Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reed Smoot Hearings - Day 5: Joseph F. Smith, part 1

March 7, 1904

Senator Dubois starts off this day with his same argument from before that he's had with Mr. Smith about the percentage of Mormons that were polygamists.
Senator Dubois.  I wish to get ths record straight.  There was some controversy between the president and myself as to the number of polygamists in 1890.  I spoke from memory, and it was thirteen years ago but I find I was quite accurate.  I wish to put in the record what I have taken from the census of 1890, which, of course, no one will question.
Commentary:  Not this [crap] again.  I thought we were done with this in the Saturday session.  Ok, whatever ... give us your take on this subject, yet again, Senator.  Dogged and determined; I guess that's what the Senator is.  He continues to come back to the same tired argument of his ("I'm right, and given enough time, everyone will agree with me.").  In my mind his arguments so far have been weak, without substance, and completely without support or backing of data.  I really wish I could have heard him trying again and again and again to convince everyone he's right.  This must have been semi-comical to the lawyers and other Senators in the room.  Let's see how he does this time.  Will he continue his trend of crashing and burning, or will a miracle happen and he pull that mythical rabbit out of his hat?
The Chairman.  1890 or 1900?
Senator Dubois.  1890.  The president said there were 3 or 4 percent in polygamy, and I contended that there were 20 to 25 percent.  The total population of Utah in 1890 was 207,905; the Mormon population, 118,201; Gentile 89,704.  So it is much larger than I stated.  The commissioner's report of the school census of 1890 shows that there were white children between the ages of 6 and 18, of Mormon parentage to the number of 50,045.
     Now I will assume, which is not violent, that 33-1/3  percent of the children were below the age of 6 years.  When you take in connection with them the Gentiles, and they have not nearly so many children as the Mormons, I think any will admit that that is approximately correct.  That makes 16,682 below the age of 6.  the total Mormon population of Utah under 18 years of age was approximately 66,727.  The Mormon population of the entire State over 18 years of age was approximately 51,474.  Based upon the estimate of 12,000 polygamists, upon which we agree, in 1890, who were disfranchised, this represented 23-1/4 percent of the Mormon population of Utah over 18 years of age who were in polygamy.
     Now, the president says further on that there are about 897 Mormons in polygamy now.
Mr Worthington.  Now now, but in May, 1902.
Senator Dubois.  The year 1902.  There are no statistics other than church statistics.  I give it as my opinion that there has been no material reduction in the number of polygamists.  So it is my opinion that his statement as regards that is just as misleading as his statement that there were 3 or 4 percent in polygamy in 1900.
The Chairman.  Is that all?
Senator Dubois.  That is all.
Commentary:  I think I've seen a rabbit.  Well done Senator.  It took him a few days of fumbling around, but he finally came prepared with an argument backed with facts.  Personally, I am confused now.  I want to believe Mr. Smith, mainly because he's the leader of the church and is above [my] reproach.  However, Senator Dubois' argument was actually very convincing to me.  I guess it's about time the other side won an argument.  I am assuming his statistics are 100% correct (as recorded and reported) and that there is not another way to view them and come up with a different conclusion; at least from me there isn't.  From the Idaho Senator's perspective, 20-25% of the Mormon marriageable population is involved in polygamy.  From Mr. Smith's perspective, 3-4% of the Mormon population is involved in polygamy.  Right now it seems like both of them are right just as Senator Dubois has been saying for the last couple of days.

Joseph F. Smith resumes the stand

Mr. Worthington wants to have Mr. Smith describe more of the church hierarchy this morning.  He starts off with wards (run by a bishop and 2 councilors) and then stakes (run by a stake president and 2 councilors) and then asks about where charges are heard against a person; it starts with the bishop.  From there, an appeal can be made to the stake presidency.
Mr. Worthington.  Suppose they have rendered a decision.  Does any further appeal lie?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  Where?
Mr. Smith.  From the decision of the high council - the presidency and the high council.
Mr. Worthington.  Of the stake?
Mr. Smith.  Of the stake.  To the presidency of the church.
Mr. Worthington.  Composed of the president and his councilors?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  What have the apostles to do with those proceedings?
Mr. Smith.  Nothing, whatever.
Mr. Smith.  I still live in a particular ward.  I now have my membership in the sixteenth ward.
Mr. Worthington.  Where is that?
Mr. Smith.  Of Salt Lake stake.
Mr. Worthington.  If some member of the church were to charge you with violating a law of the church in cohabiting with plural wives, where would his complaint properly be made?
Mr. Smith.  He would make the complaint to my bishop.
Mr. Worthington.  Of your ward?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
He continues asking where appeals would be made, if they were made, in his case, hypothetically if he were charged.  From Bishop to Stake President; and then ...
Mr. Worthington.  That decision having been rendered, would there be any further appeal - in the case, I mean, of a charge against yourself?
Mr. Smith.  Myself?  Yes; there is a provision made for an appeal in my own case to the three general presiding bishops of the church, with twelve high priests chosen for that express purpose.
Mr. Worthington.  Who are those three high priests?
Mr. Smith.  Bishops.
Mr. Worthington.  Who are the people who hold those positions now, I mean?
Mr. Smith.  The present presiding bishopric of the church is William B. Preston, Robert T. Burton, and Orrin P. Miller.
Of those mentioned, Mr. Burton is a polygamist by repute.  The other he does not mention and he says that he is not sure about Mr. Burton completely.

Mr. Worthington.  You have given us what appears to be the machinery of the church and you have not mentioned the apostles or the seventies.  What have they to do with the organization?
Mr. Smith.  They have nothing whatever to do with the judicial affairs of the church.
Mr. Worthington.  What are their duties?
Mr. Smith.  Their duties are to preach the gospel and to send elders to preach it to all the nations of the earth.
Mr. Worthington.  Their duties correspond in a general way to those of the apostles of old, then?
Mr. Smith.  Exactly.
Commentary:  I do find it interesting that the apostles and seventies are not part of the church judicial system at all.  That could not be made more clear from this conversation.

Mr. Smith then defines exactly what the duty of an apostle is:
"When they are appointed they act under the direction of the presidency of the church, and when they are appointed to preach and to labor and to set in order matters in the stakes of Zion they are appointed to do that by the presidency of the church."
He is then asked if the first presiency and the twelve ever "meet conjointly at any time?"
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir; we meet from time to time.
Mr. Worthington.  What is the nature of those meetings?  What are they for?
Senator Overman.  How often do you meet?
Mr. Worthington.  Yes; how often do you meet?
Mr. Smith.  Our rule is to meet once a week, but we do not always meet once a week.  But that is the rule.
Mr. Worthington.  What is the purpose of these conferences, and what are they for?
Mr. Smith.  The principle purpose is for prayer.
Mr. Worthington.  What are the subordinate purposes?
Mr. Smith.  Also for consultation in matters generally pertaining to the church.
Senator Dubois.  You say you do not always meet once a week?
Mr. Smith.  We do not always meet once a week; and furthermore, it is very seldom the case that there are more than four or five or six of the council present.  Most generally the apostles are out in the missionary field and do not meet with us on that day.
Senator Dubois.  So that these consultation between the apostles are sometimes diferred for some considerable length of time?
Mr. Smith.  Very frequently.
Senator Dubois.  In whom, then, is the power for the guidance of the church solely vested?
Mr. Smith.  The presidency of the church.
Mr. Worthington.  Is not the power vested in the presidency, whether you hold conferences or not?  Have the apostles any power to do anything more than to advise?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir; only as advisers and councilors.
Mr. Worthington.  They advise the president of the church in a general sense, very much like the Cabinet here advises the President of the United States?
Mr. Smith.  I presume it is very much in the same way.
Mr. Worthington.  The first presidency have the authority to do as they please in church matters, even against the advice of all the apostles?
Mr. Smith.  That is the law of the church.
Mr. Worthington.  That is the law of the church?
Mr. Smith.  And the rule.
Commentary:  This hits directly on one of the charges of the protestants; namely, that 15 men control the church.  However, here it is said, "very frequently" that not all 15 meet together and in addition it is the law of the church, and a rule, that this power resides with the presidency, and the Twelve are just advisors (like the U.S. President's Cabinet).  From this testimony it is 3 men who hold sway, not 15.  This also means that the Twelve do not hold as much power as the protestants believe they do and therefore Reed Smoot's position in the church isn't as powerful as they had hoped.  This may be straining at a gnat here, but this definitely has moved the focus from 15 down to 3, and in my opinion removed Senator Smoot from the ruling body of the church that has "ultimate supreme power" as claimed in the protest.

The next set of questions is about cases where the presiding authorities of the church have been overridden by the voice of the people, especially in the choice of someone to lead them.

CASE #1:  He is asked about the case of one Bishop Jacob Weiler, around about 1875.  He does remember it, but it was a long time ago.
Mr. Smith.  Bishop Weiler was one of the oldest bishops in the church, really one of the most respected of men, but he was getting along somewhat in years, and it was thought by the presidency of the stake that a change would be beneficial to the ward over which he presided.  The presidency of the stake called a special meeting of the members of the ward for the purpose of making the change, and as it happened, President [Brigham] Young, and one or both of his councilors, were present at their general meeting of the ward, and there it was proposed to depose, or rather to honorably excuse and relieve Bishop Weiler from the bishopric of the ward, and put in some other man; but when the proposition was made to the people they voted it down; they preferred their old, trusted, and tried bishop, and voted down the proposition to remove him and put in a new one.
Mr. Worthington.  What was the upshot of it?  Did he stay or did he go?
Mr. Smith.  He stayed.
CASE #2:  He is next asked about a similar case where a suggestion for sustaining has been overruled.  This case also involved Brigham Young and took place in Parowan.
Mr. Smith.  Brigham Young attempted, or proposed rather, in a general conference of the stake, a certain man who was very prominent in the community for the president of that stake.  When his name was presented to the conference they coted him down; they rejected him; and of course that is a matter that pertains to the presidency of the church.  They preside over all these matters, and it is their duty to install presidents of stakes.  But President Young's proposition was voted down.  The people were consulted as to their choice for president, and another man was chosen and sustained as president of the stake, and not the one who was proposed by President Young.
Mr. Worthington.  Was the man who was proposed and became the official, the choice of the people people as against the wishes of Brigham Young?
Mr. Smith.  He was the choice of the people against the wish of Brigham Young, and President Young felt somewhat offended about it, because he was much in favor of the other man.
CASE #3:  The next example is from Sanpete Stake, some two months ago.
Mr. Smith.  The presidency of the North Sanpete Stake had a vacancy in the bishopric of one of the wards, and he and his councilors and the high council consulted together and decided upon a man for the bishopric, and after the decided upon him they submitted the matter to the presidency of the church - to us - and we approved of their selection.  One of two of the apostles were sent down to Sanpete to attend the conference and to attend to the installment of the new bishop, and at the conference, when the name of this man was put before the conference, they rejected him, and for several weeks afterwards the ward remained unorganized, without a bishop.  Later - some weeks later - the presidency consulted the people and decided upon another person, who was finally installed as the bishop.
Commentary:  That is 3 different and distinct cases of where the presiding authorities of the church, in one case Brigham Young himself, have been overruled as to their choice of local leaders.  The people obviously have a voice in this matter, and the presiding authorities will listen to them when they speak as one.

Mr. Worthington then quotes from D&C 124:127-129, and verse 144 and asks if this is the law or rule of the church currently.  These verses name people to be general authorities of the church and then say they must be submitted to the conference for sustaining or rejecting.  Mr. Smith answers that this "would be the law of the church."
Mr. Worthington.  So that under the original revelation if the people had chosen to refuse to accept any of these officers they never would have become officers of the church?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  And for how long a term do the members of the first presidency and of the twelve hold their officers after they have been submitted to a conference and sustained, or confirmed, as we say?
Mr. Smith.  It is the fule of the church to submit the names of all the general authorities of the church to the conference twice a year for the acceptance or rejection.
Mr. Worthington.  So every six months since you have held the office and since the other people have held their office it has been within the power of the people to turn them out at any time they choose?
Mr. Smith.  At any time they choose.
Mr. Smith.  I should like merely to say, in relation to that, that it is according to the rule of the church that quarterly conferences be held in each stake of Zion, for the reason that a very large proportion of the members of the church are unable to attent the general conferences.
And if at one of the quarterly conferences of Stake or Wards the general authorities are not sustained, then "so far as that stake of Zion is concerned, I would not be sustained by them."  This means only that this ward or stake would not hold them in current fellowship as their leaders; however, "but they could not, of course, remove me out of the office without a general action of the church."

Mr. Worthington then goes into a quick Q&A concerning Mr. Smith, his polygamous relations, and how Reed Smoot has affected them, if at all.

Mr. Worthington.  What I want to know particularly, Mr. Smith, is whether at any of these joint meetings of the first presidency and the quorum of the apostles when you were present and since you became the president this subject of polygamous cohabitation has been discussed at all?
Mr. Smith.  I do not think it has.
Mr. Worthington.  Either in the way of advisory talk or in taking official action?
Mr. Smith.  I do not recall anything that has been said in relation to it.
Mr. Worthington.  So that when Reed Smoot became an apostle, and you became president, your status in that respect [living with 5 wives] had been fixed?
Mr. Smith.  It had been fixed long years before.
Mr. Worthington.  Had Senator Smoot anything to do with that status?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  Or with bringing you to that conclusion?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  Or did he advise you -
Mr. Smith.  No, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  Or encourage you?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  Or connive at your sustaining that relation?
Mr. Smith.  Not to my knowledge.
The Chairman.  Has he at any time protested to you against it?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir; he never has had any conversation with me on the subject at all.
Commentary:  This testimony just shows that Mr. Smith believes that Reed Smoot has had no conversations with him about his relations, no criticism, no advisory, no nothing specific to his living in a polygamous cohabitation relationship.  In other words, he minds his own business, even when those he knows and works with are breaking a law of the land and church.

Here's an interesting comment and response from Senator Dubois and Mr. Worthington; it made me chuckle when I read it.
Senator Dubois.  The prosecutions stopped after 1890, did they not, practically?
Mr. Smith.  I believe that the prosecutions - I do not know whether I understand the force of your question.
Senator Dubois.  I am merely repeating the question of your counsel.
Mr. Worthington.  I beg your pardon, I am not counsel for Mr. Smith.  I am counsel for Senator Smoot.  If I were counsel for Mr. Smith the examination woudl be very different from what it is.
Commentary:  Ok.  Touchy.
Senator Dubois.  There were no prosecutions by the Federal authorities after the manifesto was issued?
Mr. Smith.  I have so stated two or three times.  I do not say there were no prosecutions, but I say there were very few, if any at all.
Senator Dubois.  In order to make it perfectly clear, I wish to ask this question:  Did not the courts proclaim publicly, and was it not thoroughly understood by all those who had been contending against polygamy and unlawful cohabitation, that after the mafniesto was issued it was the duty of those who had previously contracted plural marriages to support and maintain their families?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
Senator Dubois.  I should like to ask another question, if you please.  I did not quite understand the answer.  How many convictions were had for polygamy between 1882, the year of the passage of the Edmunds Act, and September 25, 1890, the date of teh issuance of the manifesto?  How many convictions were had in Utah during that period for polygamy?
Mr. Smith.  Very few, Senator.
Senator Dubois.  Not more than a half dozen?
Mr. Smith.  I could not just tell you.
Senator Dubois.  I should say about three.
Mr. Smith.  I know there were very, very few indeed.
Senator Dubois.  They were mostly for unlawful cohabitation?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir; unlawful cohabitation.
Commentary:  Ok, so prosecutions stopped after the manifesto and there were very few convictions for polygamy alone before that time; most of the convictions being for unlawful cohabitation.

Mr. Worthington then takes Mr. Smith through a bit more history of Utah; when they became a State; provisions for becoming a State; judicial system in Utah, who was on Utah's Supreme Court (3 gentiles:  Judges C.S. Zane, Bartch and Miner - all 3 of which sent Mormons to the penitentiary for unlawful cohabitation during Territory days, all 3 of which were re-elected by Mormons for the State of Utah).  Of the 9 district judges in the State, currently 3 are Mormon.

Next he moves on to the representatives of the State of Utah for the Congress of the United States.  He names all of them and asks if they're Mormon or Gentile.  Here's my favorite exchange:

Mr. Worthington.  Now, as to the matter of persons who have been sent here to represent the State in either House of Congress.  Of course we know who they were, but I will ask you whether they were Mormons or gentiles.  The first two Senators were Frank J. Cannon and Arthur Brown.
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir; I believe so.
Mr. Worthington.  Is Mr. Cannon a Mormon or a gentile?
Mr. Smith.  I am sorry to say he is classed as a Mormon; but a very poor one.
Commentary:  That comment reminds me of the 3rd Indiana Jones movie where a night from the 1st Crusade is guarding the Holy Grail and says to Harrison Ford after another character dies:  "He chose poorly."  I guess there are good, bad, ugly and "very poor" Mormons.  Frank J. Cannon has now been classified as a very poor Mormon according to Mr. Smith.

Midday Recess
The committee recesses from 11:55 AM until 2:00 PM.

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