Jump to content

Myth Or Fact


Lamanite

Recommended Posts

He must have been a bit peeved when she would not lend him her stamp of legitimacy.

Severian's calorie free snarkiness not withstanding, we do know a bit about the relationship between Brigham and Emma.

There was some bad blood between the two of them, mostly over succession and inheritance issues. The line between what was Joseph's personal property and what was the Church's was blurred in the last year or so in Nauvoo.

Emma was, for the most part, looking out for her children and seeking to ensure an inheritance for them while Brigham was, on the other hand, trying to consolidate the Church's holdings and authority.

I vaguely recall that Young asked to take Emma as a plural wife (which she vehemently refused), but that recollection is more than a little vague, and I wouldn't trust it entirely. If it is true, then I can imagine Emma being quite put out by such an offer.

All in all, it is my understanding that the short months between the murder of Joseph Smith and the forced exodus into the dead of winter were an extremely troubled and confused time (how could they be anything else?), and that Emma in her grief and trials was at logger-heads with an obstinate and opinionated Young on more than one occasion.

I think "hate" (in either direction) is probably a bit too strong a term- but there were strong feelings and competing interests at play.

There were Saints of that era who were less than charitable in assessing Emma's motives, character, and decisions. While people are entitled to their own opinions, Emma is under no condemnation in the Church Brigham tended in Utah and she is still celebrated as both "an Elect Lady" and the First President of the Relief Society.

Time heals all wounds (or so they say) and I doubt that the enmity is or was quite as sharp as the critics are wont to proclaim it.

Link to comment

I for one admire Emma so very much. I love the Prophet Joseph here on one hand he is commanded to enter into plural marriage and his beautiful love of his life hate plural marriage. They seemed to tolerate each other and still loved each other. Kudos for Emma!

She didn't hate Brigham but him and the Saints in general (those who went to Utah) she had some bitter feelings.

Link to comment

Brigham Young felt that Emma Hale Smith had been, essentially, an apostate from at least 1843 onward. There were many indications that she had had intimate association with the Laws -- and by extension, the Fosters and Higbees, who were instrumental in the production of the Nauvoo Expositor, and also involved with the "Gentiles" who were part of the conspiracy to kill Joseph. Whether or not Emma had some foreknowledge of the plot to assassinate Joseph remains a disputed issue to this day. Brigham certainly believed Joseph when he reported that Emma had attempted to poison him on two occasions in Nauvoo. Brigham and Emma were both headstrong personalities. Emma could not abide the notion that anyone other than her family had the right to "lead" the Church after Joseph's death. Brigham and most of the Twelve also resented the fact that Emma influenced her children to reject their (the Twelve) right to assume the leadership of the Church. For many years afterward, the leadership of the Church in Salt Lake City harbored a hope that David Smith would eventually assume his father's mantle -- a hope that proved vain as David ultimately sunk into mental instability.

While it is true that Emma never renounced Joseph publicly as a "fallen prophet," the fact remains that she was very influential in leading her offspring and many others to reject the authority of the Twelve. Consequently, she was regarded by many of the faithful LDS men and women in Utah as having fallen from her right to the blessings that had been promised her, of having her "mind darkened," of having "lost the Spirit," and was viewed by many as an enemy to the restored gospel.

Link to comment

There were many indications that she had had intimate association with the Laws -- and by extension, the Fosters and Higbees, who were instrumental in the production of the Nauvoo Expositor, and also involved with the "Gentiles" who were part of the conspiracy to kill Joseph.

Did the Laws, Fosters, and Higbees actually conspire with the Gentiles in Carthage, or is this still unproved? I remember hearing somewhere (can't remember) that William Law actually was upset when he heard Joseph was dead.

Link to comment

Did the Laws, Fosters, and Higbees actually conspire with the Gentiles in Carthage, or is this still unproved? I remember hearing somewhere (can't remember) that William Law actually was upset when he heard Joseph was dead.

There is actually a report of someone who was at William Law's side as he died who claimed that William confessed to firing one of the shots that struck Joseph. I'll have to review my sources to locate the reference, but I'm quite certain of the report. Whether or not it is accurate is disputed, but the report is real.

Link to comment

That is a lie. No reputable scholar maintains this.

Chill. Please.

Whether or not any "reputable scholars" (whatever that means) believe this is beside the point. It was believed by many during the time of Brigham Young and the early pioneer period. Many interpreted Emma's letter to Joseph, urging him to return, as evidence of her complicity. I myself do not believe this to be the case. Indeed, there were many people who felt that Joseph was abandoning them when he and Hyrum went across the river. There were many people who wanted Joseph to return, and they were certainly not involved in the conspiracy to murder him. The facts are that Emma had been intimately, and somewhat secretly involved with the various machinations put in motion by the Laws. Does that mean she was complicit in Joseph's murder? Not at all. But the point of this thread is to answer the question as to why Brigham Young felt antipathy towards Emma Hale Smith. It cannot be denied that part of the reason is that Brigham gave some credence to the rumors and largely unfounded conclusions reached by many who believed that Emma was at least conscious of the fact that there was a plot afoot to capture and kill her husband.

So please don't call me a liar. I am certainly well-enough versed in the history of the period to know that Emma's possible complicity in her husband's death was a widely discussed and somewhat widely believed notion, whether it was founded in facts or not.

Link to comment

I am certainly well-enough versed in the history of the period to know that Emma's possible complicity in her husband's death was a widely discussed and somewhat widely believed notion, whether it was founded in facts or not.

Was it a "widely discussed and somewhat widely believed notion"? What are your sources for this?

I'd also like to see some evidence for the so-called "fact" that "Emma had been intimately, and somewhat secretly involved with the various machinations put in motion by the Laws." I wonder how this managed to escape the notice of the numerous historians who've examined the Nauvoo period.

Link to comment

Was it a "widely discussed and somewhat widely believed notion"? What are your sources for this?

I'd also like to see some evidence for the so-called "fact" that "Emma had been intimately, and somewhat secretly involved with the various machinations put in motion by the Laws." I wonder how this managed to escape the notice of the numerous historians who've examined the Nauvoo period.

I will try to make it a point, sometime in the near future, to assemble sources. But I'm frankly quite surprised that you're acting as though this is some novel information to which I've alluded. The alleged intrigues involving Emma and the Law brothers are hardly something that has "escaped the notice of the numerous historians who've examined the Nauvoo period."

Now, if you want to argue that interpretations have changed in the past several decades compared to what they were in the mid to late nineteenth century, I'll certainly agree with you. It is now quite fashionable among all classes of historians, faithful and otherwise, to paint a quite favorable picture of Emma Smith. But it's not because the data has increased in quantity in the interim. Bushman, for example, simple chooses to not believe the sources that suggest Emma poisoned Joseph. That's fine. He may be right that Joseph incorrectly concluded (Bushman's explanation) that he had been poisoned. But that doesn't change the fact that Joseph did accuse Emma of attempting to poison him -- not once but twice -- and that there were many witnesses to this accusation. And, it is this accusation (by Joseph) of murderous intent on Emma's part in the alleged poisoning episode(s) that is related to the beliefs that some held in the early pioneer period concerning Emma's complicity in Joseph's ultimate death. No one is disputing that it was all innuendo. But to dispute that such things were not even discussed is to ignore the facts. They were. And this was all related to the antipathy that Brigham Young felt towards Emma Smith.

Link to comment

I think "hate" would be too strong of a word. But there was certainly no love lost between the Emma and Brigham.

I think Emma's words were "there is no particle of friendship left between us" or something to that effect.

The biography of Emma Smith entitled "Enigma" has some very good information used to try to reconstruct where the relationship between Emma and Brigham went sour because they got along very well before Joseph Smith's death. The first signs of trouble, I think were a few months later when Brigham Young borrowed a horse from one of Emma's sons (Joseph III, I think), went four wheeling, and returned the animal out of gas. That ticked off young Joseph and his mother. Then there was the matter of church finances. To Emma, it seemed that Brigham Young wanted all of the assets and wanted Emma to be stuck with all the debt. She wasn't having any of that. Brigham Young, of course, was looking out for the best interest of the church whole and the most practical way to protect the church's interest would have been for Emma to accompany the Saints west and turn all the finances over to him. Then there was the matter of Mother Smith. Emma had no intention of leaving mother Smith behind or making her go on a trek that would surely have killed her. By the time the Saints left Nauvoo, the relationship between Emma and Brigham had deteriorated greatly. By the time her sons were grown, Brigham Young was calling Emma a "damnable liar" right in front of the boys (young men by now.) On Emma's part, there seems to have been much less badmouthing. That wasn't Emma's style.

Link to comment

I think Emma's words were "there is no particle of friendship left between us" or something to that effect.

The biography of Emma Smith entitled "Enigma" has some very good information used to try to reconstruct where the relationship between Emma and Brigham went sour because they got along very well before Joseph Smith's death. The first signs of trouble, I think were a few months later when Brigham Young borrowed a horse from one of Emma's sons (Joseph III, I think), went four wheeling, and returned the animal out of gas. That ticked off young Joseph and his mother. Then there was the matter of church finances. To Emma, it seemed that Brigham Young wanted all of the assets and wanted Emma to be stuck with all the debt. She wasn't having any of that. Brigham Young, of course, was looking out for the best interest of the church whole and the most practical way to protect the church's interest would have been for Emma to accompany the Saints west and turn all the finances over to him. Then there was the matter of Mother Smith. Emma had no intention of leaving mother Smith behind or making her go on a trek that would surely have killed her. By the time the Saints left Nauvoo, the relationship between Emma and Brigham had deteriorated greatly. By the time her sons were grown, Brigham Young was calling Emma a "damnable liar" right in front of the boys (young men by now.) On Emma's part, there seems to have been much less badmouthing. That wasn't Emma's style.

I do have to say that I think the whole Brigham/Emma thing would make a great Mormon movie. You have all the elements of good drama.

As for the horse story, I can only add this bit of perspective as a horse owner and father. When I ride a horse, I tend to ride it hard. Why? Because, frankly, they like it. At least some of them do. They love to go. And in the process, the outward appearance of the horse can suffer -- at least temporarily. I have brought home a horse who is absolutely a total sweaty, exhausted mess. And when it happened to be my daughter's favorite horse, she was aghast that I had done such a thing to her "pet." Of course, a 14-year-old girl has a different conception of a horse than does a 40-year-old man. The horse in question was perfectly fine the following day. In fact, the horse was even stronger, more toned, and ready to go hard again.

My point is that I've read the story to which you refer. Young Joseph III felt like Brigham Young had somehow mistreated his "pet" horse. But it all could have simply been a difference of perspective, and one not based in reality.

Link to comment

The alleged intrigues involving Emma and the Law brothers are hardly something that has "escaped the notice of the numerous historians who've examined the Nauvoo period."

Well, I don't recall anything of that nature in Brodie's or Hill's or Bushman's biographies of Joseph Smith, or in Newell and Avery's biography of Emma, or in Launius's biography of Joseph III, or in Flanders's or Leonard's studies of Nauvoo, or in Lyndon Cook's book on William Law, or in William Clayton's journals--but it's possible I missed it.

It is now quite fashionable among all classes of historians, faithful and otherwise, to paint a quite favorable picture of Emma Smith. But it's not because the data has increased in quantity in the interim. Bushman, for example, simple chooses to not believe the sources that suggest Emma poisoned Joseph.

Or rather, he chooses not to accept Brigham Young's interpretation of a decades-old memory, recalled in "the anti-Emma atmosphere of Utah" of the 1860s, since there is considerable evidence that Joseph was not poisoned at all. As Newell and Avery observe, "according to current medical literature, no poison available in 1844 was caustic enough to pool blood in the stomach so rapidly after ingestion as Joseph's symptoms indicate and still be so ineffective as to allow the victim to pursue normal activities within a few hours." This--and the fact that "Joseph was susceptible to vomiting anyway"--would seem to rule out poisoning as the cause of Joseph's illness.

Newell and Avery also point out that "in 1866 Brigham's rhetoric could well have been stronger than Joseph's actual words, for it came at a time when Brigham was particularly hostile toward Emma." After another bout of vomiting a few weeks later, "Joseph portrayed Emma as a helper and nurse instead of the instigator of the attack" (Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2d ed. [urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994], 164-65).

It is simply preposterous to insinuate that Emma was in any way complicit in her husband's murder. Joseph and Emma loved each other to the end.

Emma, whose tortured relationship with Joseph had blighted her last years as his wife, struggled between her belief in him as a prophet and her love for him as a man. Her affection remained. Her son remembered her saying softly over his dead body, "Oh, Joseph, Joseph! My husband, my husband! Have they taken you from me at last!" When the bodies of Hyrum and Joseph were moved to the homestead site, she had a lock of her husband's hair snipped for a locket she wore all her life.

-- Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, 554.

In their article, "The Lion and the Lady: Brigham Young and Emma Smith," Valeen Tippetts Avery and Linda King Newell chart the tragic misunderstandings and mutual antipathy that came to characterize Brigham and Emma's relationship. They conclude with these words:

Brigham Young and Emma Smith centered their lives on the charismatic Joseph. Brigham loved him and did his bidding; Emma loved him and challenged him. Both died calling his name.

That is how I want to remember them.

Link to comment
Emma is naturally a very smart woman; she is subtle and ingenious, and she has made all her children believe that myself, brother Kimball, and the other members of the Twelve laid the plot which terminated in the death of the Prophet. This charge is especially laid to myself. At the time that Joseph was killed I was in the city of Boston, a number of hundred miles away from the scene of the martyrdom. She has made her children inherit lies. To my certain knowledge Emma Smith is one of the damdest liars I know of on this earth; yet there is no good thing I would refuse to do for her, if she would only be a righteous woman; but she will continue in her wickedness.

Not six months before the death of Joseph, he called his wife Emma into a secret council, and there he told her the truth [about plural marriage], and called upon her to deny it if she could. He told her that the judgments of God would come upon her forthwith if she did not repent. He told her of the time she undertook to poison him, and he told her that she was a child of hell, and literally the most wicked woman on this earth, that there was not one more wicked then she. He told her where she got the poison, and how she put it in a cup of coffee; said he, "You got that poison so and so, and I drank it, but you could not kill me." When it entered his stomach he went to the door and threw it off. He spoke to her in that council in a very severe manner, and she never said one word in reply. I have witnesses of this scene all around, who can testify that I am now telling the truth. Twice she undertook to kill him.

- Brigham Young, 8 October 1866, General Conference address, Historian's Office Reports of Speeches, LDS Church Archives

Damdest liar, child of hell, literally the most wicked woman on the earth, and of course a twice attempted murder. I wouldn't say that Brigham was sitting on the fence regarding his opinions of Emma.

Phaedrus

Phaedrus

Link to comment

Was it a "widely discussed and somewhat widely believed notion"? What are your sources for this?

I'd also like to see some evidence for the so-called "fact" that "Emma had been intimately, and somewhat secretly involved with the various machinations put in motion by the Laws." I wonder how this managed to escape the notice of the numerous historians who've examined the Nauvoo period.

Me too. Gossip is very powerful. More powerful than truth, quite often.

Link to comment

Nevo:

It is simply preposterous to insinuate that Emma was in any way complicit in her husband's murder.

You could be right. In fact, youâ??re probably right. However, that didnâ??t stop some people from suggesting precisely that. Perhaps your predisposition towards Emma Smith apologetics has somewhat blinded you to the references you must have surely come across in your reading. Iâ??m not pulling things out of thin air here. Iâ??m absolutely certain Iâ??ve come across multiple instances of this claim in my years of reading.

(Speaking of insinuations of a clandestine relationship between William Law, his brother Wilson, and Emma: )

Well, I don't recall anything of that nature in Brodie's or Hill's or Bushman's biographies of Joseph Smith, or in Newell and Avery's biography of Emma, or in Launius's biography of Joseph III, or in Flanders's or Leonard's studies of Nauvoo, or in Lyndon Cook's book on William Law, or in William Clayton's journals--but it's possible I missed it.

Actually, when and if I go to track down the various places I have found references to the William & Wilson Law/Emma Smith intrigues, Claytonâ??s journal will be one of the first places I look. I have a vague recollection that I will find some of the evidences there. As for the other books you mention, I would characterize all of them, to a greater or lesser degree, as being apologetic in nature towards the reputation of Emma Smith. Not that such an approach is inherently wrong. Indeed, it may be the most historically correct angle to take. But they often ignore or attempt to discredit the many hostile witnesses against Emma. In the case of Newell and Averyâ??s book, they sometimes even strain to the point of excess in attempting to airbrush Emmaâ??s every flaw. I need to track down Cookâ??s book on Law again. It has been at least ten years since I read it, and I really donâ??t recollect what it had to say about his relationship with Emma.

As for your citations of othersâ?? attempts to use 20th century rationales to dismiss the accusation of poisoning â?? I consider the very effort irrelevant. In my view, the fact that Joseph believed and accused Emma of poisoning him is the salient issue. It manifests the underlying tension that must have been in the relationship, and the fact that Joseph obviously believed Emma capable of such a thing.

Joseph and Emma loved each other to the end.

I believe youâ??re right. But nothing could be a more simplistic characterization of the relationship between Joseph and Emma Hale Smith. It fails to explain the serious estrangement that had persisted between them during the latter half of the Nauvoo period. It fails to consider the dynamics involved in Emmaâ??s lengthy absences from Nauvoo (to St. Louis and elsewhere) â?? almost trial separations as it were. Indeed, it fails to convey in the least the complexity of their relationship.

Link to comment
QUOTE(William Schryver @ Oct 16 2007, 06:16 PM) post_snapback.gif

Whether or not Emma had some foreknowledge of the plot to assassinate Joseph remains a disputed issue to this day.

Nevo: That is a lie. No reputable scholar maintains this.

Could this rumor have been borne from anti-Emma sentiment?

Link to comment

Lots of stories and hardly any ref's. This is what prompted this thread in the first place. I have a neighbor who went off on this subject and when I CFR'd her, she just shrugged like it was common knowledge.

If you didn't provide a ref in your post could you please do so, if you have one, thanks.

Link to comment

But it all could have simply been a difference of perspective, and one not based in reality.

Absolutely. I think the entire problem between these two powerful people was a difference of perspective that ended up with them taking conflicting paths. Being a protective mother myself, I think that Brigham Young was dreadfully unfair to Emma, but I understand why his perspective would have led him to feel the way he did towards her.

Link to comment

Lots of stories and hardly any ref's. This is what prompted this thread in the first place. I have a neighbor who went off on this subject and when I CFR'd her, she just shrugged like it was common knowledge.

If you didn't provide a ref in your post could you please do so, if you have one, thanks.

Most of my information comes from the biographies of Emma Smith and David Hyrum Smith. They are both very well documented and were written by LDS historians with cooperation from the LDS and RLDS churches. The source material consists of (among other things) letters, sworn statements, public records, and journal entries. The information on Brigham calling Emma a "damnable liar" comes from letters and journal entries from both David and Alexander Smith. There may be other sources as well like minutes from the meeting, but I don't remember. I do know that it was extremely upsetting to the Smith boys to hear Brigham Young criticize their mother's character like that.

Link to comment

My own personal opinion is that if Joseph loved Emma, and Brigham loved Joseph, he should have done every damn thing in his power to Love her and at least make her happy and comfortable. That's how I roll.

It wasn't nearly that simple. Emma's well being was not Brigham Young's first priority. He was trying to keep the entire church together. Emma's focus was on her family. I'm not sure Emma would have wanted Brigham Young to make her happy and comfortable.

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...