This often-repeated idea of innocent martyrdom is not supported by the official historical record. Fom the Official History of the Church, we learn:
"When Joseph went to Carthage to deliver himself up to the pretended requirements of the law, two or three days previous to his assassination, he said: “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I SHALL DIE INNOCENT, AND IT SHALL YET BE SAID OF ME—HE WAS MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD." (emphasis in the original)
"Elder Cyrus H. Wheelock came in to see us, and when he was about leaving drew a small pistol, a six-shooter, from his pocket, remarking at the same time, 'Would any of you like to have this?' Brother Joseph immediately replied, 'Yes, give it to me,' whereupon he took the pistol, and put it in his pantaloons pocket."
"The pistol was a six-shooting revolver, of Allen's patent; it belonged to me, and was one that I furnished to Brother Wheelock when he talked of going with me to the east, previous to our coming to Carthage. I have it now in my possession. Brother Wheelock went out on some errand, and was not suffered to return."
"I shall never forget the deep feeling of sympathy and regard manifested in the countenance of Brother Joseph as he drew nigh to Hyrum, and, leaning over him, exclaimed, 'Oh! my poor, dear brother Hyrum!' He, however, instantly arose, and with a firm, quick step, and a determined expression of countenance, approached the door, and pulling the six-shooter left by Brother Wheelock from his pocket, opened the door slightly, and snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed, died."
"I had in my hands a large, strong hickory stick, brought there by Brother Markham, and left by him, which I had seized as soon as I saw the mob approach; and while Brother Joseph was firing the pistol, I stood close behind him. As soon as he had discharged it he stepped back, and I immediately took his place next to the door, while he occupied the one I had done while he was shooting."
"Brother Richards, at this time, had a knotty walking-stick in his hands belonging to me, and stood next to Brother Joseph, a little farther from the door, in an oblique direction, apparently to avoid the rake of the fire from the door. The firing of Brother Joseph made our assailants pause for a moment; very soon after, however, they pushed the door some distance open, and protruded and discharged their guns into the room, when I parried them off with my stick, giving another direction to the balls."
"It certainly was a terrible scene: streams of fire as thick as my arm passed by me as these men fired, and, unarmed as we were, it looked like certain death. I remember feeling as though my time had come, but I do not know when, in any critical position, I was more calm, unruffled, energetic, and acted with more promptness and decision. It certainly was far from pleasant to be so near the muzzles of those firearms as they belched forth their liquid flames and deadly balls. While I was engaged in parrying the guns, Brother Joseph said, 'That's right, Brother Taylor, parry them off as well as you can.' These were the last words I ever heard him speak on earth."
- Official History of the Church, Vol. 7, p.100-103
Reporter John Hay, of the Atlantic Monthly identified three men who were shot by Joseph Smith: John Wills in the arm, William Vorhees in the shoulder, and William Gallagher in the face. Hay was a son of Charles Hay, a surgeon of the Carthage militia and apparently a member of the mob.
"Smith had two loaded six-barrelled revolvers in his room. How a man on trial for capital offences came to be supplied with such luxuries is a mystery that perhaps only one man could fully have solved; and as General Deming, the Jack-Mormon sheriff, died soon after, and left no explanation of the matter, investigation is effectually baffled. But the four shots which I have chronicled, and two which had no billet, exhausted one pistol, and the enemy gave Smith no time to use the other. Severely wounded as he was, he ran to the window, which was open to receive the fresh June air, and half leaped, half fell, into the jail yard below."
- John Hay, "The Mormon Prophet's Tragedy," Atlantic Monthly (December 1869) 671-678.
In another conemporary account from a faithful Latter-Day Saint:
Smith's final conscious act was to prevent his death, not give it up. He went to the window and attempted to utter the Masonic distress cry of "O Lord My God! Is there no help for the widow's son?" D&C Section 135 is part of John Taylor's account of the incident. It states: "Joseph leapt from the window, and was shot dead in the attempt, exclaiming 'O Lord my God!'"
"Of the three barrels discharged by Joseph, it is believed he hit three men: an Irishman named Wells-who was in the mob from his love of a brawl-in the arm; Voorhees-an oversized kid from Bear Creek known for his lack of good sense-in the shoulder; and a man named Gallagher-a Southerner from the Mississippi Bottom-in the face."
"Two other men were known to get hit in the hall, one a man named Townsend from Fort Madison, Iowa Territory, who died nine months later from the arm wound that wouldn't heal, and another named Mills, who was shot in the arm."
- Elder Reed Blake, 24 Hours to Martyrdom, p. 129
That "canonized" version of events gives one the false impression that Smith was praying to God. The edited D&C version omits Heber C. Kimball's details of Smith's actions:
"When the enemy surrounded the jail, rushed up the stairway, and killed Hyrum Smith, Joseph stood at the open window, his martyr-cry being these words, 'O Lord My God! This was not the beginning of a prayer, because Joseph Smith did not pray in that manner. This brave, young man who knew that death was near, started to repeat the distress signal of the Masons, expecting thereby to gain the protection its members are pledged to give a brother in distress."
- Mormonism and Masonry, p. 16-17
"President Young said the people of the United States had sought our destruction and they had used every Exertion to perfect it. They have worked through the masonic institution to perfect it. Joseph & Hyrum Smith were Master Masons and they were put to death by masons or through there instigation and he gave the sign of distress & he was shot by masons while in the act."
- Wilford Woodruff's Journal, August 19th, 1860, Volume 5
One of Joseph Smith's polygamous wives, Zina D. Huntington, declared:
Smith had good reason to believe that Masons might be in the crowd outside, because earlier that day, he had smuggled an order to Nauvoo Legion commander Jonathan Dunham to come break them out of the jail. But Dunham refused to obey the illegal order, knowing that bringing Mormon troops to Carthage might result in all-out civil war. And in fact, immediately after the Smithand Hyrum were killed, a rumor began amongst the mobbers that the Mormons were on their way from Nauvoo. That prospect made the mob scatter, and probably saved John Taylor's and Willard Richards' lives.
"I am the widow of a master mason, who, when leaping from the window of Carthage Jail pierced with bullets, made the masonic sign of distress."
- Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Volume 1, page 698
Despite popular Mormon folklore, Joseph Smith did not give his life innocently "like a lamb to the slaughter" in martyrom. He died after shooting three men with a pistol and desperately trying to prevent his death even with his last utterance.
Joseph Smith and Other Men's Wives
"When the family organization was revealed from heaven—the patriarchal order of God, and Joseph began, on the right and the left, to add to his family, what a quaking there was in Israel. Says one brother to another, "Joseph says all covenants [previous marriages] are done away, and none are binding but the new covenants [marriage by priesthood sealing power]; now suppose Joseph should come and say he wanted your wife, what would you say to that?" "I would tell him to go to hell." This was the spirit of many in the early days of this Church. . . . What would a man of God say, who felt aright, when Joseph asked him for his money? [he would give it all willingly] Or if he came and said, "I want your wife?" "O yes," he would say, "here she is, there are plenty more" . . . Did the Prophet Joseph want every man's wife he asked for? He did not . . . the grand object in view was to try the people of God, to see what was in them. If such a man of God should come to me and say, "I want your gold and silver, or your wives," I should say, "Here they are, I wish I had more to give you, take all I have got." A man who has got the Spirit of God, and the light of eternity in him, has no trouble about such matters."
- Apostle Jedediah M. Grant, second counselor to Brigham Young and father of President Heber J. Grant, sermon delivered on 19 February 1854 (JD 2: 13-14)
Joseph Smith's Failed Proposals to Married Women
John Taylor's Wife, Leonora
"The Prophet went to the home of President Taylor, and said to him, 'Brother John, I WANT LEONORA.'" Taylor was stunned, but after walking the floor all night, the obedient elder said to Smith, "If GOD wants Leonora He can have her." Woodruff concluded: "That was all the prophet was after, to see where President Taylor stood in the matter, and said to him, Brother Taylor, I dont want your wife, I just wanted to know just where you stood."
- Prophet Wilford Woodruff, John Mills Whitaker Journal, Nov. 1 1890; emphasis in original
Heber C. Kimball's Wife, Vilate
“During the summer of 1841, shortly after Heber's return from England, he was introduced to the doctrine of plural marriage directly through a startling test-a sacrifice which shook his very being and challenged his faith to the ultimate. He had already sacrificed homes, possessions, friends, relatives, all worldly rewards, peace, and tranquility for the Restoration. Nothing was left to place on the altar save his life, his children, and his wife. Joseph demanded for himself what to Heber was the unthinkable, his Vilate. Totally crushed spiritually and emotionally, Heber touched neither food nor water for three days and three nights and continually sought confirmation and comfort from God." Finally, after "some kind of assurance," Heber took Vilate to the upper room of Joseph's store on Water Street. The Prophet wept at this act of faith, devotion, and obedience. Joseph had never intended to take Vilate. It was all a test."
- Biography of Heber C. Kimball, "Heber C. Kimball, Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer." By Stanley B. Kimball, page 93.
Orson Pratt's Wife, Sarah
"Sometime in late 1840 or early 1841, Joseph Smith confided to his friend that he was smitten by the "amiable and accomplished" Sarah Pratt and wanted her for "one of his spiritual wives, for the Lord had given her to him as a special favor for his faithfulness" (emphasis in original). Shortly afterward, the two men took some of Bennett's sewing to Sarah's house. During the visit, as Bennett describes it, Joseph said, "Sister Pratt, the Lord has given you to me as one of my spiritual wives. I have the blessings of Jacob granted me, as God granted holy men of old, and as I have long looked upon you with favor, and an earnest desire of connubial bliss, I hope you will not repulse or deny me." "And is that the great secret that I am not to utter," Sarah replied. "Am I called upon to break the marriage covenant, and prove recreant to my lawful husband! I never will." She added, "I care not for the blessings of Jacob. I have one good husband, and that is enough for me." But according to Bennett, the Prophet was persistent. Finally Sarah angrily told him on a subsequent visit, "Joseph, if you ever attempt any thing of the kind with me again, I will make a full disclosure to Mr. Pratt on his return home. Depend upon it, I will certainly do it." "Sister Pratt," the Prophet responded, "I hope you will not expose me, for if I suffer, all must suffer; so do not expose me. Will you promise me that you will not do it?" "If you will never insult me again," Sarah replied, "I will not expose you unless strong circumstances should require it." "If you should tell," the Prophet added, "I will ruin your reputation, remember that."
(Article "Sarah M. Pratt" by Richard A. Van Wagoner, Dialogue, Vol.19, No.2, p.72. Also see: http://www.xmission.com/~country/reason/spratt.htm)
William Law's Wife, Jane
"William Law, a former counselor in the First Presidency, wrote in his 13 May 1844 diary: "[Joseph] ha[s] lately endeavored to seduce my wife, and ha[s] found her a virtuous woman" The Laws elaborated on this in a public meeting shortly thereafter. "The Prophet had made dishonorable proposals to [my] wife . . . under cover of his asserted 'Revelation,' " Law stated. He further explained that Joseph came to the Law home in the middle of the night when William was absent and told Jane that "the Lord had commanded that he should take spiritual wives, to add to his glory." Law then called on his wife to corroborate what he had said. She did so and further explained that Joseph had "asked her to give him half her love; she was at liberty to keep the other half for her husband" Jane refused the Prophet, and according to William Law's 20 January 1887 letter to the Salt Lake Tribune, Smith then considered the couple apostates. "Jane had been speaking evil of him for a long time . . . slandered him, and lied about him without cause," Law reported Smith as saying. "My wife would not speak evil of . . . anyone . . . without cause," Law asserted. "Joseph is the liar and not she. That Smith admired and lusted after many men's wives and daughters, is a fact, but they could not help that. They or most of them considered his admiration an insult, and treated him with scorn. In return for this scorn, he generally managed to blacken their reputations--see the case of . . . Mrs. Pratt, a good, virtuous woman."
("Mormon Polygamy" by Richard S. Van Wagoner, page 44)
Hiram Kimball's wife, Sarah
Sarah M. Kimball, a prominent Nauvoo and Salt Lake City Relief Society leader was also approached by the Prophet in early 1842 despite her solid 1840 marriage to Hiram Kimball. Sarah later recalled that
"Joseph Smith taught me the principle of marriage for eternity, and the doctrine of plural marriage. He said that in teaching this he realized that he jeopardized his life; but God had revealed it to him many years before as a privilege with blessings, now God had revealed it again and instructed him to teach with commandment, as the Church could travel [progress] no further without the introduction of this principle." ("LDS Biographical Encyclopedia" By Elder Andrew Jensen, 6:232, 1887)
Sarah Kimball, like Sarah Pratt, was committed to her husband, and refused the Prophet's invitation, asking that he "teach it to someone else." Although she kept the matter quiet, her husband and Smith evidently had difficulties over Smith's proposal. On 19 May 1842, at a Nauvoo City Council meeting, Smith jotted down and then "threw across the room" a revelation to Kimball which declared that "Hiram Kimball has been insinuating evil, and formulating evil opinions" against the Prophet, which if he does not desist from, he "shall be accursed." Sarah remained a lifetime member of the Church and a lifelong wife to Hiram Kimball.
- "LDS Biographical Encyclopedia" By Elder Andrew Jensen, 6:232, 1887, Official History of the Church 5: 12-13,
Sidney Rigdon's daughter, Nancy
When Smith proposed marriage in April 1842 to Nancy Rigdon, nineteen-year-old daughter of his close friend and counselor, Sidney Rigdon, he reportedly took her into a room, "locked the door, and then stated to her that he had had an affection for her for several years, and wished that she should be his." Nancy refused him, saying she would only marry a single man. The following day Smith explained in a letter to her: "That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another." He added, "Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof." She remained unconvinced. Nancy, her brother John, and her brother-in-law George W. Robinson testified in sworn affidavits that the Joseph Smith had proposed "spiritual marriage" to her. Smith publicly denied the accusations. ("The Letter of the Prophet, Joseph Smith to Miss Nancy Rigdon," Joseph Smith Collection, LDS archives; History of The Church 5:134-36. Sidney Rigdon Biography, Richard S. Van Wagoner, Chapter 21)
Joseph Smith's Successful Proposals to Married Women
Adam Lightner's wife, Mary
Mary Elizabeth Rollins, already married to non-Mormon Adam Lightner since 11 August 1835, was one of the first women to accept a polyandrous proposal from Joseph Smith. "He was commanded to take me for a wife," she wrote in a 21 November 1880 letter to Emmeline B. Wells. "I was his, before I came here," she added in an 8 February 1902 statement. Brigham Young secretly sealed the two in February 1842 when Mary was eight months pregnant with her son George Algernon Lightner. She lived with her real husband Adam Lightner until his death in Utah many years later. In her 1880 letter to Emmeline B. Wells, Mary explained: "I could tell you why I stayed with Mr. Lightner. Things the leaders of the Church do not know anything about. I did just as Joseph told me to do, as he knew what troubles I would have to contend with." She added on 23 January 1892 in a letter to John R. Young: "I could explain some things in regard to my living with Mr. L[ightner] after becoming the Wife of Another (Joseph Smith), which would throw light, on what now seems mysterious--and you would be perfectly satisfied with me. I write this; because I have heard that it had been commented on to my injury"
(Lightner, Mary E. Statement. 8 Feb. 1902; Lightner to Emmeline B. Wells, 21 Nov. 1880; Lightner to John R. Young, 25 Jan. 1892. George A. Smith Papers. Special Collections. University of Utah)
Orson Hyde's Wife, Marinda
Marinda Nancy Johnson, sister of Apostles Luke and Lyman Johnson, married Orson Hyde in 1834. A year before Hyde returned from Jerusalem in 1843, Marinda was sealed to Joseph Smith in April of 1842, though she lived with Orson until their divorce in 1870. Many suspect Joseph Smith was the actual father of Marinda's son Frank Henry who was born on 23 Jan 1845, for two reasons. First, because Marinda had been the polygamous wife of Smith since Apr 1842. Second, because Smith had sent her first husband, Orson Hyde, on a mission to Washington on April 4, 1844 "immediately" after a meeting with Joseph Smith (History of the Church, pg. 286). The gestation period for a human is on average 266 days (not 9 months), which would date the conception to early May 1844. Of course, 266 is an average date and the figures vary. To give you an idea of the range, only four percent of pregnancies are actually carried two weeks or more beyond the average time (Guttmacher, 1983). Frank Henry was born on January 23, 1845. Orson Hyde left for Washington April 4, 1844. The difference in these two dates is 294 days! That is almost a month longer than expected and is basically physiologically impossible, especially considering that Orson Hyde had not returned to Nauvoo until August 6, 1844.
(Andrew Jenson, Church Chronology, August 6, 1844) Marinda later divorced Orson Hyde and voiced her disgust of polygamy.
Windsor Lyon's Wife, Sylvia
Sylvia P. Sessions, married to Windsor P. Lyon, gave birth to a daughter on 8 February 1844, less than five months before Joseph Smith's martyrdom. That daughter, Josephine, related in a 24 February 1915 statement that prior to her mother's death in 1882 "she called me to her bedside and told me that her days on earth were about numbered and before she passed away from mortality she desired to tell me something which she had kept as an entire secret from me and all others but which she now desired to communicate to me." Josephine's mother told her she was "the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith, she having been sealed to the Prophet at the time that her husband Mr. Lyon was out of fellowship with the Church."
(Affidavit to Church Historian Andrew Jenson, 24 Feb. 1915)
Norman Buell's Wife, Prescindia
Prescindia D. Huntington, a faithful Mormon and married woman in Nauvoo, was also a polyandrous wife of Joseph Smith. Prescindia had married Norman Buell in 1827 and had two sons by him before joining Mormonism in 1836. She was secretly sealed to Joseph Smith by her brother Dimick on 11 December 1841, though she continued to live with her husband Buell until 1846, when she left him to marry Heber C. Kimball. In a "letter to my eldest grand-daughter living in 1880," she explained that Norman Buell had left the Church in 1839, but that "the Lord gave me strength to Stand alone & keep the faith amid heavy persecution." (Mormon Polygamy: A History" by Richard S. Van Wagoner, page 44)
Prescindia, who was Normal Buell's wife and simultaneously a "plural wife" of the Prophet Joseph Smith, said that she did not know whether her husband Norman "or the Prophet was the father of her son, Oliver." And a glance at a photo of Oliver shows a strong resemblance to Emma Smith's boys.
(Mary Ettie V. Smith, "Fifteen Years Among the Mormons", page 34; Fawn Brodie "No Man Knows My History" pages 301-302, 437-39)
Lucinda Morgan Harris, wife of Far West high councilor George Harris, admitted in 1842 that she had been Smith's "mistress since four years," and it is known that she visited Smith while he was incarcerated in Liberty Jail in 1838.
Henry Jacob's Wife, Zina
Prescindia's twenty-year-old sister Zina was living in the Joseph Smith home when Elder Henry B. Jacobs married her in March 1841. According to family records, when Zina and Henry asked Joseph Smith why he had not honored them by performing their marriage, Smith replied that "the Lord had made it known to him that [Zina] was to be his Celestial wife." Believing that "whatever the Prophet did was right, without making the wisdom of God's authorities bend to the reasoning of any man," the devout Elder Jacobs consented for six-months-pregnant Zina to be sealed to Joseph Smith 27 October 1841. Some have suggested that the Jacobs's marriage was "unhappy" and that the couple had separated before her sealing to Joseph Smith. But, though sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity, Zina continued her connubial relationship with her husband Henry Jacobs. On 2 February 1846, pregnant with Henry's second son, Zina was re-sealed by proxy to the murdered Joseph Smith and in that same session was “sealed for time" to Brigham Young. Faithful Henry B. Jacobs stood by as an official witness to both ceremonies.
("History of Henry Bailey Jacobs." By Ora J. Cannon, page 5-7. also see "Recollections of Zina D. Young" by Mary Brown Firmage)
Zina and Henry lived together as husband and wife until the Mormon pioneers reached Mt. Pisgah, Iowa. At this temporary stop on the pioneer trail, Brigham Young announced that "it was time for men who were walking in other men's shoes to step out of them. Brother Jacobs, the woman you claim for a wife does not belong to you. She is the spiritual wife of brother Joseph, sealed up to him. I am his proxy, and she, in this behalf, with her children, are my property. You can go where you please, and get another, but be sure to get one of your own kindred spirit" (Hall 1853, 43-44). President Young then called Jacobs on a mission to England. Witnesses to his departure commented that he was so emotionally ill they had to "put him on a blanket and carry him to the boat to get him on his way".
("Short Sketch of the Life of Henry B. Jacobs" By Ora J. Cannon)
Henry returned from his mission and settled in California. But he was still in love with his wife Zina, now a plural wife of Brigham Young. Henry's letters to his wife Zina were heartrending. On 2 September 1852 he wrote: "O how happy I should be if I only could see you and the little children, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh." "I am unhappy," Henry lamented, "there is no peace for poor me, my pleasure is you, my comfort has vanished.... O Zina, can I ever, will I ever get you again, answer the question please." In an undated Valentine he added:
Zina my mind never will change from Worlds without Ends, no never, the same affection is there and never can be moved I do not murmur nor complain of the handlings of God no verily, no but I feel alone and no one to speak to, to call my own. I feel like a lamb without a mother, I do not blame any person or persons, no--May the Lord our Father bless Brother Brigham and all purtains unto him forever. Tell him for me I have no feelings against him nor never had, all is right according to the Law of the Celestial Kingdom of our god Joseph [Smith]." ("Short Sketch of the Life of Henry B. Jacobs" By Ora J. Cannon)It was the rule rather than the exception for Smith to encourage a polyandrous wife to remain with her legal husband.
Faithful Mormon Joseph Kingsbury even wrote that he served as a surrogate husband for Joseph Smith:
"I according to Pres. Joseph Smith & council & others, I agreed to stand by Sarah Ann Whitney [sealed to Smith 27 July 1843] as though I was supposed to be her husband and a pretended marriage for the purpose of shielding them from the enemy and for the purpose of bringing out the purposes of God." (Elder Joseph Kingsbury, "History of Joseph Kingsbury Written by His Own Hand," page 5, Utah State Historical Society)
Did Joseph Smith have sex with his wives?
Did Joseph Smith emotionally blackmail these women into marriage?
Read the detailed history of each of Joseph Smith's 33 plural wives in Todd Compton's excellent book In Sacred Loneliness.
For some details on the other married women Joseph married and impregnated, see:
Read Mormon apologist explanations for why Joseph Smith married other men's wives:
For more discussion on Mormon sexuality, see this on-line article:
Sexuality Within The Contemporary Mormon Experience (external link)
COMMON MORMON MISCONCEPTIONS
MISCONCEPTION 1. The Word of Wisdom teaches that alcohol is not good for consumption.
Read the enitire Doctrine and Covenants 89, most people stop a fter D&C 89:5, "That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good ..." If you were to read D&C 89:17 you may understand that Joseph Smith was only talking about "strong drinks",not "mild drinks". Mild drinks would be something like beer made from barley. If strong drinks have alcohol, mild drinks would also. Joseph Smith specifically singled out "strong drinks", not alcohol.
D&C 89:17; "Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all useful animals, and for all mild drinks, as also other grain."
MISCONCEPTION 2. Joseph Smith personally abhored alcohol.
Joseph Smith drank alcohol for pleasure on a number of occassions as documented in the History of the Church.
On Wednesday May 3, 1843, Joseph "... drank a glass of wine with Sister Jenetta Richards, made by her mother in England ..."
On the night that Joseph was murdered he drank again. The LDS Church records describe in detail that, "The gaurd immediately sent for a bottle of wine, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco; and one of the gaurds brought them into the jail .... Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph [Smith], who tasted, as also Brother Tylor ...." (History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 616)
Some may argue that this was for sacrament so I will address this argument before it starts with John Taylor's statement. "Sometime after dinner we sent for some wine. It has been reported that this was taken as a sacrament. It was no such thing our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent to revive us" (History of the Church, vol. 7, pg. 101)
In addition, Joseph Smith had a liquor license to distribute alcohol from his home. Take a look at History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 111, "Section 1 - Be it ordained by the City Council of Nauvoo, that the Mayor [Joseph Smith] of the city is hereby authorized to sell or give spirits of any quantity as he in his wisdom shall judge to be for the health and comfort, or convenience of such travelers or other persons as shall visit his house from time to time."
MISCONCEPTION 3. Joseph Smith predicted his death in Carthage.
Mormons incorrectly refer to D&C 135 when making this assertion, namely D&C 135:4 "I SHALL DIE INNOCENT, AND IT SHALL BE SAID OF ME -- HE WAS MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD."
However, there is a significant word left out of Joseph's original statement, the "IF" word. On June 24, 1844 people quote Joseph Smith as saying, "_If_ they take my life I shall die an innocent man ... and it shall be said of me 'He was murdered in cold blood!'" (History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 555, emphasis added). Also in front of the Masonic hall Joseph said, "Boys, _if_ I don't come back, take care of yourselves ..."(History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 558, emphasis added)
MISCONCEPTION 4. Joseph Smith never married the wives of other men.
There is a lot of evidence supporting the fact that Joseph was in the practice of marrying the wives of other men. Some of the alledged polyandrous relationships include Lucinda Morgan Harris, Prescindia Hundington Buell, Marinda Johnson Hyde, Clarissa Reed Hancock, Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs, Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, and Fanny Young Murray.
Some evidence for the skeptic:
Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs testified to her marriage to Joseph Smith in her statement, "I wish to bear my testimony to the principle of celestial marriage, that it is true .... I became [Joseph's] wife at this time in Nauvoo and I never in my life had a rebellious though against that principle, for which I thank the Lord." (Collected Discourses, vol. 5, Joseph F.Smith, December 23, 1894)
Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner admitted her marriage to Joseph Smith in a public address. She said in part, "I am the first being that the revelation was given to him for and I was one thousand miles away in Missouri, for we went up to Jackson County in 1841 ..... I went forward and was sealed to him. Brigham young performed the sealing, and Heber C. Kimball the blessing. I know he had six wives and I have known some of them from childhood up. I knew he had three children. They told me. I think two are living today, but they are not known as his children as they go by other names." (Mary Lightner,1905 Address, typescript, BYU, Pg. 2-3)
Patty Sessions was sealed to Joseph Smith on March 9, 1842 as indicated by her personal journal entry, "I was sealed to Joseph Smith by Willard Richards March 9, 1842, in Newel K. Whitney's chamber, Nauvoo, for time and all eternity ...." (NOTICE the sealing was for "time and eternity")
For information regarding Joseph Smith's practice and denial of polygamy [click here].
MISCONCEPTION 5. The Masonic symbols, handshakes, tokens, penalties, have never been part of the LDS Endowment.
Six weeks after Joseph Smith was initiated into Masonry he started to instruct the LDS Church leaders "...in the principles of and order of the Priesthood, attending to washings, anointings, endowments, and the communication of keys pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood, and so onto to the highest order of the Melchizedek Priesthood ..." (History of the Church, vol. 5, pg. 1, May 4, 1842)
Some of the Masonic similarities:
- Masonic apron
- Penalty signs: cutting ones throat, cutting one's heart out, and slashing the abdomen.
- Raising a persons hand to the square
- Compass on the left breast of temple garment
- Square on the right breast of the temple garment
- Five points of fellowship
- And if you visited the Salt Lake City Temple you will see an enormous amount of Masonic symbols on the outside of the temple. Such as the five pointed star, rising sun, the handshake, the moon, and the beehive.
A good reference book to read is Born in Blood, The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry, by John J. Robinson, Evans, New York, 1989. This book is not an anti-Mormon book. Robinson is a historian and is looking at the origins of Masonry, in doing so he discusses the Masonic rituals. A book I would also highly recommend if you want the specific details of the Masonic ceremony is William Morgan's book, Illustrations of Masonry by One of the Fraternity, Batavia, New York, 1827. Morgan likely paid for this book with his life. Shortly after the book was published he disappeared. If you do not know the LDS Endowment ceremony there are plenty of web sites that have transcripts of the ritual. One such web site is Dave's Controversial Religion Page [link obsolete] .
MISCONCEPTION 6.Joseph Smith was never a criminal.
Joseph Smith was practicing polygamy at a time when it was illegal in Illinois. There was a law passed long before the Mormons settled in Nauvoo Illinois. An anti-bigamy or anti-polygamy law was enacted on February 12, 1833 in the State of Illinois. Although Joseph Smith was never convicted of the charge of polygamy he was indicted of the charge shortly prior to his death. Not only was polygamy against the law but it was also contrary to the LDS Doctrine and Covenants.
Joseph was NOT INNOCENT of the crimes charged against him. He may not have been convicted by peers in a court of law for the crime of polygamy, but he was certainly guilty of breaking anti-polygamy laws in a historical sense.
Also, the comparing of Joseph Smith with Jesus Christ is irrelevant. First, Jesus Christ wasn't practicing polygamy, Joseph was. Secondly, Jesus Christ never denied that he was Son of God, Joseph denied he practiced polygamy. And lastly, Jesus Christ never falsely beared witness against those that made the accusations against him, Joseph Smith and the LDS Church did.
To see a detailed discussion of Joseph Smith's denials and practice of polygamy go here.
To see a detailed discussion of Joseph Smith's marriages to other men's wives go here.
MISCONCEPTION 7. Joseph Smith could translate different languages.
When I read the Book of Abraham I always wondered about those facsimiles. I thought, what do Egyptologists think of them. Well, I found out. They think that Joseph's translations have " ... no archeological value" (The Mummy, A Handbook of Egyptian Funerary Archeology, by E.A. Wallis Budge, 1989, first published 1893, Dover Publications, New York, pg. 477). Another good source to look at is Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, "The Joseph Smith Papyri Translation and Interpretations", vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 1968, pp. 67-105. ,p> If you want to look at what Egyptologists call a hypocephalus (facsimile No. 2) look at Mummies and Magic, Funerary Arts of Ancient Egypt, by Sue D'Auria, et al. , Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1988, pg. 228. Other references include Death in Ancient Egypt, by A. J. Spencer, Pengiun Books Figure 22, or A Guide to the First and Second Egyptian Rooms, second edition, British Museum, 1904.
Another interesting issue is the Kinderhook plates which Joseph had translated saying "they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharoah, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth." (History of the Church, vol.. 5, pg. 372, May 1, 1843).
Surprisingly enough the plates were a forgery, made by a blacksmith in the 1840's! (See History of the Church, vol. 5, pg. 378-379 and Ensign, August 1981, pg. 66-70)
For a detailed discussion of the Book of Abraham facsimiles go here.
For a detailed discussion of the Kinderhook Plates go here.
MISCONCEPTION 8. Joseph Smith publicly taught & practiced polygamy.
Joseph Smith publicly denied that he practiced polygamy. In an address Joseph gave regarding the dissenters of at Nauvoo, May 26, 1844, Joseph stated that, "What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one" (History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 411)
To see a more detailed discussion of Joseph Smith's denials and practice of polygamy go here.
MISCONCEPTION 9. The LDS Temple design has not changed since Kirtland time period.
The layout of the temple in Kirtland can be better contrasted than compared to the temple in Nauvoo or LDS temples today. In Kirtland there were no sealing or Celestial rooms, and no baptism fonts for the dead. Interestingly enough, during and after its dedication Mormons were allowed to enter the Kirtland Temple without any prior "endowment" and donations would be accepted at the door (History of the Church, vol 2, pg. 410).
Even the design for a Mormon temple complex in the City of Zion [Missouri, Independence] differed drastically from the LDS Temple designs of today. In this design there was not supposed to be one temple in the City of Zion, but a temple complex, composed of many temples. This new idea is much different from King Solomon's Temple design that began construction close to 1000 B.C. (Bible, 1 Kings 6). In order to point out this particular difference I will quote again from the History of the Church, vol. 1, pg. 359:
- " The names of the temples to be built on the plot of the city of Zion, which is now about to be forwarded thither: numbers 10, 11, 12, are to be called House of the Lord, for the Presidency of the High and most Holy Priesthood, after the order of Melchizedeck, which was after the order of the Son of God, upon the Mount Zion, City of the New Jeruselum. Numbers 7, 8, 9, the Sacred Apostolic Repository, for the use of the Bishop. Numbers 4, 5, and 6, the Holy Evangelical House, for the High Priesthood of the Holy Order of God, ...(it goes on to the House for the Elders Zion, Presidency of High Priesthood, Teachers in Zion and Deacons) ... Underneath must be written on each house - HOLINESS TO THE LORD"
To see a discussion of the LDS Endowment ceremony prior to the Nauvoo Temple go here.
NOTE TO PREVIOUS READERS: I previously referred to the "City of Zion" as Kirtland, Ohio and not Independence, Missouri. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
MISCONCEPTION 10. Joseph Smith was a humble man. Joseph Smith made this boastful statement on May 26, 1844. "I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet." (History of the Church, vol. 6, pgs. 408-409)
I hope that this information will dispell some of the many misconceptions generated within the LDS Church. I am sure that some Mormons that have researched early Mormon history have already heard about them, but there are many who have not been educated on the facts.