Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reed Smoot Hearings - Day 2: Testimony of Joseph F. Smith, part 1

March 3, 1904.

This is the second day of testimony for Joseph F. Smith.  I will again divide the testimony into 2 parts because of the length; with the first part ending at the midday recess.

Almost the entire afternoon session yesterday was spent in one argument about what is pertinent testimony and what is not.  Joseph F. Smith gave very little testimony after the recess.

Mr. Worthington's statement from yesterday afternoon seems like a good way to start this day out as a reminder of what happened:
"The question is asked whether a certain Mr. Teasdale was a polygamist.  Let us see where this will lead ... Would it be competent to prove, these men being scattered all over the State of Utah [are polygamists]?"

"If you have proved there were 500 people and every one of them had a dozen wives, you would not have advanced the case one step, because the question would come back, Did these people who met around this board, and who are called the first presidency and the apostles, organize for the purpose of encouraging and pursuing that thing?  Are they encouraging the 500 who are living with the wives they married before the manifesto or are they representing the hundreds of thousands of people who are living in monogamy, as civilized people generally do?

"It does seem to me this is an important and vital point, and the committee ought to give it careful consideration and decide before we go on to this boundless sea to which counsel are taking us, and as to which, if they succeed in proving there were 500 polygamists and 2,500 plural wives, it would not as to Reed Smoot, advance the cause a particle, and would not even call upon us to reply."

The committee hearing resumes and a decision has been made on the discussion from yesterday afternoon.  Here is the decision:
"As bearing upon that charge, the committee will permit counsel to inquire into the teachings and practice of the president and twelve apostles in this regard since the 26th day of September, 1890, the date of the Woodruff manifesto."
Commentary:  Well, this ruling has put in place the limit of testimony.  It is allowable to ask and receive testimony about plural marriages since the 1890 manifesto.  For the vast majority of the hearing, excepting the investigation into the laws passed against polygamy by the Government, both sides stick to this rule.

Before Mr. Smith takes the stand again, Senator Beveridge makes a statement concerning the charges being investigated.  He says that members of the committee, and the country at large, understood falsely, that Senator Smoot was being investigated for being a polygamist.  This is untrue and "is conceded by [the] protestants that his life in that particular is as correct as that of anyone else."  Next, that the charge of Senator Smoot having taken an oath inconsistent with that of being a Senator "never was made so far as [Mr. Tayler's] clients are concerned."
Senator Beveridge.  Therefore, at this juncture we find that Mr. Smoot is not being tried as a polygamist, for it is conceded that that condition does not exist, and that his life is correct, and, on the other hand, it is not charged and we are not trying him upon the ground that he has taken an oath inconsistent with his oath as a Senator of the United States.  Hence, the issue to which this is reduced, and upon which we are proceeding and shall proceed from now on, and upon which, so far as the protestants are concerned, Mr. Smoot is being tried, as it were, is the one stated by the chairman, in substance, that he is a member of a conspiracy.
Senator Dubois then speaks up to rephrase the charges and share his insight into them:
Senator Dubois.  For the first time in fifty years this committee understood, if I understand the committee rightly, that the relations of this organization to the United States were to be investigated at this meeting.  There was no disposition upon the part of anyone represented here in person, or by counsel, to try Mr. Smoot on the charge that he was a polygamist, or that he had taken an oath as an apostle which was incompatible with the oath he has taken as United States Senator, while constantly the attorneys on the other side, and people not representing the protestants, have been trying to force the protestants to issues which they themselves have never raised.
Commentary:  Outside of all the really long sentences, where I can't breathe while reading, this essentially says what Senator Smoot is going to be tried on.  Not an oath; not that he practices polygamy; but that he is a member of a conspiratorial group of lawbreakers.  Ok, finally this is all done and we can get back to the business of the committee hearing with a witness testifying.

Joseph F. Smith resumes the stand.

Mr. Tayler decides to start the day out with questions about Abraham H. Cannon again, where he in a round-about way asks him about the marriage of Mr. Cannon and Lillian Hamlin.  Mr. Smith again denies that a marriage took place on the boat.

Next Mr. Tayler questions Mr. Smith about polygamous relations.  Mr. Smith knew that Abraham H. Cannon was a polygamist, so did he ever criticize or tell him that he should not be with more than one woman as a wife?  No.  He is then asked about polygamous cohabitation (living with more than one wife) and how the church feels about that (is it, or is it not a rule of the church), the answer he gives is used throughout the trial.
Mr. Tayler.  Is the cohabitation with one who is claimed to be a plural wife a violation of the law or rule of the church, as well as of the law of the land?
Mr. Smith.  That it is contrary to the rule of the church and contrary as well to the law of the land for a man to cohabit with his wives.  But I was placed in this position.  I had a plural family, if you please; that is, my first wife was married to me over thirty-eight years ago, my last wife was married to me over twenty years ago, and with these wives I had children, and I simply took my chances, preferring to meet the consequences of the law rather than to abandon my children and their mothers; and I have cohabited with my wives - not openly, that is, not in a manner that I thought would be offensive to my neighbors - but I have acknowledged them; I have visited them.  They have borne me children since 1890, and I have done it, knowing the responsibility and knowing that I was amenable to the law.

Since the admission of the State there has been a sentiment existing and prevalent in Utah that these old marriages would be in a measure condoned.  They were not looked upon as offensive, as really violative of law; there were, in other words, regarded as an existing fact, and if they saw any wrong in it they simply winked at it.  In other words, Mr. Chairman, the people of Utah, as a rule, as well as the people of this nation, are broad-minded and liberal-minded people, and they have rather condoned that otherwise, I presume, my offense against the law.  I have never been disturbed.  Nobody has ever called me in question, that I know of, and if I had, I was there to answer to the charges or any charge that might have been made against me, and I would have been willing to submit to the penalty of the law, whatever it might have been.
Commentary:  This speech comes back to bite him later on.  The word "condoned" is spread all over the country and many people write in to the committee and protest the speech and say they do not condone polygamous cohabitation at all.  Many are also upset with the term "wink" that he uses.

Mr. Tayler continues with this topic and asks him about his violation of the law of unlawful cohabitation, and Mr. Smith admits it.
Mr. Tayler.  You have not in any respect changed your relations to these wives since the manifesto or since the passage of this law of the State of Utah?  I am not meaning to be unfair in the question, but only to understand you.  What I mean is, you have been holding your several wives out as wives, not offensively, as you say.  You have furnished them homes.  You have given them your society.  You have taken care of the children that they bore you, and you have caused them to bear you new children - all of them?
Mr. Smith.  That is correct, sir.
Mr. Tayler.  That is correct?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Tayler.  Now, since that was a violation of the law, why have you done it?
Mr. Smith.  For the reason I have stated.  I preferred to face the penalties of the law to abandoning my family.
Mr. Tayler.  Do you consider it an abandonment of your family to maintain relations with your wives except that of occupying their beds?
Mr. Smith.  I do not wish to be impertinent, but I should like the gentlemen to ask any woman, who is a wife, that question.
Mr. Tayler.  Unfortunately, or fotunately, that is not the status of this examination at this point.
Mr. Smith.  All the same; it is my sentiment.
The examination is interrupted here by Senator Foraker.  He doesn't like the line of questioning, and the Chairman agrees and tells him:  "confine yourself to the question of fact."

Commentary:  Mr. Tayler was gutsy enough, or perhaps crass enough, to ask Mr. Smith about sex.  Unbelieveable!

The committee then drills down on the specific marriages of Mr. Smith.
The Chairman.  Mr. Smith, I wish to ask you a question preliminarily.  I understood you, in response to a question of counsel, to state that you married your first wife at such a time, and the second wife at such a time, both before 1890?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
The Chairman.  The last wife, I mean.  Were there any intermediate marriages?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
The Chairman.  How many?
Mr. Smith.  There were three besides the first and the last.
The Chairman.  Then you have five wives?
Mr. Smith.  I have.
The Chairman.  Mr. Tayler, what is your question?
Mr. Tayler.  My question is, How many children have been borne to him by these wives since 1890?
The Chairman.  The chair thinks that question is competent.
Mr. Smith.  I have had 11 children born since 1890.
Mr. Tayler.  Those are all the children that have been born to you since 1890?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir; those are all.
Mr. Tayler.  Were those children by all of your wives; that is did all of your wives bear children?
Mr. Smith.  All of my wives bore children.
Mr. Tayler.  Since 1890?
Mr. Smith.  That is correct.

Commentary:  This small piece of testimony was broadcast across the nation; political cartoons were drawn up.  One of these cartoons is shown below with Reed Smoot smacking his forehead with his hand when he hears the testimony that President Smith has 5 wives who have given birth to 11 different children after the manifesto of 1890.

He is then asked about the where each wife lives:
Mr. Smith.  I will state, Mr. Chairman, in answer to the question, that each of my families has a home of its own.  They live near to each other, not very far away from each other, in their own homes.
Senator Hoar.  In the same city?
Mr. Smith.  In Salt Lake City.  My custom has been to live with my first wife in her home, and I have lived with her exclusively ever since that time, and I am living with her still; but I have, as I said before, visited my other families and provided for them and their children, for the schooling, etc.
Commentary:  Well, if nothing else, this is a description of what life is like being a polygamist.  Each wife has her own house where her children live.  The husband visits the wife regularly and provides for each family individually.

Coming back to one of the main points of the inquiry, the committee wants to know about Reed Smoot and his interaction with Mr. Smith on polygamous cohabitation.
Senator Overman.  Did Senator Smoot ever advise you to desist from polygamous cohabitation with your plural wives?
Mr. Smith.  Not that I know of.  I do not think that Mr. Smoot has ever attempted to interfere with my family relations.  I do not know that he knows anything about them, except what I have told you here today.
Senator Overman.  Did he ever discuss the matter with you in any way?
Mr. Smith.  Never to my knowledge.  I should like to repeat, in connection with this question, that it is a well-known fact throughout all Utah, and I have never sought to disguise the fact in the least, or to disclaim it, that I have five wives in Utah.  My friends all know that - Gentiles, and Jews and Mormons.  They all knew that I had five wives.
Mr. Tayler.  I do not doubt it at all.
Mr. Smith.  Whether they knew that I was living with them or not I cannot say.  I did not inform them of that.  I did not acknowledge it to them, because they never asked me nor interrogated me on that point at all.
Senator Overman then takes the next step with the questioning to ask about the apostles and the advisory capacity with him.
Senator Overman.  Are the apostles your advisors?
Mr. Smith.  Mr. Senator, I receive advice and counsel from any and every good man.
Senator Overman.  Do they have any special authority?
Mr. Smith.  No more than any other member of the church, except as a body or a council of the church.
Senator Overman.  Did any of the apostles ever advise you or ask you to desist from this conduct?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir.
Then they talk about George Teasdale (with a few objections peppered in) and whether he is or was a polygamist (was = yes; is = no).  Mr. Tayler states the following, which is carried through the rest of the hearings:  "It is proper to show what his repute was.  That is one of the questions here - how far knowledge of that sort has been carried home to Senator Smoot."  To this statement, the Chairman says, "Give your opinion.  Answer the question."

Mr. Tayler then moves away from the questions about George Teasdale, to someone of much more interest in his eyes:  John W. Taylor.  Mr. Taylor, according to testimony from Mr. Smith, is a member of the twelve apostles (5th in line as far as seniority), and reputed to be a polygamist.  He is asked if he knows where he, John W. Taylor, is currently (he doesn't know).  The last he heard he was sent to investigate a possible land deal for Mormon colonies.

Senator Dubois has been silent long enough.
Senator Dubois.  Could an apostle be a polygamist without your knowledge?
Mr. Smith.  I hardly think he could.
Senator Dubois.  Then what is the use of saying "I think;" "I do not know?"
Mr. Smith.  Because I never saw a woman married to him [John W. Taylor] in my life.
Senator Dubois.  Could an apostle be a polygamist without your knowledge?  Can they go out and enter into polygamy without your knowledge?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir; not that I know of.  I say "not that I know of."
Senator Dubois.  Then an apostle could not be a polygamist unless you knew it?
Mr. Smith.  Unless he violated the rule of the church without my knowledge, and I do not think he would do that.
Commentary:  This means that the president of the church should know if every apostle is or is not a polygamist.  This is kind of important because is appears Senator Dubois is trying to place responsibility for all polygamist relations on the Mormon hierarchy; especially those in the hierarchy.

Next, a list of people Mr. Smith is familiar with are run by him: 
  • Marriner W. Merrill:  apostle, reputed polygamist, no idea on the number of wives, lives in Richmond, Cache County, Utah.
  • Heber J. Grant:  apostle, acknowledged polygamist, he's seen two women supposedly that are his wives, and he is currently in Europe on church business with his second wife.
  • John Henry Smith:  apostle, polygamist with two wives - "I am pretty well acquainted with his folks.  He is a kinsman of mine." - lives in Salt Lake City, he does not know if he has had any children lately.
  • Matthias F. Cowley:  apostle, reputed polygamist with two wives, lives in Salt Lake, currently "making a tour of the northern missions of the church in Idaho and Montana and Oregon," he does not have any information regarding children.
  • Rudger Clawson:  apostle, not a polygamist "because he was at one time, but his wife left him, and he has but one wife" and this happened in the 1880's.
  • Francis M. Lyman:  president of the apostles by seniority, next in line for succession to the presidency of the church, reputed polygamist with two wives.
Here is a bit of the testimony from the above inquiry:
Mr. Tayler.  You, as the head of the church never undertook to apply any more rigid rule of conduct to him [John Henry Smith] that you applied to yourself?
Mr. Smith.  I certainly could not condemn him when I was in the same practice.
Mr. Tayler.  I suppose not.
Mr. Tayler.  That you can use language of such positiveness in the one case and not in the other?
Mr. Smith.  I happen, sir, to be very well acquainted with Rdger Clawson.  At one time he was the second counsilor to President Snow with myself.  He lives as a neighbor to me, and we sit in the same office together from day to day, and I am very intimate with Rudger Clawson and with his family.
Senator Beveridge.  Has any of these men about whom Mr. Tayler has asked you married plural wives since the manifesto?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir; not one of them.
Senator Beveridge.  Then the wives that you refer to were wives married before the manifesto?
Mr. Smith.  Before the manifesto for years.
Senator Pettus.  They were married before?
Senator Beveridge.  I was asking whether any have taken wives since
Mr. Smith.  Let me say to you, Mr. Senator - I have said it, but I repeat it - there has not any man, with the consent or knowledge or approval of the church, ever married a plural wife since the manifesto.
Right here Mr. Tayler tries to circle back on Mr. Smith and catch him in his answers.  He wants to know how George Teasdale could have married a woman in 1893, a plural marriage, without the knowledge of the president of the church.  Mr. Van Cott immediately objects to the question as being hypothetical and asks that counsel ask Mr. Smith about facts, not hypothetical questions.  To this, Senator Hoar steps in and clears it up.
Senator Hoar.  In the first place, the witness has stated his belief about this gentleman; then he stated that no person, with the knowledge of the authorities of the church, with the consent or approval, has contracted a plural marriage since the manifesto.  Now, it seems to me fair, as testing the accuracy of Mr. Smith's understanding, to call his attention to this condition and ask him how it could have been brought about.
The Chairman.  Answer the question, Mr. Smith.
Commentary:  Senator Hoar appears to be the voice of reason and logic in these hearings.  If he speaks, it is as if everyone shuts up, listens; he appears to be the E.F. Hutton of his day.  The committee accepts what Senator Hoar says almost unquestionined.  Therefore, if he believes a question is proper, the Chairman will agree and ask the witness to answer the question.

Mr. Smith answers and says that he does not know anything about this situation.  "I do not know of any way by which it could have been done."

Right before the break, Senator Hoar wants to know if missionaries for the church teach converts about the principle of plural marriage.
Mr. Smith.  Never.
Senator Hoar.  Today?
Mr. Smith.  Today, never.  Only when they are forced into a defense of their belief.  They do not advocate nor teach the doctrine nor inculcate it in any way, shape, or form.
Mr. Smith.  And let me add, Mr. Senator, that in every instance our elders who are sent out to preach the gospel are instructed not to advocate plural marriage in their ministrations.  It is a thing of the past.

The committee takes a recess from 11:55 AM until 2:00 PM.

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