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Joseph Smith - Honest Seer or Lying Polygamist

1. Joseph and Hyrum constantly preached against plural marriage.

Some have felt that all of Joseph's denials of participation in polygamy are simply mental gymnastics to avoid admitting that he was fully involved in the taking of additional wives. Fawn Brodie put it this way:

The denials of polygamy uttered by the Mormon leaders between 1835 and 1852, when it was finally admitted, are a remarkable series of evasions and circumlocutions involving all sorts of verbal gymnastics. When the brethren attacked spiritual wifism or polygamy, it was with the mental reservation that "the patriarchal order of marriage" or "celestial order of plurality of wives" was immeasurably different. (Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963), p. 321-322)

But Joseph did more than just deny he was involved in taking additional wives, he preached against the practice and would bring those found practicing plural marriage before church and government courts. If Joseph was secretly practicing plural marriage, those charged could have simply replied the Joseph was doing the same thing. You will notice that they never pursued that defense and by Joseph's actions you can tell that he was not afraid of such a defense -- because it was not taking additional wives.

We can review all the times that Joseph and the church denied involvement in polygamy and see that the statements are consistent. We must make the judgement as to whether we believe Joseph's own words or the statements that were made after he died that make him out to be a liar.

1: 1827 - This statement was made in 1844, but refers to the year 1827.

I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. . . . What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers. (Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, eds. The Words of Joseph Smith: Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980, 26), p. 375, 377)

2: 1835 - “General Assembly,” Messenger and Advocate 1 (August 1835) 2: 162. 1835 Doctrine and Covenants Section CI (101). 1844 Doctrine and Covenants Section 109. 

“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.”

3: 1837 May - Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate (Kirtland, Ohio), May 1837, page 511.

May 1837 the Messenger and Advocate contained a warning from the presidents of seventies meeting held 28 April 1837 that "we will have no fellowship whatever with any Elder belonging to the quorum of the Seventies who is guilty of polygamy or any offense of the kind."

4: 1837 Nov 29 - Kirtland Elder’s Quorum Record, 1836-1841, edited by Lyndon W. Cook and Milton V. Backman, Jr. (Provo, Utah: Grandin Book Company, 1985), 35.

“the charge that was preferred before the quorum against Elder Sollomon [sic] Freeman by William Perry for the crime of polygamy was brought forward. Elder Freeman plead not gilty of the charge [.] [T]estimony for the Complainent came forward (Dexter Stilman) and Stated the Elder Freeman had a wife in Tollan township Co. of Berksheir in Mass. And it was told him there that he (E. Freeman) Came a way [without his] wife Elder Harlow Redfield Stated that when he and Elder Stilman went to See Elder Freeman. Elder Freeman ackno[w]loged that he come away and left his wife as was testified Elder Freeman ackno[w]loged before the quorum that he had left his first wife came away with and Soon Commenced living with another woman he further Stated he did not know but his first wife was yet living he further Stated he would not go acros [sic] the room to obtain a bill from her Elder Freeman Manifest a Car[e]less indifferent spirit.”

5: 1838 April - Oliver Cowdery & "The Girl Business"

The second charge against Oliver in the high council court was "for seeing to destroy the character of President Joseph Smith jr by falsly insinuating that he was guilty of adultery &c" . . . Joseph Smith testified in the council: "Joseph Smith jr testifies that Oliver Cowdery had been his bosom friend, therefore he entrusted him with many things. He [Joseph] then gave a history respecting the girl business. . . . The court's decision, on April 12, 1838, was as follows: "After some remarks by the Councellors, it was decided by the Bishop and his Council that the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd charges were sustained." This meant that the high council found Oliver guilty of falsely accusing Joseph Smith of adultery. Oliver "was, therefore, considered no longer a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." (Far West Record: Minutes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1844, Edited by Cannon, D. Q., & Cook, L. W. (1983), p. 168-169)

6: 1838 July - [Editorial,] Elder’s Journal, 1 (July 1838), 43.

"Question 7th. Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one. [sic] Answer. No, not at the same time. But they believe that if their companion dies, they have a right to marry again. But we do disapprove of the custom which has gained in the world, and has been practised [sic] among us; to our great mortification, of marrying in five or six weeks, or even in two or three months after the death of their companion. We believe that due respect ought to be had, to the memory of the dead, and the feelings of both friends and children."

7: 1838 Dec 16 - Joseph Smith, Liberty, Missouri to Saints in Caldwell County, Missouri, December 16, 1838, published in Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002), 419-20.

“We say again unto you we are innocent of these things they have represented us falsely Was it for committing adultery, we are aware that false slander has gone abroad for it has been reiterated in our ears. These are falsehoods also. Renegadoes, mormon dissenters are running through the world and spreading various foul and libelous reports against us thinking thereby to gain the friendship of the world because they knew that we are not of the world and that the world hates us; therefore they make a tool of these fellows...We have heard that it has been reported by some that some of us should have said that we not only dedicated our property but our families also to the Lord, and satan taking advantage of this has transfigured it into lasciviousness such as a community of wives which is an abomination in the sight of God. When we consecrate our property to the Lord it is to administer to the wants of the poor and needy for this is the law of God it is not for the purpose of the rich those who have no need and when a man consecrates or dedicates his wife and children he does not give them to his brother or to his neighbor for there is no such law for the law of God is thou shalt not commit adultery thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s wife. He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already in his heart...”

8: 1840 April - While the prophet Joseph was in Liberty Jail reports were circulated that the imprisoned Church leaders were polygamist. Joseph responded in a letter that was printed in the Times and Seasons, April 1840.

Know assuredly Dear brethren, that it is for the testimony of Jesus, that we are in bonds and in prison....

Was it for committing adultery? We are aware that false and slanderous reports have gone abroad, which have reached our ears, respecting this thing, which have been started by renagadoes, and spread by the dissenters, who are extremely active in spreading foul and libilous reports concerning us; thinking thereby to gain the fellowship of the world.... Some have reported that we not only dedicated our property, but likewise our families to the Lord, and Satan taking advantage of this has transfigured it into lasciviousness, a community of wives [polygamy], which things are an abomination in the sight of God.

When we consecrate our property to the Lord, it is to administer to the wants of the poor and needy according to the laws of God, and when a man consecrates or dedecates his wife and children to the Lord, he does not give them to his brother or to his neighbor; which is contrary to the law of God, which says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife." "He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already in his heart."Now for a man to consecrate his property, his wife and children to the Lord is nothing more nor less than to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the widows and fatherless, the sick and afflicted; and do all he can to administer to their relief in their afflictions, and for himself and his house to serve the Lord. In order to do this he and all his house must be virtuous and shun every appearance of evil. Now if any person, has represented any thing otherwise than what we now write they have willfully misrepresented us. (Times and Seasons 1 [April 1840]: 82–85)

9: 1841 Oct 15 - An “Intelligent” Non-Mormon, “The Mormons,” reprinted in the Times and Seasons, 2 (October 15, 1841), 580.

“[There faith] is a faith which they say encourages no vice, nor immorality, nor departure from established laws and usages; neither polygamy, nor promiscuous intercourse, nor community of property.

10: 1841 Dec 15 - “Caution!” in the Times and Seasons, 3 (December 15, 1841), 636.

The Times and Seasons published an article cautioning members of the Church against Dr. William Campbell, alias Samuel Rogers, who joined Church and married a young lady: “It has since been ascertained that he has two others [sic] wives, one in Ohio, and the other in this State [Illinois]. He undoubtedly joined the church for a cloak to his iniquity.”

11: 1842 March 31 - Letter to Relief Society from Joseph Smith and Brigham Young

To the President of the F R So N [Female Relief Society of Nauvoo] Greeting

Can the “Female Releif Society of Nauvoo” be Trusted with some important matters that ought actually to belong to them to see to which men have been under the necessity of seeing to to their chagrin & Mortification in order to prevent iniquitous characters from carrying their iniquity into effect such as, for instance a man who may be aspiring after power & authority and yet without principle; regardless of god, man or the Devil or the interest or welfare of men, or the virtue or innocence of women? Shall the credulity, good faith, & steadfast feelings of our Sisters for the cause of God or truth be imposed upon by believing such men because they say they have authority from Joseph or the first Presidency or any other Presidency of the church and thus with a lie in their mouth deceive & debauch the innocent under the assumption that they are authorized from these sources! May God forbid!

A knowledge of some such thing having come to our ears we improve this favorable opportunity wherein so goodly number of you may be informed that no such authority ever has, ever can, or ever will be given to any man & if any man has been guilty of any such thing let him be treated with utter contempt & let the curse of God fall on his head, & let him be turned out of Society as unworthy of a place among men, & renounced denounced as the blackest & the most unprincipled wretch & finally let him be damned.

We have been informed that some unprincipled men whose names we will not mention at present have been guilty of such crimes: we do not mention their names, not knowing but what there may be some among you who are not sufficiently skilled in Masonry as to keep a secret, therefore suffice it to say there are those & we therefore warn you & forewarn you in the name of the Lord to check and destroy any faith that any innocent person may have in any such character for we don’t want any body to believe any thing as coming from us contrary to the old established morals & virtues & scriptural laws regulating the habits customs & conduct of Society unless it be by message delivered to you by our own mouth, by actual revelation & commandment. and all persons pretending to be authorized by us or having any permit or sanction from us are & will be liars & base imposters & you are authorized on the very first intimation of the kind to denounce them as such & fly from <​shun​> them as the fiery flying serpents, whether they are prophets, seers, or Revelators, patriarchs, Twelve apostles, Elders, Priests. or what not, Mayors, Generals, or what not, city council alderman, Marshall, Police, Lord Mayor or the Devil, are alike culpable. & shall be damned for such evil practices; & if you yourself yourselves hear adhere to any thing of the kind you, also shall be damned.

Now beloved Sisters do not believe for a moment that we wish to impose upon you, we actually do know that such things have existed in the church & sorry that we are obliged to make mention of any such thing & we want a stop put to them, & we want you to do your part & we will do ours part for we wish to to keep the commandments of God in all things given to us from heaven, living by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord.—

May God add his blessings upon your head & lead you in all the paths of virtue piety and peace that you may be an ornament unto those to whom you belong & arise up and crown them with power & by so doing you shall be crowned with honor in heaven & shall sit upon throne judging them whom you are placed in authority of over in the world and shall be judged of God for all the responsibilities that are conferred upon you

At a more convenient & appropriate season we will give you further information upon this subject

We are your humble servants in the bonds of the new & Everlasting covenant

Let that epistle be had as a private matter in your society & then we shall learn whether you are good masons—

Joseph Smith P. C. J. C. L.
B. Young Prst Twelve.

12: 1842 April 10 - Joseph preached against those that were using his name to promote polygamy

I preached in the grove, and pronounced a curse upon all Adulterers and Fornicators, and unvirtuous persons and those who have made use of my name to carry on their iniquitous designs. (DHC 4:587)

13: 1842 May 19 - Nauvoo City Council

The public will perceive the aggravating nature of this case; and will see the propriety of this exposure. Had he only been guilty of adultry, that was sufficient to stamp disgrace upon him because he is a man of better information, and has been held high in the estimation of many. But when it is considered that his mind was so intent upon his cruel, and abominable deeds, and his own reputation not being sufficient to enable him to do it, he must make use of my name in order to effect his purposes, an enlightened public will not be astonished at the course I have pursued.
In order that it may be distinctly understood that he wilfully and knowingly lied, in the above insinuations, I will lay before my readers an affidavit taken before an alderman of the city, after I had charged him with these things:

State of Illinois,)
City of Nauvoo.)
Personally appeared before me, Daniel H. Wells, an Alderman of said city of Nauvoo, John C. Bennett, who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith: that he never was taught anything in the least contrary to the strictest principles of the Gospel, or of virtue, or of the laws of God, or man, under any circumstances, or upon any occasion either directly or indirectly, in word or  deed, by Joseph Smith; and that he never knew the said Smith to countenance any improper conduct whatever, either in public or private; and that he never did teach to me in private that an illegal illicit intercourse with females was, under any circumstances, justifiable; and that I never knew him so to teach others.
Sworn to, and subscribed, before me, this 17th day of May, A. D. 1842.
DANIEL H. WELLS, Alderman.

14: 1842 May 21, 24 - Joseph files charges against Chauncey L. Higbee in court.

In the aftermath of John Bennett’s misconduct, Joseph pursued an effort to track down what had happened in Nauvoo. By May 21, 1842, the high council met and, “[A] charge [was] [preferred] against Chauncey L. Higbee by George Miller for unchaste and un-virtuous conduct with the widow [Sarah] Miller, and others.” In the trial, “Three witness[es] testified that he had seduced [several women] and at different times [had] been guilty of unchaste and unvirtuous conduct with them and taught the doctrine that it was right to have free intercourse with women if it was kept secret &c and also taught that Joseph Smith authorised him to practice these things &c”

Higbee was seducing women and telling them that Joseph supported such actions. If Joseph really was supporting those actions, Mr. Higbee would have used that information in his defense. Joseph had no fears of being exposed, because Joseph wasn't privately teaching and practicing polygamy.
 On May 24, 1842, Joseph Smith, under oath, sued Higbee in the State of Illinois for slander related to his claims that Joseph was a polygamist.  Clearly, Joseph would not sue an attorney in a state where polygamy was illegal -  because truth is the ultimate defense to a slander cause of action. Witness testimonies were gathered to describe what Chauncey Higbee was attempting to do in Joseph's name. Chauncey L. Higbee was also cut off from the church at this time.

15: 1842 May 25 - Catherine Warren learns that John C. Bennett incorrectly claimed support by the leaders of the church

On May 25 the charge was preferred “against Ms. Catherine Warren by George Miller for unchaste and unvirtuous conduct with John C. Bennett and others. The defendant confessed to the charge and gave the names of several other [men] who had been guilty having unlawful intercourse with her[,] stating they taught the doctrine that it was right to have free intercourse with women and that the heads of the Church also taught and practiced it[,] …learning that the heads of the church did not believe of [the] practice [of] such things[,] she was willing to confess her sins and did repent before God for what she had done and desired earnestly that the Council would forgive her.” She furnished the identities of the several men involved, resulting in yet more church court proceedings to stop the spread of Bennett’s mischief.

16: 1842 July 1 - Joseph tells us in the Times and Seasons that he has preached against this a lot.

It becomes my duty to lay before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the public generally, some important facts relative to the conduct and character of Dr. JOHN C. BENNETT, who has lately been expelled from the aforesaid church; that the honorable part of community may be aware of his proceedings, and be ready to treat him and regard him as he ought to be regarded, viz: as an imposter [impostor] and base adulterer.
. . .
When he saw that I would not submit to any such conduct, he went to some of the females in the city, who knew nothing of him but as an honorable man, & began to teach them that promiscous [promiscuous] intercourse between the sexes, was a doctrine believed in by the Latter-Day Saints, and that there was no harm in it; but this failing, he had recourse to a more influential and desperately wicked course; and that was, to persuade them that myself and others of the authorities of the church not only sanctioned, but practiced the same wicked acts; and when asked why I publicly preached so much against it, said that it was because of the prejudice of the public, and that it would cause trouble in my own house. (Times and Seasons, July 1, 1842, p. 839-840)
In that same July 1, 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons appeared this affidavit.
Personally appeared before me, Daniel H. Wells, an Alderman of said city of Nauvoo, John C. Bennett, who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith: that he never was taught any thing in the least contrary to the strictest principles of the Gospel, or of virtue, or of the laws of God, or man, under any circumstances, or upon any occasion either directly or indirectly, in word or deed, by Joseph Smith; and that he never knew the said Smith to countenance any improper conduct whatever, either in public or private; and that he never did teach to me in private that an illegal illicit intercourse with females was, under any circumstances, justifiable, and that I never knew him so to teach others.

17: 1842 Aug 31 - Affidavits and Certificates, Disproving the Statements and Affidavits Contained in John C. Bennett’s Letters. Nauvoo, Illinois, August 31, 1842; "Extra." - Photocopy

                         AFFIDAVIT OF THE CITY COUNCIL
    We the undersigned, members of the city council of the City of Nauvoo, testify that  John C. Bennett was not under duress at the time that he testified before the city council May 19th 1842 concerning Joseph Smith's innocence, virtue, and pure teaching–his statements that he has lately made concerning this matter are false,–there was no excitement at the time, nor was he in any wise threatened menaced or intimidated, his appearance at the city council was voluntary, he asked the privilege of speaking, which was granted, after speaking for some time on the city affairs, Joseph Smith asked him if he knew any thing bad concerning his public, or private character:  he then delivered those statements contained in the testimony voluntarily, and of his own free will, and went of his own accord as free as any member of the council.
    We do further testify that there is no such thing as a Danite Society in this city nor any combination, other than the Masonic Lodge, of which we have any knowledge.
WILSON LAW,                               GEO. A. SMITH,
JOHN TAYLOR,                             GEO. W. HARRIS,
W. WOODRUFF,                             N. K. WHITNEY,
VINSON KNIGHT,                          BRIGHAM, YOUNG,
H. C. KIMBALL,                              CHARLES C, RICH,
JOHN P. GREEN,                             ORSON SPENCER,
    Subscribed, and sworn to, by the persons whose names appear to the foregoing affidavit, this 20th day of July, A. D. 1842; except N. K. Whitney, who subscribed and affirmed to the foregoing this day, before me
        DANIEL H. WELLS,
    Justice of the Peace, within and for Hancock County, Illinois.
    Daniel H. Wells, Esq. is an old resident in this place, and is not a Mormon.

18: 1842 Sep 1 - “Inasmuch as the public mind has been…,” Times and Seasons, 3 (September 1, 1842), 909;

“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 the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband neither is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband.’”

19: 1842 Oct 1 - “On Marriage,” Times and Seasons, October 1, 1842, 939–940.

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 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[amuel] Bennett,     N[ewel] K. Whitney,
George Miller,          Albert Pettey [Petty],
Alpheus Cutler,         Elias Higbee,
Reynolds Cahoon,     John Taylor,
Wilson Law,              E[benezer] Robinson,
W[ilford] Woodruff,  Aaron Johnson,

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 [practiced] 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,
Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Counsellor, [Counselor],
Sarah M. Cleveland, Counsellor [Counselor],
Eliza R. Snow, Secretary,
Mary C. Miller,         Catharine Pettey,
Lois Cutler,               Sarah Higbee,
Thirza Cahoon,         Phebe Woodruff
Ann Hunter,              Leonora Taylor,
Jane Law,                 Sarah Hillman,
Sophia R. Marks,     Rosannah Marks,
Polly Z. Johnson,      Angeline Robinson,
Abigail Works.

20: 1842 Oct. 15 - Robert Foster printed the following in the Wasp, a Mormon press:

“I challenge Bennett or any other man or woman to show a more examplary man beneath the sun, or cite to any time or place when he [Joseph Smith] has violated the laws of his country, or when he has taught, either publicly or privately, by precept or example, any thing repugnant to the laws of the Holy Bible, or worthy of bonds or death. It can’t be done; it is too well known that he stamps with indignation and contempt every species of vice—if it had not been so Bennett would have been with us yet…. Alas, none but the seduced join the seducer; those only who have been arraigned before a just tribunal [the Church’s High Council] for the same unhallowed conduct can be found to give countenance to any of his black hearted lies, and they, too, detest him for his seduction, these are the ladies to whom he refers his hearers to substantiate his assertions. Mrs. [Emmeline] White, Mrs. [Orson] Pratt, Niemans [Margaret and Matilda Nyman], [Sarah] Miller, [Martha] Brotherton, and others. Those that belong to the church have had to bear the shame of close investigation as to their adulteries, and have been dealt with according to church order, in such case made and provided, in the Book of Covenants, (Sec. 91 and Sec. 13, page 122 [of the 1835 Edition], and the Holy Bible, Book of Mormon &c.) Mrs. [Emmeline] White never was a member of the Mormon church, but really did Bennett try to seduce her from her father’s home to wander with him, God knows where…. Why does he not … contribute to the wants of his wife and helpless family in Ohio?”  (Wasp 1 [October 15, 1842]: 2; emphasis added)

21: 1843 Mar. 15 - “H.R.” letter reprinted from the Boston Bee in the Times and Seasons, 4 (March 15, 1843), 143.

“...We are charged with advocating a plurality of wives, and common property. Now this is as false as the many other ridiculous charges which are brought against us. No sect have [sic] a greater reverence for the laws of matrimony, or the rights of private property, and we do what others do not, practice what we preach...”

22: 1843 Apr. 6 - Joseph spoke to a congregation at the unfinished temple.

Are you satisfied with the first presidency, so far as I am concerned, or will you choose another? If I have done anything to injure my character in the sight of men & angels--or men & women, come forward tell of it & if not ever after hold your peace. (WJS p. 174)

23: 1843 Oct. 5 - Willard Richards wrote in Joseph's diary:

Evening at home and walked up and down the street with my scribe. Gave instructions to try those persons who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives. On this, Joseph forbids it and the practice thereof. No man shall have but one wife.

24: 1843 Oct. 15 - Sunday Morning on the Temple Stand - Joseph Smith Diary by Willard Richards

set our women to work & stop this spinning street yarn and talking about spiritual wives. . . . I proclaim in the name of the Lord God that I will have nothing but virtue & integrity & uprightness.

25: 1843 Nov. 21 - Joseph brought charges against Elder Harrison Sagars, accusing him of two offenses:

1st for trying to seduce a young girl, living in his house by the name of Phebe Madison. 2nd. For using my name in a blasphemous manner, by saying that I tolerated such things in which he is guilty of lying &c &c. Joseph Smith (Dinger, J. S. (2011). The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, p. 479-480. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books)

26: 1843 Nov. 25 - Joseph with twelve gave an address

I was present with several of the Twelve, and gave an address tending to do away with every evil, and exhorting them to practice virtue and holiness before the Lord— told them that the church had not received any permission from me to commit fornication, adultery, or any corrupt action, but my every word and action has been to the contrary. If a man commit adultery, he cannot receive the celestial kingdom of God, even if he is saved in any kingdom, it can not be the celestial kingdom; I did think that the many examples that have been made manifest, such as John C. Bennett and others, were sufficient to shew the fallacy of such a course of conduct.
I condemned such actions in toto, and warned the people present against committing such evils, for it will surely bring a curse upon any person who commits such deeds.

27: 1844 Feb 1 - Hiram Brown cut off from the church for preaching polygamy

Joseph worked tirelessly to expose anyone practicing plural marriage. If he was secretly a polygamist, he would have been afraid to be exposed. But no such fear seemed to control his actions.

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. (Joseph Smith & Hyrum Smith, Times and Seasons 5 [February 1, 1844]: 423)
28: 26 February 1844 Feb 26 - Hyrum Smith brought charges against Orsamus F. Bostwick
At home, a cold Wind from the North, rainy, dull day. In the afternoon held court at the Mansion, City of Nauvoo vs Orsamus F. Bostwick on complaint of Hyrum Smith for slanderous language concerning him and certain females of Nauvoo. Bostwick was fined $50.00 and costs. Francis M Higbee his attorney gave notice he should appeal to the Municipal Court and then to the Circuit Court. I 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.

29: 1844 Mar 7 - At a public meeting at the temple Joseph Smith denounced Boswick

On February 26, 1844, a man named Orsamus F. Bostwick was brought before the mayor’s court in Nauvoo and fined for slander. Bostwick had claimed that Hyrum Smith had spiritual wives and that many women in Nauvoo were involved with “spiritual wifery,” promiscuity, and prostitution.[5] Two days later, William W. Phelps, a printer who sometimes acted as Joseph Smith’s clerk and ghostwriter—and who also served as city clerk and assisted in keeping the church history—was “writing on O[rsamus] F Bostwick for women.”[6] Whether “for women” means at the request of women or on behalf of women is not clear. Phelps’s document, titled “The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo,” was then copied by Thomas Bullock, a clerk for Joseph Smith. “Voice of Innocence” gave Relief Society women a means for responding to insulting rumors and the allegations of Bostwick and others.
“...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!"
On March 7, in a public meeting at the Nauvoo temple before an audience of about eight thousand church members, Joseph Smith denounced Bostwick and asked the large assembly “to speak out. say whether such men should be. tolerated. and supported in our midst.” At this meeting, Phelps read aloud the “Voice of Innocence,” to which the assembly responded by saying “Amen” twice. During an afternoon continuation of that meeting, “notice was given for th[e] relief society to meet” the following Saturday to adopt the statement written by Phelps.[7] (First 50 Years of Relief Society 1.10)

30: 1844 Mar 15 - “To the brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ. . .” Times and Seasons 5 (March 15, 1844), 474.

“To the brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday [sic] Saints, living on China Creek, in Hancock County, Greeting:--Whereas brother Richard Hewitt has called on me to-day, to know my views concerning some doctrines that are preached in your place, and states to me that some of your elders say, that a man having a certain priesthood, may have as many wives as he pleases, and that doctrine is taught here: I say unto you that that man teaches false doctrine, for there is no such doctrine taught here; neither is there any such thing practiced here. And any man that is found teaching privately or publicly any such doctrine, is culpable, and will stand a chance to be brought before the High Council, and lose his license and membership also: therefore he had better beware what he is about... Neither has any elder any authority to preach any mysterious thing to any branch of the church unless he has a direct commandment from God to do so. Let the matter of the grand councils of heaven, and the making of gods, worlds, and devils entirely alone: for you are not called to teach any such doctrine—for neither you nor the people are capacitated to understand any such principles—less so to teach them. Your obedient servant, Hyrum Smith"

31: 1844 Apr. 8 - Hyrum Smith, April 8, 1844, discourse not published. Transcript on Richard E. Turley, Jr. Selected Collections from the Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Provo, Utah: BYU Press, vol. 1, DVD # 1, volume 6, pages 1984-91. Found on page 11 of the addendum, which begins after page 2028.

"One reason I speak to the Elders is in consequence of the ten thousand reports which come to me from abroad – almost every foolish man runs to me, to enquire if such and such things are true, and how many spiritual wives a man may have. I know nothing about it; what he might call a spiritual wife, I should not know anything about. . .

"I wish the Elders of Israel to understand it is lawful for a man to marry a wife, but it is unlawful to have more, and God has not commanded any of you to have more. . . for a man to go into the world and talk of this spiritual wife system he is as empty as an open sepulcher. . .

"No spiritual wife doctrine ever originated with me. . .

"No man would have more than one wife or they will join together and beat him. If I was a woman, and got so fooled, I would hide my head. I give the sisters leave to wring his nose who teach such stuff. . .

"We don’t want bogus makers, counterfeiters, or preachers of the spiritual wife system."

In 1844 William Law, a former member of the First Presidency at Nauvoo, formed a conspiracy along with others to depose Joseph and take the leadership of the Church from him. This group of conspirators went so far as to organize a new church called the "Reformed Mormon Church" and issue a call to the Saints to reject Joseph and join the new church (see the Nauvoo Expositor, Friday, June 7, 1844)

32: 1844 May 26 - Sunday Morning - Joseph Smith discourse (WJS p. 377)

“For the last three years I have a record of all my acts and proceedings, for I have kept several good, faithful, and efficient clerks in constant employ; they have accompanied me everywhere, and carefully kept my history, and they have written down what I have done, where I have been, and what I have said; therefore my enemies cannot charge me with any day, time, or place, but what I have written testimony to prove my actions; and my enemies cannot prove anything against me.
...Another indictment has been got up against me. It appears a holy prophet [William Law] has arisen up, and he has testified against me: the reason is, he is so holy...I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. I mean to live and proclaim the truth as long as I can. This new holy prophet (William Law) has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this. William Law testified before forty policemen, and the assembly room full of witnesses, that he testified under oath that he never had heard or seen or knew anything immoral or criminal against me...He swore under oath that he was satisfied that he was ready to lay down his life for me, and he swears that I have committed adultery. I wish the grand jury would tell me who they are—whether it will be a curse or blessing to me. I am quite tired of the fools asking me. A man asked me whether the commandment was given that a man may have seven wives; and now the new prophet has charged me with adultery. I never had any fuss with these men until that Female Relief Society brought out the paper against adulterers and adulteresses...and they rush away and leave the Church, and conspire to take away my life; and because I will not countenance such wickedness, they proclaim that I have been a true prophet, but that I am now a fallen prophet...Wilson Law also swears that I told him I was guilty of adultery. Brother Jonathan Dunham can swear to the contrary...I am innocent of all these charges, and you can bear witness of my innocent of all these charges, and you can bear witness of my innocence, for you know me yourselves...What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.(LDS History of the Church 6:409-411)

33: 1844 June 8 - CITY COUNCIL, REGULAR SESSION, June 8th, 1844. John S. Dinger ed. The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2011, 241; see also “EXTRA,” Nauvoo Neighbor, June 17, 1844.

“Councillor, H. Smith, ... 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.”

34: 1844 June 8 - CITY COUNCIL, REGULAR SESSION, June 8th, 1844. John S. Dinger ed. The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2011, 241; see also “EXTRA,” Nauvoo Neighbor, June 17, 1844.

"Mayor [Joseph Smith] said. . . They make it a criminality for a man to have a wife on the earth while he has one in heaven, according to the keys of the Holy Priesthood. . .

"Mayor said he had never preached the revelation in private, as he had in public—had not taught it to the highest anointed in the church in private, which statement many present confirmed, that on enquiring concerning the passage in the resurrection concerning “they neither marry nor are given in marriage, &c., he received for answer, men in this life must marry in view of eternity, otherwise they must remain as angels, or be single in heaven, which was the amount of the revelation referred to. . ."

35: 1844 June 16 - Sunday Morning, Joseph Smith Sermon in grove East of the Temple - Thomas Bullock Report

I am bold to declare I have taught all the strong doctrines publicly, and always teach stronger doctrines in public than in private.

36: 1844 June 24 - Joseph Smith to William Marks

The struggle between the pro-polygamists and Joseph became more and more severe. A few weeks before Joseph's death it became apparent to him that polygamy could not be eradicated without bringing the struggle into the open. Therefore, Joseph went to High Priest William Marks, the president of the Nauvoo Stake and president of the High Council, as previously noted. He told Brother Marks that he would bring the polygamists to trial before the High Council, and that President Marks must expel them from the Church. Elder Marks later testified:
I met with Brother Joseph. He said that he wanted to converse with me on the affairs of the church, and we retired by ourselves. I will give his words verbatim, for they are indelibly stamped upon my mind. He said he had desired for a long time to have a talk with me on the subject of polygamy. He said it eventually would prove the overthrow of the church, and we should soon be obliged to leave the United States, unless it could be speedily put down. He was satisfied that it was a cursed doctrine, and that there must be every exertion made to put it down. He said that he would go before the congregation and proclaim against it, and I must go into the High Council, and he would prefer charges against those in transgression, and I must sever them from the church, unless they made ample satisfaction. There was much more said, but this was the substance. The mob commenced to gather about Carthage in a few days after, therefore there was nothing done concerning it.
After the Prophet's death, I made mention of this conversation to several, hoping and believing that it would have a good effect; but to my great disappointment, it was soon rumored about that Brother Marks was about to apostatize, and that all that he said about the conversation with the Prophet was a tissue of lies. (RLDS History of the Church 2:733) (Joseph Fought Against Polygamy, Vol. 1, Chapter 6)
In the Temple Lot case, the RLDS church sued the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) to prove that they had legal right to the property designated for the temple in Independence, Missouri. Although the LDS church. in Utah were not a party to the lawsuit, they participated in the trial. Since the LDS church believed that Joseph introduced the practice of polygamy in the church they made attempts to prove that in a court of law. If the case could be proven that Joseph originated the doctrine of plural marriage, then the LDS church would be the the continuation of the church founded by Joseph Smith. After reviewing all the evidence, this is part of the decision rendered by the Judge on the 16th day of March, A. D. 1894.
There can be no question of the fact that Brigham Young's assumed presidency was a bold and bald usurpation. The Book of Doctrine and Covenants (printed in 1846) page 411, containing a revelation to Joseph Smith, January 19, 1841, gave unto them "my servant Joseph, to be a presiding elder over all my church, to be a translator, a revelator, a seer, and a prophet." ... The book clearly taught that the succession should descend lineally and go to the first-born. Joseph Smith so taught, and, before his taking off, publicly proclaimed his son Joseph, the present head of Complainant Church, his successor, and he was so anointed....

The Book of Mormon itself inveighed against the sin of polygamy.... Conformably to the Book of Mormon, the Book of Doctrine and Covenants expressly declared "that we believe that one man should have but one wife, and one woman but one husband." And this declaration of the church on this subject reappeared in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, editions of 1846 and 1856. Its first appearance as a dogma of the church (the dogma of polygamy) was in the Utah Church in 1852.

Claim is made by the Utah Church that this doctrine is predicated of a revelation made to Joseph Smith in July, 1843. No such revelation was ever made public during the life of Joseph Smith, and under the law of the church it could not become an article of faith and belief until submitted to and adopted by the church. This was never done ....

The Utah Church further departed from the principles and doctrines of the original church by changing in their teaching the first statement in the Article of Faith, which was, "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost," and in lieu thereof taught the doctrine of "Adam-god worship." ...

It has introduced societies of a secret order, and established secret oaths and covenants, contrary to the book of teachings of the old church. It has changed the duties of the President, and of the Twelve, and established the doctrine to "Obey Counsel," and has changed the order of the "Seventy, or Evangelists." ...

A considerable number of the officers and members of the church at Nauvoo did not ally themselves with any of the factions, and wherever they were they held onto the faith, refused to follow Brigham Young to Utah, and ever repudiated the doctrine of polygamy, which was the great rock of offense on which the church split after the death of Joseph Smith. ...

It is charged by the Respondents, as an echo of the Utah Church, that Joseph Smith, "the Martyr," secretly taught and practiced polygamy; and the Utah contingent furnishes the evidence, and two of the women, to prove this fact. It perhaps would be uncharitable to say of these women that they have borne false testimony as to their connection with Joseph Smith; but, in view of all the evidence and circumstances surrounding the alleged intercourse, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that at most they were but sports in "nest hiding". In view of the contention of the Salt Lake party, that polygamy obtained at Nauvoo as early as 1841, it must be a little embarrassing to President Woodruff of that organization when he is confronted, as he was in the evidence in this case, with a published card in the church organ [paper] at Nauvoo in October, 1843, certifying that he knew of no other rule or system of marriage than the one published in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and that the "secret wife system," charged against the church, was a creature of invention by one Dr. Bennett, and that they knew of no such society. That certificate was signed by the leading members of the church, including John Taylor, the former President of the Utah Church. And a similar certificate was published by the Ladies' Relief Society of the same place, signed by Emma Smith, wife of Joseph Smith, and Phoebe Woodruff, wife of the present President Woodruff. No such marriage ever occurred under the rules of the church, and no offspring came from the imputed illicit intercourse , although Joseph Smith was in the full vigor of young manhood, and his wife, Emma, was giving birth to healthy children in regular order, and was enciente [pregnant] at the time of Joseph's death.

But if it were conceded that Joseph Smith, and Hyrum, his brother, did secretly practice concubinage, is the church to be charged with those liaisons, and the doctrine of polygamy to be predicated thereon of the church? If so, I suspect the doctrine of polygamy might be imputed to many of the Gentile churches. Certainly it was never promulgated, taught, nor recognized, as a doctrine of the church prior to the assumption of Brigham Young. -- Decision of Judge Philips in Temple Lot Case, pp. 20-26.