Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./1839 - 1844/051909

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A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia: Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./1839 - 1844
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An analysis of Wikipedia article "Joseph Smith, Jr." (Version 19 May 2009)

1838 - 1844: Nauvoo, Illinois

- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–1838_-_1844:_Nauvoo,_Illinois Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

In April 1839, Smith rejoined his followers who, having fled east from Missouri, had spread out along the banks of the Mississippi, near Quincy, Illinois. There, for both humanitarian and political reasons, the refugees had been welcomed.

  • "There was chronic border friction between Missouri and Illinois, and the 'Suckers' welcomed the chance to demonstrate a nobility of character foreign to the despised 'Pukes.' More important, a presidential election was in the offing, and the Democratic Association, which controlled the votes in the quincy area, was eager to make friends with this huge new voting bloc. Fearful lest the Mormons turn Whig in bitterness against the Democratic government in Missouri they solicited funds for relieving the Mormons' distress and did their best to provide housing." Fawn Brodie, 248-49.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Purchasing waterlogged wilderness land on credit from two Connecticut speculators (who drove a hard bargain during this period of economic recession), Smith established a new gathering place for the Saints along the Mississippi in Hancock County.

  • Bushman, 383-84.
  • Smith also purchased land across the river in Iowa from a dishonest recent convert, Isaac Galland. Galland sold his land cheaply enough, but when courts finally straightened out the titles, Gallands' proved worthless. The 250 Mormon families who had settled had to return "penniless to Nauvoo." Brodie, 262.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

He renamed the area "Nauvoo", which he said meant "beautiful" in Hebrew.

  • A similar Hebrew word appears in Isaiah 52: 7
  • The word "Nauvoo" is a Hebrew word. It means "to be comely." Joseph gave the word in the Sephardic transliteration system he learned from Joshua Seixas; in fact, the word Nauvoo is given in the Seixas grammar. See Is Nauvoo a Hebrew word?.

The soggy low land and river eddies were exceptional breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and the Saints suffered plagues of malaria in the summers of 1839, 1840, and 1841. (In 1841 malaria killed Joseph's brother Don Carlos and his namesake, Joseph's son Don Carlos, within a few days of one another.)

  • Bushman, 384, 425.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Late in 1839, Smith went to Washington to seek redress from the federal government for the Saints' losses in Missouri. He met briefly with President Martin Van Buren, but neither man seems to have thought much of the other, and the trip produced no reparations. Whatever sympathy Van Buren or Congress might have had for Mormon victims was canceled out by the importance of Missouri in the upcoming presidential election.

  • Bushman, 392-93.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Nevertheless, Smith shrewdly made Missouri a "byword for oppression" and "saw to it that the sufferings of his people received national publicity."

  • Brodie, 259. The editor of the Chicago Democrat wrote, "We will not go so far as to call the Mormons martyr-mongers, but we believe they are men of sufficient sagacity to profit by anything in the shape of persecution....The Mormons have greatly profited by their persecution in Missouri...let Illinois repeat that bloody tragedies of Missouri and one or two other states follow, and the Mormon religion will not only be known throughout our land, but will be very extensively embraced. March 25, 1840 in Brodie, 259.
  • From the cited source: "The press all over the country was sympathizing with the Saints, for Joseph, resolving to make Missouri a byword for oppression and Boggs a synonym for tyranny, saw to it that the sufferings of his people received national publicity." (Brodie 259)

In a bold stroke, Smith sent off the Twelve Apostles to Great Britain to serve as missionaries for the new faith. All left families in desperate circumstances struggling to establish themselves in Iowa or Illinois. While Smith had been imprisoned, Brigham Young, the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, had with indefatigable skill, brought the believers out of Missouri, and the Saints "had obeyed him implicitly."

  • Brodie, 258.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

But with Young and the others in Europe, Smith recovered his earlier prestige and authority. Meanwhile, the missionaries found many willing converts in Great Britain, often factory workers, poor even by the standards of American saints.

  • Bushman (2005), 409;
  • Brodie, 258, 264-65.
  • Many converts came from dissatisfied members of English sects "along the margins of conventional church life." On the previous religious beliefs of these Mormon converts, see Grant Underwood, The Millenarian World of Early Mormonism (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1993).
  • The Mormon missionaries were shocked by the poverty they witnessed, and as Fawn Brodie has written, they "began to preach the glory of America along with the glory of the gospel." The Mormon Millennial Star published in Liverpool "frequently had the ring of a real estate pamphlet." Brodie, 264.
  •  Correct, per cited sources
    , although most of this comes from Brodie. Bushman notes that the missionaries were "appalled by the miserable living conditions they encountered," but he says nothing about preaching "the glory of America"—this is from Brodie.
  •  An author's opinion has been converted to fact— An opinion expressed by the author of a secondary source is being portrayed in the article as if it were a proven fact.

    The idea that Joseph was "eager to recover the prestige and authority that was his in Far West's palm days" is Brodie's opinion. (Brodie, p.. 258). The editor has converted Brodie's opinion to fact in the wiki article.

These first trickled, then flooded, into Nauvoo, raising Smith's spirits.

  • Bushman (2005), 410.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

In February 1841, Nauvoo received a charter from the state of Illinois, which granted the Latter Day Saints a considerable degree of autonomy. Smith threw himself enthusiastically into the work of building a new city. The charter authorized independent municipal courts, the establishment of a university, and the creation of a militia unit known as the "Nauvoo Legion." Smith dreamed of industrial projects, and even received a revelation commanding the building of a hotel, "that strangers may come from afar to lodge therein."

  • Bushman (2005), 410-13;
  • D&C, 124: 23.
  • The revelation (still included in the Mormon canon) specifically provided the amount of stock to be owned by any individual and granted a suite of rooms to Joseph Smith and his posterity "from generation to generation, for ever and ever." D&C, 124: 59.
  • The revelation doesn't specifically mention a "suite of rooms." It says "Therefore, let my servant Joseph and his seed after him have place in that house, from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord." (DC :124)


- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–1838_-_1844:_Nauvoo,_Illinois Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

While burdened with the temporal business of creating a city, Smith also elaborated on the cosmology of the new religion. According to Richard Bushman, Smith now moved from "a traditional Christian belief in God as pure spirit to a belief in His corporeality."

  • D&C, 130: 22;
  • Bushman (2005), 420.
  • According to LDS theologian David Paulsen, this teaching was foreshadowed in the Book of Mormon by the story of the brother of Jared, although even Richard Bushman admits that the "doctrine of a corporeal God was not fully articulated until later." David L. Paulsen, "The Doctrine of Divine Embodiment: Restoration, Judeo-Christian, and Philosophical Perspectives, BYU Studies 34, no. 4 (1995-96), 19-21.
  • The earliest unequivocal statement of Joseph Smith was made at the opening of the Nauvoo Lyceum, January 5,1841: "There is no other God in heaven but that God who has flesh and bone." Kurt Widmer, Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830-1915 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2000), 122.
  • See also Douglas J. Davies, An Introduction to Mormonism (Cambridge University Press, 2003), 75-76.
  •  Citation abuse— The meaning of a source quotation has been altered, or the source used does not support the author's conclusion.

    It is Bushman, not Paulsen, who says that "[t]he concept was foreshadowed in the Book of Mormon, where the brother of Jared saw first the Lord's finger." (Bushman, p. 420) Bushman then cites Paulsen in an endnote on page 642, noting that "David Paulsen argues that Joseph Smith understood the embodiment of God and Christ by 1830. (Paulsen, "Divine Embodiment," 19-21). Somehow the wiki editor has turned this into having Bushman "admit" that the doctrine of a corporeal God was articulated later. Bushman is not "admitting" this—he is simply stating it as his view and is noting Paulsen's opposing view in the endnote. This is entirely lost in the wiki article.

Smith saw that the joining of spirit and body that God provided to his children as the way to attaining a fullness of joy.

  • Bushman (2005), 421
  •  Correct, per cited sources

In other words, Smith declared that God had a body.

Instead of affirming that there was an eternal God who had created matter, Smith taught that matter was eternal and that it was God who had developed through time and space. God only assembled the earth from preexisting materials and then had drawn on "a cohort of spirits from the pool of eternal intelligences to place upon it."

  • Bushman (2005), 421.
  • In general see, Kurt Widmer, Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830-1915 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2000). Widmer notes that Smith's "Doctrine of Eternal Progression" includes four components: that God is an exalted man; that man's spirit is co-equal with God and he can become a god; that there are innumerable gods who are progressing in knowledge; and that there is a "council or plurality" of gods." (119)
  • The cited source states, "Joseph modified the Creation story until it appeared that God had not created anything ex nihilo. He did not make the earth 'out of Nothing...'" The wiki editor's interpretation that "God only assembled" appears to be an emphasis on the idea that he wishes to promote that Latter-day Saints believe that God is somehow limited..
  • See: Corporality of God
  • See: Creatio ex nihilo

Another striking doctrine revealed to Smith after 1840 was baptism for the dead," an attempt to join "the generation of humanity from start to finish" by bringing "saving ordinances to the millions who had died without their benefits."

  • Bushman (2005), 422.
  •  Correct, per cited sources
    The cite should be to page 421 rather than 422. The word "striking" to describe the doctrine was taken from Bushman's prose.
  • See: Baptism for the dead

During the same period, Smith published the Book of Abraham, his "translation" of what later turned out to be an ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead that he had purchased from a traveling exhibitor in 1835. The Book of Abraham, canonized by the LDS Church after Smith's death, also emphasized the plurality of gods, pre-mortal existence, and the concept that the earth had been organized out of preexisting matter.

  • Bushman (2005), 452-58;
  • Brodie, 170-75;
  • Widmer, 90. The Book of Abraham was also used by later Mormons to justify discrimination against those with black skin because they were, like Pharaoh, descendants of Ham.

These doctrinal expansions culminated in a renewed effort to build another temple. Smith chose a site on a bluff in Nauvoo where he blessed the cornerstones in a public ceremony on April 6, 1841. In Kirtland, Smith had instituted rituals of washing and anointing, but in Nauvoo "the ceremonies were further elaborated to include baptism for the dead, endowments, and priesthood marriages."

  • Bushman (2005), 448;
  • Ostlings, 9;
  • Davies, 205. Davies notes that "Baptism for the dead and covenant-endowments for the conquest of death both found their ultimate validation in the power of the priesthood yet these three elements are absent from the Book of Mormon, whose emphasis upon baptism is always a baptism of repentance of the living for themselves."
  • Smith did not live to see the completion or dedication of the temple. The Saints began to receive endowments on December 10, 1845, and the temple dedication was held on April 30, 1845, just before Nauvoo was abandoned.

As Bushman has written, Smith had "a green thumb for growing ideas from tiny seeds," and "portions of the temple ritual resembled Masonic rites that Joseph had observed when a Nauvoo lodge was organized in March 1842 and that he may have heard about from Hyrum, a Mason from New York days."

  • Bushman (2005), 449.
  • Smith was initiated as an Entered Apprentice Mason at the Nauvoo lodge on March 15, 1842. The next day, he was raised to the degree of Master Mason; the usual month-long wait between degrees was waived by the Grand Master of Illinois, Abraham Jonas.Mormons;
  • Excerpts - Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed;
  • The Message and the Messenger: Latter-day Saints and Freemasonry;
  • Facing the facts about Mormonism;
  • The Masonic Moroni- Images- Page One;
  • Joseph Smith Jr.: Encyclopedia II - Joseph Smith Jr. - Biography.
  • Some commentators have noted similarities between portions of temple ordinance of the endowment and the Royal Arch Degree of Freemasonry. Richard Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise (Harper Collins, 1999), 188. "Smith was an active Mason when he introduced the endowment ordinance two years before his death, and many scholars have noted the strong resemblance between the Mormon ordinance and Masonic ritual." Richard Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise (Harper Collins, 1999), 194-95.
  • "Early Mormons were fairly open in recognizing the connection between the endowment ritual and Masonry. Apostle and First Counselor Heber C. Kimball wrote that Smith believed in the 'similarity of preast Hood in Masonary.' Other early church leaders taught that the Masonic ceremony was a corrupted form of temple rituals that had descended directly from the biblical Solomon and were restored to their true, pristine form by the inspired Joseph Smith. ... Joseph Smith became a Mason in March 1842, advancing all the way to Master Mason the next day. This was highly unusual since the normal minimum wait between each of the three degrees is thirty days. In the weeks that followed he observed Masonic ritual degree advancements thirteen times before introducing the endowment ceremony on May 4 and 5, 1842. The essentially British version of Masonry as probably practiced in Nauvoo included such elements as ritual anointing of body parts; a ... drama as a metaphor for a spiritual journey; bestowal of a secret name (as a password into eternity); special garments (in Mormonism, sacred undergarments) when stepping through a veil in glorified ascent to a Celestial Lodge; secret handshakes and tokens; promises to fulfill moral obligations; penalty oaths to protect secrecy; progression through three degrees toward perfection; the use of special temple robes and aprons; and the word exalted to signify becoming kings in connection with the Royal Arch degree. Masons regard the lodge as a temple. All these elements have strong parallels in Smith's endowment ceremony. In addition, Masonic symbols that have been adapted by Mormons on everything from temples to gravestones to logos include: the beehive, the square and compass, two triangles forming a six-pointed star, the all-seeing eye, sun, moon, and stars, and ritualistic hand grips." Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith,The Mormon Murders, (St Martin's Press, 1988), 78. "But like many Mormon boys with doubts, Mark was already caught up in the intriguing, Masonic-like initiation rites of the Mormon priesthood, the secret passwords, the secret handshakes, the special garments."
  • Stanley B. Kimball,Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer, 85: "Heber thought he saw similarities between Masonic and Mormon ritual." "Heber seems to have felt that both Mormonism and Masonry derived separately from ancient ceremonies connected with Solomon's temple." (See Freemasonry and the Latter Day Saint movement.)
  • The footnotes in this section suffer from an excessive amount of "bloat." It seems that the wiki editors want to include much of the "Freemasonry and the Latter Day Saint movement" wiki article here as well, just to make sure that you read it. Most of this should simply have been left in the other article.
  • Bushman states, "Joseph often requested revelation about things that caught his attention....He had a green thumb for growing ideas from tiny seeds. Masonic rites seem to have been one more provocation."
  • See: Temple endowment and Freemasonry

Plural marriage

Revealed to Smith
- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Revealed_to_Smith Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

The early years in Nauvoo had been a time of comparative peace and economic prosperity, but by mid-1842, Smith was entangled in the conflicts that ended with his death two years later.

  • Bushman (2005), 436.
  •  Correct, per cited sources
    The prose is certainly familiar: "Joseph was entangled in the conflicts that would end in his death two years later." (Bushman, p. 436)

A year previous, Missouri courts had once again tried to extradite him on old charges that stemmed from the Mormon War. Although Stephen Douglas, then a member of the Illinois State Supreme Court, declared the writ of extradition void on a technicality, Smith "realized that popular opinion was turning against the Saints after two years of sympathy." Not surprisingly, Smith's praise for the Democrat Douglas first provoked opposition to the Mormons in a Whig newspaper, the Warsaw Signal, whose young editor, Thomas C. Sharp, Joseph then arrogantly and unwisely offended.

  • Bushman (2005), 425-28. Prior to Smith's praise for Douglas, Sharp had been a "neutral observer" of the Nauvoo settlement. Smith had given him a place of honor at the dedication of the temple cornerstone and had invited him to his house for turkey dinner. After Sharp announced that his newspaper would "oppose the concentration of political power in a religious body, or in the hands of a few individuals," Smith canceled his subscription and called the paper "a filthy sheet, that tissue of lies, that sink of iniquity," and signed the letter "Yours, with utter contempt."
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Although Joseph Smith probably married at least twenty-seven other women,

  • Bushman, 493;
  • Compton, 4-7;
  • Remini, 153-54;
  • Brodie, "The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith," Appendix C in No Man Knows My History, 2nd ed. (New York: Knopf, 1971), 457-88. *Remini, 153.
  • Brodie guessed that there might have been as many as 48 plural wives, but succeeding scholars have considered her numbers exaggerated.
  • Remini said that the true number might have been as high as eighty-four, although many of these might have been "simply sacred sealings for eternity." Remini, 153.
  • Smith's biography in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 3: 1337, says that Smith took at least twenty-eight plural wives.

throughout her life, and even on her deathbed, Emma Smith denied that her husband had ever practiced polygamy.

  • Church History, 3: 355-356.

Of all Smith's innovations during the years immediately preceding his death, the one that received the most hostile reception was his institution of plural marriage. In April 1841, Smith secretly wed Louisa Beaman as a plural wife, and during the next two and a half years, he may have married about thirty additional women, ten of them already married to other men.

  • Bushman (2005), 437;
  • Remini, 151;
  • Brodie, 335.
  • Bushman follows the conservative reckoning of Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), excluding one.

About a third of Smith's plural wives were teenagers, including two fourteen-year-old girls.

  • Compton, 11;
  • Remini,154;
  • Brodie, 334-43.

Smith was "a charismatic, handsome man," and in Remini's words, he "seemed cheerful and gracious" to all.

  • Bushman (2005), 439;
  • Remini, 144.

Because many husbands and fathers knew about these plural marriages, Smith must have convinced them that "they and their families would benefit spiritually from a close tie to the Prophet."

  • Bushman (2005), 439.
  • Smith also told some women that an angel had commanded him to marry them, sometimes coming with "a drawn sword and threatened his life." Brodie, 303.
  • Bushman states: "In most cases, the husband knew of the plural marriage and approved....The only answer seems to be the explanation Joseph gave when he asked a woman for her consent: they and their families would benefit spiritually from a close tie to the Prophet." (Bushman, p 439)

Smith told one prospective wife that submitting to plural marriage would "ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father's household"; a father who gave his daughter in plural marriage was assured that the marriage would ensure "honor and immortality and eternal life to all your house both old and young."

  • Whitney, "Autobiography" [2];
  • Revelation, July 27, 1842, Revelations Collections; quoted in Bushman, 439;
  • Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, Plurality, Patriarchy, and Priestess: Zina D. H. Young's Nauvoo Marriages," Journal of Mormon History 20 (1994): 84-118.
  • The wiki article fails to mention that Bushman goes on the say that there is "no certain evidence that Joseph had sexual relations with any of the wives who were married to other men. They married because Joseph's kingdom grew with the size of him family, and those bonded to that family would be exalted with him." The Whitney autobiography is one of Bushman's cited sources.
  • See: Joseph Smith and polygamy/Helen Mar Kimball
  • See: Joseph Smith and polygamy/Zina and Henry Jacobs

Furthermore, once sealed for eternity by priesthood authority, Smith revealed that such couples would continue to procreate in the next life, becoming, in effect, gods.

  • Bushman (2005), 439, 444;
  • D&C 132: 20: "Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them."
  •  Correct, per cited sources

As Bushman has written, Smith surely "must have realized that plural marriage would inflict terrible damage, that he ran the risk of wrecking his marriage and alienating his followers." And for those in the larger world, plural marriage "would confirm all their worst fears" about Mormonism. "Sexual excess was considered that all too common fruit of pretended revelation."

  • Bushman (2005), 438: "Joseph's enemies would delight in one more evidence of a revelator's antinomian transgressions. He also risked prosecution under Illinois's antibigamy law."
  • Bushman wrote, "His followers would see the revelation as an unforgivable breach of the moral law and reject it altogether, or, even worse, use it as a license for free love....Sexual excess was considered the all too common fruit of pretended revelation. Joseph's enemies would delight in one more evidence of a revelator's antinomian transgressions." (Bushman, p. 438)

Although Emma believed in Joseph's prophetic calling, she was displeased with his multiple marriages, especially since five of the women lived in the Smith household when he married them.

  • Leonard Arrington & Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience (University of Illinois, 1979), 223;
  • Bushman (2005), 491;
  • Remini, 152-53;
  • Brodie, 340-42: "Only Joseph's intimates knew that Emma nagged at him incessantly to be done with plural marriage....There was a hard core of resistance in Emma that Joseph simply could not wear down."
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Emma may have temporarily approved of Joseph's marriage to two sisters, Eliza and Emily Partridge, but even they were an "awkward selection" because Joseph had already married the sisters two months previous, and he had to go through another ceremony for Emma's benefit.

  • Bushman (2005), 494;
  • Brodie, 339;
  • Remini, 152-53. The day Joseph married the Partridge sisters, he bought Emma a new carriage.
  • Actually, the cited source (Bushman) states that Emma did approve of the marriage, not that she may have approved. (Bushman, p. 494) Bushman cites Lucy Walker Kimball, Affidavit, Dec. 17, 1902, Affidavits; Woman's Exponent, Jan. 1911, 43; Lucy Walker Kimball, Testimony, 2:461, in U.S. Court of Appeals. (Bushman, p. 654, note 38).
Nevertheless, "from that hour," Emily later wrote, "Emma was our bitter enemy," and they had to leave the household.
  • Quoted in Brodie, 339.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

According to Smith's scribe, William Clayton, Joseph's brother Hyrum encouraged him to write down his revelation on plural marriage to present to Emma, and Joseph did so.

  • Bushman (2005), 495-96.

When Hyrum presented Emma with the revelation, she abused him.

  • Bushman (2005), 496;
  • Newell and Avery, 161. Hyrum said that he came away from Emma having "never received a more severe talking to in his life." Later Joseph supposedly told his brother, "I told you you didn't know Emma as well as I did. Historical Record, 6: 224-26 (1887), quoted in Brodie, 341.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Clayton reported that when Joseph reproved Emma for demanding from one plural wife a watch Joseph had given her, Joseph "had to use harsh measures to put a stop to [Emma's] abuse."

  • Bushman (2005), 496 quoting Clayton, Journal, August 16, 21, 23, 1843,
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Throughout her life and on her deathbed, Emma Smith frequently denied that her husband had ever taken additional wives.

  • Emma claimed that the very first time she ever became aware of a polygamy revelation being attributed to Joseph by Mormons was when she read about it in Orson Pratt's booklet The Seer in 1853 (Saints' Herald 65:1044–1045).
  • Emma campaigned publicly against polygamy and also authorized and was the main signatory of a petition in Summer 1842, with a thousand female signatures, denying that Joseph was connected with polygamy (Times and Seasons 3 [August 1, 1842]: 869).
  • As president of the Ladies' Relief Society, Emma authorized publishing a certificate in October 1842 denouncing polygamy and denying her husband as its creator or participant (Times and Seasons 3 [October 1, 1842]: 940).
  • In March 1844, Emma said, "we raise our voices and hands against John C. Bennett's 'spiritual wife system', as a scheme of profligates to seduce women; and they that harp upon it, wish to make it popular for the convenience of their own cupidity; wherefore, while the marriage bed, undefiled is honorable, let polygamy, bigamy, fornication, adultery, and prostitution, be frowned out of the hearts of honest men to drop in the gulf of fallen nature". The document The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo. signed by Emma Smith as President of the Ladies' Relief Society, was published within the article Virtue Will Triumph, Nauvoo Neighbor, March 20, 1844 (LDS History of the Church 6:236, 241) including on her deathbed where she stated "No such thing as polygamy, or spiritual wifery, was taught, publicly or privately, before my husband's death, that I have now, or ever had any knowledge of...He had no other wife but me; nor did he to my knowledge ever have". Church History3: 355-356
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Even when her sons Joseph III and Alexander presented her with specific written questions about polygamy, she continued to deny that their father had been a polygamist.

  • Van Wagoner (1992) , pp. 113-115
  • As Fawn Brodie has written, this denial was "her revenge and solace for all her heartache and humiliation." (Brodie, 399) "This was her slap at all the sly young girls in the Mansion House who had looked first so worshipfully and then so knowingly at Joseph. She had given them the lie. Whatever formal ceremony he might have gone through, Joseph had never acknowledged one of them before the world."
  • Newell and Avery wrote of "the paradox of Emma's position", quoting her friend and lawyer Judge George Edmunds who stated "that's just the hell of it! I can't account for it or reconcile her statements." Newell (Avery) , p. 308
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Revealed to others

- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Revealed_to_other Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

Although Smith's teachings about plural marriage were expressed in strict confidentiality and only to his leadership, the more men and women who participated, the more likely it became that these secret marriages would be revealed to the Nauvoo community and, of course, to the larger world.

  • "Rumors of polygamy among the Mormons were not loud, but they were persistent....there was talk of it, talk that increased with the passing years." Brodie, 186.
  • When in 1841, Smith approached Joseph Bates Noble about marrying his wife's sister, Smith asked Bates to "keep quiet": "In revealing this to you I have placed my life in your hands, therefore do not in an evil hour betray me to my enemies." Noble performed the ceremony "in a grove near Main Street with Louisa in man's clothing." Bushman, 438.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

By May 16, 1842, the New York Herald reported the rumor that "promiscuous intercourse" was being practiced in Nauvoo.

  • Quoted in Brodie, 269.
  • Brodie notes that the Herald reported the rumor that men and women were "connected in promiscuous intercourse without regard to the holy bonds of matrimony." In other words, the Herald was speculating that some sort of "free love" was being practiced.

Yet Smith might have been able to talk down these reports along with other salacious gossip had it not been for his erstwhile second-in-command, John Cook Bennett.

  • Ostlings, 32.
  • NOTE: The page number for this citation is incorrect—it should be page 12.

Smith was not always a good judge of men,

  • Ostlings, 32.
  • Bushman says more discreetly that Smith "had trouble distinguishing true friends from self-serving schemers." Bushman (2005), 410.
  • NOTE: The page number for the Ostling citation is incorrect—it should be page 12.

and Bennett shortly became Smith's nemesis, although Smith had first predicted that Bennett was "calculated to be a great blessing to our community."

  • Bushman, 410.
  • Stating that "Smith had first predicted" that Bennett would be a benefit to the community makes it sound like some sort of prophecy. It wasn't. According to Bushman, Joseph was commenting on Bennett's qualifications, and saw Bennett as "'a man of enterprize, extensive acquirements, and of independent mind,' who was 'calculated to be a great blessing to our community." (Bushman, p. 410; 640 note 30, citing Weekly North American, Mar. 21, 1840; First Presidency to the Saints Scattered Abroad, Jan. 15, 1841, in Times and Seasons, Jan. 15, 1841, 275.)

After deserting a wife and three children and arriving in Nauvoo in 1841, Bennett had been baptized into the new religion.

  • Ostlings, 12.

Emma never trusted him, but Joseph welcomed his assistance in acquiring the Nauvoo city charter. Soon Bennett became the first mayor of Nauvoo, “assistant president,” and Major General of the Nauvoo Legion.

  • Ostlings, 12;
  • Bushman, 459.

The latter Bennett threatened to use in challenging Missouri for restitution of the Saints’ lost property, suggesting to skittish gentiles that Mormons intended to use force of arms to accomplish their objectives.

  • Brodie, 273.
  • Bennett wrote that the “blood of murdered Mormons cries aloud for help…and I swear by the Lord God of Israel, that the sword shall not depart from my thigh, nor the buckler from my arm, until the trust is consummated, and the hydra-headed fiery dragon slain.” Times and Seasons, 3 (March 15, 1842), 724.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Unfortunately for Smith, Bennett also had an eye for women and made use of Smith’s new revelation to seduce the unwary, telling them that illicit sex was acceptable among the Saints so long as it was kept secret.

  • Bushman, 460.
  • Bushman says nothing about Joseph's "new revelation." Otherwise, the citation is correct.

And Bennett ignored even perfunctory wedding ceremonies.

  • Brodie, 310;
  • Bushman, 460. Bennett, a minimally trained doctor, also promised abortions to those who became pregnant.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    The statement about Bennett promising abortions comes from Brodie rather than Bushman, and the page number for the Brodie citation is incorrect.
  • Brodie, 311-312: "Bennett had seduced innumerable women in Joseph's name quite without benefit of ceremony. Even worse, he had promised abortion to those who became pregnant. Zeruiah N. Goddard, repeating the gossip of Sarah Pratt, reported that 'Dr. Bennett told her he could cause abortion with perfect safety to the mother at any stage of preganancy, and that he had frequently destroyed and removed infants before their time to prevent exposure of the parties and that he had instruments for that purpose.'" Brodie cites the testimony of Hyrum Smith, Wasp extra, July 27, 1842, republished in History of the Church, Vol. V, pp. 71-2; and the statement of Zeruiah N. Goddard, Affidavits and Certificates Disproving the Statements and Affidavits Contained in John C. Bennett's Letters (Nauvoo, August 31, 1842); Wyl, Mormon Portraits, p. 61.

Smith was incensed at Bennett’s activities and forced Bennett’s resignation as Nauvoo mayor. In retaliation, Bennett remained in the area and wrote “lurid exposés of life in Nauvoo” that were first published in various newspapers and, later that year, compiled into a book.

  • Ostlings, 12;
  • Bushman, 461-62;
  • Brodie, 314.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Even contemporaries could hardly escape the conclusion that Bennett was, as Fawn Brodie has called him, “a base and ignoble opportunist.” But the Ostlings note that “there was just enough of a kernel of truth to arouse internal suspicion and whip up anti-Mormon sentiment elsewhere.”

  • Ostlings, 13.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Non-Mormons looked with increasing uneasiness not only at reports of Mormon “free wifery” but at the comparative success of Nauvoo, the competent drilling of the Nauvoo Legion, and the growing political clout of the Saints.

  • Ostlings, p. 13
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Furthermore, on May 6, 1842, an unknown assailant shot former governor of Missouri Lilburn Boggs three times in the head.

  • Bushman, 468.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    The cited source states that Boggs "received a damaging but not fatal blast of buckshot to his head from a shot through the window." It does not say that he was shot "three times in the head."
  • Sally Dention in her book American Massacre does claim that "[i]n early May, while reading by candlelight in his Missouri home, Boggs was shot three times in the head by an unknown sniper." (Denton, p. 24) Denton may be citing William Wise, Massacre at Mountain Meadows p. 57-58. Brodie makes no mention of how many times Boggs was shot.

Bennett named a rough Mormon loyalist, Porter Rockwell, as the gunman. Mormons assumed Boggs would die and considered his assassination a fulfillment of prophecy. The Nauvoo Wasp indiscreetly gloated that the person who “did the noble deed remains to be found out."

  • Bushman, 468;
  • Brodie, 323;
  • Nauvoo Wasp, May 28, 1842.
  • Brodie, 323: "When...word came to Nauvoo that Boggs had been shot by an unknown assailant, 'it went through the city as if a great prophecy had been fulfilled,'" citing a letter from Governor Carlin to Joseph Smith, June 30, 1842, History of the Church, vol. V, p. 50.

Boggs refused to die, however, and when he recovered, he pressed Illinois governor Thomas Carlin to extradite Smith to Missouri. Smith once again went into hiding for some months until the U. S. Circuit Court in Springfield finally ruled that the extradition order was unconstitutional.

  • Bushman, 468-75. The court’s reasoning was that if Smith had committed a crime, it had been committed in Illinois not Missouri.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    There is no indication in the cited source (Bushman) that Boggs' life was seriously threatened. Bushman did not say that Boggs "refused to die"—this is creative license taken by the wiki editor.

Political commitments

- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Political_commitments Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

Nevertheless, Smith realized his current position was tenuous. Many citizens of Illinois were now determined to drive the Mormons out of the state.

  • Bushman, 508.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

In December 1843, Smith petitioned Congress for the right to make Nauvoo an independent federal territory with the right to call out federal troops in its defense.

  • Bushman, 511;
  • Brodie, 356.
  • Smith also threatened Congress. The Millennial Star later quoted Smith as having said, "if Congress will not hear our petition and grant us protection, they shall be broken up as a government and God shall damn them, and there shall be nothing left of them—not even a grease spot." Quoted in Brodie, 356.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Then, probably unwisely, Smith also decided to desert both Whigs and Democrats, and announce his own candidacy for President of the United States, sending out the apostles to advertise his campaign.

  • Bushman, 514-15;
  • Brodie, 362-64.
  • Smith chose Sidney Rigdon as his running mate.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Meanwhile, he made plans to scout possible sites for a large Mormon settlement in Oregon or California.

  • Bushman, 519.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

In March 1844, Smith organized a secret Council of Fifty, a policy-making body based on what Smith called "Theodemocracy"

  • Smith told a St. Louis reporter, "I go emphatically, virtuously, and humanely for a Theodemocracy, where God and the people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteousness. And where liberty, free trade, and sailor's right [sic], and the protection of life and property shall be maintained inviolate, for the benefit of ALL." (Quoted in Bushman, 522.)
  • Nevertheless, as Bushman admits, to critics, "Joseph's plan for the Kingdom of God looked like a program for Mormon dominance."
  • The Council of Fifty (which originally had fifty-three members) included only three non-Mormons, two of whom were known counterfeiters. (Ostlings, 13).
  •  An author's opinion has been converted to fact— An opinion expressed by the author of a secondary source is being portrayed in the article as if it were a proven fact.

    The wiki author has altered the meaning of a cited tertiary source (Ostlings, 13). The Ostlings state: "The Council originally had fifty-three members, including three non-Mormons, two of who apparently were known counterfeiters." (emphasis added) The wiki editor has removed "apparently" in order to state as fact "two of whom were known counterfeiters."
  • The Ostlings cite the following sources for their information:

and which was in effect a shadow government.

  • Bushman, 511;
  • Ostlings, 13;
  • Remini, 166;
  • Robert Bruce Flanders, Nauvoo: Kingdom on the Mississippi (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965), 292-94.
  • The Ostlings cite Flanders. Flanders is the author that calls the Council a "shadow government."

One of the Council's first acts was to ordain Smith as King of the Kingdom of God. And, as if they had just organized an independent state, Smith and the Council sent ambassadors to England, France, Russia, and the Republic of Texas.

  • Ostlings, 13.
  • The Ostlings cite the following sources for their information:

In April, Smith predicted "the entire overthrow of this nation in a few years."

  • Quoted in Bushman, 521.
  • According to the cited source, Joseph "prophecied the entire overthrow of this nation in a few years." Bushman is citing D. Michael Quinn, "Council of Fifty," 163; Ehat, "Kingdom of God," 257, 265-66; George Miller to Dear Brother, June 27, 1855, in Miller, "De Tal Palo Tal Astilla," 131.


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Further reading

Mormonism and Wikipedia

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