Twenty Three "Denials"

1 - 1835

“General Assembly,” Messenger and Advocate 1 (August 1835) 2: 162. 1835 Doctrine and Covenants Section CI (101). 1844 Doctrine and Covenants Section 109. 

“Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”

2 - 1837 May

Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate (Kirtland, Ohio), May 1837, page 511.

“That we will have no fellowship whatsoever with any Elder belonging to the quorums of the Seventies who is guilty of polygamy or any offence of the kind...”

3 - 1837 Nov

[Editorial,] Elder’s Journal, 1 (November 1837), 28.

“7th. Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one?”

[Answer in next issue.]

4 - 1837 Nov 29

Kirtland Elder’s Quorum Record, 1836-1841, edited by Lyndon W. Cook and Milton V. Backman, Jr. (Provo, Utah: Grandin Book Company, 1985), 35.

“the charge that was preferred before the quorum against Elder Sollomon [sic] Freeman by William Perry for the crime of polygamy was brought forward. Elder Freeman plead not gilty of the charge [.] [T]estimony for the Complainent came forward (Dexter Stilman) and Stated the Elder Freeman had a wife in Tollan township Co. of Berksheir in Mass. And it was told him there that he (E. Freeman) Came a way [without his] wife Elder Harlow Redfield Stated that when he and Elder Stilman went to See Elder Freeman. Elder Freeman ackno[w]loged that he come away and left his wife as was testified Elder Freeman ackno[w]loged before the quorum that he had left his first wife came away with and Soon Commenced living with another woman he further Stated he did not know but his first wife was yet living he further Stated he would not go acros [sic] the room to obtain a bill from her Elder Freeman Manifest a Car[e]less indifferent spirit.”

5 - 1838 July

[Editorial,] Elder’s Journal, 1 (July 1838), 43.

"Question 7th. Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one. [sic] Answer. No, not at the same time. But they believe that if their companion dies, they have a right to marry again. But we do disapprove of the custom which has gained in the world, and has been practised [sic] among us; to our great mortification, of marrying in five or six weeks, or even in two or three months after the death of their companion. We believe that due respect ought to be had, to the memory of the dead, and the feelings of both friends and children."

6 - 1838 Dec 16

Joseph Smith, Liberty, Missouri to Saints in Caldwell County, Missouri, December 16, 1838, published in Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002), 419-20.

“We say again unto you we are innocent of these things they have represented us falsely Was it for committing adultery, we are aware that false slander has gone abroad for it has been reiterated in our ears. These are falsehoods also. Renegadoes, mormon dissenters are running through the world and spreading various foul and libelous reports against us thinking thereby to gain the friendship of the world because they knew that we are not of the world and that the world hates us; therefore they make a tool of these fellows...We have heard that it has been reported by some that some of us should have said that we not only dedicated our property but our families also to the Lord, and satan taking advantage of this has transfigured it into lasciviousness such as a community of wives which is an abomination in the sight of God. When we consecrate our property to the Lord it is to administer to the wants of the poor and needy for this is the law of God it is not for the purpose of the rich those who have no need and when a man consecrates or dedicates his wife and children he does not give them to his brother or to his neighbor for there is no such law for the law of God is thou shalt not commit adultery thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s wife. He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already in his heart...”

7 - 1841 Oct 15

An “Intelligent” Non-Mormon, “The Mormons,” reprinted in the Times and Seasons, 2 (October 15, 1841), 580.

“[There faith] is a faith which they say encourages no vice, nor immorality, nor departure from established laws and usages; neither polygamy, nor promiscuous intercourse, nor community of property.

8 - 1841 Dec 15

“Caution!” in the Times and Seasons, 3 (December 15, 1841), 636.

The Times and Seasons published an article cautioning members of the Church against Dr. William Campbell, alias Samuel Rogers, who joined Church and married a young lady: “It has since been ascertained that he has two others [sic] wives, one in Ohio, and the other in this State [Illinois]. He undoubtedly joined the church for a cloak to his iniquity.”

9 - 1842 Apr 10

The Papers of Joseph Smith, Volume 2, Journal, 1832-1842, edited by Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1992), 376 and History of the Church, volume 4, page 487.

“Preached in the grove after Elder Wm Law, had spoken, a[nd] pronounced a curse upon all Adulterers & fornicators & unvirtuous persons, & those who had made use of his name to carry on their iniquitous designs.”

10 - 1842 Jul-Aug

Affidavits and Certificates, Disproving the Statements and Affidavits Contained in John C. Bennett’s Letters. Nauvoo, Illinois, August 31, 1842; "Extra."



11 - 1842 Sep 1

“Inasmuch as the public mind has been…,” Times and Seasons, 3 (September 1, 1842), 909; see also 939.

“Inasmuch as the public mind has been unjustly abused through the fallacy of Dr. Bennett’s letters, we make an extract on the subject of marriage, showing the rule of the church on this important matter. The extract is from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and is the only rule allowed by the church.

‘All legal contracts of marriage made before a person is baptized into this church, should be held sacred and fulfilled. Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy; we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband neither is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband.’”

12 - 1842 Sep 24

“Extract of a Letter from Robert D. Foster,” The Wasp, 1 (September 24, 1842).

The Wasp published an extract of the letter from Robert D. Foster defending Joseph Smith and the Church against John C. Bennett’s charges.

13 - 1842 Oct 1

“On Marriage,” Times and Seasons, October 1, 1842, 939–940.

[After reprinting the 1835 D&C section CI are the following.]

“We the undersigned members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and residents of the city of Nauvoo, persons of families do hereby certify and declare that we know of no other rule or system of marriage than the one published from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and we give this certificate to show that Dr. J. C. Bennett’s “secret wife system” is a creature of his own make as we know of no such society in this place nor never did. [Signed] S. Bennett, N. K. Whitney, George Miller, Albert Pettey, Alpheus Cutler, Elias Higbee, Reynolds Cahoon, John Taylor, Wilson Law, E. Robinson, W. Woodruff, Aaron Johnson.”

“We the undersigned members of the ladies’ relief society, and married females do certify and declare that we know of no system of marriage being practiced in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints save the one contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and we give this certificate to the public to show that J. C. Bennett’s “secret wife system” is a disclosure of his own make. [Signed] Emma Smith, President, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Counsellor, Sarah M. Cleveland, Counsellor, Eliza R. Snow, Secretary, Mary C. Miller, Catharine Pettey, Lois Cutler, Sarah Higbee, Thirza Cahoon, Phebe Woodruff, Ann Hunter, Leonora Taylor, Jane Law, Sarah Hillman, Sophia R. Marks, Rosannah Marks, Polly Z. Johnson, Angeline Robinson, Abigail Works.”

14 - 1842 Oct 15

“For The Wasp,” The Wasp, 1 (October 15, 1842).

“…I challenge Bennett or any other man or woman to show a more examplary [sic] man beneath the sun, or cite to any time or place when he [Joseph] has violated the laws of his country, or when he has taught, either publicly or privately, by precept or example, any thing repugnant to the laws of the Holy Bible, or worthy of bonds or death. It can't be done; it is too well known that he stamps with indignation and contempt every species of vice—if it had not been so Bennett would have been with us yet.... Alas, none but the seduced join the seducer; those only who have been arraigned before a just tribunal for the same unhallowed conduct can be found to give countenance to any of his black hearted lies, and they, too, detest him for his seduction, these are the ladies to whom he refers his hearers to substantiate his assertions. Mrs. White, Mrs. Pratt, Niemans, Miller, Brotherton, and others. Those that belong to the church have had to bear the shame of close investigation as to their adulteries, and have been dealt with according to church order, in such case made and provided, in the Book of Covenant…”

15 - 1843 Mar 15

“H.R.” letter reprinted from the Boston Bee in the Times and Seasons, 4 (March 15, 1843), 143.

“...We are charged with advocating a plurality of wives, and common property. Now this is as false as the many other ridiculous charges which are brought against us. No sect have [sic] a greater reverence for the laws of matrimony, or the rights of private property, and we do what others do not, practice what we preach...”

16 - 1843 Oct 5

Joseph Smith's journal. Andrew H. Hedges, Alex D. Smith and Brent M Rogers, eds., The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals, Volume 3: May 1843–June 1844, Salt Lake City, Church Historian’s Press, 107.

[October 5, 1843] “walked up and down st. with scribe.—and gave inst[r]uction to try those who were preaching teaching or preaching the doctin of plurality of wives. On this Law. Joseph forbids it. And the practice ther[e]of—No man shall have but one wife”

17 - 1844 Feb 1

“NOTICE,” Times and Seasons, 5:423.

"As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching Polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan. This is to notify him and the Church in general, that he has been cut off from the church, for his iniquity; and he is further notified to appear at the Special Conference, on the 6th of April next, to make answer to these charges.

Joseph Smith

Hyrum Smith

Presidents of said Church."

18 - 1844 Mar 15

“To the brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ. . .” Times and Seasons 5 (March 15, 1844), 474.

“To the brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday [sic] Saints, living on China Creek, in Hancock County, Greeting:--Whereas brother Richard Hewitt has called on me to-day, to know my views concerning some doctrines that are preached in your place, and states to me that some of your elders say, that a man having a certain priesthood, may have as many wives as he pleases, and that doctrine is taught here: I say unto you that that man teaches false doctrine, for there is no such doctrine taught here; neither is there any such thing practiced here. And any man that is found teaching privately or publicly any such doctrine, is culpable, and will stand a chance to be brought before the High Council, and lose his license and membership also: therefore he had better beware what he is about... Neither has any elder any authority to preach any mysterious thing to any branch of the church unless he has a direct commandment from God to do so. Let the matter of the grand councils of heaven, and the making of gods, worlds, and devils entirely alone: for you are not called to teach any such doctrine—for neither you nor the people are capacitated to understand any such principles—less so to teach them. Your obedient servant, Hyrum Smith"

19 - 1844 Mar 20

“Virtue Will Triumph,” Nauvoo Neighbor 1 (March 20, 1844) [187].

“...wherefore, while the marriage bed, undefiled is honorable, let polygamy, bigamy, fornication [,] adultery, and prostitution, be frowned out of the hearts of honest men to drop in the gulf of fallen nature, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched!’ and let all the saints say, Amen!

Emma Smith, Prest.

M. Ells, Sec. pro tem.”

20 - 1844 Apr 8

Hyrum Smith, April 8, 1844, discourse not published. Transcript on Richard E. Turley, Jr. Selected Collections from the Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Provo, Utah: BYU Press, vol. 1, DVD # 1, volume 6, pages 1984-91. Found on page 11 of the addendum, which begins after page 2028.

"One reason I speak to the Elders is in consequence of the ten thousand reports which come to me from abroad – almost every foolish man runs to me, to enquire if such and such things are true, and how many spiritual wives a man may have. I know nothing about it; what he might call a spiritual wife, I should not know anything about. . .

"I wish the Elders of Israel to understand it is lawful for a man to marry a wife, but it is unlawful to have more, and God has not commanded any of you to have more. . . for a man to go into the world and talk of this spiritual wife system he is as empty as an open sepulcher. . .

"No spiritual wife doctrine ever originated with me. . .

"No man would have more than one wife or they will join together and beat him. If I was a woman, and got so fooled, I would hide my head. I give the sisters leave to wring his nose who teach such stuff. . .

"We don’t want bogus makers, counterfeiters, or preachers of the spiritual wife system."

21 - 1844 May 26

Joseph Smith quoted in Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, eds. The Words of Joseph Smith: Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourse of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980, 26, May 1844 (Sunday Morning), p.377.

“...Another indictment has been got up against me. It appears a holy prophet [William Law] has arisen up, and he has testified against me: the reason is, he is so holy...I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. I mean to live and proclaim the truth as long as I can. This new holy prophet (William Law) has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this. William Law testified before forty policemen, and the assembly room full of witnesses, that he testified under oath that he never had heard or seen or knew anything immoral or criminal against me...He swore under oath that he was satisfied that he was ready to lay down his life for me, and he swears that I have committed adultery. I wish the grand jury would tell me who they are—whether it will be a curse or blessing to me. I am quite tired of the fools asking me. A man asked me whether the commandment was given that a man may have seven wives; and now the new prophet has charged me with adultery. I never had any fuss with these men until that Female Relief Society brought out the paper against adulterers and adulteresses...and they rush away and leave the Church, and conspire to take away my life; and because I will not countenance such wickedness, they proclaim that I have been a true prophet, but that I am now a fallen prophet...Wilson Law also swears that I told him I was guilty of adultery. Brother Jonathan Dunham can swear to the contrary...I am innocent of all these charges, and you can bear witness of my innocent of all these charges, and you can bear witness of my innocence, for you know me yourselves...What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.

22 - 1844 Jun 10

CITY COUNCIL, REGULAR SESSION, June 8th, 1844. John S. Dinger ed. The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2011, 241; see also “EXTRA,” Nauvoo Neighbor, June 17, 1844.

“Councillor, H. Smith, ... referred to the revelation, read to the High Council of the Church, which has caused so much talk about a multiplicity of wives; that said revelation was in answer to a question concerning things which transpired in former days, and had no reference to the present time.”

23- 1844 Jun 10

CITY COUNCIL, REGULAR SESSION, June 8th, 1844. John S. Dinger ed. The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2011, 241; see also “EXTRA,” Nauvoo Neighbor, June 17, 1844.

"Mayor said. . . They make it a criminality for a man to have a wife on the earth while he has one in heaven, according to the keys of the Holy Priesthood. . .

"Mayor said he had never preached the revelation in private, as he had in public—had not taught it to the highest anointed in the church in private, which statement many present confirmed, that on enquiring concerning the passage in the resurrection concerning “they neither marry nor are given in marriage, &c., he received for answer, men in this life must marry in view of eternity, otherwise they must remain as angels, or be single in heaven, which was the amount of the revelation referred to. . ."