Back to Table of Contents


THE LAMONI YEARS: 1881 -1906

Joseph, Bertha, and the children traveled by train to Lamoni. Despite
torrential rainstorms, within a week or so they and their household goods were
installed in their new home, nicknamed "Liberty Hall." Liberty Hall was a
spacious two-story wooden structure, located a short distance west of town. The
house lay on a sixty-acre tract of rich farmland. Here the Smith children grew to
adulthood. Births, marriages, and deaths; joy and sorrow; and the constant round
of domestic activity incidental to raising a large family took place in Liberty
Hall. Here two more children were born to Joseph and Bertha: Blossom (1883)
and Lucy Yeteve (1884). But tragedy stalked the family, as well. Blossom died at
birth. Effervescent little Bertha Azuba—Joseph's favorite child—died after a
playground accident, October 14, 1884. David Carlos—Joseph's eldest son—passed
away on January 24, 1886 following years of suffering with heart disease brought
on by rheumatic fever.1'

But Lamoni was a good place to raise a family. Located in Decotur
County, Iowa, just north of the Missouri border, it was named for a good king in
the Book of Mormon. Lamoni germinated out of two recurring themes in Latter
Day Saint history: gathering and communal experiments. Virtually every faction
of Latter Day Saints had engaged in such experiments. The drive to gather, pool
resources, and build a righteous society was rooted in historical precedents dating
back to the earliest days of Mormonism. Due to many sorry experiences
associated with earlier experiments in gathering, the early Reorganization had
been extremely cautious about the concept. Joseph Smith III, after on initial
naive burst of enthusiasm, quickly learned the virtue of caution concerning
gathering. While many Reorganites were growing impatient to designate a new
gathering site (or to return to an old one), the RLDS president issued caution after
caution. Previous experiments had foundered, he reasoned, because the emphasis
had been placed on preparing a location. This inverted the correct sequence.
First the Saints themselves must become righteous, and then they could gather.
Holiness attached to persons, not places. Besides, he had seen too many Saints
lose their substance in hasty experiments in gathering. He urged them, instead, to
buy good land, improve it, and wait for the Lord to speak sometime in the future.
While some Reorganites were impatient with their president's caution, the one
thing they all agreed was that Utah was neither Zion nor the appointed gathering

The concept of gathering would not die, however. In 1871 an RLDS colony
was begun in Decatur County, Iowa. This location was chosen because it was
relatively isolated, because the rich farmland was relatively cheap, and because
the location was within the prescribed "regions round about Zion" to which the
Saints were to gather.3 This experiment was known as the "United Order of
Enoch." It was based on sounder business principles than many earlier
experiments: settlers purchased their own land from the Order and were
responsible for their own financial success or failure. After a railroad line was
extended through the lands of the RLDS colony in 1879, the town of Lamoni
rapidly sprang up. By 1881 its population was approximately three hundred
people. In 1900 it had swollen to over fifteen hundred. Ultimately the Saints in
Lamoni hoped to return to Jackson County. But in the absence of a command
from God, Joseph Smith III felt that prudence must govern the Saints' gathering
schemes. By 1880 he was convinced that Lamoni was a viable experiment.
Simultaneously, Plano was experiencing economic depression. Now, he reasoned,
was a good time to move closer to the center place of Zion.4 Accordingly he
spent copious amounts of time and energy in 1881 supervising construction of his
new home and the new brick Herald Office. For decades to come the Herald
Office in Lamoni would function as headquarters of the RLDS Church. Liberty
Hall, for its part, would receive a constant stream of visitors and generally
witness a beehive of social activity.5

Developments in the West

By the time Joseph Smith III and his family moved to Lamoni, the RLDS
Church had achieved a measure of respectability in the eyes of its fellow citizens.
The same was not true of the LDS Church. Mormonism was associated with
immorality and disloyalty in the eyes of many Americans.

In Utah the Mormon Church was increasingly on the defensive. Brigham
Young died on August 29, 1877, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the public
announcement of the revelation on celestial marriage. Even before his death, the
authority of the Mormon hierarchy had been eroding. Symbolic of this erosion was
President Young's jailing for one day in 1875 and the contentious and widely
publicized divorce suit filed against him by Ann Eliza Young. The end of the Civil
War, the influx of Gentiles attracted by Utah's mineral wealth, and the
completion of the transcontinental railroad had all hastened the demise of Utah's
isolation from the rest of the nation. Utah's petitions for statehood were
repeatedly rebuffed by Congress, long after a non-Mormon state would have
entered the Union. The reason was polygamy. It was feared that if federal
control were surrendered to local authorities, Mormondom's "peculiar institution"
would never be extirpated. Both economic and political power in the territory
were becoming ever more diffuse.

Upon the death of the Lion of the Lord, John Taylor, president of the
Quorum of Twelve Apostles, assumed leadership of the Mormon Church. Under
his administration, certain of Brigham Young's most criticized doctrines and
practices were quietly abandoned. Privately, even members of the Twelve had
been critical of Brigham Young's vast accumulation of wealth.6 John Taylor took
steps to separate the church's finances from his own. Under President Taylor and
his successors, Brigham Young's Adam-God doctrine gradually was relegated to
the realm of historical memory. There was increasing use of the standard works
of the church under John Taylor.7 Significantly, whatever dynastic hopes Brigham
Young may have entertained for his sons were put to rest under John Taylor and
his successors.8

John Taylor waited until Apostle Orson Hyde died, and then he reorganized
the First Presidency.9 He chose George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith as his
counselors. John Taylor helped to establish the principle of succession which has
been followed in the Mormon Church to this day. Upon the death of the president,
rule devolves upon the Quorum of the Twelve. The president of the Twelve then
establishes a new First Presidency. 10 By repeating the procedure which had been
adopted as an ad hoc solution to the succession crisis of 1844, Taylor established a
precedent which has now assumed dogmatic overtones in the LDS Church. In any
case, the lines were drawn clearly between the LDS and RLDS Churches. The
Brighamites followed the principle of apostolic succession to the First Presidency,
and the Josephites followed the principle of lineal succession.

John Taylor's administration also coincided with a rising tide of sentiment
against Mormon polygamy. Taylor was tenaciously loyal to the principle, but
he found himself fighting a rear-guard action. He died in hiding at Kaysville,
Utah, on July 25, 1887. A great federal crusade against polygamy had turned the
president of the Mormon Church into a hunted fugitive.

The Crusade against Polygamy

Joseph Smith Ill's years in Lamoni were coterminous with a great
nationwide crusade against Mormon polygamy. Newspapers, magazines, and books
had convinced the American public that Utah was a den of sexual iniquity. Now
that Southern Reconstruction was coming to a conclusion, national political
attention was turning to the other "twin relic of barbarism," Mormon polygamy.

In 1879, in the test case of Reynolds v. U.S., the Supreme Court upheld the
constitutionality of the Morrill Act of 1862, which outlawed plural marriages in
U.S. territories. The court rejected the Mormon contention that laws against
polygamy interfered with their free exercise of religion, reasoning that, "Laws are
made for the government of actions and while they cannot interfere with mere
religious belief and opinions they may with practices."11 The way was now clear
for additional federal legislation aimed at Utah's peculiar institution.

In his last State of the Union message, in December 1880, President
Rutherford B. Hayes urged stronger measures to root out Mormon polygamy. As a
minimum, he recommended that "the right to vote, hold office, and sit on juries in
the Territory of Utah be confined to those who neither practice nor uphold
polygamy." 12 President Garfield urged similar measures prior to his
assassination. His successor, Chester A. Arthur, urged congressional action,
because Mormonism was expanding beyond the confines of Utah. The Congress of
1881-1882 was flooded with petitions concerning Mormonism. Generally,
Republicans supported additional legislation designed to transfer political power
to the non-Mormon minority in Utah, while Democrats advocated stricter
enforcement of existing laws against polygamy, hoping to maintain political
friendship with the Mormon majority. 13

The Edmunds Act. The most important piece of legislation to be
introduced was a bill by Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont. Edmunds was a
Radical Republican who had been active in the Reconstruction of the South.
After visiting Utah, he concluded that it was time for federal action. As he
explained to the readers of Harper's Magazine, in the January 1882 issue, it was
time to resolve "the irrepressible conflict between polygamous Mormonism and
the social and political systems" of the American people generally. He had
concluded that the Mormon Church dominated political life in Utah, and that if
Utah were admitted as a state without polygamy first having been eliminated, it
would be impossible to stop the practice, because the Mormons "would be
absolutely beyond the legal reach of the people of other States." Edmunds' bill
provided that polygamy be a felony punishable by up to five years' imprisonment
and/or a $500 fine. An important provision called for six months' imprisonment
and/or a $300 fine for the more easily proven misdemeanor of polygamous living
together ("unlawful cohabitation"). Polygamists were to be disfranchised and
ineligible for public office. Those who practiced or believed in polygamy were
disqualified from jury duty. Elections were to be under the supervision of a
federally appointed commission.14

The Edmunds Bill was the opening political shot in a nationwide campaign
against polygamy. Nationwide rallies were held in its support early in 1882. A
mass rally was planned in Chicago. So successfully had Joseph Smith III planted in
the minds of the Chicago press the distinction between the Mormons of Utah and
the anti-polygamous RLDS Church that the organizers invited him to attend and
address the rally. 15

Speech at Farwell Hall. The night of February 22, 1882 found Joseph Smith
III seated on the platform at Chicago's Farwell Hall, together with a collection of
political and religious dignitaries. The building was crowded. Similar anti-
polygamy rallies were being held in other cities that night to whip up enthusiasm
for the Edmunds Bill.

John Wentworth introduced Joseph Smith III to the people. He called the
prophet's son "a man who has suffered more from Mormon influence than any man
in the United States." He styled him an honorable man, an indefatigable opponent
of polygamy, one who refused offers of wealth and power as president of the Utah
Church because principle was more important to him than power. As Joseph
Smith III arose to speak, the crowd greeted him with warm applause. His long
quest for respectability was again reaping a rich harvest.

In his address he made the following major points. First, polygamy was not
an original tenet of Mormonism. It was introduced after 1844 by licentious men
who claimed an earlier origin to "sanctify their crime." They had immigrated to
Utah, because polygamy would not have been tolerated in any of the settled areas
of the country. Second, he attacked polygamy as a moral blemish, "a horrible and
almost nameless stigma upon the fair name and fame of the United States."
Third, he argued that Congress had both the right and duty to suppress polygamy.
The supposed immunity from governmental control—on grounds that plural
marriage was a religious practice—was specious. He suggested that Chicago's
confidence-men, gamblers, and burglars could claim similar immunity on the
grounds that their avocations were part of their religion. The remark brought
laughter and applause from the crowd. Congressional action against polygamy
need not involve persecution of the Mormons, since only a fraction were
polygamists. Society had a right to protect itself from the spread of a moral and
social contagion. Radical surgery on the polygamous cancer was needed, he
concluded. As he moved to his seat, reverberating applause echoed in his ears.
The speech in Farwell Hall was a personal triumph for Joseph Smith III.16

The Reorganized Church and the Federal Government. Joseph Smith III
was always sensitive to political developments in Washington. In numerous
editorials in the Herald over the years, he commented on the political situation as
it related to Utah. In 1866 he had testified before the House Committee on
Territories. In 1870 he had headed on RLDS Committee which memorialized
Congress and the President concerning Mormon polygamy. The purpose of the
Memorial was to distinguish the RLDS from the LDS Church: the one
monogamous, law abiding, and the true church in succession; the other
polygamous, disloyal, and apostate. 17 |n 1878 he participated in a lobbying effort
to secure appointment of Phineas Cadwell, an RLDS elder, as governor of Utah. 18
He also corresponded with prominent politicians, including Rutherford B. Hayes
and James A. Garfield19 The debate over the Edmunds Bill occasioned additional
such activity on the part of the RLDS Church.

Gurley and Kelley in Washington. Joseph Smith III dispatched Apostles
Zenas H. Gurley, Jr. and E. L. Kelley to Washington, that whatever blow might
fall, it would fall only upon the polygamous Mormons and not the monogamous
Reorganites. They testified in favor of the Edmunds Bill before the House
Judiciary Committee. They presented themselves as the representatives of
original, pure Mormonism.20 Joseph editorialized of their mission:

We have long foreseen that the opportunity for such presentation would
come; and prepared for it. We believe that the brethren sent will attend
strictly to the business entrusted to them; which is not as alleged by the
Utah people to "incite the Government to hostility against" them; but to
secure the immunity of True Mormonism from complicity with Utah
wrong doing and the punishment due therefor[.] As a people, we of the
Reorganization have chafed too long under the ban of ostracism and
social injustice, wrought by reason of a "departure from the faith," not
to strike now when the opportunity offers.21

Enactment and aftermath. The Edmunds Bill was passed by both Houses of
Congress. On March 22, 1882, President Arthur signed it into law. The stricter
enforcement of anti-polygamy laws long advocated by Joseph Smith III was about
to become a reality. The days of Washington's benign neglect of Utah were

The RLDS Annual Conference in April 1882 unanimously passed a
resolution commending Congress and the President for the Edmunds Act, "by
which the 'twin relic' is to be removed from the institutions of the country, to the
honor and dignity of the nation, and to the especial good of all true Mormons, who
abide in the original faith of the Church."22

But while the RLDS Church rejoiced, the leaders of the LDS Church
gnashed their teeth. Privately, Second Counselor Joseph F. Smith fumed at
newspaper accounts of Joseph Smith Ill's speech in Chicago. He wrote:

It is truly astonishing to see the audacity and unblushing mendacity of
the degenerate son of the martyred Prophet. I cannot believe that he is
ignorent of the facts he denies; and can account for his determined
hostility towards the revelation on plural marriage, only on the grounds
of wilful and malicious hatered of the principle and of the people who
are and ever have been the only true friends of his martyred father.
Perhaps his ambition for popularity and fame may have much to do with
the unfriendly course he has chosen to pursue. But his ambition will fail,
and his glory will depart, and become like the vision of a dream; His
name will go down to infamy and his works will perish with him.

Joseph F. Smith pondered whether it might not be an opportune moment to publish
some of his affidavits concerning the origin of plural marriage. He knew that this
might add fuel to the already burning fires of the anti-polygamy crusade,
however. It might, he wrote, "enrage to exasperation the infamous apostate
clique who are leagued with Joseph. No matter about that. We can afford to
abide by the truth for we know that in the light of facts error must subside."23

Publicly, Joseph Smith Ill's speech at Farwell Hall was subjected to
scathing denunciation in the Deseret News. The editor, Charles W. Penrose,
reprinted the Chicago Tribune's account of the address, offering it as proof that
the leader of the Reorganization was "allied with the enemies of his father, and of
the church," seeking to overturn the principle of celestial marriage introduced by
his father. The Deseret News particularly found fault with a "vile and filthy
falsehood about the contamination of women" by Mormon bishops. "No one but a
depraved and corrupt being, whose conscience is seared as with an iron heated in
the infernal pit, could utter such calumny," declaimed the News.24 Joseph Smith
III claimed that he had been misquoted, but it is doubtful that Charles W. Penrose
or the other smarting proponents of polygamy were persuaded.25

Joseph Smith Ill's Second Trip to Washington, D.C.

While in Washington, D.C., Z. H. Gurley, Jr. and E. L. Kelley had
opportunity to discuss the Mormon question with various governmental officials.
At the Semi-Annual Conference of 1882, they brought to the delegates' attention
the circular letter of Secretary of State William M. Evarts, dated August 9, 1879.
This letter, which was sent to American diplomats in European capitals, pointed
out that European converts were swelling the ranks of "the law-defying Mormons
of Utah." Since polygamy in Utah was a federal crime, the Secretary argued that
such missionary activity was "a deliberate and systematic attempt to bring
persons to the United States with the intent of violating their laws . . . ." He
instructed American diplomats to intercede with the European governments to
suppress Mormon missionary activity. Mormon emigrants—"drawn mainly from
the ignorant classes . . . influenced by the double appeal to their passions and
their poverty"—were used to buttress polygamy in America, in violation of both
civil and moral law. Secretary Evarts urged that measures be taken in Europe to
halt Mormon emigration, insofar as legally possible. At the least, he wished the
European governments to publicize the fact that polygamy was illegal in

Upon a motion of Gurley and Kelley, the Semi-Annual Conference adopted
the following resolution:

Whereas, the circular letter of Hon. William M. Evarts, while
Secretary of State, [asked] all foreign governments to prevent the
immigration of Mormons . . . , as they come to practice crime, being
polygamists; and, whereas, this has conduced to the injury of the body of
Latter Day Saints who affirm the original faith under which no such
practice is tolerable, and because such distinction has not been had, and
we have been confounded with that people whom this letter very
properly brands as criminals; therefore be it

Resolved, That we ask the present Secretory of State to correct this
error, and place us in our proper light before the world.27

Joseph Smith III and Z. H. Gurley, Jr. were appointed to present the
preamble and resolution to Secretary of State Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, Evarts'
successor. Their objective was to prevent anti-Mormon measures from being
applied to their own church.

On February 28, 1883 Joseph Smith III detrained at Washington, D.C. for
the second time in his life. With him were Apostle Z. H. Gurley and Bishop
George A. Blakeslee. Gurley and Blakeslee were acquainted with prominent
members of Congress, and it was thought that these acquaintances could be used
as intermediaries to secure an interview with F. T. Frelinghuysen. Their visit was
overshadowed from the outset by disturbing news contained in a telegram which
they found awaiting them in Washington. Lawrence Conover, secretary of the
Board of Publication, had absconded with all the money in the Herald Office's
safe. Blakeslee immediately returned to Lamoni to assist in the crisis there.
President Smith and Apostle Gurley stayed in Washington to carry out their
mission. For several days, they worked out the memorial they were to present to
the Secretary. Gurley was responsible for the first draft, and the two had a
heated argument over Gurley's desire to include some pejorative language with
reference to the Utah Church. Joseph Smith III was experienced enough to know
that such language might be counter-productive. Finally he delivered an
ultimatum to Gurley and secured deletion of the offending terms.28

Through the good offices of Senator J. C. Burrows of Michigan and Senator
W. B. Allison and Representative W. P. Hepburn, both of Iowa, an interview with
Frelinghuysen was arranged for March 5, 1883. Rep. Hepburn handled the
introductions, telling the Secretary of State that he had known the two residents
of Lamoni for several years, and that they were good citizens. They were also—
he added with a twinkle in his eye—"good Republicans." It had been arranged for
Joseph Smith III to deliver the memorial to Frelinghuysen and for Z. H. Gurley to
hand him a copy of the Book of Mormon. Quickly sizing up the Secretary as a
busy, intelligent, and efficient man, Joseph Smith III handed him the memorial,
stating that it contained the matter they wished considered. Gurley handed
Frelinghuysen the Book of Mormon and—misreading the secretary—began to make
a speech. The Secretary quickly cut him off, much to Zenas Gurley's chagrin.
"That will do, Mr. Gurley, that will do. Mr. Smith has said all that is necessary,"
he said, with a wave of his hand.29

The interview was quickly ended. On March 6th Joseph Smith III left
Washington, D.C. for Lamoni.

In due time, Joseph Smith III received a response from Frederick T.
Frelinghuysen. He stated that Evarts' circular letter was intended to apply only
to polygamous Mormons and that law-abiding RLDS immigrants were not
encompassed by it. "Law-abiding immigrants are secure against interference," he
assured the RLDS president.30

Once again Joseph Smith III felt vindicated. His cautious, reasoned,
diplomatic approach had secured the desired assurance from the Secretary of
State. RLDS immigrants would not be affected by federal measures aimed at the
Mormons of Utah. A high governmental official again had grasped the difference
between the two churches and had acted accordingly.

Joseph Smith Ill's Mature Polemic against Polygamy

By the 1880s Joseph Smith III felt confident in his apologetic position vis-a-
vis polygamy, whether discussing the subject with high governmental officials,
members of his own church, or Mormons. It had not always been thus.

Early in his presidency, he had attempted to avoid discussion of polygamy.
At the Annual Conference of 1863, he proposed a resolution that "the members
and ministry avoid alluding to, or discussing the subject of polygamy when it is not
imperatively necessary." During discussion of the resolution, which eventually
was adopted, he explained that the topic divided and weakened members of the
church.31 Symptomatic of this attitude was the conference's decision to change
the motto of the True Latter Day Saints' Herald. Since its inception the paper
had carried beneath its masthead a quotation from the Book of Mormon:
"Hearken to the word of the Lord, for there shall not any man among you have
save it be one wife: and concubines he shall have none."32

Joseph Smith III was acutely aware that his view—that the prophet never
taught or practiced polygamy—was not that of the majority of the small band of
old Saints which formed the nucleus of the Reorganization. At a meeting of the
RLDS Council of Twelve, April 9, 1867, it was proposed to adopt Joseph Smith Ill's
viewpoint as the official position of the Quorum. The minutes read:

The following Resolution was put and tabled.

Resolved that we do not beleive [sic] that the revelation, alleged to
have come through Joseph Smith, the Martyr, authorising polygamy or
spiritual wifery came from God, neither do we beleive that Joseph Smith
was in any wise the author or excuser of these doctrines; J W Briggs, Z H
Gurley, E C Briggs and John Shippy defended the resolution, Wm W Blair,
Josiah Ells & C Derry opposed it on the grounds that its passage would be
more injurious than good because of the almost universal opinion among
the Saints that Joseph was in some way connected with it. J. W. Briggs,
moved it be tabled, and hence the resolution was lost. President Smith
then told us that the passage of the resolution would do more injury than

Joseph Smith III probably realized that it would be counterproductive to
attempt to force the general membership to accept his own view of the matter.
He was willing to bide his time, publicize his own stance, and make converts
among the newer, younger members of the church. Time was his ally.

Gradually he gained confidence in addressing the question of polygamy.
More articles began appearing in the Herald on the subject. The old motto
eventually found its way back beneath the masthead. In 1869 he published his first
tract aimed at polygamy.34 In 1870 he published another, entitled Reply to Orson
Pratt, answering some of Apostle Pratt's remarks at the LDS Semi-Annual
Conference of 1869. Joseph Smith Ill's basic argument was fourfold: (I) Polygamy
could claim no protection under the First Amendment. (2) The Bible and Book of
Mormon offered no support for polygamy. (3) Emma Smith and her sons had not
"apostatized," because they adhered to the original faith of the church. (4)
Census figures contradicted Pratt's claim that there was an excess of females
over males, thereby justifying polygyny. In his Reply to Orson Pratt he made only
passing mention of his belief that his father did not author the revelation on
celestial marriage.35

When he visited Utah in 1876, he had steeled himself against the possibility
that he might be confronted by women claiming to have been his father's plural
wives. He had laid down the gauntlet, but the feared public challenge from his
father's plural wives had never come to pass. Although the mission itself was a
failure, Joseph Smith III returned with greatly increased confidence in his
conviction that his father was "innocent" of polygamy.

His mother's "Last Testimony" in 1879 gave a powerful new weapon with
which to counter polygamous testimonies in Utah.

By the the time of Joseph Smith Ill's move to Lamoni, many Reorganites
accepted his view of polygamy. The church had grown to over 10,000 members,
most of whom had no personal recollections of Nauvoo. Joseph Smith III could
recall with satisfaction the long battle he had waged to persuade the church:

In 1864 I tried openly to direct the warfare against Utah into my
channels of thought. I failed, the elders preferring other methods. I did
not do as some have done, grow surly and decline to work because I was
thwarted; I accepted the situation and bided my time—I have my reward,
time having vindicated my view and I am content. ... I expect to go to
Utah not long hence, and I feel that I am better prepared in theory and
fact to strike effectively than ever before. My vertibrata have been
materially strengthened, and my general resources augmented.36

Controversy with Lyman 0. Littlefield

Joseph Smith III was now prepared for an all-out debate over polygamy. In
the midst of the great national crusade against polygamy, the son of Joseph Smith
had honed and tested a series of arguments against the "twin relic." He aimed to
do nothing less than to clear his father's name, to redeem the name "Latter Day
Saint," and to show the RLDS Church to be in direct continuity with pure, original

In 1883 Joseph Smith III and Lyman 0. Littlefield of Logan, Utah engaged
in an extended controversy over a wide range of issues, the chief of which was
polygamy. In this debate Joseph Smith III displayed his mature polemic against
polygamy. In later years he added refinements here and there, but the basic
argument remained unchanged.38

The debate began in the spring of 1883, when Littlefield published an open
letter in Logan's Utah Journal. This piece was reprinted in the Deseret News,
Joseph Smith III responded, and the controversy was on.

Littlefield's "Open Letter." In "An Open Letter, Addressed to President
Joseph Smith, Jr.," dated April 27, 1883, Littlefield attacked the proceedings at
the RLDS Annual Conference in Kirtland, Ohio. He showed some ill-disguised
pique that the Josephites were holding conferences in such sacred spots as
Kirtland and Independence.

He then launched into a long attack on Joseph Smith III, claiming that
while Young Joseph had been playing ball in the streets of Nauvoo, he (Littlefield)
and other elders were receiving the prophet's secret teachings. He asserted that
he knew that Joseph Smith both taught and practiced plural marriage. The
prophet had understood the principle of plural marriage as early as the days in
Kirtland, but he had kept the matter quiet due to prejudice and persecution. Upon
reaching maturity, both Joseph III and his brothers had full opportunity to learn
the truth about polygamy during their trips to Utah. Women had told Joseph III
and David H. Smith that they had been plural wives of the prophet. How could
anyone ignore such evidence? Joseph Smith III was "wilfully and persistently
[placing] his father before the world in a false attitude." Littlefield challenged
the son of the prophet to be frank and honest enough to face the evidence and
uphold the prophet in his true character, because someday he would face him in

He contrasted the positions of the LDS and RLDS Churches. The LDS
Church was carrying out the Lord's work by building temples and performing
temple work. The RLDS Church was content to repair the Kirtland Temple to
gain prestige in the eyes of the wicked who had persecuted Joseph Smith. The
LDS Church had fulfilled the prophet's prophecy of becoming a mighty people in
the midst of the Rockies, while the RLDS Church had remained behind and built
no cities or temples. He directed a withering blast against factionalists who
sought the applause of wicked Gentiles by denouncing the most sacred Mormon
doctrines from the pulpit of the Lord's House in Kirtland.39

Joseph Smith Ill's "Reply." After reading Littlefield's "Open Letter," in the
Deseret News of May 11, 1883, Joseph Smith III fired off a reply to the Utah
Journal. After some preliminary remarks, he addressed the main issue. L. 0.
Littlefield had claimed that Joseph Smith Ill's doctrines and principles were
opposed to those for which Joseph Smith, Jr. laid down his life. But Joseph III
pointed out that the RLDS Epitome of Faith was precisely the same as the one
written by Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1842, with the exception of the final article
opposing polygamy, which the RLDS Church had added. Here was the real "stone
of offense," he concluded. But it was perfectly consonant with numerous public
repudiations of polygamy by the prophet.

He strongly denied the contention that irrefutable evidence of the
prophet's involvement in polygamy had been shown to him in Utah:

No proof that Joseph Smith taught and practiced polygamy, (publicly
or privately), of an "incontrovertible character" was ever presented to
me; and from the nature of the subject and the facts connected with the
introduction of the doctrine as a church tenet, it is doubtful if such proof

He flatly denied that any woman had told him she was married to Joseph Smith.40
One woman had come to affirm that she knew all about polygamy, but upon cross-
examination her testimony fell to pieces.41 She admitted that she neither saw
the prophet married to, nor heard nor saw him treat any woman as his wife in any
sense, except Emma Smith. Likewise, one elder had waited upon him in 1876, to
"tell him what he knew," but he too broke down upon cross-examination.42

True, he had been a boy in 1844. But upon reaching maturer years he set
about investigating the question of his father's involvement in polygamy. He
found many rumors and stories, but they always collapsed upon thorough
investigation. Not only had no woman testified to him in 1876 that she was a
plural wife of the prophet, but his public challenge for evidence had gone

But even if reliable evidence were produced that Joseph Smith taught and
practiced plural marriage, the sons of the prophet stood by his revelations in the
Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. The Book of Mormon condemned
polygamy as an "abomination" in God's sight. The Doctrine and Covenants stated
that one man should have one wife. No clandestine teaching or practice could
bind the church contrary to the books. All revelations must be properly
authenticated and received by the church as such. In the absence of such,
polygamy was contrary to church law and therefore was transgression.

It is no argument in your defense to urge that because Joseph Smith
did practice "plural marriage," therefore it was and is right. God
condemned it in bringing the Book of Mormon to light in 1830; Christ
condemned it in the law of 1831; Joseph and Hyrum Smith condemned it
in 1842 and '44; John Taylor condemned it in 1844 and 1850; and I, for
these and other reasons equally potent, have condemned it from my
earliest entrance into public life to the present.

Yes, he told Littlefield, he expected to see his father in eternity, but he
proposed to be judged upon his personal faithfulness to the gospel. His father
would be judged in the same way. He admitted that sealing ordinances for
celestial marriage may have existed in Nauvoo, but denied that these were
synonymous with the later development of plural marriage. He accused
Littlefield of making the prophet a coward, by claiming he concealed the practice
of polygamy.

As for temples, he urged that the one in Kirtland was the only one begun by
divine command, finished, dedicated to the worship of God, and blessed with a
divine "endowment." The Nauvoo Temple was commanded by God but never
completed, except for the baptismal font. The temples in Utah were not built at
the command of God. He stated that he was proud of the RLDS work in repairing
the Kirtland Temple, because "in the places where you and your co-workers have
made the name of Joseph Smith and the doctrines he taught odious, we have made
converts to the truth he died to attest."

He denied that Joseph Smith ever uttered the "Rocky Mountain prophecy,"
but even if he had, that redounded to the credit of the prophet, not the Mormons.
"The same man predicted that polygamy would prove to be the destruction of the
church; and that Brigham Young would lead the people astray; both of which
predictions may have been fulfilled upon the same people." For his own part, he
resolved, he would continue to fight the reproach of polygamy loaded upon the
church and the Smith name by Brigham Young.43

Littlefield's second letter. Contrary to the previous practice of Mormon-
controlled newspapers in Utah, the Journal published Joseph Smith Ill's answer to
Littlefield. However, the Journal gave Lyman 0. Littlefield the opportunity to
prepare a rebuttal, dated May 23, 1883, which was printed in the same issue.
After some preliminary skirmishing, Littlefield came to the main issue

between himself and Joseph Smith III: polygamy. He confessed amazement that
Joseph could have been in Salt Lake City and have come away ignorant about his
father's plural wives. There were universally accepted reports of such women
living in the city. These reports were of long-standing and had never been denied
by the women themselves. On the contrary, they had frequently testified to the
same, and thousands had heard them. If none of them waited upon Joseph in 1876,
this was still no excuse for his continued ignorance. He had only to call upon
them and question them. "Your assumed character as the vindicator of your
father's name . . . made such a course incumbent upon you." His failure to
conduct such interviews "proved that this was exactly what you were afraid to do,
and that you purposely and studiously avoided them and all other persons
competent to bear you a testimony based on personal knowledge, that your father
taught and practiced plural marriage."

Littlefield stated that investigation would have shown incontrovertible
proof of the following: (1) Elders then living in Salt Lake City had read, heard,
wrote, or copied the revelation on celestial marriage. (2) Others such as John
Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, and Erastus Snow had been taught the principle personally
by Joseph Smith. (3) Elders such as Joseph B. Noble had sealed plural wives to the
prophet. (4) Witnesses to such ceremonies were still alive in Utah. (5) Women
such as Eliza R. Snow, Eliza Partridge, Emily Partridge, and Lucy Walker were
ready to testify that they were the wives (with all the name implies) of Joseph

L. 0. Littlefield then addressed the troublesome denials of polygamy,
published up until 1852. John Taylor's denial at Boulogne in 1850 was typical.
Taylor's denial was perfectly true, he argued caustically, because he denied not
the righteous Mormon practice of celestial marriage but "utterly false" slanders
to the effect that the Mormons practiced common polygamy.

The prophet had not been a coward to conceal the doctrine of plural
marriage. He had been commanded not to disclose the secret by the Lord.

As for the scriptural condemnations of polygamy, that in the Book of Jacob
reproved the Nephites for sexual wickedness. They were practicing polygamy
without divine sanction and justifying their misconduct by appealing to the doings
of David and Solomon. But the condemnation did not apply to the Latter-day
Saints, because they were obeying a divine commandment, not disobeying one.
The Doctrine and Covenants' statement about one man having one wife was
intended as a condemnation of Shaker celibacy and was not directed at plural
marriage. Furthermore, II Samuel 12:8 said that the Lord gave David the wives of
Saul. If plural marriage were a sin, this made God an abettor of sin. David did no
wrong in accepting what God gave him.

Joseph Smith III argued that even if the prophet taught and practiced
polygamy, it was still wrong. Littlefield considered this utterly fallacious:

The law of the Church is that if God can reveal one thing He can
reveal another; and His Saints are required to live by every word that
proceeds out of His mouth. If the Prophet went against Church
procedure by receiving the revelations of god and acting upon them, then
the Church shuts the mouth of God by such an arrangement; or Joseph by
his course, became a fallen prophet.

If the prophet did teach and practice polygamy, either he received a true
revelation from God (which meant that the Utah Church was the true church), or
he was a fallen prophet (in which case Joseph Smith III was claiming to receive
authority from a contaminated source). "You may accept which ever horn of the
dilemma you choose," Littlefield announced.

Littlefield concluded with the assertion that the Nauvoo Temple was
indeed completed. He argued that there was no need for a specific command to
build individual temples in Utah, because the general commandment to perform
ordinances presupposed that the Saints would construct them. The prophet was
the human author of plural marriage, he contended, and the Utah temples were in
accordance with a standing commandment to the church.44

Joseph Smith Ill's second reply. Joseph Smith Ill's "Second Reply" to
Littlefield was dated June 15, 1883. Again the Utah Journal printed it
accompanied by a refutation from Lyman 0. Littlefield.

After the usual preliminary skirmishing, he again took up the issue of
polygamy. He pointed out that Littlefield had been unable to locate any woman
who had "told him what she knew," because there was no such woman.
Littlefield's appeal to "universally accepted reports" was improper. If such
"proofs" were to be admitted into evidence, one would be led to the additional
conclusions that Joseph Smith had been a mountebank, Brigham Young a thief and
murderer, and Salt Lake City a sink of iniquity. Joseph Smith III demanded proof,
not rumor. In 1876 he had not hidden in some corner. He went about the city
publicly. He threw down the gauntlet in a public meeting, placing the burden of
proof on the polygamists to show his father's connection with the practice. But
the proof had not been forthcoming.

He returned to John Taylor's public denial of polygamy at Boulogne,
refusing to allow Littlefield to slip off the hook. As for his father's alleged delay
in publicizing the principle, Littlefield himself had stated that danger to his life
was one of the reasons. Was this the reason Brigham Young delayed until 1852?
And if the prejudices of the brethren also dictated delay, whence came such

Joseph Smith III then turned to the strongest part of his case: scriptural
arguments against polygamy. He reasoned that on three occasions God proposed
to people the world or a continent: at the creation of Adam and Eve; when Noah
and his family were preserved in the ark; and when Lehi and his family sailed to
America. On each occasion the pattern was one man and one wife. Polygamy was
denounced in the Book of Mormon in no uncertain terms. It declared the
polygamous marriages of David and Solomon to be "abominable." The Nephites
were told, "there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife, and
concubines he shall have none." The Doctrine and Covenants' section on marriage,
adopted in 1835, was strictly monogamic. It was true that David and Solomon
practiced polygamy, but the Bible demonstrated that they suffered disastrous
consequences as a result.

There was an important underlying premise throughout Joseph Smith Ill's
polemics against plural marriage. He insisted that God was unchangeable and
could not alter his moral laws. If God once declared it contrary to law to take
plural wives, it would remain forever wrong. If it were wrong before 1843, then it
was wrong after 1843. It was inconsistent for God to inspire a deceitful
revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants, as Littlefield suggested, which had a
hidden double-meaning, viz., it is "lawful that a man shall have one wife and a
woman but one husband" (taking it to be permissible for men to take additional
wives besides the "one").

Turning to the question of his father's involvement in polygamy, he cited
William Marks' report that the prophet told him to go before the High Council and
prefer charges against those teaching polygamy. The testimonies cited by
Littlefield were familiar, said Joseph Smith III, but many would not bear cross-
examination, "as I could easily demonstrate if I had the witnesses in a court where
hearsay, mental reservations and other men's statements can not be affirmed as

But, he said, it was pointless to pursue this line of argument. If it were
proven that the prophet taught and practiced plural marriage, this simply proved
that he had sinned. It would "lessen my respect for him as a man, and give me one
more heart pang to bear through life." If it were proven that he dictated the
revelation on celestial marriage, that would not prove the revelation or doctrine
to be of God. It would be contrary to God's changeless character. And it would
inconsistently offer celestial exaltation to a chosen few, rather than to everyone.
This would be cruel and unjust, the very opposite of a universal gospel.

After some arguments about Brigham Young never being authorized as
Joseph Smith's successor, and further denials that the Utah temples were
accepted by God, Joseph Smith III closed with the renewed assertion that God
could not reveal one thing in 1830 and another in 1843. A changeable God would
be an untrustworthy God.45

Controversy with the Deseret News. Contrary to practice under previous
editors, Charles W. Penrose of the Deseret News took notice of the controversy
between Littlefield and the president of the Reorganized Church. He reprinted
Littlefield's articles, and added comments of his own.

In the May II, 1883 number of the Deseret News, Penrose attacked the
Reorganized Church's claim that the original Mormon Church had become
disorganized. When the church was expelled from Nauvoo, he reasoned, it simply
changed its location. Its organization remained intact. To the familiar Josephite
contention that the Doctrine and Covenants commanded the Saints to build the
Nauvoo Temple quickly, upon penalty of being rejected as a church along with
their dead, he replied that the temple had been completed and ordinances for the
dead had been performed in it. Penrose also attacked the Reorganized Church's
position concerning succession to the presidency. The Lord had promised that the
latter-day work would prevail. The keys had been given to the Twelve as well as
to Joseph Smith. The Twelve had authority equal to that of the Presidency and
continued to exercise that authority after the Presidency became disorganized.
The son of the prophet had no automatic right to preside over the church, since
heirship applied to priesthood and not presidency. Joseph Smith III had never been
ordained validly to the Melchisedek Priesthood and utterly lacked authority. He
headed, Penrose concluded, a sect devoid of divine authority.46

Joseph Smith Ill's reply to the Deseret News. In the Saints' Herald of June
23, 1883, Joseph Smith III replied to C. W. Penrose, but tried to shift the field of
battle to plural marriage. This, he insisted, was the fundamental point of division
between the two churches. He quoted his father to the effect that priesthood
authority and righteousness were inseparable.

Penrose had asked when the church was disorganized. The prophet's son
replied: "Whenever that which was contrary and adverse to the revealed word and
rules given to the church at its origin was introduced into its formulated creed, or
its well understood faith . . . ." When the church failed to comply with the divine
commandment to build the Nauvoo Temple, the threatened rejection occurred.

As for the question of succession, Joseph Smith III agreed with a good deal
of Penrose's analysis. He began by quoting the published statements of the
Twelve after the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith that their places would not be
filled, but that the responsibility to carry on the work rested with the Twelve.
This, said Joseph, was a sound argument, and if the Twelve had remained true to
the original principles of faith, no disorganization would have taken place. But by
1847, that portion of the Twelve which followed Brigham Young had changed its
tune. Rebaptisms were conducted at Salt Lake City. The First Presidency was
reorganized. A rump conference at Winter Quarters ratified the reorganization
without proper notice to the church as a whole. After this improper
reorganization of the Presidency, only six members remained in the Quorum of
Twelve, onto which Joseph Smith had "rolled the work," thereby disorganizing

In 1856, during the Reformation in Utah, a general rebaptism had taken
place. The revelation on celestial marriage had been publicized in 1852, and all
persons so rebaptized were baptized into a new and iniquitous distortion of
primitive Mormonism. "The iniquity that destroyed the organization of the church
perfecting its rejection, had now done its work." The church had failed to
complete the temple, failed to maintain the quorums according to law, and failed
to heed divine moral law.

Appealing to the principle of civil law, "that whenever a church is founded,
its principles of faith formulated, its traditions fulminated from the forum and
pulpit, those declarations become the constitution of its corporate and legal
existence." When changes are introduced, the portion of the membership
remaining true to the original creed is the true church. So in the case of the
Latter Day Saints, those who did not lapse in polygamic iniquity were the true
church. Penrose, argued Joseph Smith III, was correct that the priesthood had
been conferred in the last days, never to be removed. But it remained with the
righteous, not the wicked. If the Presidency were destroyed, the Twelve had the
right and duty to carry on the work. If the Twelve were destroyed or fell into
iniquity, the Seventy had the same right and duty. If the Seventy died or failed,
the priesthood generally was charged to carry on the work. Hence the
Reorganization had been justified in its course, because the three leading quorums
had been destroyed or fallen into iniquity. When the temple was not finished, the
church's quorums had lost their authority to act, but righteous elders individually
retained their authority and had the right to reorganize the church on a righteous

Littlefield's third letter. Lyman 0. Littlefield's reply to Joseph Smith III
was dated July 17, 1883. He complained that the prophet's son raised few new
points in his lengthy rejoinder and proposed to consider only some of them.

In reply to Joseph Smith Ill's scriptural arguments, he began by observing
that although there was no mention, in the sacred books, of Adam, Noah, or Lehi
having plural wives, many other godly men did. He cited Abraham and Moses, in
particular. He also pointed out regulations concerning polygamy in the
Pentateuch, and asked rhetorically whether God would prescribe regulations for
sin. "Polygamy was the rule, not the exception, in ancient Israel," he concluded.

To explain the denunciations of polygamy in the Book of Mormon, he
invoked several arguments. First, he argued that revelation is progressive. God
promulgated laws adapted to the circumstances of his people. When the
circumstances changed, the laws changed. When the people were able to receive
strong drink, they no longer were given milk. On this basis, the Sermon on the
Mount criticized various practices in the old dispensation. Second, the passage in
the Book of Jacob condemning Nephite polygamy also contained the implication
that the Lord would alter this prohibition in the future: "For if I will, saith the
Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they
shall hearken unto these things." Third, the Nephites were practicing
unsanctioned polygamy, not divinely sanctioned celestial marriage. Celestial
marriage extended into eternity and was performed by heaven's authority. Human
polygamy was time-bound and of human origin. The condemnation applied to the
human, not the divine practice. All denunciations of polygamy in scripture or by
church leaders were condemnations of common polygamy and had no reference to
celestial marriage.

The section in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants on marriage appeared in
the appendix. It was a statement by the church, not a revelation from God.

Turning from these defensive arguments, he took the offensive by
producing evidence of Joseph Smith's involvement in polygamy. The prophet's son
erred in claiming that revelations must be submitted to the various quorums of
the priesthood for acceptance, because the prophet had many revelations which
were never made public. But the revelation on celestial marriage was submitted
to the Twelve and accepted by them. It was submitted to the Nauvoo High
Council and accepted by them, with William Marks, Austin Cowles and Leonard
Soby dissenting. As proof he printed David Fullmer's affidavit, dated June 15, 1869, which stated that Hyrum Smith read the revelation to the High Council.
And there were plural wives of the prophet living in Utah. It was hopeless to
argue against their testimonies. "All your arguments are as lost as that of the
blind man who endeavored to persuade his neighbors blessed with good eyesight
that the sun did not shine. They knew better, and so do we." Joseph Smith III was
obstinately refusing to accept the facts. Many affidavits had been published, and
more could be published. Joseph Smith Ill's proclamation that even if his father
did practice polygamy, he would not change his opinion of it, showed a settled
purpose "not to be a true and faithful follower" of his father.49

Joseph Smith Ill's third reply. Joseph Smith Ill's third reply to Littlefield
was dated July 30, 1883. Littlefield had claimed that God made mankind
polygamic, and that three-quarters of the race practiced polygamy. Joseph Smith
III violently rejected this contention. God made a single human couple in the
beginning. Noah's family repopulated the world monogamously, as Lehi's family
populated America. God's original pattern had been corrupted by the three-
quarters Littlefield cited. The same three-quarters rejected Christianity. But did
numbers prove anything? As for Littlefield's contention that monogamous
societies inevitably turned to prostitution, this was a contemptible argument; a
violation of moral law was no argument against the law itself.

He then elaborated upon his scriptural arguments against polygamy. Some
ingenious proofs were presented to show that Abraham, Jacob, and Moses were
monogamists. In the cases of Abraham and Jacob, the "proof" consisted of
legalistic arguments that their relationships with Hagar and Leah, respectively,
had not been legal marriages. In the case of Moses, he demonstrated to his own
satisfaction that Zipporah had been his only wife, since she was one and the same
person with the Ethiopian woman Moses was said to have married. He was on
much stronger ground when he pointed out that the patriarch Isaac had been a
monogamist, and that the Bible made no mention of divine approval for David and
Solomon's polygamous marriages.

Replying to Littlefield's sallies against him for not being a true disciple of
his father, he insisted that his salvation was independent of the character of
Joseph Smith: ". . . whatever Joseph Smith may have been personally, good or
bad, is not to be the test when you and I are to be tried . . . the issue is not
whether Joseph Smith was a polygamist; but is the doctrine of God?"50

Littlefield's fourth letter. Joseph Smith III had quoted the anti-polygamous
passage from the Book of Jacob in his third letter. Littlefield now complained
that the prophet's son had no right to do so, because he had never answered his
(Littlefield's) pro-polygamous explanation of it. He repeated his explanation that
the practice condemned in the Book of Mormon had nothing to do with celestial
marriage. There were two types of plural marriage:

One is pure, holy, heavenly; it came from God, is controlled by his laws
and ordinances and is designed to elevate, purify, refine and perfect the
human race. The other is law, degrading, and corrupt; it had its origin in
man's wickedness, and is calculated to debase, pollute, and destroy

David and Solomon began with the former and ended up with the latter. The
latter, only, was forbidden in the Book of Mormon. The dispensation of the
fullness of times was not bound by the inferior marital laws of an earlier
dispensation. And the prophet Jacob had foretold this change.

As for Joseph Smith Ill's scriptural arguments, it might be true that Adam,
Noah, and Lehi were monogamists (although the records could be incomplete), but
this proved nothing, because other godly men of antiquity were polygamists. He
criticized Joseph Smith Ill's attempts to prove Abraham, Jacob, and Moses
monogamists. But he offered no rebuttal to Joseph's exegesis of the passages
concerning David and Solomon.

He denied the contention that the prophet ever sinned against his wife
Emma by taking plural wives. He pointed to Lovina Walker's affidavit, dated June
16, 1869, that Emma Smith had told her of witnessing Joseph Smith's marriages to
four women. Such marriages were hardly "secret sins" against Emma.

As for criticisms that some of the prophet's marriages antedated the
revelation on celestial marriage, Littlefield replied that the principle had been
revealed to the prophet long before the formal revelation was dictated for the

Joseph Smith Ill's fourth reply. In September Joseph Smith III mailed his
fourth reply to Littlefield to the Utah Journal. The Journal declined to print it,
claiming continued controversy would "surfeit" its subscribers. In announcing the
Journal's decision, Joseph commented that perhaps its readers had "dainty and
disordered mental and moral stomachs" which could not digest his arguments. He
printed his reply in the Saints' Herald and the Saints' Advocate, and made
arrangements for it to be widely distributed in Utah, Idaho, and Montana.52

At considerable length, he responded to Littlefield's analysis of the anti-
polygamic passage in the Book of Jacob. The whole thrust of the passage was
against the practice, he reasoned, and it was inconsistent to make one verse teach
contrary to its context. "For if I will . . . raise up seed unto me, I will command
my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things," was no prophecy.
"Otherwise" meant "in different respects." The verse meant that God had brought
the Nephites to America for the purpose of raising up righteous seed, and
commanded them to cease following the unrighteous ways of their fathers. He
commanded his people to hearken "otherwise" to these things, i.e., to obey him
and cease practicing polygamy. "If" had no future reference; it was causal in its

He observed that Littlefield's analysis of David and Solomon's marriages
was unique. When, he wondered, did they cease practicing righteous polygamy and
begin practicing unrighteous polygamy? He continued to insist that the biblical
patriarchs were monogamists. All previous dispensations, according to Mormon
belief, were gospel dispensations, and the purported revelation on plural marriage
contradicted all former revelations on the subject.

He criticized the testimonies of David Fullmer, Lovina Walker, and Emily
D. P. Young on narrow, legal grounds. E.g., Hyrum Smith presented the revelation
to the High Council, not Joseph Smith.

He introduced a new line of argument when he reasoned that polygamy was
contrary to natural law. It was a "departure from the established form ... a
monstrosity, a deformity, a lapsus naturae." God created one human pair; this
was his order.

Joseph Smith III introduced fourteen reasons for disbelieving that Joseph
Smith was a polygamist. The first eleven basically advanced the thesis that all
gospel dispensations were monogamic, Joseph Smith was the appointed prophet to
inaugurate the last gospel dispensation, and therefore he could not have
introduced polygamy. All of the church books and published teachings up until
1844 confirmed this conclusion. The son of the prophet then concluded with three
of his favorite arguments;

12. Joseph Smith was a man in the full use of manhood's physical powers,
capable of begetting children at the time of his death, and had children
by his wife Emma, one of which was born to him after his death.

13. No children were born to Joseph Smith by any of those women whom
you assert were wives to him with all that the name implies.

14. There are good reasons for believing that had Joseph Smith been
married to those whom you assert were his plural wives, issue must have
resulted; and the fact that no children were born to him in polygamy is
strong proof that he had no such wives; especially as said women
subsequently bore children to other men, no better physically than he.

"In the face of what is above written," he wrote, "how can you expect a
man whose legal training you admit gives him the power to analyze evidence and
give it true weight, to receive as conclusive what is so unsatisfactory and
damaging to your own cause[?]" But whatever the truth about his father's
conduct, the gospel remained unchanged and polygamy wrong.53

RLDS Missionary Efforts in Utah

While Joseph Smith III led the RLDS Church into greater and greater
participation in the national crusade against polygamy, RLDS missionary work in
Utah languished in the doldrums. RLDS proselytizing had reached its high-water
mark with the visit of Alexander H. Smith and David H. Smith in 1869. Through
the year 1871, RLDS missionaries had garnered approximately three hundred
converts per year in Utah. During the rest of the 1870s they had failed to sustain
this pace.54

A series of failures marked the Reorganization's work in Utah in the 1870s.
The mission of David Hyrum Smith, Josiah Ells, and Judge Boren had proven
abortive in 1872. Then, in 1874, it was thought to revive the work by sending
Jason W. Briggs, president of the Twelve, to supervise the Utah mission. Briggs
stayed in Utah until 1877, and his tenure was marked by dissension. His
missionary newspaper, The Messenger of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints, began carrying heterodox articles. Finally the RLDS Board
of Publication refused to print the Messenger any longer, Briggs was replaced as
head of the mission, and the Semi-Annual Conference of 1877 refused to sustain
him as an apostle.55 Briggs' replacement as head of the Utah mission was Apostle
Z. H. Gurley, Jr. Gurley soon fell into a hot dispute with Joseph Smith III
and resigned his apostleship.56

The Reorganite missionary effort suffered from additional handicaps in
Utah. Changing demographics worked against the RLDS Church. A smaller and
smaller percentage of the Mormons in Utah was composed of old Saints who were
familiar with Joseph Smith, Jr.'s blessing of his eldest son and with the succession
crisis of 1844. Those who had been converted in Europe or who had been born in
Utah felt less vestigial loyalty to the son of the prophet than did the old Saints.
Utah was a difficult field for RLDS elders. At the Annual Conference of 1880 and
thereafter, several prominent RLDS elders refused to return to Utah. W. W. Blair
was of the opinion that this refusal led to a permanent decline in RLDS fortunes
in the Great Basin.57 The RLDS treasury was strapped for funds continually, and
this limited the number of missionaries sent to all fields, including Utah.58 To
compound matters, what ought to have been the largest and strongest branch in
Utah, the Salt Lake City Branch, was rocked with internal problems.59

True, there were some small RLDS successes in Utah. Total RLDS
membership in Utah increased, because converts no longer felt compelled to
emigrate from Utah. A number of permanent branch organizations were formed.
After years of struggling to raise funds, an RLDS chapel was dedicated in Salt
Lake City in 1881. Jason W. Briggs' unorthadox Messenger was replaced as the
church's missionary publication by The Saints' Advocate (1878-1886). And some
stability was restored to the work in Utah when W. W. Blair assumed its leadership
in 1879.60

To a certain extent the RLDS strategy concerning Utah had undergone a
subtle shift. With the growing realization that there would be no mass movement
of Utahns into the Reorganization, correspondingly greater emphasis was placed
on suppressing polygamy and less on converting Mormons. Greater emphasis was
placed on distancing the Reorganization from the Utah Church in the eyes of the
world, and less on persuading Utahns of the correctness of RLDS apologetics. As
the Reorganization played a more and more prominent role in the crusade against
polygamy, the Mormon Church identified Joseph Smith III and his colleagues as
"persecutors of the Saints." Here was a dilemma indeed. The more successful the
campaign to eradicate polygamy, the greater the chance that the RLDS Church
would be tarred with the brush of persecution. As RLDS elder R. J. Anthony
lamented, in 1882, the work moved slowly in Utah, and the Reorganization was
viewed with great bitterness by some:

Just at this time the chief men and in fact a large majority of the church
are feeling very bitter towards the Reorganised Church our brethren at
Washington has set them on fire they look upon us as the worst enimies
they have they publicly declare that we are urging Congress to destroy
them and that we would cut their throats if we had power to do so Should
Congress pass stringet measures for the suppression of Polygamy then
the worst has not come the Reorganised Church must come in for a
double portion of their anathames .... I am positive in my own mind
that we of the Reorganised church can do but little until Govenment
does its part in suppressing Polygamy with its evils in Utah they must
according to the Revelations be chastened and humiliated similar to the
arrogat Slave holder of the South ... .61

Particularly the presence of RLDS representatives in Washington and the Chicago
Tribune's account of Joseph Smith Ill's remarks at Farwell Hall were employed by
the Deseret News to raise of cry of persecution against the RLDS Church.62

Joseph Smith Ill's Second Trip to Utah

For some time Joseph Smith III had been considering a second trip to Utah.
He knew that his first visit to the Mormon heartland had failed. The Mormons had
not flocked to his banner. Brigham Young's power had not been broken. Polygamy
had not ceased. Personally, he had been wounded by the innuendos employed
against himself and his mother in Utah: that he was a liar, a lawyer, a
spiritualist, maternally dominated, and an apostate who opposed his father's life-
work. He viewed himself as the victim of a policy of slander, one which had
continued after the death of Brigham Young with the misrepresentations of his
remarks at Farwell Hall.

A combination of circumstances led to his decision to make a second
attempt at missionary work in Utah. By far the most important was his
determination to see polygamy extirpated. The national campaign against the
"twin relic of barbarism" was in full swing. Joseph Smith III felt compelled to
lend assistance in the fight to eradicate "a principle foreign to the law of God and
distinctly contrary to the instructions and intentions of the laws of the United
States." 63 A second factor was the need to reinvigorate the RLDS work in Utah.
A third factor was the continued question, from many in Utah, "Why don't Joseph
come? If he has a work to do here, why don't he come now?"64 A fourth
consideration was his newly found freedom in the spring of 1885. His routine had
settled back to normality following several years of hectic activity incidental to
the move to Lamoni. Joseph Smith III finally had persuaded the Annual
Conference of 1885 to accept his resignation from the Board of Publication, and
W. W. Blair had become Associate Editor of the Herald beginning with the April
25, 1885 issue.65 He now felt free to attempt the trip to Utah.

Preparations. Perhaps the most disconcerting thing about missionary work
in Utah was the possibility that he might be confronted by a woman who would
testify that she had been his father's plural wife. The "Last Testimony of Sister
Emma" had been intended to counterbalance the affidavits collected by George A.
Smith and Joseph F. Smith, containing the testimony of such women. But Joseph
Smith III was still uneasy. He had few persons to whom he could turn in the RLDS
Church for help. Both William Marks and Emma Smith Bidamon were dead.
William Smith was willing to testify against polygamy, but Joseph knew only too well that his uncle's testimony was compromised. He therefore turned to
James Whitehead for assistance. More than anyone else in the church, Whitehead
was acquainted with the inner workings of Mormonism in Nauvoo. He had served
as one of the prophet's secretaries in the Red Brick Store. He had heard many
conversations in the office and had handled important documents.

Joseph Smith III therefore thought it best to inquire of James Whitehead
concerning plural marriage in Nauvoo, before he headed west. On September 8,
1884 he wrote to Whitehead asking him to recount candidly anything he knew
about the doctrine of sealing, spiritual wifery, or the revelation on plural
marriage.66 Whitehead's reply is not extant, but must have proven encouraging,
because on April 20, 1885 Joseph travelled to Alton, Illinois to visit the elderly
gentleman. In his journal he recorded:

Visited James Whitehead had a long and interesting chat with him. He
says that he saw the Rev. about I page foolscap paper in father's
handwriting. Clayton copied it was this copy that mother burned. The
doctrine of sealing was taught but did not mean marital relations in time
on earth but simply for companionship in eternity.67

Whitehead's recollections of polygamy underwent modification between the 1870s
and the 1890s. In 1874 he told W. W. Blair that the prophet taught and practiced
polygamy and that Emma Smith knew it.68 By 1884 the anti-polygamous
arguments of the RLDS Church more and more had come to reflect Joseph Smith
Ill's belief that his father had not been the author of Utah polygamy, and
Whitehead's testimony began to change. He told Joseph at the interview in 1884
that there was a revelation, but that it involved sealing wives to husbands for
eternity only. By 1893, when he testified in the Temple Lot case, he denied that
there had ever been a revelation on polygamy.69 Whitehead's intermediate
position proved very useful to Joseph. Whenever he confronted direct evidence
that his father had been sealed to a woman, he could rationalize it as a sealing
rite applying only to the hereafter.

Arrival in Utah. On June 16, 1885 Joseph Smith III left Omaha for Salt
Lake City. With him were Apostles Alexander H. Smith and Joseph Luff. On the
evening of June 17th they detrained in the "City of the Saints." Joseph's stay
would be a lengthy one: six months. During that time he engaged in a variety of
activities, including preaching, visiting, writing, and sight-seeing.70

Preaching. Joseph spent his first week in the capital of Mormondom
visiting. He immediately made the acquaintance of Territorial Governor Eli H.
Murray, one of the leaders in the federal government's war against polygamy.
There was no need to look over his shoulder when walking the streets, as had
RLDS missionaries in earlier decades. Federal marshalls were about, seeking to
arrest those in violation of the Morrill and Edmunds Acts. Mormon President John
Taylor and many other General Authorities were in hiding.

On Sunday, June 21st, he spoke for the first time. He preached to the
RLDS flock at their small chapel at 1:00 P.M. Then at 8:00 P.M. he addressed a
standing-room-only audience of sixteen hundred at the Opera House. Notices in
the papers and an editorial blast in the Deseret News had created tremendous
interest. Crowds milled outside, unable to secure a seat. He chose for his text
the commandment from the Doctrine and Covenants, "Let no man break the laws
of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of
the land . . . ." He reasoned from the Latter Day Saint belief that God
superintended the creation of the American nation and its laws, to the conclusion
that the church had no right to introduce teachings or practices in contravention
of those laws.

The Opera House cost the RLDS Church twenty-five dollars per meeting.
After several more efforts there by Joseph and Alexander (who then went on to
California), the meetings switched to the RLDS Chapel. The Gentile organ, the
Salt Lake Tribune, championed the Josephite cause. The Deseret News continued
to deliver editorial body blows. The News particularly took umbrage at an
editorial written earlier in the year by Joseph Smith III, suggesting how John
Taylor might deliver a revelation ordering the Saints to cease practicing plural
marriage. For good measure, the News again resurrected the Chicago Tribune's
account of his speech at Farwell Hall.71

The initial sensation subsided after a time. Joseph Smith III traveled to
many settlements outside Salt Lake City. In some of the outlying settlements he
drew large audiences. He preached on familiar themes such as monogamy, the
first principles of the gospel, and obedience to government. He was pleased that
in some places Mormon meeting houses were open to him. As in 1876, there was
no rush of converts to the Josephite banner, although some members were added
to the church. On August 6th he began a trip to Idaho and Montana, from which
he did not return until October 3rd.72 Southern Idaho and western Montana were
RLDS mission fields throughout the nineteenth century. Apostate Mormons and
schismatics such as the Morrisites often sought refuge in these places.73 While in
Soda Springs, Idaho, Joseph met John Codman. Codman was on eastern writer
who loved to vacation in the west. A liberal spirit (he had spent part of his youth
at Brook Farm), he did not sympathize with the animus displayed in the current
crusade against polygamy, but he did not countenance plural marriage either.
Codman's pet idea was to reform Mormonism via the Instrumentality of the
Josephites. Once purged of polygamy, Mormonism would be perfectly innocuous,
he reasoned. An internal reformation was much preferable to harsh governmental
measures. Apparently Codman and Joseph Smith III got along famously. Codman
continued to produce writings for the eastern press, championing the Josephites as
the "solution" to the Mormon problem.74

The flag at half-mast on the Fourth of July. July 4, 1885 was an eventful
day in the history of Salt Lake City. The flag in front of the city hall was
discovered flying at half-mast on Independence Day! It was flown half-mast in
front of some other public buildings under Mormon control. Joseph Smith III
accidentally found himself among the crowd which gathered outside the city hall.
Excitement ran high. A U.S. army officer, with some Gentile supporters,
demanded that the flag be raised or lowered. A Mormon policeman, backed by
some brethren, refused. The Mormon people, he shouted, had nothing to cause
them to celebrate the "Glorious Fourth." A fight was avoided when Governor
Murray intervened. The flag was taken down and later raised properly. That
evening a patriotic meeting was held. Troops had been called out from Camp
Douglas to prevent any disturbances. Governor Murray, other U.S. officials, and
some Protestant clergymen occupied the platform. Governor Murray—to the
disgust of one clergyman—invited Joseph Smith III to sit on the platform and to
speak. The crowd was treated to patriotic perorations, culminating in a loudly
applauded rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Joseph Smith III deeply felt the
contrast between his position and that of the Mormons:

As a citizen of the United States . . . and as a free man, at liberty to
come and go in that city and Territory where priestly domination
prevailed, I could not help a thrill of joy passing through me, as I realized
that that company of uniformed and steadily marching men represented
the power and authority of a still higher government—the Republic. ... I
rejoiced that in my heart there was no shadow of fear of the righteous
authority there represented, and that I was conscious of no cowardice,
nor sense of guilt for wrong-doing. There was no writ in the marshal's
hands for my arrest, nor was I hiding from day to day, or from night to
night, under darkness or disguise, to avoid arrest or being called to
account for my conduct through the indignant charges of on outraged

While his preaching and writing were the activities most in the public eye, his
private conversations were one of the most important aspects of his stay in Utah.
Unlike 1876, people no longer thought it imprudent to talk to the son of the
prophet. He mingled freely with his relatives, Mormons, Gentiles, and members
of the RLDS Church. The information gleaned in these conversations forever
confirmed him in his anti-polygamous course of action.

Interviews. Joseph Smith III met a number of Mormons in 1885 who
proposed to "tell him what they knew" about polygamy in Nauvoo. One of the
first was Mrs. John McAllister on June 30th. But Joseph was not impressed,
because questioning revealed that she was eight years his junior and therefore
could not have any first-hand information about the subject. Mrs. McAllister was
a plural wife, and Joseph felt that he detected a sense of self-consciousness and
shame in her demeanor, despite her defense of polygamy.76

A second interview with an old Nauvooan was with Howard Coray, Joseph
Smith Ill's former school teacher, on July 10th. This was Coray's second attempt
to enlighten one of the prophet's sons about polygamy in Nauvoo. In 1866
Alexander H. Smith and Howard Coray had crossed swords at one of Alexander's
meetings in Provo. Coray had attempted to bear his testimony to Joseph Smith's
involvement in polygamy, and Alexander had attacked his statements77

Learning that Joseph was in Provo, Howard Coray decided to bear his
testimony to him. He related how Hyrum Smith had taught him the principle of
celestial marriage personally, and how he and Martha Jane Coray had been sealed
for eternity by Hyrum Smith on July 22, 1843.78 When the older gentleman had
finished his account, Joseph began his cross-examination. He secured a series of
damaging concessions from Coray: that he had never seen the revelation on
celestial marriage in written form or heard it read in Nauvoo; that polygamy was
not taught publicly in Nauvoo; that Joseph Smith never taught him the principle;
that he never saw any woman publicly recognized as Joseph Smith's wife except
Emma Smith; and that he never observed the prophet being married to or
cohabiting with a plural wife. His knowledge of Joseph Smith's marriages to
plural wives was based solely on the reports of others, although some of these
reports came from the wives themselves. As for his own sealing to Martha Jane
Coray, Howard told his former pupil that the ceremony was designed for persons
already married who desired to continue their marital association eternally in the
world to come. The most damaging concession came in reply to what would
become one of Joseph's favorite questions: why did his father have no polygamous

Coray replied that he had often been perplexed by that very question. The
best answer he had been able to obtain was from one of the prophet's plural wives.
She had told one of her children: "My son, the prophet was very considerate in his
associations with women, and did not wish to subject them to the disgrace of
having children without being married."

Joseph Smith III pounced with glee upon this statement. "Disgrace, Brother
Coray, disagrace?" "Perhaps she should have said 'supposed disgrace,"' replied
Howard Coray, his face turning red. He realized that he had revealed that many
Mormons felt a lingering sense of shame about polygamy, despite their rhetoric
about its being a holy principle.

This led to the conclusion of the conversation. Elder Coray beat a hasty
retreat. A fellow Mormon elder named Dusenberry was embarrassed and most
anxious to end the interview. Another Mormon bystander who had witnessed the
whole affair felt the force of the concessions Joseph had extracted from Coray.
He had anticipated that Howard Coray would demolish the son of the prophet's
position, and was bewildered at the outcome.79

On October 20, 1885 Joseph Smith III was in Lehi, Utah. There he called
upon Melissa Lott Willis.80 As young people, in Nauvoo, they had been friends.
Her father, Cornelius P. Lott, had worked the Smith family farm, east of Nauvoo,
for a time, and Joseph had been well acquainted with Melisso and her sisters. He
had been told that he would not dare to interview Melissa Lott Willis, because of
the intimate details concerning polygamy she could relate. Joseph informed her
that he wished her to tell him the truth, whatever it was.

Unlike most of Joseph Smith Ill's interviews in Utah, there is a record of
Melissa Lott Willis' recollections of their conversation. There are several
significant discrepancies between her recollections and those of Joseph Smith III,
and also discrepancies between what she told him and her testimony in the Temple
Lot case.81

The following account is based on the fuller account in Joseph Smith Ill's
memoirs. Discrepancies and problem-areas will be noted in footnotes. According
to Joseph Smith Ill's account, Melissa Lott Willis told him that plural marriage had
been taught privately in Nauvoo. Joseph recorded that he asked whether she had
any knowledge of women other than Emma Smith living with Joseph Smith as his
wife, and that she answered negatively. This reflects Joseph's method of "cross-
examining" the "witnesses" for plural marriage. He asked whether she had ever
witnessed a plural marriage or observed his father cohabiting with a plural wife
and secured negative answers.

What of Emma Smith? Did his mother know of any plural marriages
entered into by his father? Melissa answered rather tremulously, "If there was
anything of that kind going on you may be sure that your mother knew nothing
about it." Questioned as to Emma's reputation for veracity, Melissa replied that
she was as good and truthful a woman as ever lived. "Then you think I would be
justified in believing what my mother told me?, queried Joseph. "Yes," she
answered, "for she would not lie to you." Joseph triumphantly told Melissa that
Emma had denied any knowledge of plural marriage, to which she replied that he
could be confidant in believing that his mother had told him the truth. Since
Melissa Lott Willis had been married to Joseph Smith in secret, she assumed that
Emma Smith had been as ignorant of the prophet's other plural marriages as she
was of Melissa's.82

But then Joseph asked the fateful question: ". .. what was your relation to
my father, if any?" In reply, she brought out the family Bible and showed him the
entry recording her marriage to the prophet. After examining the entry, Joseph
proceeded with his cross-examination:

"Who were present when this marriage took place—if marriage it
may be called?"

"No one but your father and myself."83

"Was my mother there?"

"No, sir."

"Was there no witness there?"

"No, sir."

"Where did it occur?"

"At the house on the farm."

"And my mother knew nothing about it, before or after?"

"No, sir."

"Did you ever live with my father as his wife, in the Mansion House
in Nauvoo, as has been claimed?"84

"No, sir."

"Did you ever live with him as his wife anywhere?" ....

At this point she began to cry, and said, "No, I never did; but you
have no business asking me such questions. I had a great regard and
respect for both your father and your mother. I do not like to talk about
these things."85

"Well, Melissa, I have repeatedly been told that you have stated that
you were married to my father and lived with him as his wife and that
my mother knew of it. Now you tell me you never did live with him as
his wife although claiming to have been married to him. You tell me
there was no one present at that purported marriage except the three of
you and that my mother knew nothing about such an alliance. Frankly, I
am at a loss to know just what you would have me believe about you."

At this point the questioning was interrupted by the arrival of Melissa's
sisters, Alzina and Mary. After some general conversation, Joseph inquired:

"Melissa, do you know where I can find a brother or a sister, child or
children of my father, born to him by some woman other than my mother—in
Illinois, Utah, or anywhere else?"

Melissa answered that she did not, and Mary added: "No, Brother Joseph,
for there isn't any;" She added that for twelve years she had been investigating
all rumors of such children that came to her ears, had travelled many miles in her
quest, and had found no truth in any of the rumors. Alzina then seconded her
sister's conclusions, exclaiming that there were no such children, and,
furthermore, she believed there never was any chance for any. Joseph, Alzina,
and Mary laughed, but Melissa remained silent. Pressed for her reaction to her
sisters' statements, she began to cry. At last she drew a deep breath and
answered with trembling lips:

"Yes; you can believe that they are telling you the truth. There was no
chance for any children."

After some additional conversation, Joseph left the widow Willis' home.
He felt deeply satisfied. In his own mind he believed that he had successfully
cross-examined another of Joseph F. Smith's witnesses who had signed affidavits
concerning Joseph Smith's involvement in polygamy.

But what of the marriage ceremony between Joseph Smith and Melissa
Lott? Joseph reasoned on two different levels. First, they had never been
married in the real sense of the word, "provided the word married be construed as
conveying the right of living together as man and wife." Second, he reasoned that
his father may have been "married" or "sealed" to other women, but not in the
conventional sense. There might have been, he speculated, ordinances performed
which were intended to apply to the world to come but which had no reference to
marital rights in the flesh, in the present.

Having negotiated this gauntlet successfully, Joseph resolved to continue
conversing with all purported plural wives of his father, to "subject them to as
severe a cross examination as was within [his] power, to get as near as possible to
the actual truth of the circumstances and the reports." Apparently he sensed no
incongruity between his modus operandi and his quest for truth.

Another interview with an old Nauvooan took place in Salt Lake City.
Solon Foster had served as Joseph Smith's coachman. Hearing that Joseph Smith
III was in Utah, he travelled over one hundred miles to "tell him what he knew."
Joseph remembered this former inmate of the Smith household with fondness.
After some pleasant reminiscences, they turned to the point of Foster's visit.86

"Joseph," said Foster, "when you meet your father, don't you think he will
give you a good spanking?"

"Why should he spank me?," Joseph asked.

"Because you are doing all in your power to break down that which he gave
his life to establish."

"1 suppose you refer to plural marriage?"


"1 don't know that my father gave his life to establish plural marriage,"
Joseph insisted.

"Joseph, the night your mother turned Eliza R. Snow outdoors in her night
clothes, and you and all the children stood out in the street crying, I led you back
into the house and took you into bed with me, and you said 'I wish mother wouldn't
be so cruel to Aunt Eliza.' You called her aunt, because you knew she was your
father's wife."87

This incident was insufficient evidence to convince Joseph. Foster told
him everything he knew about Joseph Smith's family affairs. But the son of the
prophet was not impressed. Upon questioning, he learned that Foster had left
Nauvoo before 1844, and he concluded that Foster's information concerning the
end of the prophet's life was hearsay. He brought forth the concession that Foster
had never witnessed one of the prophet's plural marriages.

Then came a severe exchange. Joseph Smith III asked Solon Foster if he
had ever observed the prophet behave promiscuously with someone other than
Emma Smith. Foster's face flushed. "Brother Joseph, you have no business to ask
me such pointed questions," he replied. Joseph replied that he had every right to
ask such questions. It was, he argued, his business to find out the truth, even at
the expense of losing confidence in his father's righteousness. He had been
baptized into the church without any knowledge that its faith included plural
marriage. If Foster's claims were true, it would compel him to revise completely
his estimation of his father's character, so he had the right to investigate.
However, he continued, Foster's information was second-hand gossip and hearsay.
He chastized him vigorously:

. . . you know nothing at all, personally, that would so convict and
condemn him, for you say he never taught you the doctrine; you say you
never saw him married to any woman other than my mother; you say you
never saw him act toward any other woman as though she were his wife,
in any form; and that you were never introduced to any other woman who
posed or was recognized either in his house or at the house of anyone
else, as his wife.

He concluded by admonishing Foster that he had no right to repeat or testify to
things outside the purvue of his own observation. The vigor of this cross-
examination took Solon Foster by surprise, and Joseph Smith III was not sure that
his old acquaintance ever forgave him for it.

Also during his stay in Salt Lake City, Joseph Smith III called upon Sarah
Pratt, the widow of Orson Pratt (d. 1881). Sarah Pratt was a determined opponent
of polygamy. Although she had continued to live with her husband after he took
polygamous wives, she reared her children to hate plural morriage.88 After her
husband's death, she freely expressed her pent-up skepticism about Mormonism
and her unflattering personal recollections of polygamy in Nauvoo.89

Having heard reports that Sarah Pratt had first-hand knowledge of his
father's practice of polygamy, Joseph Smith III decided to seek confirmation.
Obtaining an introduction through a retired physician named Benedict, he called
upon Mrs. Pratt, whom he remembered from his childhood days. They chatted
pleasantly about the copy of the Inspired Version which Joseph Smith III had sent
as a gift to Orson Pratt, and the repercussions which ensued when Orson had
endorsed the work publicly. After some time, Joseph broached the subject which
had brought him calling. Apologizing for the indelicacy of the question, he asked
whether the rumors were true that his father had made sexual advances to her.
She denied that he had. After the interview was over, Joseph Smith III and Dr.
Benedict walked down the street together.

"My God; What damned liars these people are;," exclaimed the doctor.
"Here for years I have been told that your father had Mrs. Pratt for one of his
spiritual wives and was guilty of improper relations with her. Now I hear from her
own lips, in unmistakable language, that it was not true. What liars; What liars:"

Since Sarah Pratt died in 1888, Joseph Smith III was glad to have collected
another "testimony" clearing his father's name in 1885.90

These were the most knowledgable persons Joseph Smith III interviewed in
1885 concerning polygamy in Nauvoo. Twice he unsuccessfully sought to
interview Eliza Partridge Lyman. He spoke with his cousin Martha Ann Smith
Harris and Edward Partridge, son of Bishop Edward Partridge. Both supported
plural marriage, but neither had been old enough in Nauvoo to be familiar with
polygamy's inner workings there.91 He spoke with William Huntington and Oliver
B. Huntington at Springville, Utah, but learned nothing about the inner workings
of polygamy from them.92 The actor Thomas A. Lyne, told him of Hyrum Smith's
denunciation of polygamy in 1844.93

Other conversations reinforced Joseph Smith Ill's convictions about
polygamy. He found many second generation Mormons were disgusted with it.94
Occasionally he found a Mormon who defended plural marriage in principle while
belying such a conviction in practice. His cousin Martha Harris was one of these.
She stoutly upheld the principle in conversation with Joseph, but she refused to let
her husband William take a second wife.95 Mrs. John McAllister likewise
attempted a defense of the principle, but her self-conscious manner revealed that
her moral sensibilities were not reconciled to it.96 He became convinced that the
tales he heard of easy divorce and loose sexual ethics among young people were
natural outgrowths of polygamy.97

His convictions about other areas of Mormon practice also were reinforced
by his conversations. He heard tales of how the tithing system was enforced
oppressively.98 First-hand accounts of Brigham Young's doings convinced him
that the Lion of the Lord had behaved arbitrarily, imperiously, and unwisely.99
His interview with W. C. Hickman—son of the notorious "Danite"—persuaded him
that Bill Hickman had been a good man led into wrong-doing by the authorities of
the church100 Annie Robinson, an RLDS convert, told him tales of oppression
and surveillance in Utah. 101 He concluded that the standard works—particularly
the Doctrine and Covenants—were not commonly employed in Mormon preaching,
and that "Gospel discourses" were rare. 102 John Carter told him that he had
heard the prophet announce that Young Joseph would succeed him. 103

Relatives. As in 1876, Mormon Patriarch John Smith greeted his cousin
Joseph cordially. Joseph was a frequent and welcome visitor at John's home, and
John frequently took his cousin visiting or sightseeing in his buggy. 104

Cousin Samuel H. B. Smith likewise offered Joseph a warm welcome.
Joseph enjoyed visiting at Samuel's home, where he lived with his first wife. They
were careful to steer clear of the touchy subject of polygamy, however, which
was then uppermost in the minds of all due to the anti-polygamic activities of the
U.S. marshalIs. On June 27th Joseph visited Samuel and found him in a rage
against Bishop W. B. Preston. Samuel owned a dairy farm and sold his milk to the
Tithing Office. A heated argument had ensued when Bishop Preston informed
Samuel that he was going to lower the price he gave for his milk. "Cousin Joseph,
I don't care a damn if you put this whole Mormon Church into your pocket and
carry it off with you!," he declared.105

On July 29th Apostle John Henry Smith called on Joseph Smith III. Joseph
had a long friendship with Samuel H. B. Smith and John Smith, but it was in 1885
that he developed a lasting friendship with John Henry, the son of George A.
Smith. On the 29th they spent the whole afternoon in conversation. John Henry
was a pluralist. Together they canvassed their religious differences in a calm and
courteous fashion. John Henry admitted that Joseph made a strong argument for
his position, particularly "so far as the books are concerned," but he concluded
that he always expected to remain a pluralist. He assured Joseph, however, that
he was his friend and would welcome him always into his home. Both relatives
respected one another. They remained lifelong correspondents. 106

Joseph also had some pleasant visits with Judge Elias Smith, who, however,
studiously avoided the question of polygamy. When dining at the judge's home, the
introductions of the women of the household were conducted in such a manner
that Joseph never was able to ascertain the relationships existing between them.
Elias' granddaughter Lucy E. Woodruff presented Joseph with a transcript of the
Smith family genealogy.107

One relative whom Joseph Smith III did not visit was Joseph F. Smith.
Joseph F. was in the Sandwich Islands, keeping out of the way of the U.S.
marshalIs. He would remain in hiding—in Hawaii and elsewhere—until September
1891. Because Joseph F. had been in charge of the Endowment House for some
years, and could testify about numerous illegal plural marriages performed there,
President John Taylor was most anxious that he not fall into the hands of the
law. 108 In the vernacular of the time, he—along with many other members of the
Mormon hierarchy—was on the "Underground Railroad." As Alexander H. Smith
explained in a letter, John Taylor, Joseph F. Smith, George Q. Cannon, and
Wilford Woodruff were all traveling on the underground railroad "for their health."
Nobody, he explained, "except the very faithful know where they are. Angus
Cannon Pres of this stake is serving his time in the Pen. Many of the small fry
have been hooped and have gone up. The U.S. Deputies are preparing an attack all
along the line, and a grand haul may be looked for in the near future."'109 Joseph
Smith III himself viewed the absence of his cousin and the other leaders-in-hiding
with irony. "I am at the citadel—the chief shepherds are gone—where—dont know.
I am the only prophet, seer and revelator in the city now of Mormonic

It was probably just as well that Joseph III was not able to converse with
Joseph F. in 1885. Cousin Joseph F. was in high dudgeon, furious at the federal
attempts to suppress polygamy. He regarded the federal government's war on
polygamy as pure persecution. Joseph F.'s families were scattered, under
surveillance, and often raided. Thousands of miles away, he was indignant,
concerned for their welfare, and yet powerless to help them.111 His letters from
Hawaii present a remarkable psychological portrait of a man alternately resigned
to martyrdom, weary of exile, defiant, cautious, vengeful, and indignant. The
federal officials he regarded as "damned villains" deserving to having their
miserable carcasses "consumed to ashes." "I sometimes feel like cursing the
whole United States," he wrote, "for their unfairness, partizan rulings and
inhuman laws." 112 If Joseph III and Joseph F. Smith had been able to converse, it
is likely that their talk would have been far more strained than it had been in

Joseph Smith III was able to meet his cousin Levira, however. The divorced
first wife of Joseph F. Smith was reticent about her past. Joseph surmised that
she might not wish to speak freely in front of Patriarch John Smith. Joseph Smith
III viewed her as a victim of polygamy and felt deep sympathy for her. 113

When he departed Salt Lake City on December 21, 1885, relatives were
there to see him off. John Smith, his wife Helen, and John Henry Smith bade him
farewell at the Denver and Rio Grande station. 114

He could look with some satisfaction at his six-month mission in Utah.
Although occasionally depressed by his environment, his facial neuralgia had not
proved a significant hindrance. He had not gained large numbers of converts to
the RLDS Church, but he had obtained valuable publicity. Newspaper readers
across the nation were exposed to the differences between the two churches as a
result of his mission. While he had been subjected to personal attack in the
Mormon press, he had not responded in kind. In fact he found an increased
willlingness to debate compared with the past, and more open meeting houses. He
was well received by federal officials and found that they gave his ideas about
Utah serious consideration. 115 He was convinced that polygamy was on the
defensive and would be defeated in time. "Time will aid us. The processes are at
work," he concluded.116 Most importantly, he had run the gauntlet in his
mission to clear his father's name. He felt that his cross-examination of Mormon testimonies had proven them unreliable in each case. Henceforth his writings and
sermons would become ever more insistent that Joseph Smith, Jr. was not the
originator of Mormon polygamy.

Dissension in the Ranks

At the conference of 1886, Apostle Jason W. Briggs, Apostle Zenas H.
Gurley, Jr., and several members of the Gurley family withdrew from membership
in the RLDS Church.117 One might have expected that these departures—that of
the co-founder of the Reorganization and that of the son and namesake of the
other co-founder—would have occasioned a major schism. Just the opposite
occurred. Only a handful of members followed the dissident apostles out of the

The rest of the church breathed a collective sigh of relief at their
departure. Controversy had surrounded them for approximately a decade. Their
cry for a debate over their increasingly heterodox views had proven vexing. A
measure of calm and unity pervaded the church after their withdrawal.

J. W. Briggs. Technically Jason W. Briggs withdrew because his articles
were refused publication in the Herald. The root of the controversy, however, lay
in his dynamic view of inspiration, revelation, and truth. Influenced by modern
trends in Biblical and biological studies, Briggs had developed liberal positions
about matters ranging from Adam's rib to Joseph Smith's revelations. Joseph
Smith III was willing to tolerate a variety of opinions in the church, but eventually
Briggs' speculative views and critical conclusions distanced him too greatly from
the general membership for him to remain the president of the Twelve. His
withdrawal in 1886 simply avoided formal measures against him by the

Z. H. Gurley. It is the withdrawal of Z. H. Gurley, Jr. which bears some
interest to this study, since it touched upon the question of polygamy. Both
Briggs and Gurley wished the church to repudiate certain of Joseph Smith's
revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. But Gurley additionally complained
that Joseph Smith III wrongly whitewashed his father's involvement in polygamy.
Gurley felt strongly about this, based on conversations with his father-in-law,
Ebenezer Robinson. Robinson told his son-in-law that Hyrum Smith taught him
the doctrine of plural marriage. Gurley took Joseph Smith III to task:

. . . you absolutely refuse to believe the evidence which would convict
him [Joseph Smith, Jr.], and said evidence by witnesses too who would
readily be accepted by any court of the land and who stand unimpeached
by the Church. . . . Your constructions or rather your conclusions are
rejected by me and mine by you, the Church is also divided upon this
point—now I ask is it right for you to state your side of the question and
over its truthfulness through the Herald and deny the opposite side the
same liberty?

Gurley insisted that he would continue to "flatly reject what I believe to be the
'human element' so frequently found in inspiration . . . ." Joseph Smith's
revelations were filled with this human element. "The hand," he charged, was
"put forth to steady the Ark of God" early in the prophet's career. Z. H. Gurley,
Sr. had witnessed much in Missouri and Illinois, but his love for the prophet
"prevented his telling all he knew about the matter—at least I so think—but I
confess that I am made of sterner stuff."118 Feeling that he could not accept all
the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, he proposed that individual
conscience and formally ratified doctrinal statements of the church be the only
rule of faith and practice.

This went too far for Joseph Smith III to accept. It undermined the power
of his prophetic office by removing from it the final seat of dogmatic
authority.119 It threatened his campaign against Mormon polygamy, which was
based upon an appeal to church law as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants
and the other standard works. It also ran counter to his campaign to rehabilitate
his father's reputation. Finally, it called into question the very basis of his
religious career. If Joseph Smith, Jr.'s revelations were questionable, what of his
own blessing and calling? Joseph Smith III had no choice but to oppose Z. H.
Gurley, Jr. and to let him go his own way. By experience, temperament, policy,
and conviction, he believed in liberality, but this platform was more than he could

Minor reverberations from Gurley's withdrawal continued for a few years.
Wounded by the controversy, Gurley published a pamphlet entitled History of the
Reorganization, arguing from incidents in Gurley family history that it was futile
to place one's confidence in latter day revelations. Such "revelations," he argued,
simply answered to the prior desire of the heart. When subjected to empirical
testing, they failed. The revelations upon which the Reorganization was founded
were subject to all these criticisms. He concluded that his father's work of
reforming Mormonism had not gone far enough. All the revelations of Joseph
Smith should have been rejected, because no one had a right "to add a codicil to
the last will and testament of Christ."120

To confirm his father-in-law's allegations about Hyrum Smith teaching
polygamy, Gurley had secured an affidavit from Leonard Soby. This he placed in
the hands of Lyman 0. Littlefield, who used it in a renewed attack upon Joseph
Smith III.121

He also provided an autobiographical sketch for a history of Decatur
County, Iowa. In this account he gave a detailed description of his quarrel with
the Reorganized Church—arguing that latter day revelations had proven "the
curse and bane of the Mormon church"—but he also cited the revelation on plural
marriage as an example of this baneful influence. He submitted for publication
two affidavits of his father-in-law Ebenezer Robinson. These certified that
Hyrum Smith taught him polygamy in 1843, gave him special instructions how to
avoid public detection, and told how his brother Joseph had overcome his initial
opposition to the revelation.122 Joseph Smith III was wounded by the publication
of this affidavit, but concluded that the spirit of animus underlying its publication
would be apparent to most readers of the history. In fact, it seems to have done
little damage to the Reorganized Church in Decatur County.

Ebenezer Robinson. Two years after his son-in-law withdrew from the
RLDS Church, Ebenezer Robinson (1816-1891) did the same. Robinson was an old
Saint. He had been a eye-witness to many events in Kirtland, Far West, and
Nauvoo. His services as a printer proved valuable both to Joseph Smith, Jr. and to
Joseph Smith III. He followed Sidney Rigdon in 1844, but left him after a time
and returned to the West. He affiliated with the Reorganization in 1863, but
never accepted all the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants as binding. He
believed that Joseph Smith had made many mistakes in his career, delivered false
revelations, and had fallen into iniquity when he introduced polygamy. Both in
conversation and in writing, Robinson had told Joseph Smith III that Hyrum Smith
taught him the doctrine of plural marriage. In 1873, when the Herald carried on
article stating that neither Joseph nor Hyrum ever built up polygamy, Ebenezer
Robinson fired off a letter denouncing such statements as unfactual. It was at
this time that he and his wife Angeline made out the above-mentioned affidavit,
to record their testimony for posterity.123

In 1887 the Saints' Herald began publishing attacks on David Whitmer's
Address to All Believers in Christ.124 Basically Whitmer maintained that Joseph
Smith was chosen by God to bring forth the Book of Mormon, but later became a
fallen prophet. Robinson agreed with many of Whitmer's criticisms of Joseph
Smith's revelations, and the articles in the Herald impelled him to leave the RLDS
Church and be baptized into the Whitmerite Church of Christ.125

In January 1889, he began publishing The Return in the interests of the
Whitmerite Church. Robinson continued publishing The Return at Davis City,
Iowa until his death in 1891. The twenty-six numbers of The Return fired hot-shot
into the hull of the Reorganization. Repeatedly Robinson denounced departures
from primitive Mormonism. His long-running series, "Items of Personal History of
the Editor," excoriated Joseph Smith's later career. At the very time that Joseph
Smith III was making headway in rehabilitating his father's name in the eyes of
outsiders, Robinson diligently set about unearthing embarrassing incidents in the
Mormon past. Over and over he sought to demonstrate that the Saints' Herald
portrayed a sanitized image of the prophet. Unfortunately for historians—perhaps
to the relief of Joseph Smith III—Ebenezer Robinson died before he could
complete his recounting of events in Nauvoo.126

John K. Sheen. John K. Sheen was the son of Isaac Sheen. A pugnacious
man, he had been embittered toward the RLDS Church for years.127 In the late
1880s he Joined the critics who claimed that the Saints' Herald was not being
candid about polygamy. Drawing upon Sheen family history, he published evidence
showing that the early Reorganization took a different view of polygamy than
that put forward in the Herald in the 1880s. In 1889 he began publishing the
short-lived Relic Library, in which he intended to republish historical evidence
inimical to Latter Day Saint hagiography. When the Herald warned readers
against patronizing the publication, Sheen fumed that the "Herod of Lamoni" had
issued an edict against him in order to suppress the truth. 128

Sheen's most telling blow was the publication, late in 1889, of Polygamy, or
the Veil Lifted.129 This twenty-two page pamphlet traced the history of Mormon
polygamy back into the early days of Joseph Smith's career. The published denials
during the lifetime of Joseph Smith were identical to those issued afterwards by
men such as Brigham Young and William Smith. These denials, upon which Joseph
Smith III rested so much of his case, actually showed that plural marriage existed
prior to June 27, 1844, John K. Sheen reasoned. William Smith and Isaac Sheen
had submitted a Memorial to Congress, in 1850, opposing the admission of Deseret
into the Union, partially on the grounds that the Mormons practiced polygamy.
But later that year William Smith was discovered to be practicing polygamy,
which gave rise to the Reorganization. The first number of the True Latter Day
Saints' Herald had told the truth about polygamy.

In his pamphlet, Sheen hammered away at the inconsistencies in Joseph
Smith Ill's reading of Latter Day Saint history. What his heavy-handed prose
lacked in tact and subtlety, it supplied in biting irony. John K. Sheen mocked
Joseph Smith Ill's appeals to "rules of evidence" to exclude embarrassing historical

FRAUD, FRAUD, fraud! cries Joseph the younger. M. G. Eaton,
stand up. Did you ever hear anything about Sealing and Spiritual Wives?
Yes, I was one of Joseph's most "important witnesses," and swore to what
Chauncy Higbee said on March 15, 1844. What was that?

Joseph the younger: I object. This is hearsay. Objection over-
ruled. . . .

Will Gov. Ford come in? Yes, sir. Do you know anything[?] Think I
do. ...

I object, says Joseph the younger, this man has no personal

Court; We are governed by the rules of the Municipal court of
Nauvoo. Gov. Ford, proceed.130

After more analysis of inconsistencies in Joseph Smith Ill's position, Sheen
played his trump card. He related how his father had trapped William Smith into
an admission of polygamy in 1850. Then he proceeded to publish William Smith's
"Elders' Pocket Companion." 131 This revealing little manuscript fell into the
elder Sheen's keeping in 1850. It was subtitled "A Series of Brief Treatises on
Baptism for the Dead. Spiritual Wife Doctrine Applies to the Millennium, and
Plurality Wife Doctrine as Practised by the Ancient Prophets and Patriarchs."
Sheen concluded triumphantly that the RLDS Church was wasting its time trying
to convict Brigham Young of originating polygamy, because the Mormon
president's announcement on August 29, 1852 came eight years after William
Smith composed the "Elders' Pocket Companion."

Whereas Sheen's earlier barrages were met with counterfire from the
Herald, this salvo met deafening silence. The Herald loved to complain that
Mormon elders generally refused to debate with RLDS elders, and that Mormon
newspapers ignored RLDS claims and activities. To be consistent, Joseph Smith
III constantly urged that RLDS chapels be open to speakers from other churches.
RLDS elders frequently debated Adventists and Campbellites. Reports on such
exchanges often found their way into the Herald. But in Sheen's case, silence was
the best response. Public comment would only draw attention to parts of its own
history which the Reorganization was trying to forget.

The defection of Jason Briggs and the Gurleys and the historical criticisms
of David Whitmer, Ebenezer Robinson, and John K. Sheen were of great concern
to Joseph Smith III at the time. But in the long run, their criticisms confirmed
him in his policy. Virtually no one in the RLDS Church was persuaded by them. In
a way which was unthinkable in 1860, the Reorganized Church was now truly a
"Josephite" body, one which reflected the thinking of Joseph Smith III. The old
Saints who remembered Nauvoo were nearly all gone. Few of their children or
new converts to the church wished to dispute Joseph Smith Ill's revisionist
interpretation of the Latter Day Saints' past. The defection of the dissidents
established more firmly the RLDS Church's self-identity as the "true church," one
completely loyal to a sanitized legacy depicting Joseph Smith, Jr. as a foe of

Impending Crisis in Utah

While Joseph Smith III was leading the Reorganized Church into a position
of public respectability by dissociating the church from polygamy past or present,
the Utah Church increasingly found itself under seige.

Exile and death of John Taylor. On February 1, 1885, Mormon President
John Taylor made what turned out to be his last public appearance. Before a
congregation in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, he preached a lengthy sermon.
In it he reviewed the history of the Mormons and their search for a haven in which
they might practice their religion unmolested. With reference to the federal
pressures against polygamy, he declared himself a die-hard. Human statutes could
not annul divine commandments, he insisted. He declared emphatically that he
would never surrender to such pressures: ". . . shall I be recreant to all these
noble principles that ought to guide and govern men? No. Never! No. Never!
NO. NEVER!" That night John Taylor disappeared from public view. He spent
the rest of his life "on the underground."132

On July 25, 1887 President Taylor died in hiding at Kaysville, Utah. He had
eluded the federal cordon for more than two years. His counselors George Q.
Cannon and Joseph F. Smith published a eulogy in the Deseret News. In it they
called him a double martyr, one wounded at Carthage Jail and later hounded to
death by the U.S. government.133

Wilford Woodruff was president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles by
virtue of seniority. The quorum, with Woodruff at its head, assumed direction of
the Mormon Church. Eighteen months later, Woodruff formally assumed the
office of president. He named George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith as his
counselors. Woodruff's assumption of the Mormon presidency marked an epochal
turning point in that church's history. Under increasing federal pressure and after
agonizing soul-searching, he was to issue the edict abandoning the practice of
plural marriage.

The Edmunds-Tucker Act. By 1887 hundreds of Mormon elders had been
imprisoned under the Edmunds Act. It had been necessary to enlarge the federal
penitentiary in Utah to accomodate all of them. Most of the Mormon hierarchy
was on the underground. But public sentiment was not satisfied that enough had
been done to extirpate the "twin relic of barbarism." On March 3, 1887 the
Edmunds-Tucker Bill became law, without President Grover T. Cleveland's

The Edmunds-Tucker Act marshalled the resources of the federal
government for an all-out assault on polygamy. Various provisions made it easier
to secure convictions for polygamy. Voters, jurors, and office holders were
required to subscribe to a test oath pledging obedience to and support for all anti-
polygamy laws. The act aimed to force compliance not only by assessing penalties
against individual polygamists, but by attacking the political and economic power
of the Mormon Church in Utah. Two of the most severe measures aimed at the
church's power were the dissolution of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company
and the disincorporation of the LDS Church. All property held by the Mormon
Church in excess of $50,000 was to be escheated to the U.S. government.134

While the bill was under debate, the Herald kept up its drum-beat of
criticism of Mormon resistance to federal law. Mormons had no business hiding
behind claims that anti-polygamy laws were unconstitutional, argued the Herald.
According to holy writ from Joseph Smith's pen, the U.S. Constitution was
divinely inspired. The Constitution established the Supreme Court as the arbiter
of constitutionality. Since the court had declared the anti-polygamy laws
constitutional, these laws ought to be obeyed by all good Saints. If individuals
were left to choose which laws were constitutional, it would spell the end of civil
government. 135

Interestingly, Joseph Smith III opposed the two most severe provisions of
the Edmunds-Tucker Act prior to its enactment. He editorialized and wrote
friendly Members of Congress, urging that the provisions for the take-over of the
Perpetual Emigrating Fund and the escheating of the Mormon Church's resources
be deleted from the bill. His reasons were twofold. First, he felt the measures
went too far and might be construed in Utah as "spiteful and oppressive." They
might prove counterproductive by stiffening Mormon resistance, rather than
gaining compliance with the law. Second, he predicted that the Mormon
authorities would find ways to evade the law by transferring assets out of the
P.E.F. and the church corporation. The law would end up looking ridiculous.
Better to enact nothing than to pass an unworkable provision, he reasoned.136 He
assured his correspondents in Washington, D.C. that he wished to see polygamy
suppressed, plural wives' rights provided for, U.S. law supreme, but without
making martyrs of Mormon polygamists.137

Once the Edmunds-Tucker Bill became law, Joseph Smith III editorialized
that members of the RLDS Church could take the test oath, but questioned
whether monogamous members of the LDS Church could do so.138 The Herald in
1887 was filled with articles proclaiming that Reorganites were loyal to the
government. A long-running series—aimed at countering Utah claims of
persecution and martyrdom—was entitled, "Persecution and Its Causes." This
sought to show that both the persecution of the early Saints and their response
had been different from the situation in Utah. In particular, the early Saints had
not suffered as a result of disobedience to the law and had sought redress for their
grievances via legal means.

When the Mormon Church's assets were seized on December 7, 1887, the
Herald's reaction was subdued. The action, it said, was severe and harsh, "but it is
the legal outgrowth of the measures enacted by the Government to compel people
living in the United States territory to conform to the spirit of American

Joseph Smith Ill's Third Trip to Utah and the West

With polygamy on the defensive, most of the Mormon hierarchy on the
underground, and the Mormon Church's economic and political power under seige,
Joseph Smith III decided to make his third trip to Utah and the West. On
December 27, 1887 he boarded a west-bound train at Lamoni. He had several
reasons for this journey, but the crusade against polygamy was not chief among
them. By far the most important reason was his need for a rest. The facial
neuralgia which first beset him in 1876 had become progressively worse. He
hoped that a stay in California, away from the heavy burdens of the office and
Iowa's wintry chills, might bring him relief. Secondary reasons were the need to
arbitrate long-standing disputes in the Oakland branch and a desire to answer
numerous requests that he return to Utah.140

After Joseph's departure, W. W. Blair editorialized:

Joseph has not sought in any way to obtrude or force himself or his
work on the Utah people. He has neither despised, abused, ridiculed nor
in any way contemned them. Nor has he flattered or in any wise
endeavored to entice or beguile them. But from the first he has sought
to reach their judgment and their affections and win them away from
polygamy, priestly dictation in domestic, financial and political matters,
and have them return to the doctrine of Christ and his laws and usages of
the church contained in the sacred books publicly used and sanctioned by
the Church in the days of Joseph the Seer.

The Mormons in Utah should receive the son of the prophet, said Blair, because he
was his duly appointed successor, because he recalled them to the pristine
teachings of the Mormon scriptures, and because the Reorganized Church—unlike
the Utah Church—had achieved rapid growth and respectability, and generally was
vindicating the latter day work. 141

Joseph Smith III stepped from the train in Salt Lake City on December
31st. New Year's Day was a Sunday, and he preached twice in the small RLDS
Chapel. He preached frequently during the rest of his stay. His preaching was
standard fare. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that his sermon on the marriage
relation, on January 15th, was eloquent. He sought to show from Latter Day Saint
scripture that monogamy was ordained of God. Why, he asked, had the Utah
edition of the Doctrine and Covenants removed the old section on marriage and
replaced it with the purported revelation on celestial marriage? The Tribune
reported that he closed by "reciting how he had successfully preached Mormonism
in the very court room where Joseph and Hyrum were arraigned, and had baptized
even in Bear Creek." The remainder of his time was spent in visiting and
correspondence. This was no major missionary effort. There were no mass
meetings and nothing resembling the sensation which attended his arrival in 1885.

The RLDS president had opportunity to visit with Governor West and
several prominent members of the territorial legislature. He also conversed with
B. F. Cummings of the Deseret News, E. W. Tullidge, and several relatives.
Patriarch John Smith and Helen again greeted him cordially, as did Samuel H. B.
Smith. He did not meet with Joseph F. Smith, who was not in Utah. He enjoyed
his deliberately quiet visit. "I made no effort to reach many outside our own
circles on this winter visit to Salt Lake City," he wrote, "but enjoyed my stay
there very much."142

The same could not be said of his stay in California. On January 20th he
left Utah, and on January 22nd he arrived in San Francisco. He wearied himself
trying to resolve long-festering quarrels in Oakland. On March 20th, when he
arrived in Southern California, he anticipated staying for six months. He could,
he hoped, enjoy the state's natural beauties, rest, and avoid the strains of the
Annual Conference. Instead, he was vexed by facial neuralgia and insistent calls
urging him to return home and attend the conference. After only one week in
Southern California, he reluctantly headed east, more weary in body and soul than
when he left Lamoni143

Redeeming the Waste Places of Zion

Joseph Smith III reached Independence, Missouri on March 29, 1888. There
he stayed at the home of his eldest daughter, Emma, and her husband, Dr.
Alexander McCallum. Shortly after his arrival, Dr. McCallum extracted some of
his remaining teeth, hoping that this would relieve the throbbing pain which
afflicted the RLDS president. After the conference he sought relief by having the
rest of his teeth removed. This experiment proved a failure. Bad teeth had
nothing to do with the neuralgic pain. The conference itself proved contentious.
Joseph Smith III suffered physically and emotionally during its sessions.144

His distress was counter-balanced by one bright event. On the opening day
of the conference, April 6th, the cornerstone of the new RLDS church building in
Independence was laid. Located just across the street from the historic Temple
Lot, the beginning of the Stone Church marked a new step in the gradual return of
the Saints to Zion. For some years the number of Saints in Independence had been
growing. Conferences had been held in that city sacred to all Latter Day Saints.
The commencement of the Stone Church symbolized the determination of the
Josephites to return to Zion. Joseph Smith III took the event as a mark of divine

In peace, by the common consent of the entire community where the
Saints are dwelling, with the active cooperation of many and the
outspoken sympathy of many more, the people of the church once driven
from the State, in open day, with the watchful guardians of the public
safety careful that they were not disturbed and the spirit of American
liberty again outraged, set up the stone designed to show where the
"sanctuary and the true tabernacle" had been "pitched." 145

Like the acquisition and refurbishing of the Kirtland Temple, and like the
widely publicized conferences in the Kirtland Temple,146 laying the cornerstone
of the church at Independence was one more step in Joseph Smith Ill's long and
patient strategy. Through good citizenship and good morals, the Saints could
return to the places from which their forebears had been driven.

Fourth Trip to the West

On December 6, 1888, Joseph Smith III again left Lamoni for California.
Officially he was travelling to San Bernardino to participate in the dedication of
the RLDS church there. Unofficially he was still seeking the rest and
recuperation which he had failed to obtain the previous winter.

Southern California. He reached San Bernardino on December 14th. Two
days later he preached at the dedication of the RLDS Church there. He stayed in
Southern California until the middle of May. This time he succeeded in obtaining
the much needed rest which had eluded him on his previous visit. When weather
and health permitted, he preached occasionally, visited, and explored much of
Southern California. It was an extraordinarily wet winter, and he spent much of
his time reading and writing beside the fireplace.147

During his stay in California he completed a tract entitled One Wife, or
Many. This recapitulated many of his earlier arguments in his exchange with
Littlefield. He polished and refined his scriptural arguments against plural
marriage and added certain historical arguments about the origin of Mormon
polygamy. He argued that the practice received sanction illegally under Brigham
Young, because it ran counter to previous revelation and public repudiations of
polygamy under Joseph Smith, because the purported revelation was never
adopted by the church's quorums in the prescribed fashion, and because the
revelation was contrary to statutory laws which the Saints were commanded to

Apostle Heman C. Smith was in charge of the RLDS work in California and
had his base of operations in San Bernardino. Heman C. Smith was a grandson of
Lyman Wight and had possession of Wight's journal. Heman apparently showed
Joseph some extracts from the journal, in which Wight upheld the rights of the
prophet's son to succeed him, which Joseph mailed to W. W. Blair in Lamoni. Blair
appended this material to the tract One Wife. or Many.149 This was the first
time the RLDS Church employed direct quotations from Lyman Wight to support
Joseph Smith Ill's claims to the presidency.

In San Bernardino Joseph had a lengthy conversation with David Seeley,
formerly of Nauvoo. Seeley contended that Joseph Smith originated polygamy and
that the Reorganization lacked authority from God. Joseph Smith III prepared a
lengthy set of answers to Seeley's objections. While the questions posed by Seeley
ran the gamut of disputed points between the LDS and RLDS Churches—polygamy,
the Rocky Mountain prophecy, temple rites, persecution an authenticating mark
of the church—he pressed Joseph Smith III hardest on the question of authority. In
his written answers, Joseph expanded considerably upon his arguments in a tract
entitled The Rejection of the Church (written in 1887).150 In reply to Seeley's
questions about the source of RLDS authority, he stated:

The men who were chiefly instrumental in the organization of the
Reorganized Church were members of the Church in my father's time,
whose membership had not been forfeited by transgression, proper labor,
trial and conviction before a church tribunal of any kind. Membership in
the church could not then, and can not now, be severed by even
competent authority, except for cause. ... No claim is made that the
men were apostles. . . . There is no precedent ... in which the chain of
apostleship was severed; except in the succession, or failure of it, after
the Twelve chosen by Jesus, both in the Jewish Bible and the Book of
Mormon; and in this case it was revived, renewed, or recreated by
command of God to Joseph Smith. In the case of the Twelve appointed in
the lifetime of Joseph Smith, the right of office and of succession lapsed
by departure from the law of God, in which case Joseph Smith said,
"Amen to that man's priesthood." . . . The principle of the perpetuation
of the church in case of failure in the Quorum of apostles ... is given in
Doctrine and Covenants .... The Lord there said that the oracles should
"be given to another; yea, even unto the church." The principle and
powers of reorganization remained with the members of the church who
retained the original faith, wherever any one holding the Melchizedek
Priesthood was found, whenever commanded by God to proceed to that
work; and that without action of ordination on the part of the last apostle
.... Joseph and Oliver ordained each other, by command of god, unto
office which neither held before. . . . The command of god is man's
authority, and any one holding the Melchizedek priesthood may, at the
command of god, ordain such officers as are needed to begin and perfect

While in Southern California, Joseph Smith III continued his epistolary
exchanges with Joseph F. Smith. Joseph F., who still had to stay out of public
view, was demanding that the RLDS Board of Publication turn over engraved
plates of Joseph and Hyrum Smith which the Reorganized Church had obtained
from E. W. Tullidge. Joseph III refused. He told his cousin to take up the quarrel
with Tullidge, who was in Salt Lake City, if Tullidge had wrongly sold property in
which Joseph F. had an interest. The correspondence was not friendly, and it
turned into a discussion of theological differences as well as a proprietary dispute.
Both cousins wrote at great length, and, in the mind of each, conclusively. 152

Northern California. On May 24, 1889, Joseph Smith III arrived in San
Francisco. He stayed in Northern California for slightly more than a month,
visiting the Saints and doing a bit of church work. On June 11th he looked up his
cousin Ina D. Coolbrith, who was then librarian of the Oakland Library. Ina—her
given name was Josephine Donna Smith—was the daughter of Don Carlos Smith,
born only months before her father's death in 1841. She was one of the most
prominent literary figures in California and assiduously sought to avoid all
mention of her Mormon ancestry. She received Joseph graciously. Both Joseph Smith III and Joseph F. Smith corresponded with their cousin Ina, but neither ever
succeeded in persuading her to affiliate with his respective church.153

Fourth Mission to Utah

On Thursday, June 27, 1889, Joseph Smith III arrived in Salt Lake City to
begin his fourth mission in the Great Basin. He visited friends and relatives and
then began his ministerial labors on Sunday the 30th, speaking twice at the RLDS
Chapel. 154

On Independence Day he attended festivities in Liberty Park. Himself an
accomplished Fourth of July orator and one who always enjoyed patriotic displays,
he endured a dry and dusty day in the hot summer's sun to "display his patriotism."
Many Mormons felt that the federal government was persecuting them, and most
of the hierarchy was in hiding, but this only served to sharpen Joseph's criticisms
of Mormon patriotism. He reported to his daughter Audie:

I saw not one of the leading churchmen in the crowd. I saw one,
once a prominent man, and as he passed me, he looked at me as if he
would like to bite me. At least that was the look I fancied I saw on his
face—a may have been dust blinded, just then. I felt sad to think "How
are the Mighty Fallen?" I, as a free man, respected at home and abroad,
was there, but those who have made the name of Mormonism a stench,
where were they? 155

On Sunday, July 7th, he again preached twice at the Saints' Chapel. Then
on the 9th he headed south for Lehi. The better part of his mission was spent
outside Salt Lake City, ranging from Pleasant Grove in the south to Malad, Idaho
in the north.

Preaching. By now Joseph Smith III was self-confident when facing a
Mormon audience. Several times in 1889 old Saints attended his services who
might have challenged him about events in Nauvoo. But such a confrontation
never took place. Among those old Saints was Joseph C. Kingsbury, who attended
one of Joseph's services on July 14th. 156 Milo G. Andrews, who had been an
elder in Nauvoo, reviewed one of Joseph Smith Ill's discourses, but confined his
remarks to theological rather than historical arguments. 157 Lyman 0. Littlefield
attended his services at Logan, but deliberately arrived late and departed early in
order to avoid face-to-face discussion. 158 Lucy Walker Kimball attended one
service at Logan, but said nothing. Joseph decided to call on her the next
morning, but discovered that she was at the Logan Temple, doing temple work. 159

At Malad he was challenged to explain the polygamous marriages of the
Biblical patriarchs. His challenger considered that the son of the prophet would
have great difficulty with the subject. But by now this was well worn ground for
Joseph. On the appointed day he took up the saga of Abraham, aiming to show the
patriarch's mistake in taking Hagar to wife and the unhappy consequences of his
decision. His challenger, a Welshman named Thomas, felt that his pet defense of
polygamy had been overturned. After the service Thomas stepped outside the
church, deliberately filled his pipe, and puffed away in silence. After thinking for
some time he straightened up and exclaimed forcefully: "Damn old Abraham,

At Willard, Idaho, he advised his polygamous listeners to put away all but
their first wives. If the first wife were dead, they should live with the second and
put away the rest, he urged. After the service a happy wife led her husband to
the front of the building. The polygamous elder had just lost his first wife, and
the second was overjoyed at the RLDS president's advice:

"This man is now wholly mine, Brother Smith, for I am his only wife.
I am going to obey your counsel and see to it that he shan't have

"That's right, sister; See that you maintain your rights and your
integrity, and keep your home from invasion, for that is your privilege."

The son of the prophet felt that he made a considerable impression upon his
listeners at Willard. 161

At Logan, where he feared he might be confronted with direct testimony of
his father's involvement in polygamy, he laid down the following line of defense,
which must have startled many Mormons:

... if my father were guilty as charged he had by that conduct proved
himself recreant to the marriage vows exchanged with my mother ....
Further, if he were guilty of polygamy he had broken the laws of the
State of Illinois of which commonwealth he was a citizen at the time of
his death, and of the law of God as well.

Apostle Moses Thatcher was sitting on the stand. Thatcher interjected:
"You mean his own law."

"No, sir; I mean the law of God, given through my father to the church," he

Again Moses Thatcher interrupted, and again Joseph Smith III replied,
reiterating his point more forcefully.

Thatcher was disgusted and muttered something under his breath. One of
his colleagues admonished him not to interrupt the meeting. At this Thatcher
could contain his frustration no longer, and muttered that it was not easy to
disturb "a shyster lawyer."

Joseph turned to administer a rebuke. Then he thought better of it. All
eyes were upon him. Dramatically he turned back to his audience. Slowly and
emphatically he drove home his original point while he had everyone's undivided

Thatcher swallowed his anger and apologized after the service. Joseph
Smith III came away convinced that his position could not be answered fairly, and
that a sense of frustration had provoked Thatcher's interruptions. For his own
part, he shrewdly avoided naming any other purported polygamist than his father,
so that he could not be charged with abusing anyone. 162

At Richmond, Utah, he was granted permission to speak in the Mormon
Tabernacle. Christian Hayer, a counselor to the local bishop, presided at the
meeting. When Joseph mentioned that it was claimed his father taught and
practiced polygamy, Hoyer exclaimed, "Yes, sir; and we can prove it, tool" Many
in the room smiled broadly. Taking the measure of his man, he replied as he had
at Logan: Joseph Smith's involvement in polygamy could not sanctify a wicked
practice. The whole room grew silent, and he finished his talk without another
interruption. 163

At Ogden he was challenged from the audience to read the fourth chapter
of Isaiah. He proceeded to read it, beginning with the first verse: "And on that
day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread
and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our
reproach." Many in the audience thought he was cornered. But after reading the
chapter, he asked if he might read the entire context. He was told to read
anything he pleased. Joseph asserted that if the "daughters of Zion" spoken of in
the passage were actually the Mormon women of Utah, the preceding chapter also
must apply to them. This chapter spoke of the "daughters of Zion" as wanton,
worldly, and soon to be husbandless as the result of God's judgment. Surely, he
concluded, his questioner did not intend to apply such an unflattering description
to Utah's women. His questioner was crest-fallen. Joseph's retort was greeted
with a loud round of applause.I64

Relatives. Soon after arriving Joseph visited his cousins John Smith,
Samuel H. B. Smith, and Sarah Millikin Nichols, wife of the publisher of the Salt
Lake Times
. Throughout his mission in 1889 he enjoyed visiting with these

relatives and their families. John and Helen Smith attended some of Joseph's
preaching services at the RLDS Chapel. They also gave him small donations of
money, as did John Henry and Samuel H. B. Smith, to help meet his expenses while
in the field.165

One day at Ogden he was joined by Patriarch John Smith, who was visiting
his daughter Lucy Smith Davis. Together, John and Joseph called on Apostle
Franklin D. Richards. Elder Richards, who was assistant church historian, greeted
them warmly. Despite being under the weather, Richards had a long conversation
with the RLDS president. They freely discussed their differences in a genial spirit
of give-and-take. Richards questioned Joseph closely about his claims to hold the
priesthood and about his parents. At one point Mrs. Richards laid her hand on
Joseph's arm and said, with tears in her eyes:

"Brother Joseph, it is not worth while to have anything in our religion that
we are ashamed of or afraid to explain, is it?"

"No Sister Jane," he replied, "it is not. And so far I have discovered
nothing whatever in the faith left by my father and Uncle Hyrum of which any
honest man need be ashamed."

Her hand relaxed upon his arm. As John and Joseph departed, both F. D.
and Jane Richards expressed their pleasure at the visit, especially Jane.
Returning homeward, John introduced Joseph to several people, each time
referring to him as "my cousin, Joseph Smith, president of the Reorganized

The next day, John Smith abruptly departed Ogden. When Joseph visited
John's daughter, she asked him:

"Cousin Joseph, what did you and Father have to drink when you were out
together yesterday?"

Joseph, the tea-totaller, answered that they had not imbibed. Lucy then
commented that she had never seen her father so agitated except when he had
been drinking. The Mormon patriarch had paced back and forth, told about the
previous days' visit, and declared:

"I tell you, my Cousin Joseph is not ashamed of his belief, nor afraid
to state it to anybody! I heard him answer Richards' questions
concerning his faith and their organization which showed quite a
different position from that which our leaders have stated he held. I am
not ashamed to introduce him as the President of the Reorganized
Church. In fact, I am proud of him!'166

Joseph frequently included news about their Utah relations when writing
home to Lamoni. By 1889 he had established cordial relations with all of his Utah
cousins except Joseph F. Smith.

Conversations. There is no record of Joseph Smith III cross-examining
witnesses as he did in 1876 and 1885. His attempted interview with Lucy Walker
KimbalI on September 27th was thwarted by her absence from home. F. D.
Richards was conversant with much historical material, but was not himself an
eye-witness to events in Nauvoo. He did collect an affidavit from RLDS member
John Taylor, in Harrisville, stating that three weeks before his death, Hyrum
Smith denounced spiritual wifery in the Seventies Hall167

Those who had experienced marital woes under polygamy took the
opportunity to unburden and tell their stories in conversations with Joseph Smith
III. Such stories confirmed him in his opinion that polygamy was not only wicked
but a breeding ground of unhappiness. 168

Twice he had long conversations with LDS elders who defended polygamy,
but ended up admitting that Joseph advanced powerful arguments. In each case
they concluded by retreating to the ground that the theory of polygamy was right
but it had been put into practice wrongly.169

At Ogden he was congratulated by two Scots, one an elder and the other a
well-to-do woman. Both told him that they had not heard a good Gospel discourse
such as his since leaving Scotland.170

He was delighted to learn of the effects of his preaching in one household
in Ogden. The wife of the owner of one of the largest stores in town was incensed
to discover that the 1876 Utah Doctrine and Covenants substituted the
polygamous revelation on celestial marriage for the monogamous section on
marriage which had appeared in the 1835 edition. She stomped into the store the
day after hearing one of Joseph's sermons and demanded that the clerk show her a
copy of the Doctrine and Covenants. The clerk obliged. She asked whether the
original section on marriage was in the book they were selling in the store. The
clerk assured her that it was, but he was discomfitted not to find it when he
thumbed through the volume. Still he insisted that it was there. The owner's wife
placed a ten dollar gold piece on the counter and told the clerk he could have it as
soon as he showed her the desired section. Eventually the coin ended up in the
woman's purse, her challenge unanswered and her confidence in the Utah Doctrine
and Covenants destroyed.

Her husband also was impressed with Joseph Smith Ill's preaching. Asked
afterwards what he thought of the son of the prophet's talks, he snorted:

"Why, he hasn't left us a damned leg to stand on!"171

Other interviews supplied corroborative evidence to support other
conclusions which the son of the prophet had reached previously. Stories of
Apostle Charles C. Rich's financial dealings in Idaho confirmed him in his view
that concentration of political and economic power in the hands of the hierarchy
was an invitation to abuse. Stories of Mormon subterfuges to evade the force of
the Idaho Test Oath reinforced his view that polygamy must be eliminated before
Utah could be admitted as a state. 172

While visiting the offices of the Salt Lake Tribune, the editors asked him to
prepare some articles for publication. He refused on the grounds that the Tribune
only wished to use him as a tool to destroy all of Mormonism, while he sought
to reform it. Perhaps sensing that the crusade against polygamy was nearing a
successful conclusion, he did not wish to appear as the enemy of the Mormon
people by writing for the Tribune. He did, however, consent to write some
articles for the Salt Lake Evening Times173

Homeward. On December 16, 1889, Joseph Smith III left Salt Lake City for
Lamoni. He had been gone from home nearly one year. The Annual Conference
of 1889 was the only one he ever failed to attend. He had gotten his much needed
vacation. He had tested his developed apologetic arguments in Utah to his own
satisfaction. There had been no mass conversions to the RLDS Church in Utah,
but he sensed that the campaign against polygamy was reaching fruition.

The Manifesto

The Mormon Church suffered a series of political reversals in 1890. In
February the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Idaho's Test
Oath, which excluded Mormons from voting. In July Idaho was granted statehood.
With many Mormons excluded from voting, the People's (Mormon) Party lost
control of the Salt Lake Municipal government on February 10, 1890. The
victorious Liberals now began pushing for disfranchisement of all Mormons as the
basis for achieving statehood for Utah, after Idaho's pattern. The Cullom-
Strubble bill was introduced in Congress to disfranchise all members of the
Mormon Church. If it were enacted, political power in Utah might pass
permanently to the Gentile minority. Then in May came another blow. The U.S.
Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the provisions in the Edmunds-
Tucker Act dissolving the church corporation and escheating its property. The
Court held that the LDS Church was an organized rebellion against the
government and distinguished by the practice of polygamy and ecclesiastical
control of its members. Federal prosecutions for polygamy continued. But
Mormon emissaries in Washington reported receiving signals to the effect that if
the Mormon Church would yield on the question of polygamy, total
disfranchisement of the Mormon people could be averted. 174

President Wilford Woodruff faced a cruel dilemma. All avenues of escape
seemed closed. Finally he acted, as he put it, "for the temporal salvation of the
Church." He called a council of the leading elders and informed them of his
decision: plural marriages must cease. Reluctantly and painfully the hierarchy
submitted to the decision as a "revelation from God made through the Prophet of
the Church." Joseph F. Smith was one of the last to speak at the council:

With a face tike wax, his hands outstretched, in an intensity of passion
that seemed as if it must sweep the assembly, he declared that he had
covenanted, at the altar of God's house, in the presence of his Father, to
cherish the wives and children whom the Lord had given him. ... He
would rather choose to stand, with them, alone—persecuted—proscribed-
outlawed—to wait until God in His anger should break the nation with
His avenging stroke. But—

He dropped his arms. He seemed to shrink in his commanding
stature like a man stricken with a paralysis of despair. . . .

"I have never disobeyed a revelation from God," he said. "I cannot—
I dare not—now."

He announced—with his head up, though his body swayed—that he
would accept and abide by the revelation.

It was an emotion-laden, historic moment. But the fateful bridge had been
crossed. The elders accepted their prophet's leadership. 175

On September 24, 1890, Wilford Woodruff issued the proclamation which
has become known as "the Manifesto." In it he declared that all plural marriages
had been ordered stopped, in response to the rulings of "the Court of the last
resort." He stated that he would submit to the law of the land and declared his
intention to use his influence with members of the church to have them do
likewise. He concluded: "... I publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day
Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the laws of the
land." 176

RLDS Reaction to the Manifesto. The Saints' Herald of October 11, 1890
published the Manifesto in toto. An accompanying editorial observed that when
Brigham Young published the revelation on plural marriage in 1852, he foretold
that polygamy would become a popular doctrine and override all opposition. But
this prediction failed of fulfillment. Polygamy led to a decline in the number of
Mormon proselytes, and "the preaching of the gospel . . . was made noxious and
difficult, and in places entirely out of the question." The Reorganized Church, by
contrast, from the beginning protested against polygamy as a dogma that
"poisoned the spring of inspiration, degraded the priesthood and stayed the onward
sweep of the news of redemption," and as a practice which turned Saints into
lawbreakers. Finally, noted the Herald, under extreme pressure the Mormon
leaders had capitulated to force, after failing to heed the word of the Lord:

Mr. Woodruff and his brethren refused to hear the voice of the Lord's
servants, the law of the Lord given to the church by the man Joseph
Smith, whom they so boastingly declare that they revere; and now, at
last, are obliged to listen to the harsh edicts of the law making power of
the American government, and yielding to the logic of events are now
placing themselves in the attitude of denying what they have so long and
so confidently held as their redeeming tenet, the crowning glory of their
latter-day philosophy. 177

The following number of the Herald carried the news that the Mormon
Semi-Annual Conference had endorsed the Manifesto. The Herald remarked:

We have never doubted that the Utah Mormons would officially
repudiate and put away polygamy, for the reason that it can not endure
criticism in the light of the sacred books of the Mormons up to 1876, nor
the authentic history of the church over which Joseph Smith the Seer
presided up to the time of his death.

Not only did polygamy violate Latter Day Saint scripture, the manner in which
Brigham Young forced it upon his followers violated the established method of
testing revelations by all the quorums of the church. The editorial concluded on a
somewhat magnanimous note:

We rejoice that Pres. W. Woodruff and the late conference over
hich he presided had the good sense to publicly and officially abandon
polygamy, but we do not exult over their humiliation. On the contrary
we shall be glad to see them and the people they represent return fully to
the old paths, which is the good way, and find rest to their souls," in the
manner ordained of God and clearly set forth in the standard books of
the church officially approved by Joseph Smith the "choice Seer" and the
church under his presidency.178

In following weeks, the Herald naturally displayed ongoing interest in the
Manifesto. The Herald recognized that the Manifesto left certain questions
unanswered, but expressed a hopeful wait-and-see attitude. 179 |n reviewing
Wilford Woodruff's and George Q. Cannon's explanations of the Manifesto-that it
came to President Woodruff as on inspired answer to prayer-the Herald remarked
that, if their accounts were accurate, it was an instance of history repeating
itself. In the Bible, the voice of the Lord to Abraham was: "Put the bondwoman
away." In the Book of Mormon it was: "Thou shall have one wife only." And
when sincere appeal was made to God in prayer, Wilford Woodruff received a
similar message. 180

Soon the Herald raised the question of whether or not the Manifesto was a
revelation. "If not, how can the statement of Mr. Woodruff, backed as it may be
by a 'thus saith the people,' set aside the command which it is alleged came from
God?" The Manifesto itself consisted of a series of factual statements,
culminating in Wilford Woodruff's advice that Mormons "refrain from contracting
any marriage forbidden by the law of the land." A conference accepted the
Manifesto as "authoritative and binding." But whatever the procedural and
philosophical problems in receiving the Manifesto as binding, the Herald rejoiced in
it as a practical sign that "the long night of depression is passing and the morn of
redemption is approaching." 181

The Herald also raised some practical questions. The Manifesto, declared
the Herald, was only a first step toward the solution of the "Utah problem." There remained the question of whether Utah would be admitted to the Union, and
whether such admission would be sooner or later. Relations between Mormons and
Gentiles in Utah would continue to produce friction. Could the Mormon promise
to obey the law and not perform plural marriages be relied upon? "Who
penetrates the secluded halls and corridors of the temples at St. George and Manti
in the south, and Logan in the north, to report whether in them the respect due to
the laws ... is paid?" What would be the fate of existing plural wives and their
children? All these questions were still unresolved.182

The Manifesto represented a tremendous triumph for Joseph Smith III. He
had maintained for years that strict enforcement of federal laws would result in
the abandonment of the practice of polygamy by the Mormon Church. Now his
long advocated policy had born fruit. The "twin relic" lay prostrate at the feet of
federal authority.

Although polygamy was officially abandoned, the odium attached to
Mormonism lingered for decades. It was still necessary for the RLDS Church
repeatedly to dissociate itself from the Utah Church.

Joseph Smith III could not realize that the LDS abandonment of plural
marriage contained the seeds of a future identity-crisis for the RLDS Church.
Future generations would have no personal recollections of Mormon polygamy. To
them the existence of an anti-polygamous body of Latter Day Saints would seem
anachronistic. The cessation of plural marriage removed—in the long run—the
major raison d'etre of the Reorganized Church. Joseph Smith Ill's greatest
triumph redirected the LDS Church down the pathway of greater accommodation
with American culture. This fundamental step toward greater acculturation laid
the foundation for Mormonism's tremendous numerical growth in the late
twentieth century—growth which has greatly outstripped that of the RLDS Church.

But for the moment, prospects for the RLDS Church seemed bright.
Joseph Smith III was now at the height of his power. He stood out above all other
leaders in the church. He exercised increasing influence in state and national

The debate between the RLDS and LDS Churches underwent a subtle shift
of emphasis during the 1890s. Other points of distinction between the two
churches received more attention in the Herald. Now that polygamy had been
abandoned, increasing emphasis was placed on the questions of authority,
legitimacy, and succession. In the debate over which was the true church, another
lawsuit played a critical role.

The Temple Lot Suit

A key element in Joseph Smith Ill's grand strategy to prove the RLDS
Church the true church in succession was the Temple Lot suit. This was a lengthy
court case, begun in 1891, concerning ownership of the Temple Lot in
Independence, Missouri. The putative target of the lawsuit was the Hedrickite
Church of Christ. But the ultimate target was the Mormon Church.

The Temple Lot was a piece of ground sacred to all Latter Day Saints.
Here, on August 3, 1831, Joseph Smith laid the corner-stone for a temple. Around
this temple, the Saints believed the City of Zion was to be built and Christ was to
reign for one thousand years.184

In 1832 Bishop Edward Partridge purchased the temple-site and surrounding
property, a little over sixty-three acres in all. But in 1833 the Saints were driven
from Jackson County before construction could begin on the temple. In 1848
Partridge's heirs sold the property to James Poole. The land then passed through
a series of owners and was subdivided into lots.185

Shortly after the Civil War, the followers of Granville Hedrick began
settling in Independence. The Hedrickites were a small faction of Latter Day
Saints, chiefly from Illinois. They held theological beliefs similar to the
Whitmerites. Essentially they held to the primitive organization of the Mormon
Church, including the original name, "Church of Christ." They believed that
Joseph Smith fell into sin during the 1830s and therefore refused to accept his
revelations given after 1834. They rejected polygamy and the doctrinal
innovations of the Nauvoo period.186

In 1869 Granville Hedrick, as trustee-in-trust for the Church of Christ,
purchased three lots from Bishop Partridge's original tract. In 1877 he purchased
five more lots. Together these parcels encompassed the site designated for the
temple. Hence the Hedrickite property was (and is) known as the "Temple
Lot." 187

By the 1880s, members of the RLDS Church were gathering to
Independence in significant numbers. They found it possible to purchase other
parts of Bishop Partridge's sixty-three acres, but they were frustrated in their
attempts to secure the Temple Lot. After merger negotiations and out-of-court
attempts to gain possession of the Temple Lot failed, Joseph Smith III decided to
file suit for the property.

Joseph Smith Ill's Strategy. Joseph Smith III was pursuing the same
strategy which had borne fruit in the Kirtland Temple suit. Ever since his initial
studies of Latter Day Saint theology and history, in the 1860s, he had been
convinced that some day the RLDS Church "would be called to stand before the
great American Jury in the civil Courts of the Republic definitely arrayed against
the hierarchy known as the Mormon Church in Utah," there to examine their

I was impressed that the facts, arguments, and evidences upon which
the Reorganization based its position as a religious body must be
measured against their opponents of similar or other name, and the truth
or error of that position be ascertained before the august tribunals
recognized as the Courts of law and justice, established by the American
people for the purpose of settling such disputes and justifying the proper
claimants in their rights. The idea that this contest would inevitably
come became so firmly fixed in my mind that I am quite willing to admit
it assumed almost the proportions of a prophetic obsession, so sure was I
that it would come to pass.188

When Joseph Smith III had the RLDS Church incorporated, he deliberately
had the papers drawn up to include the RLDS claim to be the successor to the
Church of Jesus Christ, organized on April 6, 1830. As the successor to the old
church, the RLDS Church could lay claim to its property. This claim had been
recognized in the Kirtland Temple suit.189

In 1887 the Reorganized Church purchased quit-claim deeds to the original
Partridge purchase from Oliver Cowdery's heirs. Supposedly, in 1839, Bishop
Partridge had deeded the land to Cowdery and his children, and via this deed
Cowdery's heirs held title to the land. Either this 1839 deed to the Cowderys or
the 1848 deed to Poole conveyed legal title. In the first case, the RLDS Church
held the legal title to the Temple Lot. In the second case, the Church of Christ
held the legal title.190

Immediately after purchasing the quit-claim deeds, Joseph Smith III began
plotting his legal strategy. The first half of his strategy involved discussions with
the Hedrickites to persuade them to merge with the RLDS Church or acknowledge
the RLDS claims to the property in exchange for a monetary settlement.191 The
second half of his strategy involved the court challenge of which he had dreamed
for so many years.

Pursuant to this second strategic approach he wrote a series of letters to
George Edmunds. In the event that the Hedrickites proved recalcitrant or held a
legitimate deed, he asked, could the RLDS Church still gain possession as the true
church in succession to the primitive Mormon Church?

Edmunds, in reply, pointed out several potential problems: Did Bishop
Partridge hold title as an individual or as a trustee for the church? Could the
RLDS Church prove itself the true successor to the original church, to the
exclusion of other factions? And was the church too late in pressing its claims?
Joseph considered that the first two points made by Edmunds were not
insuperable. The third—lapse of time—he admitted might prove fatal:

As to the right to the succession as a Church, I have not a particle of
doubt; but as to the result of the lapse of years, the mutations of
changing claimants, the vicissitudes of destruction of records; and last
but most fatal of all, the almost criminal ignorance and careless
administration of the agents, or trustees of the original church, I am in
grave doubt. And am prepared in mind for adverse judgments, on
account of the last named conditions.

He reasoned that Governor L. W. Boggs' Exterminating Order might be used to
counter arguments based on the statute of limitations. The Mormons were
forcibly expelled from the state, and the order had never been rescinded. In
theory it was liable to revival at any time. Until Boggs' order was rescinded and
the Saints could return legally to Missouri, the statute of limitations ought not to
begin running against the Saints' claims to property in Missouri:

One thing to be reached, morally, is to get this order and consequent
sanction set aside, in order that successful right to settle in Mo., as
Mormons may be urged. I am of the opinion that so long as this order
remains unnoticed it is, or should be plea in bar to prevent the statute of
limitations to run against claims of those expelled, and their heirs. I
may be wrong.192

After out-of-court efforts to secure title to the Temple Lot failed, suit
was filed on August 6, 1891 in the U.S. Circuit Court in Kansas City, Missouri.
The case was not tried immediately. Attorneys for both sides gathered
depositions for many months.

While the legal contest ostensibly pitted the RLDS Church against the
Hedrickite Church of Christ, the battle was actually three-cornered. First there
was the plaintiff, the RLDS Church, which aimed to show that its faith and
practice were identical to that promulgated by Joseph Smith. Second, there was
the defendant, the Church of Christ, which sought to show that Joseph Smith
departed from his own teachings at some point in the 1830s and became a fallen
prophet, but that they adhered to his original, righteous teachings. Third, there
was the ultimate target of the RLDS attack, the Utah Church.

The Hedrickite-Mormon Strategy. Mormon leaders recognized that an
RLDS victory in the Temple Lot suit would be damaging on a number of counts.
Such a victory would foreclose the possibility of them purchasing the Temple Lot
at a later date. It would lend legitimacy to RLDS claims. The RLDS Church
might build a temple on the sacred tract and claim that this proved their church
to be the true one.

Therefore the Mormon Church provided both financial and legal advice to
the Hedrickites during the trial. The Hedrickite lawyers, in consultation with
their Mormon allies, decided to take aim at the RLDS succession-claims by
showing that Joseph Smith both taught and practiced polygamy. This would
support the apologetic position of both the Hedrickites (polygamous fallen
prophet) and the Mormons (polygamous righteous prophet) but would undermine
that of the RLDS Church (non-polygamous righteous prophet). The Hedrickite-
Mormon alliance of convenience proved the old adage, "The enemy of my enemy is
my friend."193

Legal proceedings. The testimony in the case was collected by means of
depositions taken in various parts of the country. Attorneys for both sides would
be present while the witnesses' depositions were taken. If an attorney had an
objection to a question or an answer, he would register it, the stenographer would
record the objection, and the judge (who was not present) would decide later
whether to admit the testimony in question.

On February 6, 1894 the case was opened in the United States Circuit
Court at Kansas City, Missouri.194 Judge John F. Philips presided. Both sides
filed their evidence with the court. The actual courtroom proceedings were
confined to motions and pleading by the attorneys for both sides, not to hearing
testimony. George Edmunds, assisted by L. Traber and P. P. Kelley, made the
opening argument for the complainant, the RLDS Church. Then John N. Southern
presented the argument for the respondent, the Church of Christ. The pleading
continued on February 7th. Joseph Smith III was a highly interested observer at
the proceedings. He reported to readers of the Herald that E. L. Kelley was the
last to speak on behalf of the RLDS Church. Kelley, he wrote, "in a most
comprehensive and masterly way, summed up, refuting with remarkable facility
the deductions and objections presented by Colonel Southern . . . ." Judge Philips
then told both sides that he could not state when he would make his decision,
because it was an important case, the amount of evidence was great, and he
wished to devote considerable time to studying the matter.195

Testimony for the complainant. The major thrust of the testimony
gathered by the RLDS attorneys aimed to show that the RLDS Church was the
true church in succession.196 James Whitehead was perhaps the most spectacular
witness on behalf of the RLDS Church.

Whitehead testified, in his deposition, that he had been a high priest in the
days of Joseph Smith and his "private secretary" from 1842 to 1844. He testified
to three important points. First, he observed that the doctrine, teaching, and
tenets of the old church and the Reorganized Church were identical. Second, he
swore that he was an eyewitness to Joseph Smith having blessed, ordained, set
apart, and anointed Joseph Smith III to be his successor. And third, he testified
that polygamy was never taught by anyone having authority in the church during
the prophet's lifetime.197

Joseph Smith III was also a witness. Although his testimony was hardly as
spectacular as Whitehead's it laid important groundwork for the RLDS case.

He testified concerning the nature of the reorganization of the church, his
baptism by his father, and his affiliation with the Reorganization in 1860. He
aimed to show that the Reorganization held authority via members who had been
in good standing in the old church.

Concerning his designation as his father's successor, his testimony was
similar to that of James Whitehead, although he refused to call his selection an

About my selection by my father to be his successor in office, I
remember of being called in his office, or into a room adjoining his
office, and receiving the laying on of hands, and a prophetic blessing or
setting apart, whatever it may be called. I remember that, and also
remember that just before his departure for Carthage, with a number of
others, I was called into a room in the Mansion House, and there again
received the laying on of hands, and the blessing. I was also present at a
meeting in the grove near the temple, and I remember my father laying
his hands on my head, and saying to the people that this was his
successor, or was to be his successor. I remember some of the parties
that were on the stand, a few of them I remember, but I do not
remember all of them. William Marks, George J. Adams, and I think
Willard Richards were on the stand at the time.

A considerable portion of his testimony was devoted to a comparison of the
faith and doctrines of the original church, "as they are laid down in the public
records, and the books of the church," and as "preached when I was a boy, and was
taught in the Sunday school," with that of the Reorganized Church. The burden of
his testimony was that the two were identical.198

William B. Smith proved a useful, if less than honest, witness for the RLDS
Church. He testified that he was one of the original Mormon apostles, that he
separated from Brigham Young and the majority of the Twelve following his
brother's death due to their teaching polygamy, and that RLDS doctrine was
identical to that of the original church. He accused Brigham Young and the
Twelve of having introduced doctrinal deviations, e.g., the Adam-God doctrine,
blood atonement, and polygamy. He completely denied having taught or practiced
polygamy at any time. He cleverly downplayed the demise of his own church, and
urged that the doctrine of lineal succession was true to Latter Day Saint

W. W. Blair and E. C. Briggs proved persuasive witnesses. Both testified
concerning the early history of the Reorganization, sought to show that a
reorganization of the original church was necessary and proper, and argued that
the RLDS Church represented a faithful continuation of the teachings of the
original church.

A number of old Saints and longtime residents of Jackson County were
examined by the RLDS attorneys. The gist of their testimony was that the Saints
were driven forcibly from Jackson County (and could not return safely until the
1870s) and that it was commonly recognized that the Temple Lot was property
held in trust for the church. Some also testified that no improvements were made
on the Temple Lot property until 1883.

John H. Carter testified that he witnessed Joseph Smith, on the stand,
designate his son as his successor. He recalled that Brigham Young also told the
people that Young Joseph eventually would lead them. If Brigham Young had
taught differently (soon after the prophet's death) many Saints would have
deserted him.

John H. Thomas told of leaving Winter Quarters in disgust. He felt that
the Twelve had turned their backs on the doctrine taught in the standard works.
He also testified that at Winter Quarters it was commonly expected that Young
Joseph would someday lead the church, but that Brigham Young tried to quiet

such talk by insinuating that it endangered the lad's life.203

Church Secretary and Recorder Henry A. Stebbins testified concerning
membership statistics. He estimated that three to five thousand members of the
original church had united with the Reorganization. The objective of his
testimony was to show continuity between the original church and the

Testimony for the Defense. Much of the Hedrickite testimony was taken
by deposition in Utah. The bulk of this testimony aimed to show that Mormon
polygamy originated under Joseph Smith.205

The most important testimony concerning polygamy came from three
women who swore that they had been plural wives of Joseph Smith. Emily Dow
Partridge Young gave a detailed account of how the prophet taught her the
doctrine. After some initial reluctance she accepted the principle and was
married to Joseph Smith on March 4, 1843. The ceremony was repeated later that
year, after Emma Smith was persuaded—for the moment—to accept the principle
and designated Emily and her sister Eliza to be plural wives of the prophet. The
night of the second ceremony, Emily slept with Joseph Smith at his house.206

Lucy Walker Kimball testified that Joseph Smith personally taught her the
doctrine of plural marriage. She was married to the prophet by William Clayton
on May I, 1843. She accepted plural marriage as a sacrificial duty, at the
command of God, to aid in inaugurating a grand and glorious principle. She
became indignant when questioned whether or not she slept with the prophet,
exclaiming, "He was my husband sir."207

Melissa Lott Willis stated that she was married to Joseph Smith in Nauvoo,
Hyrum Smith performing the ceremony. She was asked if she was his wife "in all
that the word implies," to which she responded affirmatively. Repeated questions
about the number of times she had intercourse with the prophet finally brought an
indignant refusal to discuss the matter any farther. She denied insinuations by the
RLDS attorneys that she was simply sealed for eternity to Joseph Smith.208

Others testified concerning other aspects of the prophet's involvement in
polygamy. Joseph B. Noble told of marrying Joseph Smith to his sister-in-law,
Louisa Beaman, in 1841, and of how the prophet slept with Louisa after the
ceremony.209 Mercy Rachel Thompson testified that Joseph Smith united her in
plural marriage to Hyrum Smith. Lorenzo Snow, Wilford Woodruff, Mary Ann
West, Joseph C. Kingsbury, and Cyrus H. Wheelock all testified that Joseph Smith
personally taught them the principle of plural marrioge.210

Beyond having heard the prophet teach polygamy, four witnesses swore
that they had seen the manuscript of the revelation on polygamy or heard it read.
By far the most important of these was Joseph C. Kingsbury who told how he
copied the original revelation—which was in William Clayton's handwriting—at the
request of Bishop Whitney. Mercy Rachel Thompson said that Hyrum Smith
handed her the revelation and told her that the High Council had just voted to
accept it. Lucy Walker Kimball also claimed to have seen it. Cyrus H. Wheelock
testified to hearing the revelation read by one of the prophet's clerks. Joseph C.
Kingsbury told how he made a copy of the original revelation—which was in
William Clayton's handwriting—at the request of Bishop Whitney.211

Three witnesses were brought forward to impeach William Smith's
testimony that he never was involved in polygamy and that Brigham Young
introduced it after the death of Joseph Smith. Mary Ann West testified that she
entered into plural marriage with William at the suggestion of Joseph Smith.
Priscilla Morgridge Staines told of her plural marriage to William in 1845. Jason
W. Briggs related how polygamy led to his rupture with William Smith in 1851.212

The Hedrickite Church faced a dilemma in this case. Its first line of
defense was to claim legal title through the 1848 deed to Poole. If that failed, it
still could claim color of title through the deed to Poole and adverse possession
for more than ten years. But if the court rejected both these lines of defense, the
contending churches' claims to equitable title might come into consideration. In
this event the Church of Christ faced severe problems. It had only a handful of
members, and perhaps only a few of these would make persuasive witnesses. Once
on the stand and faced with cross examination about claims to succession, the
witnesses would be subjected to questioning about early Mormon doctrines which
the Hedrickites now rejected. In fact this is exactly what happened when
Hedrickite Bishop Richard Hill took the stand. He was subjected to such
damaging cross examination that no other member of the Church of Christ
subsequently took the stand to testify concerning Hedrickite beliefs.213 There
was another way to attack this problem, however, and that was to demonstrate
that the RLDS Church did not adhere to the primitive doctrines and practices of
Mormonism. This is what the Hedrickite attorneys attempted.

In cross-examining the plaintiff's witnesses, the Hedrickite attorneys
sought to show a variety of RLDS deviations from original Mormonism. For
example, they repeatedly returned to the point that the first name of the church
was the "Church of Christ." They sought to show that RLDS rules of
representation at conferences were an innovation, that the RLDS Doctrine and
Covenants contained revelations altered from their appearance in the original
Book of Commandments, and that the RLDS ecclesiastical organization was not
identical to that of the early church.

Calling Mormon witnesses to testify about polygamy was part of the
Hedrickite strategy of demonstrating deviations from the teachings of Joseph
Smith. An ingenious attempt to undermine the RLDS case was the calling of Jason
W. Briggs to the stand. The Hedrickites obviously hoped that the disaffected co-
founder of the Reorganization would air his reasons for leaving the church and
perhaps charge Joseph Smith III with leading the RLDS Church away from its
original moorings. The interogation of Briggs failed to yield the desired results.
He maintained that the cause of his departure was censorship of his views.214
After Briggs' favorable testimony, Joseph Smith III editorialized:

It must be both gratifying and encouraging to the members of the
church to know that one talented and critical as Elder Briggs, and so
fully informed in regard to the rise and work of the Reorganization has
nought to say against its faith and doctrines, although disconnected with
its interests.215

Strangite L. D. Hickey was also called to testify by the Hedrickite lawyers.
By presenting Strangite claims to be the true church in succession, it was hoped
that the RLDS claims would be called into additional question. Hickey, however,
was more an eccentric curiosity than a persuasive witness.216

The RLDS attorneys subjected the defense witnesses to careful cross-
examination. In Utah, the elderly witnesses about polygamy in Nauvoo were
subjected to extensive and detailed grilling. The objective was twofold. First,
the RLDS attorneys sought to elicit contradictions in testimony. Several of the
witnesses became confused about dates and other details of events five decades
earlier. Second, they sought to show that polygamy was never publicly accepted
as a doctrine of the church.

After the defense had called its witnesses, several RLDS witnesses
appeared in rebuttal. James Whitehead insisted that polygamy was not taught or
practiced until after Joseph Smith's death. Joseph Smith III testified that as a
youth he never saw any evidence of his father's sexual involvement with Lucy
Walker, Melissa Lott, the Partridge or Lawrence sisters, or any other woman.217

Decision of Judge Philips. On March 3, 1894 Judge Philips handed down his
decision.218 It closely followed the closing arguments of the RLDS attorneys.219
His decision represented a complete victory for the RLDS Church.

Judge Philips first summarized the facts in the case. He found that Bishop
Partridge purchased the Temple Lot with church funds for church purposes. He
found that the 1839 deed to the Cowdery children was valid and took precedence
over the 1848 deed to Poole.220 Through a chain of title going back to the 1838
deed, the RLDS Church had secured a quitclaim deed to the Temple Lot. He
further found that the Temple Lot had remained vacant and unoccupied until 1882
when the Hedrickites assumed adverse possession (by fencing the property and
beginning improvements.) The RLDS suit was brought within ten years of this
date, invalidating a defense of laches.

Turning to the legal issues, Judge Philips began with a discussion of the
rights of an out-of-state religious corporation to sue for property in Missouri. He
then came to the question of the 1839 and 1848 deeds. He ruled that Bishop
Partridge held legal title to the property as trustee for the church (which held
equitable title). The deed to the Cowdery children stipulated that they were to
hold the property in trust for the church. He cited various legal precedents for
accepting the validity of the 1839 deed, despite the problems associated with it.
He cited various legal objections to the 1848 deed to Poole. Even granting that
the 1848 deed (and those deriving from it) constituted color of title, the judge
nevertheless ruled that the Church of Christ did not hold the Temple Lot for the
necessary ten consecutive years to establish adverse possession. The Temple Lot
proper was never fenced nor occupied until 1882. The payment of taxes on the
eight lots by itself did not amount to adverse possession. Nor did the platting and
development of other portions of the Partridge purchase outside of the Temple
Lot constitute adverse possession of the Temple Lot itself. Even if the 1848 deed
to Poole were admitted in evidence, he and all parties claiming under him had
notice of the trust character of the Temple Lot, which was well known to the
citizens of Independence. The developers of the Partridge purchase

must have known they were trying to reduce to speculative interest a
spot sacred to this church. They assumed, doubtless, that those people,
violently expelled from the state, and under popular odium, would not
have the temerity to claim their own ....

The Hedrickites themselves testified that they were aware of the trust character
of the property.

Having found that equitable title rested with the church, Judge Philips
stated: "It remains to be ascertained who are the true beneficiaries of this trust."
He rejected as mere quibbling the Hedrickite claim that they were the true
church by virtue of preserving the primitive name, "Church of Christ." He ruled
that up until 1844, equitable title clearly lay with the Mormon Church. The
authorized books of doctrine and law for the government of the church, until this
time, were the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants. After the
death of Joseph Smith the church split into factions. The largest faction was led
by Brigham Young who assumed the presidency by "bold and bald usurpation,"
contrary to church law and Joseph Smith's designation of his son as his successor.
Polygamy was proclaimed a doctrine of the church under Brigham Young, but the
Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants both testified against polygamy.
Granville Hedrick also condemned the purported revelation on plural marriage.
The judge listed further departures of the Utah Church from the principles and
doctrines of the original church: the Adam-God doctrine, the introduction of
secret oaths and covenants, alteration of church polity, and teaching "obedience
to counsel." Therefore, the LDS Church did not hold equitable title due to
departures from primitive Mormon faith and practice.

Judge Philips then turned to the question of whether the complainant
church represented the beneficiaries of the property. He pointed out that civil
courts had no interest in adjudicating theological controversies. The court was
interested only in the question of title to property. In the case of disorganization
and factional divisions of an ecclesiastical body, the settled rule was that title to
property rested with that part of the church which abided with the original laws,
usages, customs, and principles of the organization. In cases of disputes over
property, equitable title rested with the faction (large or small) which maintained
the original faith. Those who departed from the church's original tenets forfeited
their claims to the property. It did not matter how many factions developed after
the death of Joseph Smith; if one remained faithful to the original teachings of
the church, it held equitable title to the Temple Lot. Judge Philips ruled that the
RLDS Church represented such a faithful continuation of primitive Mormonism.

He rejected various arguments of the defense to show that the
Reorganization differed from the church as it existed prior to 1844: (I) He
rejected historical arguments that Joseph Smith secretly taught and practiced
polygamy. Joseph Smith and other church leaders, reasoned the judge, publicly
rejected polygamy. Furthermore, Joseph Smith fathered children by his wife
Emma but not by anyone else. And secret sexual liaisons by Joseph Smith were
insufficient to make plural marriage a doctrine of the church. (2) He rejected the
Hedrickite contention that RLDS additions to the Articles of Faith and Doctrine
and Covenants constituted a departure from the original faith. He pointed out
that one of the original Articles of Faith declared belief in ongoing revelation.
None of the RLDS additions contradicted the original foith.221 (3) He rejected
the Hedrickite contention that the RLDS Church had a new Bible different from
that of the original church. The Inspired Version, he ruled, was the work of Joseph Smith and inculcated no new doctrine. (4) He rejected the Hedrickite
argument about the RLDS failure to fill all of the quorums of the church, pointing
out that vacancies could be filled at any time.

Judge Philips rejected the notion that the Hedrickites held equitable title
to the property. He wrote:

Looking at their answer in this case, and their evidence, the idea occurs
that in theory they are ecclesiastical nondescripts, and in practice
"squatter sovereigns." They repudiate polygamy while looking to Salt
Lake City for succor. They deny in their answer that this property was
ever bought for the church, or impressed with a trust therefor, and yet,
when their head men were on the witness stand, they swore they are a
part and parcel of the original church . . . and that to-day they hold the
property in question in trust for the church.

Their founder, Granville Hedrick, was once a member of the Reorganization.
They rejected parts of the Doctrine and Covenants and doctrinal developments in
the church after ca. 1834. They rejected the law of tithing and baptism for the
dead, both taught by the original church. "They are but a small band, and their
seizure of the temple lot, and attempt thus to divert the trust, invoke the
interposition of a court of equity to establish the trust, and prevent its

Lastly, Judge Philips rejected the defense of laches.222 The Saints (the
beneficiaries of the trust) were driven from the state by military force and not
permitted to return. Hostile feeling was too great for them to return and press
their claims for decades thereafter.

No improvements were made on, and no visible possession taken of, the
temple lot, until 1882, within 10 years of the institution of this suit. . . .
Up to this hostile action of respondents the complainants had a right to
assume that the trust character of this property was intact....

Therefore, Judge Philips ruled in favor of the RLDS Church, "establishing the
trust in its favor against respondents, removing the cloud from the title, enjoining
respondents from asserting title to the property, and awarding possession to the

Reaction to the Favorable Decision. Joseph Smith III anticipated the
favorable ruling of Judge Philips. As he was walking to work in Lamoni on March
3rd—the dote set by the judge to deliver his decision—he suddenly heard a voice
say: "The decision of the Court will be in favor of the Reorganized Church on
every point;" Later that day he received a telegram confirming his prescience.
The long-awaited vindication of the RLDS Church in court had come at last.223

Naturally Joseph Smith III was elated at the news and immediately put it to
good use. Judge Philips' favorable decision was reprinted in pamphlet form. As
the first advertisement for the pamphlet explained, it was a valuable apologetic
tool, "as setting forth the legally recognized position of the Reorganized Church
as the only true successor of the Original Church." Not only that, proceeds from
sales of the pamphlet would help to defray the legal expenses in prosecuting the
suit.224 The preface to the pamphlet crowed that the decision was far more than
a victory over the Church of Christ:

The Defendants were directly aided and supported in the suit by the
factional church in Utah . . . the President of that body, Wilford
Woodruff, and the President of its Quorum of Twelve, Lorenzo Snow, and
other leading men and women voluntarily becoming witnesses for the
Defendants; and many other witnesses answering to the personal
summons of Mr. Woodruff came from different parts of the Territory to
testify in behalf of the Defendants.225

The RLDS Church also published its abstract of evidence. This was a
rather hefty book, abstracting testimony of witnesses and evidence from
documentary sources. All of this, as advertisements in the Herald pointed out,
offered "support of the claims of the Reorganized Church to be the successor of
the Original Church, showing it to be the authorized and identical continuation of
said Original Church and entitled to its property, while all other factions have
deviated from the Original Church in organization, in teaching, and in

Joseph Smith III was convinced that events were unfolding in his favor. He
editorialized that the news of the decision was being carried throughout the
country by the press. Although careful not to claim final victory, he expressed
confidence that time was on the side of the RLDS Church:

Many years ago, when there were more divisions between so-called
Latter Day Saints than there are now, we stated to the Saints that of all
the contending parties seeking to be regarded as the true church, the
Reorganization could best afford to wait the arbitrament of time and the
culmination of events. Late occurrences corroborate this statement.
We have watched; we have prayed; we have waited, and to us has come
again the fulfillment of the word; "and ye shall find favor and grace in
the eyes of the people."227

When the Deseret News editorialized that the various newspapers were
reporting incorrectly that the LDS Church was a party to the suit, but that in
reality the Mormon Church had no more interest in it than would the Roman
Catholic Church in a controversy between Lutherans and Calvinists, Joseph Smith
III disagreed editorially. The LDS Church was involved, indirectly, he argued,
because claims of succession were at issue. Furthermore, Hedrickite leader
Charles A. Hall had attempted to undermine the RLDS claims of fidelity to
Joseph Smith's teachings by introducing the question of polygamy. The RLDS
Church had no choice but to respond to the questions raised by Hall. All classes
of Latter Day Saints, argued Joseph Smith III, had an interest in the questions
raised. "There are those who in good faith . . . are willing to stand or fall upon
the proofs of the issue being made." 228 Privately, Joseph Smith III was well
aware of the involvement of the LDS hierarchy in supporting the Hedrickites,
although his public comments were restrained. He particularly took of tense at
the manner in which his cousin Joseph F. Smith interfered during the taking of
depositions in Utah.229

On June 4, 1894 the Church of Christ filed bond for an appeal. Joseph
Smith III commented on the prospects of an appeal:

As to the reversal of the decision of Judge Philips in the higher court we
have nothing to soy, further than that it is possible, though not probable.
It is best for all concerned not to worry over the possible shadows that
may overlie the pathways, accept the good and bear with the

Reversal on appeal. The Hedrickite appeal was heard by the U.S. Court of
Appeals at St. Louis in January 1895. Joseph Smith III was a spectator in the
courtroom during the attorneys' arguments. The pleading ended on January 26th,
and everyone went home to await the court's decision.231 The RLDS president
was well aware of the possibility that the court might rule against the
Reorganization on the ground of laches.232

On September 30, 1895 the Court of Appeals handed down its ruling. Judge
Thayer, speaking for the three-judge panel, reversed the lower court's
decision..233 The Court of Appeals ruled that Judge Philips erred in allowing the
RLDS suit to come to trial, and this for two reasons.

In the first place, the Court ruled that the RLDS Church had no grounds for
a suit in chancery. The RLDS suit claimed that the Hedrickite Church of Christ
held no title—legal or equitable—to the land, but occupied the position of mere
trespassers. The RLDS suit would only have been proper if the complainant held
equitable title (which was claimed) and sought recovery from an occupant holding
legal title (which was not claimed). Suits in chancery can only be brought to
recover from adverse occupation when seeking legal title or seeking to obtain
alleged equitable title. The RLDS suit sought neither.

In the second place, the Court ruled that the RLDS Church was guilty of
such laches as should bar it from relief in equity. The RLDS Church filed suit in
1891, alleging equitable title, but the widow and heirs of Bishop Partridge
conveyed the land by a deed executed and duly recorded in 1848, under which
numerous persons had acquired titles and made improvements upon the original
tract. If the problem-ridden deed of 1839 should be enforced at such a late date,
it would affect numerous subsequent sales, improvements, subdivisions, lawsuits,
payments of taxes, etc., and place the entire tract under cloud of title. The
RLDS Church had been guilty of negligence in asserting its interests to the
property, by waiting until 1891 to file suit.

Judge Thayer stated:

... we think that the plaintiff church and those whom it claims to
represent have been guilty of such laches as should bar them from all
relief in the forum of equity, even though it appeared that the premises
in controversy were originally held in trust by Edward Partridge for the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and even though it appeared
that Reorganized is at this day the legitimate successor of the original
beneficiary. It behooves all persons who claim an interest in real
property which is situated within the limits of a large town or city, and is
rapidly coming into demand and appreciating in value, to be active and
vigilant in the assertion of their rights thereto. A person claiming an
interest in such property cannot remain silent and inactive for a long
period while third parties are buying, selling, improving, and otherwise
dealing with the property as their own, in reliance on a record title that
is perhaps defective, and then be permitted to assert his own claim
thereto in a court of equity. Courts of equity will not take such action as
will discredit a title that has been dealt in for years and recognized as
valid, and on the validity of which the fortunes of many persons may
depend, unless their aid is invoked by a suitor who shows a clear
equitable right, nor unless he has been diligent in making his rights
known and prompt in seeking relief when they were invaded. 233

The RLDS Church urged three mitigating circumstances for the late filing
of its suit. First, the Saints were driven from Missouri in the 1830s and found it
dangerous to return. Second, the Hedrickites had not occupied the Temple Lot for
a period of ten consecutive years. Third, the suit was to enforce the provisions of
an express trust, in which case laches should not apply.

The court rejected these three arguments as insufficient to overcome a
defense of laches. To rule in favor of the RLDS Church would affect too many
third parties. The RLDS Church had ample opportunity, after the filing of the
1839 deed (in 1870), to bring suit. There had been no obstacle after 1870 to a
speedy assertion of the RLDS title and claim. Under these circumstances, laches
constituted a good and sufficient defense, ruled the appellate court, and it
therefore ordered the circuit court's decree reversed.235

The RLDS Church petitioned for a rehearing, contending that laches was
not an applicable defense in a suit to enforce a charitable trust. On December 9,
1895 the Court of Appeals refused to rehear the case.236

In January 1896 the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the RLDS
appeal of the case. This spelled an end to the legal contest.237

Joseph Smith III felt that the Court of Appeals' reversal of Judge Philips'
decision "was in reality but a continuation of unlawful act and injustice upon the
part of the State authorities." He believed that if the church had been able to gain
a hearing before the Supreme Court, "the State of Missouri would have been held
to answer for what had resulted from its own unlawful actions in the past and the
decision would not have resulted in our again being deprived of our just rights."238

Despite failing to gain possession of the Temple Lot, the RLDS president
felt that his church had scored a decisive moral victory. Judge Philips' decision
for years has been cited by RLDS apologists. The Court of Appeals' decision, it
was reasoned, rested upon technicalities which left Philips' findings concerning
succession undisturbed.239 But no matter how great a moral victory had been
won, Joseph Smith III still felt a sense of injustice. Missouri's illegal actions
against the Saints stood uncorrected. The Hedrickites held the Temple Lot, but
they were too few and too divided to build a temple themselves. And all the while
the RLDS Church was prevented from occupying the property.240

Stance toward the Utah Church after the Manifesto

In an address to the RLDS general conference of 1892, Joseph Smith III
noted that the relationship between the RLDS and LDS Churches had undergone
an alteration since the issuance of the Manifesto:

... I am of the opinion that this change requires not only careful
thought, but it requires a little difference in presentation. For instance:
Until of late when the question was asked, we have stated the chief
difference between us and the Utah organization. It is now being forced
upon the people of America that they have abandoned polygamy. Our
ministry must be prepared for this change. Our ministry must exercise
as much charity, forbearance, and courtesy as possible in urging our
views upon the people241

Joseph Smith III remained quick to point out to outsiders that the RLDS
Church was strictly monogamous and always had been. But in the pages of the
Herald he de-emphasized polygamy for some years after the Manifesto. The
RLDS-LDS debate shifted in emphasis. Editorials in the Herald continued to give
attention to church-state issues in Utah. The manner in which Joseph F. Smith
received amnesty in 1891 came in for adverse commentary. Mormon
unwillingness to debate RLDS elders continued to be criticized. Other points of
distinction between the two churches (besides polygamy) received attention in
editorials, e.g., baptism for the dead, the Mormon practice of "adoption," temples,
temple rites, and the Rocky Mountain prophecy. 242

Despite the Manifesto, the two churches remained different in certain
fundamental respects. The differences were symbolized graphically by the
dedications which occurred on April 6, 1893. On that date LDS President Wilford
Woodruff led the ceremonies dedicating the magnificent Salt Lake Temple, which
had been forty years in building. On the same day, RLDS President Joseph Smith
III preached the dedicatory sermon at the new Brick Church in Lamoni, a
commodious structure which had been under construction for ten years. 243 The
former structure was devoted to the sacred ordinances of the LDS Church and was
accessible only to Mormons in good standing who came there on temple business.
The latter resembled many Protestant churches of its day, was open to anyone, and
was employed for conventional purposes. The differing architecture and functions
of the two structures reflected different theological tenets.

Joseph Smith III refused to oppose admission of Utah into the Union as a
punitive measure directed against Mormons. He was pleased to observe the
Mormon hierarchy moving away from theocratic pretensions in Utah, as evinced by
the dissolution of the People's Party in 1891. The development of regular
Democratic and Republican political organizations in Utah cleared the way for
Utah's admission as a state. Editorials in the Herald supported such admission. If
Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Washington were entitled to statehood, so was
Utah. Anti-Mormon religious prejudice should not enter into the political question
of statehood, editorialized the Herald, so long as the social and moral evil of
polygamy were abandoned. 244 On July 16, 1894 President Grover Cleveland
signed the legislation enabling Utah to enter the Union. A constitutional
convention was held in 1895 to draw up a state constitution for Utah. Joseph's
cousin John Henry Smith presided over the convention. On January 4, 1896
President Cleveland issued the proclamation admitting Utah as the forty-fifth
state in the Union. Joseph Smith III commented in the Herald:

We congratulate Pres. Woodruff on the issue of the effort for statehood,
without reference to the political party complexion that the entrance of
the new State may have taken on; believing as we do that American
citizens are entitled to self government, whenever and wherever the
national statutes governing in such cases are complied with. With the
hope that the sisterhood of states may never have just occasion to be
fearful of, or shamed by sentiment or deed of the new accession to their
number; we hail the new star in the blue field of the American flag. 245

The question of succession in the presidency of the church occupied
increasing prominence in the years following the Manifesto. The ablest exponent
of the Mormon position was Seventy B. H. Roberts, who in 1894 published the first
edition of Succession in the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-
day Saints. While Joseph Smith III admired Roberts' ability as an apologist, he was
not particularly impressed with this work. Responsibility for replying to Roberts
largely was left to others. The chief burden of reply fell upon Apostle Heman C.
Smith. Apostle Smith issued a series of replies to Roberts in the Herald which
were then collected into a pamphlet. Joseph himself remained on the sidelines of
the debate, although he did assist Heman C. Smith with advice and information.
The fundamental reason for his lack of involvement was his besetting problem of
neuralgia. As he explained to his counselor W. W. Blair, he knew that a book
replying to Roberts was needed, but he could not undertake the work:

Ill health, such as I have had, the influence of which to incapacitate me
for the labor incident to such a work few, yourself possibly included,
have fully appreciated, or understood, has not only made me diffident to
undertake but absolutely unqualified to do it. I do not want to undertake
it and fail.246

Joseph Smith III spent a good deal of time and energy in 1896 dealing with
fallout from an interview with Samuel G. Spencer. The episode began innocently
enough. Joseph was in Independence, Missouri on March 17th and agreed to talk
with Spencer, a visiting Mormon elder. The conversation took place at the home
of RLDS Apostle Joseph Luff. Three other Utah elders were present during the
interview, besides Spencer.247

Some months later, reports began reaching Lamoni that Spencer and others
were utilizing a report of the interview as a controversial tool in discussions with
members of the Reorganization.248 When Joseph Smith III saw a copy of the
statements he purportedly had made, he was furious. The report of the interview
quoted him so selectively as to misrepresent his actual views. He was occupied
for months composing explanations to queries from anxious members of the RLDS
Church who could not believe that their president had said the things he was
quoted as saying.249 Joseph was so irritated at the misrepresentation that he
wrote letters of complaint to Spencer and another of the Mormon elders who had
attended the interview.250 when the Deseret News published Spencer's account
of the interview, he again sent off letters of complaint.251 Finally he published
his own version of the interview in the Herald and in a tract.252

Bereavement and Remarriage

Much of Joseph Smith Ill's attention and energy was directed away from
warfare with the LDS Church during the mid-1890s. As the RLDS Church grew,
he found himself increasingly in demand as a speaker at dedications, reunions, and
other church functions. Much of his time was occupied in traveling to these
functions. Another major effort was the founding of Graceland College, the
RLDS liberal arts school at Lamoni, which was approved by the conference of
1894. His administrative burdens were increased by the death in 1896 of his dear
friend and counselor W. W. Blair. Ill health at times left him with little energy or
inclination for polemical warfare. A disposition to give the Utah Church the
benefit of the doubt, after the Manifesto, also tempered his criticisms for a time.

The greatest factor diverting his attention away from warfare with the
Utah Church was personal tragedy. On September 8th Bertha Madison Smith was
thrown from her buggy. After two weeks of recuperation, she seemed well on the
road to recovery and resumed her household routine. However, unknown to
anyone, Bertha had suffered internal injuries. In mid-October she became ill, and
Joseph hired a nurse to care for her. For several days she grew weaker, and
then—quite suddenly—she passed away on October 19th.

Joseph was heartbroken. He and Bertha had spent twenty-seven years
together. She was five years his junior and in robust health. He never anticipated
that she would precede him in death. Stoically he set his face to the future. His
daughter Audentia and her husband moved into Liberty Hall. Audentia managed
the large household and assisted in caring for Joseph's younger children.

Joseph was not happy as a widower, and was not yet prepared to spend the
rest of his life unmarried. His domestic nature, his high regard for women, and
his happiness heretofore in marriage combined to create a desire to remarry. He
busied himself with official duties, but he found that he went about them on
leaden feet in the months following his wife's death. 253

As he traveled about on church business, he kept his eye open for a
prospective wife. After having his proposal of marriage rejected by Adell
Hawley, in September 1897, he was depressed. "I had hoped for a different
answer," he wrote in his journal, "but must be content. I am old and not fitted for
companionship I fear." He added: "This most likely ends my search in that
direction. I pray for what is best for me to transpire."254

This was entirely too pessimistic an assessment. Only two weeks later he
attended an RLDS conference in Canada where he renewed his acquaintance with
the Alexander Clark family. The Clarks had several daughters, one of whom was
a tall, unmarried nurse named Ada. Joseph soon formed an interest in Ada and
again proposed marriage. Ada agreed on November 10, 1897. Joseph was sixty-
five years old; Ada Rachel Clark was twenty-five.

There were outbursts of indignation in the Clarks' small hometown of
Waldemar, Ontario. Some residents thought it outrageous that Ada was about to
marry a "Mormon prophet." But Joseph and Ada serenely went about making their
plans and were wed on January 12, 1898 in a quiet ceremony at the Clark

Joseph and Ada took up residence at Liberty Hall. Joseph stated that he
remarried "for the purpose of keeping my home intact and preserving that
domestic environment which has ever been essential to my happiness." His
motives were pragmatic, but he found happiness and an element of romance in his
marriage to Ada. Three sons were born to them: Richard Clark (December 26,
1898), William Wallace (November 18, 1900), and Reginald Archer (January 8,
1903). W. Wallace Smith grew up to become president of the Reorganized Church

The Church History

Joseph Smith III long had desired to publish an authoritative history of the
church. He was acutely aware of the apologetic value of history. Anti-Mormon
accounts of Mormon origins, hostile biographies of Joseph Smith, endless
retellings of the Spaulding Manuscript theory, accounts of polygamy in Nauvoo,
and tales of Mormon misdeeds in Utah—all these and more demanded rebuttal,
explanation, and criticism from an RLDS perspective. For decades Joseph Smith
III busied himself writing letters to editors and publishers, criticizing them for
printing historical material at variance from the RLDS perspective. Recognizing
the importance of history, a committee was formed to prepare material
"representing the faith and principles of the church" for inclusion in standard
encyclopedias and school histories.256

Anti-Mormon historical accounts were not the only ones demanding
rebuttal. LDS accounts also needed answering. A host of issues under debate
between the two churches were rooted in past events. The LDS Church claimed
the sanction of Joseph Smith's prophetic authority for many practices and beliefs
rejected by the Reorganization: celestial marriage, temple rites, plurality of
gods, etc. Additionally, the legitimacy of the Reorganization's claims to
authority revolved, in part, around historical events in the 1840s and 1850s. Issues
such as whether the Twelve led the church into apostasy, whether Joseph Smith
designated his son his successor, whether the prophet delegated presiding
authority to the Twelve, the completion of the Nauvoo Temple, the Rocky
Mountain prophecy, and the like, all demanded historical discussion.

Jason W. Briggs had been church historian in earlier times, but he never
published the desired church history. E. W. Tullidge's work had been intended as a
stop-gap church history, but it had received a hostile reception. Finally, after
numerous abortive starts and stops, the duty of writing the history fell upon two
members of the Reorganization who had demonstrated ability and willingness to
produce apologetic-historical material of high caliber: Apostle Heman C. Smith
and President Joseph Smith III.

The first volume of the History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Day Saints was published in 1896. Subsequent volumes appeared in 1897, 1900,
and 1903. The four volumes carried the history of the church from the birth of
Joseph Smith, Jr. to the year 1890.257

The format was that of a "documentary history." There were extensive
quotations from primary sources linked together by short amounts of explanatory
material. Official church publications were relied upon heavily. Through the
lifetime of Joseph Smith, Jr., printed sources such as the Messenger and
Advocate, the Times and Seasons, and the Doctrine and Covenants were drawn
upon copiously. Documentary sources in Utah were not accessible and probably
not desired in any case. Reliance upon such official printed sources of necessity
produced a "sanitized" version of church history—which is what Joseph Smith III

The principle of selection which governed the choice of materials was
undeviatingly simple: Joseph Smith was a prophet, a godly man, and a
monogamist; and the Reorganization was the divinely authorized movement to
rescue the Restoration from apostasy. One historian has called the History "the
major statement of the true church-apostate model" of RLDS historiography:

Encyclopedic in its detail, the four-volume work nevertheless
effectively carries the general theme of the continuity of the true
church from its early origins, through the troublesome 1840s to the
1850s, to the Reorganization's triumphal growth in the 1860s to the
1890s. It openly discusses many, not all, of the conflicts within the
church, is generally not rancorous in tone, and is sure in its assumptions.
The philosophy that God was in charge of history is strong in the work,
but the decisions of the people are considered significant and integral to
the history. 258

The greater part of the composition of the History fell to Heman C.
Smith.259 But the underlying assumptions, the methodology, and the guiding
genius were those of Joseph Smith III. Through history he sought to validate the
position of the Reorganization against the claims of both Mormon and Gentile

Renewed National Controversy over Utah

The years immediately following Wilford Woodruff's Manifesto witnessed
something of an era of good feeling in (and toward) Utah. "With few exceptions,
non-Mormons seem to have been initially pleased with the Manifesto, believing
that polygamy and unlawful cohabitation both would now suffer a happy, if
gradual, demise."259 But growing evidence that plural marriages were still being
performed, instances of the Mormon hierarchy's political involvement, and the
debates surrounding the elections of B. H. Roberts and Reed Smoot to Congress
brought this era of good feeling to an end. Joseph Smith III was on acutely
interested observer and critic of all these developments.

The RLDS president was alert to all news concerning polygamy in Utah.
He early began to question whether polygamy was suppressed in Utah and
publicized accounts of the survival of the practice.260 Although denied at the
time, the fact is that his doubts were more than justified. The highest levels of
the Mormon hierarchy were involved in performing plural marriages and in taking
new plural wives themselves after the Manifesto. There is evidence of at least
ten polygamous marriages entered into by seven different LDS apostles after
1890. Many of those presiding in the First Presidency and Twelve "either took a
very qualified view of the Manifesto or, as some believed, looked upon it as no
more than a ruse." 261 By the early 1900s a torrent of hostile publicity engulfed
the Mormon Church, and the Saints' Herald was anything but a lonely voice crying
in the wilderness about Mormon polygamy.

National controversy concerning Mormonism was also stirred by the
political involvement of the LDS hierarchy. At the time of the Manifesto, the
Republican Party had only a small following in Utah, due to its lengthy campaign
against the "twin relic." But Mormon leaders realized that they needed
Republican support in Washington to secure statehood and other desired
legislation. They therefore set about to establish the two-party system in Utah
and to strengthen the Republican Party in particular. The hierarchy decided "that
men in high authority who believed in Republican principles would go out among
the people, but that those in high authority who could not endorse the principles
of Republicanism should remain silent." Apostles John Henry Smith and Joseph F.
Smith vigorously promoted Republicanism within the Territory of Utah.

Apostle Moses Thatcher was an ardent Democrat. Seventy B. H. Roberts
and Charles W. Penrose of the Salt Lake Stake presidency were also Democrats.
They campaigned for the Democrats and helped the Democrats to carry the
territory in 1892. For this they were soundly rebuked by the hierarchy.

The Republicans carried the elections in 1894. The Democrats hoped to
rebound by nominating B. H. Roberts for Utah's first representative in the House,
and by promising to elect Moses Thatcher to the U.S. Senate if they captured the
State Legislature in 1895. Again, the candidacies of the two general authorities
brought a severe rebuke from the First Presidency, particularly Joseph F. Smith.
The issue of church-state union became prominent in the campaign. The
Republicans won, but by a reduced margin from 1894.

After the campaign a "Political Manifesto" was drawn up. General
authorities were required to sign it before being sustained at the Annual
Conference of 1896. Among other things, signatories pledged not to accept
political office without first obtaining the approval of "those who preside over
them." After intense soul-searching, B. H. Roberts signed the document. But
Moses Thatcher refused. As a result, Thatcher was not sustained at the
conference and was later dropped from the Quorum of Twelve.

When the Utah Legislature met in 1897, Thatcher narrowly missed being
elected to the U.S. Senate. His defeat was directly related to opposition from the
leadership of the church. To avoid excommunication from the church, that same
year, he was required to recant, admit to sixteen errors, and acknowledge the
supreme authority of the Presidency and Twelve.262

Joseph Smith III followed these developments with keen interest. He
editorialized against ecclesiastical control in political affairs. When Thatcher
was dropped as an apostle, he strongly endorsed Thatcher's right to hold his own
political views and not be dictated to by his colleagues. He commiserated with
Thatcher's ordeal while facing possible excommunication.263

After Thatcher was dropped from the LDS Quorum of Twelve, but before
his trial, Joseph Smith III wrote to him to congratulate him for his stand, which he
characterized as "temperate, manly and firm." He went on to say:

I have watched the course of the event as it has appeared to the
public, and have been anxious to see the right vindicated; for, having all
my lifelong been protesting against the undue exercise of official
authority, in the Church, over the members, the citizens of the Kingdom,
I can, I think, fully appreciate the fight you are making in the defence of
the rights of the people. While I am in political preference a Republican,
I am opposed, first, last, and all the time, to the interference of Church
leaders in the private opinions and political acts of the members, the
individual identities of the body. As these all answer to God for all their
acts at the final determination of all things, the individual conscience
and the right to its exercise must remain unconstrained of priestly
coercion; the member answering to his fellows in mutual allegiance to
the rules of their fellowship, which bear alike upon all.

That you have the moral support of many, who believe in the Latter-
day-work, not identified with the church in the valleys, I assure you.
"May the right prevail," should be the prayer of every independent,
honest minded man.264

The controversies surrounding the elections of B. H. Roberts to the House
of Representatives (1898) and Reed Smoot to the Senate (1903) brought Utah and
Mormonism even more prominently into the national spotlight.

In 1898 B. H. Roberts secured the necessary permission from the First
Presidency to run for Congress. It was well known that Roberts was a polygamist.
Roberts was elected by a sizeable margin, but after the election his right to sit in
the House of Representatives was challenged.

Protestant ministers in Utah mounted a campaign against Roberts which
grew into a national crusade. A monstrous petition containing seven million
signatures was presented to the House, asking that Roberts be excluded from that
body. His critics maintained that Roberts' election was in "violation of the
covenant made between the Mormon leaders and the government when Utah was
admitted to statehood." Roberts and the Mormon hierarchy maintained that there
had been a tacit understanding that polygamists at the time of the Manifesto
would not afterwards be punished so long as they entered into no new plural
marriages. Roberts viewed himself as a law-abiding citizen duly elected by the
people of Utah, who were well aware that he was a pluralist.

The House refused to permit Roberts to be sworn in and appointed a special
committee to investigate the matter. Following the recommendation of the
committee, the House voted 268 to 50 not to seat him.265

Joseph Smith III attempted to strike a balance in his editorials about
Roberts. On the one hand, he felt that Roberts' religion had no bearing on the
question of his right to o seat in Congress. On the other hand, a violation of civil
law was grounds for exclusion from Congress. On this basis, he thought, Roberts
should be excluded: because he was an acknowledged law-breaker, not because he
was a Mormon.266 The Saints' Herald carried suggestions on how to prepare
resolutions opposing the seating of Roberts, and many RLDS branches and
districts passed such resolutions.267

In the wake of the controversy surrounding B. H. Roberts' election, the
Utah legislature sought to avoid future embarrassment by weakening the anti-
polygamy law so as to preclude the possibility of future convictions. Joseph Smith
III vigorously editorialized against this legislation. There was sufficient outcry
against it that Governor Heber M. Wells vetoed it.268 There was suspicion that
Utah could not be relied upon to penalize polygamy, and a national campaign
developed to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting it. Joseph
Smith III and the RLDS Church were supporters of such an amendment.269

An even greater controversy arose due to the election of Mormon Apostle
Reed Smoot to the U.S. Senate in 1903. Smoot was a Republican and a
monogamist. The charge leveled against B. H. Roberts—that he was in engaged in
unlawful cohabitation—could not be brought against Smoot.

Nationwide opposition to seating Smoot erupted. The U.S. Senate voted to
seat him, but the charges against him were referred to the Committee on
Privileges and Elections. The committee began hearings in January 1904 and
continued them for thirty months.270

Objections to Senator Smoot took many forms. The extreme charge
that he had plural wives and was therefore a lawbreaker was easily
refuted. More serious was the accusation that he belonged to a self-
perpetuating fifteen-member ruling body that controlled Utah's elections
and economy. Church leaders, including Elder Smoot, were also charged
with secretly continuing to preach and permit plural marriages. In
addition, he was accused of taking a secret pledge of disloyalty to the
American government.271

The question was not finally resolved until February 1907. At that time the
Senate voted that Smoot should retain his seat, despite the majority report of the
committee which recommended expulsion. The controversy ranged far beyond the
immediate issue of Reed Smoot's right to sit in the Senate. The Mormon Church,
more than Reed Smoot, was on trial. Testimony in the hearings delved deeply into
Mormon history, theology, and culture.272

Joseph Smith III from the beginning took the stance that Reed Smoot's
religious beliefs and office in the LDS Church were not germane to the question
of his right to a seat in the Senate. In the course of one of his editorials on the
subject he stated:

We object seriously to the making of any man's religion a cause of
war against him when no overt act of outrage against the laws and
usages of the social institution of the country is alleged, or proved. It is
a dangerous principle and is a menace to the rights of citizens of the
United States affirmed by statutes everywhere.273

This was completely consistent with his earlier stand concerning B. H. Roberts. In
fact, it resembled his response to the Anti-Mormons of Hancock County in 1860,
when he demanded his own right to freedom of religion until such time as he
should violate statutory or moral law.

Some of the testimony in the hearings was sensational. Much of it
concerned the commercial and political power of the Mormon hierarchy, but it
was polygamy which dominated the hearings. Joseph F. Smith (who had become
president of the Mormon Church in 1901) was the first witness called when
testimony began in March 1904. Other leading Mormons followed him as
witnesses. National attention was focused on Mormonism.

Unfortunately, the testimonies of President Smith and most of the
authorities willing to appear did little to help the Mormon cause. Not
only did they plead an incredible ignorance concerning the polygamous
activities and status of fellow apostles but admitted in their own cases,
to having cohabited and fathered children with plural wives since the
Manifesto. More than that, the church president said he was not able to
pursue charges against apostles or other church members with a view to
bringing the practice of polygamy to on end. This, he said, was a matter
left to the local wards and bishops' courts. It was shown that, unlike the
revelation sanctioning plural marriages, the Manifesto suspending them
had not yet been included in ... the Doctrine and Covenants. As
awkward as anything, many accused of either taking additional plural
wives or performing the ceremony for others left the country, claimed
illness, or otherwise refused to appear in Washington.. . .

While confessing to continued cohabitation, President Smith
repeatedly and categorically denied that he or either of his predecessors
(Wilford Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow) had authorized new polygamous
marriages since the Manifesto. Neither had any such contractions taken
place with the "consent or knowledge or approval of the church." He was
emphatic in denying that "secret" marriages of this kind had occurred
anywhere in the world with official Mormon sanction. If some were
shocked by the president's admissions concerning cohabitation, others
must have been dumbfounded that he would endorse what many in the
church knew, and increasing numbers outside the church believed, to be a
fiction so far as the denial of new polygamous marriages was

The Herald naturally gave attention to such testimony. Joseph Smith III
wished to emphasize that his cousin Joseph F. Smith was acting contrary to both
the will of God and the law of the land.275

Beyond the immediate issue of Reed Smoot's seat in the Senate, Joseph
Smith III regarded the nationwide publicity as providentially beneficial to the
RLDS Church. In his opening address to the General Conference of 1904, he
observed that for decades he had felt that sooner or later "that which we have
been so industriously opposing for over forty years would be forced into the open"
to face the tribunal of public opinion. He believed that time had come, "directed
by the supervising hand of God." The Reorganization had accused the Mormons of
continuing to practice polygamy, he said, and they had denied it. But now his
cousin Joseph F. Smith had been forced to admit publicly "that they have been and
are now doing just precisely what we have charged them with doing." The Smoot
hearings, he reasoned, afforded the RLDS Church an unprecedented opportunity to
present its case to the public:

And I tell you frankly this morning, I am glad of it. I would rather fight
an enemy in view, than an enemy in the dark. ... No warfare in this
world is so annoying, none so barren of good results, as that which is
conducted under cover. The Reorganization has been put into that
position. As I stated a good many years ago, the only faction in so-called
"Mormonism" . . . that could afford to wait the moving events of time
was the Reorganization. I believe that yet.276

Literary Efforts

Immediately following Reed Smoot's announcement of his candidacy for
the Senate, in May 1902, protests and debate erupted. Joseph Smith III seized the
opportunity created by the controversy to reach a national audience.

In August 1902 The Arena published on article of his under the title,
"Origin of American Polygamy." The arguments were familiar to all readers of
the Saints' Herald, but doubtless were new to many of the magazine's readers. His
fundamental thesis was that polygamy was no part of original Mormonism. He
quoted the Doctrine and Covenants, Bible, Book of Mormon, non-Mormon writers,
and several Mormon sources to this effect. Brigham Young officially promulgated
the doctrine in 1852, and the documentary history of the revelation until that date
was suspect, he argued. He made apologetic use of the Temple Lot case and the
enmity of the prophet's family to polygamy:

It may be urged that women of Utah have stated to the public that
they were the wives of the Prophet Joseph Smith; but the evidences of
such relationship will not stand the test of examination. This has been
amply proved by the fact that in a suit prosecuted by the Reorganized
Church ... in which suit the Utah Church took an active part, testimony
was taken in Salt Lake City and submitted in said case . . . which
testimony failed utterly to maintain the statements of said Utah women.
Besides this, the Prophet's wife, Emma, and her immediate family, deny
all knowledge of any such relationship existing; and it is also a fact that
no children were born to the Prophet Joseph Smith except by his legal
and only wife Emma ....

Two sons of the Prophet have traveled in Utah . . . and have always
been ready to present their views in opposition to plural marriage and
have demanded their right as the sons of Joseph Smith to defend him
against the allegation that he was the responsible agent in the
introduction of plural marriage into the tenets of the church. These men
are still ready and willing to maintain their contention, and to dispute
the claims made by any that Joseph Smith, their father, either taught or
practised plural marriage.277

In the number for November 1902, readers of The Arena were able to read
a rebuttal from the pen of Mormon President Joseph F. Smith. Entitled, "Real
Origin of American Polygamy," Joseph F. Smith's article also went over ground
long familiar to members of the LDS and RLDS Churches. But it must have
seemed ironic to non-Mormon readers to see two cousins—both bearing the name
"Joseph Smith" and both presidents of Latter Day Saint bodies—arguing over the
origin of Mormon polygamy. He argued that Joseph Smith Ill's position placed
numerous Mormons of unimpeachable character in the position of liars. He went
on to cite numerous affidavits of persons who were taught plural marriage by
Joseph and Hyrum Smith, whose plural marriages were solemnized by them, or
who became plural wives of one or the other of them. He conceded that the
Mormon Church originally was monogamic, but insisted that the issue was whether
the prophet later promulgated polygamy. It was pointless to argue that polygamy
was once prohibited, because progressive revelation could (and did) alter such
prohibition. Furthermore, by rejecting the revelation on plural marriage, Joseph
Smith III also rejected the doctrine of marriage for eternity, which was "an
essential part of the same communication, and which is one of the most sublime
and glorious principles ever made known to mortals."278

The May 1903 number of The Arena contained a continuation of the
discussion. Joseph F. Smith, Joseph Smith III, and a spokesman for the National
Anti-Mormon Missionary Association submitted articles.279

Joseph F. Smith began by observing that four-fifths of all Americans, if
asked "What is Mormonism?," would answer, "It means polygamy." He tried to
show that Mormonism was much more than polygamy, and that Mormon polygamy
was a much misunderstood subject. He dismissed the attempts of those who tried
to dissociate Joseph Smith from Mormon polygamy. It would not do to appeal to
the public denials of polygamy by various Mormon leaders prior to 1852, because
these denials were designed to contradict reports of licentious behavior, not the
pure doctrine of celestial marriage. Joseph Smith Ill's position was contradicted
by affidavits of his father's most intimate associates and his plural wives. Joseph
F. Smith argued:

These, with hundreds of other persons acquainted with the facts,
form a cloud of witnesses that establish this point beyond fair dispute.
Against their attestations we have simply arguments, not unmixed with
patent sophistry, in the nature of a lawyer's special plea, from the head
of the "Reorganized" church, who announces, in the face of all the proofs
advanced, that he "prefers to believe" his father did not preach or
practise polygamy or a plurality of wives!

But whatever the truth about polygamy in the past, declared the LDS president,
Mormons presently proposed to obey the laws of the land. Mormon elders were
forbidden to teach plural marriage. Only a minority of Mormons ever practiced it
in any case, and their numbers were dwindling rapidly.

Joseph F. Smith attempted to shift the focus of debate away from
polygamy. He pointed with pride to other aspects of Mormon teaching, such as
eternal marriage and the restored gospel. He also pointed to the fruits of
Mormonism: industry, thrift, education, progress, etc.

Joseph Smith Ill's article was entitled "Plural Marriage in America." He
renewed his argument that the Mormon Church was monogamous during the
lifetime of Joseph Smith, Jr. He took direct aim at Joseph F. Smith's contention
that numerous unimpeachable witnesses established the contrary. He made use of
answers given by Mormon witnesses under cross-examination by RLDS lawyers in
the Temple Lot case, attempting to show that they contradicted Brigham Young's
statements about the revelation on celestial marriage. He appealed to statements
by Emma Smith, William Marks, and others to show that Joseph Smith never
sanctioned polygamy. The entire argument resembled a defense lawyer's pleading
on behalf of his client.

For the prophet to have taught polygamy, his son reasoned, would have
contradicted the laws of God, given in the accepted books of the church: ". . .
nothing could be given to the church that would conflict with the laws he had
already given, or that would require the performance of any act by which those
laws would be disregarded or broken." God's rule ever was monogamous. The
RLDS president concluded:

Joseph Smith could not have either taught or practised contrary to
this rule of marriage. To have done so he would have disregarded and
disobeyed the commands of the Lord .... The evidence that he did this
is lacking or altogether inadequate. . . . The chief contention of the
Reorganized Church and the sons of the prophet Joseph Smith is not that
he was not a polygamist, but that the dogma and practise are contrary to
Scripture, ancient and modern, and wrong—being also contrary to the law
of God and the institutions of the United States.

After the publication of "Plural Marriage in America" in The Arena, the
article was reprinted by the RLDS Church as a tract.280 Joseph Smith III
obviously considered it one of his strongest arguments against polygamy.

North American Review. As the controversy about the seating of Reed
Smoot grew hotter, Joseph Smith III had another opportunity to publicize the
differences between the two churches, this time in the prestigious North
American Review. The March 1903 number carried his article, "Polygamy in the
United States—Has It Political Significance?281

First Joseph Smith III gave an overview of Latter Day Saint history. He
argued that the rule of the church was monogamous during his father's lifetime,
that the church was commanded to obey the laws of the land, and that the church
always existed in states which prohibited polygamy through 1844. The Saints
underwent many persecutions during Joseph Smith's lifetime, but polygamy was
never a cause. Polygamy had been allowed to flourish in the Territory of Utah
due to the failure of the federal government to enforce laws against it. Political
considerations were responsible for this failure. When Utah was admitted to the
Union, a loophole in the state constitution made polygamy (which the constitution
prohibited) to be simply the act of marrying more than one woman, not living with
more than one at the same time as wives. This latter act, he pointed out, was
punishable in Utah only as the relatively minor offense of "unlawful cohabitation."
The penalty for that crime was a simple fine.

He concluded that polygamy had political significance for the present. It
had been settled that a practicing polygamist (B. H. Roberts) ought not to be
seated in Congress. Some urged that Reed Smoot ought not to be seated, but
since Smoot was a monogamist, he ought not to be excluded. Beyond the case of
Reed Smoot, there was the question of an anti-polygamic amendment to the
constitution. Joseph Smith III advised proponents of the amendment to consider
the history of past legislation against polygamy. He urged that the amendment
not be framed "as to leave so transparent a loophole of escape from obedience to
its requirements as was left in the Enabling Act by which Utah became a State,
and which has been perpetuated in the Constitution under which she was admitted
into the federation of States." He concluded with the hope that "politicians shall
not again be fooled or outwitted into permitting such a political menace to

Joseph Smith III also busied himself with some less important literary
efforts. He left the Herald under the editorial supervision of his son and assistant
editor, Frederick, and spent three months touring the British Isles during the
summer of 1903.282

Frederick Madison Smith

While Joseph Smith III busied himself with continued polemical warfare
with the Utah Church, travels, speaking engagements, and raising a third set of
children, he delegated increasing ecclesiastical responsibilities to his oldest
surviving son Frederick. Given the prominence attached to the doctrine of lineal
succession in the priesthood by the RLDS Church, Frederick's future career was
virtually predetermined for him. As a youngster he constantly was reminded by
older members of the church that someday he would be his father's successor.
Despite his inner conviction that his talents lay more in the realms of teaching or
science than in the area of religious leadership, he resigned himself to his
seemingly inevitable rise to leadership in the church. In 1897 he was ordained an
elder. He served in a variety of church-related positions and missions. In 1902
Joseph Smith III delivered a revelation designating Frederick one of his counselors
in the First Presidency. Another revelation, given in 1906, officially designated
Frederick Madison Smith as heir apparent to his father's office.283

The elevation of Fred M. Smith to the First Presidency served to cement in
place RLDS adherence to the principle of lineal succession in the priesthood. The
appointment of Alexander H. Smith as patriarch to the church (1897), Elbert A.
Smith as counselor in the First Presidency (1909), and Frederick A. Smith as an
apostle (1902) and later as patriarch (1909) added a certain dynastic flavor to
Smith administration of the church. The sons of other leading elders were also
advanced to prominent positions in the hierarchy.284

If Frederick Madison Smith's position as heir apparent served to emphasize
the different stances of the RLDS and LDS Churches toward the question of
succession in the presidency, Frederick's activities also served to demonstrate
that the churches were traveling in divergent directions. In February 1904 he
attended a Smith family reunion in Salt Lake City. While there he had the
opportunity to become acquainted with his second cousin Joseph F. Smith, Jr. and
to give o brief talk before a Mormon congregation in the Tabernacle. In his talk
he politely sought to stress points in common between the two churches.285

Whatever good will may have been generated by this visit was dissipated
during Frederick's next visit to Salt Lake City. From May 1905 to March 1906 he
resided in the city and engaged in RLDS missionary work. He published two open
letters in the Salt Lake Tribune which were highly critical of the Mormon
Church.286 Then on August 21, 1905 he sent a letter to President Joseph F. Smith
asking that Mormon meeting houses be opened to him for the purpose of
explaining the views of the Reorganization. The letter was blustering in tone and
declared it to be the mission of the seed of Joseph to call the Mormon people to
repentance. It concluded: ". . . beware how you reject the call coming through
the seed of Joseph." Joseph F. Smith replied on August 24th. He professed
himself willing to open Mormon meeting houses to various groups, but not to those
whose avowed purpose was to attack the LDS Church. He rebuked Frederick for
appealing to his ancestry while rejecting the teachings of his grandfather. This
epistolary exchange was printed as a pamphlet by the LDS Church.287 In
December 1905 the Salt Lake Tribune carried another attack on the Mormon
Church from the pen of Fred M. Smith, which criticized the Mormon teaching that
the faithful must "obey counsel."288

During the summer of 1905, while Frederick was attempting to revive the
RLDS work in Utah, his father was traveling in the Pacific Northwest. Returning
eastward, Joseph decided to make a stopover in Salt Lake City.

Final Visit to Utah

This was to be Joseph Smith Ill's final visit to Utah.289 When he stepped
off the train, at midnight, September 20th, he was accompanied by Ada and his
three boys. After consulting with Fred M., Joseph decided to extend his stopover
in the City of the Saints. Ada and the boys remained until October 2nd. Joseph
did not depart for Lamoni until November 9th.

Public pronouncements. September 24th was the first Sunday after the
RLDS president's arrival. He occupied the pulpit in the RLDS chapel both
morning and evening. There was a packed house for the evening service. The Salt
Lake Tribune reported that his forty-five minute extemporaneous sermon
delivered "sledge-hammar blows in the battle for loyalty to the Government, for
obedience to the laws of the land and of God, [and] for that freedom and
independence which gives to the humblest individual in the church the courage to
call even the highest of the church leaders to task for violation of the laws . . . ."
He held preaching services during the week which were less well attended.

The next Sunday he again preached to a crowded audience and reiterated
some of the same themes. He warned that the nation viewed the Mormon Church
in light of Joseph F. Smith's testimony at the Smoot hearings that he would
continue, as Joseph III characterized it, to "keep on living, in defiance of the laws
of God and of the land." He warned that this stance was risky:

Until the leaders and all the people return to obedience of the
revelations of God and the laws of the land, you will suffer. ... if this
defiance of the law continues the strong arm of the Government will be
stretched out to punish, and punish justly. The United States has been
patient with the people of Utah, but the punishment of crime is sure to

An interview with Joseph Smith III appeared in the Tribune of September
24th. In it he warned that polygamy underlay a variety of Utah's continuing
problems and that conflict with the federal government would result from
continued defiance of the law. He also set forth the position of the Reorganized
Church in several matters, including RLDS belief in liberty of conscience.291

During the Mormon Semi-Annual Conference in October, the RLDS Church
held evening services in Unity Hall, which was rented for the occasion.
Joseph Smith III was the featured speaker and again enjoyed some good crowds,
including many leaders in the LDS Church. At one meeting, polygamous Apostle
Francis M. Lyman was present. Joseph seized the opportunity to preach on the
thirteenth chapter of Romans, contrasting the law-abiding and monogamous
position of primitive Mormonism with that of the contemporary LDS Church. He
deliberately "rubbed it in" and felt he gave his overconfident listeners something
to think about. At the conclusion of the service Apostle Lyman avoided greeting

Joseph Smith III also made missionary journeys north and south of Salt Lake
City. He spoke in Ogden, Plain City, Pleasant Grove, and Provo.293

The Mormon Semi-Annual Conference. On October 6th the Mormon Semi-
Annual Conference opened at the Tabernacle. Joseph and Fred M. Smith were in
attendance. Joseph was a careful observer and reported to his daughter, Audie,
that he enjoyed the music but not President Joseph F. Smith's method of
conducting business:

... a more flagrant case of priestly hypnotism and one man domination
prearranged I never saw. Every last man jack of the leading men voted
for himself, except Reed Smoot, who very ingeniously Smo(o)thed the
opposition he had manifested against apostles Cowley and Taylor, of
whom it is stated that they have married each a new wife since the
manifesto. 0, it was a sight to see. The Mormon paper stated that I
seemed to be an attentive and interested listener, and so I was; why

He could not help contrasting the cut-and-dried manner of handling
business at the LDS conference with the wide-open debates at RLDS conferences:

I think I never saw a more apparent instance of what we call packed
conventions or jury than was presented October 6 in the tabernacle here.
President Joseph F. Smith was in charge with his counselors and all the
chief officers of the church, excepting five of the Twelve. ... He
started out with a rousing speech upon his own part, vaunting the great
things they are doing, urging them to pay their tithing, keep their
convenants [sic], get out of debt and keep out of debt, and denouncing
bitterly the chatges [sic] that have been made against them. . . . [More
general authorities spoke.] Thus having prepared the way, the people
being wrought up by the rousing discourses they had heard, fairly
intoxicated with praise and adulation of themselves and their leading
men, Joseph F. Smith with a written program in his hand, started out
thus: "It is proposed to sustain Joseph F. Smith, prophet, seer, and
revelator, and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day
Saints in all the world. Those approving, raise the hand;" at the same
time raising his hand, thus voting for himself. All hands went up. There
folowed [sic] some fifteen or twenty propositions to sustain the several
officers and auxilliaries in the church. In every instance in which the
names of the presidents [or] any of the chief officers were named, they
voted for themselves. The only exception was that when after Francis
M. Lyman was sutained president of the Twelve, and the eleven
remaining members were presented, including Senator Smoot, he kept his
hand down. It is presumed because of some hesitancy upon his part to
sustain Cowley and Taylor who are accused of having married plural
wives since the Manifesto.295

Joseph III was particularly dubious of Joseph F. Smith's claims, in his
opening address, that not one dollar of church funds had been misappropriated:

Apropos of this, it is well understood here among nearly all classes that
prior to his being chosen as president he was an ordinarily poor man. He
has a large family, which must have cost him a good sum for care and
keep. He has now been presiding four years, and is estimated to be
worth nearly two millions. He is living in splendor, no finer outfit of
horses and carriages than his, and he has lately bought a Irage [sic]
automobile for his family service.296

Given his own modest financial circumstances and the perpetually strapped
condition of the RLDS treasury, Joseph III felt no little skepticism about his
cousin's protestations.

Conversations. As in his previous visits to Utah, Joseph devoted a
considerable amount of time to conversations. From these interviews he learned
a good deal about conditions in Utah.297 However, by 1905, only a handful of old
Nauvooans survived in Utah. He therefore had few opportunities to converse with
old Saints. None of his interviews in this year were as dramatic as earlier talks
with some of his father's plural wives. One interview, however, was
sufficiently important that it will be given extended consideration here.

Interview with Angus Munn Cannon. On October 12, 1905, Elder Angus M.
Cannon called on Joseph Smith III. Cannon (1834-1915) was the former president
of the Salt Lake Stake and a member of one of the most prominent families in the
LDS Church.298 After a preliminary exchange of pleasantries—including boyish
memories of Nauvoo—the two white-haired gentlemen began a lengthy discussion
of their religious differences.299

Elder Cannon gave an extended account of his life, including his family's
conversion in England, their journey to America, his baptism in 1844, the exodus
from Nauvoo, and his arrival in the Great Basin. Joseph Smith III questioned him
closely about the general rebaptism which occurred after the Saints' arrival in
Utah. Cannon answered that it was necessary to perfect their defective records,
and also that it was deemed wise to renew their covenants because "we had passed
through so much affliction and trouble."300

Cannon explained his resistance to plural marriage, as a teenager, when an
elder proposed to take his sister as a plural wife. Only after counsel from others
and after hearing the revelation on plural marriage read, in 1852, was he finally
persuaded that it was a divine commandment. Even after accepting it as his
responsibility to enter plural marriage, he recognized the practical difficulties it
entailed. He tried to mitigate the problems of favoritism, jealousy, and rivalry by
taking two wives at once, when he finally married in 1858. Cannon claimed that
his family relations had proven very pleasant and that he had been sincere in his
belief and practice.301

Apparently there was a good deal of give-and-take in the conversation.
Joseph Smith III pressed him about his disobedience to the law of the land. A. M.
Cannon replied that when he became a polygamist there was no law against it, and
that under the Edmunds Act he had been imprisoned rather than abandon all but
one of his wives. This he considered a sacrifice for the gospel. Joseph asked him
whether he received a testimony of the truth of the gospel before he learned
anything of polygamy. Yes, replied Cannon, but the testimony he received of the
truth of the revelation on plural marriage was of the same sort as he received

While eating lunch, Joseph felt he detected a tone of self-justification in
Cannon, a defensive air, a desire to deflect any suggestion that he had not lived
harmoniously in polygamy. Cannon was openly critical of many of his brethren
whom, he claimed, had not been so "conscientious." He complained that many of
them had acted unwisely and even "hypocritically." Joseph queried whether he
meant to say that Mormon men were generally insincere in their adherence to
polygamy. Cannon paused, thought, laid down his knife, and replied, "Yes, Brother
Smith, I am sorry to admit it, but it is true. The greater part of them are arrant
hypocrites, and dishonest and deceitful in their actions." This confession brought
a wide smile to the face of Frederick's wife Ruth, who had been listening to the
exchange. As the conversation continued, Joseph became convinced that Cannon's
dismissal as president of the Salt Lake stake had left him bitter. His free
criticism of others stemmed from this bitterness and a desire to whitewash his
own less-than-harmonious family life. Cannon's critical comments only reinforced
the convictions of Joseph, Fred, and Ruth Smith that plural marriage was a
mistake from the very beginning, and a formula for marital discord.303

One of the principal topics of conversation was the origin of polygamy.
Cannon expressed amazement that Joseph Smith III could believe his father to
have been a monogamist. He told a number of stories designed to smoke Joseph
out into the open, but without success. For example, he told of meeting Mark H.
Forscutt in Chicago, in 1871, and questioning him concerning this very point:

"Do you mean to tell me, Mark Forscutt, that Joseph Smith [III] . . .
does not know that his father had more wives than one, when I know as
much about it as I do, only being ten years of age at the time of his
father's martyrdom, when he is two years my senior"? His answer was,

"Blair and I have talked over this matter and we are satisfied, Brother
Cannon, that Joseph knows that his father had more wives than one at
the time of his death." I then said, you are both satisfied of it then? He
replied, "We are both satisfied of it." "Then you believe that the Prophet
Joseph died a transgressor," when he said, "Yes we do".

Joseph Smith III listened to Cannon's story, and when he had finished, replied: "I
knew that Blair cherished those opinions, but I did not know that Forscutt did." If
Angus Cannon had thought to shock Joseph with the information that some of
close associates believed his father had practiced polygamy, he was sadly
mistaken. Neither could he secure the slightest hint that the prophet's son
entertained such a belief.304

Cannon told of a childhood friend who claimed that Joseph once pointed
out women in Nauvoo who were reported to be his father's wives. Joseph denied
having any recollection of such a statement.305

Cannon also told of taking Eliza R. Snow for buggy rides, when she was on
aged invalid. One day she expressed amazement at the "Last Testimony of Sister
Emma." "Brother Angus," she said, "I can't comprehend how Sister Emma, who
was one of the noblest women I ever knew, could, before her death, make the
affidavit that she is said to have made, denying that her husband had more wives
than one, for she took my hand and put it in the hand of her husband, Brother
Joseph, and gave me to him to wife."306

Again, he told of discussions with the Whitmerites, who claimed that Emma
Smith Bidamon never made the statements attributed to her in the "Last
Testimony," and that Joseph Smith III put words in her mouth to clear reproach
from his father's name. Cannon delicately asked whether this were so:

Joseph, this is the representation made to me on that occasion. You can
answer regarding it. I have not met you nor sought to meet you in
public, for the purpose of seeking your humiliation, reverencing your
father as having lived and died a Prophet of God. I have felt in my heart
a desire to meet you and talk these matters over, asking you for an
explanation of your views, that you might tell me upon what principle
you justify yourself in fighting the doctrines regarding celestial

Joseph Smith III told Cannon that his mother's answers were reported accurately,
and that they had been given in front of witnesses.307

This line of argument brought no concessions whatsoever from Joseph
Smith III. He gave his familiar responses, that plural marriage was contrary to
the standard works of the church, that officials such as Hyrum Smith and John
Taylor repudiated it publicly, and that his mother contradicted stories of his
father's involvement. He asked Cannon how he could account for his mother's
statements. This was a difficult question, for it placed A. M. Cannon in the
position of impeaching the testimony and character of the prophet's wife. He
replied that she married a Gentile, lost the Spirit, and became darkened in mind.
"She thought of the trials through which she had passed, and concluded to lead her
children to walk in a path that would free them from the principles that had
caused her much anxiety and produced great trouble."308 -This estimation of
Emma Smith was hardly calculated to persuade her son, but it was the best answer
Cannon could give.

When Joseph was pressed about the reports of Melissa Lott, the Lawrence
sisters, the Partridge sisters, Desdemona Fullmer, Lucy Walker, and Eliza R. Snow
having married the prophet, he countered by asking why none of them had borne
children to the prophet. Cannon knew that this was another telling point, but
replied as best he could. He admitted that he did not have a fully satisfactory
answer and could only repeat what Lucy Walker Kimball said, viz., that they were
so nervous and lived in such constant fear that they could not conceive. Joseph
laughed at this reply. Was it not true, he asked, that Eliza R. Snow died a virgin?
No, replied Cannon, Eliza once denied such stories at a social gathering, saying, "I
thought you knew Joseph Smith better than that."309

Angus M. Cannon also brought up Austin Cowles' affidavit stating that
Hyrum Smith read the revelation before the High Council, and William Smith's
polygamous activities. Joseph denied that his uncle ever admitted the existence
of polygamy in the church prior to the death of the prophet.310 All this failed to
move Joseph Smith III from his position.

The second great area of contention between the two men was priestly
authority. Cannon sought to show that the Reorganization in general and Joseph
Smith III and particular lacked authority. He argued that William Marks had held
high office in Nauvoo, but had apostatized by following Rigdon, Strang, and
others. How could Joseph Smith III have received divine authority via ordination
under the hands of on apostate? And even if Marks had not apostatized, what
right had he to ordain someone president of the church? Joseph's years of
inactivity also were criticized:

I told Joseph it seemed strange to me that he should have slept for
sixteen years from the martyrdom of his father to the time when these
men assumed to ordain him to lead the Church, and then assumed to
dictate the Church that had been lead [sic] by the ranking quorum of the
Twelve, fulfilling the prophesies made by his father before his death, and
giving evidences to the world that he lived and died a Prophet of the
Living God. He remarked, calling some man by name, whose name I
cannot remember, that he came to him and advised him to come to this
people at on early day, he had earnestly prayed to the Lord for light,
that he might know what to do. In the night he dreamed and where he
stood there was a light descending from above upon him, and sprays of
light came down and enveloped him, and a voice said, "Go not after
them," indicating that the light proceeded from above accompanied him.
He took this as an evidence that his duty was to maintain his position,
and he had acted accordingly.

How, asked Cannon, could Joseph be a true prophet, when he had compromised
himself in his address at Amboy in I860? Cannon was puzzled at a prophet who
promised not to reveal anything unacceptable to the people. Joseph Smith, Jr., he
thought, taught that a prophet's duty was to proclaim the word of the Lord, and
let the people bear the responsibility for accepting or rejecting it.311

There was a further exchange concerning the rationale for the
Reorganization. Cannon asserted that the priesthood was restored to earth never
more to be removed. Joseph contended that the church was rejected
organizationally, but that a righteous remnant retained the priesthood and the
right to reorganize later at God's command.312

The two men finally concluded their lengthy conversation. Cannon left
convinced that the prophet's son had been led astray by his mother, had repudiated
his father's teachings, had sought the applause of the world, and had eschewed the
kernel for the husk. Joseph Smith III concluded that Angus Cannon was one more
hypocritical polygamist, embittered but unrepentant. Between their two positions
there was a great gulf fixed.

Political Conversations. One of Joseph's motives for remaining in Salt
Lake City was to observe the municipal elections in November. A third political
party had been formed to counter the church's influence in both the established
parties. Dubbed the "American Party," it was destined to dominate municipal
politics in Salt Lake City from 1905 to 1911. One of the prime movers in the
American Party was the recently excommunicated Frank J. Cannon. Cannon was
the son of the late George Q. Cannon and had played a prominent role in
negotiations with federal authorities prior to the issuance of the Manifesto. He
bitterly resented having been maneuvered out of his U.S. Senate seat by the
hierarchy, entertained a fond distaste for Joseph F. Smith, and was convinced that
the promises made in 1890 had been betrayed.

Arrangements were made for Joseph Smith III to meet Frank J. Cannon.
Joseph admired Cannon. He thought that Cannon was courageous in standing up
for his convictions, much as he himself had done as a young man. Apparently the
two men got along well. Cannon and his party were happy to make political allies
wherever they could. After an initial interview, Cannon arranged for Joseph
Smith III to attend a luncheon at the mansion of ex-Senator Thomas J. Kearns on
September 28th. Important civic, business, and religious leaders sat about the
table. Joseph felt that he had been invited in order to assess his potential value
as a political ally. Actually, he needed no encouragement. The day before the
luncheon he wrote home:

There are or will be three party tickets in the field for municipal
control, —Republican, Democratic, and American. Like the Irishman, we
are in favor of the American because it [is] "Agin the government;" that
is, against the hierarchy.313

The friendliness displayed by Cannon, Kearns, and company gratified
Joseph Smith III. He reflected upon the freedom with which he walked the streets
of Salt Lake City and the good feeling manifested toward him by many. He could
not help but contrast his situation with the years spent by his cousin, Joseph F.
Smith, hiding from the law, in consequence of "his championship of a false
doctrine." Virtue, he concluded, had its own rewards.314

Relatives. Once again Joseph was welcomed into the home of his cousin,
LDS Patriarch John Smith. Several generations of Smith cousins had a get-
together at John's home on the evening of September 28th. Joseph was pleased to
introduce Ada, his young sons, and Fred M.'s family to their Utah kinfolk. Joseph
again had friendly visits with his long-time correspondent John Henry Smith. He
also became quite fond of John Henry's son George Albert Smith during this stay
in Utah.

Joseph was sorry to observe the distressed financial and mental condition
into which his cousin Samuel H. B. Smith had fallen. Samuel harbored personal
and financial grievances against the leading authorities of the Mormon Church.
Joseph considered that Samuel showed signs of mental imbalance stemming from
his reduced circumstances and long-standing resentments, coupled with his
unwillingness to break with the church. One evening Joseph III dined at the home
of Samuel's son Joseph B. Smith. Samuel H. B. Smith was also a guest, and seated
next to him was his divorced first wife, Joseph B.'s mother. The evening placed
Samuel under severe emotional strain, despite his ex-wife's attempts to make him
feel at ease. He spent much of dinner with tears trickling down his face and lips
trembling. Walking home that night, Samuel unburdened his soul to Joseph.
Joseph was convinced that his cousin would have lived his life differently, had he
the chance to live it over again.315

The one cousin whom Joseph Smith III did not meet socially, while in Salt
Lake City, was Mormon President Joseph F. Smith. He did watch Joseph F. from
a distance, however, at the opening day of the LDS Semi-Annual Conference.

Departure. Joseph had promised Frederick Madison Smith that he would
remain in Utah until after the municipal elections on November 7th. Both men
were interested in seeing what success the American Party might achieve. Joseph
made some parting visits to his relatives, attended a reception-cum-birthday
party, and left Salt Lake City on November 8th. He spoke at Pleasant Grove and
Provo the following two nights, but he found that his old nemesis, facial neuralgia,
was so painful that he could not undertake any more sermonizing. Physically and
emotionally he found himself growing weaker and weaker. Despite good audiences
at Pleasant Grove and Provo, he decided that it was time to return home. He
boarded a train and reached Lamoni on November 12, 1905.316

Final Trip to Washington, D.C.

The hearings concerning Reed Smoot's right to sit in the U.S. Senate
dragged on into 1906. From time to time members of the RLDS Church
attempted to bring their views before the Senate Committee on Privileges and
Elections or urged that Joseph Smith III appear in rebuttal of Mormon claims. But
Joseph Smith III himself looked unfavorably upon such activities. He editorialized
that the RLDS Church was not a party to the inquiry and that members should not
interfere with the business of the committee by interjecting theological
controversy into its proceedings.317

As the committee at last approached the conclusion of its hearings, in
January 1907, Joseph Smith III finally was subpoenaed to appear as a witness. The
chairman of the committee was Senator Julius C. Burrows of Michigan. Burrows'
grandfather once had been a Mormon. Burrows himself had lived in Kirtland
during his childhood, was friendly to the RLDS Church, and had some knowledge
of Latter Day Saint history. He decided that the president of the RLDS Church
might possess some knowledge of Mormon affairs which might prove damaging to
Reed Smoot and accordingly had him subpoenaed. 318

Joseph Smith III was ill when he received the summons at the end of
January. His facial neuralgia left him confined to his home. Recognizing that he
might need assistance in Washington, he recruited Bishop E. L. Kelley, Patriarch
Alexander H. Smith, Church Historian Heman C. Smith, and veteran elder E. C.
Briggs to accompany him. His wife Ada came along as a nurse. On February 2nd
the party left Lamoni for the national capital.319

The party arrived in Washington on February 4, 1906. They were met at
the train station by Apostle Francis M. Sheehy, who was in charge of the RLDS
Eastern States Mission. Sheehy had spent some time in Washington opposing the
seating of Reed Smoot and was on the best of terms with Senator Burrows.
Burrows welcomed suggestions from Sheehy in his warfare against Reed Smoot,
and always reserved a seat for him whenever he was present at the hearings.
Sheehy was of great assistance to the visitors.320

On the 5th Senator Burrows came to the hotel for a discussion with Joseph and Bishop Kelley. Joseph Smith III was pleased with the interview:

We were pleased as well as surprised at his clear, comprehensive
knowledge of the history and facts concerning us, though he said nothing
to commit himself in any way as to his opinions in the controversy. He
told us we would be admitted to the committee rooms and given seats at
the hearings, but that the calling of any of us to the witness stand would
be left to the development of events.321

On February 6th the RLDS party went to the hearings for the first time.
They met a number of the principal persons connected with the hearings and were
assigned seats of honor. Joseph was already acquainted with two members of the
committee: Senator Albert J. Hopkins of Illinois (who came from Aurora, just
fourteen miles from Plano), and Senator J. P. Dolliver of Iowa.

By February 9th it had been decided not to call any of the RLDS party to
testify. Some of the senators were afraid that calling Joseph Smith III or any of
his RLDS colleagues as witnesses would raise extraneous issues. The following
day, Joseph wrote a brief explanation to his son Israel: "The committee finished
with me yesterday by neglecting to call me to the stand. Why? Fear that my
testimony would start anew the whole question between the churches, and thus
prolong the controversy."322 Some members of the RLDS party were disgusted at
this turn of events, but Joseph Smith III and E. L. Kelley were not, as Joseph
reported to his daughter Audentio:

We were quite ready to answer, if called. But, much to Heman's disgust,
and to Br Briggs dissatisfaction, the powers directing the inquiry decided
to not put me on the stand. Reason assigned—It was feared that
somewhere, either in the direct examination, or in the cross
examination, something would be drawn out of me that would bring out
the whole ecclesiastic quarrel between the two churches, and thus give
Smoot the chance to prolong the fight till his term expired, and thus
defeat the object of the inquiry. I could see that not to put me on was
better than to put me on and then not allow the whole to come in. The
Bishop saw this also. So, on the whole we were content to leave it. ...
Our delegation made a fine impression. 323

After returning to Lamoni on February 21, Joseph Smith III editorialized
about the reasons he was not called to testify. His editorial remarks were
somewhat less forthright than his private written comments from Washington.
Publicly he took the stance that it was the committee's business to determine
which witnesses were called, that he went to Washington only because he has been
subpoenaed, and that he had no desire to force himself upon the committee. He
pronounced himself neither surprised nor disappointed in not having been called to

He had no desire to see Reed Smoot excluded from the Senate, he felt that
the hearings had done a great deal to vindicate the RLDS stance toward Utah, and
he was in poor health. For all these reasons, he felt no sorrow at not being called
to testify.

The case was not resolved for another year. The Senate received the
majority and minority reports of the Committee on Privileges and Elections in
June 1906. The majority report recommended exclusion of Smoot. The case was
called up in the Senate in December. After much debate and political
maneuvering the matter came to a vote in February 1907. Twenty-eight senators
voted for exclusion, forty-two against exclusion, and twenty did not vote.
Joseph Smith Ill's policy of non-involvement in the Smoot case seemed wise in
retrospect. The church's interests were not at stake, and individual members held
different views of the issues. But the hearings had publicized many things the
Reorganization felt needed airing. 325

Slowing Down

The years following the Manifesto had been ones of painful adjustment for
the Mormon Church. Step by step the church had been forced to retreat from
polygamy. The Smoot hearings focused such attention on continued Mormon
polygamy that Mormon President Joseph F. Smith issued the "Second Manifesto"
in 1904. This official declaration marked a watershed. Outwardly it reaffirmed
Wilford Woodruff's Manifesto. Inwardly it signified a decision by the hierarchy to

tolerate no more clandestine solemnizations of plural marriages. In 1905 Mormon
Apostles John W. Taylor and Matthias F. Cowley were forced to resign from the
Quorum of Twelve, because they were not reconciled to this policy. A new
generation of Mormons was gradually, if painfully, accommodating itself to
American culture. Defiance of American mores was giving way to acculturation.
Not only polygamy but other typical nineteenth century Mormon doctrines and
practices had faded away or were undergoing metamorphosis: "the gathering;
church-directed colonization; the law of adoption; the kingdom of God as a
temporal, political entity; the united order; confinement of the idea of Zion to a
particular geographical region; and the urgent expectation of an imminent return
to Missouri and the Second Coming of Christ."326

Joseph Smith Ill's trip to Washington, D.C. formed a fitting climax to his
years in Lamoni. This period in his life was characterized by a continuing crusade
against polygamy. By 1906 he was ready to retire from active combat. A younger
generation was coming to the fore in both the RLDS and LDS Churches.
Polygamy, if fitfully and painfully, was being abandoned. Both the forces opposed
to Reed Smoot and the ailing Joseph Smith III seemed to sense that no useful
purpose would be served by calling the old warrior to the stand and reopening old

In the fall of 1905 Joseph had moved from Liberty Hall into a smaller home
in Lamoni. The RLDS Church took over Liberty Hall as a home for elderly Saints.
Broken in health, Joseph's crusading days were behind him. Organizationally and
theologically he had placed his personal stamp upon the RLDS Church. Now, he
sensed, it was time for him to enter a period of semi-retirement.


Copyright by Charles Millard Turner 1985
All Rights Reserved