Believing members of the church hold to the belief that Joseph was tarred and feathered as a result of religious persecution of his beliefs while many former believers hold to the premise that Joseph was subjected to this humiliation as retribution from a loving brother who was seeking revenge for the sexual advances Joseph made towards his sister, who eventually also become one of Joseph’s many wives…who incidentally was only 12 at the time of the alleged sexual advances.
So which of this two scenarios do the facts support…I really want to know.
Here are a couple of excerpts from various writers on this subject:
Fawn Brodie tells the story like this:
“Fortified by a barrel of whiskey, [the mob] smashed their way into the Johnson home on the night of March 24, 1832 and dragged Joseph from the trundle bed where he had fallen asleep while watching one of the twins. They stripped him, scratched and beat him with savage pleasure, and smeared his bleeding body with tar from head to foot. Ripping a pillow into shreds, they plastered him with feathers. It is said that Eli Johnson demanded that the prophet be castrated, for he suspected Joseph of being too intimate with his sister, Nancy Marinda. But the doctor who had been persuaded to join the mob declined the responsibility at the last moment…” (No Man Knows My History, page119).
Todd Compton reports it in this manner:
“The motivation for this mobbing has been debated. Clark Braden…alleged…that Marinda’s brother Eli led a mob against Smith because the prophet had been too intimate with Marinda. This tradition suggests that Smith may have married Marinda at this early time, and some circumstantial factors support such a possibility. The castration attempt might be taken as evidence that the mob felt that Joseph had committed a sexual impropriety; since the attempt is reported by [Marinda's brother who became LDS apostle] Luke Johnson, there is no good reason to doubt it. Also, they had planned the operation in advance, as they brought along a doctor to perform it. The first revelations had been received in 1831, by historian Danel Bachman’s dating. Also, Joseph did tend to marry women who had stayed at his house or in whose house he had stayed” (In Sacred Loneliness, page 231).
And this is how the church teaches primary children of this event:
Teach the children about Joseph Smith’s reaction to those who persecuted him, as illustrated by the following historical account. Display the pictures at appropriate times.
Soon after the Church was organized, some of the members began to apostatize, or leave the Church. They quit attending Church meetings, opposed the Prophet, and persecuted the Saints. People apostatized for various reasons. For example, one man left the Church because his horse died while he was traveling to join the Saints in Missouri. Another man apostatized after he saw Joseph Smith playing with children. He thought a prophet should be too serious to play with children. One man saw that his name was misspelled on a Church document and thought that meant Joseph Smith was not inspired by God. Other people left the Church because they did not receive the help they expected with their financial problems. Some members left the Church because they could not forgive other members for actions that had offended them. After leaving the Church, these offended people often became the Church’s worst enemies.
Ezra Booth joined the Church in 1831 after seeing the Prophet heal Elsa Johnson’s arm (see lesson 19). Several months later he was called on a mission to Missouri. He was angry because he had to walk the entire journey and because missionary life was not what he had expected. He was disappointed because he did not see any more miracles like the healing of Elsa Johnson. He began to think and say bad things about the leaders of the Church. Because of his improper behavior during his mission, Ezra Booth was excommunicated when he returned to Ohio. This meant that he was no longer a member of the Church. Instead of repenting, Booth began writing letters to a local newspaper, telling lies about Joseph Smith and the Church. These letters influenced many people in Ohio to become suspicious of Church members and to persecute them.
One winter night a group of men who believed Ezra Booth’s letters got drunk and attacked the homes of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in Hiram, Ohio. Joseph had been up late caring for his adopted son, who had the measles, and had just fallen asleep when the angry mob broke into the house. The men dragged Joseph outside, swearing and threatening to kill him. They choked him, tore off his clothes, and tried to push a paddle of hot tar and a bottle of acid into his mouth. The bottle of acid broke, chipping one of Joseph’s teeth and causing him to speak with a whistle for the rest of his life. The men in the mob also dragged Sidney Rigdon from his home. When Joseph saw Sidney lying on the ground, he thought Sidney was dead. The mob decided not to kill Joseph, but they scratched him severely, spread hot tar all over his body, and covered him with feathers.
When Joseph finally got home, Emma saw him and fainted, because she thought the tar covering Joseph was blood. Joseph’s friends helped him clean off the tar, a long and painful process. Sidney Rigdon had been knocked unconscious from the severe cuts and bruises to his head, and he was delirious for several days. Following this terrible experience, the baby that Joseph had been caring for that night caught a severe cold and died.
The next day was Sunday, and Joseph went at the usual time to worship with the Saints. The group of people he preached to included some members of the mob who had covered him with tar and feathers the night before. Even with his skin scraped and sore, Joseph preached as usual and never mentioned the violence of the night before.
It is true that Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered on the night of March 24th 1832. It is also true that Joseph did eventually take Mirinda Johnson as one of his plural wives. Incidentally…Mirinda was only 12 years old *[she was actually 16] at the time of the alleged sexual impropriety.
So what is the truth...please provide your CFR in advance to save time...
Edited by Craig Paxton, 05 June 2012 - 10:14 PM.