Monday, February 8, 2010

Reed Smoot Hearings: Day 6 - Francis M. Lyman, part 1

March 8, 1904

Mr. Lyman is the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and has been a member of this group of men since 1880.  He has been a member of the church his entire life.  He is 64 years old, has 3 wives (2 of which are living).

He states that he was married to his first wife in 1857, and his second wife on Oct. 9, 1884, in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.  From this second wife he had 5 children, the first born on July 4, 1891, and the last born in 1900. 

Mr. Tayler is interested in knowing about Mr. Lyman's signing of the plea for amnesty.
Mr. Tayler.  Were you a signer of the prayer for amnesty?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Tayler.  And in that prayer for amnesty did you pledge yourself to obey the law?
Mr. Lyman.  I do not remember exactly what the article contains.  I pledged myself to all it says.  I have not read it for a long time.
Mr. Tayler.  Did you, as a matter of fact, pledge yourself, by that plea for amnesty; to obedience to the law, not only respecting the taking of plural wives, but the other laws respecting the plural marriage relation?
Mr. Lyman.  Whatever the article contains I signed.

[There is a bit of an argument about the rules of questioning a witness concerning a document that can be produced.  After a minute, Mr. Tayler reads to Mr. Lyman specifically what he wants to question him about.]

Mr. Tayler.  In this prayer for amnest there is this sentence:  "As shepards of a patient, suffering people we ask amnesty for them and pledge our faith and honor for their future."  Do you recall that statement?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir; I do.
Mr. Tayler.  Did you interpret that as meaning that you would obey the law respecting polygamous cohabitation?
Mr. Lyman.  I intended to do everything that was right in the observance of the law.
Mr. Tayler.  Did you think it would be right to abstain from polygamous cohabitation with your plural wife?
Mr. Lyman.  I think it would have been right.
Mr. Tayler.  You did not do that, though?
Mr. Lyman.  No, sir.
Mr. Tayler.  Then you did wrong?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir; according to the law.
Mr. Tayler.  According to the law?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Tayler.  It was wrong according to the church law as well?
Mr. Lyman.  It was wrong according to the rule of the church.
Mr. Tayler.  So you violated both laws?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Tayler.  The law of the land and the rule of the church?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Commentary:  Mr. Tayler immediately tries to show, and does very effectively, that Mr. Lyman has broken his word for the plea of amnesty to the Federal Government and is currently breaking the law of the land and rule of the church with respect to polygamous cohabitation.  This is a similar situation to that of Joseph F. Smith; namely, he was married before the manifesto, but continues to live as if it never happened, even though he signed a document stating he would change his lifestyle.

The committee Chairman wants then to get his thoughts in about living in a polygamous cohabitation relationship.
The Chairman.  I wish to as a question right here.  You are now continuing in this polygamous relation?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
The Chairman.  And intend to?
Mr. Lyman.  I had thought of nothing else, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman.  And you are the next in succession to the presidency?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Commentary:  I believe the Chairman wants to point out that there is a succession of polygamists and law-breakers in the ranks of the apostles.  The current president lives with 5 wives, and the next in succession does the same with his two wives and has "thought of nothing else."  This is meant to show, I suppose, that Mr. Lyman is a defiant law-breaker, and has no intention of changing the error of his ways.

Senator Hoar then wants to know why Mr. Lyman would break a law of God if he knows better.
Senator Hoar.  Then, do I understand you to say that you are living and intend to live in violation of the law of God and of the law of man, as you understand them?
Mr. Lyman.  Mr. Chairman, I fully intend to be true to my obligations and covenants with the Lord and with my wives and children and to the Government of the United States.  I have lived in all good conscience before the Lord and I have never done a thing willfully against the church nor my God nor my country.
     If I may be allowed, Mr. Chairman, to make a remark, my case is possibly a little different from the case of other men generally.  I was born in 1840.  I can hardly remember when my father was not a polygamist.  He married a number of wives in 1845, the next year after the death of Prophet Joseph.  He was taught that doctrine by the prophet, and he was charged that it was important for him that he should embrace that principle.  He was selected at one time as a councilor to the prophet.  He entered into that principle and married six plural wives in 1845 and 1846, so that as my earliest recollections I remember my father's wives and families as I remember my father and my own mother.
     I was taught the truthfulness of that principle from the very beginning, and I lived in that plural family till I married and had a family of my own.
     I have never been able to see but that that principle is correct and true.  I have always felt that it was, in my heart and soul, and hence when I becamse a man I married, in 1857.  I married again in 1869, and had families by both my wives.  I married again in 1884, and I have greatly regretted - my soul has been very much pained - to find myself in opposition to the law of my country and the rule of my church.  But I covenanted with those wives most solemnly to love and respect and revere them as my own heart and soul, and I felt I could not separate from them so long as they were true to me.
Senator Hoar.  You have said more than once that in living in polygamous relations with your wives, which you do and intend to do, you knew that you were disobeying this revelation?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Senator Hoar.  And that in disobeying this revelation you were disobeying the law of God?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Senator Hoar.  Very well.  So that you say that you, an apostle of your church, expecting to succeed, if you survive Mr. Smith, to the office in which you will be the person to be the medium of Divine revelations, are living and are known to your people to live in disobedience of the law of the land and of the law of God?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Senator Hoar.  He says "yes."  That is all.
Commentary:  I liked the discussion of Mr. Lyman on his history and how he was brought up to know and believe that polygamy was a correct principle.  It shows background and gives understanding as to why he believes what he believes.  Senator Hoar, however, wanted this to point out that the next in line to the presidency of the church was a law breaker and a rule breaker, and was cognizant in doing both.

Coming back from lunch, Senator Dubois asks Mr. Lyman if Senator Smoot ever took him to task for living a polygamous relationship (no), in private or in public (no).  He then hands Mr. Lyman a book which has a biographical sketch of church leaders, and asks him to testify as to the age and marital status of every one of the current apostles.  Mr. Lyman does not know them all, but comes pretty close on many of their ages.

After the Chairman takes some time to review when the apostles meet (weekly), where they meet (Salt Lake Temple), who presides (president), if Reed Smoot was ever present at these meetings (yes), and if Mr. Smoot ever told him that living in a polygamous relationship was wrong (no), he switches gears to the Endowment House and Temple.  Specifically he is interested in getting to the bottom of the ceremonies held there and he wants to know about the marriage ceremony and other oaths that take place in the temple.  He asks about Mr. Lyman's marriage in the endowment house.  What transpires is interesting:
The Chairman.  What is the difference between the endowment house and the temple?
Mr. Lyman.  The endowment house was a temporary building for the purposes for which it was built - sacred purposes; but it was not a substantial building like the temple.  It was just for the time being until we could build the temple.  Our temple was forty years in building.
The Chairman.  This ceremony was performed in the endowment house?
Mr. Lyman.  In the endowment house; yes, sir.
The Chairman.  You went through the endowment house, as it is commonly spoken of, did you?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
The Chairman.  Will you please state what the ceremony is in going through the endowment house?
Mr. Lyman.  I could not do it.
Mr. Worthington.  I object to that, Mr. Chairman, on the ground that it is inquiring into a matter prior to 1890, and I understood, or we were informed, that the committee had decided that would not be done.
The Chairman.  One of the charges is that Mr. Smoot has taken an oath or obligation incompatible with his obligation as a Senator.  The object of this question is to ascertain from this witness, who went through the endowment house - of course I know nothing about it - whether any such obligation is taken.
Mr. Lyman.  Is that the question you asked me, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman.  No; that was not my question.  It was a statment to counsel.
Mr. Worthington.  I had understood, Mr. Chairman, that that was expressly disclaimed by counsel here the other day.
The Chairman.  Counsel stated that they did not propse, as far as they were concerned, to offer any proof upon that question; but the Chair did not understand that therefore the committee was precluded from showing it.  Is there any objection to the question?
Mr. Worthington.  I do object to it, for the reasons already stated; and further because it does not follow at all that because the witness went through certain ceremonies or took certain obligations, if you please, Senator Smoot took them.
The Chairman.  That would not follow of itself.  If nothing further than this can be shown, of course it will have no bearing upon Mr. Smoot at all.
Mr. Worthington.  I do insist upon my objection.  I understood the Chair to ask me whether I had any further objection.
The Chairman.  The Chair thinks it is permissible; and as the Chair stated, if nothing appears beyond this to connect Mr. Smoot with it, of course it will have no bearing upon this case.
Can you state what the ceremony was?
Mr. Lyman.  I could not, Mr. Chairman; I could not do so if it was to save my life.
The Chairman.  You could not?
Mr. Lyman.  No, sir.
The Chairman.  Can you state any portion of it?
Mr. Lyman.  I might approximate something of it that I remember.
The Chairman.  As nearly as you can.
Mr. Lyman.  I remember that I agreed to be an upright and moral man, pure in my life.  I agreed to refrain from sexual commerce with any woman except my wife or wives as were given to me in the priesthood.  The law of purity I subscribed to willingly, of my own chlice, and to be true and good to all men.  I took no oath nor obligation against any person or any country or government or kingdom or anything of that kind.  I remember that distinctly.
Commentary:  This starts out fine, and then the Chairman wants detailed information about the marriage ceremony or other ceremony (endowment) as it happened in either the temple or endowment house.  Mr. Worthington then gets a little cranky about this because supposedly the counsel decided not to investigate the "oath" charge.  Specifically this charge came from the separate filing of charges by Mr. J.L. Leilich, who also charged Senator Smoot with being a polygamist.  In other words, this separate charge is thrown out completely, except for this one part which the Chairman believes is important; a kind of line item veto on everything Mr. Leilich submitted, but one.  The Chairman doesn't see the counsel agreement as binding upon the committee or the Chair to investigate the matter.  So, Mr. Lyman gives a brief statement about the endowment ceremony as he remembers it.  It is interesting that the line "wife or wives as were given me in the priesthood" is used.  This specifically refers to plural marriage in that the "priesthood" could give wives to men.  My guess is that something like this existed in the ceremony previously and has been altered or removed for today's guests in the temple.

Just to ensure that he had his questions answered, the Chairman tries probing again on this same subject:
The Chairman.  There was nothing of that kind [oath or obligation inconsistent with the office of being a Senator]?
Mr. Lyman.  Nothing of that kind.
The Chairman.  No obligation or oath?
Mr. Lyman.  Not at all; no, sir.
Commentary:  Alright; there it is, black and white.  What the Chairman is looking for doesn't exist as far as this witness is concerned.  However, like most lawyers, they trust no one and want multiple sources to confirm or deny; so, this will continue with other witnesses (same questions, etc.).

He tells the committee that Daniel H. Wells officiated at his 3 marriage ceremonies.  Mr. Wells was a counselor to Brigham Young and later a counselor to the apostles.

He then states that the weekly meetings of the apostles last nearly 2 hours; sometimes it takes more time if there is a lot of business to consider.
Mr. Tayler.  Have the first presidency and the twelve apostles ever, to your knowledge, taken any action looking to the disciplining or prosecuting of persons who were charged with living in polygamous cohabitation?
Mr. Lyman.  I think not.
Commentary:  Again back to the "has anyone tried to do anything about these men" topic.  No man in the 12 has been taken to task by another man in the 12 or the first presidency for living with plural wives.  I believe this would hit on one of the charges that this is a group that conspires (by not self-correcting its members) to continue to live polygamy and angage in unlawful cohabitation.  This shows that each member, even if they're not completely knowledgeable about another member's personal relationship, does nothing to rectify this and in essence allows it to conitinue.  Therefore, they must be complicit with the action in the first place to be a member of the group and participate in this conspiracy.  At least, that's how I read the reaction from the Senators about this particular question.

Here's a short Q&A on Mr Lyman becoming the next president of the church:
Mr. Worthington.  You have said you are next in succession to the presidency?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes.
Mr. Worthington.  Has that been simply by virtue of the fact that you have been longer in the quorum of the apostles than any other member of it?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  And your turn comes in rotation?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  Which, I understand, has been the universal practice from the beginning?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  As to these other apostles who come next in order to you, are they also there by virtue simply of the rule of seniority?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  They have come into their places by that rule?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  And not because they were polygamists?
Mr. Lyman.  Oh, no.
Mr. Worthington.  Have you known of any instance of any man being appointed or coming into high place in your church because he was a polygamist?
Mr. Lyman.  Never.
Mr. Worthington.  By virtue of what is it they get into those offices?
Mr. Lyman.  His merit and the designation of the Lord.
Commentary:  Absolutely nothing new here.  Mr. Lyman essentially confirms everything that President Joseph F. Smith said in prior testimony.  The difference is that this is a different witness, and this witness is the successor to the president currently.

Mr. Worthington then continues his questioning, directing his queries at missionary work and Mr. Lyman's direction of it.
Mr. Worthington.  You have not been asked anything particularly today about the missionary work of the church.  I understand that is the principal work of the apostles?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  And you are their head?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  I want to ask you as to the books which you use of late years.  I will confine my inquiry on this subject to the time since Senator Smoot became an apostle, about four years ago.  During that time, what books have been used or have been most used by your church in its missionary work?
Mr. Lyman.  The Book of Mormon.  We have taken great pains to publish that extensively in the United States and in foreign countries; and of the commentaries, the Articles of Faith, by Talmage, is the most popular work.  If a man asks for a book, a comprehensive work, from which to learn something of the doctrines of the Latter-day Saints, we always recommend the Articles of Faith.
Mr. Worthington.  That is the book that has been here?
Mr. Lyman.  I do not know whether there has been one here or not.  It has been spoken of.
Mr. Worthington.  You have not mentioned the Doctrine and Covenants.  Is that circulated, too?
Mr. Lyman.  No; not so much.
Mr. Worthington.  In what proportion do you circulate the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon?
Mr. Lyman.  Oh, the Doctrine and Covenants is not circulated as a book to make converts with.  It is not circulated at all.  If anybody wants it - we do not put it forward; but the Book of Mormon and the Articles of Faith.  Then, there is the Voice of Warning, by Parley P. Pratt, and Key to Theology, by Parley P. Pratt, and works of that kind.
Mr. Worthington.  the Book of Mormon, I understand, was the original book.  It is the Mormon Bible, if I may use that expression?
Mr. Lyman.  That is what it is called in the world; yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  In what proportion is the Doctrine and Covenants circulated, compared with the Articles of Faith, the Talmage book, which we have here?
Mr. Lyman.  We do not look upon the Doctrine and Covenants as a book to circulate at all.  It is a law of the church, the word of the Lord to the church, and the law and discipline, but for the doctrines of the church we take the commentaries more.
Commentary:  That's interesting.  This mirrors how the church still does missionary work today, in a way.  Today the Book of Mormon is used as the main tool, if you will, at finding converts.  However, we do not ever say that scriptural commentaries are the basis for doctrinal understanding as Mr. Lyman did here.  To me that sounds very much in the same vein as the Jewish Talmud or commentaries on the scriptures from Moses that turned into Jewish "law" eventually.  Is that right to do?  I don't know.  I find that statement of Mr. Lyman's very interesting for that very reason.  Has the passage of time changed the methods, even slightly, and manner in which missionary work is done?  Today I know we do not recommend any commentaries and in fact tell missionaries to stick to the scriptures almost completely.

Mr. Worthington.  Now, say in the last [fourteen] years, what has been the custom about instructing missionaries who go out on their work?
Mr. Lyman.  We always instruct the elders that they are sent out to preach the first principles of the gospel.
Mr. Worthington.  Who instructs them?
Mr. Lyman.  The twelve, and the first presidents of seventies.
Mr. Worthington.  They personally instruct them, do they?
Mr. Lyman.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  And do you participate in that instruction, so that you know what it is?
Mr. Lyman.  Oh, yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  Just tell us what it is.
Mr. Lyman.  We instruct them particularly to go into the world and preach the first principles of the gospel.  That is what they are send out for, and particularly to leave the mysteries alone.
Commentary:  This is apparently the nuts & bolts of what missionaries are taught about; they are to teach just the basics and avoid the mysteries.

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