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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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Anti-Slavery Missionaries in the South (Part 5 of 8)

In 1844 when Joseph Smith was running for president of the United States, he proposed a system of gradual emancipation for all slaves.  How did that message go over in the South?  Hint:  not well.  In our next conversation, Dr. Derek Sainsbury will tell us some of the stories of these missionaries, and some of the surprising receptiveness to the message in some cases.

GT:  I think the interesting thing for me, especially I served my mission in South Carolina, so I’m very familiar with Southern Baptists and Pentecostals and all sorts of things. But, in 1844, slavery was legal and Joseph Smith is talking about freeing the slaves. I don’t think that went very well in the South.

Derek:  It didn’t. The one blind spot that I have is, as a historian with this is none of the ones that went in the deep South kept a journal.

GT:  Oh really?

Derek:  Here’s that same George Miller, a couple days later is walking and a guy stops him in the street and he says, “You best get out of here, because my slaves have been told if they see you, to lynch you, to put you up on the tree and lynch you.”  So he’s like, “hmm, I’m moving on to the next town.”

It wasn’t always violent however opposition.

Derek:  Right, but this is when it started was in the 40s, 1840, 1844. They’d have these huge barbecues and whiskey and get people to show up and listen. Well, he goes to the other end of the square and stands up on a tree trunk and starts…

GT:  The stump. That what they actually called a stump speech.

Derek:  That’s right. He starts preaching Joseph Smith, he’s not preaching the gospel. He’s doing electioneer stuff about General Joseph Smith’s run for the presidency. By the time he’s done, the entire crowd is shifted, and is listening to him. When it’s over, they’re saying, “You don’t want any of this guy’s barbecue,” and they take him to the tavern, give him a big meal. He writes about how many of them liked the ideas, even though some of them disliked, well, a lot of them disliked Joseph. This was a common thread not just in the Upper South, but everywhere.

GT:  What state was this in?

Derek:  This was Kentucky, but even as far up as in Massachusetts, in Boston, there were a lot of people that liked the ideas in the pamphlet, but not so much, Joseph. They would have these conferences where they would come up with these resolutions, for lack of a better word, and they were both Mormon and non-Mormon together, that agreed with these principles. So there was more acceptance than we really knew. Not overwhelming, but there were some out there that also didn’t like the two-party system, didn’t like the Democrats and the Whigs, were looking for another way forward.

Are you surprised to hear about some successes?  Check out our conversation….

Joseph Smith’s anti-slavery message didn’t go well in the South, but there were some surprising successes too.

Don’t miss our previous conversations….

421: Bobby Kennedy-Joseph Smith

420:  Electioneer Missionaries

419:  Mormons: The Original Swing Voters!

418:  Views of General Joseph Smith

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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”