Sorrows of Polygamy
The fact that plural marriage brought great sorrow to many of the women involved can hardly be denied. Heber C. Kimball once remarked: "There is a great deal of quarrelling in the houses, and contending for power and authority; and the second wife is against the first wife, perhaps, in some instances" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 178).
Brigham Young also spoke of the problems: "A few years ago one of my wives, when talking about wives leaving their husbands said, 'I wish my husband's wives would leave him, every soul of them except myself.' That is the way they all feel, more or less, at times, both old and young" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p. 195).
"Sisters, do you wish to make yourselves happy? Then what is your duty? It is for you to bear children, ... are you tormenting yourselves by thinking that your husbands do not love you? I would not care whether they loved a particle or not; but I would cry out, like one of old, in the joy of my heart, 'I have got a man from the Lord!' 'Hallelujah! I am a mother...'" (p. 37).
Zina Huntington, a wife of Brigham Young and a defender of
the doctrine of polygamy, counseled:
It is the duty of a first wife to regard her husband not with a selfish devotion... she must regard her husband with indifference, and with no other feeling than that of reverence, for love we regard as a false sentiment; a feeling which should have no existence in polygamy... we believe in the good old custom by which marriages should be arranged by the parents of the young people (New York World, November 17, 1869, as cited in The Lion of the Lord, pp. 229-30).
It is almost impossible to conceive of the sorrow that the Mormon women went through. Joseph Lee Robinson, who was himself a polygamist and a faithful member of the church, frankly admitted: "Plural marriage ... is calculated in its nature to severely try the women even to nearly tear their heart strings out of them ..." (Journal and Autobiography of Joseph Lee Robinson, p. 50, microfilm in LDS Genealogical Library).
Kimball Young relates some of the heartaches of polygamy:
When James Hunter took his second wife, the first who had accompanied the couple to the Endowment House for the ceremony could not sleep and walked the floor all night as she thought of her husband lying in the arms of his new bride....
A person brought up in a polygamous household ... told this story: "There is one real tragedy in polygamy that I can remember. One evening a man brought home a second wife. It was in the winter and the first wife was very upset. That night she climbed onto the roof and froze to death" (Isn't One Wife Enough? pp. 147-48).
At one time conditions became so bad in Brigham Young's family that he offered to set all his wives free:
Now for my proposition; it is more particularly for my sisters, as it is frequently happening that women say they are unhappy. Men will say, "My wife, though a most excellent woman, has not seen a happy day since I took my second wife," "No, not a happy day for a year," says one; and another has not seen a happy day for five years....
I wish my own women to understand that what I am going to say is for them as well as others, and I want those who are here to tell their sisters, yes, all the women of this community, ... I am going to give you from this time to the 6th day of October next, for reflection, that you may determine whether you wish to stay with your husbands or not, and then I am going to set every woman at liberty and say to them, Now go your way, my women with the rest, go your way. And my wives have got to do one of two things; either round up their shoulders to endure the afflictions of this world, and live their religion, or they may leave, for
I will not have them about me. I will go into heaven alone, rather than have scratching and fighting around me. I will set all at liberty. "What, first wife too?" Yes, I will liberate you all....
I wish my women, and brother Kimball's and brother Grant's to leave, and every woman in this Territory, or else say in their hearts that they will embrace the Gospel—the whole of it ... say to your wives, "Take all that I have and be set at liberty; but if you stay with me you shall comply with the law of God, and that too without any murmuring and whining. You must fulfil the law of God in every respect, and round up your shoulders to walk up to the mark without any grunting."
Now recollect that two weeks from to morrow I am going to set you at liberty. But the first wife will say, "It is hard, for I have lived with my husband twenty years, or thirty, and have raised a family of children for him, and it is a great trial to me for him to have more women;" then I say it is time that you gave him up to other women who will bear children. If my wife had borne me all the children that she ever would bare, the celestial law would teach me to take young women that would have children....
Sisters, I am not joking, I do not throw out my proposition to banter your feelings, to see whether you will leave your husbands, all or any of you. But I know that there is no cessation to the everlasting whining of many of the women in this Territory; ... if the women will turn from the commandments of God and continue to despise the order of heaven, I will pray that the curse of the Almighty may be close to their heels....
Prepare yourselves for two weeks from to morrow; and I will tell you now, that if you will tarry with your husbands, after I have set you free, you must bow down to it, and submit yourselves to the Celestial law. You may go where you please, after two weeks from tomorrow; but, remember, that I will not hear any more of this whining (Sermon by Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, pp. 55-57; also printed in Deseret News, vol. 6, pp. 235-36).
Jedediah M. Grant, second counselor to Brigham Young, depicted the tragic situation in similar terms: "And we have women here who like any thing but the celestial law of God; and if they could break asunder the cable of the Church of Christ, there is scarcely a mother in Israel but would do it this day. And they talk it to their husbands, to their daughters, and to their neighbors, and say they have not seen a week's happiness since their husbands took a second wife" (Deseret News, vol. 6, p. 235; also Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 51).
Even Joseph Smith's home was not exempt from the problems caused by plural marriage. The Mormon writer John J. Stewart said: "Thus did Satan sow the seeds of discord in the
A photograph of the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, page 55. Brigham Young offered to set all his wives free.
Prophet's own home, cause a torment of mind to Emma, distress to Joseph, and lay the groundwork of the apostate Reorganized Church, eventually taking Emma and their sons outside the true Church" (Brigham Young and His wives, p. 33).
In his thesis "Emma Hale—Wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith" (p. 104 of typed copy), Raymond T. Bailey admitted that it was "public knowledge that there were quarrels between Emma and Joseph especially during the Illinois period of their lives." On April 17, 1844, the Warsaw Signal reported that Joseph Smith had "turned his wife out of doors. 'Sister Emma's' offence was, that she was in conversation with Mr. E. Robinson, and refused, or hesitated to tell the Prophet on what subject they were engaged. The man of God, thereupon, flew into a holy passion, and turned the partner of his bosom, and the said Robinson, into the street—all of which was done in broad daylight, and no doubt in the most approved style."
In his journal and autobiography, Joseph Lee Robinson (the brother of "E. Robinson" who is mentioned above) frankly admitted that Joseph and Emma had a fight over the doctrine of polygamy:
... Angeline Ebenezers wife had some time before this had watched Brother Joseph the Prophet had seen him go into some house that she had reported to sister Emma the wife of the Prophet it was at a time when she [Emma] was very suspisous [sic] and jealous of him for fear he would get another wife ... she was determined he should not get another if he did she was determined to leave and when she heard this she Emma became very angry and said she would leave ... it came close to breaking up his family ... the Prophet felt dreadful bad over it, he went to my brothers and talked with Angelene on the matter, and she would not give him any satesfaction [sic], and her husband did not reprove his wife, and it came to pass, the Prophet cursed her severely ... I thought that I would not have a wife of mine do a thing of that kind for a world, but if she had done it she should get upon her nees [sic] at his feet and beg his pardon....
The book Mormon Portraits provides further insight into Joseph's family troubles:
Mr. W.: "Joseph kept eight girls in his house, calling them his 'daughters.' Emma threatened that she would leave the house, and Joseph told her, "All right, you can go." She went, but when Joseph reflected that such a scandal would hurt his prophetic dignity, he followed his wife and brought her back. But the eight 'daughters' had to leave the house."
"Miss" Eliza R. Snow, ... was one of the first (willing) victims of Joseph in Nauvoo. She used to be much at the prophet's house
... he made her one of his celestial brides... . Feeling outraged as a wife and betrayed as a friend, Emma is currently reported as having had recourse to a vulgar broomstick as an instrument of revenge: and the harsh treatment received at Emma's hands is said to have destroyed Eliza's hopes of becoming the mother of a prophet's son (Mormon Portraits, by Dr. W. Wyl, 1886, pp. 57-58).
The Mormon writer Claire Noall acknowledged: "Willard realized that Emma had refused to believe that any of the young women boarding at the Mansion when it was first used as a hotel had been married to Joseph. She had struck Eliza Snow at the head of the stairs, and Eliza, it was whispered, had lost her unborn child" (Intimate Disciple, a Portrait of Willard Richards, 1957, p. 407).
There are some members of the Mormon church who maintain that Joseph Smith did not actually live with his wives here on earth. There is an abundance of evidence, however, to show that he did. For instance, Benjamin F Johnson made the following statement in an affidavit dated March 4, 1870: "After a short period, President Smith ... came again to Macedonia (Ramus), where he remained two days, lodging at my house with my sister as man and wife (and to my certain knowledge he occupied the same bed with her)" (Historical Record, vol. 6, p. 222).
Number of Wives
Andrew Jensen, who was an assistant Mormon church historian, listed 27 women who were married to Joseph Smith (see the Historical Record, pp. 233, 234). The Mormon author John J. Stewart, however, credits Joseph Smith with even more wives: "... he married many other women, perhaps three or four dozen or more ..." (Brigham Young and His Wives, p. 31). Fawn M. Brodie includes a list of forty-eight women who may have been married to Joseph Smith (see No Man Knows My History, pp. 434-65). Stanley S. Ivins, who was considered "one of the great authorities on Mormon polygamy," said that the number of Joseph Smith's wives "can only be guessed at, but it might have gone as high as sixty or more" (Western Humanities Review, vol. 10, pp. 232-33).
Before his death Stanley S. Ivins prepared a list of eighty-four women who may have been married to Joseph Smith during his lifetime. We published this information in the book Joseph Smith and Polygamy (pp. 41-47). While Mr. Ivins was not certain that every woman listed was actually married to Smith, he pointed out that there may have been others who were married to Joseph Smith whose names did not appear on the list. In
preparing this list Mr. Ivins did a great deal of research in the Nauvoo temple records, the Endowment House records and other genealogical records. After Mr. Ivins' study was completed, some of the temple records in the L.D.S. genealogical library were restricted and are no longer available to the general public.
Before listing the last eleven names on his list, Stanley S. Ivins stated:
On April 4, 1899, eleven of the wives of Joseph Smith, all long since dead, were sealed to him by proxy. A not[e] accompanying the record of the sealing said: "The sealings of those named below were performed during the life of the Prophet Joseph but there is no record thereof. President Lorenzo Snow decided that they be repeated in order that a record might exist; and that this explanation be made." This incident suggests that others of the many dead women to whom Smith was sealed, by proxy, may have been married to him during his life....
At the end of his paper Mr. Ivins remarked: "In addition to these dead women, Joseph Smith was sealed to at least 229 others, up to March 18, 1881. (Additional note: Sealed to 246 Dead Women.)" (Joseph Smith and Polygamy p. 47).
In the Preface to the second edition of her book No Man Knows My History, Fawn Brodie states: "...over two hundred women, apparently at their own request, were sealed as wives to Joseph Smith after his death in special temple ceremonies. Moreover, a great many distinguished women in history, including several Catholic saints, were also sealed to Joseph Smith in Utah. I saw these astonishing lists in the Latter-day Saint Genealogical Archives in Salt Lake City in 1944."
The Apostle John A. Widtsoe admitted that women were sealed to Joseph Smith after his death and without his approval: "After the death of the Prophet, women applied for the privilege of being sealed to him for eternity.... To these requests, assent was often given....Women no longer living, whether in Joseph's day or later, have also been sealed to the Prophet for eternity" (Evidences and Reconciliations, Single Volume Edition, 1960, pp. 342-43).
If the Mormon doctrine concerning plural marriage were true, Joseph Smith would have hundreds of wives in the resurrection. Some of the women Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball married, who were previously married to Joseph Smith, would have to be surrendered to Joseph in the hereafter. Lucy W. Kimball testified:
The contract when I married Mr. Kimball was that I should be his
wife for time, and time only, and the contract on the part of Mr. Kimball was that he would take care of me during my lifetime, and in the resurrection would surrender me, with my children, to Joseph Smith....
I decline to answer whether I had any children while I was sealed to Joseph Smith. I have nine children since I was married to Heber C. Kimball (The Temple Lot Case, 1893, p. 379).
In an article published in Western Humanities Review (vol. 10, pp. 232-33), Stanley S. Ivins observed that "Brigham Young is usually credited with only twenty-seven wives, but he was sealed to more than twice that many living women, and to at least 150 more who had died."
The Mormon writer John J. Stewart lists the names of fifty-three women who were sealed to Brigham Young, and then he adds: "There were perhaps one or two others, plus the some 150 women whom he had sealed to him; also a few women who were sealed to him after his death" (Brigham Young and His Wives, p. 96).
In a speech delivered January 24, 1858, Apostle Ezra T. Benson indicated that Young had about "fifty or sixty" wives (see Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, pp. 180-81).
Stanley P. Hirshon lists seventy women who may have been married to Brigham Young (see Lion of the Lord, pp. 190-221). On pages 188 and 189 of the same book, he relates:
... Young often joked about his wives. "Tell the Gentiles," he once observed, "I do not know half of them when I see them." Later, asked the usual question by a Gentile governor of Utah, Young answered: "I don't know myself! I never refuse to marry any respectable woman who asks me, and it is often the case that I separate from a woman at the marriage altar, never to meet her again to know her. My children I keep track of, however. I have fifty-seven now living, and have lost three"
Brigham Young boasted of his ability to obtain many wives: "Brother Cannon remarked that people wondered how many wives and children I had. He may inform them, that I shall have wives and children by the million, and glory, and riches and power and dominion, and kingdom after kingdom, and reign triumphantly" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 178). "I could prove to this congregation that I am young; for I could find more girls who would choose me for a husband than can any of the young men" (vol. 5, p. 210).
Although Brigham Young was constantly marrying new wives, he claimed that "there are probably but few men in the world who care about the private society of women less than I
do" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 99).
Heber C Kimball, a member of the First Presidency, had forty-five wives, but he claimed that in the resurrection he would be able to have thousands:
Supposing that I have a wife or a dozen of them, and she should say, "You cannot be exalted without me," and suppose they all should say so, what of that? ... Suppose that I lose the whole of them before I go into the spirit world, but that I have been a good, faithful man ... do you think I will be destitute there. No, the Lord says there are more there than there are here ... there are millions of them, ... we will go to brother Joseph and say, "Here we are brother Joseph; we are here ourselves are we not, with none of the property we possessed in our probationary state, not even the rings on our fingers?" He will say to us, "Come along, my boys, we will give you a good suit of clothes. Where are your wives?" "They are back yonder; they would not follow us." "Never mind," says Joseph, "Here are thousands, have all you want" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 209).
The Mormon men certainly believed that they could have all the wives they wanted. Kimball Young stated: "One of the informants for this study said that her uncle had 'some hundreds of wives sealed to him for eternity only'" (Isn't One Wife Enough? p. 146).
According to Stanley S. Ivins, the Endowment House Records reveal that on November 22, 1870, Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt had himself sealed to 101 dead women. On November 29, 1870, he was sealed to 109 dead women.
The same day (November 29, 1870) 91 dead women were sealed to his brother, Parley P. Pratt, who had died in 1857.
Mr. Ivins found that the St. George Temple records show that Wilford Woodruff—who later became the fourth president of the church—was sealed to 189 dead women in a period of slightly over two years (January 29, 1879 to March 14, 1881).
Moses Franklin Farnsworth was sealed to 345 dead women in a two-year period. At one time we thought that Mr. Farnsworth held the record for the largest number of dead women sealed to him. New evidence, however, has forced us to revise that conclusion. On April 5, 1894, the Apostle Abraham Cannon recorded the following in his diary:
THURSDAY, APRIL 5th, 1894.... I met with the Quorum and Presidency in the temple.... President Woodruff then spoke ... "In searching out my genealogy I found about four hundred of my femal[e] kindred who were never married. I asked Pres. Young what I should do with them. He said for me to have them sealed to me unless there were more that [than?] 999 of them. the doctrine
A photograph of the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, page 209. Heber C. Kimball, a member of The First Presidency, maintained that there will be thousands of women in heaven to choose from.
startled me, but I had it done ..." ("Daily Journal of Abraham H. Cannon," April 5, 1894, vol. 18, pp. 66-67, Brigham Young University Library).
Taking Other Men's Wives
The fact that Joseph Smith asked for other men's wives was made very plain in a sermon delivered in the tabernacle by Jedediah M. Grant, second counselor to Brigham Young. In this sermon, delivered February 19, 1854, Jedediah M. Grant stated:
When the family organization was revealed from heaven—the patriarchal order of God, and Joseph began, on the right and on the left, to add to his family, what a quaking there was in Israel. Says one brother to another, "Joseph says all covenants are done away, and none are binding but the new covenants; now suppose Joseph should come and say he wanted your wife, what would you say to that?" "I would tell him to go to hell." This was the spirit of many in the early days of this Church....
What would a man of God say, who felt aright, when Joseph asked him for his money? He would say, "Yes, and I wish I had more to help to build up the kingdom of God." Or if he came and said, "I want your wife?" "O Yes," he would say, "here she is, there are plenty more." ... Did the Prophet Joseph want every man's wife he asked for? He did not ... If such a man of God should come to me and say, "I want your gold and silver, or your wives," I should say, "Here they are, I wish I had more to give you, take all I have got" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, pp. 13-14).
In his book Mormon Portraits (pp. 70-72), Dr. Wyl presents some revealing information:
Joseph Smith finally demanded the wives of all the twelve Apostles that were at home then in Nauvoo.... Vilate Kimball, the first wife of Heber C. Kimball, ... loved her husband, and he, ... loved her, hence a reluctance to comply with the Lord's demand that Vilate should be consecrated.... They thought the command of the Lord must be obeyed in some way, and a "proxy" way suggested itself to their minds. They had a young daughter only getting out of girlhood; and the father apologizing to the prophet for his wife's reluctance to comply with his desires, stating, however, that the act must be right or it would not be counselled ... asked Joe if his daughter wouldn't do as well as his wife. Joe replied that she would do just as well, and the Lord would accept her instead. The half-ripe bud of womanhood was delivered over to the Prophet.
The fact that Joseph Smith asked for Heber C. Kimball's wife but actually married his daughter is verified in the book The Life of Heber C. Kimball, written by Apostle Orson F. Whitney:
Before he would trust even Heber with the full secret, however, he put him to a test which few men would have been able to bear.
It was no less than a requirement for him to surrender his wife, his beloved Vilate, and give her to Joseph in marriage!
The astounding revelation well-nigh paraly[z]ed him. He could hardly believe he had heard aright. Yet Joseph was solemnly in earnest.... He knew Joseph too well ... to doubt his truth or the divine origin of the behest he had made....
Three days he fasted and wept and prayed. Then, with a broken and a bleeding heart, but with soul self-mastered for the sacrifice, he led his darling wife to the Prophet's house and presented her to Joseph.
It was enough—the heavens accepted the sacrifice. The will for the deed was taken, and 'accounted unto him for righteousness.' Joseph wept at this proof of devotion, and embracing Heber told him that was all the Lord required....
The Prophet joined the hands of the heroic and devoted pair, and then and there, ... Heber and Vilate Kimball were made husband and wife for all eternity (Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp. 333-35).
Helen Mar, the eldest daughter of Heber Chase and Vilate Kimball, was given to the Prophet in the holy bonds of Celestial Marriage (p. 339).
Joseph Smith was apparently worried concerning adultery. Joseph Lee Robinson recorded the following in his journal and autobiography:
... God had revealed unto him [Joseph Smith] that any man that ever committed adultery in either of his probations that that man could never be raised to the highest exaltation in the celestial glory, and that he felt anxious with regard to himself that he enquired of the Lord that the Lord told him that he Joseph had never committed adultery.
John D. Lee tells that Joseph Smith took H. B. Jacob's wife while Mr. Jacobs was absent: "... in his absence, she was sealed to the Prophet Joseph and was his wife" (Confessions of John D. Lee, p. 132).
Juanita Brooks states that "Zina Diantha Huntington" was the woman who was married to Henry B. Jacobs and later sealed to Joseph Smith. She states that after she was sealed to Joseph Smith she continued to live with Jacobs, and that later she "renounced Jacobs and joined the family of Brigham Young" (On The Mormon Frontier, The Diary of Hosea Stout, vol. 1, p. 141, footnote 18).
In the Historical Record (vol. 6, p. 233), assistant church historian
A photograph of the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, page 14. Jedediah M. Grant, second counselor to Brigham Young, frankly admits that Joseph Smith asked for some men's wives.
Andrew Jensen confirmed the fact that Zina D. Huntington married Joseph Smith and later became the wife of Brigham Young: "Zina D. Huntington, afterwards the wife of Pres. Brigham Young, sealed to the Prophet Oct.27, 1841, Dimick B. Huntington officiating."
Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs is listed as wife number five in Stanley Ivin's list: "5. ZINA DIANTHA HUNTINGTON JACOBS.... wife of Henry B. Jacobs.... Married Jacobs March 7, 1841. Married Joseph Smith, October 27, 1841. On February 2, 1846, she was sealed to Smith for eternity and to Brigham Young for time. She lived with Young as his wife, and died August 29, 1901" (Joseph Smith and Polygamy, p. 42).
Fawn M. Brodie relates:
Zina left Jacobs in 1846 to marry Brigham Young. William Hall asserted that he had heard Young say publicly to Jacobs: "The woman you claim for a wife does not belong to you. She is the spiritual wife of brother Joseph, sealed to him. I am his proxy, and she, in this behalf, with her children, are my property. You can go where you please, and get another, but be sure to get one of your own kindred spirits." Jacobs apparently accepted Young's decision as the word of the Lord, for he stood as witness in the Nauvoo temple in January 1846 when Zina was sealed to Brigham Young "for time" and to Joseph Smith "for eternity" (No Man Knows My History, p. 443).
Juanita Brooks further explains: ... Zina had been moved to Winter Quarters. She now renounced Jacobs and joined the family of Brigham Young, traveling west in 1848 in a wagon provided by him and driven by her brother Oliver" (On The Mormon Frontier ..., vol. 1, p. 141, footnote 18).
Ann Eliza Young, who had been married to Brigham Young, charged that Joseph Smith was guilty of adultery:
Joseph not only paid his addresses to the young and unmarried women, but he sought "spiritual alliance" with many married ladies.... He taught them that all former marriages were null and void, and that they were at perfect liberty to make another choice of a husband. The marriage covenants were not binding, because they were ratified only by Gentile laws. These laws the Lord did not recognize; consequently all the women were free....
One woman said to me not very long since, while giving me some of her experiences in polygamy: "The greatest trial I ever endured in my life was living with my husband and deceiving him, by receiving Joseph's attentions whenever he chose to come to me." ...
Some of these women have since said they did not know who was the father of their children; this is not to be wondered at, for after Joseph's declaration annulling all Gentile marriages, the greatest promiscuity was practiced; and, indeed, all sense of morality seemed to have been lost by a portion at least of the church (Wife No. 19, 1876, pp. 70-71).
John A. Widtsoe admitted that Joseph Smith was sealed to married women, but he claimed that they were not to be his wives until after death:
Another kind of celestial marriage seems to have been practiced in the early days of plural marriage. It has not been practised since Nauvoo days, for it is under Church prohibition. Zealous women, married or unmarried, loving the cause of the restored gospel, considered their condition in the hereafter. Some of them asked that they might be sealed to the Prophet for eternity. They were not to be his wives on earth, in mortality, but only after death in the eternities.... Such marriages led to misunderstandings by those not of the Church.... Therefore any ceremony uniting a married woman, for example to Joseph Smith for eternity seemed adulterous to such people. Yet, in any day, in our day, there may be women who prefer to spend eternity with another than their husband on earth.
Such cases, if any, and they must have been few in number, gave enemies of the Church occasion to fan the flaming hatred against the Latter-day Saints (Evidences and Reconciliations, 1960, p. 343).
John A. Widtsoe's statement that Joseph Smith did not live with the married women to whom he was sealed is certainly false. Patty Bartlett Sessions, the wife of David Sessions, made it very clear in her private journal that she was married to Joseph Smith for both "time" and "eternity": "I was sealed to Joseph Smith by Willard Richards Mar 9, 184.2, in Newel K. Whitney's chamber, Nauvoo, for time and all eternity, ... Sylvia my daughter was present when I was sealed to Joseph Smith. I was after Mr. Sessions' death sealed to John Parry for time on the 27th, March, 1852, GSL City" (Journal of Patty Sessions, as quoted in Intimate Disciple, Portrait of Willard Richards, 1957, p. 611).
The following information concerning Patty Sessions is found in Stanley S. Ivins' list of 84 women who may have been married to Joseph Smith: "34. PATTY BARTLETT SESSIONS. Wife of David Sessions.... Married Sessions, June 28, 1812. Married Joseph Smith on March 9, 1842. Her husband Sessions died about 1850.... On July 9, 1867, she was sealed to Joseph Smith
in the Endowment House..." (Joseph Smith and Polygamy, p. 44).
Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, the wife of Adam Lightner, stated: "Joseph said I was his before I came here and he said all the Devils in Hell should never get me from him. I was sealed to him in the Masonic Hall, over the old brick store by Brigham Young in February 1842 and then again in the Nauvoo Temple by Heber C. Kimball ..." (Affidavit of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, as quoted in No Man Knows My History, p. 444).
In a speech given at Brigham Young University, Mrs. Lightner related:
He [Joseph] preached polygamy.... It was given to him before he gave it to the Church. An angel came to him and the last time he came with a drawn sword in his hand and told Joseph if he did not go into that principle he would slay him....
I asked him if Emma knew about me and he said, "Emma thinks the world of you." I was not sealed to him until I had a witness. I had been dreaming for a number of years I was his wife. I thought I was a great sinner. I prayed to God to take it from me for I felt it was a sin, but when Joseph sent for me he told me all of these things....
Joseph came up the next Sabbath..... My husband was far away from me at the time, ... I went forward and was sealed to him. Brigham Young performed the sealing and Heber C. Kimball the blessing.
I knew he had six wives and I have known some of them from childhood up. I know he had three children. They told me. I think two of them are living today, they are not known as his children as they go by other names (Speech by Mary E. Lightner, Brigham Young University, April 14, 1905, typed copy).
Andrew Jenson admits that Mary Elizabeth Rollins was sealed to Joseph Smith (see Historical Record, vol. 6, p. 234). In Stanley Ivins' list we find the following: "22. MARY ELIZABETH ROLLINS LIGHTNER.... wife of Adam Lightner.... Married Lightner on August 11,1835... On January 17,1846, she was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity and to Brigham Young for time. However she remained with her legal husband and came to Utah with him in 1863. Her death was on December 17, 1913." It would appear, then, that Mary E. Lightner had two different husbands for "time" and a third for "eternity." The Mormon writer John J. Stewart confirms this in his book Brigham Young and His Wives: "17. Mary Elizabeth Rollins.... The wife of a non-Mormon, Adam Lightner. Sealed to the Prophet Joseph in February, 1842, at the age of 23, and again January 17, 1846, at
which time she was sealed to Brigham for time" (p. 89).
Stanley P. Hirshon tells of another married woman entering polygamy:
... Augusta Adams Cobb,... married Henry Cobb, a prosperous Boston merchant, about 1822 and bore seven children.
Augusta lived quietly until Young came east to preach in the summer of 1843. She heard him, converted to Mormonism, and with her two smallest children headed for Nauvoo.... Augusta continued on to Nauvoo and on November 2, 1843, without divorcing her first husband married Young. A few months later she briefly returned to Boston, where she saw her other children and told Henry she was leaving him forever....
Augusta returned to Nauvoo and on February 2, 1846, was sealed to Young for eternity. The following year Henry Cobb, still in Massachusetts, divorced her (The Lion of the Lord, pp. 192-94).
The Mormon writer John J. Stewart confirms the fact that Mrs. Cobb was married to Brigham Young in 1843: "5. AUGUSTA ADAMS.... Married to Brigham November 2, 1843, at the age of 40, and sealed to him February 2, 1846. She had several children by a previous marriage" (Brigham Young and His Wives, p. 86).
From these facts it is hard to escape the conclusion that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were living in adultery. John D. Lee stated: "Some have mutually agreed to exchange wives and have been sealed to each other as husband and wife by virtue and authority of the holy priesthood. One of Brigham's brothers, Lorenzo Young, now a bishop, made an exchange of wives with Mr. Decker, the father of the Mr. Decker who now has an interest in the cars running to York" (Confessions of John D. Lee, p. 165).
A recent study by Michael Marquardt has brought to light the total disregard that Joseph Smith had for the sacred vows of marriage. As we have previously brought out, on July 27, 1842, Joseph Smith gave a special revelation that Sarah Ann Whitney was to become his plural wife. According to the assistant church historian Andrew Jenson ,Sarah Ann Whitney was married to Joseph Smith by her father, Newel K. Whitney: "Sarah Ann Whitney, afterwards the wife of Pres. Heber C. Kimball, married to Joseph July 27, 1842, her father Newel K. Whitney officiating" (Historical Record, vol. 6, pp. 233-34).
In Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? page 581, we pointed out that Michael Marquardt discovered photographs of a letter written by Joseph Smith himself and addressed to Bishop Newel K. Whitney and his wife. The letter is very interesting
because Smith asks the "three" of them—presumably Mr. and Mrs. Whitney and their young daughter Sarah Ann, to whom Joseph Smith was secretly married—to come see him by night. In the letter, Joseph Smith makes it very clear that he does not want them to come when Emma, his first wife, would be present: "... all three of you can come and see me in the fore part of the night, ... the only thing to be careful of, is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safety: ... I think Emma wont come tonight if she dont dont fail to come tonight, I subscribe myself your obedient and affectionate, companion, and friend. Joseph Smith"
Since finding photographs of this important letter in the George Albert Smith Collection at the University of Utah Library, Michael Marquardt has completed some very important research concerning this whole affair. He has published his findings under the title, The Strange Marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, Joseph C. Kingsbury and Heber C. Kimball. Among other things that Mr. Marquardt discovered is the fact that Joseph Smith actually performed a "pretended" marriage ceremony between Sarah Ann Whitney and Joseph C. Kingsbury so that his own relationship with her would not be noticed. Mr. Marquardt cites the following from "The History of Joseph C. Kingsbury," a document that is now in the Western Americana section of the University of Utah Library:
... on 29th of April 1843 I according to President Joseph Smith Couscil [sic] & others agreed to Stand by Sarah Ann Whitny [sic] as supposed to be her husband & had a prete[n]ded marriage for the purpose of Bringing about the purposes of God in these last days as spoken by the mouth of the Prophets Isiah [sic] Jeremiah Ezekiel and also Joseph Smith, & Sarah Ann Should Recd a Great Glory Honor, & eternal lives and I Also Should Recd a Great Glory, Honor & eternal lives to the full desire of my heart in having my Companion Caroline in the first Resurection [sic] to claim her & no one have power to take her from me & we both shall be Crowned & enthroned together in the Celestial Kingdom of God....
Mr. Marquardt has also found that Joseph Smith signed a document in which he stated: "I hereby certify, that I have upon this the 29th day of April 1843, joined together in Marriage Joseph C. Kingsbury and Sarah Ann Whitney, in the City of Nauvoo, Illinois." That a man professing to be a prophet of God would perform a "pretended" marriage to cover up his own iniquity is almost beyond belief.
In his pamphlet, Mr. Marquardt goes on to show that after Joseph Smith's death, Sarah Ann Whitney continued to live with Joseph C. Kingsbury in this "pretended" marriage—he referred to her as "Sarah my Supposed wife." While living with Kingsbury she became pregnant with Apostle Heber C. Kimball's child. Seven months later (January 12, 1846), she was married to Kimball for time and sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity in the Nauvoo Temple, but she continued to live with Kingsbury until after the child was born. All these facts are well documented in Michael Marquardt's pamphlet.
Some people have wondered how Joseph Smith could convince his people that polygamy was right in the sight of God. The answer is that the Mormon people were taught to follow their leaders in all things. When Smith announced that plural marriage was revealed by God, the Mormons were forced to accept it. Also the fact that Smith was very appealing to women must have helped him establish the doctrine. Mormon doctrine concerning women probably played an important role in preparing them to enter into plural marriage. Mormon leaders taught that a woman was inferior and that her salvation depended on a man. Brigham Young once stated: "The man is the head and God of the woman, but let him act like a God in virtuous principles ..." (Sermon of Brigham Young, as quoted in Journal of John D. Lee, 1846-47 and 1859, edited by Charles Kelly, 1938, p. 81). On page 114 of the same journal, John D. Lee related:
Just in time I received a letter from Nancy the 1st stating that she had not forgotten that in the moment of passion that I was the man to whom she was to look for salvation spiritually or temporally ... I read the letter to Pres. B. Young. His counsel was to tell her that inasmuch as she claimed salvation at my hands that she must come to me and place herself under my guidance and control and protection and respect the priesthood and my standing as a saviour but on no other consideration whatever.
Kimball Young further documents this attitude:
... Daisy Barclay, herself brought up in a plural family, remarks: "Polygamy is predicated on the assumption that a man is superior to a woman ... Mormon tradition ... teaches woman to honor and obey her husband and look upon him as her lord and master." As a daughter of the second wife of Isaac Lambert once complained, "Mother figures you are supposed to spend your life taking care of a man, and he is God" (Isn't One Wife Enough? p. 280).
On July 25, 1857, the following appeared in an article in the Latter-Day Saints Millennial Star:
Among ancient Israel, marriage was forbidden within certain degrees of consanguinity.... The Polygamist was not only laid under the same restraints as the Monogamist, but placed under additional restraints in regard to the persons whom he should select as additional wives. He was not permitted by the law of Moses to marry the sister of his wife. (See Leviticus xviii.18.) Neither was he permitted to marry a mother and daughter. "And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness; they shall be burnt with fire both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you." (See Leviticus xx.14.) ... the Polygamist Israelite was under a law restricting him within certain limits. Though he had a right to marry many wives, yet he had no right to marry a mother and daughter or two sisters (Millennial Star vol. 19, pp. 473-74).
It is strange that the Mormon leaders would print these Old Testament rules because they certainly did not follow them. The Mormon writer T. Edgar Lyon admits that Apostle Orson Pratt was inconsistent in this regard:
This controversy also illustrates one of the inconsistencies of the Mormon contention that their polygamy was Biblical. They did not abide by the rules of plural marriage as set forth in the Bible. Pratt himself had married two sisters. Others had done the same thing and even married mothers and daughters ("Orson Pratt—Early Mormon Leader," M.A. thesis, University of Chicago, 1932, p. 104).
Although the early Mormon leaders wanted to return to the Old Testament practice of putting adulterers to death, they did not want to accept Leviticus 20:14, which said that when a man married "a wife and her mother" they should be put to death. If they had accepted this, Joseph Smith would have been one of the first to die, for he had married a woman and her mother. Fawn Brodie stated: "The prophet married five pairs of sisters: Delcena and Almera Johnson, Eliza and Emily Partridge, Sarah and Maria Lawrence, Mary Ann and Olive Grey Frost, and Prescinda and Zina Huntington. Patty and Sylvia Sessions were mother and daughter" (No Man Knows My History, p. 336).
The fact that Patty and Sylvia Sessions were mother and daughter is verified by the Mormon writer Claire Noall: "Sylvia Lyon, Patty's daughter and the wife of Windsor J. Lyon, was already sealed to Joseph. This afternoon she was to put her mother's hand in the Prophet's" (Intimate Disciple, p. 317).
The sociologist Kimball Young stated:
Of our family records, 19 per cent of them report that the men married sisters.... Of these 30 cases all but one marriage were to full sisters; in this one it was to a half-sister. In one family a man married four sisters; in another he took twins as numbers one and two and a half-sister as wife number three. In still another a man married two sisters and their widowed mother! (Isn't One Wife Enough?, p. 111).
Joseph Carey wanted to marry a certain widow, but she only consented if he would agree to also marry her two daughters when they grew up. They were then in their early teens. A few years after he wed the widow, she accompanied him to the temple where he married his two stepdaughters on the same day (p. 142).
Fanny Stenhouse, a former polygamist wife, wrote:
It would be quite impossible, with any regard to propriety, to relate all the horrible results of this disgraceful system.... Marriages have been contracted between the nearest of relatives; and old men tottering on the brink of the grave have been united to little girls scarcely in their teens; while unnatural alliances of every description, which in any other community would be regarded with disgust and abhorrence, are here entered into in the name of God....
It is quite a common thing in Utah for a man to marry two and even three sisters.... I know also another man who married a widow with several children; and when one of the girls had grown into her teens he insisted on marrying her also, having first by some means won her affections. The mother, however, was much opposed to this marriage, and finally gave up her husband entirely to her daughter; and to this very day the daughter bears children to her stepfather, living as wife in the same house with her mother! (Tell It All, 1874, pp. 468-69).
Stanley P. Hirshon states: "Some Utah matches were even more startling. A man named Winchester married his mother, and Young himself sealed a mother and daughter to their cousin, Luman A. Shurtliff.... He also sealed an elderly man to a fifty-seven-year-old woman and her fourteen-year-old granddaughter" (The Lion of the Lord, p. 126).
The anti-Mormon writer Joseph H. Jackson charged that Joseph Smith "feigned a revelation to have Mrs. Milligan, his own sister, married to him spiritually" (The Adventures and Experience of Joseph H. Jackson ..., 1846, p. 29). That Joseph Smith believed that a man could be married for eternity to his own sister has been confirmed by an entry added to Joseph
Smith's private diary after his death. It appears under the date of October 26, 1843, and reads as follows:
The following named deceased persons were sealed to me (John M. Bernhisel) on Oct. 26th, 1843, by Pres. Joseph Smith—
Maria Bernhisel, Sister—
Brother Samuel's wife, Catherine Kremer
Mary Shatto (Aunt)
Recorded by Robt. L. Cambell
July 29, 1868 (Joseph Smith's Diary, October 26, 1843, church historical dept.).
The reader will notice that Bernhisel claims that he was sealed to his own sister by Joseph Smith. Now, if the doctrine of Celestial Marriage were true, in the resurrection John Bernhisel would find himself married to his own sister, Maria Bernhisel!
Stanley P. Hirshon claims:
... Catherine, who lived with Kimball's family for twelve weeks, found plural marriage revolting. After the Twelve began taking Smith's wives, she heard Kimball might be sealed to his own daughter, Helen, the prophet's youngest widow. But in Catherine's presence Helen, ... boldly told her mother: "I will never be sealed to my Father, ... I will never be sealed to my Father; no, I will sooner be damned and go to hell, if I must. Neither will I be sealed to Brigham Young" (The Lion of the Lord, p. 67).
There is evidence that John Taylor, who became the third president of the church, promised his sister that she could be sealed to him in the event that she could not be reconciled to continue with any of her husbands. L. John Nuttall recorded the following:
Monday Feb 25/89.... Agnes Schwartz & her daughter Mary called this morning to see Prest. Woodruff, on her family matters. which he promised to write to her about. She said that her brother John the late President John Taylor had told her some 30 years ago that if She could not be reconciled to continue with any of her husbands she might be sealed to his brother William or himself. and she now wanted to be sealed to him. This is a very curious proceeding & which I dont understand (Journal of L. John Nuttall, vol. 2, pp. 362-63 of typed copy at the Brigham Young University Library).
God and Christ Polygamists?
At the time the Mormon church was practicing polygamy the leaders of the church became very bitter against the one-wife
system. Heber C. Kimball, first counselor to Brigham Young, was reported by the Deseret News as saying:
I have noticed that a man who has but one wife, and is inclined to that doctrine, soon begins to wither and dry up, while a man who goes into plurality looks fresh, young and sprightly. Why is this? Because God loves that man, and because he honors his word. Some of you may not believe this, but I not only believe it but I also know it. For a man of God to be confined to one woman is small business ... I do not know what we should do if we had only one wife apiece (Deseret News, April 22, 1857).
In a sermon reported in the church's Deseret News on August 6, 1862, Brigham Young stated:
Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire.... Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers....
Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord's servants have always practised it. "And is that religion popular in heaven?" It is the only popular religion there ... (Deseret News, August 6, 1862).
Apostle George A. Smith boasted:
We breathe the free air, we have the best looking men and handsomest women, and if they envy us our position, well they may, for they are a poor, narrow minded, pinch-backed race of men, who chain themselves down to the law of monogamy and live all their days under the dominion of one wife. They ought to be ashamed of such conduct, and the still fouler channel which flows from their practices ... (Deseret News, April 16, 1856).
Brigham Young said that the "monogamic system" had been a "fruitful source of prostitution and whoredom throughout all the Christian monogamic cities of the Old and New World..." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 128).
The following appeared in the church's Millennial Star:"... the one-wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people" (vol. 15, p. 227).
George Q. Cannon claimed that the children of polygamists,
"besides being equally as bright and brighter intellectually, are much more healthy and strong (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 207).
Brigham Young also believed that polygamy "is far superior to monogamy for the raising of healthy, robust children!" (p. 317).
Brigham Young taught that Adam was a polygamist: "When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives with him" (vol. 1, p. 50).
Some of the Mormon people believed "that Joseph Smith the Prophet taught that Adam had two wives" (vol. 26, p. 115).
Some of the leading authorities of the church went so far as to proclaim that both the Father and the Son were polygamists. Jedediah M. Grant, second counselor to Brigham Young, made these comments:
Celsus was a heathen philosopher; and what does he say upon the subject of Christ and his Apostles.... He says, "The grand reason why the Gentiles and philosophers of his school persecuted Jesus Christ, was, because he had so many wives; there were Elizabeth, and Mary, and a host of others that followed him." ...
The grand reason of the burst of public sentiment in anathemas upon Christ and his disciples, causing his crucifixion, was evidently based on polygamy.... A belief in the doctrine of a plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus, and his followers. We might almost think they were "Mormons" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, pp. 345-46).
Apostle Orson Hyde asserted:
It will be borne in mind that once on a time, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; ... no less a person than Jesus Christ was married on that occasion. If he was never married, his intimacy with Mary and Martha, and the other Mary also whom Jesus loved, must have been highly unbecoming and improper to say the least of it.
I will venture to say that if Jesus Christ were now to pass through the most pious countries in Christendom with a train of women, such as used to follow him, ... he would be mobbed, tarred, and feathered, and rode not on an ass, but on a rail....
At this doctrine the long-faced hypocrite and the sanctimonious bigot will probably cry, blasphemy! ... Object not, therefore, too strongly against the marriage of Christ ... (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, pp. 259-60).
I discover that some of the Eastern papers represent me as a great
A photograph of the Deseret News, August 16, 1862. Brigham Young claimed that Monogamy is a system "established by a set of robbers."
blasphemer, because I said, in my lecture on Marriage, at our last Conference, that Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children.
All that I have to say in reply to that charge is this—they worship a Savior that is too pure and holy to fulfill the commands of his Father. I worship one that is just pure and holy enough "to fulfill all righteousness;" not only the righteous law of baptism, but the still more righteous and important law "to multiply and replenish the earth" (vol. 2, p. 210).
When the "Gentiles" stated that polygamy was one of the "relics of barbarism," Brigham Young replied: "Yes, one of the relics of Adam, of Enoch, of Noah, of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Moses, David, Solomon, the Prophets, of Jesus, and his Apostles" (vol. 11, p. 328).
On another occasion Young said: "The Scripture says that He, the LORD, came walking in the Temple, with His train; I do not know who they were, unless His wives and children ..." (vol. 13, p. 309).
Orson Pratt commented:
... it will be seen that the great Messiah who was the founder of the Christian religion, was a polygamist, ... the Messiah chose to ... by marrying many honorable wives himself, show to all future generations that he approbated the plurality of wives under the Christian dispensation....
We have now clearly shown that God the Father had a plurality of wives, one or more being in eternity, by whom He begat our spirits as well as the spirit of Jesus His first Born, and another being upon the earth by whom He begat the tabernacle of Jesus, as his only begotten in this world. We have also proved most clearly that the Son followed the example of his Father, and became the great Bridegroom to whom kings' daughters and many honorable wives were to be married. We have also proved that both God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ inherit their wives in eternity as well as in time; ... it would be so shocking to the modesty of the very pious ladies of Christendom to see Abraham and his wives, Jacob and his wives, Jesus and his honorable wives, all eating occasionally at the same table, ... If you do not want your morals corrupted, and your delicate ears shocked and your pious modesty put to the blush by the society of polygamists and their wives, do not venture near the New Earth; for polygamists will be honored there, and will be among the chief rulers in that Kingdom (The Seer, p. 172).
If none but Gods will be permitted to multiply immortal children, it follows that each God must have one or more wives (p. 158).
A photograph of the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, page 210. Apostle Orson Hyde claimed that Jesus was a polygamist.
A photograph of The Seer, page 172. Apostle Orson Pratt claimed that both God the Father and Jesus were polygamists.
Fanny Stenhouse told of a woman who wanted to be sealed to Jesus Christ:
One of the wives of Brigham Young—Mrs. Augusta Cobb Young ... requested of her Prophet husband a favor of a most extraordinary description. She had forsaken her lawful husband and family ... to join the Saints, ... when the lady of whom I speak asked him to place her at the head of his household, he refused: ... finding that she could not be Brigham's "queen," and having been taught by the highest Mormon authorities that our Savior had, and has, many wives, she requested to be "sealed" to him! Brigham Young told her (for what reason I do not know) that it really was out of his power to do that, but that he would do "the next best thing" for her—he would "seal" her to Joseph Smith. So she was sealed to Joseph Smith, ... in the resurrection she will leave him [Young] and go over to the original Prophet (Tell It All, p. 255).
Stanley S. Ivins found evidence to show that Augusta Cobb Young was sealed to Joseph Smith as Mrs. Stenhouse indicated (see Joseph Smith and Polygamy, p. 46).
It is interesting to note that some members of the Mormon church still maintain that God and Christ are polygamists. John J. Stewart, writing in 1961, explained:
Now, briefly, the reason that the Lord, through the Prophet Joseph, introduced the doctrine of plural marriage, and the reason that the Church ... has never and will never relinquish the doctrine of plural marriage, is simply this: The major purpose of the Church is to help man attain the great eternal destiny suggested in that couplet ...plural marriage is the patriarchal order of marriage lived by God and others who reign in the Celestial Kingdom. As well might the Church relinquish its claim to the Priesthood as the doctrine of plural marriage (Brigham Young and His Wives, p. 41).
Plural marriage was a common practice among God's chosen people.... Mary, Martha, Mary Magdalene and many other women were beloved of Jesus. For a person to say that he believes the Bible but does not believe the doctrine of plural marriage is something akin to saying that he accepts the Constitution but not the Bill of Rights (p. 26).
Writing in 1966, John J. Stewart continued to maintain that plural marriage "is the patriarchal order of marriage lived by God and others who reign in the Celestial Kingdom ..." (Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, p. 69).
Apostle LeGrand Richards, however, does not seem to agree with this idea (see his letter in Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? p. 228).
Essential to Salvation
After a special conference held in 1852, the Mormon church leaders began to devote much of their time to the preaching of polygamy. During the period that the Mormon church was openly practicing polygamy, the leaders of the church were declaring that it was absolutely necessary and essential for exaltation. One woman testified as follows in the Temple Lot Case: "Yes, sir, President Woodruff, President Young, and President John Taylor, taught me and all the rest of the ladies here in Salt Lake that a man in order to be exalted in the Celestial Kingdom must have more than one wife, that having more than one wife was a means of exaltation" (Temple Lot Case, p. 362).
Sixth president Joseph F. Smith spoke with clarity on the issue:
Some people have supposed that the doctrine of plural marriage was a sort of superfluity, or non-essential to the salvation of mankind. In other words, some of the Saints have said, and believe that a man with one wife, sealed to him by the authority of the Priesthood for time and eternity, will receive an exaltation as great and glorious, if he is faithful, as he possibly could with more than one. I want here to enter my protest against this idea, for I know it is false.... Therefore, whoever has imagined that he could obtain the fullness of the blessings pertaining to this celestial law, by complying with only a portion of its conditions, has deceived himself. He cannot do it. When that principle was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith ... an angel of God, with a drawn sword, stood before him and commanded that he should enter into the practice of that principle, or he should be utterly destroyed....
If then, this principle was of such great importance that the Prophet himself was threatened with destruction, and the best men in the Church with being excluded from the favor of the Almighty, if they did not enter into and establish the practice of it on earth, it is useless to tell me that there is no blessing attached to obedience to the law, or that a man with only one wife can obtain as great a reward, glory or kingdom as he can with more than one....
I understand the law of celestial marriage to mean that every man in this Church, who has the ability to obey and practice it in righteousness and will not, shall be damned. I say I understand it to mean this and nothing less, and I testify in the name of Jesus that it does mean that (Journal of Discourses, vol. 20, pp. 28-31).
In 1891 the president and apostles of the Mormon church made the following statement in a petition to the President of the United States:
We, the first presidency and apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, beg to respectfully represent to Your Excellency the following facts:
We formerly taught to our people that polygamy or Celestial Marriage as commanded by God through Joseph Smith was right; that it was a necessity to man's highest exaltation in the life to come.
That doctrine was publicly promulgated by our president, the late Brigham Young, forty years ago, and was steadily taught and impressed upon the Latter-Day Saints up to September, 1890 (Reed Smoot Case, vol. 1, p. 18).
In addition, the Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star carried the following comments:
And we, ... are believers in the principles of plural marriage or polygamy, ... as a principle revealed by God, underlying our every hope of eternal salvation and happiness in heaven ... we cannot view plural marriage in any other light than as a vital principle of our religion (Millennial Star, vol. 40, pp. 226-27).
Upwards of forty years ago the Lord revealed to His Church the principle of celestial marriage.... the command of God was before them in language which no faithful soul dare disobey.
"For, behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant, and be permitted to enter into my glory...."
Damnation was the awful penalty affixed to a refusal to obey this law. It became an acknowledged doctrine of the Church; it was indissolubly interwoven in the minds of its members with their hopes of eternal salvation and exaltation in the presence of God.... Who could suppose that ... Congress would enact a law which would present the alternative to religious believers of being consigned to a penitentiary if they should attempt to obey a law of God which would deliver them from damnation! (vol. 47, p. 711).
William Clayton claimed that he learned from Joseph Smith that "the doctrine of plural and celestial marriage is the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed to man on the earth, and that without obedience to that principle no man can ever attain to the fulness of exaltation in the celestial glory" (Historical Record, vol. 6, p. 226).
George Q. Cannon said that if he "had not obeyed that command of God, concerning plural marriage, I believe that I would have been damned" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 23, p. 278).
A photograph of the Journal of Discourses, vol. 20, page 28. Joseph F. Smith, who became the sixth president of the church, stated that a man with one wife could not received as great an exaltation as a man with more than one.
Brigham Young declared on August 19, 1866: "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269).
At one time Joseph Smith told Heber C. Kimball that if he didn't enter into polygamy "he would lose his apostleship and be damned" (Life of Heber C. Kimball, p. 336).
Kimball Young stated: "One man recalled a Stake conference in Southern Utah where the brethren were bluntly told to marry in polygamy or 'resign their church offices' " (Isn't One Wife Enough? p. 108).
The Mormon writer John J. Stewart, writing in 1961, still upheld the teaching that plural marriage leads to exaltation: "Plural marriage is a pattern of marriage designed by God as part of His plan of eternal progress to further His kingdom and exalt His children" (Brigham Young and His Wives, p. 71).