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*Why Joseph’s POTUS Run was Downplayed (Part 8 of 8)

Over the years, few people have believed that Joseph Smith’s run for president was a serious candidacy.  Why is that?  Dr. Derek Sainsbury answers that question and discusses the role of apostles B.H. Roberts and Reed Smoot in downplaying Joseph’s POTUS run for the presidency.

Derek:  When the political manifesto is put out, where we’re told [that] the Church will not tell you which way to vote or be involved in politics that way anymore. We have B.H. Roberts, and then several years later, Reed Smoot both not be seated in Congress because they’re Mormon. Roberts is still polygamist.  Smoot is not and eventually Smoot does get seated. But it’s the longest and biggest investigation in senate history, as far as the number of things sent in and the number of things…

GT:  Smoot?

Derek:  So, when the Smoot hearings are happening is the same time that B.H. Roberts, again, the person who didn’t get seated, who won election to Congress, but was never seated, is commissioned by the First Presidency, to write (how do I put this?) the history of Joseph Smith, what we used to know as the History of the Church to re-edit it and add commentary, which he does. Then he writes his own full-scale commentary of the whole thing. In both of those, which then become the backbone for Latter-day Saint historians, in both of those, he downplays it big time. It’s a footnote. “Oh, they were just trying to have a third way or…”  Of course, he’s going to do that.  Think of the context of what’s going on. Literally, the President of our Church is sitting in a Senate hearing, being grilled about everything that he said about whether he receives prophecies or whatever. They’re looking at everything we print, and everything they say. Are we really going to print something that says Joseph Smith wanted to be President of the United States? Absolutely not. So, as those electioneers are all dying, so the living memory of it is gone. At the same time, we’re trying to distance ourselves from politics, is when these books are written. And then those books are used for decades as the launching point if you’re talking about Church History.  So, of course, the narrative has always been “nothing big, nothing big.” Until some non-Latter-day Saint historians and some–they were called the New Mormon Historians in the [19]60s and 70s started to pick up that, hey, maybe there was something more here. It’s just kind of continued to flourish.

Did you realize politics played a role in the Church downplaying Joseph Smith’s POTUS run?

We talk more about Roberts’ failing to get seated in the House of Representatives.  But remember, you have to be a newsletter subscriber to hear the conclusion of our conversation.  Sign up for free at https://GospelTangents.com/newsletter and I will send you a secret link!

BH Roberts downplayed Joseph’s POTUS run to help Reed Smoot get seated in the U.S. Senate.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Dr. Sainsbury.

424:  Why Joseph Destroyed Expositor (Sainsbury)

423:  Theo-democracy in Deseret (Sainsbury)

422:  Anti-Slavery Missionaries in the South (Sainsbury)

421: Bobby Kennedy-Joseph Smith (Sainsbury)

420:  Electioneer Missionaries (Sainsbury)

419:  Mormons: The Original Swing Voters! (Sainsbury)

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Why Joseph Destroyed Expositor (Part 7 of 8)

The Nauvoo Expositor exposed Joseph Smith’s polygamy and was the lightning rod that led to Joseph Smith’s death.  As Mayor of Nauvoo, Smith directed the city council to destroy the Expositor press.  While polygamy was an explosive issue, it wasn’t the only reason Joseph wanted the press destroyed.  In his book, “Origins of Power,” Dr. Michael Quinn makes the case that polygamy was a relatively minor reason for the destruction of the press.  I asked Dr. Derek Sainsbury if he agreed with Quinn, and he did.  What else was published in the Expositor that Joseph wanted suppressed?

GT:  Well, let me ask you a question about that. I remember reading Michael Quinn. It was a long time ago that I read this, but one of the things that he said–going back to the Nauvoo Expositor, polygamy kind of always grabs the headlines. The Expositor published Joseph Smith’s polygamy. But the bigger issue, according to Quinn, was that Joseph was seeking alliances with England, France, Texas, which would have been considered treasonous. Can you talk about that? I’m assuming that that didn’t really happen in the Council of Fifty minutes or was speculation.  Can you talk to that issue?

Derek:  So, they sent a delegate to Texas to negotiate.  Woodworth is his name.  That’s an independent nation. So, the Council of Fifty considered themselves to be the kingdom of God on Earth, the political Kingdom of God that represents it on earth. There’s a reason why when Joseph Smith is headed to Carthage, he tells William Clayton to either burn or bury the minutes because they could be construed as treason. They didn’t consider it to be treason. But it could be construed that way. So yes, they did send a representative to Texas. They did formally call someone to go to Russia and to England.  Those ambassadors, if you want to call them that, never left. But it gives you the mindset that they were acting like a government. They were pushing for the United States. They were pushing this idea of Joseph Smith for president. But then if that doesn’t work out, where can we go? So, then you have to start looking at where you go, who are you going to have to work with? If you go to Texas, you got to work with Texas. If you go to Oregon, which is contested property between the United States, Great Britain and Russia, then, of course, you need to be talking with those three countries as well. Does that make sense? The minutes show that these assignments were made.  The only one that was made and actually reported back was the Texas one.

Derek:  But yeah, the minutes also reveal that on the April 11th meeting, in the new Masonic hall had been built in 1844, they nominate Joseph as a prophet, priest and king over Israel, different from maybe the promises that might be found in an LDS endowment. So, this idea of making him a king over Israel, that ends up being leaked.  It’s in the Nauvoo Expositor that he’s made himself [king.] They’re twisting it that he’s made himself King. They’re twisting it and so that’s…

GT:  Well, I would think that would be an easy thing to twist because we hate kings, and even the Book of Mormon says it’s better that you do not have a king.

Were you aware of these reasons?  What are your thoughts?

Check out our conversation….

Dr Derek Sainsbury says polygamy was a minor irritation of the Nauvoo Expositor. There were other reasons Joseph wanted the paper destroyed.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Dr. Sainsbury.

423:  Theo-democracy in Deseret (Sainsbury)

422:  Anti-Slavery Missionaries in the South (Sainsbury)

421: Bobby Kennedy-Joseph Smith (Sainsbury)

420:  Electioneer Missionaries (Sainsbury)

419:  Mormons: The Original Swing Voters! (Sainsbury)

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Theo-Democracy in Deseret (Part 6 of 8)

Following Joseph Smith’s death, Brigham Young tried to implement theo-democracy in the Territory of Deseret, which is now known as Utah.  In our next conversation with Dr. Derek Sainsbury, we’ll talk about how successful Brigham Young was in implementing Joseph’s view of government.

Derek:  When the Civil War breaks out, they see that as a natural–Section 87, the revelation about the Civil War, a civil war starting. They see that as fulfillment of that [revelation] obviously, but also of the rejection of political salvation that Joseph Smith offered them in in 1844. While we don’t join the Confederacy, we don’t really join the Union, we kind of sit on the sidelines, hoping, for some, not all, but hoping for some that it all falls apart. In fact, the Council of Fifty that Brigham Young–Brigham Young continues this Council of Fifty, this Governing Council, political Council, he continues that they kind of lead the theo-democracy in the Deseret era.

Then after theo-democracy is established, they [Council of Fifty] kind of go away. They stopped meeting because they have the structure set up. It’s inherent now in the actual system they have.  But during the Civil War, he brings it back.  He brings the council back and they create their own legislature, which is the exact same people. After every single legislature session during the Civil War, they do a second one with the legislature of Deseret, and they do the exact same thing. It’s like a shadow government, if you will. In the public speeches that Brigham Young and other leaders of the church give, they start to talk again. They start to bring back and talk more about this idea of the Kingdom of God, which meant a lot different than it means now.  It meant the political Kingdom of God is coming back and they saw in the fulfillment of the Civil War that this might happen, and we need to be ready to govern ourselves when the country collapses, and then spread that government. You hear during the Civil War, in a lot of the discourses that are given by the leaders of the church, that idea.  They even start to talk about, “Hey, this government is here. It’s been here. It’s just waiting for the right time.”  Then, of course, the Civil War doesn’t lead to the collapse of United States, and we have to go back to trying to get along with the United States.

Derek:  When reconstruction is done, then the Republicans turn to us, the other twin relic of barbarism, polygamy.  That’s when the real difficult relationship with the federal government begins through the 1870s and the 1880s, leading up to the Manifesto and the creation of the State of Utah and all that other stuff, which really is all trying to destroy the theo-democracy.  Plural marriage is great for them to attack. Polygamy is great for them to attack because it’s sensational, it’s great.  But what the really trying to do, because it’s seen as un-American, is break up the relationship between church and state.

GT:  Yeah, because when the bishop is also the judge, the federal government has to pull in “Gentile” judges. Because they’re trying to break this theo-democracy.

Derek :  Yeah, and it takes them a long time. Because one, they planted theo-democracy really well, and they’d given all kinds of powers when they created them to the probate judges and to others where they could basically put them in their own courts, if people were accused. So, it took a lot of different amendments and legislation from the US Congress to finally kind of break down all of the theo-democracy.

Check out our conversation….

Brigham Young was much more effective at establishing theo-democracy in Deseret than Joseph Smith.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Dr. Sainsbury.

422:  Anti-Slavery Missionaries in the South

421: Bobby Kennedy-Joseph Smith

420:  Electioneer Missionaries

419:  Mormons: The Original Swing Voters!

418:  Views of General Joseph Smith