Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reed Smoot Hearings: Day 7 - Joseph F. Smith

March 9, 1904

Joseph F. Smith  resumes the stand for more questions.

Mr. Tayler again has a chance to question Mr. Smith.  His examination is not extremely long nor indepth.  This is just a set or series of questions that clarify the current position and prior testimony given.  Because of that, the subject of the questions moves about quite a bit.

Mr. Tayler begins by bringing out a copy of the Deseret Evening News printed for December 3, 1902.  In this paper is the interview referred to previously in Mr. Smith's testimony with a reporter from the Associated Press.  This is the interview where Mr. Smith quotes testimony speaking to the point that polygamy is dying out, and all that remain are old men.  This generation of old men will quickly be taken (by death because of old age) and this will result in the eventual complete removal of polygamous members from the church.

Here's a link to the prior testimony where this interview is mentioned:
Day 4 Testimony from Joseph F. Smith

The copy of this interview in the newspaper with President Smith can be found at this location:
Deseret Evening News - December 3, 1902

Mr. Tayler reads the last couple of paragraphs in the article, and this ends with the following statement therein by Mr. Smith, speaking of those that object to Reed Smoot being a senator:  "The objection in the present case is without substantial reason or foundation."  Mr. Smith is allowed to explain that his statement previously was incomplete because his secretary handed him a type-written copy of the interview before he left.  This copy did not have the full interview.

Mr. Tayler then asks Mr. Smith about Benjamin Cluff, Jr.  Mr. Smith says that Mr. Cluff is reputed to be a polygamist, and before moving to Mexico 6 months ago, he was "President of the faculty of Brigham Young Academy" in Provo, Utah.

Commentary:  This is extremely nitpicky, but I think it interesting that Mr. Smith focuses on calling Mr. Cluff the faculty president, not president of the school/academy, even though both of these titles are apparently in the same job description.  Look on the official BYU site today (President Cluff), it calls Mr. Cluff the principal of the school.  So what is he?  Principal of the school?  President of the faculty?  I doubt this distinction of words even matters.
Mr. Tayler.  Now, the church - I gather from your statement the officials of the church have been ever since 1890, and are now, very sensitive as to the charge that plural marriages have been solemnized?
Mr. Worthington.  Since the manifesto?
Mr. Tayler.  Since the manifesto.
Mr. Smith.  Yes; I think we have been very sensitive about that.
Mr. Tayler.  Very sensitive?
Mr. Smith.  Yes.
Commentary:  I guess this would be equivalent to finding a cut on your hand and then pouring lemon juice in it.  Ouch!  Yeah, they're sensitive.  They've been hounded about this for 40+ years, so there's a little bit of hesitancy in "liking" being assailed about it or accused about it.

Mr. Tayler asks Mr. Smith why he did not pursue the public charge that Abraham H. Cannon had married a plural wife around 1896, or why he didn't investigate the rumor that George Teasdale married a plural wife.  The thinking is that if the church is serious in stopping this practice, why were these charges not investigated.
Mr. Smith.  The public charge, or what you call a public charge, is simply the charge made by the bitterest anti-Mormon publication in Salt Lake City, and its charges are of such a vicious character that I pay no attention to them.  If I were to undertake to answer one-hundredth part of the vicious and vile charges that are made in the anti-Mormon papers against me and my people I would have nothing else to do in the world.
Mr. Tayler.  Then you mean to say that as a general proposition, notwithstanding your sensitiveness on the subject of plural marriages having been authorized or performed under the sanction of the church, you do not investigate any charges that are made of that character?
Mr. Smith.  It is not my business to investigate them.  I have given to this honorable committee -
The Chairman.  The question is, Do you make any investigation?
Mr. Smith.  I have made the assertion and explanation here to this honorable committee that our courts of original jurisdiction in the church are the bishops' courts, and it is the duty of the bishops to inquire into the moral character and the moral standing and the good fellowship of members of the church who reside in the wards of the bishops.
Senator Hoar.  Including officials?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
Senator Hoar.  Including all officials?
Mr. Smith.  They have jurisdiction over all members of the church, and all officials are members of the church.
Mr. Tayler.  Did you feel any duty laid upon you to investigate this, in the interest of the church, apart from any personal lapse?
Mr. Smith.  No; not in the way that these reports and rumors came to me.  They were the reports and rumors of malicious persons.
Mr. Tayler.  Malicious persons?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Tayler.  Sometimes malicious persons tell the truth.
Mr. Smith.  That may be.
Mr. Tayler.  Or is it your assumption that they never do?
Mr. Smith.  We become habituated to hearing reports of malicious persons until we pay no attention to them, even if they do tell the truth.
Commentary:  This is just a quick run-down of why none of the rumors spread in Salt Lake City or plural marriages are never looked into.  They, the leaders of the Church, take absolutely no stock in what they hear from rumor, and if there is anything to investigate, it is up to the individual ward bishops to do that investigation.

The Chairman then wishes to revisit a subject from Day #2 of testimony:  types of marriages or sealings.
The Chairman.  I should like to ask one or two questions.  I am not clear with respect to your statement.  I understand, according to the practice of the church, you formerly performed the marriage for life, the marriage for time and eternity, and also the marriage for eternity - three different kinds.
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
The Chairman.  And the marriage for eternity was called sealing?
Mr. Smith.  They were all called sealings.
The Chairman.  They were all called sealings?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
The Chairman.  You will have to excuse my ignorance about it.  I wish to get at the facts.
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.  I take very great pleasure in trying to enlighten you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman.  Is the sealing for eternity ever performed between two living mortals?
Mr. Smith.  I have heard, Mr. Chairman, of one or two instances of that kind.
Mr. Worthington.  Between living persons?
Mr. Smith.  Between two living persons.
The Chairman.  Could a person living in polygamy, married for time, be sealed to some other woman for eternity?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir.
The Chairman.  You have heard of instances where two living persons have been sealed for eternity?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
The Chairman.  According to the doctrines of your church, did that carry with it the right of earthly cohabitation?
Mr. Smith.  It was not so understood.
The Chairman.  Then, what is your -
Mr. Smith.  It does not carry that right.
Commentary:  More about this "sealing for eternity" business.  It carries no weight in the current earthly realm, only in eternity, or life after this life is where it has any affect.

The Chairman then moves on to another topic.  He is now interested in questioning Mr. Smith about polygamy and the doctrines of the church about this as found in the Book of Mormon.
The Chairman.  I hold in my hand the Book of Mormon.  I should like to have you look at it to see if it is the book.  I want you to identify the book.
Mr. Smith.  (after examining the book).  I recognize the book.
The Chairman.  That is the Book of Mormon?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir; that is the Book of Mormon.
The Chairman.  One of your -
Mr. Smith.  One of our editions.
The Chairman.  One of your authorized publications?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir; authorized publications.
The Chairman.  It is the revelation of Joseph Smith?
Mr. Smith.  Sir?
The Chairman.  A revelation to Joseph Smith?
Mr. Smith.  It was translated by Joseph Smith.
The Chairman.  Is the doctrine of polygamy taught in that revelation?
Mr. Smith.  Taught in it?
The Chairman.  Yes.
Mr. Smith.  It is emphatically forbidden in that book.
The Chairman.  In this book it is emphatically forbidden?
Mr. Smith.  It is.
The Chairman.  Do you recognize these words?  I read from page 132, verse 24:
24.  Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which things was abominable before me, saith the Lord.
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
The Chairman.  (Reading:)
25.  Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.
26.  Where, I the Lord God, will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.
27.  Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord, for there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife, and concubines he shall have none.
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
The Chairman.  You recognize that?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
The Chairman.  You recognize it as the teaching of your church?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.  Will the chairman please read a little further?
The Chairman.  Yes; I will be very glad to read the next verse:
28.  For I, the Lord God, delighteth in the chastity of women.  And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
Mr. Smith.  A little further, please.  There is still more in connection with that.
The Chairman.  (Reading:)
29.  Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
Mr. Smith.  That is right.  Still further, if you please.
The Chairman.  I do not want to read the whole book.
Mr. Smith.  You have to read the context to find out what it means.
The Chairman.  I will allow you to read it in explanation.
Mr. Smith.  If you will be kind enough to pass me the book I will do so.
The Chairman.  Yes; in a moment.  Was that doctrine overruled or annulled by the revelation of polygamy?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir.
The Chairman.  It was not?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir.  If you will be kind enough to let me have the book, I will show you.
The Chairman.  I want to know when the doctrine of the Mormon bible was repudiated.
Mr. Smith.  It is not the Mormon bible.  It is the Book of Mormon.
The Chairman.  Well, the Book of Mormon.  You know what I mean.  When was that repudiated or modified in any way, and by whom?
Mr. Smith.  If you will permit me, I will read a little further.
The Chairman.  Certainly.
Mr. Smith.  It is this:
29.  Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed by the land for their sakes.
30.  For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.
Mr. Smith.  All you need to do, sir, is to read the whole thing, and it explains itself.  The revelation to Joseph Smith does not repeal this.  It is simply a commandment of the Lord to him, and received by him and accepted by him to enter into plural marriage by His law and by His commandment and not by their own volition.
The Chairman.  Then you construe that which you have read as the commandment of the Lord to practice polygamy when -
Mr. Smith.  He commands it.
The Chairman.  When He commands it.
Mr. Smith.  That is exactly what the words say.
Commentary:  I may be mistaken here, but it appears from this that the Chairman thought he had a point of emphasis to show that the church believes in two different doctrines:  1)  The doctrine of polygamy as taught in the church now (and formerly) and 2) The doctrine of only marrying one woman, as taught in the Book of Mormon.  He makes a special emphasis on the book to make sure that everyone knows this is an authentic copy, produced and santioned by the church.  Then he reads where it says only one wife is allowed.  Well, if true, it means that the current church has gone terribly astray.  Mr. Smith had probably seen this scripture many times before, and was well prepared for this and just had him read further on.  After doing this, the Chairman was probably a little disappointed.  Oh well.  I guess there's an answer for everything and the scriptures can be made to say whatever you believe in.

Senator Dubois then questions Mr. Smith about revelations he has received.  I put this in only because it seems to clarify his position concerning previous explanations on the subject.
Senator Dubois.  Have you received any revelation from God, which has been submitted by you and the apostles to the body of the church in their semiannual conference, which revelation has been sustained by that conference through the upholding of their hands?
Mr. Smith.  Since when?
Senator Dubois.  Since you became president of the church.
Mr. Smith.  No, sir; none whatever.
Senator Dubois.  Individual members of the church can receive individual revelations, can they not?
Mr. Smith.  If I may be permitted, the word "revelation" is used very vaguely here all the time.  No man can get revelations at his will.  If a man is prayerful and earnest in his desire and lives a righteous life and he desires information and intelligence, he will inquire of the Lord, and the Lord will manifest to him through the presence and influence of his Spirit, his mind, and his will.  That would be a revelation to that individual.
The Chairman.  What is the answer to the question?
Senator McComas.  Is not that an answer?
Senator Foraker.  I think it is an intelligent answer, and a very satisfactory one.
Senator McComas.  It seems to me it is full.
The Chairman.  I want to hear what the question was.  Mr. Reporter, will you please read it? (the question is read).
Mr. Smith.  I think I have answered that.
The Chairman.  Very well; if you think that is an answer.
Senator Dubois.  Have you received any individual revelations yourself, since you became president of the church under your own definition, even, of a revelation?
Mr. Smith.  I cannot say that I have.
Senator Dubois.  Can you say that you have not?
Mr. Smith.  No; I cannot say that I have not.
Senator Dubois.  Then you do not know whether you have received any such revelation as you have described, or whether you have not?
Mr. Smith.  Well, I can say this:  That if I live as I should in the line of my duties, I am susceptible, I think, of the impressions of the spirit of the Lord upon my mind at any time, just as any good Methodist or any other good church member might be.  And so far as that is concerned, I say yes; I have had impressions of the Spirit upon my mind very frequently, but they are not in the sense revelations.
The Chairman.  Senator, do you think it is important to pursue that farther?
Senator Dubois.  No.
Commentary:  Having two other senators on the committee put the chairman in his place appears to read slightly funny.  Besides that, Senator Dubois' questioning of Mr. Smith further reinforces what had been previously testified to; namely, that there are no new revelations from God to Mr. Smith, or anything that Mr. Smith would consider a revelation.  He does, however, qualify this slightly by saying that he has frequently had impressions from the Spirit.

Mr. Tayler then starts down the path of the endowment oath with Mr. Smith.  This was really talked about previously with him, so this is new ground.

Mr. Tayler.  I wish to ask two questions.  Mr. Smith, something has been said about an endowment oath.  I do not want to go into that subject or to inquire of you what it is, but whatever oath or obligation has been taken by those who have been admitted to the church, at whatever stage it is taken, is the same now that it has been for years?
Mr. Smith.  It is the same that it has always been.
Mr. Tayler.  It is the same that it has always been?
Mr. Smith.  Yes; so far as I know.
Mr. Tayler.  No other oath is taken now than heretofore?
Mr. Smith.  We do not take oaths unless we are forced to take them.
Mr. Tayler.  You have known them [the endowment ceremony] for forty years or more?
Mr. Smith.  I have been more or less qcquainted with them for a great many years.
Commentary:  These were easy, "sfotball" type questions.

Mr. Worthington then questions Mr. Smith and it comes up that Mr. Smith had a conversation with George Teasdale about his plural marriage standing.  Mr. Tayler gets a little anxious about this and says:  "I should like to have him tell what the conversation of Apostle Teasdale was, in explanation."  He makes this same request twice.
Mr. Smith.  I will try to tell it as nearly as possible as he told it to me.  He informed me that at the time he married Marian Scoles he was under the impression that he had not a legal wife living.  That is what he told me.
Mr. Worthington.  Did he go into the particulars of it to tell you what were his relations to his first wife and why he supposed he had no other wife living at that time?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, to some extent.
Mr. Worthington.  I understand it is desired that you should state what he told you, so far as you can recollect it.
Mr. Smith.  He told me - it was like one of the cases spoken of by the Chairman here - it was a case in which an elderly lady, who was deormed, but who had been a housekeeper in his family for a number of years before his first wife died, had been sealed to him for eternity, with the understanding that they were not to be husband and wife, and were not husband and wife, and never had been at all.  And he was under the impression that she was not his wife in a legal sense and that therefore he was at liberty to marry Marian Scoles.  He told me that when he discovered -
Mr. Worthington.  Did he tell you how he discovered it?
Mr. Smith.  Yes.
Mr. Worthington.  Tell us.
Mr. Smith.  He said he sold a piece of property, and when he came to give the title to the property the person purchasing it demanded that his wife sign the deed with him.  The law of Utah requires that a man and his wife shall sign a deed of coveyance.  And he informed the person that he did not have a wife, but he was reputed to have a wife.  He went to a lawyer and informed his attorney of his status and condition and the attorney informed him that she would be construed as his legal wife, she having been sealed to him for eternity after his first wife's death.
Mr. Worthington.  I understand that the first wife, the one to whom it appears he was legally married, was an old lady, deformed?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  And they had been sealed for eternity?
Mr. Smith.  For eternity.
Mr. Worthington.  And that the relation of husband and wife had never existed between them?
Mr. Smith.  It had never existed between them.
Commentary:  If true, this means that the supposed plural wife of Apostle George Teasdale was nothing more than a woman to whom he was sealed for eternity only and he had never cohabitated with her ("relation of husband and wife had never existed").  In the mind of the committee this should be chalked up as nothing more than a religious binding that in no way interferes with or breaks the law of the land or the state.  It may be "different ," or "weird," or possibly just classified as religious; but, this cannot be construed as being illegal or against the law ... at least from my point of view.

Mr. Smith then goes on to say that Mr. Teasdale obtained a divorce from this woman on the basis of counsel from the attorney.  He therefore obtained a divorce from a woman he was never really married to in the eyes of the state even though it shouldn't have been necessary to do so.
Senator Depew.  As new revelations are received, are they embodied in the new edition of the Book of Mormon?
Mr. Smith.  No revelations that are received are put in the Book of Mormon - none whatever.  The Book of Mormon is a complete work in itself.  In the book the Doctrine and Covenants, if the Lord should reveal His mind to His people and it should be accepted by His people in the way that He has appointed, it would then become a matter to be added to the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.
Commentary:  Thee it is; plain as day.  If any new revelations are received, approved, and sustained by the church membership, they will be added to the Doctrine and Covenants.  Therefore, no new revelations in the D&C indicate no new written revelations received by the prophet, or head of the church, as given by the Lord.  This has plainly been admitted to by the current president of the church (in 1904), and if we fast-forward to the current day, we know that 1976 was the last time new revelations were added to the D&C (Section 137 from 1836 and Section 138 from 1918).  There is nothing new beyond that, unless you count the 1978 revelation which wasn't written, but was included as Official Declaration #2 (Official Declaration #1 is the manifesto issued by Wilford Woodruff from 1890).  Neither of the Official Declarations is considered a written revelation, therefore they were not given a section number in the D&C; however, both of them were sustained in a General Conference of the church, so it was revelation sustained without the written part.  Kind of interesting.

Senator Depew.  Does the Mormon bible include the New Testament?
Mr. Smith.  Yes, sir.  I should like to state for the information of the Senator who makes the inquiry that we have no bible except the Christian Bible.  King James' translation is the translation that we have accepted as the standard work of the church.
Commentary:  The term "Mormon Bible" is used by those who are ignorant, or possibly combative, of Mormon religious doctrines.  They use the term to specifically refer to the Book of Mormon.  It is inferred from this statement, that the Mormons have no other Bible; however, Mr. Smith states for all to hear (and read) that the LDS Church uses the KJV translation of the Old and New Testaments just like other Christian churches.

At the end of the examination of Mr. Smith, three (3) sections from the codification of the State law of Utah in 1898, are read into the record.  The sections are 2848, 2849, and 2850.  This is in addition to an earlier one read (section 2833).  Here's a quick summary of these sections:
2833:  Illegitimate children can inherit from their parents as if they were legitimate children.
2848:  Children from polygamous and bigamous marriages are included in section 2833's definition of illegitimate children, except as specifically defined otherwise in the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887.
2849:  Inheritance trials decided in the Territory of Utah can be retried under the state laws if they were decided before March 1897.
2850:  Polygamous children born prior to January 4, 1896 are legitimate and are uncluded with the seciton 2833 rules.

Then included is a court case from the Supreme Court of Utah ruling that section 2849 is unconstitutional (June 28, 1897).

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