Criticism of Mormonism/Books/The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power/Chapter 5

Response to claims made in "Chapter 5: The 1844 Succession Crisis and the Twelve"


A FairMormon Analysis of: The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power
A work by author: D. Michael Quinn

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Response to claim: 153 - William Smith stated that Apostle Willard Richards asked Hosea Stout to murder Samuel H. Smith

The author(s) of The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power make(s) the following claim:

William [brother of Joseph and Samuel H. Smith] eventually concluded that Apostle Willard Richards asked [Hosea] Stout to murder Samuel H. Smith. The motive was to prevent Samuel from becoming church president before the full Quorum of Twelve arrived. William's suspicions about Stout are believable since Brigham Young allowed William Clayton to go with the pioneer company to Utah three years later only because Stout threatened to murder Clayton as soon as the apostles left. Clayton regarded Hosea Stout as capable of homicide and recorded no attempt by Young to dispute that assessment concerning the former Danite.

Author's sources: *"Allen, Trials of Discipleship, 224; Clayton diary, 11, 13, 14 Apr. 1847, in Smith, An Intimate Chronicle, 295, neither of which explains what Clayton had said or done to trigger Stout's murderous anger. Reed A. Stout, ed., "Autobiography of Hosea Stout, 1810 to 1844," Utah Historical Quarterly 30 (Fall 1962): 344, makes no reference to nursing Samuel Smith or to any of Stout's activities between Joseph Smith's death and October 1844. Stout's daily diary entries do not begin until December 1844, more than four months after Samuel's death."

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake:
There is no evidence of this whatsoever.

Question: Did Hosea Stout murder Joseph Smith's brother Samuel H. Smith?

There is no evidence whatsoever that Stout murdered Smith

Critics charge that Hosea Stout murdered Joseph's brother, Samuel H. Smith, under instructions from the Quorum of the Twelve to prevent him from threatening the Twelve's ascension to power after the martyrdom.

This claim is made by author D. Michael Quinn. Craig L. Foster notes of this claim:

Quinn bases this statement on the June 1892 letter of William Smith to a Brother Kelley. The letter was written almost forty-eight years after Samuel Smith's death and William Smith's bitter estrangement from Brigham Young and the other apostles. In addition, while Mary B. Smith Norman, Samuel Smith's daughter, claimed in 1908 that her father had been poisoned, there appear to be no contemporary sources indicating death by poisoning. Furthermore, while no one who has read Stout's diary would contest accusations of violence, even leading to death, there is no evidence whatsoever that Stout murdered Smith. Quinn acknowledges this lack. Even so, he still places credence in a rather tenuous assortment of evidence. Krakauer, on his part, appears to have read Quinn's book and either ignored the extensive endnotes on this matter or chose not to mention the serious lack of facts supporting Quinn's assertion.[1]


Response to claim: 179 -When Nauvoo Mormons learned that Jonathan Dunham had ignored the prophet's direct order to lead the Nauvoo Legion in a rescue at Carthage Jail, some called him a "coward and traitor"

The author(s) of The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power make(s) the following claim:

However, another former Danite took self-inflicted retribution for the death of Joseph Smith. When Nauvoo Mormons learned that Jonathan Dunham had ignored the prophet's direct order to lead the Nauvoo Legion in a rescue at Carthage Jail, some called him a "coward and traitor." Others dismissed him as a "fool and idiot."

Author's sources: *"Joseph Smith to Jonathan Dunham, 27 June 1844, in Jessee, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, 616-17 [this is a forgery]; also reported, without naming Dunham, in T. B. H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints: A Full and Complete History of the Mormons... (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1873), 164n."

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

The falsehood:
The cited document is a Hofmann forgery, as had been known for several years prior to publication. See p. 141 where Quinn also cites this forged document as genuine.

The facts:
In the 1997 version, Quinn removes this claim. However, the 1998 CD-ROM collection New Mormon Studies CD-ROM from Signature Books still contains the error, though the collection is copyrighted 1998.
Template:Endnote sources
  1. Craig L. Foster, "Doing Violence to Journalistic Integrity (Review of: "Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of a Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer)," FARMS Review 16/1 (2004): 149–174. off-site