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.
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)