Denver Snuffer will tell us about how the Law of Adoption affected Brigham Young’s plan for succeeding Joseph Smith. We’ll focus more on the sealing power, and the polygamy affidavits were used to support polygamy that helped Brigham Young’s ascension to leadership in the Church.
Denver: But the idea of Adoption had a profound effect on the history of the Church. Because Brigham Young led the first company, they come in. This is the place. They settle down. He has himself anointed a king and a priest in the log cabin that was built. Then the king returns across the plains, back to Winter Quarters. On his way back, he runs into the company that had John Taylor and Parley Pratt in it. John Taylor and Parley Pratt had some kind of sealing adoption organization put together for the companies. They lead in the migration. When Brigham Young met them, they had reorganized the companies that they were in, contrary to the way that Brigham Young had adopted folks together in the ceremonies in Nauvoo.
So now they were in defiance of the priesthood by what they done. Well, they were members of the Quorum of the Twelve. The vote that was taken on August 8 of 1844 was that the Quorum of the Twelve would take care of the Church, not Brigham Young. It was the Quorum. So, John Taylor, and Parley Pratt didn’t regard Brigham Young as having any right to rule and reign or dictate over them. They were doing what they thought best after they saw how the company functioned. They realigned the adoptions as they were going West. Well, Brigham Young fumed from there all the way back to Winter Quarters.
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….
Don’t miss our previous conversations with Dr. Sainsbury.
Bill Shepard is an amazing Mormon historian, and a former president of the John Whitmer Historical Association. He is also a Strangite. In our first conversation with Bill, we will get acquainted with him, and learn more about these other Mormons, & James Strang, a prophet many of you may not have heard of.
GT 0:46 Welcome to Gospel Tangents. I’m excited to have an amazing historian and I’m going to start this a little bit differently. But, first of all, could you tell us who you are?
Bill 0:55 Bill Shepard, I’m a life-long Strangite. Maybe more importantly, I’m a historian.
GT 1:03 Yes. You were the president of the John Whitmer Historical Association.
Bill 1:07 In 2008, yes. We had John Whitmer [Conference] at Voree, Wisconsin or Burlington, Wisconsin. We had a nice turnout of people, including Mike Quinn and Roger Launius.
GT 1:19 So, you’ve been doing this for a long time. You’ve got a really awesome book. Do you want to show the camera? Your book was published in 1977!
Bill 1:30 This was basically intended to get out the positive things about James J. Strang and his teachings. It basically [tells] why the other Mormons sects are not correct. So if I would redo it, I would redo it a lot more professionally at this point in time. But it does have the positive things showing James J. Strang’s teachings. I think they’re quite significant.
GT 2:08 Well, let’s do a few things here. I don’t normally do this but tell me the name of your church because I think a lot of my listeners will be very surprised to hear the name of your church.
Bill 2:20 It’s actually the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite). We had to put the appendage on. We couldn’t use the term Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for obvious reasons.
GT 2:37 In fact, I think the only difference between your church name and my church name is I have a lowercase d, and you’ve got a capital D with no hyphen.
Bill 2:46 Right.
GT 2:47 We have a hyphen, lowercase. So that’s pretty funny. So would you call yourself a Mormon?
Bill 2:53 Oh, very definitely. We are asked many times, just like the LDS Church or Utah Mormons are asked, “Are you Christians?” [We have the] same problem, same identification, same basic goals. Strangites accept Joseph Smith certainly. They break, of course, with the transition to the Twelve Apostles into Brigham Young. So there was a critical period there when Joseph Smith died in that the Brighamite church did not have a prophet. Now the Strangites claimed that an angel had appeared to [James J. Strang] at the time that Joseph Smith was martyred and ordained him to be a prophet. It’s interesting to think that in this early period, the Strangites had a song by John Hardy. It wasn’t theirs, but it was “A Church Without a Prophet is not a church for me.”
GT 4:10 Oh, wow.
Bill 4:12 Of course, at that point in time until the 27th of December, 1847 the Brighamite church reorganized with Brigham Young as a prophet as their head.
 The book is called “James J. Strang: Teachings of a Mormon Prophet.” It is out of print and can be hard to find at a reasonable price.
We will learn more about Strangite beliefs. Check out our conversation…
Dont Miss our other conversations about Strangites with John Hamer, Michael Quinn, and Steve Shields!