Joseph Smith and Honesty

In the July 2013 issue of Ensign magazine, young Mormons are taught about the importance of “Honesty and Integrity.” One suggestion given for use in teaching the youth the principles of honesty and integrity is a 2005 General Conference address given by the current Mormon President, Thomas Monson. The talk is titled, “The Prophet Joseph Smith: Teacher by Example.”

Joseph Smith by grindael watercolorPresident Monson’s conference talk covers several positive attributes he believes Joseph Smith exemplified. On the topic of honesty President Monson said,

“A few days after his prayer in the Sacred Grove, Joseph Smith gave an account of his vision to a preacher with whom he was acquainted. To his surprise, his communication was treated with ‘contempt’ and ‘was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase.’ Joseph, however, did not waver. He later wrote, ‘I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true. … For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it.’Despite the physical and mental punishment at the hands of his opponents which the Prophet Joseph Smith endured throughout the remainder of his life, he did not falter. He taught honesty—by example.” (Ensign, 11/2005, 68. Bold in the original.)

President Monson might have chosen a better example to illustrate Joseph Smith’s honesty. As Mormon historian James B. Allen wrote:

“According to Joseph Smith, he told the story of the vision immediately after it happened in the early spring of 1820. As a result, he said, he received immediate criticism in the community. There is little if any evidence, however, that by the early 1830’s Joseph Smith was telling the story in public. At least if he were telling it, no one seemed to consider it important enough to have recorded it at the time, and no one was criticizing him for it. Not even in his own history did Joseph Smith mention being criticized in this period for telling the story of the first vision.“

Not only is there no evidence for young Joseph Smith being persecuted and treated with contempt due to talking about his vision of the Father and the Son, there is evidence to contradict such a claim. According to Palmyra resident Orsemus Turner, as a youth Joseph Smith was part of a juvenile debating club and “became a very passable exhorter in evening [Methodist] meetings” where he was welcomed and allowed to preach.

President Monson would not have found a solid example to illustrate Joseph Smith’s honesty in the story of the Kinderhook Plates, either. The Kinderhook Plates were six small brass plates allegedly found in 1843 in a burial mound in Illinois. They were found buried with a 9-foot skeleton and “covered on both sides with ancient characters.” The plates were given to Joseph Smith to translate and he later wrote, “I have translated a portion of them, and they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth…” Many years later, long after Joseph Smith’s death, two of the men who purported to find the plates claimed it was all a hoax. Nobody paid much attention to this claim for another 30 years. But then, according to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism,

“Interest was kindled again in 1920 when the Chicago Historical Society acquired what appeared to be one of the original Kinderhook plates. Later the Chicago plate was subjected to a number of nondestructive tests, with inconclusive results. Then in 1980, the Chicago Historical Society gave permission for destructive tests, which were done at Northwestern University. Examination by a scanning electron microscope, a scanning auger microprobe, and X-ray fluorescence analysis proved conclusively that the plate was one of the Kinderhook six; that it had been engraved, not etched; and that it was of nineteenth-century manufacture. There thus appears no reason to accept the Kinderhook plates as anything but a frontier hoax.” (Kinderhook Plates, 2:789, 790)

President Monson would not have found a convincing example to illustrate Joseph Smith’s honesty in Smith’s Nauvoo polygamy experience, either. On Sunday morning, May 26, 1844, Joseph Smith addressed his congregation and proclaimed his “Testimony Against the Dissenters in Nauvoo.” The Prophet touched on several charges that various people were making against him, denying them all. He said,

“God knows, then, that the charges against me are false.

“I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives…

“William Law…swears that I have committed adultery…

“What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.” (History of the Church, 6:410-411)

Joseph Smith actually had more than thirty wives when he preached on that spring morning in Nauvoo. And chances are that most them were there, listening as their husband/prophet publicly denied them.

Are these the sorts of things President Monson had in mind when he encouraged Mormon Church members in 2005, “May we incorporate into our own lives the divine principles which [Joseph Smith] so beautifully taught—by example—that we, ourselves, might live more completely the gospel of Jesus Christ”?

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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23 Responses to Joseph Smith and Honesty

  1. MJP says:

    Personally, I find Smith a very suspect character. I find his possible involvement in fraudulent activities before he founded his restored church problematic to the rest of his virtue. Actions he took after his church was started, his actions bring in more questions to his virtue.

    LDS will disagree, and that’s fine. But I cannot say that I can look past these issues.

  2. Mike R says:

    MJP, good observation . I also agree we should’nt past these issues . Today we have
    t.v. preachers that are similar to Smith . They get people to follow them because they
    claim to have the newest word from God , ” God told me ” is their mantra , and sincere
    people are led feel they are giving to God by sending in their money to these “prophets”.
    Behind the scenes there is often a different picture however , behavior that is kept
    hidden from their devoted followers lest the donations drop off and they go elsewhere.
    Bottom line is that people simply don’t need these type of “prophets” , including Smith,
    to have a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ .

  3. grindael says:

    There is no defense here for Smith and these examples. In fact his claimed 1820 vision has so many problems that some Mormon Apologists have tried to say that Smith himself was wrong about when it took place, in the “early spring” of 1820, and some (because there were no revivals at that time) have tried to say he actually meant early summer (July). But this poses problems, also. The Smith’s did not move onto their Manchester property until 1821, not 1818, as Mormon Apologists speculate. For example, William Smith wrote that they did not move to Manchester until 1821 in his book “William Smith on Mormonism”, page 5. FAIR tries to pull a fast one, by saying that the Smith’s articled for the land in Manchester in 1818, but how could they, when the power of attorney to even sell the land was not granted to Zachariah Seymour from Caspar Eddy to sell the contract for the Manchester property to the Smith family until July 14th, 1820? (Miscellaneous Records, C: 342-44, 347-48, Ontario County Records Center and Archives, Canandaigua, New York.)

    How could the Smith’s article for the land and make a contract with someone who did not even have the power of attorney to sell the land in 1818? Lucy Smith writes that after they articled for the land which was in July of 1820, they then built a cabin on it after they made their first payment in the summer of 1821. And then there are the tax records. Here is another one they can’t fake. The new Smith farm encompassed approximately one hundred acres, one third of the original Lot No. 1 in that township. According to the assessment roll for 22 June 1820, the entire three hundred acres of Lot 1 were taxed to the heirs of Nicholas Evertson at that time. In the following year’s assessment (7 July 1821) only two hundred acres were taxed to the Evertson heirs, while the balance was assessed to Joseph Smith Sr. Two years after 1821 would be 1823 for the time of the claimed first vision, not 1820. This agrees with Lucy Smith and William Smith’s accounts that the “first vision” of Jo Smith was in 1823, and it was of some kind of “messenger”, not “the Lord” as Jo wrote in 1832 where he gave his age as 16, which is also a big boo-boo on his part. There was no first vision. All of the circumstances that would prove it don’t exist. I’ll address the Kinderhook plates in my next post.

  4. grindael says:

    Here is an interesting conundrum,

    I find it very troubling that Smith did not have his 1832 History copied into his Large Journal (A-1), when he went to the trouble of doing so with the History that he helped Oliver Cowdery write in 1834. (That doesn’t mention the claimed 1820 vision at all) Instead, he left the 1832 History alone in the back of a letterbook which had the title page removed to possibly obscure its existence in that collection. On October 29, 1835 Joseph had one of his scribes write in his diary,

    Thursday, 29th Br[other] W[arren] Par[r]ish commenced writing for me. Father and Mother Smith visit[ed] us. While we set writing Bishop Partri[d]ge passed our window. [He has] just returned from the East.

    Br[other] Par[r]ish commenced writing for me at $15.00 per month. I paid him $16.00 in advance out of the committee Store. Br[other] Parrish agrees to board himself, for which I agree to /allow him/ four Dollars more p[e]r month making $19.00.

    I was then called to appear before the High Council which was {page 10} setting to give my testimony in an action brought against Br[other] David El[l]iot for whip[p]ing his Daughter unreasonably. My testimony was in his favour.

    [p.42] Returned to our writing room. [We] went to Dr. [Frederick G.] William’s after my large Journal [and I] made some observations to my Scribe Concerning the plan of the City which is to be built up hereafter on this ground consecrated for a Stake of Zion.

    While at the Doct[or’s], Bishop E[dward] Partri[d]ge came in in company with President Phelps. I was much rejoiced to see him. We examined the mum[m]ies, returned home, and my scribe commenced writing in /my/ Journal a history of my life, concluding President [Oliver] Cowdery[‘s] 2d letter to W[illiam] W. Phelps, which President Williams had begun. (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p.41-42).

    The above would be the 1834-5 Cowdery/Smith History published in the Messenger and Advocate. Historian Scott Faulring explains that Joseph’s large journal,

    is Book A-1 of the “Manuscript History of the Church,” which contains some of Joseph Smith’s and his scribes’ earliest attempts to write a detailed history of the church and which was later used to prepare the published History of Joseph Smith. (ibid, note 5)

    Dr. Dean Jessee writes,

    In October 1834 Oliver Cowdery, the editor of the Messenger and Advocate, introduced the first published history of the Church. This work was presented in the form of correspondence between Cowdery and William W. Phelps, and was anticipated as a “full history of the rise of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, and the most interesting parts of its progress, to the present time.” It was further announced by the editor that “our brother J. Smith Jr. has offered to assist us. Indeed, there are many items connected with the fore part of this subject that render his labor indispensible. With his labor and with authentic documents now in our possession, we hope to render this a pleasing and agreeable narrative.”Ina series of eight letters that followed, Cowdery presented random historical events, beginning in the October 1834 issue of the paper with an account of the priesthood restoration, and terminating in the October 1835 issue with the visit of Moroni to Joseph Smith. A copy of the eight letters was transcribed into the Prophet’s journal in1835. On October 29 Joseph recorded that he went with his newly appointed scribe, Warren Parrish, to obtain his “large journal” from Frederick G. Williams. Later that same day Parrish began writing “a history” of Joseph’s life by concluding “President Cowdery’s second letter to W. W. Phelps, which President Williams had begun.” A check of the handwriting in the journal reveals the point at which Parrish commenced copying the second Cowdery letter to Phelps. It also shows that Parrish continued writing to the end of the eighth letter. At this point, however, unlike the published account, the journal narrative does not end, but continues in a different style. The transition is marked by a change in handwriting from Warren Parrish to that of Warren A. Cowdery and is prefaced with the following introduction: “Here the reader will observe that the narrative assumes a different form. The subject of it becoming daily more and more noted, the writer deemed it proper to give a plain, simple and faithful narrative of every important item in his every day occurrences…. (Jessee, op. cited, 1969, pages 4-5).

    As Scott Faulring explained above, the “large journal” that Joseph Smith had his scribes copy the 1834 History into is what has become known as Manuscript A-1. This journal originally had over 100 pages of material,

    “covering the period from 1834 to early 1836, was a composite chronicle consisting of genealogical tables, dated entries adapted from JS’s journal, and transcripts of newspaper articles. Reasons for its discontinuance are unknown.”

    When Joseph Smith began his fourth attempt at a History in 1839, his scribes simply flipped over this Manuscript Book and began again. If you go to the Joseph Smith Papers website, and view this manuscript, you will see that they end it at page 575, but at the bottom of the page in the right hand corner you will see the page number 192, which is upside down. The material recorded in the back part of the Manuscript Book is not to be found on the website, and has never been released by the church although some scholars like Dean Jessee have seen the material and described some of it.

    If, as Apologist David E. Slone contends, the 1832 History is the right interpretation of events (about the Book of Mormon), then why did Joseph abruptly discontinue it and leave it uncopied in the back of a letterbook? Why didn’t Joseph have it copied into the large journal in 1835? Even if he was not satisfied with the account of the claimed 1820 vision, why did he not have the portion that had to do with the visit of the messenger copied? Perhaps Joseph did not want the events as written in 1832 to become part of his Official History. At the Joseph Smith Papers website they write that,

    J[oseph] S[mith] dictated or supplied information for much of A-1, and he personally corrected the first forty-two pages before his death. (See also, History of the Church, vol. 7, p. 387).

    There may be another reason that Joseph did not feel the 1832 History was important; in his 1839 History (on page 5) he changed the name of the messenger from Moroni to Nephi.

    As you can see in the photo, the name Nephi is not only written, but emphasized. The insertion of the name Moroni into the text above was done much later, by Brigham H. Roberts. When this History was published by Joseph in 1842 in the Times and Seasons, Joseph (who was the Editor at that time) kept the name Nephi. It was also published as Nephi in the Millennial Star and in the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price. Since Joseph corrected the first 42 pages of this manuscript and did not change the name to Moroni, ascribing the name of Nephi to a clerical error is disingenuous.

    It is worth noting here that Joseph did not name the messenger who gave him the plates in his 1832 History, though he does reference “Maroni” as one of those who had “engraven” the plates. (Letterbook 1, page 4). As for the messenger, Joseph simply calls him “an angel of the Lord” who “came and stood before me and it was by night and he called me by name…” (ibid).

    Why Joseph would change the name of this messenger to Nephi is something of a mystery since he had referred to the angel who delivered the plates as Moroni in a prior “revelation” (Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, L:2) and in the 1838 publication, The Elder’s Journal (Elders Journal, 1, pp. 42-3, July 1838).

    Why did Joseph abandon the 1832 History, tear out the title page of the book it was written in, and then repurpose the book as a letterbook and never copy nor refer to that history ever again? It’s almost like he forgot about it. Perhaps because so much of it can’t be verified by any sources at all. No priesthood restoration sources, no claimed 1820 vision sources, no sources for his version of Martin Harris’ conversion, none. What is interesting is that in Manuscript Book A-1, they copied the Cowdery/Smith History, and then Jo decided to use if for a daily history (that he also abandoned as mentioned above), and one of the first entries is a new recounting of the claimed 1820 vision (November 1835), because that claimed vision can’t be found in the Cowdery/Smith 1834 History. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

  5. shematwater says:

    Just a note

    The quotation concerning the Kinderhook plates that is ascribed to Joseph Smith is actually an except from the diary of William Clayton, used in compiling the History of Joseph Smith edited into the first person. The evidence actually shows that Joseph Smith never undertook a translation of the plates, and suggests that he showed little interest in them. despite the interest of others and the hearsay spread concerning them.

  6. grindael says:

    The quotation concerning the Kinderhook plates that is ascribed to Joseph Smith is actually an except from the diary of William Clayton, used in compiling the History of Joseph Smith edited into the first person. The evidence actually shows that Joseph Smith never undertook a translation of the plates, and suggests that he showed little interest in them. despite the interest of others and the hearsay spread concerning them.

    This is not true at all. Jo showed a lot of interest in the Kinderhook Plates. Clayton was with Jo that whole day. Jo “translated” a portion of those plates. He did the same thing with the Book of Abraham in 1835:

    While Mr. Chandler was in Philadelphia, he used every exertion to find some one who could give him the translation of his papyrus, but could not, satisfactorily, though from some few men of the first eminence, he obtained in a small degree, the translation of a few characters. Here he was referred to bro. Smith. From Philadelphia he visited Harrisburgh, and other places east of the mountains, and was frequently referred to bro. Smith for a translation of his Egyptian Relic. It would be beyond my purpose to follow this gentleman in his different circuits to the time he visited this place the last of June, or first of July, at which time he presented bro. Smith with his papyrus. Till then neither myself nor brother Smith knew of such relics being in America. Mr. Chandler was told that his writings could be deciphered, and very politely gave me a privilege of copying some four or five different sentences or separate pieces, stating, at the same time, that unless he found some one who could give him a translation soon, he would carry them to London. I am a little in advance of my narration; The morning Mr. Chandler first presented his papyrus to bro.-Smith, he was shown, by the latter, a number of characters like those upon the writings of Mr. C. which were previously copied from the plates, containing the history of the Nephites, or book of Mormon. Being solicited by Mr. Chandler to give an opinion concerning his antiquities, or translation of some of the characters, bro. S. gave him the interpretation of some few for his satisfaction.(Oliver Cowdery, Messenger and Advocate, December 1835, page 235)

    This is exactly what Smith did with the Kinderhook Plates. If you are going to use the argument that Jo lost interest because he didn’t do any further work, well, he promised to finish the Book of Abraham, and the Book of Joseph (Which was the other papyrus found with the mummies) too, but didn’t. He didn’t buy the KP because Fugate didn’t want to sell them. So they made copies of them and had them printed up. On May 7th, Joseph showed them to a person who called himself “A Gentile” in Nauvoo, and “A Gentile” wrote to the New York Herald:

    Another set of plates have been found in Pike county, in this State; they were dug out of a large mound, fifteen feet from the summit, by a company of persons, fifteen in number, who all affirm to the fact of their situation when found. There were six in number, about three inches in length, and two and a half broad at one end, and one inch broad at the other, being something of the form of a bell, about the sixteenth of an inch thick, with a hole in the small end of each, fastened together with a ring, apparantly of iron or steel, but which was so oxidised as to crumble to pieces when handled. The plates are evidently brass, and are covered on both sides with hyerogliphics. They were brought up and shown to Joseph Smith. He compared them in my presence with his Egyptian alphabet, which he took from the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated, and they are evidently the same characters. He therefore will be able to decipher them. There can be no doubt but they are a record of some kind, buried with an individual, centuries ago; a skeleton was found with them – some of the bones in such a state of preservation as to show the size of the individual, whose height must have been eight and a half feet. You may expect something very remarkably pretty soon. (Letter from “A Gentile” to the The New York Herald, May 30, 1843.)

    Jo was doing what he did with the BOA papyrus. Showing people the BOM characters, and “translating” part of them. Right after this Joseph got abducted by the Missourians and spent the last year of his life in hiding after he got away from them. He didn’t get to the KP. Doesn’t mean he didn’t intend to, or lost interest. There are lots of other quotes to show that Joseph intended to translate them, and thought they were characters like the ones on the Book of Mormon.

  7. johnnyboy says:

    Funny how there aren’t many comments here defending ol Joe.

  8. shematwater says:


    I simply find the accusations so ridiculous as to not warrant a response generally. However, if you are interested, here are a few thoughts.

    “Not only is there no evidence for young Joseph Smith being persecuted and treated with contempt due to talking about his vision of the Father and the Son, there is evidence to contradict such a claim. ”

    Joseph Smith made this claim in retrospect some ten or so years later. He did not claim this at the time, or in the years immediately following this vision. However, in looking back and drafting an account of it he realized that the persecution he had endured began just after he had shared this story with the minister. It would be a reasonable conclusion to say that sharing it led to the persecution, especially considering that he also taught that the persecution was instigated by Satan who inspired and encouraged the man who were thus guilty.
    Thus, while he may not have repeated the story frequently, resulting in few actually knowing it or it being recorded at the time, it can be honestly said that the percecution he endured began because he told the story and because he never denied it. Satan would have wipped the people into a frenzy as soon as he could in an attempt to prevent the work of God that began with this vision.
    There is no dishonesty in tracing a line of events back to their beginning, even if that beginning is not obviously connected.

    “Joseph Smith actually had more than thirty wives when he preached on that spring morning in Nauvoo. And chances are that most them were there, listening as their husband/prophet publicly denied them.”

    According to all provable records that I can find (such as marriage liscenses and the like) Joseph Smith never had more than 12 wives while he was alive. Aside from this the context here must be taken into consideration. The accusation of having multiple wives was an old one, started way back in the early 1830’s. In conjuction with this Joseph Smith also speaks of many other accusations made against him. Maybe his wording is not the best, but the accusation were false when they were made, and that is the point he is trying to make.
    Of course there is also the fact the earlier Joseph Smith had had all his wives swear out affidavits that they were indeed married to him and had them published; this was in response to Emma’s saying that she was his only wife and that he was committing adultery with the others.
    It was never Joseph Smith intent to lie or deceive in this talk, only to show that the accusations that have followed him from the beginning of his ministry have been false and unfounded.

  9. grindael says:

    According to all provable records that I can find (such as marriage liscenses and the like) Joseph Smith never had more than 12 wives while he was alive. Aside from this the context here must be taken into consideration.

    What fantasy world do you live in Shem? Even Brian C. Hales admits that he had over 30. And he is about as apologetic as they come. You simply do not know what you are talking about, and no one should believe a word you say, because your reasoning is flawed, your research is laughable, and your conclusions are demonstrably wrong.

    Joseph Smith made this claim in retrospect some ten or so years later. He did not claim this at the time, or in the years immediately following this vision. However, in looking back and drafting an account of it he realized that the persecution he had endured began just after he had shared this story with the minister. It would be a reasonable conclusion to say that sharing it led to the persecution, especially considering that he also taught that the persecution was instigated by Satan who inspired and encouraged the man who were thus guilty.

    So? Jo was then lying. Who did he share it with? There is no evidence that he shared it with ANYONE. Not even his mother, who never wrote about it, and said that his FIRST visit by a “messenger” was in 1823. His brother William also said the same thing (until very late in his life). Oliver Cowdery and Jo wrote a History in 1834-5 which said that Jo FIRST prayed to God for an answer in 1823 and “to see if a Supreme Being did exist”. There was no mention of a claimed 1820 vision in that History, even though Jo had written (and then abandoned) the first claim of an 1822 vision (He said he was 16) two years earlier. In fact, he ripped out the title page of the book it was written in, flipped it over and began using it as a Letterbook. And when he started a NEW HISTORY of his life in 1835-6, he copied the 1834-5 History (that didn’t mention the 1820 vision) into that book (Called Manuscript A-1) but not the abandoned 1832 History. Why? Because he had changed his theology by then and redid the claimed 1820 vision and added another “personage”.

    The accusation of having multiple wives was an old one, started way back in the early 1830′s. In conju[n]ction with this Joseph Smith also speaks of many other accusations made against him. Maybe his wording is not the best, but the accusation were false when they were made, and that is the point he is trying to make.

    Yes and every accusation was true, except for the first one. But there were reasons for that first one. Jo was fooling around in 1830.(Or trying to at any rate). As Emma Smith’s cousin,

    “LEVI LEWIS states, that he has “been acquainted with Joseph Smith Jr. and Martin Harris, and that he has heard them both say, adultery was no crime. Harris said he did not blame Smith for his (Smith’s) attempt to seduce Eliza Winters &c.;”– Mr. Lewis says that he “knows Smith to be a liar; — that he saw him (Smith) intoxicated at three different times while he was composing the Book of Mormon, and also that he has heard Smith when driving oxen, use language of the greatest profanity. Mr. Lewis also testifies that he heard Smith say he (Smith) was as good as Jesus Christ; — that it was as bad to injure him as it was to injure Jesus Christ.” “With regard to the plates, Smith said God had deceived him — which was the reason he (Smith) did not show them.”

    Of course, Jo tried to join the Methodist Church after he married Emma, but he was so controversial a figure that the membership didn’t want him. And then there is that 1831 Revelation that Smith had about “marrying the daughters of the Lamanites”.

    And only 12 wives makes it all somehow more palatable? LOL that’s hilarious.

  10. MJP says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one to think that being OK with 12 is really different than having 30.

    As to Smith claiming he was being persecuted for his views, what do you expect? And how easy an answer is that? I’d love to see some writings of the fellow to whom he confessed these things and started the persecution. But even still, its quite easy for the LDS to claim persecution. The objections are essentially the same, though LDS have done a fine job of adding to the possibilities through time.

    My bottom line on this, and I said this with the first post here: Smith’s reputation as a liar and a cheat really should put the rest of his life into question. We’re not talking murder here, or some other crime not related to honesty, we are talking about him being a cheat. His honesty and his reputation as to his honesty is therefore relevant to what he did after he developed his following and church. To me, its a bar to belief.

  11. shematwater says:

    To clarify the slanders of Grindael, what I said is that I have not personally seen any documentation that shows Joseph Smith had more than 12 wives while he was yet alive. I never once said the documentation did not exist, only that I have not seen any in my reading and research to support a claim of more than twelve.
    I will further clarify that I was speaking of marriages in this life, which would have carried with them the right of consumation and the husband wife relationship. I do know that many women, both before and after his death, were sealed to Joseph Smith as his wives in eternity. This did not carry with it the right of consumation of the husband/wife relationship in this life. These women remained legally married to their husbands of civil marriages, but after this life will be the wives of Jopeph Smith. This is in perfect accordance with the doctrine.
    So, by all records that I can find and have read Joseph Smith had 12 wives that he had a marriage relationship with in this life, though he likely had over thirty woman sealed to him in the eternities.

    Also, I mention this only for the purpose of accuracy. I couldn’t care less how many wives he had, as long as they were sealed by proper authority and done by the law and word of God. But I do think it is important to be accurate when discussing this point, especially when the main point is about honesty; as purposeful exagerations can be dishonest in themselves.


    I have seen no documentation that would stand up to scrutiny that proves any dishonesty in Joseph Smith. I know there are documents, but they have been shown to be inaccurate and unreliable.

  12. grindael says:

    Shem hasn’t seen it, therefore it’s irrelevant. LOL, now that is funny. Well, there is plenty of documentation that stands up to scrutiny that proves Jo was as dishonest as they come and had far more than 12 wives. And the documents come from … Jo himself and the Church. Don’t let Shem fool you folks, with all his blather about slander. I doubt he knows the meaning of the word. Shem can’t find any documentation because he refuses to look for it, or read what has been given to him and where to find it.

  13. MJP says:

    Beat me to it again, Grindael.

    I wonder if the cloud of suspicion before he founded his church, his evolving claims on the first vision, the evolving theology, the polygamy under threat of death from an angel with a flaming sword, and not limited to but including the destruction of a printing press ready to print negative things about him might ever make LDS think twice about the man….

  14. shematwater says:


    Most every document that testifies to time before the church was organized has passed through intense scrutiny and has been shown to be fabricated, exaggerated, and simply inaccurate. I have done research, despite what people here want to claim. The difference is that I seem to be one of the few who evalutes the source of information as well as the information itself.

    Now, I lack access to everything I have read in the past and to many other things. The evidence that you and Grindael are clinging to is still a matter of debate, and so at best one can choose to side with one position over the other. If we are depending solely on scholarly analysis of all the evidence than no one can claim anything proven, but must accept one argument over the other as they choose, as neither side has any more evidence, or more reliable evidence than the other.

  15. grindael says:

    I have done research, despite what people here want to claim. The difference is that I seem to be one of the few who evalutes the source of information as well as the information itself.

    But you have provided none of your research to prove your points Shem. We only get off the cuff remarks that provide no evidence at all. This is your M.O. You are still doing it. Nothing changes in the Mormon Bubble of Denial.

  16. MJP says:

    Shem, then why even bother? With your posts yesterday about the arguing a negative (no one is arguing a negative– we are arguing Young’s words, which are very much there for review and therefore a positive in that they actually exist), and this you make very little sense.

    What you are saying now is that we cannot prove one over the other so its just opinion. This is more relativism. Its more avoiding argument. Its simply weak. If you have evidence, if you have arguments, share them. Otherwise, as Grindael has said, its simply your word.

  17. shematwater says:


    I could give you the testimonies of hundreds of people, if I had the time to sift through all the documents available, that Joseph Smith was an honest, hardworking young man. But what good would it do? You can bring forth all your testimonies that he wasn’t and where would that leave us. It would leave us in the position of having to choose which testimonies to believe and which ones to reject. As there is no definitive reason to choose any over the others than any choice we make is going to be based on our own biases and desires and not provable fact. As such, yes it is all relative, because there can be nothing proven in the case. That is my argument. You are taking something that can be nothing but subjective and relative and claiming it to be objective. That is simply not the case.

    You have said that Joseph Smith’s dishonesty from his early life is reason enough to reject everything he claims. Why do you think he was dishonest? Is it because you have read and accepted certain testimony over others? If you have some other reason than by all means, share, because them you have something that no one else seems to have.

  18. MJP says:


    The reason I reject him for dishonesty is because the question is there. In his early life, he has questions. In his adult years, he has questions. As prophet, he has questions. The questions persist throughout all his life. For me, that’s a huge red flag.

    Sure, its possible he just had a target on him. But I don’t think that is likely. Looking at his stories, such as the evolution of the first vision, his reason for polygamy, his destruction of the printing press, his asking for liquor in jail and on we go, I find he has a credibility problem.

    The above list is not a set of questions: we know his first vision story evolved. We know he said he was told to allow polygamy under threat of a flaming sword. We know he destroyed a printing press ready to print negative things about him. We know he asked for liquor in jail. Add these to the questions, then, yes, I find he has a credibility problem. The evidence corroborates the questions.

    I find this to be a bar to believing Mormonism. Do you understand why this is a bar?

  19. shematwater says:


    Again, this is a subjective matter on all points.

    On the matter of his first vision, the evolving is a matter of subjective interpretation of his words. I do not think it evolved, but rather he included different details in different accounts. He made some errors as to timing, but that hardly discredits him.
    As to polygamy and flaming sword, while I have heard the account, it was never actually given by Joseph Smith, and so you are relying on a second hand testimony, which is subjective.
    Also, Joseph Smith, if you read the actual documents, did not destroy the printing press. It was the town counsel that ordered it shut down (a perfectly legal act) and gave the task to Joseph Smith, who was mayor. He then ordered the Sherif to carry out the order, and it was the Sheriff that made the discission to destroy the press in carrying out the orders. So, for you to lay blame on Joseph Smith is a subjective interpretation of the events, not an objective truth.
    Now, I have never heard of Joseph Smith asking for alchohol so please provide a reference.

  20. grindael says:

    The City Council acted under the direction of the Mayor in Nauvoo (who was Joseph Smith) in the Expositor Affair. Here is the account of the minutes of the City Council meeting where they decided to destroy the Expositor, and notice that the “MAYOR” is right there in the thick of things, directing it all… and sorry that it was not a “unanimous decision”:

    Nauvoo, Ill., May 10th, 1844.

    Mayor read the statements of Francis M. Higbee from the Expositor, [p.445] and asked—”Is it not treasonable against all chartered rights and privileges, and against the peace and happiness of the city?”

    Councilor Hyrum Smith was in favor of declaring the Expositor a nuisance.

    Councilor Taylor said no city on earth would bear such slander, and he would not bear it, and was decidedly in favor of active measures.

    Mayor made a statement of what William Law said before the City Council under oath, that he was a friend to the Mayor, &c., and asked if there were any present who recollected his statement, when scores responded, Yes.

    Councilor Taylor continued—Wilson Law was President of this Council during the passage of many ordinances, and referred to the records. “William Law and Emmons were members of the Council, and Emmons has never objected to any ordinance while in the Council, but has been more like a cipher, and is now become editor of a libelous paper, and is trying to destroy our charter and ordinances.” He then read from the Constitution of the United States on the freedom of the press, and said—”We are willing they should publish the truth; but it is unlawful to publish libels. The Expositor is a nuisance, and stinks in the nose of every honest man.”

    Mayor read from Illinois Constitution, article 8, section 12, touching the responsibility of the press for its constitutional liberty.

    Councilor Stiles said a nuisance was anything that disturbs the peace of a community, and read Blackstone on private wrongs, vol. 2, page 4; and the whole community has to rest under the stigma of these falsehoods (referring to the Expositor); and if we can prevent the issuing of any more slanderous communications, he would go in for it. It is right for this community to show a proper resentment; and he would go in for suppressing all further publications of the kind.

    Councilor Hyrum Smith believed the best way was to smash the press and pi the type.

    Councilor Johnson concurred with the Councilors who had spoken.

    Alderman Bennett referred to the statement of the Expositor concerning the Municipal Court in the case of Jeremiah Smith as a libel, and considered the paper a public nuisance.

    Councilor Warrington considered his a peculiar situation, as he did not belong to any church or any party. Thought it might be considered rather harsh for the Council to declare the paper a nuisance, and proposed giving a few days limitation, and assessing a fine of $3,000 for every libel; and if they would not cease publishing libels, to declare it a nuisance; and said the statutes made provisions for a fine of $500.

    Mayor replied that they threatened to shoot him when at Carthage, and the women and others dare not go to Carthage to prosecute; and [p.446] read a libel from the Expositor concerning the imprisonment of Jeremiah Smith.

    Councilor Hyrum Smith spoke of the Warsaw Signal, and disapprobated its libelous course.

    Mayor remarked he was sorry to have one dissenting voice in declaring the Expositor a nuisance.

    Councilor Warrington did not mean to be understood to go against the proposition; but would not be in haste in declaring a nuisance.

    Councilor Hyrum Smith referred to the mortgages and property of the proprietors of the Expositor, and thought there would be little chance of collecting damages for libels.

    Alderman Elias Smith considered there was but one course to pursue that the proprietors were out of the reach of the law; that our course was to put an end to the things at once. Believed by what he had heard that if the City Council did not do it, others would.

    Councilor Hunter believed it to be a nuisance. Referred to the opinion of Judge Pope on habeas corpus, and spoke in favor of the charter, &c. Asked Francis M. Higbee, before the jury, if he was not the man he saw at Joseph’s house making professions of friendship. Higbee said he was. not. (Hundreds know this statement to be false.) He also asked R. D. Foster if he did not state before hundreds of people that he believed Joseph to be a Prophet. “No,” said Foster. They were under oath when they said it. (Many hundreds of people are witness to this perjury).

    Alderman Orson Spencer accorded with the views expressed, that the Nauvoo Expositor is a nuisance. Did not consider it wise to give them time to trumpet a thousand lies. Their property could not pay for it. If we pass only a fine or imprisonment, have we any confidence that they will desist? None at all. We have found these men covenant-breakers with God, with their wives, &o. Have we any hope of their doing better? Their characters have gone before them. Shall they be suffered to go on, and bring a mob upon us, and murder our women and children, and burn our beautiful city! No! I had rather my blood would be spilled at once, and would like to have the press removed as soon as the ordinance would allow: and wish the matter might be put into the hands of the Mayor, and everybody stand by him in the execution of his duties, and hush every murmur.

    Councilor Levi Richards said he had felt deeply on this subject, and concurred fully in the view General Smith had expressed of it this day; thought it unnecessary to repeat what the Council perfectly understood; considered private interest as nothing in comparison with the public good. Every time a line was formed in Far West, he was there—for what? To defend it against just such scoundrels and [p.447] influence as the Nauvoo Expositor and its supporters were directly calculated to bring against us again. Considered the doings of the Council this day of immense moment, not to this city alone, but to the whole world; would go in to put a stop to the thing at once. Let it be thrown out of this city, and the responsibility of countenancing such a press be taken off our shoulders and fall on the State, if corrupt enough to sustain it.

    Councilor Phineas Richards said that he had not forgotten the transaction at Haun’s Mill, and that he recollected that his son George Spencer then lay in the well referred to on the day previous, without a winding-sheet, shroud or coffin. He said he could not sit still when he saw the same spirit raging in this place. He considered the publication of the Expositor as much murderous at heart as David was before the death of Uriah; was prepared to take stand; by the Mayor, and whatever he proposes; would stand by him to the last. The quicker it is stopped the better

    Councilor Phelps had investigated the Constitution, Charter, and laws. The power to declare that office a nuisance is granted to us in the Springfield Charter, and a resolution declaring it a nuisance is all that is required.

    John Birney sworn. Said Francis M. Higbee and Wm. Law declared they had commenced their operations, and would carry them out, law or no law.

    Stephen Markham sworn. Said that Francis M. Higbee said the interest of this city is done the moment a hand is laid on their press.

    Councilor Phelps continued, and referred to Wilson Law in destroying the character of a child—an orphan child, who had the charge of another child.

    Warren Smith sworn. Said F. M. Higbee came to him, and proposed to have him go in as a partner in making bogus money. Higbee said he would not work for a living; that witness might go in with him if he would advance fifty dollars; and showed him (witness) a half-dollar which he said was made in his dies.

    Councilor Phelps continued and he felt deeper this day than ever he felt before, and wanted to know, by “Yes,” if there was any person who wanted to avenge the blood of that innocent female who had been seduced by the then Major-General of the Nauvoo Legion, Wilson Law; when “Yes!” resounded from every quarter of the house. He then referred to the tea plot at Boston, and asked if anybody’s rights were taken away with that transaction; and are we offering, or have we offered to take away the rights of anyone these two days! (“No!’ resounded from every quarter.) He then referred also to Law’s grinding the poor during the scarcity of grain, while the poor had [p.448] nothing but themselves to grind; and spoke at great length in support of active measures to put down iniquity, and suppress the spirit of mobocracy.

    Alderman Harris spoke from the chair, and expressed his feelings that the press ought to be demolished.

    The following resolution was then read and passed unanimously, with the exception of Councilor Warrington:—

    “Resolved, by the City Council of the city of Nauvoo, that the printing-office from whence issues the Nauvoo Expositor is a public nuisance and also all of said Nauvoo Expositors which may be or exist in said establishment; and the Mayor is instructed to cause said printing establishment and papers to be removed without delay, in such manner as he shall direct.
    President, pro tem.
    W. RICHARDS, Recorder.

    The following order was immediately issued by the Mayor:—


    To the Marshal of said City, greeting.

    You are here commanded to destroy the printing press from whence issues the Nauvoo Expositor, and pi the type of said printing establishment in the street, and burn all the Expositors and libelous handbills found in said establishment; and if resistance be offered to your execution of this order by the owners or others, demolish the house; and if anyone threatens you or the Mayor or the officers of the city, arrest those who threaten you, and fail not to execute this order without delay, and make due return hereon.

    By order of the City Council,
    JOSEPH SMITH. Mayor. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, pp. 446-448

    Of course this is totally easy to look up, something that Shem completely fails to do each and every time he posts about things he knows NOTHING about. I have never seen such ignorance from a person who claims to know all about Mormonism and that none of us here do.

    Lurkers, take note. Shem once again has made himself look foolish.

  21. grindael says:

    What, no snappy comeback? No accusations that I’m “twisting” this into something it’s not? Notice that Bro. Hyrum was going on about collecting “libel” damages. But first they would have had to go to court and then PROVE that William and Wilson Law LIED about them. Of course, history has proved that it was Jo and Hyrum that were doing all the lying and practicing the exact thing that the Expositor accused them of. The only one with any sense at all was Warrington, who said he did not want to destroy the press in “haste”, but would Jo listen to reason? Nope, and it got him killed, along with his brother who was so greedy as to try and make a buck off of something that was perfectly true about him, but that he absolutely lied about. These men were prophets of God? Only in the Mormon Bubble.

  22. grindael says:

    Now, I have never heard of Joseph Smith asking for alchohol so please provide a reference.

    Saturday, June 1st 1844 At home. Some gentle showers. [several lines left blank] 1 P.M. Rode out with Dr. Richards and O[rrin] P[orter] Rockwell called on Davis at the boat. /Paid Manhard $90.00/ Met G[eorge] J. Adams and paid him $50.00 to J[ohn] P. Green paid him and another bro[ther] $200.00 to [blank]. Excha[nge]d $100 Gold and a check. Drank a glass of beer at Moissers. Called at W[illia]m Clayton’s while Dr. R[ichards] and Rockwell called at Dr. New House. Home 4 1/2 [P.M.]. [several lines left blank] Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p.486

    Elder Hyde told of the excellent white wine he drank in the east [Palestine]. Joseph prophesied in the name of the Lord that he would drink wine with him in that country. Joseph [said], “From the 6th day of April next, I go in for preparing with all present for a Mission through the United States and when we arrive {page 143} at Maine we will take ship for England and so on to all countries where we are a mind for to go.” P[r]e[se]nt: H[yrum] Smith, B[righam] Young, H[eber] C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, John Taylor, W[ilford] Woodruff, Geo[rge] A. Smith, [and] W[illard] Richards. Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p.294

    That was another of Jo’s failed prophecies. If he didn’t drink wine, why prophecy about drinking it. Orson Hyde sure liked his wine. But Jo DID drink wine…

    Wednesday, May 3d 1843 Called at the office. Drank a glass of wine with Sister Richards of her mother’s make in England. Reviewed the conference minutes of the 1st half day [at] 10 o’clock. 2 P.M. held court. City vs A. Gay on complaint of William Law for unbecoming language and refusing to leave store when Law told him to leave. Fined $5 and costs.Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p.375

    As for Polygamy and the flaming sword,

    There are more than just one account. So ALL of these people who say they heard Jo say it, are lying? Hardly.

    “History of Joseph Lee Robinson,” bound typewritten manuscript, p. 13, Church Archives; Benjamin Franklin Johnson affidavit, 4 March 1870, in Jenson, “Plural Marriage,” 222; Benjamin Franklin Johnson, My Life’s Review (Independence, Mo.: Zion’s Printing, 1947), 95-96; JD 20:28-29 (Joseph F. Smith/1880); and Lorenzo Snow, “Reminiscences of the Prophet,” DN, 23 Dec. 1899. And of course this one,

    “I wish to bear my testimony to the principle of celestial marriage, that it is true. When I think of the man that took his life in his hands and went [p.32] from place to place where God told him to go, and in the midst of persecutions, trials and vexations of every kind, made covenant with the women of God that have stood true to him—most of them—when I think of his integrity, and of his obedience, I think what a lesson it should be to us, that we know he did not do this of his own accord. He sent word to me by my brother, saying, ‘Tell Zina I put it off and put it off till an angel with a drawn sword stood by me and told me ifI did not establish that principle upon the earth, I would lose my position and my life.’ President Young told us in several places—said he, ‘Brethren, if you want wives take them, for the time will come when you can’t.’ But, thanks to our Heavenly Father, there are many left upon the earth who were born under the celestial covenant, although they do not at present appreciate their position. The day will come when they will feel the Spirit of God resting upon them, and they will feel that it is an honor to be born in that covenant. I feel to bear my testimony to the truth of this work. I know it is the work of God, and that Joseph Smith was His Prophet, and that Brigham Young was his successor, and those by whom I am surrounded are holy men, living to the best of their understanding, according to His will. Joseph Smith said: ‘All you who will not find fault with the words of life and salvation that God reveals through me for the salvation of the human family, I will stand like an officer of the gate, and I will see you safe through into the celestial kingdom.’ I became his wife at this time in Nauvoo, and I never in my life had a rebellious thought against that principle, for which I thank the Lord.” (Zina D. H. Young Smith, Brain Stuy, Collected Discourses Vol. 5, p.31.)

    Here is Lorenzo Snow,

    “In the month of April, 1843, I (Lorenzo Snow) returned from my European mission. A few days after my arrival at Nauvoo, when at President Joseph Smith’s house, he said he wished to have some private talk with me, and requested me to walk out with him. It was toward evening. We walked a little distance and sat down on a large log that lay near the bank of the river. He there and then explained to me the doctrine of plurality of wives; he said that the Lord had revealed it unto him, and commanded him to have women sealed to him as wives; that he foresaw the trouble that would follow, and sought to turn away from the commandment; that an angel from heaven then appeared before him with a drawn sword, threatening him with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment.

    “He further said that my sister Eliza R. Snow had been sealed to him as his wife for time and eternity. He told me that the Lord would open the way, and I should have women sealed to me as wives. This conversation was prolonged, I think one hour or more, in which he told me many important things.

    “I solemnly declare before God and holy angels, and as I hope to come forth in the morning of the resurrection, that the above statement is true.” (Affidavit of Lorenzo Snow as found in Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage (Independence, Missouri: Zion’s Printing and Publishing Company, n. d.), pp. 67-68.)

  23. grindael says:

    As for the claimed 1820 vision,

    In 1834 he said that he went to the Lord to “see if a Supreme Being did exist”, when he was 23. In his Summer 1832 HISTORY, (not just an account to someone, but an actual HISTORY, he said that “the Lord” appeared to him, and he flat out lied about “the Lord” appearing to Martin Harris to tell him about Joseph and the plates, of which Harris said it was Joseph who sent his mother to tell him to come see him, which is also verified by Lucy Smith. He also said he was 16, not 14, like in 1839. Then, in 1835 it is “two personages” and he is “about 14”. This is all over the map, and is not just timing errors.

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