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Despite all that had happened through the end of June 1843, Joseph had never written down the revelation regarding plural marriage. Nor had Joseph spoken publicly about the doctrine involving possible plural marriage.
That was about to change.
Emma had demanded something of Joseph in June 1843. In response, Joseph had packed up Emma and the children. The family traveled about 200 miles northwest to the home of Emma’s sister, Elizabeth Hale Wasson. The women Joseph had covenanted with and the burden of Church leadership were left behind in Nauvoo.
We’ll never know how long Joseph intended to remain with the Wassons. Sheriff Reynolds of Jackson County, Missouri, and Constable Wilson, of Carthage, Illinois, arrested Joseph. They pistol-whipped Joseph, tearing him away from Emma. The scene was reminiscent of the horror at Far West, when Joseph’s family was separated from him at sword-point and he was dragged to prison.
By the beginning of July, Joseph was back in Nauvoo, protected by the strong city charter Dr. Bennett had crafted. Emma’s relief was short-lived. She was once again back in Nauvoo, with all the stresses and individuals that had caused her grief the month before. She had made a demand of Joseph, which God had commanded Joseph to grant her. It seems she planned to campaign until her promised relief was granted.
Unfortunately, we do not have an account of what Emma had been promised, or the aftermath. William Clayton would not record his version of the story until decades later. Clayton’s eventual statement was clearly to counter Emma’s sons, who had come to Utah to proselyte among the Utah Saints. The Smith boys insisted their father had never taught or practiced polygamy. 
The Revelation is Written
William Clayton, a tithing clerk and practicing polygamist by July 1843, wrote a letter in 1871 documenting the revelation. Joseph had dictated the revelation on plural marriage to him on Wednesday, July 12, 1843. The revelation in question is now Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants.  From the wording of the 1871 letter, it is clear William Clayton was being asked to refute the claims of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS), headed by Joseph’s sons.
Joseph’s sons and other RLDS missionaries denied the revelation on plural marriage described by Clayton could have ever been written during Joseph Smith’s life. Such a revelation, they asserted, should have been recorded by Joseph’s personal secretary, James Whitehead. James Whitehead had aligned himself with the RLDS Church after Joseph’s death. Interestingly, Whitehead told the Smith brothers in 1864 that their mother, Emma, had participated in ceremonies where other women covenanted with Joseph Smith on several occasions that Whitehead had witnessed.
William Clayton would write in 1871:
“I did write the revelation on celestial marriage given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, on the 12th of July, 1843.
“When the revelation was written there was no one present except the Prophet Joseph, his brother Hyrum and myself. It was written in the small office upstairs in the rear of the brick store which stood on the banks of the Mississippi river. It took some three hours to write it. Joseph dictated sentence by sentence, and I wrote it as he dictated. After the whole was written Joseph requested me to read it slowly and carefully, which I did, and he then pronounced it correct… The original was destroyed by Emma Smith.” 
Two years later, on February 16, 1874, Clayton would produce a more expansive version of the story, sworn to before John T. Caine, notary public, in Salt Lake City:
“On the morning of the 12th of July, 1843, Joseph and Hyrum Smith came into the office in the upper story of the ‘brick store,’ on the bank of the Mississippi River. They were talking on the subject of plural marriage. Hyrum said to Joseph, ‘If you will write the revelation on celestial marriage, I will take and read it to Emma, and I believe I can convince her of its truth, and you will hereafter have peace.’
“Joseph smiled and remarked, ‘You do not know Emma as well as I do.’
“Hyrum repeated his opinion and further remarked, ‘The doctrine is so plain, I can convince any reasonable man or woman of its truth, purity or heavenly origin,’ or words to their effect.
“Joseph then said, ‘Well, I will write the revelation and we will see.’ He then requested me to get paper and prepare to write. Hyrum very urgently requested Joseph to write the revelation by means of the Urim and Thummim, but Joseph, in reply, said he did not need to, for he knew the revelation perfectly from beginning to end.
“Joseph and Hyrum then sat down and Joseph commenced to dictate the revelation on celestial marriage, and I wrote it, sentence by sentence, as he dictated. After the whole was written, Joseph asked me to read it through, slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct. He then remarked that there was much more that he could write, on the same subject, but what was written was sufficient for the present.
“Hyrum then took the revelation to read to Emma. Joseph remained with me in the office until Hyrum returned. When he came back, Joseph asked him how he had succeeded. Hyrum replied that he had never received a more severe talking to in his life, that Emma was very bitter and full of resentment and anger.
“Joseph quietly remarked, ‘I told you you did not know Emma as well as I did.’ Joseph then put the revelation in his pocket, and they both left the office.” 
Joseph and Hyrum Smith were long dead by 1874. Emma Smith would die in April 1879, and William Clayton passed away seven months later. Clayton’s statements in the 1870s have been interpreted to mean Emma was jealous of the women with whom Joseph had covenanted. Yet the statement supports a reading that Emma was concerned about the risk to Joseph’s life. The contemporary record suggests Emma also had financial concerns.
The records for July 12, 1843, indicate “Hyrum took the revelation and read it to Emma. I directed Clayton to make out deeds of certain lots of land to Emma and the children.”  With Joseph marrying multiple young women, who could potentially bear any number of children, Emma would have an understandable concern about the property available to sustain herself and her children.
On July 13th, the journal record says “I was in conversation with Emma most of the day…” On the 14th, the record says “Spent the day at home.” 
Brigham Young claimed Emma had the original manuscript of the revelation burned. However Bishop Whitney had reportedly made a copy while he had possession of the revelation. In 1867 Emma reportedly told Elder Jason W. Briggs that she had never seen the purported revelation and had not burned the thing. This was also reported by Edmund Briggs. In 1863 Briggs had been one of the first RLDS missionaries sent to convince the Utah Mormons of the error of polygamy. 
Both Brigham’s story and the Briggs’s report could be true if Emma had refused to look at the written words and if Joseph had been the one to burn it, at her request.  Unfortunately for Jason Briggs’s assertion that the revelation was created by Brigham Young in 1852, there are many other accounts attesting to the existence of the revelation in Nauvoo during the summer of 1843.
It might have been best if all copies of this version of the revelation had been burned. However a copy was made of that particular version of the revelation, a version including very specific information regarding Emma and the events of summer 1843. 
Hyrum Begins to Share the Revelation
Almost immediately after Hyrum was himself introduced to the doctrine of plural marriage at the end of May 1843, it appears he began to officiate in marrying others. 
Howard Coray tells of an early instance where Hyrum explained the revelation:
“About the 1st of July of , my wife had a peculiar dream and, believing that it had significance, she desired me to accompany her to Brother Hyrum Smith’s for the purpose of getting him to interpret it.
“We went the next Sunday to see him, but having company, he was not at liberty to say much to us; he said, however, if we would come the next Sunday, he would interpret the dream, but wished to see us by ourselves, when there was no other one present.
“Accordingly the next Sunday we went, but found as many at his house as the Sunday previous. He said to us, come again the next Sunday and probably it will be different; but in a day or so he called at our house, and invited us to take a ride with him in his buggy. We accordingly did so.
“When we had gotten far enough out of town to converse safely, without attracting attention or being understood, he commenced rehearsing the revelation on celestial marriage [D&C 132] and carefully went through with the whole of it, then reviewed it, explaining such portions of it as he deemed necessary. This was on the 22nd of July, 1843.
“The dream was in harmony with the revelation and was calculated to prepare her mind for its reception. She never doubted the divinity of it, nor rebelled against it. And while still in the buggy, Brother Hyrum asked my wife if she was willing to be sealed to me. After a moment’s thought, she answered yes. He then asked me if I wished to be sealed. I replied in the affirmative and after telling us that he knew by the spirit of the Lord that it was His will for us to be sealed, he performed the ceremony, then and there.” 
Hyrum and the High Council
On Saturday, August 12, 1843, Hyrum Smith was in a meeting of the Nauvoo Stake High Council when the conversation turned to marriage. Hyrum, apparently still of the impression that “The doctrine is so plain, I can convince any reasonable man or woman of its truth,” excused himself to obtain the copy of the revelation.
Returning to the High Council, Hyrum proceeded to read the revelation. James Allred, David Fullmer, Thomas Grover, Aaron Johnson, Austin Cowles, and Leonard Soby documented the meeting in letters and affidavits.
Perhaps Hyrum’s own faith in Joseph, supported by the faithfulness of individuals he had interacted with prior to August 12, led him to believe that everyone would be able to overcome the resistance he himself had towards the doctrine, arising from his efforts to put down spiritual wifery.
Unfortunately, the men of the High Council were the same men who had investigated the instances of illicit intercourse in May 1842. The women who testified against John C. Bennett and Chauncey Higbee had repeatedly mentioned that Bennett or Higbee or even William Smith, Joseph’s apostle-brother, had claimed Joseph taught about illicit intercourse, but that the women had subsequently learned that Joseph taught no such thing.
Now Hyrum, Joseph’s older brother, was blithely claiming that Joseph had indeed received a revelation that a man could have multiple wives.
Austin Cowles was one of those in the High Council that day who would leave the Church as a result of Hyrum’s reading of the revelation. The following year, Austin wrote:
“Forasmuch as the public mind hath been much agitated by a course of procedure in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by a number of persons declaring against certain doctrines and practices therein, (among whom I am one,) it is but meet that I should give my reasons, at least in part, as a cause that hath led me to declare myself.
“In the latter part of the summer, 1843, the Patriarch, Hyrum Smith, did in the High Council, of which I was a member, introduce what he said was a revelation given through the Prophet; that the said Hyrum Smith did essay to read the said revelation in the said Council, that according to his reading there was contained the following doctrines;
“1st, the sealing up of persons to eternal life, against all sins, save that of sheding innocent blood or of consenting thereto;
“2nd, the doctrine of a plurality of wives, or marrying virgins; that ‘David and Solomon had many wives, yet in this they sinned not save in the matter of Uriah.’
“This revelation with other evidence, that the aforesaid heresies were taught and practiced in the Church; determined me to leave the office of first counsellor to the president of the Church at Nauvoo, inasmuch as I dared not to teach or administer such laws.” 
Austin’s experience hearing the testimonies of the women who had been seduced by Dr. Bennett and his “Strikers, for we know not what else to call them”  appears to have informed his rejection of the revelation, though he may have been a Striker hiumself.  Austin was perhaps more troubled that “sealed” persons could commit any manner of sin save murder and be assured of eternal life. Yet Austin claimed to believe the new doctrines Joseph had revealed in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Covenants.
Hyrum was apparently unaware of the poor reception the revelation had received in the High Council. He took the revelation to William Law, like Hyrum an Assistant President of the Church. Upon request, Hyrum left the revelation with William Law to study. William’s wife, Jane Silverthorn [Law], also studied the revelation that night. Like Austin Cowles, William and Jane Silverthorn [Law] produced affidavits opposing plural marriage.
Austin and the Laws would eventually contribute to an opposition newspaper, named the Nauvoo Expositor. Even having determined that Joseph’s alleged teachings on plural marriage had to be stopped, those behind the Nauvoo Expositor affirmed their belief in the doctrines Joseph had originally taught:
“We all verily believe, and many of us know of a surety, that the religion of the Latter Day Saints, as originally taught by Joseph Smith, which is contained in the Old and New Testaments, Book of Covenants, and Book of Mormon, is verily true; and that the pure principles set forth in those books, are the immutable and eternal principles of Heaven, and speaks a language which, when spoken in truth and virtue, sinks deep into the heart of every honest man. — Its precepts are invigorating, and in every sense of the word, tend to dignify and ennoble man’s conceptions of God and his attributes [sic]. It speaks a language which is heard amidst the roar of Artillery, as well as in the silence of midnight: it speaks a language understood by the incarcerated spirit, as well as he who is unfettered and free…” 
In 1866 Brigham Young would say of Hyrum, “although he was just as honest as an Angel, and as full of integrity as the Gods… he had not that ability which Joseph possessed to see and understand men as they were.”  The cold reading of the revelation in a hot room to skeptical men was a massive mistake, for which Hyrum would pay with his life.
Joseph’s Secret Campaign
Unlike Hyrum, Joseph did not teach about the revelation in public settings. As Danel Bachman wrote, Joseph introduced the doctrine of plural marriage “primarily through private and personal interviews.” 
Aroet Hale tells of one gathering, and how Joseph explained the revelation to a group of “regular” saints:
“The Prophet Joseph was visiting at our house on one occasion and spent the evening. My father was a bishop of one of the wards.  With the Prophet’s consent, father invited in his counselors and a few of the good old staunch brethren.
“Among the few was Uncle Henry Harriman, one of the first seven presidents of the seventies, and Jonathan H. Holmes, and several others of fathers old stand-by friends. This circumstance took place at my father’s house, Jonathan H. Hale, bishop.  This was the first time that our parents had ever heard the Prophet speak on the subject of celestial marriage.
“During the evening, the Prophet spoke to Uncle Henry Harriman. Said he, ‘Henry, your wife Clarisa [sic] is barren; she never will have any children. Upon your shoulders rests great responsibilities. You have a great work to perform in the temple of our God. You are the only Harriman that will ever join this Church.’ He even told the lineage that he was of and told him that he must take another wife and raise up a family to assist him in his great work, and to honor and revere his name.
“The Prophet also told Aunt Clarisa [sic] that if she would consent to this marriage and not try to hinder Henry, that she should share a portion of the glory that would be derived from this marriage. Uncle Henry Harriman was finally convinced that the command that the Prophet Joseph had given him was right. In a short time, he took a young woman [Eliza Elizabeth Jones] and was sealed by the Prophet.  He brought her to the valleys. They have raised a family of children. They have done a good work in the St. George temple.” 
Brian C. Hales includes many other such accounts in his book, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy. However not all who claimed they “knew” Joseph Smith taught plural marriage should be presumed to accurately reflect Joseph’s teachings. We see this in the case of Orange Wight, teenage son of Apostle Lyman Wight. Orange became aware of “plural marriage” in 1841, discovering that John Higbee  had two wives.  When Orange was almost 80 years old, he would write:
“The next I noticed when in company with the young folks the girls were calling one another spirituals… when at Nauvoo in the winter of 1841 and 1842, I became fully initiated. 
“Now although [I] would not be 20 until 29 November, 1843, I concluded to look about and try to pick up one or more of the young ladies before they were all gone. So I commenced keeping company with Flora Woodworth, daughter of Lucian Woodworth (called the Pagan Prophet).
“I was walking along the street with Flora near the Prophet’s residence when he, Joseph, drove, up in his carriage, stopped and spoke to I and Flora and asked us to get in the carriage and ride with him. He opened the door for us and when we were seated opposite to him he told the driver to drive on. We went to the [Nauvoo] temple lot and many other places during the afternoon and then he drove to the Woodworth house and we got out and went in.
“After we got in the house Sister Woodworth took me in another room and told me that Flora was one of Joseph’s wives. I was aware or believed that Eliza R. Snow and the two Partridge girls were his wives but was not informed about Flora. But now Sister Woodworth gave me all the information necessary, so I knew Joseph believed and practiced polygamy.”
Orange Wight would go on to marry two cousins of Marietta Carter [Holmes], deceased wife of Jonathan Harriman Holmes. But Orange and his father settled in Texas rather than joining with the “Brighamites.” Orange Wight had not spent decades living in the shadow of the leading apostles. It is likely that much of what Orange reported as plural marriage, in his 1903 letter to Joseph I. Earl, was actually connected with John C. Bennett’s spiritual wifery.
Further, the conversation Orange had with Sister Woodworth would have informed Joseph that enemies knew about Eliza Snow, the Partridges, and Flora. Within days all four women would leave Joseph’s circle.
Brigham Young Explains the Doctrine
On July 9, 1843, before Joseph had received D&C 132, Brigham Young reportedly had a discussion with a professor from a Southern university. The professor asked if Joseph Smith had more wives than one (as Dr. Bennett had widely claimed). Brigham admitted that he had more than one wife, likely speaking of his own status as a remarried widower.  To explain, Brigham asked if the gentleman believed the Bible and the resurrection:
“I then asked him if he believed parents and children, husbands and wives woud recognize each other in the resurrection. He said he did.
“Also if parents and children would have the same filial feeling towards each other which they have here; and he said he believed they would, and that their affections would be more acute that they were in this life.
“I then said, ‘We see in this life, that amongst Christians, ministers and all classes of men, a man will marry a wife, and have children by her; she dies, and he marries another, and then another, until men have had as many as six wives, and each of them bear children. This is considered all right by the Christian world, inasmuch as a man has but one at a time.
“ ‘Now, in the resurrection this man and all his wives and children are raised from the dead; what will be done with those women and children, and who will they belong to? and if the man is to have but one, which one in the lot shall he have?’
“The professor replied, he never thought of the question in this light before, and said he did not believe those women and children would belong to any but those they belonged to in this life.
“ ‘Very well,’ said I, ‘you consider that to be a pure, holy place in the presence of God, angels, and celestial beings, would the Lord permit a thing to exist in heaven that is evil?
“ ‘And if it is right for a man to have several wives and children in heaven at the same time, is it not an inconsistent doctrine that a man should have several wives and children by those wives at the same time, here in this life, as was the case with Abraham and many of the old Prophets? Or is it any more sinful to have several wives at a time than at different times?’
“[The university professor answered,] ‘I cannot see that it would be any more inconsistent to have more wives in this life than in the next, or to have five wives at one time than at five different times. I feel to acknowledge it is a correct principle and a Bible doctrine, and I cannot see anything inconsistent in it.’ ” 
This account of Brigham’s early explanation of plural marriage helps us see that he originally saw plural marriage as part of an over-arching marriage construct. Other than the argument that a man should be permitted to have more than one living wife, Brigham’s explanation was largely consistent with modern Mormon ideas about sealing spouses together.
For those of us attempting to understand the revelation now, it is easy to get caught up in the belief that plural marriage was about established men gathering up their pick of the available attractive women. But if we look at these early explanations from Joseph and Hyrum and Brigham, plural marriage was explained as part of a complete Celestial marriage system. Celestial marriage allowed all members of a family to be joined together. As seen with Henry Harriman, the links establish were not only between a man and his wife, but to the future progeny of them both. Beyond the examples included here, many more exist, most of which are contained in Chapter 29 of Brian C. Hales’s book, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy.
We also see Brigham making the case that plural wives should bear children, a point on which he and Emma would disagree after Joseph’s death. But Joseph was not dead yet. Carthage was still a year in his future. The actions and decisions during this last year of Joseph’s life would have a profound impact on the way Joseph’s followers continued Joseph’s legacy.
Revealing the Revelation – Notes
From the time Emma was sealed to Joseph, the doctrine of eternal sealing, and the associated doctrine of plural marriage, began to spread among the saints. Joseph and others had previously confined their teachings to secretive meetings with individuals. This new era involved larger meetings, where the underlying reasons for the doctrine were explained.
It appears Emma was primarily concerned about the threat plural marriage posed to Joseph’s life, and secondarily concerned about temporal security for herself and her children.
Emma would have happily terminated all open discussion of plural marriage. She clearly believed plural wives had no business producing children. But the teachings of Joseph and Brigham make it clear that plural wives should be permitted to have children.
Finally, Hyrum’s action in sharing the revelation with the Nauvoo High Council led to disaffection of several prominent leaders. Hyrum’s decision to share the written form of the revelation with William and Jane Law similarly led to rejection and disbelief. Hyrum’s unwarranted trust in high-ranking Mormon men would lead to his death.
Dr. Bennett had created an environment where many in the United States were informed of possible sexual shenanigans in Joseph’s Nauvoo. When the revelation fell on unbelieving ears, all of Dr. Bennett’s past accusations were revived in the minds of those horrified by the prospect of plural marriage. The Nauvoo Expositor would be the fuse to the powder keg of suspicion Bennett had created. When Joseph and others made the decision in the summer of 1844 to destroy the press used to print the Nauvoo Expositor, the fuse was lit.
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 Critics of D&C 132 claim James Whitehead, Joseph’s secretary, should have written it down, rather than a simple tithing clerk. However these critics tend to ignore James Whitehead’s 1864 assertion that he had witnessed several sealings where Emma participated in ceremonies where Joseph covenanted with other women.
 D&C 132.
 Joseph F. Smith, Jr., Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage, p. 77.
 Andrew Jensen, The Historical Record 6 [May 1887): pp. 224, 225–226
 History of the Church 5:507.
 History of the Church 5:509.
 RLDS History of the Church 3:351–352; The Messenger of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 1 [April 1875], p. 23. From the date, it appears Briggs’s testimony was published as a direct attack on Clayton’s 1874 account.
 When I separated from my first husband, my mother did not want to have to lie to my husband. So she would drop me off around the corner from whatever home I had arranged to shelter in that night, so she could honestly tell my abusive husband that she did not know where I was.
 Allegedly Joseph F. Smith or Joseph Fielding Smith later opined that the revelation in its entirety ought not to have been canonized, containing as it did these time-specific and embarrassing details regarding Emma Smith.
 One of these early sealings would show Hyrum’s lack of understanding. Even though Joseph had sealed Hyrum to the widowed Mercy Fielding [Thompson] for time, Hyrum had not understood that widows should be given the chance to be sealed to their beloved first husbands. So Hyrum sealed Parley P. Pratt to his wife, Mary Ann Frost [Sterns Pratt], a sealing Joseph would feel he had to cancel.
 Modern historians make a point of the fact that Austin’s daughter, Elvira Annie Cowles [Holmes] had covenanted with Joseph earlier that summer. However I do not know why Austin would have had any idea about Elvira’s sealing to Joseph.
 Brigham Young, Sermon, October 8, 1966, LDS Church Archives, cited in Gary Bergera, “Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841-44,” Dialogue, online 22 Mar 2014 at http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V38N03_13.pdf.
 Danel Bachman, A Study of the Mormon Practice of Plural Marriage before the Death of Joseph Smith, p. 176.
 Jonathan H. Hale was bishop of the Nauvoo 9th Ward after August 20, 1842, see The Nauvoo City Council and High Council Minutes, John S. Dinger editor, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 2011, pp. 422-423.
 Jonathan Harriman Holmes, Jonathan Harriman Hale, and Henry Harriman were three cousins from Massachusetts who joined the Church together and traveled to Kirtland in 1835. Holmes was one of Joseph’s bodyguards, husband of the ill-fated Marietta Carter, and “assigned” husband to Elvira Annie Cowles, who had been sealed to Joseph by the time this gathering took place. Clarissa Boynton Harriman, the woman who is described as being barren, was sister to Olive Boynton [Hale], wife of Bishop Jonathan Harriman Hale. Thus Clarissa’s inability to “raise up children” to the name of Harriman was a concern to many of those in attendance at this meeting.
 Eliza Elizabeth Jones was born in January 1830, making her at most 14 if Joseph performed a sealing ceremony between Eliza and Henry before Joseph’s death. Henry and Eliza were sealed in the Nauvoo temple in January 1846 and Eliza conceived her first child in the summer when she was 16 years old.
 This was John Somers Higbee, uncle to Chauncey Higbee and Francis Higbee. John Higbee is not identified as an early polygamist by either Gary Bergera or George D. Smith. John Higbee was likely involved in Bennett’s spiritual wifery rather than Joseph’s plural marriage. John Higbee is mentioned in heroic terms by Orange Wight’s 1904 letter for his protection and aid to the Wight family during the Missouri troubles of 1833 that prompted Joseph Smith to raise Zion’s Camp to come to the rescue.
 It is not clear if this means Orange became informed, or if it means he became an active member of the group involved in illicit intercourse. After Orange was “initiated” at age 18, he was sent away from Nauvoo on a mission under the supervision of two older missionaries.
 It Brigham was explaining that he, Brigham, had more than one wife, as he was a widower. Thus it would be natural for Brigham to explain that he expected to be united in heaven to both the woman who was his current wife, as well as the wonderful woman who had been his wife before her death. It seems highly unlikely that Brigham would tell a stranger that Joseph had more than one wife at this point in time.
 Watson, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, July 9, 1843, pp. 134-136.