Polygamy book

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Polygamy book (draft chapters)

Polygamy book

Note: This material is part of a collection of draft essays on LDS plural marriage. They are provided for the use of FairMormon and its readers. (C) 2007-2017 Gregory L. Smith. No other reproduction is authorized.


Polygamy Book draft chapters written by Gregory Smith

  • Initiation of plural marriage
    Brief Summary: When and how did plural marriage begin in the Church? (Click here for full article)
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  • Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage
    Brief Summary: Church sources and authors that discuss Joseph Smith's plural marriages (Click here for full article)
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  • Introduction of eternal marriage
    Brief Summary: This chapter also discusses Fanny Alger (Click here for full article)
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  • Early womanizer
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith had a long history of "womanizing" before practicing plural marriage. This chapter includes Eliza Winters and Marinda Nancy Johnson. (Click here for full article)
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  • Illegal marriages in Ohio?
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith performed monogamous marriages for time of already-married members, violating Ohio law in Kirtland. Such claims are false and represent a misunderstanding about the law of the day. (Click here for full article)
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  • Age of wives
    Brief Summary: Critics of Joseph Smith are sometimes filled with righteous indignation when they raise the issue of his wives' ages. (Click here for full article)
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  • Children of polygamous marriages
    Brief Summary: While the record is frustratingly incomplete regarding sexuality, it does little but tease us when we consider whether Joseph fathered children by his plural wives. Fawn Brodie was the first to consider this question in any detail, though her standard of evidence was depressingly low. Subsequent authors have returned to the problem, though unanimity has been elusive. (Click here for full article)
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  • Polyandry
    Brief Summary: Nothing in plural marriage mystifies—or troubles—members of the Church more than Joseph's polyandrous sealings. Marriage to multiple wives may seem strange, but at least it intrudes on our historical awareness, while many remain unaware of polyandry's existence in LDS history. (Click here for full article)
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  • Bennett's Brothel at Nauvoo
    Brief Summary: Bennett had a brothel, and some have claimed that the Mormons' tolerance of it illustrates their moral depravity. In fact, the Saints destroyed the brothel and ultimately excommunicated Bennett for this and related acts. (Click here for full article)
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  • Rise and Fall of Bennett in Nauvoo
    Brief Summary: Bennett quickly rose in influence and popularity in Nauvoo, but his inappropriate behavior ultimately led to his excommunication. In return, he vowed revenge on Joseph Smith. (Click here for full article)
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  • Sarah Pratt
    Brief Summary: John C. Bennett and Joseph Smith exchanged charges, each claiming that the other had attempted the seduction of Sarah Pratt, wife of apostle Orson Pratt. Learn about this complex period of LDS history here. (Click here for full article)
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  • John C. Bennett and Prostitution in Nauvoo
    Brief Summary: Bennett was charged with procuring women for purposes of prostitution, and teaching others in Nauvoo how to religiously manipulate women into sexual intercourse. These events eventually led to Bennett's excommunication. Individuals drawn into Bennett's schemes would later play a role in the events that led to Joseph's incarceration and murder in Carthage. (Click here for full article)
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  • Nancy Rigdon and Plural Marriage
    Brief Summary: Even more complex than the Sarah Pratt episode, Sidney Rigdon's daughter Nancy was approached by Joseph Smith regarding plural marriage. (Click here for full article)
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  • Sidney Rigdon and Bennett's charges
    Brief Summary: In part due to Bennett's determination to disgrace Joseph, the Nancy Rigdon episode almost led to a rupture between Joseph and his long-time friend and counselor in the First Presidency. A miraculous series of events convinced Sidney to continue to support Joseph, though the Prophet's confidence in his counselor was never entirely restored. (Click here for full article)
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See also Brian Hales' discussion: Joseph Smith’s Pre-Nauvoo Reputation--Nancy Rigdon and Athalia Rigdon
Some charge an early involvement with Nancy and/or Athalia Rigdon, but these charges are implausible. (Link)
Three Changes after the February 1842 Angelic Visit
The third change, which occurred in April, came as Joseph Smith made his second proposal to a previously unmarried woman in Nauvoo and the first proposal since his marriage to Louisa Beaman. (Link)
John C. Bennett Impacts the Secret Expansion of Plural Marriage
John C. Bennett arrived in Nauvoo in September of 1840 and stayed less than two years. In spite of his relatively brief time living among the Saints, his impact upon the secret expansion of plural marriage was immense. (Link)
Was Bennett a Polygamy Confidant of Joseph Smith?
His accusations against Joseph Smith could not be based upon firsthand knowledge. Clearly, Bennett was positioned to hear rumors about polygamy and the identities of plural wives. However, his apparent distance from the nucleus of Nauvoo polygamy is obvious in his writings and accusations. (Link)
William and Jane Law and the Prophet
William Law was Joseph's counselor, but eventually broke with the Prophet and helped publish the Nauvoo Expositor. (Link)
Plural Marriage and the Martyrdom
Did Joseph Smith Intend to Abandon Plural Marriage?
William Marks related that Joseph’s conversation denouncing plural marriage occurred “three weeks before his death” or around June 6. Perhaps Joseph had such a change of heart during the first week of June, but this seems unlikely and other parts of Marks’ recollection are implausible. (Link)

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