6. Emma, Lucy and William Smith all testify that polygamy didn't
come from Joseph. William was even a polygamist.
Emma Smith (1804 - 1879)
In 1879 she was interviewed by her son Joseph Smith III and it
was published in The
Q-What about the revelation on polygamy? Did Joseph Smith have
anything like it? What of spiritual wifery?
A.-There was no revelation on either polygamy, or spiritual
wives. There were some rumors of something of the sort, of which
I asked my husband. He assured me that all there was of it was,
that, in a chat about plural wives, he had said, “Well, such a
system might possibly be, if everybody was agreed to it, and
would behave as they should; but they would not; and, besides,
it was contrary to the will of heaven.”
No such thing as polygamy, or spiritual wifery, was taught,
publicly or privately, before my husband’s death, that I have
now, or ever had any knowledge of.
Q.-Did he not have other wives than yourself?
A.-He had no other wife but me; nor did he to my knowledge ever
Q-Did he not hold marital relation with women other than
A.-He did not have improper relations with any woman that ever
came to my knowledge.
Q.-Was there nothing about spiritual wives that you recollect?
A.-At one time my husband came to me and asked me if I had
heard certain rumors about spiritual marriages, or anything of
the kind; and assured me that if I had, that they were without
foundation; that there was no such doctrine, and never should be
with his knowledge, or consent. I know that he had no other wife
or wives than myself, in any sense, either spiritual or
Q.-What was the condition of feeling between you and Father?
A.-It was good.
Q.-Were you in the habit of quarreling?
A.-No. There was no necessity for any quarreling. He knew that
I wished for nothing but what was right; and, as he wished for
nothing else, we did not disagree. He usually gave some heed to
what I had to say. It was quite a grievous thing to many that I
had any influence with him.
Q.-It has been stated sometimes that you apostatized at
Father’s death, and joined the Methodist Church. What do you say
A.-I have been called apostate; but I have never apostatized,
nor forsaken the faith I at first accepted; but was called so
because I would not accept their new—fangled notion.
Q.-By whom were you baptized? Do you remember?
A.-I think by Oliver Cowdery, at Bainbridge.
Lucy Mack Smith (1775 - 1856)
In the RLDS edition of the 1853 Pratt Biographical Sketches,
an unsigned footnote reads:
“The course that Brigham Young and the Twelve with him took
after the death of her sons Joseph and Hyrum, was not approved
by Grandmother Smith. She always spoke in kindly terms of the
men, but steadily and persistently refused to give credence to
the doctrine and policy adopted by them. In this she did not
waver to the end of her life”
Katherine Smith Salisbury (1813 - 1900)
When Joseph III or another RLDS official invited Katharine Smith
Salisbury, Joseph Jr.’s only surviving sister, to give her views
in April 1893 on Nauvoo polygamy, she testified:
“I was at his house in Nauvoo a great many times, and I
conversed with him about many subjects, but I never heard him at
any time mention such a thing as the plural-wife system or
order. And I heard nothing of such a doctrine existing until a
year after his death” (RLDS 5:207)
William Smith (1811 - 1893)
When William returned to Nauvoo the next year, he was ordained
presiding patriarch—which removed his authority in administrative
affairs. William was not long in Nauvoo before he found the extent
of the Twelve and their close friends’ practicing polygamy. When
he objected, he was threatened with death and found it necessary
to flee for his life. He left Nauvoo and wrote a pamphlet entitled
A Proclamation, in which he publicly exposed the apostles’ crimes.
In his proclamation, he made several important statements which
reveal the fact that the leading apostles were introducing
polygamy into the Church. William wrote:
And further it can be proved that B. Young and P. P.
Pratt were the first to preach and to practice the "spiritual
wife" doctrine, in the city of Boston and other places, my dissent
from any such doctrine of course gave annoyance [page 1, col.
2].... That the church funds have been misapplied, I have no
hesitation in asserting, for of necessity I have been made
acquainted with the fact, that several houses have been filled up
with women who have been secretly married to Brigham Young, H. C.
Kimble [Kimball], and Willard Richards—women with little children
in their arms, who had no means of support except from the tithing
funds [which these apostles controlled].... I heard my brother
Joseph declare before his death, that Brigham Young was a man,
whose passions, if unrestrained, were calculated to make him the
most licentious man in the world [page 1, col. 4].... And to
complete this man’s [Brigham’s] reign of power, there was adopted,
as I have before alluded to, the system of spiritual wifery, which
was entered into secretly.... Men’s wives and daughters were
secretly married at night-time to this Young, H. C. Kimball,
William [Willard] Richards, and others, and, in the dark night,
were attending the secret lodges, until most of the "Seventies"
were thus sealed and bound under a cloak of adopting children into
their kingdoms.... [I]t was the common practice for these wicked
plotters to boldly and blasphemously proclaim before people, in
the presence, too of hundreds that had been "sealed up" to them,
that such a doctrine [as polygamy] was false, and he that
practiced it was a scoundrel, and the woman that admitted it, no
other than a harlot.
On October 28, 1845, Apostle Orson Hyde of Nauvoo, wrote a letter to
William Smith, who had fled from Nauvoo and was in St. Louis. Orson
called upon William to return to Nauvoo "and abide in the council of
your brethren"—which meant of course be subject to Brigham Young
(see Messenger and Advocate, Pittsburgh, PA [December 1845],
I declare to you, my brethren, that I heard John Taylor proclaim
this on one occasion, so vociferously as almost to turn him black
in the face, while in a day or two afterwards he was seen sneaking
through a garden, to get into a house by the back way to visit his
‘spiritual wives’ [page 1, col. 6]. (William Smith, A
Proclamation, Warsaw Signal, Warsaw, Illinois [October 29, 1845],
page 1, columns 2,4, 6)
On November 12, 1845, William replied by writing a caustic letter of
refusal to Orson, in which he declared:
As a specimen of the moral degradation existing among
you [the Twelve], I will mention Parley P. Pratt as a fit subject
to introduce. You are well aware that this "unassuming" and
righteous apostle came from the East, a few days since, in company
with a female [a plural wife] whose appearance and conduct bears
sufficient evidence of his utter disregard of virtue or
religion.... It is needless for me to enlighten you further upon
the character of B. Young, John Taylor, W. Richards, and many
others who are continually preaching the doctrine, and openly
practising adultery; for this you know too well.... My life and
exertions will be (in order to perpetuate the names of my father’s
family, and with honor to my noble martyred brothers Joseph and
Hyrum wipe away the disgrace, the stain, the evils that, since
their deaths have crept into the church. And by the too
frequent use of their names, the twelve are carrying out the
most wicked, base and unhallowed purposes that could be devised
under the cloak of Joseph and Hyrum’s names. Brethren! be
assured that Joseph and Hyrum never would have sanctioned the
present wicked plans of the twelve; their corruption their sink
of iniquity, their removal to the wilderness, their doctrine of
polygamy usurpation. & c.). (ibid., 415–416)