1831 POLYGAMY REVELATION

Answering Dr. Clandestine:

A Response to the Anonymous LDS Historian

Pages 10-11 -- The 1831 Polygamy Revelation



As we examine the pamphlet, Jerald and Sandra Tanners Distorted View of Mormonism, it becomes very obvious that the author has not carefully read Mormonism-Shadow or Realty? or else he is deliberately misrepresenting its contents. It is perhaps more charitable to believe that he has only skimmed through the book. On page 3 of the pamphlet he says he felt like he was "enduring a Chinese water torture when I read the book," and on page 28 he says that our "extensive" use of emphasis "discourages reading each word or even every sentence and paragraph." At any rate, the author makes a very serious mistake when he accuses us of suppressing information concerning the 1831 revelation on polygamy. On pages 16-17 of his pamphlet, he makes this serious charge against us:

"Moreover, the attention of Lorenzo Snow's interrogators was upon the 1843 published revelation on polygamy, but there were earlier unpublished revelations concerning polygamy as far back as 1831. In 1831 a Mormon defector wrote that Joseph Smith had given a revelation concerning polygamy, and in 1861 an early Mormon wrote a letter to Brigham Young in which he gave the text of that revelation. The Tanners could not have been unaware of this when they published the revised Shadow-Reality in 1972, because such a revelation was referred to in the 1834 Mormonism Unvailed (which the Tanners quote from on page 58), in Helen Mar Whitney's Marriage as Taught by the Prophet Joseph, in the 1887 Historical Record (which they quote from on page 203), in the 1922 Essentials in Church History (which they quote from on page 31), in a 1970 article on the 'Manifesto' (which they quote from on page 231), and in the Journal of Discourses (virtually every volume of which is quoted by the Tanners).... Although the most conscientious and honest researcher can overlook pertinent sources of information, the repeated omissions of evidence by the Tanners suggest an intentional avoidance of sources that modify or refute their caustic interpretations of Mormon history."

If the author of Jerald and Sandra Tanner's Distorted View of Mormonism had taken the time to thoroughly read our book, he would never have made the serious error of accusing us of suppressing information on the 1831 revelation. On page 203 of Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? we give this information about the revelation:

"Just when and how the practice of plural marriage started in the Mormon Church has caused much controversy. There is evidence, however, to show that it was secretly practiced when the Church was in Kirtland, Ohio. In the introduction to Vol. 5 of Joseph Smith's History of the Church, the Mormon historian B. H. Roberts stated that the 'date in the heading of the Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, including the Plurality of Wives, notes the time at which the revelation was committed to writing, not the time at which the principles set forth in the revelation were first made known to the Prophet.' Fawn Brodie states that Joseph Fielding Smith told her "that a revelation foreshadowing polygamy had been written in 1831, but that it had never been published. In conformity with the church policy, however, he would not permit the manuscript, which he acknowledged to be in possession of the church library, to be examined.' (No Man Knows My History, page 184, footnote)" Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? p. 203)

Actually, the author of Jerald and Sandra Tanner's Distorted View of Mormonism could not possibly have picked a worse area to criticize. The claim that we suppressed knowledge concerning the 1831 revelation is about as far from the truth as it is possible to be. In fact, we have probably done more than anyone else to bring this revelation to light. We made a brief mention of the 1831 revelation in our book, Joseph Smith and Polygamy, which was published in 1967. We referred to it again in 1969 when we published The Mormon Kingdom, Vol. 1, and, as we have already shown, we mentioned it in Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? published in 1972. During all these years the Mormon leaders kept this revelation suppressed from their own people.
Some time after we published Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? Michael Marquardt, a young scholar who was very disturbed with the Church's policy of suppressing important records, became interested in doing research with regard to the 1831 revelation. He found that some Mormon scholars had copies of the revelation, but they had had to promise not to make any copies. Finally, Mr. Marquardt learned what appears to be the reason why the revelation was suppressed--i.e., that the revelation commanded the Mormons to marry the Indians to make them a "white" and "delightsome" people.
Those who are familiar with the Book of Mormon know that it teaches that the Indians were cursed by God with a dark skin. In Alma 3:6 we read that "the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression. . . " The Book of Mormon, however, promises that in the last days the Lamanites--i.e., the Indians--will repent and become "a white and delightsome people." (2 Nephi 30:6) Spencer W. Kimball, President of the Mormon Church, feels that the Indians are actually becoming a "white and delightsome people":

"I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today as against that of only fifteen years ago.... they are fast becoming a white and delightsome people.... they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised.... The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation... These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness....
"The day of the Lamanites has come.... today the dark clouds are dissipating."(Improvement Era, Dec. 1960, pp. 922-23)

President Kimball feels that the Indians are being made "white and delightsome" through the power of God, and he certainly would never recommend intermarriage with the Indians to make them white because he does not believe that the races should mix in marriage. The Salt Lake Tribune for September 8, 1976, quotes President Kimball as saying:

"'We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background, in somewhat the same economic and social and education background, and above all, the same religious background,' President Kimball said."

Because of the Mormon leader's feelings on intermarriage with darker races they have suppressed Joseph Smith's 1831 revelation on polygamy. It was only after a great deal of research that Michael Marquardt was able to obtain a typed copy of the revelation. Unlike the Mormon leaders, we felt that this revelation should be brought to light; therefore, we published it in full in the book Mormonism Like Watergate? in 1974. The most important verse of this revelation reads as follows:

"4 Verily, I say unto you, that the wisdom of man, in his fallen state, knoweth not the purposes and the privileges of my holy priesthood, but ye shall know when ye receive a fulness by reason of the anointing: For it is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome and just, for even now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles."

Even after our publication of the revelation in 1974, the Mormon leaders continued to suppress the revelation. Robert N. Hullinger made these comments in an unpublished manuscript: "Jerald and Sandra Tanner,... printed W. W. Phelps' version of a little-known 1831 revelation... Dr. Leonard Arrington, Church Historian of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-dlay Saints, Salt Lake City, confirmed the existence of the Phelps copy. In a telephone conversation on June 13,1975, he stated that the revelation may be released for scholarly study sometime in the future, but not yet." ("In Defense of God," typed copy, page 334, footnote 23)
Three years after our publication of the revelation, the Mormon scholar Donna Hill, finally published the important part about the Indians: "'. . .For it is my will that, in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome and just..."' (Joseph Smith--The First Mormon, New York, 1977, p. 340)

For more documentation and verification of the 1831 revelation on polygamy see our book, Mormonism Like Watergate? pp. 6-14)

Now, in the light of this information, how can Dr. Clandestine honestly accuse us of suppressing anything concerning the 1831 revelation? Was it not his own church that kept the revelation hidden from its members? It is also extremely interesting to note that although Clandestine refers to the 1831 revelation on pages 16 and 17 of his rebuttal, he does not tell us about the revelation commanding the Mormons to marry Indians to make them become "white, delightsome and just." Why does he suppress this information? He does give a reference to the letter of "Ezra Booth in Ohio Star 8 December 1831" in footnote 12, but he does not tell us what Booth says and is probably well-aware of the fact that most people will never see this newspaper. This is only one example of D r. Clandestine's "repeated omissions of evidence." Fortunately, the reader does not need to remain in the dark concerning this matter because we have reprinted Booth's statement in Mormonism Like Watergate? The important portion of it reads as follows:

"..... it has been made known by revelation, that it will be pleasing to the Lord, should they form a matrimonial alliance with the Natives;... It has been made known to one, who has left his wife in the state of N.Y. that he is entirely free from his wife, and he is at liberty to take him a wife from among the Lamanites." (Ohio Star, Dec. 8, 1831)

Dr, Clandestine's work on the 1831 revelation seems to show that he is the one who does not want the full truth about the 1831 revelation to come out.



Other excerpts from Answering Dr. Clandestine: A Response to the Anonymous LDS Historian, by Jerald and Sandra Tanner:

Part 1--The Origins of "Jerald and Sandra Tanner's Distorted View of Mormonism"
Part 2--The Puzzle Comes Together: The Earlier Manuscript
Joseph Smith's 1826 Trial--Part 1
The 1826 Trial--Part 2, and Smith's Magic Talisman
The Prophecy about Brigham Young
Joseph Smith and Drinking
Rocky Mountain Prophecy
Destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor
Masonry in the Temple
Problems with the First Vision


Other Links Relating to this Topic:

"Jerald and Sandra Tanner's Distorted View of Mormonism: A Response to Mormonism--Shadow or Reality?" By a Latter-day Saint Historian. As it was released to the public in December 1977.

An Earlier Manuscript copy of "Jerald and Sandra Tanner's Distorted View of Mormonism: A Response to Mormonism--Shadow or Reality?" By a Latter-day Saint Historian. Here, we combine an earlier draft of the "letter," with the final published version (three months later). This allows the reader to compare the differences between the two documents and examine the changes, additions and deletions made to this "letter to a friend" from an anonymous LDS historian.

Polygamy and Truth-- Salt Lake City Messenger, January 1988: An overview of the origins and history of Mormon Polygamy from its inception, through a United States Senate Investigation at the turn of the century, and on to present times. Included in this exploration are the "first" and "second" manifestos issued by LDS prophets--Church deception against federal authorities--the Reed Soot investigation--"sealing" already married women to early church leaders--women sealed to more than one living husband at a time--interesting methods of divorce--many quotes from church leaders teaching polygamy as "essential to salvation"--polygamy in the western United States today--and more.

Covering Up Mormon Polygamy--Salt Lake City Messenger, August 1998: In 1997, the First Presidency of the Mormon Church and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles decided to publish a manual entitled: "Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young." This manual has generated a good deal of controversy and criticism amongst Mormon researchers and scholars. On April 5, 1998, the Associated Press reporter Vern Anderson reported that the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) were attempting to hide the fact that polygamy was once an important part of Mormonism. Anderson reported that a young woman who had recently married a Mormon came to the home of Valeen Tippetts Avery, a noted Mormon writer, seeking to know why the new manual overlooked Brigham Young's practice of polygamy. . . . "'Dr. Avery,' she said, 'I just got the new Relief Society manual, which is about Brigham Young, and he only has one wife.' Avery, a Mormon who knew the pioneer leader had 55 wives, couldn't explain why the lesson manual . . . paints America's most famous polygamist as a monogamist. But she had some advice. 'The Mormon church is trying to say to the new people coming into the church, as well as to the larger American society, that there was nothing questionable in the Mormon past, . . . if you want answers to these kinds of sticky questions, you're not going to find them inside accepted Mormon manuals and doctrines.' The absence of any mention of polygamy is just one of the criticisms being leveled at the manual . . . 'Whoever compiled the manual is extraordinarily embarrassed by the church's second president,' says Ron Priddis of Signature Books. 'It's a religious tract, not history,' scoffs historian Nancy J. Taniguchi. . . ." (The Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday, April 5, 1998, C3) This issue of the Messenger includes: Deleting polygamous wives from LDS church manuals and almanacs--A review of Tod Compton's In Sacred Loneliness--Polgamy after the Manifesto--Church damage control--Polyandry (women with multiple husbands)--Marrying children--and much more.

The New Polygamy --Chapter XVII of Under the Prophet in Utah, (1911 edition): Frank J. Cannon, son of Mormon apostle George Q. Cannon, describes the devastating effect post-1890 manifesto plural marriages had on the wives and children of the polygamist priesthood holder. He also describes how, and under what circumstances, many of these secret "sealings" were performed.

Sarah Pratt and Joseph Smith--From The History of the Saints, by John C. Bennett (1842 Edition): For a short period of time Dr. John C. Bennett was one of the most powerful men within the Mormon organization of Nauvoo. His positions included "assistant president" of the church, brigadier-general of the Nauvoo Legion, mayor of the city, and chancellor of the University of Nauvoo. On page 309 of No Man Knows My History, Fawn Brodie wrote, "For a year and a half he was Joseph's most intimate friend...Only those close to the prophet knew of the stormy sessions that marred this friendship. For Bennett was too ambitious and too wayward to stay in favor. Callous, profligate, and too wise in his profession as physician and instructor of midwifery, he was eager to exploit polygamy." When their relationship broke it caused the hidden practices of top Mormon leaders to be exposed, particulary that of plural marriage. John C. Bennett's book, published within a year of that break, was not only an attempt to share his side of the story, it was also a way to get back at Smith for expelling him from the Mormon power-structure. Many of the accounts in Bennett's book provide insights into events that could only be verified many, many years later. Some of these events had a direct relationship to the discord amongst church insiders that led to Smith's murder in 1844.

Mormonism's Problem with Child Sexual Abuse--The Salt Lake City Messenger, November 1996: A disturbing look at how the Mormon church's ecclesiastical and community social structure may hide and assist sex offenders. Revealing information from several sources including the Mormon Alliance, a watch-dog organization formed by members and ex-members for the purpose of countering "spiritual and ecclesiastical abuse in the Church."--Topics also include revealing statements by LDS leaders--polygamy--George P. Lee--and evidence of ritualistic abuse.


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ulm@utah-inter.net: Do you have comments or input regarding this or other publications from Jerald and Sandra Tanner. Drop them a line. Also, if you have additional information on this and other LDS related topics they would like to hear from you. (No mindless, blind-faith, dogmatic diatribes please!--However, sincere differences of opinion and insight are always appreciated).