Joseph Smith/Polygamy/John C. Bennett/Nancy Rigdon

FAIR Answers—back to home page

Articles about Plural marriage
Doctrinal foundation of plural marriage
Introduction of plural marriage
Questions about Joseph Smith and plural marriage
Notable plural wives of Joseph Smith
Plural marriage in Utah
End of plural marriage
Articles about various topics in plural marriage

Nancy Rigdon and John C. Bennett

Nancy Rigdon and Plural Marriage

Summary: Even more complex than the Sarah Pratt episode, Sidney Rigdon's daughter Nancy was approached by Joseph Smith regarding plural marriage.

Jump to Subtopic:

Nancy Rigdon

Matters remained relatively quiet until the following spring, though from then onward "Bennett's influence in official matters steadily diminished."[1] With Bennett's help, a Masonic Lodge was established in Nauvoo in October 1841, and new members were inducted beginning March 15, 1842.[2] In November 1841, the city council approved the destruction of a Nauvoo brothel, perhaps provoked by Francis Higbee's escapades.[3] Joseph continued to privately teach and enter into plural marriages throughout the winter and spring. Bennett would later accuse Joseph of attempting to seduce Nancy Rigdon on April 9, 1842.[4]

Bennett's Version

In Bennett's version, Joseph offered Bennett "five hundred dollars or the best lot on Main Street," if he would "assist me in procuring Nancy as one of my spiritual wives." Bennett, never shy of self-aggrandizement, replied nobly that "I cannot agree to it. Elder Rigdon is one of my best friends, and his family are now pure and spotless, and it would be a great pity to approach the truly virtuous."[5]

Bennett went on to claim that Joseph had Nancy brought to the printing-office by Mrs. Orson Hyde. Joseph was reportedly unable to see her, and told her to call the next day. It is at this point that Bennett's scheme becomes clear, since he reports that Nancy "communicated the matter to Colonel Francis M. Higbee, who was addressing her, and asked his advice as to the second visit."[6] Francis Higbee was Nancy's boyfriend, as well as Bennett's secret protégé in the seduction of women.

Bennett, ever anxious to present himself the hero, implored Joseph not to touch the daughter of a fellow Mason, but the comic-book Joseph of Bennett's fictions refused to listen. Bennett then claimed that he returned to Higbee, "and told him Joe's designs, and requested him to go immediately and see Miss Rigdon, and tell her the infernal plot…but advise her to go and see for herself what Joe would do."[7]

Bennett insisted that Joseph took Nancy "into a private room…and LOCKED THE DOOR." Bennett's version had Joseph tell Nancy she would join the fictitious "Chambered Sisters of Charity," or "Cloistered Saints," promised her she could marry another besides him, and tried to kiss her. Nancy bravely threatened to scream, and was released with the promise that Sister Hyde would explain matters to her more fully. A few days later, Joseph sent his secretary, Willard Richards, with a letter to Nancy, which Bennett reproduced after having it "handed me by Colonel F.M. Higbee."[8]

We can easily dismiss a great deal of this narrative. The idea that Joseph would offer Bennett money for his aid is ridiculous; it is more absurd that Bennett would turn him down if the offer was made. Bennett's concern for purity and virtue is pure fiction, as is his talk of the Chambered Sisters and Cloistered Saints (see  (needs URL / links)). The claim that Joseph used romantic gestures—declaring her the "the idol of his affections," or trying to kiss her—matches little of the more reliable testimony.[9]

More interesting is the apostate Sarah Pratt's later testimony that she "knew Nancy intimately and says that she was a very good, virtuous girl, and that Bennett's tale is true in all essential points."[10] How does Sarah know this? She is nowhere described as being present for these events. In the same late-life reminiscences, Sarah attacked Bennett as "full of low cunning and licentiousness,"[11] and Wyl elsewhere observes that "Mrs. Sarah M. Pratt has given us a portrait of him [Bennett], which shows conclusively that one can be a great man in the world while he would be a very little one in the penitentiary."[12] Yet, she assures us that Bennett's account of an event for which she was not present is accurate.

The intrigue thickens, for in Bennett's work, he portrayed himself as the friend and defender of Mrs. Pratt, willing to risk Joseph's wrath to warn her privately of the prophet's plans for seduction.[13] Bennett went so far to claim that Joseph had told him to have some bogus plates manufactured that he could display as the Book of Mormon record. Bennett insisted that he then "mentioned this proposition to Mrs. Sarah M. Pratt, on the day the Prophet made it, and requested her to keep it in memory, as it might be of much importance."[14] Bennett's report of Joseph's designs on her virtue gave the noble Mrs. Pratt the chance to remind him—and the reader—how "I remember well when you told me of his desiring you to procure the engraving of new plates of the Book of Mormon, for the further and more perfect blinding of the people."[15] This is as unlikely as it is heavy-handed.

In 1842, Bennett seemed confident of Sarah's support for his version, and praises her extravagantly as "one of the most elegant, graceful, amiable, and accomplished women in the place"[16] and claims he "had influence with her."[17] By 1886, Sarah had nothing but contempt for Bennett, but still assured us that his version is utterly reliable when it attacks Joseph Smith.

This dynamic strengthens the case for Sarah and Bennett's adultery. In 1842, Bennett had high hopes that Sidney Rigdon and Orson Pratt (whom he also fawned on in print) would support him and Sarah in their attack on Joseph.[18] By 1886, Sarah knew too well that Bennett had used and betrayed her too—their adultery likely alienated Orson, who chose to believe Joseph over her, and ultimately embraced plural marriage. Because of Bennett, Sarah lost her husband, her faith, and her respectability among the Saints.[19]

Calm Before the Storm

Though much of Bennett's account is fabricated, virtually all historians have accepted that the letter attributed to Joseph by Bennett is legitimate, though the only source for the text is Bennett's anti-Mormon works (the letter's contents are discussed in  (needs URL / links)).[20] We know little about what was going on between Nancy's receipt of the letter, dated between April 10–15, and the end of the month.[21] That Joseph was troubled by the visit with Nancy, however, is suggested by his sermon the next day: "[I preached in the grove, and pronounced a curse] upon all adulterers and Fornicators, and unvirtuous persons and those who have made use of my name to carry on their iniquitous designs."[22]

The prophet's remarks to the Relief Society on April 28 suggest that his concerns grew ever more acute. Joseph

did not know as he should have many opportunities of teaching them—that they were going to be left to themselves—they would not long have him to instruct them—that the church would not have his instruction long, and the world would not be troubled with him a great while, and would not have his teachings. He spoke of delivering the keys to [both] this society and to the Church—that according to his prayers God had appointed him elsewhere.

He exhorted the sisters always to concentrate their faith and prayers for, and place confidence in those whom God has appointed to honor, whom God has plac'd at the head to lead—that we should arm them with our prayers—that the keys of the kingdom are about to be given to them, that they may be able to detect every thing false—as well as to the Elders…

He said if one member become corrupt and you know it; you must immediately put it away. The sympathies of the heads of the church have induc'd them to bear with those that were corrupt in consequence of which all become contaminated—you must put down iniquity and by your good example provoke the Elders to good works….[23]

Joseph was clearly tired, and we see one of many intimations of his early death. His preoccupations are clear, however: he and other leaders have allowed their "sympathies…to bear with those that were corrupt." To his dismay, Joseph now feared that the actions of these few could corrupt the entire Church. While urging the sisters to encourage virtue, Joseph also tried to forestall a witch-hunt based on rumour: "Let your labors be confined mostly to those around you to your own circle, as far as knowledge is concerned, it may extend to all the world, but your administrations, should be confin'd to the circle of your immediate acquaintances and more especially to the members of the society." The last thing Joseph wanted was over-zealous Relief Society members accusing others (including him) of impropriety based on rumor or insufficient information, but he also wanted to protect them from the predations of Bennett and his clique.

As we saw in the earlier ( (needs URL / links)), Bennett's repeated seductions were proven after women appeared before the high council and testified against him and Chauncey Higbee in 1842. Yet, the first of these witnesses appeared on May 20; three days earlier, Joseph had told his secretary to allow Bennett to withdraw from the Church if he would do so, and Joseph began having leaders sign a letter withdrawing fellowship from Bennett nine days earlier.[24] It is therefore inescapable that Joseph was already worried about Bennett, and likely others, by at least sometime in April. Otherwise, he would not have spoken as he did to the Relief Society, or prepared to ease Bennett out even before Chauncey Higbee's sins came to light at the end of May.

Willard Richards certainly believed that Bennett was the cause of Joseph's trouble. Richards acted as Joseph's scribe, and kept his journal. The day after the address to the Relief Society, Richards wrote in Joseph's journal that there "was made manifest a conspiracy against the peace of this househould."[25] As Dean Jesse notes, the initials "'J.C.B.' written lightly in the margin by Willard Richards no doubt refers to John C. Bennett."[26] When Richards expanded Joseph's journal for the History of the Church, he wrote that "it gave me some trouble to counteract the design of certain base individuals, and restore peace. The Lord makes manifest to me many things, which it not wisdom for me to make public, until others can witness the proof of them."[27] By late April, Bennett was definitely causing problems, and Joseph had concerns about some other members' behaviour.

Francis Higbee was likely a prominent cause of those concerns. Joseph's later testimony reported that

Bennet[t] said Higbee pointed out the spot where he had seduced a girl, and that he had seduced another. I did not believe it, I felt hurt, and labored with Higbee about it; he swore with uplifted hands, that he had lied about the matter. I went and told the girl's parents, when Higbee and Bennet[t] made affidavits and both perjured themselves, they swore false about me so as to blind the family. I brought Francis M. Higbee before Brigham Young, Hyrum Smith and others; Bennet[t] was present, when they both acknowledged that they had done these things, and asked us to forgive them. I got vexed, my feelings had been hurt; Higbee has been guilty of adulterous communication, perjury…[28]

It is not immediately clear whether this remark applies to the initial problems with Higbee and Bennett (1841, just after Brigham Young's return from England), or whether it refers to 1842. The editor's decision to omit the preceding testimony (which, we recall, possibly addressed Higbee and Bennett's homosexual crimes in 1841) makes the transition into the above paragraph abrupt.

A close look, however, makes it clear that Joseph is here describing a later problem with Higbee. "I also preferred charges against Bennett," continued Joseph,

the same charges which I am now telling: and he got up and told them it was the truth, when he pleaded for his life, and begged to be forgiven; this was his own statement before sixty or seventy men; he said the charges were true against him and Higbee. I have been endeavoring to throw out shafts to defend myself, because they were corrupt, and I knew they were determined to ruin me: he has told the public that he was determined to prosecute me, because I slandered him, although I tell nothing but the truth.[29]

These charges were eventually confessed to sixty or seventy men—they are not the immoralities handled quietly in 1841. Instead, Joseph is here describing the confession which Bennett made before the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge on May 26, 1842.[30] Hyrum Smith's testimony recalled "Dr. Bennett asking forgiveness of the Lodge…Francis M. Higbee acknowledged that it was the truth, that he was sorry, and had been a thousand times," with "about sixty [people] present."[31] Heber C. Kimball described the same event in his 1844 testimony:

I think it is near two years [i.e., 1842]: I had some conversation with Francis Higbee, he expressed himself indignant at some things; he expressed himself that he was sorry, he would live a new life, he never would say a word against President Joseph Smith….[32]

Higbee, then, was indignant about some things, and confessed himself guilty of seduction along with John C. Bennett at the Nauvoo Lodge. Joseph further noted that when he told the parents the truth, Higbee and Bennett swore false affidavits "to blind the family" of one of the girls Higbee had seduced. The pieces of the puzzle compel us to ask—was the girl Nancy Rigdon?[33] And, if so, is such a charge justified?

The Character of Nancy Rigdon

As with Sarah Pratt, historian Richard Van Wagoner seems determined to defend and rehabilitate Nancy Rigdon while savaging Joseph Smith. For example, he claims that "orthodox Mormon sources provides evidence of the prophet's passion for women,"[34] leading Joseph to create a Nauvoo "where eros and duplicity seemed to subvert the highest moral values."[35] Van Wagoner's Joseph was "slandering [Rigdon's] family" while Nancy's "reputation…[was] impugned by avalanche of slander."[36] This is not the language of dispassionate analysis—the reader is cautioned not to ignore the none-too-subtle agenda at work.[37]

Scandalous stories are not necessarily slander—one has to actually demonstrate that the statements are maliciously false. Van Wagoner fails to undertake this analysis; he cites Bennett and other apostates or enemies of the Church without comment,[38] an apostate enemy described as "a close friend of the prophet" (291), apostate apostle William McLellin (291), Olivery Olney (298), the anti-Mormon Catherine Lewis who claims to be citing Helen Mar Kimball (294), George W. Robinson (295, 296, 298), and Bennett repeatedly (294, 298). We have already seen Van Wagoner's tendency to credit hostile sources without close analysis in his previous book on Mormon polygamy—see  (needs URL / links).</ref> and yet says nothing of the sworn testimony from 1844 which we have discussed in the previous section. It will not do to merely label such claims as slander; we must test them.

"The bedeviling paradox for many regarding the Nancy Rigdon incident," claims Van Wagoner, "is that while Smith's fame as a prophet of God makes the charges against him hard to believe, her steadfast reputation makes them difficult to dismiss."[39] This argument fails to acknowledge, however, that it may be true that Joseph approached Nancy about being a plural wife, but this does not mean that Nancy was otherwise pure or innocent.[40]

Van Wagoner makes much of the affidavits attesting Nancy Rigdon's purity. At best, such affidavits only prove that some believed Nancy to be chaste. Bennett, of course, managed to have multiple affairs for months without public outcry, and taught both Higbee brothers to do likewise. Affidavits attesting to Joseph Smith's "high moral character" were also produced, and yet Van Wagoner clearly sees them as mistaken.[41]

Is it surprising, then, that Nancy's reputation might well have been unblemished, even if she was guilty? This is, after all, the point of conducting clandestine seduction—the public remains unaware.[42] One notes too that despite Bennett's urging in the press,[43] there was no statement from Francis Higbee affirming Nancy's innocence—strange indeed for a boyfriend not to rush to his beloved's defence.

Bennett would claim that Nancy showed Francis Higbee the letter from Joseph, and eventually to her family. Subsequent events demonstrate that, for once, Bennett was correct.

The Rigdon Family Version of Joseph's Proposal

George Robinson, Sidney's son-in-law, provided his understanding of Joseph's first interview with Nancy, during which "[Joseph claimed] he had got a REVELATION on the subject, and God had given him all the blessings of Jacob, &c., &c., and that there was no sin in it whatever; but if she had any scruples of conscience about the matter, he would marry her PRIVATELY, and enjoined her to secrecy…." Robinson claimed that Nancy "repulsed him…and she left him with disgust, and came home and told her father."[44]

Robinson has some credibility, though he is only a second-hand witness of what Joseph told Nancy in their first private meeting. Even the hostile Nancy's version, filtered through Robinson, affirms that Joseph framed his proposal as a matter of revelation. The use of the phrase "blessings of Jacob" also resonates authentically, since Joseph saw plural marriage as a culmination of promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The "&c., &c." describing Joseph's theological justification is likely intended to be dismissive by Robinson, but it demonstrates that a good deal more was probably said, which Nancy ignored or did not understand. Joseph also mentioned marrying Nancy privately—i.e., without her parents' knowledge—which is also consistent with his proposals to other adult women. Joseph's emphasis on secrecy is likewise authentic.

How did Nancy explain matters? The only direct account from her is from 1884. This account has its problems: it was reported by RLDS elders, who were always keen to prove that plural marriage was an invention of Brigham Young, not Joseph. They reported Nancy saying, "I never heard of [polygamy] until after we came to Pittsburg [sic], and some time after." She did admit to hearing about "sealing," in 1842, but said, "I can not say that I ever understood it fully. Can not give the object." The elders then asked, "Was it a state of marriage and did it contemplate living together as husband and wife?" Nancy replied, "I never so understood it." Nancy also added that Joseph "seemed entirely different" in "the last year or two" of his life, "but I never knew or even heard that he had more than one wife."[45]

Either Nancy or the RLDS elders were lying in 1884, or Robinson and Bennett were lying in 1842. Nancy's remarks may be technically correct: Joseph may have been offering more of a sealing than a marriage in which they would live "together as husband and wife," and Nancy rejected it because she did not appreciate the offer or theology which underlay it. Alternately, she may simply have wished not to get dragged back into the plural marriage debate, and so misled the RLDS elders, who were happy to have their beliefs confirmed.

It is difficult to know if Nancy was as insulted and dramatic as Robinson claims. It serves Bennett's purposes to portray her as outraged female innocence, and her family would have had an equal investment in believing that Nancy fearlessly defended her virtue. Their natural concern with clearing Nancy's name affects how we read other accounts from the Rigdon family. Long after her death, Nancy's son wrote "some one is wrong, BUT I KNOW MY MOTHER IS NOT. FOR SHE WAS THE PERSON MOST CONCERNED.… I would believe her, above any person living or dead.… SHE [WAS] NOT MISINFORMED OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES."[46] His passion and certitude are clear, but would we expect a son to feel otherwise? Joseph Smith, III, had equally passionate views on Joseph Smith, Jr.'s plural marriages, because he trusted his mother. Yet, young Joseph was entirely misled.

Having decided to reject the prophet's offer—whatever its nature—Nancy herself would have wanted to appear righteously indignant for the benefit of her family and Francis Higbee. Given Joseph's concern for secrecy, however, if Nancy had left hostile and belligerent it would seem strange for him to commit his ideas to paper. If she did rebuke him as strongly as Robinson claims, why would Joseph provide her with written evidence of his offer and then trust that Nancy would destroy it unread by others?

If, however, Joseph confronted Nancy with a reprimand for immoral behaviour, she may have been ashamed and taken aback. A proposal of plural marriage would only have surprised her further, and she may have then left in a much more subdued—or ambiguous—manner. As with Sarah Pratt, Joseph may have hoped to both tie himself closer to a prominent leader while also redeeming a wayward relation. (If we grant Nancy the benefit of the doubt, we might conclude that Joseph only cautioned her about closer attachment to Francis Higbee, and urged plural marriage as a better option than pursuing a relationship with Francis. Such a marriage would have protected Nancy and also bound Joseph to Sidney. In either scenario, plural marriage could have been astonishing enough to send Nancy away thinking, rather than shouting.)

"Despite the drama of these events," Van Wagoner tells us, "neither [Nancy] Rigdon [or Sarah] Pratt…stood to gain from exposing the prophet's prurience; none had obvious political motives to hurt him."[47] This is sheer nonsense—if Sarah or Nancy was guilty of sin, as Joseph and others claimed, then they had every reason to undercut Joseph. Political considerations are irrelevant. Having made the decision to share the letter with Francis, Nancy effectively informed Bennett, who knew exactly what use to make of this gift the prophet had handed them. Under the influence of Bennett and Higbee, Nancy had several days to tell and retell her story. Memory is fickle and fluid. If Nancy had been immoral with Higbee, she had a motive to paint the man who could unmask her in the worst light. If Nancy had done nothing wrong, Bennett and Higbee likely did little to encourage her to seek the revelatory guidance to which other plural wives had recourse (see  (needs URL / links)).


  1. Robert Bruce Flanders, ‘’Nauvoo: Kingdom on the Mississippi’’ (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965), 262.
  2. Stanley B. Kimball, "Heber C. Kimball and Family, the Nauvoo Years," ‘‘Brigham Young University Studies’’ 15/ 4 (Summer 1975): 457.
  3. See "The Neusance [sic]," ‘‘Times and Seasons’’ 3/2 (15 November 1841): 599–600.
  4. Bennett, History of the Saints, 241. (Bennett examined) says it was the day of Ephraim Marks' funeral; see {{HC|vol=4|pages=587 for the funeral date; on the dating of this event, see Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 31n36.
  5. Bennett, History of the Saints, 241. (Bennett examined)
  6. Bennett, History of the Saints, 242. (Bennett examined)
  7. Bennett, History of the Saints, 242. (Bennett examined)
  8. Bennett, History of the Saints, 243, 245 (italics and small caps in original). (Bennett examined)
  9. Bennett, History of the Saints, 242–243. (Bennett examined); see Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 440, 450. on the non-romantic approach favoured by Joseph.
  10. Wilhelm Wyl, Mormon Portraits Volume First: Joseph Smith the Prophet, His Family and Friends (Salt Lake City: Tribune Printing and Publishing Co., 1886), 288.
  11. Wyl, Mormon Portraits, 133.
  12. Wyl, Mormon Portraits, 127.
  13. Bennett, History of the Saints, 229–230. (Bennett examined)
  14. Bennett, History of the Saints, 175. (Bennett examined)
  15. Bennett, History of the Saints, 230. (Bennett examined)
  16. Bennett, History of the Saints, 226. (Bennett examined)
  17. Bennett, History of the Saints, 228. (Bennett examined)
  18. See Bennett, History of the Saints, 210–211, 231–232. (Bennett examined)
  19. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled; or, the Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee; (Written by Himself) Embracing the History of Mormonism ... With an Exposition of the Secret History, Signs, Symbols and Crimes of the Mormon Church. Also the True History of the Horrible Butchery Known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre (St. Louis: Bryan, Brand, 1877), 147-148. At the very least, this demonstrates what Mormons thought of Sarah after Joseph's death.
  20. Richard Price is an exception; he argues that the letter to Nancy was written by Willard Richards with no input from Joseph. An RLDS conservative, Price is committed to the stance that Joseph did not teach or practice plural marriage. See Richard and Pamela Price, Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy—Vision Articles [from Vision Magazine, Vol. 32–46, 48–51, 53–56], vol. 2 (E-book: Price Publishing Company, n.d.), "Bennett's Sixth Letter, or the Essay on 'Happiness'," on-line at On the letter's text, see Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, [original edition] (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1984), 689. ISBN 0877479747. GL direct link "The earliest known source of this letter is John C. Bennett's publication of it in the ‘’’‘Sangamo Journal’’’’ August 19, 1842. Bennett claimed that the original letter was in his possession and was written by Willard Richards at Joseph Smith's dictation…In November 1855 the letter was copied into the manuscript of Joseph Smith's History under the date of August 27, 1842, by Thomas Bullock, a clerk in the Church Historian's Office. A manuscript copy of the letter in the Joseph Smith Papers places the date of the original writing "about January 1842" and designates it as "Joseph's Letter to Nancy Rigdon." [para] There are slight differences in the punctuation and word usage in Bennett's two publications of the letter in the ‘’’‘Sangamo Journal’’’’ and his ‘’History of the Saints’’. A comparison shows that the manuscript copy in the Smith papers and its publication in the Joseph Smith History follows the latter source."
  21. Bennett dates the letter to "a day or two" after Joseph's visit on April 9 (Bennett, History of the Saints, 243); Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd edition, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 326–327n318. put it "around 15 April 1842" following Van Hale in "The Purported Letter of Joseph Smith to Nancy Rigdon," unpublished paper in possession of the authors. (Bennett examined)
  22. Joseph Smith, An American Prophet's Record:The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, edited by Scott Faulring, Significant Mormon Diaries Series No. 1, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1989), 244, (10 April 1844 citing "Book of the Law of the Lord".; see also History of the Church, 4:587. Volume 4 link
  23. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of Joseph Smith, 2nd Edition, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 116–117, italics added; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Apr. 28, 1842, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Eliza R. Snow.; also in History of the Church, 4:605–607. Volume 4 link
  24. Bennett, History of the Saints, 40–41; ‘’’‘Times and Seasons’’’’ 3/15 (15 June 1842): 830. (Bennett examined)
  25. Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith: Journal, 1832–1842, vol. 2 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, Co., 1992), 379 (29 April 1842).
  26. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith: Journal, 1832–1842, 379n372.
  27. History of the Church, 4:607–608; also published in "Joseph Smith's History," Millennial Star 19 (20 June 1857): 390. Volume 4 link
  28. Joseph Smith testimony in Multiple, "Municipal Court," 539, italics added.
  29. Joseph Smith testimony in Multiple, "Municipal Court," 539.
  30. History of the Church, 5:18–19. Volume 5 link
  31. Hyrum Smith testimony in Multiple, "Municipal Court," 539–540.
  32. Heber C. Kimball testimony in Multiple, "Municipal Court," 540–541.
  33. Richard Price has priority in reaching this conclusion in Price. "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy [Vol. 1]."), chapter 11, While I was aware of Price's conclusion, I did not initially agree with it. I have, somewhat reluctantly, become inclined to this view, though my analysis here does not rely on Price's treatment.
  34. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 2005), 299. (Reviews).
  35. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 293.
  36. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 298.
  37. Van Wagoner frankly admits that his book is intended as a rebuke to the "attraction to prophetic posturing and swagger [which] resides deep in the Mormon psyche" (viii) and declares, "I do not apologize for exposing the warts and double chins of religious leaders…perhaps [through this work]…others will feel more at ease with their own wrinkles" (x). In his zeal to expose such warts he forgets that not every wart reported by an enemy is, in fact, a blemish. Van Wagoner concludes that Rigdon demonstrates that "we must ultimately think for ourselves rather than surrender decision-making to others, especially to those who dictate what God would have us do" (457). Ironically, he gives scant decision-making ability to his readers, since he spends little time on issues of historical source criticism and internal consistency. One is given few tools to evaluate Van Wagoner's framing of the narrative without considerable leg-work. His ham-fisted and ill-informed approach to psychiatric issues also mars this volume—see {Harper, 2002 #305@261–274}.
  38. See for example his use of Emma's cousin Hiel Lewis (291), Benjamin Winchester. It should be noted that Van Wagoner incorrectly cites "Benjamin F. Winchester." It should be "Benjamin Winchester". See Brian C. Hales and Gregory L. Smith, "A Response to Grant Palmer’s 'Sexual Allegations against Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Polygamy in Nauvoo'," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 12 (2014): 183-236 Note 3: "Van Wagoner likewise cites this source as “Benjamin F. Winchester.” Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 4."
  39. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 299.
  40. It is a failure to accept the existence of Joseph's plural marriages that fatally flaws Richard Price's work, for example.
  41. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 299; citing ‘‘The Wasp’’ (20 July 1843).
  42. Witnesses supporting Nancy include Sarah Pratt (Wyl, Mormon Portraits, 288), Oliver Olney (‘‘Sangamo Journal’’, 7 October 1842), Joseph H. Jackson (NEED CITE), and several collected by Bennett: George W. Robinson (248–249, 252), John F. Olney (249–250), Carlos Gove (251), Sidney Rigdon (251–252), Henry Marks (252).
  43. John C. Bennett, ‘’’‘Sangamo Journal’’’’ (7 July 1842); cited in Shook, True Origin, 57.
  44. George W. Robinson to General James Arlington Bennet, "Dear Sir," (27 July 1842); cited in Bennett, History of the Saints, 246 (small caps and italics in original). (Bennett examined)
  45. William H. Kelley and E. L. Kelley, Interview with Nancy Rigdon Ellis (14 May 1844), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; reported in Joseph Smith et al., ‘’The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’’ (Independence, Mo: Herald House, 1967), 4:452–453; citing ‘’The Saints' Herald’’, vol. 31, p. 339; portions also cited in Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 295n242.
  46. S. M. Ellis to L. J. Nuffer, letter (17 November 1933); cited in Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 299n273, the emphatic capitals are in the original.
  47. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 299.