Artikkelit > Moniavioisuus > Moniavioisuus ja totuus I

An Investigation

According to the Mormon historian D. Michael Quinn, Mormon Church leaders considered the possibility of signing a document like the Manifesto on December 20, 1888, and rejected the idea:

After this overwhelming repudiation, Woodruff told the apostles, 'Had we yielded to that document every man of us would have been under condemnation before God. The Lord never will give a revelation to abandon plural marriage.' (Dialogue, Spring 1985, page 35)

Because of the fact that Wilford Woodruff had previously taught that polygamy could not be discontinued and had even claimed to have revelations to that effect, the other leaders of the church were confused by his Manifesto. Apostle Cannon's journal shows that there was division among the highest leaders of the church at the time the Manifesto was issued (see Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? page 234).

While the Manifesto was approved by the membership of the church, the Mormon writer Russell R. Rich admits that

not even among the general authorities of the Church was there unanimous support for abolishing the practice.
(Brigham Young University Week, Those Who Would Be Leaders, page 71)

In October, 1891, President Woodruff testified that the Manifesto not only prohibited any more plural marriages, but that it also forbid the unlawful cohabitation of those who were already in polygamy. While Wilford Woodruff and other Mormon leaders were publicly stating that members of the church should observe the law concerning unlawful cohabitation, they were secretly teaching that it was all right to break it. The leaders of the Mormon Church, in fact, had promised the government they would obey the law of the land, but many of them broke their promises.

Few people, however, realized to what extent until they were called to testify in the "Proceedings Before the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the United States Senate in the Matter of the Protests Against the Right of Hon. Reed Smoot, a Senator From the State of Utah, to Hold His Seat." Joseph F. Smith, who was the sixth President of the church, testified as follows in the Reed Smoot Case:

The CHAIRMAN. Do you obey the law in having five wives at this time, and having them bear to you eleven children since the manifesto of 1890?
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Chairman, I have not claimed that in that case I have obeyed the law of the land.
The CHAIRMAN. That is all.
Mr. SMITH. I do not claim so, and I have said before that I prefer to stand my chances against the law.
Reed Smoot Case, vol. 1, p. 197

Mr. TAYLER. You say there is a State law forbidding unlawful cohabitation?
Mr. SMITH. That is my understanding.
Mr. TAYLER. And ever since that law was passed you have been violating it?
Mr. SMITH. I think likely I have been practicing the same thing even before the law was passed.
(Ibid., p. 130)

The CHAIRMAN. are violating the law?
Mr. SMITH. The law of my State?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.
Senator OVERMAN. Is there not a revelation published in the Book of Covenants here that you shall abide by the law of the State?
Mr. SMITH. It includes both unlawful cohabitation and polygamy.
Senator OVERMAN. Is there not a revelation that you shall abide by the laws of the State and of the land?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.
Senator OVERMAN. If that is a revelation, are you not violating the laws of God?
Mr. SMITH. I have admitted that, Mr. Senator, a great many times here.
Ibid., pp. 334-335

When Senator Hoar was questioning President Joseph F. Smith concerning polygamy, Smith finally stated: "I presume I am the greatest culprit." (page 312)

Charles E. Merrill, the son of the Apostle Marriner W. Merrill, testified that he took a plural wife after the Manifesto and that his father performed the ceremony:

Mr. TAYLER. ...When was it you married your second wife; that is, the second wife you now have?
Mr. MERRILL. In the fall of 1888.
Mr. TAYLER. And the next marriage took place in 1891?
Mr. MERRILL. Yes, sir.
Mr. TAYLER. Who married you in 1891?
Mr. MERRILL. My father.
Mr. TAYLER. When were you married?
Mr. MERRILL. I could not give you the exact date, but it was in March.
Mr. TAYLER. 1891?
Mr. MERRILL. Yes, sir.
Mr. TAYLER. Was your father then an apostle?
Mr. MERRILL. Yes, sir."
(Reed Smoot Case, vol. 1, pp. 408-409)

Walter M. Wolfe, who was at one time professor of geology at Brigham Young College, claimed that the Apostle John Henry Smith made this statement to him: "'Brother Wolfe, don't you know that the manifesto is only a trick to beat the devil at his own game?'" (Reed Smoot Case, vol.4, page 13)

Anthony W. Ivins, who later became a member of the First Presidency of the Mormon Church, was appointed by the church leaders to perform plural marriages in Mexico after the Manifesto. His son, Stanley S. Ivins, told us that his father received instructions after the Manifesto to perform marriages for time and all eternity outside of the Mormon temples.

He received a ceremony for these marriages (which Stanley S. Ivins had in his possession). He was sent to Mexico and was told that when the First Presidency wanted a plural marriage performed they would send a letter with the couple who were to be married. Whenever he received these letters from the First Presidency, he knew that it was all right to perform the ceremony.

After his father's death, Stanley S. Ivins copied the names of those who had been married in polygamy into another book and then gave the original book to the Mormon leaders. Wallace Turner says that

More than fifty polygamist marriages were easily identifiable, beginning in June, 1897, when three men from Utah were married at Juarez,... They had crossed over into Mexico just for the marriage ceremony, then went back into the United States. However, Ivins refused to perform marriages for the regular population of the Mormon colonies because the men lacked the letters from Salt Lake City which he considered to be his authority for the ceremony. However, by 1898 polygamous marriages were being performed routinely in Mexico by other Mormon leaders. (The Mormon Establishment, 1966, p. 187)

Stanley Ivins claimed that his father continued to perform plural marriages for the church until the year 1904. In the Reed Smoot Case, vol. 4, page 11, Walter M. Wolfe testified that Ovena Jorgensen told him how she had obtained approval from George Q. Cannon, of the First Presidency, to enter into polygamy. Stanley S. Ivins confirmed the fact that his father, Anthony W. Ivins, performed the marriage ceremony. Stanley Ivins related to us that Walter Wolfe's testimony concerning this marriage hurt the church's image so much that the First Presidency of the church sent Anthony Ivins a letter requesting him to go back to Washington, D.C. and give false testimony before the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the United States Senate.

The First Presidency of the Mormon Church actually wanted him to lie under oath and state he did not perform the ceremony. Stanley Ivins said that even if Walter Wolfe's testimony did damage the image of the church, his father refused to go back to Washington, D.C. and lie about the marriage.

Frank J. Cannon, a very prominent Mormon who served as United States Senator for Utah, related that just after the death of his brother, Apostle Abraham H. Cannon, in July 1896, his father, George Q. Cannon, told him that it was fortunate for the church that Abraham had died because he had taken Lillian Hamlin as a plural wife. This fact had become known, and he "would have had to face a prosecution in Court." President Cannon denied that he had anything to do with the marriage (a claim that is inconsistent with facts which have recently come to light), and went on to say:

President Smith obtained the acquiescence of President Woodruff, on the plea that it wasn't an ordinary case of polygamy but merely a fulfillment of the biblical instruction that a man should take his dead brother's wife. Lillian was betrothed to David, and had been sealed to him in eternity after his death. I understand that President Woodruff told Abraham he would leave the matter with them if he wished to take the responsibility--and President Smith performed the ceremony. (Under the Prophet in Utah, pages 176-177)

According to the diary of Abraham H. Cannon, his father, George Q. Cannon, a member of the First Presidency, lamented the fact that his sons could not raise up seed to David through polygamy:

My son David died without seed, and his brothers cannot do a work for him, in rearing children to bear his name because of the manifesto. (Journal of Abraham H. Cannon, April 5, 1894, vol.19, page 70)

From an entry in Apostle Cannon's diary for Oct. 24, 1894, it would appear that the Mormon leaders had decided that a plural marriage could be performed in Mexico to raise up seed to David. Although the diary has been damaged at this point and a few words are missing, the remaining portion shows that the Mormon leaders did not take the Manifesto seriously:

After meeting I went to the President's Office and ____ Father [George Q. Cannon] about taking a wife for David. I told him David had taken Anni[e] _____ cousin, through the vail in life, and suggested she might be a good pe_______ sealed to him for eternity. The suggestion pleased Father very much, and ______ Angus was there, He spoke to him about it in the presence of the Presidency. _________ not object providing Annie is willing. The Presidents Woodruff and Smith both sa[id] they were willing for such a ceremony to occur, if done in Mexico, and Pres. Woodruf[f] promised the Lord's blessing to follow such an act. (Journal of Abraham H. Cannon, Oct. 24, 1894, vol.18, p.170; original at Brigham Young University)

The Mormon scholar D. Michael Quinn, professor of American History at Brigham Young University, has found another important reference which he feels proves beyond all doubt that "President Woodruff personally authorized Apostle Abraham H. Cannon to marry a new plural wife..." This reference is also in Apostle Cannon's own journal:

'Father [George Q. Cannon] also spoke to me about taking some good girl and raising up seed by her for my brother David.... Such a ceremony as this could be performed in Mexico, so Pres. Woodruff has said.' (Abraham H. Cannon Journal, Oct.19, 1894, as cited in Dialogue, Spring 1985, page 62)

It is startling, to say the least, that President Wilford Woodruff approved of and promised "the Lord's blessing" on the plural marriage which was being planned. This was four years after he published a "solemn" denial of the practice in the Manifesto:

We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice,... (D&C, Official Declaration, page 256 of 1978 printing)

It was some two years after the plural marriage was approved by the First Presidency that Abraham Cannon actually took Lillian Hamlin as his plural wife. The evidence indicates that Joseph F. Smith, who became the 6th president of the church, married the couple himself. President Smith denied that he performed the ceremony, but he acknowledged:

I accompanied Abraham H. Cannon and his wife on that trip, and had one of my wives with me on that trip. (Reed Smoot Case, vol. 1, page 111)

When President Smith was asked when he first learned that Lillian Hamlin was Apostle Cannon's wife, he responded:

The first that I suspected anything of the kind was on that trip, because I never knew the lady before. (Ibid.)

Like the other Mormon leaders, Joseph F. Smith was supposed to be doing all in his power to prevent the practice of polygamy, yet his testimony gives the impression that he was oblivious to what was going on when he went on the trip with Lillian Hamlin and Apostle Cannon:

Mr. TAYLOR. Did you have any talk on that journey or after you left Salt Lake--after you first heard or learned that Lillian Hamlin was the wife of Abraham Cannon--as to when they were married?
Mr. SMITH. No, sir.
Mr. TAYLOR. Did you have any talk with either of them?
Mr. SMITH. Not in the least.
MR TAYLER Not in the least?
Mr. SMITH. Not in the least, sir; and no one ever mentioned to me that they were or were not married. I simply judged they were married because they were living together as husband and wife.
Mr. TAYLER. Did you say anything by way of criticism to Abraham Cannon?
Mr. SMITH. No, sir."
(Reed Smoot Case, vol. 1, page 128)

Unfortunately, Abraham Cannon's 1896 journal is not available. D. Michael Quinn informs us that

Apostle Cannon's 1896 diary is the only volume missing of his many diaries,... (Dialogue, Spring 1985, pp. 83-84).

John Henry Hamlin, however, testified that his sister, Lillian Hamlin, was married to Apostle Cannon. When he was asked who performed the ceremony, he replied:

Well, our understanding was that President Joseph F. Smith married her.

Wilhelmina C. Ellis, who had been one of Apostle Cannon's wives, testified that Abraham Cannon was not married to Lillian Hamlin until he went on the trip with President Smith:

Mr. TAYLER. What conversation did you have with him then about his going away and about his getting married again? What did he say first about going?
Mrs. ELLIS. He told me he was going to marry her for time, and that she would be David's wife for eternity.
Mr. TAYLER. What did he say about Miss Hamlin?
Mrs. ELLIS. ...he said she was going with him and President Smith.
(Reed Smoot Case, vol. 2, page 143)

Because her husband was not married to Lillian Hamlin when he left on the trip with Joseph F. Smith and came back as her husband, Mrs. Ellis inferred that President Smith had performed the marriage ceremony. She admitted, in fact, that she had frequently stated that Smith did marry them. Since Abraham H. Cannon had previously written that "Presidents Woodruff and Smith both sa[id] they were willing for such a ceremony to occur," it would be stretching our credulity to believe President Smith's denial that he knew anything about the marriage.

It is difficult, in fact, to deny Frank Cannon's charge that his father [George Q. Cannon] told him that President Smith performed the ceremony. While those who knew about this marriage usually felt that Joseph F. Smith married the couple "on the high sea" just off the coast of California, Mormon scholar D. Michael Quinn seems confident that the ceremony was performed in the Salt Lake Temple. His research in temple records reveals the following:

When Lillian Hamlin was endowed in the Salt Lake Temple on 17 June 1896, she was sealed by proxy to the deceased David H. Cannon. Abraham H. Cannon was the proxy, and Joseph F. Smith performed the sealing. The next day, the Smiths and Cannons left Salt Lake City for California. Therefore, Joseph F. Smith actually performed his only post-Manifesto polygamous marriage as a proxy ceremony in the Salt Lake Temple for Abraham H. Cannon but could legally claim that he [was] simply officiating in a sealing on behalf of the deceased brother. (Dialogue, Spring 1985, page 84)

Professor Quinn bases this argument on the fact that the records of earlier sealings for the dead indicate that "one ceremony united the living woman for eternity to the deceased husband and for time to the proxy husband." While Quinn's argument is persuasive, the fact that Joseph F. Smith traveled with the couple after the temple ritual may still leave open the possibility that it was a separate ceremony in California or on the "high sea"--i.e., beyond the boundary of the United States. In any case, Quinn's discovery of temple records linking President Smith to a sealing ceremony in which both Apostle Cannon and Lillian Hamlin participated just the day before he traveled with the couple seems to sew up the case against Joseph F. Smith.

Apostle Abraham H. Cannon's journals not only reveal that the Mormon leaders approved of polygamy after the Manifesto, but they also show they were considering the idea of a secret system of concubinage wherein men and women could live together without actually being married:

Father [George Q. Cannon] now spoke of the unfortunate condition of the people at present in regard to marriage.... I believe in concubinage, or some plan whereby men and women can live together under sacred ordinances and vows until they can be married.... such a condition would have to be kept secret, until the laws of our government change to permit the holy order of wedlock which God has revealed, ...-- --President Snow. 'I have no doubt that concubinage will yet be practiced in this church,...-- --Pres. Woodruff: 'If men enter into some practice of this character to raise a righteous posterity, they will be justified in it...' (Journal of Abraham H. Cannon, April 5, 1894, vol. 18, p. 70)

As we have shown earlier, Joseph Smith's revelation on polygamy also said that concubinage was justifiable in God's sight:

Abraham received concubines and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness,...' (D&C, 132:37)

After making a long and careful study of the Mormon Church's attitude toward polygamy, the Committee on Privileges and Elections submitted a report in which it claimed that the Manifesto was a deception:

A sufficient number of specific instances of the taking of plural wives since the manifesto of 1890, so called, have been shown by the testimony as having taken place among officials of the Mormon Church to demonstrate the fact that the leaders in this church, the first presidency and the twelve apostles, connive at the practice of taking plural wives, and have done so ever since the manifesto was issued which purported to put an end to the practice... as late as 1896 one Lillian Hamlin became the plural wife of Abraham H. Cannon, who was then an apostle... The prominence of Abraham H. Cannon in the church, the publicity given to the fact of his taking Lillian Hamlin as a plural wife, render it practically impossible that this should have been done without the knowledge, the consent, and the connivance of the headship of that church.

George Teasdale, another apostle of the Mormon Church, contracted a plural marriage with Marion Scholes since the manifesto of 1890.... Charles E. Merrill, a bishop of the Mormon Church, took a plural wife in 1891,... The ceremony... was performed by his father, who was then and until the time of his death an apostle in the Mormon Church. It is also shown that John W. Taylor, another apostle of the Mormon Church, has been married to two plural wives since the issuing of the so-called manifesto.

Matthias F. Cowley, another of the twelve apostles, has also taken one or more plural wives since the manifesto.... Apostles Taylor and Cowley, instead of appearing before the committee and denying the allegation, evade service of process issued by the committee for their appearance and refuse to appear after being requested to do so,... about the year 1896 James Francis Johnson was married to a plural wife,....the ceremony in this instance being performed by an apostle of the Mormon Church. To these cases must be added that of Marriner W. Merrill, another apostle;...

It is a fact of no little significance in itself, bearing on the question whether polygamous marriages have been recently contracted in Utah by the connivance of the first presidency and twelve apostles of the Mormon Church, that the authorities of said church have endeavored to suppress, and have succeeded in suppressing, a great deal of testimony by which the fact of plural marriages contracted by those who were high in the councils of the church might have been established beyond the shadow of a doubt. Before the investigation had begun it was well known in Salt Lake City that it was expected to show on the part of the protestants that Apostles George Teasdale, John W. Taylor, and M. F. Cowley, and also Prof. J. M. Tanner, Samuel Newton and others who were all high officials of the Mormon Church had recently taken plural wives, and that in 1896 Lillian Hamlin was sealed to Apostle Abraham H. Cannon as a plural wife... All, or nearly all, of these persons except Abraham H. Cannon, who was deceased, were then within reach of service of process from the committee. But shortly before the investigation began all these witnesses went out of the country.

Subpoenas were issued for each one of the witnesses named, but in the case of Samuel Newton only could the process of the committee be served. Mr. Newton refused to obey the order of the committee, alleging no reason or excuse for not appearing. It is shown that John W. Taylor was sent out of the country by Joseph F. Smith on a real or pretended mission for the church...

It would be nothing short of self-stultification for one to believe that all these important witnesses chanced to leave the United States at about the same time and without reference to the investigation. All the facts and circumstances surrounding the transaction point to the conclusion that every one of the witnesses named left the country at the instance of the rulers of the Mormon Church and to avoid testifying before the committee.

It was claimed by the protestants that the records kept in the Mormon temple at Salt Lake City... would disclose the fact that plural marriages have been contracted in Utah since the manifesto with the sanction of the officials of the church. A witness who was required to bring the records in the temple at Salt Lake City refused to do so after consulting with President was shown by the testimony, and in such a way that the fact could not possibly be controverted, that a majority of those who give the law to the Mormon Church are now, and have been for years, living in open, notorious, and shameless polygamous cohabitation. The list of those who are thus guilty of violating the laws of the State and the rules of public decency is headed by Joseph F. Smith, the first president, 'prophet, seer, and revelator of the Mormon Church,...

The list also includes George Teasdale, an apostle; John Henry Smith, an apostle; Heber J. Grant, an apostle; M. F. Cowley, an apostle; Charles W. Penrose, an apostle; and Francis M. Lyman, who is not only an apostle, but the probable successor of Joseph F. Smith as president of the church. Thus it appears that the first president and eight of the twelve apostles, a considerable majority of the ruling authorities of the Mormon Church, are noted polygamists. (Reed Smoot Case, vol. 4, pp. 476-480)

While the Committee on Privileges and Elections was hampered by the Mormon Church's attempt to impede the investigation and to suppress evidence, it did find enough documentation to put the church in a very embarrassing position. When we published the 1982 edition of Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? we felt that we had enough new evidence to completely disprove the claim that polygamy in the Mormon Church ended with the Manifesto (see pages 231-244F). We were, of course, somewhat limited in our research because we did not have access to a great deal of important material in the Mormon Archives.

Fortunately, however, one of the church's most qualified historians, D. Michael Quinn, began researching this matter. While he certainly did not have access to all of the secret records of the church, he was entrusted with some extremely important church documents and was able to ferret out enough material to write what many people consider to be the definitive work on the subject. His article is entitled, "LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904." It is found in the Spring 1985 issue of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Although he claims he still has faith in Mormonism, he believes in honest history and pulls no punches in his presentation. Dr. Quinn gives the following information in his article:

Ninety percent of new polygamous marriages contracted from September 1890 through December 1904 directly involved Church authority.... On 11 September 1901, the Deseret Evening News branded as 'groundless' and 'utterly false' the statement of a Protestant minister that 'one of the Apostles had recently taken an additional wife,' when in fact four apostles had married plural wives so far that year...

The year 1903 was the climax of post-Manifesto polygamy with Church authority....apostles were performing new polygamous marriages in the United States and Mexico, where both the stake patriarch and president were also officiating for residents of the Juarez Stake. The stake president had, furthermore, been authorized by the First Presidency to perform plural marriages for U. S. residents with the necessary letters from Salt Lake City. In addition, for the first time since the establishment of the Canadian settlement of Mormons, the Church president authorized local Church authority to perform plural marriages there for Canadian Mormons... Although those presently unavailable manuscripts would bring further corroboration and precision, sufficient information exists to verify the participation of Church authorities in new plural marriages from September 1890 through the end of 1904... When Byron H. Allred asked for permission to marry the young woman who accompanied him to the President's office on 4 October 1890, President Woodruff patiently explained the reasons he had issued the Manifesto and then told Allred to move as soon as possible with his intended plural wife to Mexico where Alexander F. Macdonald would perform the ceremony. Anson B. Call was bold enough to come to Woodruff s own home... President Woodruff told him to sell all his property in the United States and move to Mexico with his intended wife... Apostle Young,... performed at least five plural marriages there [in Mexico] when he returned in May-June 1894. Among these plural marriages was one for Franklin S. Bramwell, then a stake high councilman, who later wrote, 'When I took my second wife I had a letter signed by President Woodruff himself and went to Mexico with a personal letter from Prest. George Q. Cannon.'... In June 1897, the First Presidency authorized Juarez Stake President Anthony W. Ivins to perform polygamous ceremonies in Mexico, and in the fall President Woodruff authorized Anthon H. Lund to perform two plural marriages aboard ship, one on the Pacific Ocean and one on the Great Lakes...

Circumstantial evidence indicates that Wilford Woodruff married Madame Mountford as a plural wife in 1897...

In the last year of his life, Wilford Woodruff thus maintained a public stance that was at variance with his private activities regarding polygamy. When Protestant ministers charged the Church with allowing new plural marriages, President Woodruff wrote the editor of the Protestant newspaper that 'no one has entered into plural marriage by my permission since the Manifesto was issued.'...

The First Presidency's office not only authorized these post-Manifesto plural marriages in Mexico as performed by the presiding authority there, but also was aware of and recorded the plural marriages that visiting apostles performed in Mexico.... during the presidency of Lorenzo Snow in 1901, four apostles (including Brigham Young, Jr.) married plural wives... John W. Taylor claimed that he married two plural wives in August 1901 with the permission of the Church president; but the clearest evidence that Lorenzo Snow gave permission individually to the apostles to marry plural wives in 1901 comes from Heber J. Grant, who later wrote: 'Before I went to Japan [in July 1901] my President intimated that l had better take the action needed to increase my family,' and Grant's notebook indicates that President Snow gave this permission on 26 May 1901: 'Temple Fast mtg--17 years since Gusta and I married--She willing to have me do my duty. & Pt Snow...

Alter George Q. Cannon's death in April 1901, Joseph F. Smith, as sole counselor, was one who sent prominent Mormons to Matthias F. Cowley for polygamous ceremonies; and upon Lorenzo Snow's death in October 1901, his successor Joseph F. Smith promoted and protected new polygamous marriages more actively than the two previous Church presidents...

By the fall of 1903, Joseph F. Smith had decided to expand new polygamous marriages even further...

Joseph F. Smith continued the familiar pattern of denying publicly what was happening privately throughout these years. More significantly he was keeping his own counselors and half of the apostles in the dark about what he and the other half were doing to promote new polygamous marriages... Joseph F. Smith divided the Church against itself and apostle against brother apostle over the question of new polygamous marriages. He did it with the best of intent--to preserve 'the principle' as well as to protect the institution of the Church by filing official minutes of quorum meetings with repudiations of what he was actually allowing individual Church officers to do with his authorization and blessing as Church president. This allowed plausible denial to the Church's enemies, but the policy created double definitions of authority, sanction, permission, knowledge, validity, loyalty, and truth--a wind that would begin to reap the whirlwind in 1904.
Dialogue, Spring 1985, pages 56, 58-60, 62, 65, 72, 73, 90, 93, 95 and 96

According to Professor Quinn, Heber J. Grant, who served as the 7th president of the church from 1918 until 1948, did not actually go through with the plural marriage which President Snow suggested that he enter into on May 26, 1901. (Ibid, p. 73) Nevertheless, Grant did have problems with the law after the Manifesto. In 1899--nine years after Woodruff s Manifesto--he was convicted of unlawful cohabitation (see the Daily Tribune, Sept. 9, 1899).

In 1903 Heber J. Grant had to flee the country to avoid being arrested. According to the testimony of Charles Mostyn Owen, Grant had been boasting about his relationship "with two women as his wives." Mr. Owen "went before the county attorney and swore to an information for him, and a warrant was issued on that information." Before Grant could be arrested, "He left suddenly on the night of the 10th of November last year--1903." Owen said that Grant had gone to England and was still there while the Smoot investigation was going on (see Reed Smoot Case, vol.2, pages 401-402).

The reader will remember Quinn says that Joseph F. Smith was more actively involved in promoting polygamy after the Manifesto than the other presidents of the church. Professor Quinn has put forth a devastating case against President Smith. This is very interesting because Joseph F. Smith emphatically denied in his testimony given in the Reed Smoot Case that polygamy was ever approved by church leaders after the Manifesto:

Mr. SMITH. ... It has been the continuous and conscientious practice and rule of the church ever since the manifesto to observe that manifesto with regard to plural marriages; and from that time till to-day there has never been, to my knowledge, a plural marriage performed in accordance with the understanding, instruction, connivance, counsel, or permission of the presiding authorities of the church, or of the church, in any shape or form; and I know whereof I speak, gentlemen, in relation to that matter. (Reed Smoot Case, vol.1, page 129)

When President Smith was asked if he knew of any plural marriage being performed by church authority in any part of the world since 1890, he responded: "No, sir; I do not." (Ibid, p.177)

If the Committee on Privileges and Elections had possessed the documentation which Dr. Quinn has compiled, Joseph F. Smith would probably have been prosecuted for perjury. On page 98 of his article, Quinn pointed out that President Smith was

risking a perjury indictment by concealing any evidence detrimental to the Church as an institution or to any individual (including himself) who acted in his capacity as a Church official in promoting post-Manifesto polygamy. As President Smith told another prospective witness in the Smoot case, 'We should consider the interests of the Church rather than our own.'

Although the senators believed that President Smith was not telling the truth, they also knew that it would be very difficult to prosecute him since he had control over most of the witnesses. Professor Quinn has found evidence that Joseph F. Smith did, in fact, obstruct the investigation by the Committee on Privileges and Elections just as the report had charged:

...Joseph F. Smith throughout 1904 maintained that despite his best efforts, the subpoenaed apostles were either too ill or too recalcitrant to testify in the Smoot investigation.

It is far more probable, however, that the Church president did not want the Senate to question anyone who had married and fathered children by post-Manifesto plural wives... President Smith told Apostle [Abraham Owen] Woodruff midway through April conference, 'You would not be a good witness,' [and] advised him to 'stay in retirement' to avoid a subpoena in Utah, and to prepare immediately to preside over the LDS mission in Germany... Five days after he presented the second Manifesto, Joseph F. Smith instructed California Mission President Joseph E. Robinson to move his two post-Manifesto plural wives and their children from Salt Lake City to Mexico to avoid a subpoena.

A plural wife of John W. Taylor later provided the background to the letters her husband and Apostle Cowley sent to Joseph F. Smith about refusing to testify before the Senate Committee. 'He received two contradictory letters in the mail, for him to sign and return. One said he would go to Washington, the other said he would not go to Washington. Nellie cried: 'John, you don't intend to place yourself in a trap by signing both those letters, do you?' He pointed at the signature of President Joseph F. Smith and said, 'I will do what my Prophet orders me to do." President Smith used the letter for each man he felt the circumstances of April 1904 required.... President Smith sent George Teasdale to Mexico to avoid testifying. The apostle chafed at this forced exile, and President Smith relented enough to have George F. Gibbs notify Teasdale in August 1904 that he and Apostle Cowley could leave Mexico and speak at three stake conferences in Arizona, provided that the local stake authorities did not publish any reference to their visit in the Deseret News or local papers and that they provide no information on their itinerary.
Dialogue, Spring 1985, pages 100-101

Joseph F. Smith, the 6th president of the church, not only had the power to avoid being indicted for perjury, but was also able to escape prosecution in Utah for many years. It was 16 years after the Manifesto was issued when President Smith was finally convicted of unlawful cohabitation. The church's Deseret Evening News, for November 23, 1906 reported:

...President Smith appeared forthwith and entered a plea of guilty and was fined three hundred dollars. The fine was promptly paid and the defendant discharged.

Trail of Dishonesty

While Mormon apologists would have us believe otherwise, untruth and secrecy were used by the church leaders to cover up polygamy. D. Michael Quinn has discovered that in just "thirteen and a half years" after the Manifesto, when the leaders of the church were deeply involved in secretly promoting the practice of polygamy,

the First Presidency individually or as a unit published twenty-four denials that any new plural marriages were being performed. (Dialogue, Spring 1985, page 9)

A careful examination of Mormon history reveals that this pattern of dishonesty stemmed from Joseph Smith himself. Smith always publicly denied the practice, and as we have already shown, he was even willing to perform a fake excommunication to hide the practice. On May 3, 1844, the History of the Church, vol. 6, p.411, reported that Joseph Smith responded as follows to the accusation that he "kept six or seven young females as 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.

In his article in Dialogue, page 21, Quinn noted that Joseph Smith had "more than thirty plural wives" at the time he made this denial. We have previously cited a notice printed in the Times and Seasons in which both Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, who was a member of the First Presidency of the church, signed a statement saying Hiram Brown had been "cut off from the church for preaching polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines." The following month, Hyrum Smith wrote the following for the Times and Seasons (March 15, 1844, vol.5, p.474): Richard Hewitt... 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 doctrines, for there is no such doctrine taught; neither is there any such thing practised 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...

The article on marriage, which was published in the early editions of the Doctrine and Covenants was frequently used by the early Mormon Church to counteract the report that polygamy was being practiced. On Sept. 1, 1842, this statement appeared in the Times and Seasons (vol. 3, p. 909):

Inasmuch as the public mind has been unjustly abused... 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 in the church.

'...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,...'

In vol.4, p.143, of the Times and Seasons, we find the following:

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.

In the Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, vol.3, p.74, the following denial appeared:

But, for the information of those who may be assailed by those foolish tales about two wives, we would say that no such principle ever existed among the Latter-Day Saints, and never will;... the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants; and also all our periodicals are very strict on that subject, indeed far more so than the bible.

After Joseph Smith's death the denials of polygamy continued to come forth in Mormon publications. When someone stated that Joseph Smith taught polygamy, the Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star (vol.12, pp.29-30) called it a lie:

12th Lie--Joseph Smith taught a system of polygamy.
12th Refutation.--The Revelations given through Joseph Smith, state the following:... 'We believe that one man should have one wife.' Doctrine and Covenants, page 331.

As late as 1850 John Taylor, who became the 3rd president of the church, denied that the Mormons believed in the practice of plural marriage:

We are accused here of polygamy,... and actions the most indelicate, obscene, and disgusting, such that none but a corrupt and depraved heart could have contrived. These things are too outrageous to admit of belief;... I shall content myself by reading our views of chastity and marriage, from a work published by us containing some of the articles of our Faith. 'Doctrine and Covenants,' page 330... Inasmuch as this Church of Jesus 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,...' (A tract published by John Taylor in 1850, page 8; found in Orson Pratt's Works, 1851 edition)

On page 23 of his article in Dialogue, Dr. Quinn revealed that at the time he made this denial of polygamy "in 1850, John Taylor had married twelve polygamous wives who had already borne him eight children."

At the beginning of this article we quoted Apostle John A. Widtsoe as saying that Joseph Smith "taught honesty in all affairs, he insisted that his people be honest..." Our research concerning polygamy shows that these statements concerning Joseph Smith are wishful thinking. He not only deceived his own wife about polygamy, but was willing to go to almost any length to keep some of his own followers in the dark concerning what he really believed. Those who were close to him seem to have picked up his deceptive ways and taught them to those who followed. Consequently, the record of at least the first seven presidents of the church is marred by the transgression of the law and duplicity.

On April 6, 1904, President Joseph F. Smith issued what is known as the "Second Manifesto." This document claimed that since the Manifesto given in 1890, no plural marriages "have been solemnized with the sanction, consent or knowledge of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Dialogue, Spring 1985, p. 10)

Although President Smith's statement is certainly untruthful, the Smoot investigation put a great deal of pressure on the church leaders and it was not long before the practice of polygamy died out within the church. Unfortunately, however, the insincerity of the Mormon leaders after the Manifesto left such a credibility gap that many Mormons continued to hold to polygamy even after the church withdrew its support of the practice. Like Joseph Smith, they secretly entered into polygamy, and even though the Mormon Church excommunicated a large number of them, the movement did not die out. Consequently, almost a century after Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto, there are thousands of people who are still practicing polygamy in Utah.

On Dec. 27, 1965, the New York Times reported that as "many as 30,000 men, women and children live in families in which polygamy is practiced." In 1966 the Mormon writer Leonard J. Arrington claimed that this was a "far-fetched estimate." The following year, however, Ben Merson reported:

'Today in Utah,' declares William M. Rogers, former special assistant to the State Attorney General, 'there are more polygamous families than in the days of Brigham Young. At least 30,000 men, women and children in this state are now living in plural households--and the number is rapidly increasing.' Thousands now live in the adjoining states of Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona--plus sizable populations in Oregon, California, Canada and Mexico. (Ladies' Home Journal, June 1967, page 78)

Because they claim to go back to the fundamental doctrines of Mormonism, those who believe in practicing polygamy today are usually known as Mormon "Fundamentalists." The Mormon leaders now find themselves in a very strange situation. On the one hand, they have to uphold polygamy as a righteous principle, but on the other, they have to discourage the members of the church from actually entering into its practice. If they completely repudiated the doctrine of polygamy, they would be admitting that Joseph Smith was a deceiver, and that the church was founded on fraud. If, however, they openly preached and defended the doctrine, many people would probably enter into the practice and bring disgrace upon the church.

Their position is about the same as a person saying, "My church believes in water baptism, but we are not allowed to practice it." Because of this peculiar dilemma, church officials prefer that there is not much discussion of plural marriage. As long as the Mormon leaders continue to publish Joseph Smith's revelation on polygamy (D&C, Section 132), there will, no doubt, be many people who will enter into the practice. They cannot completely repudiate this revelation, however, without destroying their doctrine concerning temple marriage because the two doctrines were revealed in the same revelation. (Temple marriage, of course, is the marriage of a man and woman for time and all eternity in a secret ritual performed only in a Mormon temple.)

Although the Mormon Church no longer allows a man to be sealed to more than one living woman, in Mormon doctrine all women who marry for eternity in the temple have to face the possibility that they could end up living in polygamy in heaven without their consent. If the wife should die before her husband, he is allowed to be sealed to another woman for eternity. The woman, however, is not allowed to be sealed to two husbands for eternity. Joseph Fielding Smith, who became the 10th president of the church, explained how the rules of the temple discriminate against women:

When a man and a woman are married in the temple for time and all eternity, and then the man dies and the woman marries another man, she can be married to him for time only. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, p. 78)

President Smith himself remarried after the death of his first wife, and in the same book, page 67, he remarked: " wives will be mine in eternity."

Mormon writer John J. Stewart made it very clear that although the church does not allow a man to have more than one living wife at the present time, the doctrine of plural marriage is still an "integral part of LDS scripture":

...the Church's strictness in excommunicating those advocating and practicing plural marriage today has apparently been misconstrued by not a few loyal Church members as an acknowledgment that the evil falsehoods... and other misconceptions about plural marriage, are true, and that the Church's near silence on the doctrine today is further evidence that it regrets and is embarrassed by the whole matter of plural marriage. Such an inference is, of course, unjustified and unrealistic. The Church has never, and certainly will never, renounce this doctrine. The revelation on plural marriage is still an integral part of LDS scripture, and always will be.
Brigham Young and His Wives, pages 13-14

Moment of Truth

Notwithstanding Apostle Widtsoe's bold assertions concerning the honesty of Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church itself, the evidence with regard to polygamy reveals exactly the opposite. A majority of the church presidents (7 out of 13) who were supposed to have been 'prophets, seers, and revelators' to the Church, were involved in a doctrine which led them into breaking the law, adultery, deception, perjury, bribery and a massive cover-up which has continued on until the present time. Since Jesus Himself told us to beware of "false prophets," and instructed us that we will "know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15-16), it seems imperative that we face the truth about Mormonism.

There is no way around the problem; the deceptive practices used by Joseph Smith and the other early leaders of the Mormon Church must be recognized for what they are the "evil fruit" which Jesus attributed to "false prophets." While we do not agree with much of the material written by President Joseph Fielding Smith, he did make one statement that really gets to the heart of the matter:

Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground.

If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who wilfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false,... (Doctrines of Salvation, vol.1, pp. 188-189)

We sincerely hope that Mormons who read this will see the futility of trusting in leaders who have used so much deceit and cover-up in establishing their work.


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