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Early 20th Century Polygamy & Reed Smoot (Part 4 of 8)

The 1890 Manifesto was issued saying the LDS Church no longer practiced polygamy.  However, it was practiced secretly.  LDS Apostle Reed Smoot was elected as a US Senator from Utah in 1902, causing Congress to investigate whether the LDS Church had continued to practice polygamy.  Lindsay Hansen Park, host of the Year of Polygamy podcast, will give us more details into early 20th century practices and we will talk more about the apostle/senator Reed Smoot.

Lindsay:  Reed Smoot was a Mormon senator, of course, because he was the representative from Utah.

GT:  He was an apostle also.

Lindsay:  He was an apostle, and he was basically the scapegoat. He took a lot of heat for Mormon polygamy, because he’s over in Washington D.C., just trying to do what he does.

GT: Reed Smoot was elected as Utah senator. Even though Reed was an apostle, he was also a monogamist. But Congress refused to seat him. So we have these Reed Smoot hearings that lasted for like two years.

Lindsay:  Yeah, In the Reed Smoot hearings–so basically, he is brought in front of the government.  They ask him all kinds of questions. They ask him all kinds of questions about Mormonism, Mormon theology.  Actually, if you read the transcripts, it’s fascinating look at Mormon theology.

GT:  They go through the temple ceremony as well.  It’s in the Congressional Record.

Lindsay:  They do and they asked him all kinds of questions about polygamy. He is forced to answer. I think he answers dishonestly, sometimes, but again, you’re looking at this idea of, we have…

GT:  But it’s not just Reed because they pulled in the prophet who by then I’m not sure. Was that…

Lindsay:  So Joseph F. Smith was forced to [testify.]

….

Lindsay:  This is still at the time when we’re not sure if Mormons are allowed to vote, or if they are even considered citizens of the United States, or if they have the rights of United States citizens. So when Reed Smoot is elected, it’s about a four year struggle where people are saying, “Does he even get to do this? Is he even legitimate?  Does he need to be here?”

One of the things that they focused on in his hearings were Mormon oaths. We talked about the temple ceremony earlier, but there were oaths in the temple, [such as] the oath of vengeance that fundamentalists still adhere to. Basically [they] have to promise that they would avenge the murder of Joseph Smith, until the third and fourth generation. After Joseph Smith was killed, this was added into the temple, where there was this oath that you would take where you would avenge the deaths of the Prophet from those who had murdered him. [This] is you know why Mountain Meadows Massacre and all these other things are justified under these oaths that ends justify the means and we can do anything outsiders.  So the federal government was like, “Why are we going to let Mormons in when we’ve heard for years about these oaths.  You want to kill us.”  What should we do? Polygamy becomes the battering ram for that. So they’re in this conflict.

Joseph F. Smith is the prophet now at the time. He encourages Reed Smoot in these hearings.  This is why I brought up Joseph F. Smith because the important thing that you have to understand is Joseph Smith, III is Joseph Smith, Jr.’s son. Emma Smith rejects polygamy. Her church stays in Nauvoo, the RLDS [Church]. She believes her son, Joseph, III, has the most credentials to take on the church. There’s a good argument for that case. So she backs him. All the saints come West who are practicing polygamy in the Brighamite tradition. You have Joseph F. Smith and his cousin, Joseph Smith, III.  Hyrum’s son [leads the LDS Church], Joseph’s son [leads the RLDS Church.]  They have about a 20-year battle and I have an episode where we talk about this because I think it’s fascinating. We call it Dueling Cousins, where Joseph III is really trying to understand why people would call his father a polygamist. His mother is denying it. He doesn’t understand. He just wants to know the truth. By most accounts, all accounts, he’s a good guy. He’s an honest guy.  He’s just trying to understand.

Were you aware of the Reed Smoot Hearings?  Did you know the temple ceremonies are in the Congressional Record?  Check out our conversation….

Congress tried to prevent the seating of Utah Senator Reed Smoot over polygamy in 1903, despite the fact Reed was a monogamist.

 

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Lindsay!

391: Mormon Fundamentalist Theology

390: John Taylor’s 1886 Revelation

389: “More Than One Way to Mormon”

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*Reflecting on Hawn’s Mill (Part 7 of 7)

In our final conversation with Dr. Alex Baugh, we’ll talk about the lessons to be learned from Hawn’s Mill.  Who deserves blame in this escalation?  What might have helped calm things down?  Did Porter Rockwell try to assassinate Governor Boggs?

GT:  There was an assassination attempt on his life and a lot of people want to pin that on Porter Rockwell.

Alex:  It probably was.

GT:  It probably was?

Alex:  Yeah, I think it was. He was visiting his in-laws, the Beebes. The Beebes lived in Jackson County. Monte McClaus wrote an article about it years ago. I taught his kids in seminary, actually. But if you line everything up, I think Rockwell, he was definitely there. Did he intend to kill Boggs? I kind of think not. He just wanted to make him–and why do I say that? Well he used a German buckshot pistol. So they were just small pellets, and it didn’t kill him. I mean, it could have, but I don’t think he intended it to. I think he was just upset with what this man did to us. I mean, his indecisiveness, his lack of humanity towards the Mormons. I don’t know what you want to say, I think he probably did it.

GT:  Oh, really?

Alex:  Yeah, I do. Would he deny it? Well, of course.  I guess the folklore around, “If I would have done it, I would have killed him.” Well, that’s just a good round about there. But Joseph had nothing to do with it. There’s no question there. Even though John C. Bennett and others wanted to pin that on him, there’s no evidence for that. Joseph was not an accessory to the crime. Rockwell acted on his own.

Check out our conversation….

Dr. Alex Baugh discusses lessons learned from Hawn’s Mill Massacre and Gov. Boggs credit/blame.

 

Don’t miss our other conversations with Dr. Baugh!

333: Halloween Massacre at Hawn’s Mill

332: Finding Jacob Hawn

331: Was Extermination Order a License to Kill?

330: Mormon Dissent Leads to Salt Sermon

329: Mormon Expulsion from Jackson County

328: Trouble in Missouri 1833

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Halloween Massacre at Hawn’s Mill (Part 6 of 7)

Seventeen Mormon men and boys were killed at Hawn’s Mill, Missouri on October 30, 1838.  Dr. Alex Baugh describes the awful tragedy that includes mutilation of corpses, and gruesome injuries to a boy as young as 7 years old.  As we approach Halloween, it is a very sad anniversary to the awful tragedy.  If you are sensitive to these kinds of descriptions, you may want to skip this episode.

Alex:  So we’ve got 30 plus men. But they had thought if there was conflict, that perhaps they could use this unfinished blacksmith shop as a garrison, a place of defense.  That was a bad choice, because, unfortunately, it was not finished. But they thought, “Well, this will be good. It wasn’t chinked or daubed, so we can shoot through the cracks. But that’s going to prove fatal. What ends up happening then is they start attacking and so the women immediately leave.  I’m sure this was pre-arranged. They get out of there. Most of them fled across the river, across the Mill, and race up the hill into the woods. They shot at a woman, her name was Mary Steadwell, and she was shot in the hand. So they’re indiscriminate. They’re not just firing at men. They’re firing at women and children.  These women are making their way out. She was injured, and she fell behind a log and her dress was over the log. So they kept pelting the log. There were 20 bullets right in the log itself, but she only had the hand injured. But they’re after these the women and children, too. So, the men try to find some sort of defense in the blacksmith shop. They’ve got the numbers, but about 30 some odd men went in there and four boys with the intent of defending themselves and the community. But as these waves come in, they were slowly able to get under the fire, and eventually come right on to [shop.] The south end is where the door was, and that faced the river.

Again, this is Thomas McBride. He was 62 years old.  He was probably the oldest guy there. He makes his way out and gets hit a couple of times….McBride is just wounded terribly….A guy named Jacob Rogers from Daviess County, he’s one of the ones [the Mormons] expelled. He finds Thomas McBride and he says, “Give me your weapon.”  He’s thinking, “Okay, I’m wounded, but he won’t hurt me. I’m giving up my weapon.” He gives it to him and he actually shoots him. Then he takes a corn cutter and cuts off some of his fingers. He mutilates him. I mean, this is a terrible, horrific killing.

Isaac Leaney was pelted and he made his way and eventually was able to get into the home of Jacob Hawn, where some of the women had assembled and were praying.  They took care of him….What’s interesting is years later, and Wilford Woodard talks about this, and I may be off a little bit on the figures, but he was walking in Nauvoo, and Isaac Leaney goes, “Brother Woodruff, do you want to see the clothes I was shot in?” They said, “He went in, he laid out his clothes.” I think he said there were 28 bullet holes.

17 Mormon men and boys were killed in the massacre.  Check out our conversation….

17 Men and boys were killed by a Missouri mob. The dead ranged in age from 10-62. Women and children were also wounded severely in the Hawn’s Mill Massacre on October 30, 1838.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Dr. Baugh.

332: Finding Jacob Hawn

331: Was Extermination Order a License to Kill?

330: Mormon Dissent Leads to Salt Sermon

329: Mormon Expulsion from Jackson County

328: Trouble in Missouri 1833