Lying About Polygamy
Apostle John A. Widtsoe boldly asserted: "The Church ever operates in full light. There is no secrecy about its doctrine, aim, or work" (Evidences and Reconciliations, Single-Volume Edition, p. 282). On page 226 of the same book, Apostle Widtsoe said: "From the beginning of its history the Church has opposed unsupported beliefs. It has fought half-truth and untruth."
John A. Widtsoe's claim that the Mormon church operates in full light and has from the beginning fought half truth and untruth can hardly be supported by existing facts. Actually, untruth and secrecy were used by the church leaders to cover up the doctrine of polygamy. Mormon writer William E. Berrett acknowledged: "In 1840 the doctrine was taught to a few leading brethren who, with the Prophet, secretly married additional wives in the following year.... Only the secrecy surrounding its practice prevented a wholesale apostacy from the Church in 1844" (The Restored Church, pp. 247, 249).
As we have already shown, the early editions of the Doctrine and Covenants contained an article which condemned the practice of polygamy. Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders used this article as a shield to hide behind. Mormon writer John J. Stewart agrees that "the marriage article, in Oliver Cowdery's handwriting, sustains monogamous marriage and denies any LDS practice of plural marriage. Joseph was not yet ready to publicly acknowledge this doctrine, even though he had spoken of it in confidence to a few close friends" (Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, p. 103)
An example of how the "marriage article" was used to counteract
the report that polygamy was being practiced is found in the Mormon publication Times and Seasons for September 1, 1842:
Inasmuch as the public mind has been unjustly abused through the fallacy of Dr. Bennett's letters, we make an extract on the subject of marriage, showing the rule of the church on this important matter. The extract is from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and is the only rule allowed by the church.
"... Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy; we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again" (Times and Seasons, vol. 3, p. 909).
Joseph Smith emphatically denied accusations linking him to polygamy. In 1838 he answered some questions for the Elder's Journal. Question number seven was: "Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one?" The answer was: "No, not at the same time" (Elder's Journal, as cited in History of the Church, vol. 3, p. 28).
At one time Joseph Smith was accused of "drinking, swearing, carousing, dancing all night, &c., and that he keeps six or seven young females as wives...." (Letter by Parley P. Pratt concerning Augustine Spencer's accusations, in History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 354-55.)
According to the History of the Church, on May 26, 1844, Joseph Smith absolutely denied the accusation that he was living in polygamy: "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" (vol. 6, p. 411).
Mormon writer John J. Stewart admits that "due to the extreme prejudice existing against the doctrine, it had to be kept as confidential as possible, and even public denials of it made" (Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, pp. 67, 68). The following notice was published in the Times and Seasons, volume 5, page 423:
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1844.
As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan.
This is to notify him and the Church in general, that he has been
cut off from the church, for his iniquity; and he is further notified to appear at the Special Conference, on the 6th of April next, to make answer to these charges.
Presidents of said Church.
Joseph Smith's brother Hyrum, who was a member of the First Presidency of the church, also secretly practiced plural marriage while denying it openly. Besides the statement quoted above, on March 15, 1844, Hyrum Smith stated:
... brother 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 also: therefore he had better beware what he is about (Times and Seasons, March 15, 1844, vol. 5, p. 474).
The Times and Seasons records a further denial: "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.... we do what others do not, practice what we preach" (vol. 4, p. 143).
In the Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star there appeared another repudiation of polygamy: "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" (vol. 3, p. 74).
In the June 19, 1844, issue of the Nauvoo Neighbor, a Mormon publication, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum set forth a number of falsehoods with regard to polygamy. When this material was reprinted in the History of the Church, it was altered to cover up the fact that Joseph and Hyrum had not told the truth (see Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? p. 247).
After Joseph Smith's death, the Mormon leaders still tried to keep the doctrine of plural marriage secret. John J. Stewart stated: "... the doctrine had to be kept confidential until after the Saints reached Utah" (Brigham Young and His Wives, p. 31).
A photograph of the Times and Seasons, vol. 5, page 423. Joseph Smith orders a man cut off from the church for preaching polygamy.
On May 1, 1845, the following statement appeared in the Times and Seasons (vol. 6, p. 894):
Sidney Rigdon, I see by the papers, has made an exposition of Mormonism, charging Joseph Smith and the Mormons with polygamy, &c.... As to the charge of polygamy, I will quote from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, which is the subscribed faith of the church and is strictly enforced.... "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 but one wife, and one woman but one husband...."
Again, another article published in the Times and Seasons, November 15; 1844 proclaimed: "The law of the land and the rules of the church do not allow one man to have more than one wife alive at once ..." (vol. 5, p. 715).
When someone stated that Joseph Smith taught polygamy, the Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, volume 12, pages 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 third president of the church, denied that the church believed in the practice of plural marriage, when he himself at the time had six living wives. In a public discussion in Boulogne-Sur-Mer, France, he stated:
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 case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again (A tract published by John Taylor in 1850, p. 8; found in Orson Pratt's Works, 1851 edition).
Finally, in 1852, after years of deception, the Mormons publicly admitted that they were practicing polygamy.
President John Taylor said that he believed in keeping all the
laws of the United States except "The law in relation to polygamy" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 20, p. 317).
Thomas G. Alexander, assistant professor of history at Brigham Young University, admitted that members of the Mormon church defied the law:
Some maintain that because Mormons were law abiding they gave up plural marriage after the Supreme Court declared the anti-polygamy acts constitutional. But long after the 1879 Reynolds decision, Church members brought to bar for sentencing told federal judges that the law of God was higher than the law of the land and deserved prior obedience. The Manifesto officially ending polygamy as Church practice was not issued until 1890, and excommunication for practicing plural marriage did not come until 1904 (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1966, p. 128).
The Mormons continued openly to preach polygamy until the year 1890. During this time the leaders taught that plural marriage was going to be a permanent part of the church and that it would never be stopped. Heber C. Kimball, first counselor to Brigham Young, commented:
The principle of plurality of wives never will be done away, although some sisters have had revelations that, when this time passes away and they go through the veil, every woman will have a husband to herself (Deseret News, November 7, 1855).
Some quietly listen to those who speak against the Lord's servants, against his anointed, against the plurality of wives, and against every principle that God has revealed. Such persons have half-a-dozen devils with them all the time. You might as well deny "Mormonism," and turn away from it, as to oppose the plurality of wives. Let the Presidency of this Church, and the Twelve Apostles, and all the authorities unite and say with one voice that they will oppose the doctrine, and the whole of them will be damned (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 203).
I speak of plurality of wives as one of the most holy principles that God ever revealed to man, and all those who exercise an influence against it, unto whom it is taught, man or woman, will be damned, ... the curse of God will be upon them ... (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 211).
It would be as easy for the United States to build a tower to remove the sun, as to remove polygamy, or the Church and kingdom of God (Millennial Star, vol. 28, p. 190).
President John Taylor boldly asserted:
God has given us a revelation in regard to celestial marriage. I did not make it. He has told us certain things pertaining to this
matter, and they would like us to tone that principle down and change it and make it applicable to the views of the day. This we cannot do; nor can we interfere with any of the commands of God to meet the persuasions or behests of men. I cannot do it, and will not do it.
I find some men try to twist around the principle in any way and every way they can. They want to sneak out of it in some way. Now God don't want any kind of sycophany like that.... If God has introduced something for our glory and exaltation, we are not going to have that kicked over by any improper influence, either inside or outside of the Church of the living God (Journal of Discourses, vol. 25, pp. 309-10).
Apostle Orson Pratt added these resolute comments about polygamy:
God has told us Latter-day Saints that we shall be condemned if we do not enter into that principle; and yet I have heard now and then ... a brother or sister say, "I am a Latter-day Saint, but I do not believe in polygamy." Oh, what an absurd expression! What an absurd idea! A person might as well say, "I am a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, but I do not believe in him. "One is just as consistent as the other.... If the doctrine of polygamy, as revealed to the Latter-day Saints, is not true, I would not give a fig for all your other revelations that came through Joseph Smith the Prophet; I would renounce the whole of them, because it is utterly impossible, according to the revelations that are contained in these books, to believe a part of them to be divine—from God—and a part of them to be from the devil ... I did hope there was more intelligence among the Latter-day Saints, and a greater understanding of principle than to suppose that any one can be a member of this Church in good standing, and yet reject polygamy. The Lord has said, that those who reject this principle reject their salvation, they shall be damned, saith the Lord ...
Now I want to prophecy a little.... I want to prophecy that all men and women who oppose the revelation which God has given in relation to polygamy will find themselves in darkness; the Spirit of God will withdraw from them the very moment of their opposition to that principle, until they will finally go down to hell and be damned, if they do not repent ... if you want to get into darkness, brethren and sisters, begin to oppose this revelation. Sisters, you begin to say before your husbands, or husbands you begin to say before your wives, "I do not believe in the principle of polygamy, and I intend to instruct my children against it." Oppose it in this way, and teach your children to do the same, and if you do not become as dark as midnight there is no truth in Mormonism (Journal of Discourses, vol. 17, pp. 224-25).
A photograph of the Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, page 203. Heber C. Kimball stated that a person might just as well deny Mormonism as to oppose polygamy.
President Brigham Young was very emphatic in proclaiming that the church could never give up polygamy:
Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned; ... take this revelation, ... and deny it in your feelings, and I promise that you will be damned (Deseret News, November 14, 1855).
I heard the revelation on polygamy, and I believed it with all my heart, and I know it is from God ... "Do you think that we shall ever be admitted as a State into the Union without denying the principle of polygamy?" If we are not admitted until then, we shall never be admitted (Deseret News, October 10, 1866).
George Q. Cannon, who was a member of the First Presidency, unabashedly preached:
There has been some agitation ... respecting plural marriage, and some people, calling themselves Latter-day Saints, have been almost ready to go into the open market, and bid for a State government, at the price of conceding this principle of our religion.... They are ready to sell out their belief as Latter-day Saints ... for the sake of obtaining a little recognition of their rights as citizens.... Can such persons retain the Spirit of God, and take such a course as this? No. they cannot (Journal of Discourses, vol. 26, pp. 7-8).
If plural marriage be divine, as the Latter-day Saints say it is, no power on earth can suppress it, unless you crush and destroy the entire people.... If you are sentenced to prison for marrying more wives than one, round up your shoulders and bear it; prepare yourselves to take the consequences (Journal of Discourses, vol. 20, p. 276).
As the principle of patriarchal marriage is the one now so savagely attacked, this is the one such persons are preparing themselves to yield. I view such men as apostates already in heart. They are more dangerous than our open enemies.... if there are any in the Church who cannot stand the pressure instead of talking compromise, let them withdraw quietly from the Church (Juvenile Instructor, vol. 20, p. 156).
Apostle George Teasdale bore this testimony concerning plural marriage:
I believe in plural marriage as a part of the Gospel, just as much as I believe in baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. The same being who taught me baptism for the remission of sins, taught me plural marriage, and its necessity and glory. Can I afford to give up a single principle? I can not. If I had to give up one principle I would have to give up my religion.... I bear my solemn testimony that plural marriage is as true as any principle
that has been revealed from the heavens. I bear my testimony that it is a necessity, and that the Church of Christ in its fulness never existed without it. Where you have the eternity of marriage you are bound to have plural marriage; bound to; and it is one of the marks of the Church of Jesus Christ in its sealing ordinances (Journal of Discourses, vol. 25, p. 21).
Wilford Woodruff, who later became the fourth president of the church and issued the manifesto in 1890 which was supposed to stop the practice of polygamy, openly declared in 1869: "If we were to do away with polygamy, it would only be one feather in the bird.... Do away with that, then we must do away with prophets and Apostles, with revelation and the gifts and graces of the Gospel, ... and finally give up our religion altogether.... We just can't do that ..." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 166).
The Latter Day Saints Millennial Star summarized the issue sharply:
... the God of Israel ... commanded Joseph Smith, ... and the Latter-day Saints, to obey this law, "or you shall be damned," saith the Lord. Now, ... the Congress of the United States, and the supreme judges of the nation, stand forth and say, "You shall be damned if you do obey it. " ... God says, "We shall be damned if we do not obey the law." Congress says, "We shall be damned if we do." It places us precisely in the ... position that it did the Hebrews in the fiery furnace, and Daniel in the den of lions.... Now who shall we obey? God or man? My voice is that we obey God.... The Congress of 1862, and the supreme judges of 1879, in their acts and decisions, have taken a dangerous and fearful step; their acts will sap the very foundation of our government, and it will be rent asunder ... (vol. 41, pp. 242-43).
The Mormons did everything they could to escape the federal deputies. Kimball Young describes their tactics in the book, Isn't One Wife Enough:
In addition to false names, disguises, and ruses, a whole system of information gathering, signaling, and spotting informers was developed. For example, the church authorities would pass the word down to the smaller communities of movements of federal deputies out of Salt Lake City in the direction of any particular town" (p. 396).
At very early ages children were introduced into conspiratorial operations. Not talking to strangers, being part of a warning system, and being taught outright falsification were all elements in their training during those years which would certainly not be considered normal today (p. 402).
Wilford Woodruff had an armed guard to protect him. In a letter written in 1887, Woodruff wrote: "I have a large stout man who goes with me every ______ [where?] night and day carries 2 pistols & a double barrel shot gun and sayes [sic] he will shoot the marshals if they come to take me (Don't tell anybody this) so I am _____ well garded [sic] ..." (Letter from Wilford Woodruff to Miss Nellie Atkin, dated September 3, 1887, microfilm copy of the original in our possession).
Mormon Leaders Yield
The U.S. Government continued to increase the pressure against polygamy, but the Mormons were determined to continue the practice. In an article published in the Millennial Star in 1865, the Mormon people were told that they could not give up polygamy and that there would not be a revelation to suppress the practice:
It is time that members of the Government and the public at large should understand the true state of the question, and the real issues involved in these propositions. The doctrine of polygamy with the "Mormons," is not one of that kind that in the religious world is classed with "nonessentials." It is not an item of doctrine that can be yielded, and faith in the system remain. "Mormonism" is that kind of religion the entire divinity of which is invalidated, and its truth utterly rejected, the moment that any one of its leading principles is acknowledged to be false....
The whole question, therefore, narrows itself to this in the "Mormon" mind. Polygamy was revealed by God, or the entire fabric of their faith is false. To ask them to give up such an item of belief, is to ask them to relinquish the whole, to acknowledge their Priesthood a lie, their ordinances a deception, and all that they have toiled for, lived for, bled for, prayed for, or hoped for, a miserable failure and a waste of life.
All this Congress demands of the people of Utah. It asks the repudiation of their entire religious practice to-day; and inasmuch as polygamy is, in "Mormon" belief, the basis of the condition of a future life, it asks them to give up their hopes of salvation hereafter ... in requiring the relinquishment of polygamy, they ask the renunciation of the entire faith of this people....
There is no half way house. The childish babble about another revelation is only an evidence how half informed men can talk ... those who so unwisely seek to stir up the Government to wrath, will yet learn there is but one solution of the "Mormon" problem—"Mormonism" allowed in its entirety, or "Mormonism" wiped out in blood (Millennial Star, October 28, 1865).
Under the date of April 6, 1884, Abraham H. Cannon recorded in his journal: "At a Priesthood meeting ... the strongest language in regard to Plural Marriage was used that I ever heard, and among other things it was stated that all men in position who would not observe and fulfill that law should be removed from their places."
Shortly before the revelation known as the Manifesto (which put a stop to the practice of polygamy) was given, Lorenzo Snow, who later became president of the Mormon church, was declaring that no such revelation would come. When Lorenzo Snow was on trial for practicing polygamy, Mr. Bierbower, the prosecuting attorney, predicted that if he was convicted, "a new revelation would soon follow, changing the divine law of celestial marriage." To this Mr. Snow replied:
Whatever fame Mr. Bierbower may have secured as a lawyer, he certainly will fail as a prophet. The severest prosecutions have never been followed by revelations changing a divine law, obedience to which brought imprisonment or martyrdom.
Though I go to prison, God will not change His law of Celestial Marriage. But the man, the people, the nation, that oppose and fight against this doctrine and the Church of God, will be overthrown (Historical Record, p. 144).
Although Lorenzo Snow said that the "severest prosecutions have never been followed by revelations changing a divine law," Mormon church President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto in 1890. He claimed that it was given to stop the persecution the church would have to go through if they continued to practice polygamy. He stated: "The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would happen if we did not stop this practice ... all ordinances would be stopped ... many men would be made prisoners ... I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write ..." (Evidences and Reconciliations, 1 vol. ed., pp. 105-6).
Mormon writer John J. Stewart says that "President Wilford Woodruff issued the manifesto ... suspending the general practice of it in the Church, while still retaining it as a doctrine" (Brigham Young and His Wives, pp. 29-30).
Before Wilford Woodruff became president of the Mormon church he stated that the church could not give up polygamy (see Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 166). After he became president he even claimed to receive a revelation that he should not yield to the pressure of the government. Under the date of December 19, 1889, Apostle Abraham H. Cannon recorded in his journal:
During our meeting a revelation was read which Pres. Woodruff received Sunday evening, Nov'r 24th. Propositions had been made for the Church to make some concessions to the Courts in regard to its principles. Both of Pres. Woodruff's counselors refused to advise him as to the course he should pursue, and he therefore laid the matter before the Lord. The answer came quick and strong. The word of the Lord was for us not to yield one particle of that which he had revealed and established. He had done and would continue to care for His work and those of the Saints who were faithful, and we need have no fear of our enemies when we were in the line of duty. We are promised redemption and deliverance if we will trust in God and not in the arm of flesh ... my heart was filled with joy and peace during the entire reading. It sets all doubts at rest concerning the course to pursue.
Because Wilford Woodruff had previously taught that polygamy could not be discontinued and had even claimed to receive revelation to that effect, the other leaders of the Mormon church were confused by his Manifesto.
After the Manifesto
Russell R. Rich commented:
When the statement called "The Manifesto," which was signed by President Wilford Woodruff, was voted upon for acceptance by the membership of the LDS Church ... it appeared that there was a unanimous vote of support for abandonment of the practice of plural marriage. As time passed, however, it became apparent that not even among the general authorities of the church was there unanimous support for abolishing the practice (Brigham Young University Leadership Week: Those Who Would Be Leaders, by Russell R. Rich, p. 71).
In October, 1891, Wilford Woodruff testified that the Manifesto not only prohibited any more plural marriages, but that it also forbade the unlawful cohabitation of those who were already married in polygamy:
Q. Your attention was called to the fact that nothing was said in that manifesto about the dissolution of existing polygamous relations. I want to ask you, President Woodruff, whether in your advice to the church officials, and the people of the church, you have advised them that your intention was, and that the requirement of the church was, that the polygamous relations already formed before that should not be continued; that is, there should be no association with plural wives; in other words, that unlawful cohabitation as it is named and spoken of should also stop, as well as future polygamous marriages? A. Yes, sir; that
has been the intention (Testimony of Wilford Woodruff, as quoted in Reminiscences of Early Utah, p. 246).
While Wilford Woodruff and other Mormon leaders were publicly stating that members of the church should observe the law, they were secretly teaching that it was alright to break the law concerning unlawful cohabitation. This is evident from a number of entries in the journal of the Apostle Abraham H. Cannon. For instance, on October 2, 1890, he wrote: "It was, however, resolved that 'we use our private influence at present to prevent our brethren from going into Court and promising to obey the law; and as soon as possible we take steps to get some favors from the government for those who already have more wives than one.' "
Under the date of October 7, 1890, Apostle Cannon records some of the statements by Mormon church leaders:
Geo. Q. Cannon [a member of the First Presidency]: "I feel like saying 'Damn the law.' We can expect neither justice nor mercy in the administration of the law with the present corrupt administrators.... my family understand [sic] that my liberty depends on refraining from visiting them in their homes, and they are contented." W. Woodruff [President of the Church]: "This manifesto only refers to future marriages, and does not affect past conditions. I did not, could not and would not promise that you desert your wives and children. This you cannot do in honor." ... Angus M. Cannon: "Because of the manifesto many will feel justified in promising to obey the law when brought into Court. I would not feel justified in such a course, but many may" ("Daily Journal of Abraham H. Cannon," October 7, 1890, BYU Library).
Under the dates of October 17 and 18, 1890, Apostle Cannon recorded the following in his journal:
Uncle David ... told me that he had a conversation with Lindsey Sprague, a deputy marshal, who told him that there were papers out for my arrest ... I got Chas H Wilcken to investigate the matter for me and he learned that it was a fact that a warrant was issued and in Doyle's hands for my arrest.... Saturday, Oct. 18th, 1890.... Bro. Wilcken came and informed me that he had bought Doyle off, and had got his promise that I should not be molested, nor should any other person without sufficient notice being given for them to escape, and to get witnesses out of the way. He gave Bro. Wilcken the names of some 51 persons whose arrest he intended to try and effect.... A messenger was therefore despatched to give these people warning. Thus with a little money a channel of communication is kept open between the government offices and the suffering and persecuted Church members."
Although the leaders of the Mormon church had promised to obey the law of the land, many of them broke their promises. Few people, however, realized to what extent until the leaders 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." Frank J, Cannon reported:
The first oracular disclosure made by the Prophets, on the witness stand, came as a shock even to Utah. They testified that they had resumed polygamous cohabitation to an extent unsuspected by either Gentiles or Mormons. President Joseph F. Smith admitted that he had had eleven children borne to him by his five wives, since pledging himself to obey the "revealed" manifesto of 1890 ... Apostle Francis Marion Lyman, ... made a similar admission of guilt, though to a lesser degree. So did John Henry Smith and Charles W. Penrose, apostles.... So did a score of others.... And they confessed that they were living in polygamy in violation of their pledges to the nation and the terms of their amnesty, against the laws and the constitution of the state, and contrary to the "revelation of God" by which the doctrine of polygamy had been withdrawn from practice in the Church! ... Bishop Chas. E. Merill, the son of an apostle, testified that his father had married him to a plural wife in 1891 ... Mrs. Clara Kennedy testified that she had been married to a polygamist in 1896, in Juarez, Mexico, by Apostle Brigham Young, Jr.... There was testimony to show that Apostle George Teasdale had taken a plural wife six years after the 'manifesto' ... It was testified that Apostle John W. Taylor had taken two plural wives within four years, and that Apostle M. F. Cowley had taken one; and both these men fled from the country in order to escape a summons to appear before the Senate committee (Under the Prophet in Utah, pp. 268-70).
Joseph F. Smith, 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 ... you are violating the law?
MR. SMITH. The law of my State?
THE CHAIRMAN. Yes.
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. 334-35).
The Apostle Francis M. Lyman testified as follows:
SENATOR HOAR.... You have said more than once that in living in polygamous relations
with your wives, which you do and intend to do, you knew that you were disobeying this
MR. LYMAN. Yes. sir.
SENATOR HOAR. And that in disobeying this revelation you were disobeying the law of God?
MR. LYMAN. Yes. sir.
SENATOR HOAR. Very well. So that you say that you, an apostle of your church, expecting to succeed, if you survive Mr. Smith, to the office in which you will be the person to be the medium of Divine revelations, are living and are known to your people to live in disobedience of the law of the land and of the law of God?
Mr. LYMAN. Yes, sir (Reed Smoot Case, vol. 1, p. 430).
Charles E. Merrill, the son of Apostle Marriner W. Merrill, testified that he took a plural wife after the Manifesto and that his father performed the ceremony:
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. Was your father then an apostle?
MR. MERRILL. Yes, sir (Reed Smoot Case, vol. 1, p. 409).
Walter M. Wolfe, who was at one time professor of geology at Brigham Young College, claimed that 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, p. 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. Stanley S. Ivins, the son of Anthony W. Ivins, told us that his father received instructions after the Manifesto to perform marriages for time and all eternity outside 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 alright to perform the ceremony. He performed regular marriages as well as plural marriages and kept a record of each marriage in a book. 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 relates the following:
In Salt Lake City I talked to ... Stanley S. Ivins, one of the great authorities on Mormon polygamy. His father was Anthony W. Ivins, who was an apostle and first counselor to President Heber J. Grant.
Anthony Ivins was an elder in the church in the mid-1890s when he was called in and told to go to Mexico to be president of the stake there. He was told that he was to have authority to perform plural marriages for those who were sent to him for that purpose. He would be able to identify them from the letters of introduction they would present, he was told.
After Anthony Ivins died in 1934 ... his family found the records of these marriages among his papers. They were turned over to the LDS church. More than fifty polygamous marriages were easily identifiable, beginning in June, 1897, when three men from Utah were married at Juarez, just across from El Paso. They had crossed over into Mexico just for the marriage ceremony, then went back into the United States. However, Ivin's 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, by Wallace Turner, 1966, p. 187).
Stanley Ivins claimed that his father continued to perform
plural marriages for the church until the year 1904, some fourteen years after the Manifesto.
In the Reed Smoot Case, Walter M. Wolfe testified:
MR. WOLFE. In the summer of 1897 I was in Colorado. On my return, at the beginning of
the school year, I found that Ovena Jorgensen was not in attendance. She returned to
school some time during the month of October. Shortly after her return, she came to my
house and asked to see me privately. She said: "Brother Wolfe, I have something that
I must tell you, the reason why I have been late in coming back to school. I have been
married." I said, "Not in polygamy." She said: "Yes, sir; in polygamy.
I have married Brother Okey."
MR. WORTHINGTON. I say, it was in October, 1897, that she told you?
MR. WOLFE. Yes, sir ... she said that some years before she had gone into service at the house of this man Okey; that he had loved her and she loved him. He had asked her to marry him and she had declined, saying that it was impossible on account of the manifesto.... In August, 1897, Okey and the girl went together to see President Wilford Woodruff, and they laid the case before him. He brushed them aside with a wave of his hand and said he would have nothing to do with the matter, but referred them to President George Q. Cannon. George Q. Cannon asked if the girl had been through the Temple and received her endowments. They told him no. He said that that must be done first and then he would see as to the rest of it. They went through the Temple and the girl received her endowments. Then they were given a letter by President George Q. Cannon to President Ivins, of the Juarez Stake, and they went to Mexico.
THE CHAIRMAN. Who was this letter to?
MR. WOLFE. President A. W. Ivins, of the Juarez Stake.
THE CHAIRMAN. Mexico?
MR. WOLFE. Mexico; yes, sir. They went to Mexico, and there the girl told me the marriage ceremony was performed, and they returned to Utah (The Reed Smoot Case, vol. 4, pp. 10-11).
Stanley S. Ivins confirmed the fact that his father, Anthony W. Ivins, performed the marriage ceremony and recorded it in his record book. Stanley Ivins claimed 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 that he did not perform the ceremony. Mr. Ivins stated that his father refused to go back to Washington and lie about the
marriage, even if Wolfe's testimony did damage the image of the church.
Frank J. Cannon, the son of George Q. Cannon and formerly the senator from Utah, gives this important information:
Late in July, 1896, when I was in New York on business for the Presidency, I received a telegram announcing the death of my brother, Apostle Abraham H. Cannon.... I realized that my father would have a greater stroke of sorrow to bear than I....
I found him and Joseph F. Smith in the office of the Presidency ... "I know how you feel his loss," he said hoarsely, "but when I think what he would have had to pass through if he had lived—I cannot regret his death." ... With a sweep of his hand toward Smith at his desk—a gesture and a look the most unkind I ever saw him use—he answered: "A few weeks ago, Abraham took a plural wife, Lillian Hamlin. It became known. He would have had to face a prosecution in Court. His death has saved us from a calamity that would have been dreadful for the Church—and for the state."
"Father!" I cried. "Has this thing come back again! And the ink hardly dry on the bill that restored your church property on the pledge of honor that there would never be another case—" I had caught the look of Smith's face, and it was a look of sullen defiance. "How did it happen?"
My father replied: ... "I was asked for my consent, and I refused it. 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." ... here was the beginning of a policy of treachery which the present church leaders, under Joseph F. Smith, have since consistently practised, in defiance of the laws of the state and the "revelation of God," with lies and evasions, with perjury and its subornation, in violation of the most solemn pledges to the country, and through the agency of a political tyranny that makes serious prosecution impossible and immunity a public boast (Under the Prophet in Utah, pp. 176, 177, 179).
John Henry Hamlin, the brother of Lillian Hamlin, testified as follows in the "Reed Smoot Case":
MR. TAYLER. What relation are you to Lillian Hamlin?
MR. HAMLIN. Brother.
MR. TAYLER. And whom did she marry?
MR. HAMLIN. I only know what I heard.
MR. TAYLER. What was your family conviction and understanding about that?
MR. HAMLIN. That she was married to a Mr. Cannon.
MR. TAYLER. An apostle of the church?
MR. HAMLIN. I believe so. I understand so.
MR. TAYLER. That was in the summer of 1896, was it not?
MR. HAMLIN. Yes, sir.
MR. TAYLER. And where did you understand she was married?
MR. HAMLIN. On the Pacific coast.
MR. TAYLER. By whom?
MR. HAMLIN. Well, our understanding was that President Joseph F. Smith married her (Reed Smoot Case, vol. 2, pp. 67-68).
Mrs. Wilhelmina C. Ellis, who had been a plural wife of the Mormon Apostle Abraham H. Cannon, testified:
MR. TAYLER. How old were you when you married Abraham Cannon?
MRS. ELLIS. Nineteen.
MR. TAYLER. You were a plural wife?
MRS. ELLIS. Yes, sir.
MR. TAYLER. When did he marry Lillian Hamlin?
MRS. ELLIS. I do not know the date.
MR. TAYLER. I do not care about the exact date.
MRS. ELLIS. After June 12 and before July 2.
MR. TAYLER. Of what year?
MRS. ELLIS. 1896.
MR. TAYLER. He was at that time an Apostle?
MRS. ELLIS. Yes, sir.
MR. TAYLER. Did he say he was going away that day, or that evening, to California?
MRS. ELLIS. He told me to pack his grip or his satchel and told me he was going on this trip.
MR. TAYLER. What did he say about Miss Hamlin?
MRS. ELLIS. Of course I understood, in fact he said she was going with him and President Smith.
MR. TAYLER. And President Smith?
MRS. ELLIS. Yes, sir.
MR. TAYLER. And that they were going to be married?
MRS. ELLIS. Yes, sir.
MR. TAYLER.... What did Mr. Cannon say to you shortly before his death about his having married Miss Hamlin?
MRS. ELLIS. He told me he had married her and asked my forgiveness.
MR. TAYLER. What else did he say about it?
MRS. ELLIS. He said he had never had a well day since he had married her. I think it killed him.
MR. TAYLER. You have stated, have you not, ... that he also told you that Joseph F. Smith married him?
MRS. ELLIS. No, sir; I have never said that.
MR. TAYLER. You have never said that?
MRS. ELLIS. No, sir; not that he told me.
MR. TAYLER. You have stated frequently that Joseph F. Smith did marry them?
MRS. ELLIS. Yes, sir.
MR. TAYLER. Did you not know they were married on the high sea?
MRS. ELLIS. Only from reports.
MR. TAYLER.... It was an inference from the fact that your husband said he was going to marry her, and went away to California for that purpose, and that Joseph F. Smith went along with them. From that you inferred that Joseph F. Smith had married them?
MRS. ELLIS. Yes, sir (vol. 2, pp. 141-44).
In his testimony, Joseph F. Smith denied that he performed the marriage ceremony, but he acknowledged that he did go on a trip with Lillian Hamlin and Apostle Cannon at the time when the marriage was supposed to have taken place:
MR. SMITH.... The first time I ever saw her [Lillian Hamlin], ... was some time in
June—I do not remember the date—1896. I was at that time president of the Sterling
Mining and Milling Company.... I was asked by the board of directors to accompany Abraham
H. Cannon to Los Angeles ... I accompanied Abraham H. Cannon and his wife on that trip,
and had one of my wives with me on that trip.
MR. TAYLER. When did you first learn that Lillian Hamlin was his wife?
MR. SMITH. The first that I suspected anything of the kind was on that trip, because I never knew the lady before (vol. 1 p. 111)
MR. TAYLER. Were you out in a boat from there [Los Angeles]?
MR. SMITH. Yes, sir.
MR. SMITH.... 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.
MR. TAYLER. For going about with this wife?
Mr. SMITH. No, sir; I did not (vol. 1, pp. 127-28).
Joseph F. Smith went on to testify that the church was "very sensitive" about charges that plural marriages were performed after the Manifesto, but then he had to admit that he had let the Cannon affair pass without making any inquiry:
MR. TAYLER. What inquiry did you make to find out whether Abraham H. Cannon, one of the
twelve apostles of the church, had made a plural marriage?
MR. SMITH. I made no inquiry at all.
MR. TAYLER. Did you have any interest in finding out whether there had been MR. SMITH. Not the least (vol. 1, pp. 476-77).
The evidence we have presented seems to show that it was Joseph F. Smith himself who performed the marriage ceremony.
Abraham H. Cannon's widow, Mrs. Ellis, was questioned about his diary, but she had not seen it "since his death." Many diaries belonging to Apostle Cannon have recently come to light. Unfortunately, however, if Cannon kept a diary at the time of his marriage in 1896, it has not been made public. Even though we do not have Cannon's diary for June of 1896, Michael Marquardt has pointed out some references in his diary for 1894 which throw important light on this marriage and on the attitude of the Mormon leaders concerning polygamy after the Manifesto.
The reader will remember that Frank J. Cannon quoted his father George Q. Cannon as saying: "... President Smith obtained the acquiescence of President Woodruff, on the plea that it wasn't an ordinary case of polygamy but merely a fulfilment 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...."
According to the diary of Abraham H. Cannon, April 5, 1894, 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."
From an entry in Apostle Cannon's diary for October 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[i]d 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 ("Daily Journal of Abraham H. Cannon," October 24, 1894, vol. 18, p. 170).
We may never know if Annie was "willing" to enter into this plural marriage, but we do know that less than two years later Lillian Hamlin was married to Apostle Cannon. Mrs Wilhelmina C. Ellis, who had been one of Cannon's plural wives testified:
MRS. ELLIS. He said he could marry her out of the State—out of the United States.
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 (The Reed Smoot Case, vol. 2, pp. 142-43).
Apostle Cannon's journal not only reveals that the Mormon leaders approved of polygamy after the Manifesto, but it shows they were considering the idea of a secret system of concubinage wherein men and women could live together without being actually 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, untill the laws of our government change to permit the holy order of wedlock which God has revealed, which will undoubtedly occur at no distant day, in order to correct the social evil.... —Pres Snow. "I have no doubt but concubinage will yet be practiced in this church, but I had not thought of it in this connection. When the nations are troubled good women will come here for safety and blessing, and men will accept them as concubines."—Pres. Woodruff: "If men enter into some practice of this character to raise a righteous posterity, they will be justified in it ..." ("Daily Journal of Abraham H. Cannon," April 5, 1894, vol. 18, p. 70).
As we have shown earlier in this book, 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 ..." (Doctrine and Covenants 132:37).
"Manifesto a Deception"
After their investigation the Committee on Privileges and Elections submitted a report in which the following was stated:
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 ... as late as 1896 one Lillian Hamlin became the plural wife of Abraham H. Cannon, who was then an apostle ... it was generally reputed in the community and understood by the families ... that they had been married on the high seas by Joseph F. Smith. Lillian Hamlin assumed the name of Cannon, and a child to which she afterwards gave birth bears the name of Cannon ....
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 ... took a plural wife in 1891.... The ceremony ... was performed by his father, 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....
It is also proved that about the year 1896 James Francis Johnson was married to a plural wife, ... the ceremony in this instance being performed by an apostle.... To these cases must be added that of Marriner W. Merrill, another apostle; J. M. Tanner, superintendent of church schools; Benjamin Cluff, jr., president of Brigham Young University; Thomas Chamberlain, counselor to the president of a stake; Bishop Rathall, John Silver, Winslow Farr, Heber Benion, Samuel S. Newton, a man named Okey, who contracted a plural marriage with Ovena Jorgensen in the year 1897, and Morris Michelson about the year 1902....
It is morally impossible that all these violations of the laws of the State of Utah by the contracting of plural marriages could have been committed without the knowledge of the first presidency and the twelve apostles of the Mormon ...
SUPPRESSION OF TESTIMONY BY MORMON LEADERS.
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.... 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 ... 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 most 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 [sic] of the rulers of the Mormon Church and to avoid testifying before the committee.... The reason why the said witnesses left the country and have refused to come before the committee is easy to understand, in view of the testimony showing the contracting of plural marriages by prominent officials of the Mormon Church within the past few years.
It was claimed by the protestants that the records kept in the Mormon temple at Salt Lake City and Logan 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 Smith....
The witness who was required to bring the records kept in the temple at Logan excused himself from attending on the plea of ill health. But the important part of the mandate of the committee—the production of the record—was not obeyed by sending the records, which could easily have been done. In the case of other witnesses who were believed to have contracted plural marriages since the year 1890 all sorts of shifts, tricks, and evasions were resorted to in order to avoid service of a subpoena to appear before the committee and testify....
Aside from this it 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"....
The list also includes George Teasdale, an apostle; John Henry Smith, an apostle; Marriner W Merrill, also 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....
These facts abundantly justify the assertion made in the protest that "the supreme authorities in the church, ... the first presidency and twelve apostles, not only connive at violation of, but protect and honor the violators of the laws against polygamy and polygamous cohabitation."
It will be seen by the foregoing that not only do the first presidency and twelve apostles encourage polygamy by precept and teaching, but that a majority of the members of that body of rulers of the Mormon people give the practice of polygamy still further and greater encouragement by living the lives of Polygamists, and this openly and in the sight of all their followers in the Mormon Church....
And not only do the president and a majority of the twelve apostles of the Mormon Church practice polygamy, but in the case of each and every one guilty of this crime who testified before the committee, the determination was expressed openly and defiantly to continue the commission of this crime without regard to the mandates of the law or the prohibition contained in the
manifesto.... those who are in authority in the Mormon Church, of whom Mr. Smoot is one, are encouraging the practice of polygamy among the members of that church, and that polygamy is being practiced to such an extent as to call for the severest condemnation in all legitimate ways (Reed Smoot Case, vol. 4, pp. 476-82).
Finally, some sixteen years after the Manifesto was issued, President Joseph F. Smith was brought to trial for unlawful cohabitation. The following appeared in the Deseret News: "... 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" (Deseret Evening News, November 23, 1906).
Heber J. Grant, who served as the seventh president of the Mormon church from 1918 until 1945, was also convicted of unlawful cohabitation after the Manifesto was issued. This occurred in 1899, some nine years after Woodruff issued the Manifesto (see the Daily Tribune, September 9, 1899). In 1903 Heber J. Grant fled the country to avoid being arrested again. Charles Mostyn Owen testified as follows:
THE CHAIRMAN. Where did you say Grant was?
MR. OWEN. Grant is in England.
THE CHAIRMAN. When did he go to England?
MR. OWEN. He left suddenly on the night of the l0th of November last year—1903.
MR. OWEN.... he made a statement before the students of the State university at Salt Lake City, in which he held out in a very objectionable manner his association with two women as his wives.... I went before the county attorney and swore to an information for him, and a warrant was issued on that information. Before Mr. Grant was served, however, he left the country.
THE CHAIRMAN. Has he returned since that time?
MR. OWEN. No, sir.
SENATOR PETTUS. Is he still an apostle?
MR. OWEN. Yes, sir (Reed Smoot Case, vol. 2, pp. 401-2).
Because of the insincerity of the Mormon leaders after the Manifesto thousands of people in Utah are still living in polygamy today. Mormon author John J. Stewart wrote the following regarding current polygamist groups:
Secondly, Satan is exploiting the doctrine and history of plural marriage in our Church by persuading many men and women to rebel against current Church policy on the matter, and thus forfeit their membership in the Church and Kingdom of God. More
than seventy years after the first Manifesto was issued, as a step in suspending the practice of plural marriage, apostate sects are mushrooming throughout Mormondom in greater numbers than ever before, with the basic doctrine that plural marriage must be lived regardless of what the Church policy is (Brigham Young and His Wives, p. 15).
On November 21, 1955, Newsweek magazine reported that "Utah polygamists may well number 20,000." Ten years later Wallace Turner said that "one expert estimates that as many as 30,000 men, women and children live in families in which polygamy is practiced" (New York Times, December 27, 1965). The Mormon writer Leonard J. Arrington felt that this was a "far-fetched estimate." Ben Merson, on the other hand, seems to feel that more than 30,000 people are involved:
In Utah ... the practice of polygamy has never ceased. It is more widespread than ever. And increasing year by year.
In metropolitan Salt Lake City alone, 10,000 are living in plural marriage....
"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 more live in the adjoining states of Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona—plus sizable populations in Oregon, California, Canada and Mexico.
The majority live in Utah. And, says Rogers, neither the state law, ... nor the Mormon church, which prohibits it on pain of excommunication, has been able to stem the rising tide of plural marriage.
Strangely, it also remains the chief obstacle to law enforcement. For 72 percent of Utah's 900,000 citizens are Mormon. And while most practice monogamy, they are aware of their polygamous heritage.... This, coupled with the Mormon history of persecution," says Rogers, "makes them sympathetic toward the Fundamentalists. They feel that prison—and excommunication—is too harsh a penalty. And they refuse to testify against their polygamous neighbors."
So do the non-Mormons, who are referred to as Gentiles (Ladies Home Journal, June 1967, p. 78).
Those who believe in practicing polygamy today are usually known as "fundamentalists," because they claim to go back to the fundamental doctrines of Mormonism.
The Mormon leaders find themselves in a rather 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 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 leaders prefer that there is not much discussion of polygamy. Mormon writer Klaus J. Hansen depicted the sentiment in these words:
Admittedly, descendants of polygamous families still proudly acknowledge their heritage; but many Mormons clearly wish it had never happened. A leading historian at the leading state university in Utah for years avoided any mention of the subject; references to it in graduate theses were eradicated with the remark, "Too controversial!" Preston Nibley, it will be remembered, wrote an entire book on Brigham Young without mentioning the dread word once (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1966, p. 107).
To show the confusion of the Mormon leaders in regard to polygamy we have only to quote from a statement made by Apostle Bruce R. McConkie. In the same statement he says that millions of people have gained eternal exaltation by the practice of polygamy, that Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders entered the practice in virtue and purity of heart, that polygamy will be practiced after the second coming of Christ; yet he states that anyone who enters polygamy today is living in adultery, has sold his soul to Satan and will be damned in eternity:
... the Lord frequently did command his ancient saints to practice plural marriage ... the whole history of ancient Israel was one in which plurality of wives was the divinely accepted and approved order of matrimony. Millions of those who entered this order have, in and through it, gained for themselves eternal exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world... the Prophet and leading brethren were commanded to enter into the practice, which they did in all virtue and purity of heart ... plural marriage was openly taught and practiced until the year 1890. At that time conditions were such that the Lord by revelation withdrew
the command to continue the practice.... Obviously the holy practice will commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man and the ushering in of the millennium....
Any who pretend or assume to engage in plural marriage in this day, when the one holding the keys has withdrawn the power by which they are performed, are guilty of gross wickedness. They are living in adultery, have already sold their souls to Satan, and (whether their acts are based on ignorance or lust or both) they will be damned in eternity (Mormon Doctrine, 1958, pp. 522-23).
Is it any wonder that many Mormon people are confused over the practice of polygamy? They are taught that Joseph Smith entered polygamy in "virtue and purity of heart," yet they are taught that if they follow his example they are living in "adultery."
The Mormon people are taught that plural marriage is still practiced in heaven and will be practiced in the millennium. John J. Stewart stated: "... the restoration of the Church and Gospel of Jesus Christ, is to prepare for the second coming of the Savior, which is nigh at hand; to help usher in His great millennial reign, when the Gospel in its fulness including plural marriage, will be lived by worthy members of the Church" (Brigham Young and His Wives, p. 73).
Apostle Orson Pratt once stated: "Does not everything that is consistent and reasonable, and everything that agrees with the Bible show that plurality of wives must exist after the resurrection? It does ..." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 14, pp. 244-45).
Since the Mormon people are taught that polygamy was right in Joseph Smith's time and that it will be practiced in heaven, is it any wonder that many of them are entering into the practice today? As long as the Mormon leaders continue to publish Joseph Smith's revelation on polygamy (Doctrine and Covenants, 132), there will, no doubt, be many people who will enter into the practice. They cannot completely repudiate this revelation, however, without repudiating their doctrine concerning temple marriage as the two doctrines are found in the same revelation.
Although the Mormon leaders will not give up the idea that this revelation is from God, they have already repudiated many of the teachings of the earlier leaders with regard to polygamy. For instance, Brigham Young taught: "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into Polygamy" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269). The Millennial Star (vol. 15, p. 226), contained this statement: "The order of plurality of wives is an everlasting and ceaseless order, designed
A photograph of the Deseret News, Sept. 17, 1873. Brigham Young maintained that a man with just one wife will have her taken from him and given to a polygamist in heaven.
to exalt the choicest men and women to the most superlative excellence, dominion, and glory."
Today, however, Mormon leaders teach that polygamy is not essential for exaltation. Bruce R. McConkie flatly stated: "Plural marriage is not essential to salvation or exaltation" (Mormon Doctrine, 1958, p. 523).
Brigham Young once became so zealous to establish polygamy that he declared a man who would not enter into polygamy would have his wife taken from him in the resurrection and given to another:
Now, where a man in this church says, "I don't want but one wife, I will live my religion with one." He will perhaps be saved in the Celestial kingdom; but when he gets there he will not find himself in possession of any wife at all. He has had a talent that he has hid up. He will come forward and say, "Here is that which thou gavest me, I have not wasted it, and here is the one talent," and he will not enjoy it, but it will be taken and given to those who have improved the talents they received, and he will find himself without any wife, and he will remain single forever and ever.... I recollect a sister conversing with Joseph Smith on this subject. She told him: "Now don't talk to me; when I get into the celestial kingdom, ... I don't want any companion in that world; and if the Lord will make me a ministering angel, it is all I want." Joseph said, "Sister, you talk very foolishly, you do not know what you will want." He then said to me: "Here brother Brigham, you seal this lady to me." I sealed her to him. This was my own sister according to the flesh (Deseret News, September 17, 1873).
Mormon leaders today would not think of teaching that a man with only one wife would have her taken from him and given to a man who had taken more. Bruce R. McConkie states: "In our day, the Lord summarized by revelation the whole doctrine of exaltation and predicated it upon the marriage of one man to one woman" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 523).
Although Mormon leaders have changed many of the teachings concerning polygamy, they still teach that it was a righteous practice in Joseph Smith's time. John J. Stewart makes it very clear that it 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. If a woman, sealed to her husband for time and eternity, precedes her husband in death, it is his privilege to marry another also for time and eternity, providing that he is worthy of doing so (Brigham Young and His Wives, pp. 13-14).