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.
Following James Strang’s prophetic call, he sought to gather people to his movement. Strang’s Mormon missions included trips to Kirtland, Ohio, home of the temple, and he tried to gather people to Wisconsin as the new promised land. Historian Bill Shepard will describe more about these missions by James Strang.
Bill: Strang is going to go to Kirtland, I think in September of 1846. They’re going to sweep Kirtland. The people are going to join him. They established a High Council of Presidency over there. Strang has keys to the temple, and so everything looks rosy.
GT: Oh, wow. So he was really making inroads in Kirtland.
Bill: Yes, in Kirtland and in the east, wherever he would go. [For] the Mormons, this fit the bill, because this was primitive Mormonism. Strang, in my view, unwisely dealt with some people that had been malcontents in Joseph’s church which was disastrous for his cause: John C. Bennett, William E. McLellin, George J. Adams, William Smith. So, in retrospect I would think he would look back and say, “Oh, why did I do this?”
GT: Martin Harris, didn’t he join with Strang for a while?
Bill: That triumphant mission of Strang out east, the three witnesses and most of the eight witnesses–now I realize that some of them would be dead–but they acknowledged Strang. They acknowledged him. So for a brief instant, and I would say it’s very short, Strang is going to make these grandiose [claims.] He is attracting a lot of people.
GT: People who didn’t like Brigham Young and polygamy.
Bill: Right. Exactly, and secret societies. Any of that. Many of them do not gather out to Voree, however. They choose to give their allegiance from a distance. Several things happened. One thing happened, I look at the picture, and the person did him the most damage was William E. McLellin. William E. McClellan had been cut off in 1837.
Were you aware of Strang’s early missionary successes? Check out our conversation…