (See the Nauvoo Neighbor [July 9, 1843], 3; and George W. Givens, In Old Nauvoo—Life in the City of Joseph, 240–241.)
Joseph Smith III, who attended that school with his sister and two brothers, identified at least thirty children who were enrolled therein (see Mary Audentia Smith Anderson, The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith III (1832–1914), 11–13). All of them would have been very excited as they noisily climbed the wooden stairs to attend class that day. One can only imagine the happy tumult and clatter as the children settled in among the wooden benches, chairs and tables of their new schoolroom—in the very Assembly Room Clayton stated was unoccupied.
Later, Clerks Willard Richards and W. W. Phelps, who were tasked with writing Joseph’s history of the Church, grew so rattled by the children’s disturbances that they complained that their writings were being hindered (see General Editors Ronald K. Esplin and Matthew J. Grow, The Joseph Smith Papers—Journals, Volume 3: May 1843–June 1844 [The Church Historian’s Press, Salt Lake City, Utah], 127).
The children’s disturbances continued until they eventually had to be relocated. It was reported, “a public school was kept there until it became too noisy for Joseph to work” (see Givens, In Old Nauvoo—Life in the City of Joseph, 83).
So when Clayton told the tale of the quiet solitude in Joseph’s office during the writing of Section 132, he lied. He overlooked the fact that records show that on that very day, Joseph’s office area was neither a place of quiet, nor of solitude. The empty Assembly Room, which Clayton indicated Joseph and Hyrum passed while openly discussing polygamy, was not empty at all. It was filled with dozens of children whose presence proved to be such a con-stant nuisance in the weeks that followed that they were eventually moved out of the store.
Emma Asserted Clayton and Brigham Young Lied When They Said That Hyrum Presented Her with the Revelation
To her dying day Emma Smith vehemently denied that Hyrum had ever approached her with the alleged polygamy revelation (Section 132). Yet, 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; Wil-liam 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 (who had remarried) at her home in Nauvoo, Illinois. He questioned her about the polygamous doc-ument. Below is an extract from Briggs’s 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 rev-elation 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)
Why is there a significant increase in plural marriages immediately after the death of Joseph Smith?
Before Joseph died, Brigham had married a few plural wives: 1 in 1842, 2 in 1843 and 1 in the first half of 1844. But after Joseph died, Brigham married 10 more wives. Four additional wives in 1845 and 21 more in 1846 for a total of 38 wives. Heber had a very similar pattern with 1 plural wife in 1842 and he didn't take any more plural wives until after Joseph died. He added 9 more in 1844, 5 in 1845 and 21 (just like Brigham) in 1846 for a total of 36 wives. They both added 35 wives after the death of Joseph Smith. What changed after Joseph's death that they would add so many wives.
Could it be that Joseph was NOT supportive of plural marriage. However, if Brigham could take one of Joseph's revelations and add several verses, then he would have just what he would need to not only convince women to join in him marriage, but also they could convince the church as well.
The only remaining thing they had to do was create a false narrative that this all started with Joseph.
Problems with D&C 132.