1. Did Joseph Smith have more than one wife while he was alive?
Just check Joseph
Smith's official church marriage record at www.familysearch.org.
LDS member and historian Todd Compton has found solid documentation
for Smith marriages to 33 women while he was alive. True,
many more were sealed to him after his death, but Smith
had at least 33 wives while he was alive.
"In the group of Smith's well-documented wives, eleven (33
percent) were 14 to 20 years old when they married him.
Nine wives (27 percent) were twenty-one to thirty years
old. Eight wives (24 percent) were in Smith's own peer group,
ages thirty-one to forty. In the group aged forty-one to
fifty, there is a substantial drop off: two wives, or 6
percent, and three (9 percent) in the group aged fifty-one
teenage representation is the largest, though the twenty-year
and thirty-year groups are comparable, which contradicts
the Mormon folk-wisdom that sees the beginnings of polygamy
was an attempt to care for older, unattached women. These
data suggest that sexual attraction was an important part
of the motivation for Smith's polygamy. In fact, the command
to multiply and replenish the earth was part of the polygamy
theology, so non-sexual marriage was generally not in the
polygamous program, as Smith taught it."
Why did Joseph Smith have 33 wives?
Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word
of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have
save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none...
For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed
unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall
hearken unto these things.
Lord is saying here that the only reason for more than one
wife is to "raise up seed" unto Him.)
Verse 37: Abraham received concubines, and they bore
him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness...
41: And as ye have asked concerning adultery...
is adultery an issue? Simply being married or "sealed" to
more than one woman in an otherwise chaste arrangement might
be bigamy or polygamy, but it's not adultery. Adultery is
a sexual act.)
62-63: And if he [Joseph Smith] have ten virgins given unto
him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong
to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified....
for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish
the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil
the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation
of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds,
that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is
the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.
Joseph Smith's original 1831 polygamy revelation, given
to a group of married men while they were visiting a Native-American
tribe, also explains procreation as the purpose of polygamy:
it is my will, that in time, ye should take unto
you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity
may become white, delightsome and Just, for even
now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles."
- Prophet Joseph Smith, The Joseph Smith Revelations
Text and Commentary, p. 374-376, http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/indianpolygamyrevelation.htm
Young taught that "This is the reason why the doctrine
of plurality of wives was revealed, that the noble spirits
which are waiting for tabernacles might be brought forth."
(Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 197.)
But did Joseph Smith obey the commandment and have sex with
"Because of claims by Reorganized Latter-day Saints that
Joseph was not really married polygamously in the full (i.e.,
sexual) sense of the term, Utah Mormons (including Joseph's
wives) affirmed repeatedly that Joseph had physical sexual
relations with his plural wives-despite the Victorian conventions
in nineteenth-century American religion which otherwise
would have prevented mention of sexual relations in marriage."
Mormon Melissa Lott (Smith Willes) testified that she had
been Joseph's wife "in very deed." (Affidavit of
Melissa Willes, 3 Aug. 1893, Temple Lot case, 98, 105; Foster,
Religion and Sexuality, 156.)
a court affidavit, faithful Mormon Joseph Noble wrote that
Joseph told him he had spent the night with Louisa Beaman.
(Temple Lot Case, 427)
Emily D. Partridge (Smith Young) said she "roomed" with
Joseph the night following her marriage to him and said
that she had "carnal intercourse" with him. (Temple
Lot case (complete transcript), 364, 367, 384; see Foster,
Religion and Sexuality, 15.)
total, 13 faithful latter-day saint women who were married
to Joseph Smith swore court affidavits that they had sexual
relations with him.
Smith's personal secretary records that on May 22nd, 1843,
Smith's first wife Emma found Joseph and Eliza Partridge
secluded in an upstairs bedroom at the Smith home. Emma
William Clayton's journal entry for 23 May (see Smith,
secretary William Clayton also recorded a visit to young
Almera Johnson on May 16, 1843: "Prest. Joseph and
I went to B[enjamin] F. Johnsons to sleep." Johnson
himself later noted that on this visit Smith stayed
with Almera "as man and wife" and "occupied
the same room and bed with my sister, that the previous
month he had occupied with the daughter of the late Bishop
Partridge as his wife." Almera Johnson also
confirmed her secret marriage to Joseph Smith: "I lived
with the prophet Joseph as his wife and he visited me at
the home of my brother Benjamin F." (Zimmerman,
I Knew the Prophets, 44. See also "The Origin of Plural
Marriage, Joseph F. Smith, Jr., Deseret News Press, page
Mormon and Stake President Angus Cannon told Joseph Smith's
son: "Brother Heber C. Kimball, I am informed, asked [Eliza
R. Snow] the question if she was not a virgin although married
to Joseph Smith and afterwards to Brigham Young, when she
replied in a private gathering, "I thought you knew Joseph
Smith better than that."" (Stake President Angus
M. Cannon, statement of interview with Joseph III, 23, LDS
Did Joseph Smith father any children from his polygamous
President Angus Cannon also testified: "I will now refer
you to one case where it was said by the girl's grandmother
that your father [Joseph Smith] has a daughter born of
a plural wife. The girl's grandmother was Mother Sessions
. . . She was the grand-daughter of Mother Sessions. That
girl, I believe, is living today, in Bountiful, north of
this city. I heard prest. Young, a short time before his
death, refer to the report . . . The woman is now said to
have a family of children, and I think she is still living."
(Stake President Angus M. Cannon, statement of interview
with Joseph III, 25-26, LDS archives.)
Mormon and wife of Joseph Smith, Sylvia Sessions (Lyon),
on her deathbed told her daughter, Josephine, that she (Josephine)
was the daughter of Joseph Smith. Josephine testified: "She
(Sylvia) then told me that I was the daughter of the
Prophet Joseph Smith, she having been sealed to the Prophet
at the time that her husband Mr. Lyon was out of fellowship
with the Church." (Affidavit to Church Historian Andrew
Jenson, 24 Feb. 1915)
her testimony given at a Brigham Young University devotional,
Faithful Mormon Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner stated that
she knew of children born to Smith's plural wives: "I know
he [Joseph Smith] had six wives and I have known some of
them from childhood up. I know he had three children.
They told me. I think two are living today but they
are not known as his children as they go by other names."
(Read her full BYU testimony here: http://www.ldshistory.net/pc/merlbyu.htm)
Mormon Prescindia D. Huntington, who was Normal Buell's
wife and simultaneously a "plural wife" of the Prophet
Joseph Smith, said that she did not know whether her husband
Norman "or the Prophet was the father of her son, Oliver."
And a glance at a photo of Oliver shows a strong resemblance
to Emma Smith's boys.
(Mary Ettie V. Smith, "Fifteen Years Among the Mormons",
page 34; also Fawn Brodie "No Man Knows My History" pages
- Researchers have tentatively identified eight
children that Joseph Smith may have had by his plural wives.
Besides Josephine Fisher (b. Feb. 8, 1844) and Oliver Buell,
named as possible children of Joseph Smith by his plural
wives are John R. Hancock (b. Apr. 19, 1841), George A.
Lightner (b. Mar. 12, 1842), Orson W. Hyde (b. Nov. 9, 1843),
Frank H. Hyde (b. Jan 23, 1845), Moroni Pratt (b. Dec. 7,
1844), and Zebulon Jacobs (b. Jan 2, 1842). ("Mormon
Polygamy: A History" by LDS Historian Richard S. Van
Wagoner, pages 44, 48- 49n3.)
is another piece of evidence you might consider in examining
Joseph Smith's sexual behavior. The following excerpt is
from a love letter Joseph Smith wrote when he wanted to
arrange a liaison with Newel K. Whitney's daughter Sarah
Ann, whom Smith had secretly "married." It reveals
Smith's cloak-and-dagger approach to his extramarital affairs:
the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma
comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here,
there is the most perfect safty. ... Only be careful to
escape observation, as much as possible, I know it is
a heroick undertakeing; but so much the greater friendship,
and the more Joy, when I see you I will tell you all my
plans, I cannot write them on paper, burn this letter
as soon as you read it; keep all locked up in your breasts,
my life depends upon it. ... I close my letter, I think
Emma wont come tonight if she dont, dont fail to come
to night, I subscribe myself your most obedient, and affectionate,
companion, and friend. Joseph Smith."
- Joseph Smith Handwritten Letter, http://www.xmission.com/~research/family/strange.htm
the detailed history of each of Joseph Smith's 33 plural
wives in LDS member and historian Todd Compton's book In
Sacred Loneliness. This book is sold at Deseret Book,
the BYU bookstore and online at Amazon.com.
some details on the other married women Joseph married and
Back to Mormon Polygamy