The New Mormon History
D. Michael Quinn, editor
After the Manifesto: Mormon Polygamy, 1890-1906
Kenneth L. Cannon II
[p.201] Many Mormons responded with surprise when the resignations of Elders John W. Taylor and Matthias F. Cowley from their quorum were announced during the church’s April 1906 general conference. Some others were undoubtedly relieved. The dismissal of Taylor and Cowley represented the first action taken by church authorities against members who advocated the continuation of plural marriage contrary to federal law.1 During the previous sixteen years, Mormondom had seen two Manifestos, a number of “official” statements (and numerous contradictory private ones by church leaders), and a secretive but persistent practice of “the principle” by church leaders and laymen.
This phenomenon of “new polygamy” is overwhelmingly affirmed by recent historical research.2 Post-Manifesto polygamy was variously received by church leaders of the period (1890-1906), whose differing opinions caused a great deal of stress in the leading quorums.3 Since in theory only the church president had authority to sanction the performance of new plural marriages, the sentiments of the three men who held that office during this transitional period—Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, and Joseph F. Smith—are especially significant.4
While it may be impossible to know exactly what the attitudes of these three men were, several sources prove enlightening, includ-[p. 202]ing: their statements and actions and how these were perceived by others; the approximate number of plural marriages performed during the incumbency of each; the officers in whose call to the church hierarchy each president had a central role; and the attitudes (and changes in attitude) of other general authorities during this period. Conclusions derived from these investigations shed further light on the difficult process the Mormon church experienced in ultimately abandoning its practice of plural marriage.
President Wilford Woodruff’s Manifesto of September 1890 signaled the official end of polygamy in the Mormon church. This ambiguous statement asserted that church leaders were not teaching or encouraging polygamy nor were they allowing members to enter into it. Woodruff denied that polygamous marriages had been carried out during the previous year, declared his intent to submit to the laws of the land, and vowed to use his influence to have church members “do likewise.”5 Apparently Woodruff and his two counselors, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, did stop allowing couples to be married in polygamy for a short time after issuing the Manifesto, although a few couples who had been authorized to but had not entered polygamy before the Manifesto and one or two couples immediately after the Manifesto who agreed to move to Mexico were permitted to do so.6 Privately, the president told the apostles that he expected polygamists to continue to support their wives, implying that this support included cohabitation.7
In October the following year, Woodruff and other church leaders publicly testified that plural marriage had ceased, that “the Manifesto was intended to apply to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints everywhere in every nation and country,” and that “we are giving no liberty to enter into polygamous relations anywhere.” Those who failed to obey the law would be subject to church discipline.8 Woodruff later privately explained his remarks to fellow church leaders, stating that “he was placed in a position on the witness stand that he could not answer other than he did.”9
As early as 1893, however, new plural marriages were performed in Mexico, an idea initially proposed by George Q. Cannon. Woodruff evidently agreed with his first counselor’s idea, letting Cannon direct this new polygamy so that he would not participate directly as church president.10 Cannon’s responsibility included choosing and setting apart certain church leaders to perform the [p. 203] marriages.11 In that year at least two couples were married polygamously in Mexico, apparently with the approbation of Woodruff and his two counselors.12
Throughout the mid-1890s the following scene was repeated on numerous occasions. Church members who continued to believe that polygamy was necessary to their exaltation would approach Woodruff, asking if there was some way of accomplishing a plural marriage. In some cases Woodruff probably told them that for the present plural marriages were not permitted; others he referred to George Q. Cannon, who interviewed them and told them of possibilities of plural marriage outside the United States. If the couple was willing to relocate in order to enjoy the benefits of polygamy, Cannon would send them to a church leader in Mexico or Canada, such as Alexander F. MacDonald, George Teasdale, or Anthony W. Ivins, who would perform the marriage.13 Cannon undoubtedly also told the couple to keep secret what he had told them so that unfriendly non-Mormons or federal officials would not learn of the new marriages.
Between 1893 and 1896 at least two marriages were performed every year. In 1897, the first full year after Utah attained statehood, the number of plural marriages jumped nearly five fold. Political pressures created by attempts for statehood subsided after Utah became a state, and church leaders realized they could allow more polygamous marriages than before because federal interference would be minimized.14 Potential charges of duplicity would not be as damaging. While this in no way greatly liberalized the number of Mormons who could marry in polygamy, it might have changed attitudes enough to cause the increase in number of marriages solemnized.15
These marriages and Wilford Woodruff’s private clarifications of his public statements repudiating polygamy were not, however, matters of general knowledge, a situation which resulted in confusion for many Mormons as they were left to their own interpretations of their leaders’ public pronouncements.16 Some who heard rumors of Woodruff’s true feelings concerning polygamous cohabitation probably did not believe them; others felt that the president was only beating “the devil at his own game” by having members go outside the United States to contract plural marriages. There seems to have been little criticism of such marriages among those Latter-day [p. 204] Saints who knew about them.
During Woodruff’s presidency five men—Marriner W. Merrill, Anthon H. Lund, Abraham H. Cannon, Matthias F. Cowley, and Abraham Owen Woodruff—were appointed to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. All were firmly committed to “the principle.”17 Elders Merrill, Lund, and Cannon were involved in polygamous activities during Woodruff’s administration. Although it is uncertain whether apostles Matthias Cowley or Owen Woodruff participated in such activities between their calls in 1897 and President Woodruff’s death in 1898, it is certain that both were engaged in polygamy thereafter.
Among the twelve apostles and the First Presidency between 1890 and 1898, at least 58 percent of the members took an active part in post-Manifesto polygamy. If Matthias Cowley and Owen Woodruff are included, the proportion rises to 70 percent.18 Historical records indicate that only two men seem to have had qualms about the continuation of polygamy during President Woodruff’s lifetime: Francis M. Lyman and Lorenzo Snow.19
When Lorenzo Snow acceded to the presidency in late 1898, he charted a course different from his predecessor. Shortly after becoming president he announced that plural marriage would not be preached, for it was contrary to the laws of the land.20 The national embarrassment of the church on the subject of polygamy which accompanied B. H. Roberts’s election to and subsequent exclusion from the U.S. House of Representatives in the last two years of the nineteenth century may have strengthened Snow’s conviction that the church’s promises needed to be kept.21 As president he felt he was in a position to bring the church’s public position and private practices more into harmony.
In December 1899 and January 1900 Snow published statements in the Deseret News denying that any plural marriage had been performed with proper authority since 1890 and affirming that no such marriages had been or would be approved by him.22 In a meeting with the apostles in January 1900, Snow expressed the fear that some new marriages were being solemnized without his knowledge or sanction. According to the Journal History account of the meeting, “[President Snow], without reference to anyone present, said that there were brethren who still seemed to have the idea that it was possible under his administration to obtain a plural wife and [p. 205] have her sealed to him. He authorized and requested the brethren present to correct this impression wherever they find it. He said emphatically that it could not be done. President Cannon moved that this be seconded as the mind and will of the Lord. Seconded by Brother Lyman and carried unanimously.”23 A year later Snow privately expressed the same sentiments to Apostle Brigham Young, Jr., stating he had never given his consent for plural marriage and adding, “God has removed this privilege from the people.”24
Both church leaders and the general membership of the church seem to have perceived a change in church policy instituted by Snow’s administration. In 1911, for example, Apostle Francis M. Lyman expressed his belief that Snow had changed the basic position of the church toward the continuation of plural marriage when he took office in 1898,25 and Elder John Henry Smith told Alexander MacDonald in May 1901 that no more plural marriages were to be performed.26
Only statements made by Matthias Cowley in his 1911 trial for membership give any indication that Snow might have allowed some plural marriages to be performed. Cowley testified that when he once approached the president about solemnizing a plural marriage, Snow told him that he “would not interfere with Brother Woodruff’s and Cannon’s work.”27 It appears, therefore, that Snow indirectly consented to some plural marriages which had been authorized earlier by Woodruff and Cannon, especially before Snow made his strong statements in late December 1899 and January 1900. Almost all other evidence indicates Snow conscientiously tried to put a stop to new polygamy. He was largely unsuccessful.
While signals from Salt Lake City indicated the abandonment of polygamy, plural marriages continued to be solemnized in the Mexican colonies by John W. Taylor, Matthias Cowley, and others.28 Mexican colonists probably assumed that Lorenzo Snow’s statements were simply new attempts to ward off outside suspicion and interference. The only indication that Snow’s strict position on new polygamy might have been to some extent followed in the Mexican colonies is that the number of marriages solemnized there by Anthony W. Ivins dropped drastically during Snow’s presidency. It is possible that Ivins, who often claimed he never solemnized a marriage without proper authority, did not believe that Snow was permitting many marriages and therefore performed very few.
[p. 206] The statistics indicate that in 1899, the first full year of Lorenzo Snow’s presidency, the number of plural marriages decreased by almost 200 percent, evidence of Snow’s unwillingness to allow new marriages.29 In 1900, however, the total number of marriages actually rose by more than 150 percent, a fact that seems especially ironic in light of Snow’s public statements of late 1899 and 1900. In 1901 the total number of marriages remained high, but the number of these performed by Ivins remained a low 15 percent.30
These numbers are directly related to an increasing polarization in church leadership. Whereas most plural marriages during Wilford Woodruff’s administration were performed outside the United States, a number of marriages after 1898 were performed in America, apparently initiated by members of the church leadership. Marriner W. Merrill, Matthias Cowley, John W. Taylor, Frank Y. Taylor, George M. Cannon, John M. Cannon, Hugh J. Cannon, Henry S. Tanner, and Owen Woodruff are some of the prominent leaders who married plural wives in the United States during Snow’s presidency.31 Yet Snow almost certainly had nothing to do with these marriages and may have had no knowledge of them.
Why did these leaders continue in a practice to which the church president was so openly opposed? One possibility is that Snow’s two counselors, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, sanctioned plural marriages without Snow’s knowledge between 1898 and 1901.32 For example, when Cannon set apart Matthias Cowley to perform polygamous marriages in 1898 or 1899, he told him to talk to no one about the marriages.33 This indicates that Cannon and perhaps Smith believed so deeply in polygamy that they were willing to keep their actions from the church president. With the First Presidency thus divided, members of the Twelve would have received mixed signals from the highest governing body of the church.
Thus for the first time since the 1840s, there existed sharply polarized positions about plural marriage in the leading quorums of the church. The two men called to the Twelve during Lorenzo Snow’s administration reflected the president’s beliefs and increased that polarization. Rudger Clawson, a one-time polygamist, had only one wife when he was called as an apostle in 1898, but he also opposed Joseph F. Smith’s “Second Manifesto” of 1904 because he felt it would cause much heartache.34
[p. 207] Reed Smoot, Snow’s other appointee, was a monogamist and one of a rising group of Mormons who were ready to discard the nineteenth-century practices which had brought so much ill will on the church. By doing this these younger Mormons hoped to assimilate their church into the mainstream of American society. This is not to say Smoot was not committed to the church. Indeed, it was because of his commitment and his assessment of what Mormonism had to do to survive that he supported the abandonment of “unusual” Mormon practices.35
Other members of the quorum, such as Francis M. Lyman, began openly to oppose the continuation of polygamy. Some, such as John Henry Smith, apparently changed their attitudes after Lorenzo Snow became president. Still other apostles and even members of the First Presidency simply did not follow Snow’s directions. This divergence of opinion among the hierarchy caused tensions and, as historian Thomas Alexander has suggested, was one of the things which threatened the collegiality of the leading quorums of the church at the turn of the century.36
The confusion and division persisted in the administration of Joseph F. Smith, Snow’s successor. The extent of Smith’s involvement in post-Manifesto polygamy is clouded by conflicting evidence. He apparently performed the plural marriage in 1896 of Apostle Abraham H. Cannon and Lillian Hamblin while he was second counselor in the First Presidency.37 He knew about the new plural marriages being performed during Lorenzo Snow’s administration and almost certainly approved of them. And there is evidence that Smith allowed new marriages to be performed during his presidency. Orson Pratt Brown, a bishop in the Mexican colonies, related that on a visit to Salt Lake City he presented Smith with the marriage records of Alexander F. MacDonald. The president reportedly surveyed the record, stated that “all of this work that Brother MacDonald performed was duly authorized by me,” and told Brown to keep the record in Mexico so that a search in Salt Lake City could not unearth the records if federal marshals were to get permission to look for just such materials.38 Additionally a child of a plural marriage performed in 1903 by Anthony W. Ivins stated that Joseph F. Smith sent a letter to Ivins authorizing that marriage.39
In a 1911 telegram to Reed Smoot, Smith implied his tacit approval of the marriages: “If the president [of the United States] [p. 208] inquires about new polygamy tell him the truth. Tell him that President Cannon was the first to conceive the idea that we could consistently countenance polygamy beyond the confines of the Republic where we have no chartered law against it, and consequently he authorized the solemnization of polygamy in Mexico and Canada after the Manifesto of 1890, and the men occupying presiding positions who became polygamists since the manifesto did it in good faith.”40
Smith’s choice of men to be appointed to high church office suggests that he may have facilitated the eventual demise of polygamy by choosing men who were willing to abandon the practice. Of the men appointed to the First Presidency or quorum of twelve between 1901 and 1906, three—John R. Winder, Charles W. Penrose, and Orson F. Whitney—were polygamists and four—Hyrum M. Smith, George Albert Smith, George F. Richards, and David O. McKay—were monogamists. There is no indication that any of the seven were involved in post-Manifesto polygamy.
Additionally there exist statements, both public and private, that seem to indicate Smith’s opposition to the principle. In 1902 he told Brigham Young, Jr., that no plural marriages were “taking place to his knowledge in the Church either in the U.S. or any other country.” He further stated, “It is thoroughly understood and has been for years that no one is authorized to perform any such marriages.”41 In a meeting of the apostles in November 1903, Smith told the leaders that “he had not given his consent to anyone to solemnize plural marriages” and “that he did not know of any such cases.” He went on to insist that if members of the church were entering into polygamous marriages they were bringing trouble “upon the whole community.”42
In 1904 Smith was called to testify before the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections investigating Reed Smoot, who had recently been sent to the U.S. Senate by Utah’s state legislature. His testimony included the following statement: “It has been the continuous and conscientious practice and rule of the church ever since the manifesto to observe that manifesto with regard to plural marriages; and from that time till to-day there has never been, to my knowledge, a plural marriage performed with the understanding, instruction, connivance, counsel, or permission of the presiding authorities of the church, in any shape or form; and I know whereof I speak, [p. 209] gentlemen, in relation to that matter.”43 Evidence collected during the Smoot investigation had created bad publicity for the church, and there was great pressure on Smith to reaffirm Mormonism’s repudiation of polygamy.44 Despite opposition from some members of the hierarchy, he therefore issued a statement in April 1904 reaffirming the 1890 Manifesto’s prohibition of marriages “violative of the laws of the land.” He denied that marriages had taken place and went on to announce the prospective policy of the church that anyone thereafter performing or entering into a plural marriage would be subject to excommunication.45
The case for abandonment of post-Manifesto polygamy was strengthened during this period by changes in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Brigham Young, Jr., a proponent of polygamy and president of the quorum, died in 1903. He was succeeded by Francis M. Lyman, the apostle most opposed to the continuation of the practice. The vacancy in the quorum was filled by George Albert Smith, who also favored abandonment. Charles W. Penrose, who had similar feelings, replaced Owen Woodruff at his death in mid-1904.
However, other apostles—Marriner W. Merrill, John W. Taylor, Matthias Cowley, and George Teasdale—interpreted the 1904 Manifesto much as Wilford Woodruff’s Manifesto had been interpreted by church leaders in the early 1890s. These men believed that plural marriages still could be performed outside the United States. Abiding by this interpretation, Cowley was married to a woman in Canada in 1905, and Taylor solemnized marriages outside the country.46
The senate’s investigation of Reed Smoot continued in 1904 and 1905, and the Committee on Privileges and Elections was still interested in having apostles Taylor and Cowley appear before it. Smoot wrote in letter to President Smith that all he heard in Washington was “Taylor and Cowley, Taylor and Cowley.”47 Pressure was mounting on the First Presidency and Twelve either to force these apostles to testify or to discipline them in some way.48 In October 1905 Taylor and Cowley were asked to submit their resignations to Francis M. Lyman, president of the twelve, to be announced if the need arose.49
Smoot, constantly called upon to defend the church and its reluctance to discipline Taylor and Cowley, had wanted the two men dropped from the quorum for some time but knew that the body [p. 210] would not do so unless absolutely necessary.50 The apostle-senator must have been relieved when George F. Gibbs, secretary to the First Presidency, telegraphed him on 7 December 1905 that Smoot could use the resignations whenever the time seemed ripe. Yet Smoot replied in a long letter to the First Presidency that he did not want to be responsible for the “sacrifice” of Taylor and Cowley and that their resignations would do no good at the present. He did add, however, that the announcement should be made at some future time to placate anti-Mormon feelings in Washington, D.C.51 But the same day that he wrote the letter, Reed Smoot received a telegram from Gibbs to the effect that the sentiments of the church fathers had changed and that the “brethren” were not in favor of “sacrificing” Taylor and Cowley for the time being.52 However, by the next week Francis M. Lyman wrote Smoot telling him that he was “at perfect liberty to use the resignations” whenever he saw fit.53
On 9 March 1906 Charles W. Penrose wrote Smooth asking that he forestall a decision of the senate committee in his case until after the April conference of the church because of actions that would occur there which would have a bearing on the case.54 Between December 1905 and April 1906, it had been decided that Taylor and Cowley should no longer serve as members of the quorum.
In April three new apostles were sustained to replace Marriner W. Merrill, a leading proponent of post-Manifesto polygamy who had died earlier that year, and Taylor and Cowley. The addition of these men firmly placed in the majority the faction favoring the abandonment of polygamy. When George Teasdale died in 1907, the entire group of men who favored continuing new marriages was gone from the quorum, either through death or dismissal.55
Taylor and Cowley believed that they would be reinstated after the whole affair blew over;56 Smoot feared that would be the case. However, the prevailing sentiment among the Twelve was such that not only were the two not reinstated as apostles, they were further disciplined by their former quorum—five years later Cowley was disfellowshipped and Taylor excommunicated.57
Thus through the first several years of Joseph F. Smith’s presidency, it appears that he allowed plural marriages to continue. He carefully denied connection with the practice on several occasions but qualified his statements by such phrases as “to my knowledge” and marriages “violative of the laws of the land.”
[p. 211] Regardless of these denials, Smith’s accession to the presidency signaled to many people a relaxation of church policy in relation to polygamy, both at home and in the Mexican colonies.58 Several people close to Smoot, for example, doubted that Smith would issue any statement affirming the church’s abandonment of plural marriage. Smoot’s personal secretary, Carl A. Badger, expressed surprise when he learned of Smith’s 1904 statement.59 Couples married between 1901 and 1904 believed their marriages had been performed with proper authorization.60 Cowley testified in 1911 that he believed Smith “was not opposed to these marriages if it could be done without trouble with the government.”61 Thus Cowley as well as others who continued to perform marriages believed that at the very least Joseph F. Smith did not oppose new marriages if they could be done unobtrusively.
The perception of this relaxed attitude is reinforced by the available numbers of marriages performed. According to the accumulated data (which are certainly not complete) five marriages were solemnized in 1901 after Joseph F. Smith was sustained as president. Twenty marriages were performed the next year, and there were thirty-three marriages in 1903, more than in any other year between 1890 and 1904. By the time the “second Manifesto” was issued in April 1904, ten marriages had already been performed. Apparently the last marriage sanctioned by the proper authorities before the Second Manifesto was solemnized on 29 March 1904; the couple had been told to move up their marriage date because a statement might be forthcoming in April conference.62
Anthony Ivins’s marriage record book also reveals that he solemnized more marriages during the Smith administration than during the previous two administrations combined. Since Ivins insisted on authorization for the ceremonies he performed, it would suggest that Joseph F. Smith did sanction a number of marriages during those first years of his presidency.63
Thus Joseph F. Smith’s attitudes toward the practice of polygamy seem ambivalent. He not only gave the public and the U.S. government inaccurate views of the practice, but he also kept his support of “new polygamy” from some of his fellow church leaders. His public statements and testimony before the senate committee could be explained by asserting “he had had to say what he did in Washington to protect the Church.”64 But how could he explain his [p. 212] statements to the quorum made at a time when he was consenting to plural marriages?
Smith probably did not feel he could outwardly go back on policies Lorenzo Snow had established because of possible disapproval from such powerful apostles as Francis M. Lyman. However, a larger proportion of the apostles was still favorably disposed to plural marriage when Smith became president; perhaps he privately told some of them he approved of their polygamous activities while placating others by making statements against the continuation of polygamy.65 In any case, it is certain that such men as Francis M. Lyman and Reed Smoot believed for many years that Smith had had nothing to do with the new polygamy.66
During the three administrations and sixteen years following the 1890 Manifesto, there existed a notable ambiguity toward polygamy in the ruling councils of the church. Wilford Woodruff advocated the continued practice and apparently made this clear to his fellow church leaders, though he and they scrupulously kept it secret from the public and most of the church. Lorenzo Snow seems to have been straightforward in his opposition to the continued practice of polygamy and made his feelings known to the apostles. Joseph F. Smith supported the practice but evidently was careful in his selection of church leaders to whom he made his feelings known.
The common denominator in the administrations of Presidents Woodruff and Snow seems to have been George Q. Cannon. It was apparently Cannon who conceived of the idea that plural marriages could be performed outside the United States, and it was he who authorized men to perform plural marriages during Woodruff’s presidency. Cannon also apparently secretly authorized plural marriages during Snow’s administration despite Snow’s opposition and Cannon’s supposed acceptance of the president’s views. Cannon died in April 1901, seven months before Snow’s death.67 After Cannon’s death apostles such as Matthias Cowley, John W. Taylor, Marriner W. Merrill, George Teasdale, and Owen Woodruff carried on his work. After Snow’s death these church leaders worked with the approval (whether tacit or explicit) of the new president, Joseph F. Smith.
The men ordained as apostles under Woodruff and Snow largely reflected each man’s attitudes on polygamy. Woodruff’s appointees supported the continuation of polygamy while the men called by Snow did not. Smith seemingly recognized that despite his [p. 213] own feelings, the church needed to show its good faith by eventually abandoning the practice completely and so called men who would facilitate such an abandonment.
During Woodruff’s term as president, there was generally harmony in the ruling quorums of the church on the question of polygamy, for only a few apostles opposed its continuation in the first few years after the Manifesto. The harmony was disrupted, however, when Snow assumed office. Although a few leaders modified their views to be more in harmony with his, a majority did not. When Smith became president in 1901, he attempted to placate both factions by allowing polygamous marriages while denying he was doing so. His Manifesto of 1904 reaffirmed the church’s official termination of plural marriage; but for almost two years thereafter, he did noting to discipline those who refused to follow the dictates of this Second Manifesto. In late 1905 the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was still vacillating on the question of what to do to its members who failed to abide by the 1904 ruling. Not until 1906 when three new apostles were appointed was there close to a consensus in the quorum favoring the abandonment of polygamy.
But the tensions and difficulties of polygamy did not end in 1906. It was not until three years later that a committee was formed to investigate members of the church who persisted in the active practice of polygamy.68 In 1911 a policy was propounded to the effect that marriages performed before 1904 would be recognized as valid by the church.69 Throughout the years that followed, Mormons who continued to take new wives were disciplined by the LDS church, and many of these people formed sects which are loosely identified as Mormon “fundamentalist” groups. These are the major surviving vestiges of a very difficult period of Mormon history.
1. The official reason for the resignations was that Taylor and Cowley “found themselves out of harmony with the Presidency of the Church and the Quorum to which they belonged” (Seventy-sixth Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1906], 93-94). Of interest is that Taylor and Cowley signed the resignations in October 1905 and that they were held for approximately six months before they were released. In fact, most of the apostles believed that the resignations were not to be made public (or, for that matter, effective) [p. 214] other than if absolutely necessary because of events in the U.S. Senate’s investigation of Reed Smoot. See D. Michael Quinn, “LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 18 (Spring 1985): 102. Some believe the dismissals were politically motivated; see Victor W. Jorgensen and B. Carman Hardy, “The Taylor-Cowley Affair and the Watershed of Mormon History,” Utah Historical Quarterly 48 (Winter 1980): 30-33. Other church authorities did not believe the dismissals were political, however, Francis M. Lyman explicitly stating such—that Taylor and Cowley were truly out of harmony with the quorum. See The Trials for the Membership of John W. Taylor and Mathaias [sic] F. Cowley (West Jordan, Utah: Mormon Underground Press, n.d.), 10; hereafter Trials. Apostle John Henry Smith believed Taylor and Cowley were forced to resign because they had performed plural marriages in the United States and had not limited such marriages to foreign countries (Joseph W. Musser Journal, 22 July 1909, archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; hereafter LDS archives).
2. Michael Quinn’s article is by far the most comprehensive treatment and analysis of polygamy from 1890 through 1905 as well as the best review of events immediately leading up to the issuance of the Manifesto in September 1890. Other treatments of this difficult subject and period are found in Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986); Thomas G. Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890-1930 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986); and Jorgensen and Hardy.
3. An excellent analysis of the stresses the leading quorums of the church experienced in this difficult period is found in Thomas G. Alexander, “To Maintain Harmony: Adjusting to External and Internal Stress, 1890-1930,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 (Winter 1982).
4. Michael Quinn has shown that there may have been post-Manifesto polygamous marriages that did not require the approval of the church president as in the case of the death of or divorce from a polygamist’s first (and therefore legal) wife and the subsequent legal marriage of the polygamist to a woman to whom he had not previously been married. Quinn, 52-54.
10. Joseph F. Smith to Reed Smoot, 1 Apr. 1911, as quoted in Jorgensen and Hardy, 36; Carl A. Badger Journal, 19 Mar. 1904, LDS archives; Trials, 14-18. See Quinn, 61-62. Church leaders believed that there were no laws against polygamy in Mexico and perhaps Canada. In fact polygamy was illegal in both countries. Quinn, 16-19; Jorgensen and Hardy, 17-18.
12. Family Group Records of Willard Carroll and Joseph Cardon, Genealogical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City (hereafter LDS Genealogical Department); Salt Lake Tribune, 1, 16 Aug., 1 Oct. 1910. Apostle George Teasdale, then leader of the Mexican colonies, apparently performed the Carroll marriage and might also have performed the Cardon sealing. Quinn found eleven polygamous marriages between July 1892 and early 1894 in Mexico and Canada, although only four were authorized by the First Presidency. Quinn, 61-62, 75-77.
13. Joseph T. Bentley Oral History, interviews by Gordon Irving, 1976, typescript, 1-2, James H. Moyle Oral History Program, LDS archives; Mildred Call Hurst Oral History, interview by Jessie Embry, 1976, typescript, 12, LDS Polygamy Oral History Project, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Brigham Young University, hereafter Redd interviews; Jorgensen and Hardy, 18-19; Stanley S. Ivins to Juanita Brooks, 25 Feb. 1955; George Q. Cannon to Anthony W. Ivins, 27 Dec. 1897, 1 Feb. 1898, USHS; H. Grant Ivins, “Polygamy in Mexico,” 4 unpublished paper, USHS.
14. Joseph F. Smith, for example, viewed Utah’s statehood as a turning point. He believed that after statehood was attained, sentiments softened, at least toward continued polygamous cohabitation. Proceedings before the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the U. S. Senate in the Matter of the Protests Against the Right of Hon. Reed Smoot, A Senator from Utah, to hold His Seat, 4 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1904-1906), 1:130; hereafter Proceedings. Quinn raises the possibility that ninety-year-old Wilford Woodruff took a polygamous wife in 1897, forty-nine-year-old lecturer Lydia Mary von Finkelstein Mountford, who joined the church during a visit to Salt Lake City in February 1897. Quinn, 63-65.
15. Another possible explanation is that the Anthony W. Ivins marriage record (USHS), which begins in 1896, distorts the numbers I [p. 216] worked from. It is possible that the number of marriages in the Ivins record raises the total number just enough to distort the record and provide misleading results. This possibility is unlikely, however, because almost all marriages performed by Ivins were listed in the same independent sources as other marriages during the period.
16. There was even confusion about the continuation of polygamous cohabitation. See, for example, Gary James Bergera, “‘A Glimmer of the Same Light’: The Personal Voice of One Woman’s Reaction to Plural Marriage and the Issuance of the Woodruff Manifesto,” unpublished paper, 1980, 8-14. A majority of church general authorities continued to cohabit with their plural wives after the Manifesto. See my “Beyond the Manifesto: Polygamous Cohabitation among LDS General Authorities after 1890,” Utah Historical Quarterly 46 (Winter 1978): 30.
17. Marriner W. Merrill strongly favored the continuation of polygamy. He reputedly solemnized marriages after 1890, took a plural wife in 1900 or 1901, and remained strong in his advocacy of polygamy to his death (Anthon H. Lund Journal, 9 Jan. 1900, LDS archives; Proceedings 1:408-18; Jorgensen and Hardy, 14; Trials, 15). Anthon H. Lund, a lifetime monogamist, performed at least one and probably more polygamous marriages during Wilford Woodruff’s presidency (Personal History of F. F. Hintze in possession of R. Sears Hintze; Jorgensen and Hardy, 13; Quinn, 62-63).
19. Snow’s feelings are documented below. Other evidence comes from statements made after Woodruff’s death. Francis Lyman told Joseph W. Musser in 1914 that President Cannon and apostles Merrill, Teasdale, Cowley, Woodruff, and Taylor “had brot [sic] reproach upon the church and had done wrong” (Musser Journal, 16 Feb. 1914). One source indicates that Lyman was out of harmony with his quorum as late as 1903 on the question of polygamy (Joseph Eckersly Journal, 2-6 Sept. 1903, LDS archives).
23. Journal History, 11 Jan. 1900. The statement was probably made in part in response to pro-polygamy sentiments expressed by Marriner W. Merrill and George Teasdale several days before in a meeting of the twelve (Anthon H. Lund Journal, 9 Jan. 1900; John Henry Smith Diary, 10 Jan. 1900). All members of the First Presidency and Twelve were there except Brigham Young. Jr.
27. Trials, 15-16. Michael Quinn found that Anthony W. Ivins performed plural marriage ceremonies for Mexican colonists (who, according to Quinn, did not need First Presidency authorization) from October 1898 until July 1899, when Lorenzo Snow made it clear that this was not appropriate in his view. Quinn, 69-70.
29. The numbers I use are drawn from a compilation of 150 marriages substantiated in each case by at least two and generally more sources. In addition, I have found evidence of at least seventy-five other marriages but have not yet sufficiently documented them for inclusion here. For more information, see the original printing of this essay in Sunstone 8 (Jan.-Apr. 1983): 35n71.
31. Ellen Steffensen Cannon to Katherine Cannon Thomas, 28 Dec. 1953, original in my possession; Family Group Records; Trials, 15-18; Taylor, Rocky Mountain Empire, 84; Salt Lake Tribune, 1 Oct. 1910.
32. Cannon and Smith had been in the First Presidency together since 1879 and for much of that time had taken care of the church’s business together. Given their close relationship, it is possible that the two cooperated on direction of the new polygamy.
35. Later as a U.S. senator, Smoot was sensitive to the bad publicity the church received because of his position in Washington. Other younger Mormons who felt much as Smoot did included his personal secretary Carl A. Badger and probably J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
37. Cannon and O’Higgins, Under the Prophet in Utah (Boston: N.p., 1911), 176-79; Proceedings, 4:476. The tradition in the Cannon family is that Smith performed the Abraham H. Cannon-Lillian Hamlin marriage on a pleasure cruise from Los Angeles to Catalina Island. Lewis M. Cannon, a close friend and cousin of Abraham who later married Hamlin in another polygamous marriage, believed that Orson Smith, a local church leader in northern Utah, performed the ceremony (Carl A. Badger Journal, 9 Dec. 1905). Michael Quinn argues that “Orson Smith” was a code name for Joseph F. Smith and that Joseph F. Smith performed the wedding in the Salt Lake [p. 218] temple. Quinn points out that the marriage was a proxy marriage in which Abraham stood in for his deceased brother David. Quinn, 83-84. Abraham Cannon died shortly after returning from his honeymoon in California with Lillian Hamblin. The daughter born to this union, Marba (Abram spelled backwards), is testament that the marriage was more than a proxy ordinance between Lillian and the departed David. Family Group Records of Abraham H. Cannon, LDS Genealogical Department. Smith denied involvement in the matter a number of times (see for example, Joseph F. Smith to Reed Smoot, 9 Apr. 1904, Reed Smoot Correspondence, Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University), but always in the context of a marriage performed on board a ship. Quinn, 84-85n303. Smith and his wife Edna accompanied the newly-wed Cannons on their honeymoon to California, thus giving rise to the alleged (and traditional) setting of the marriage ceremony. Quinn, 83-84.
39. The Most Holy Principle, 4 vols. (Murray, UT: Gems Publishing Co., 1970-75), 4:86. This is made more credible when the circumstances are considered. If Anthony Ivins refused to perform marriages unless they were authorized by the First Presidency, he would have had to receive some recommendation or notification to perform the marriage from that body. George Q. Cannon had used the medium of ambiguous letters; it is possible that Smith did the same thing after Cannon’s death.
40. Joseph F. Smith to Reed Smoot, 1 Apr. 1911. In Smith’s telegram, it was stated that marriages had been performed both in Canada and Mexico with church authority. In a letter from George Gibbs to Reed Smoot on 21 April 1911, Smoot was instructed that inclusion of Canada in the telegram was a mistake and that the only place where the late plural marriages took place was in Mexico (Reed Smoot Correspondence, LDS archives).
44. Reed Smoot’s senate seat was important to the church, and it was threatened by the charges of new polygamy. Much of the non-Mormon public viewed the charges of new polygamy with distaste and the LDS church was placed in an unfavorable light at a time it was courting acceptance by American society at large.
45. Seventy-fourth Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1904), 76. Of the apostles present at the conference, at least Owen Woodruff and Rudger [p. 219] Clawson opposed issuing the statement (Anthon H. Lund Journal, 4, 6 Apr. 1904).
48. Smith told Smoot in April 1904 that Taylor and Cowley “have stated their own cases, and they will have to abide the results themselves,” but he did nothing to discipline them at the time (Joseph F. Smith to Reed Smoot, 9 Apr. 1904, Reed Smoot Correspondence, LDS archives).
49. Copies of both resignations are included in the Reed Smoot Correspondence, LDS archives. The most salient parts of Taylor’s resignation are set out in B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930), 6:400.
60. Emma Romney Eyring, “The Story of My Life,” unpublished manuscript, 1953; Joseph T. Bentley Oral History, 1-2; Theodore C. Bennion Oral History, interview by Jessie Embry, 1976, typescript, 2, Redd interviews. President Smith indicated in 1911 that these marriages were approved of by [p. 220] the church (Joseph F. Smith to Reed Smoot, 11 Apr. 1911) as did Heber J. Grant in the 1930s (Heber J. Grant to Katherine H. Allred, 15 Nov. 1935, First Presidency Letterpress Book, LDS archives).
62. Hilda B. Farr Oral History, interview by Victor Jorgensen, 1972, typescript, 3, Oral History Department, California State University, Fullerton, as quoted in Jorgensen and Hardy, “The Taylor-Cowley Affair,” 26.
63. Ivins Marriage Record. Ivins wrote his son Grant, “You can count on it[—]I have never performed a marriage seremony [sic] without proper authority” (Anthony Ivins to Grant Ivins, 7 Mar. 1911, USHS).
69. Anthony W. Ivins Journal, 19 Dec. 1910, USHS; H. Grant Ivins, “Polygamy in Mexico,” 17; Heber J. Grant to Katherine H. Allred, 15 Nov. 1935. However, when John W. Taylor was reinstated into the church posthumously in 1965, the decision was made not to have the sealings restored between Taylor and his last three wives (two of whom he married in 1901). Delbert L. Stapley wrote Taylor’s son, Raymond, “It is a rule followed by the Genealogical Society that if a marriage took place after the manifesto, that such marriages are not recognized nor will permission be given to seal such women to the man she or they were supposedly sealed to. Regardless of the sincere purpose of the women, they, as well as your father, were in violation of both the civil law and the law of the Church” (Delbert L. Stapley to Raymond W. Taylor, 4 June 1966, Marriott Library, University of Utah). Henry E. Christiansen then wrote Taylor on 2 February 1967 and affirmed what Stapley had written (Henry E. Christiansen to Raymond W. Taylor, 2 Feb. 1967, Marriott Library, University of Utah).