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Dispelling some confusion about the Whitney Letter


wenglund

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In a now closed thread, mention was made of the letter Joseph wrote to the Whitney Family while he was in hiding from persecution and prosecution of the Missourians. The background and full content of the letter and discussion of associated issues can be read HERE.

My intent on this thread isn't to rehash all of this, but rather to clear up one bit of confusion regarding a small portion of the letter of August 18, 1942.

The section of the letter Joseph wrote to the Whitneys that I have in mind is, after Joseph tells the Whitney's his new hiding location (at the Granger's), and invites them to come for a visit, he cautions: "the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safty: only be careful to escape observation, as much as possible..."

Certain critics have interpreted this to mean that Joseph thought it unsafe for Emma to see Joseph in the company of the Whitneys because that would somehow reveal the alleged secret marriage between Joseph and Sarah Whitney that took place three weeks earlier (see HERE.

This, to me, is quite confused for several reasons. First, a little more than two weeks after the letter was written, Joseph was at home eating a meal with Emma, when it was learned that Joseph was again in danger of being illegitimately arrested. And, while the arresting authorities were being detained outside the house, Joseph left out the back door and went to stay at the Whitneys, with the full knowledge of Emma. It makes no sense, then, that on the 18th there would be fear that Emma would see Joseph in the company of the Whineys, when two weeks later Emma sent Joseph off to be in the company of the Whitneys. (See: History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.8, p.145)

Second, there is a much more plausible reason for the concern about safety in not having Emma and the Whitneys visit Joseph together. This more plausible reason comes by not only reading the letter in its full context, but also from understanding the letter in its historical context.

On the 16th of August, 1842, two days prior to the Whitney letter being written, Emma sent a letter to Joseph, who was at the time secreted at the Sayers'. The letter, in part, said: "There are more ways than one to take care of you, and I believe that you can still direct in your business concerns if we are all of us prudent in the matter. If it was pleasant weather I should contrive to see you this evening, but I dare not run too much of a risk, on account of so many going to see you." (History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.6, p.109--emphisis mine)

Obviously, there was some concern on Emma's part, and likely Joseph's as well, that Joseph's hiding place would be discovered because of all the people visiting Joseph, particularly in company with Emma. If her coming alone was of some risk for discovery, then the risk of being there with a bunch of Joseph's associates would make it of considerably greater risk.

As it turns out, the next day (Aug. 17), while walking in the woods, Joseph was discover by a young man, who was then asked to keep Joseph's whereabouts secret, and the young man promised to do do. (See: History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.6, p.114)

Even so, according to Joseph's journal for the 17th: "Several rumors were afloat in the city, intimating that my retreat had been discovered, and that it was no longer safe for me to remain at Brother Sayers'; consequently Emma came to see me at night, and informed me of the report. It was considered wisdom that I should remove immediately, and accordingly I departed in company with Emma and Brother Derby, and went to Carlos Granger's, who lived in the north-east part of the city. Here we were kindly received and well treated." (History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.6, pp. 117-118)

No doubt, these rumors and need to move heightened the concern for Joseph's safety, and was most likely the reason Joseph "prudently" took great pains to warn the Whitneys against coming while Emma was there, fore that would greatly increase the risk of detection.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Stalkers of enemies' wives are not an unusual thing in the world, especially when enemies are in hiding.

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Stalkers of enemies' wives are not an unusual thing in the world, especially when enemies are in hiding.

And, people being stalked may wisely reason that the stalkers might figure out that where the carcass is, there will the eagles be also (Mt. 24:28) and vice versa. The presence of one eagle may not signal the location of a carcass, though the presence of four likely would.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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This, to me, is quite confused for several reasons. First, a little more than two weeks after the letter was written, Joseph was at home eating a meal with Emma, when it was learned that Joseph was again in danger of being illegitimately arrested. And, while the arresting authorities were being detained outside the house, Joseph left out the back door and went to stay at the Whitneys, with the full knowledge of Emma. It makes no sense, then, that on the 18th there would be fear that Emma would see Joseph in the company of the Whineys, when two weeks later Emma sent Joseph off to be in the company of the Whitneys. (See: History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.8, p.145)

Second, there is a much more plausible reason for the concern about safety in not having Emma and the Whitneys visit Joseph together. This more plausible reason comes by not only reading the letter in its full context, but also from understanding the letter in its historical context.

On the 16th of August, 1842, two days prior to the Whitney letter being written, Emma sent a letter to Joseph, who was at the time secreted at the Sayers'. The letter, in part, said: "There are more ways than one to take care of you, and I believe that you can still direct in your business concerns if we are all of us prudent in the matter. If it was pleasant weather I should contrive to see you this evening, but I dare not run too much of a risk, on account of so many going to see you." (History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.6, p.109--emphisis mine)

Obviously, there was some concern on Emma's part, and likely Joseph's as well, that Joseph's hiding place would be discovered because of all the people visiting Joseph, particularly in company with Emma. If her coming alone was of some risk for discovery, then the risk of being there with a bunch of Joseph's associates would make it of considerably greater risk.

As it turns out, the next day (Aug. 17), while walking in the woods, Joseph was discover by a young man, who was then asked to keep Joseph's whereabouts secret, and the young man promised to do do. (See: History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.6, p.114)

Even so, according to Joseph's journal for the 17th: "Several rumors were afloat in the city, intimating that my retreat had been discovered, and that it was no longer safe for me to remain at Brother Sayers'; consequently Emma came to see me at night, and informed me of the report. It was considered wisdom that I should remove immediately, and accordingly I departed in company with Emma and Brother Derby, and went to Carlos Granger's, who lived in the north-east part of the city. Here we were kindly received and well treated." (History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.6, pp. 117-118)

I think this stuff should be added to the FAIR wiki.... (Wonka? Where are you?)
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I think this stuff should be added to the FAIR wiki.... (Wonka? Where are you?)

I don't think it should be added to the FAIR wiki. It would only further weaken an already weak section of the article ("...when Emma comes then you cannot be safe").

Wade argues that "it makes no sense ... that on the 18th there would be fear that Emma would see Joseph in the company of the Whitneys, when two weeks later Emma sent Joseph off to be in the company of the Whitneys."

Actually, the History of the Church doesn't say anything about Emma sending Joseph to be in the company of the Whitneys. But even if she had, the two circumstances were completely different. Joseph fleeing across the cornfield behind the house to the nearest safe haven, staying with Newel and Elizabeth Whitney and their six children (the eldest, Horace, being on a mission in the East at the time), could hardly have aroused Emma's suspicions. Newel and Elizabeth traveling with their eldest daughter to the Prophet's hiding place for a private evening audience, on the other hand, might have.

Why? Because just a month earlier, John C. Bennett, the disgraced former Assistant President of the Church, had begun writing a series of articles in the Springfield-based Sangamo Journal that accused the Prophet, among other things, of attempting to seduce Nancy Rigdon, Sarah Pratt, and others, and of practicing spiritual wifery. That spring, as president of the Nauvoo Relief Society, Emma had initiated an investigation of Clarissa Marvel for "[telling] scandalous falsehoods on the character of Prest. Joseph Smith without the least provocation." Marvel later retracted her remarks, affirming that she had "never seen any thing improper or unvirtuous in the conduct or conversation of either President Smith or Mrs. Agnes Smith." (Joseph Smith was sealed to Agnes Coolbrith Smith, his brother Don Carlos's widow, on 6 January 1842.) The authors of Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith title the chapter covering the spring and summer of 1842 "In Search of Iniquity," since Emma was at this time taking a very active role in watching over the morals of the community.

So polygamy rumors were definitely in the air in August 1842, and Emma's awareness of Joseph's earlier experimentation with the practice in Kirtland undoubtedly made her especially sensitive to possible signs of its reappearance (and Joseph all the more wary as a result). It does not seem out of the question, then, that Joseph might have worried about Emma's reaction on seeing Sarah Ann (alone of all the Whitney children) accompanying her parents on a special visit to the Prophet in hiding.

It is true that Joseph didn't want his hiding place to be discovered by his enemies, and he mentions this in the letter. But he doesn't seem overly concerned about it, instructing the Whitneys to "be careful to escape observation, as much as possible..." (emphasis added). He didn't want them to stay home. Joseph seems to have felt the risk to himself abating since he spent the following night (the 19th) at home with Emma and moved back home to stay on August 22nd.

If Joseph had thought the Whitneys' visit was likely to jeopardize either his or their physical safety, he wouldn't have encouraged it. No, his main preoccupation was to avoid an unpleasant encounter with Emma: "the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safty" (underlining in original). By "safety" Joseph evidently meant privacy. Elsewhere in the letter he writes: "I have a room intirely by myself, the whole matter can be attended to with most perfect safty." What was this "matter" he wanted to attend to privately, without interference from Emma? I believe it was the sealing blessing he wished to offer to Newel and Elizabeth Whitney.

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If Joseph had thought the Whitneys' visit was likely to jeopardize either his or their physical safety, he wouldn't have encouraged it.

Except he seemed to be particularly interested in getting the blessing completed as soon as possible. Perhaps he felt it was worth the risk...which at the point he might have seen as pretty low overall (but still might have been concerned about people in Emma's vicinity (isn't this the time she was playing hostess at the mansion, thus nonLDS would be 'less noticeable' there than around the Whitney's place).
No, his main preoccupation was to avoid an unpleasant encounter with Emma: "the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safty" (underlining in original). By "safety" Joseph evidently meant privacy. Elsewhere in the letter he writes: "I have a room intirely by myself, the whole matter can be attended to with most perfect safty." What was this "matter" he wanted to attend to privately, without interference from Emma? I believe it was the sealing blessing he wished to offer to Newel and Elizabeth Whitney.

IIRC (I really should be in bed, haven't been able to sleep all night so I am not going to do any more research at this time), Sarah isn't even mentioned. The "etc." could have referred to any or all of their children from the context it would seem, unless it had be arranged who would be there previously. Is my memory faulty and if not, is there any indication elsewhere that her presence and only her presence was expected by Joseph?

Are you suggesting that the only concern Joseph had of Emma's presence was the interruption of the Whitneys' sealing and not Emma interrupting a meeting between Joseph and Sarah or did he have another concern about her?

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IIRC (I really should be in bed, haven't been able to sleep all night so I am not going to do any more research at this time), Sarah isn't even mentioned. The "etc." could have referred to any or all of their children from the context it would seem, unless it had be arranged who would be there previously. Is my memory faulty and if not, is there any indication elsewhere that her presence and only her presence was expected by Joseph?

You're correct that Sarah isn't mentioned by name, but since Joseph refers to "you three" and describes feeling especially close to them due to "what has pased lately between us," it is pretty clear who the third person is. I think we can safely rule out 12-year-old Orson Whitney or any of his younger siblings.

Are you suggesting that the only concern Joseph had of Emma's presence was the interruption of the Whitneys' sealing and not Emma interrupting a meeting between Joseph and Sarah or did he have another concern about her?

I don't really know what Joseph's specific concern was. He may have been trying to avoid some kind of confrontation with Emma. Elizabeth Whitney was Emma's friend and first counselor in the Relief Society presidency, so a rift between them would be particularly damaging. We know from the events of the following year that Emma didn't react well to the news that Joseph Smith was again teaching and practicing polygamy, so Joseph had good reason to feel anxious. Or maybe he just wanted privacy. Perhaps he didn't feel that he could speak freely with the Whitneys about sealing matters with Emma present. Emma herself didn't receive these blessings for another nine months, and then only after (temporarily) consenting to the doctrine of plural marriage.

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Nevo:

He may have been trying to avoid some kind of confrontation with Emma.

I think this is clearly what is going on. It's obvious from the context of the letter that Joseph wasn't trying to arrange a tryst of any kind. But it wouldn't have taken Emma discovering Joseph in flagrante dilecto in order to send her into a tizzy over plural marriage. I am convinced that Joseph Smith's primary strategy for dealing with Emma's antipathy towards "the principle" was simply to make every effort to ensure she didn't have to confront its realities. Frankly, I think Emma intimidated the hell out of Joseph, for whatever reason. Everyone's seen situations like this in life: a bold and otherwise dauntless man who can be cowered by a certain kind of woman. I think Joseph finally gave up trying to convince Emma to accept the principle as a commandment from God, and therefore he was left only with the alternative to conceal it from her as much as possible. Some people read dark and nefarious motives into all of that, but I don't see it that way. In fact, from my perspective, most of the so-called "challenging" documentary evidence can best be interpreted by keeping in mind Joseph Smith's apparent life-long intimidation by Emma. (Almost makes me wonder whose idea it was to elope in the first place!)

Anyway, this all represents my opinion on the question, and I am not, in any way, suggesting that it is an authoritative interpretation, even though I am persuaded it has much explanatory power.

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You're correct that Sarah isn't mentioned by name, but since Joseph refers to "you three" and describes feeling especially close to them due to "what has pased lately between us," it is pretty clear who the third person is. I think we can safely rule out 12-year-old Orson Whitney or any of his younger siblings.

Do you think it possible that the letter was written to the family (one doesn't usually use "etc" for one, but rather a list), but it was understood (possibly discussed earlier) that only those who had already been involved in the teaching (due to Sarah's sealing 3 weeks before---I think that was the timing) were 'invited' to the parents' sealing? Children not being present at parents' sealings seems standard practice from what I recall.

I don't really know what Joseph's specific concern was. He may have been trying to avoid some kind of confrontation with Emma. Elizabeth Whitney was Emma's friend and first counselor in the Relief Society presidency, so a rift between them would be particularly damaging. We know from the events of the following year that Emma didn't react well to the news that Joseph Smith was again teaching and practicing polygamy, so Joseph had good reason to feel anxious. Or maybe he just wanted privacy. Perhaps he didn't feel that he could speak freely with the Whitneys about sealing matters with Emma present. Emma herself didn't receive these blessings for another nine months, and then only after (temporarily) consenting to the doctrine of plural marriage.

I see this reading as a definite possibility.

from before:

I don't think it should be added to the FAIR wiki. It would only further weaken an already weak section of the article ("...when Emma comes then you cannot be safe").
My reasoning to include the additional context was not to bolster a particular argument but rather to provide as complete as possible (it is a wiki article after all) context for the readers. I would also add your information.

I see both readings---Emma as the danger for some reason or Emma as the unwitting bringer of danger---as possible. Depending on my mood, I vary between them. The one real thing I disagree with the common critical approach is that the purpose of the letter was for a love tryst...but it wouldn't bother me if it was as it doesn't affect my judgment of Joseph as a prophet whether or not he engaged in such behaviour behind Emma's back. For some reason (I cannot pin down why), I grew up thinking Joseph was an arrogant jerk but since the OT was my favourite scripture and that was certainly full of prophets that were arrogant or jerks or both, such an opinion never caused any crisis of faith or whatever for me. Arrington's works and Bushman's RSR have cause me to soften my opinion of him a great deal, but I do not think of him as a model husband in all ways save one that stands out for me, he seemed to never give up trying to improve himself in some way which counts a great deal to me.

One more question that occurred to me in my latest attempt to get some shuteye---was the Whitney's the most logical place for Joseph to flee to? Was it closest? Were there other homes that were just as safe? You seem to have knowledge that this was the case, I am wondering if this is an assumption on your part or if you know the layout of the neighbourhood or something else.

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I found this listing of N &E's children: Eleven children: Horace K. (1823), Sarah Ann, Franklin K (1827)., Mary Elizabeth, Orson K., John K., Joshua K., Ann Maria, Don Carlos, Mary Jane, and Newel Melchizedek

Were Franklin and Mary not living at home at time? How old was Mary? (reread and remembered you had already mentioned that Horace was absent) Your comment about Orson and his younger siblings seems to mean that he was the oldest there besides Sarah, but perhaps I am misreading you and you are just excluding him from possibilities.

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I found this listing of N &E's children: Eleven children: Horace K. (1823), Sarah Ann, Franklin K (1827)., Mary Elizabeth, Orson K., John K., Joshua K., Ann Maria, Don Carlos, Mary Jane, and Newel Melchizedek

Were Franklin and Mary not living at home at time? How old was Mary? (reread and remembered you had already mentioned that Horace was absent) Your comment about Orson and his younger siblings seems to mean that he was the oldest there besides Sarah, but perhaps I am misreading you and you are just excluding him from possibilities.

I thought Franklin and Mary died before 1842 but I might be wrong. I'll do some more checking when I get home from church.

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You're correct that Sarah isn't mentioned by name, but since Joseph refers to "you three" and describes feeling especially close to them due to "what has pased lately between us," it is pretty clear who the third person is. I think we can safely rule out 12-year-old Orson Whitney or any of his younger siblings.

I don't really know what Joseph's specific concern was. He may have been trying to avoid some kind of confrontation with Emma. Elizabeth Whitney was Emma's friend and first counselor in the Relief Society presidency, so a rift between them would be particularly damaging. We know from the events of the following year that Emma didn't react well to the news that Joseph Smith was again teaching and practicing polygamy, so Joseph had good reason to feel anxious. Or maybe he just wanted privacy. Perhaps he didn't feel that he could speak freely with the Whitneys about sealing matters with Emma present. Emma herself didn't receive these blessings for another nine months, and then only after (temporarily) consenting to the doctrine of plural marriage.

I think that this is accurate. It seems quite clear that the third person was Sarah Ann.

There certainly is material in this discussion that can be added to the wiki article. The article isn't intended to define only one particular perspective or interpretation of the letter - it is supposed to explore a range of possibilities, as well as demonstrate how critics only extract the portions of the letter that make it sound like something that it wasn't. If you see a particular section as putting forth a weak argument, then I would welcome your input on how we might strengthen it.

WW

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I thought Franklin and Mary died before 1842 but I might be wrong. I'll do some more checking when I get home from church.

If it's a hassle don't worry about it, just have too much time on my hands right now with a mind that won't stop. I tried to open the Whitney family website, but it wouldn't do it, if I'm still curious about it later, I can try again.

See, I knew Wonka would like it. :P

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I don't think it should be added to the FAIR wiki. It would only further weaken an already weak section of the article ("...when Emma comes then you cannot be safe").

Wade argues that "it makes no sense ... that on the 18th there would be fear that Emma would see Joseph in the company of the Whitneys, when two weeks later Emma sent Joseph off to be in the company of the Whitneys."

Actually, the History of the Church doesn't say anything about Emma sending Joseph to be in the company of the Whitneys.

I think that Emma knowing where Joseph was headed can be reasonably assumed given that she was right there when the decision was made for Joseph to flee, as well as Emma's involvement in further detaining the authorities so as to give Joseph sufficient time to get safely away.

But even if she had, the two circumstances were completely different. Joseph fleeing across the cornfield behind the house to the nearest safe haven, staying with Newel and Elizabeth Whitney and their six children (the eldest, Horace, being on a mission in the East at the time), could hardly have aroused Emma's suspicions. Newel and Elizabeth traveling with their eldest daughter to the Prophet's hiding place for a private evening audience, on the other hand, might have.

The two situations may have been different in terms of who was going where, but I don't see what difference that makes in terms of raising suspicions. If the suspicions would supposedly be triggered were Emma to learn that Joseph was in the company of the Whitneys, then the suspicions would be raised whether Joseph was with the Whitneys at the Grangers, or with the Whitneys at the Whitneys. It may even be more suspicious at the Whitneys than at Grangers given the presence of the Grangers.

Why? Because just a month earlier, John C. Bennett, the disgraced former Assistant President of the Church, had begun writing a series of articles in the Springfield-based Sangamo Journal that accused the Prophet, among other things, of attempting to seduce Nancy Rigdon, Sarah Pratt, and others, and of practicing spiritual wifery. That spring, as president of the Nauvoo Relief Society, Emma had initiated an investigation of Clarissa Marvel for "[telling] scandalous falsehoods on the character of Prest. Joseph Smith without the least provocation." Marvel later retracted her remarks, affirming that she had "never seen any thing improper or unvirtuous in the conduct or conversation of either President Smith or Mrs. Agnes Smith." (Joseph Smith was sealed to Agnes Coolbrith Smith, his brother Don Carlos's widow, on 6 January 1842.) The authors of Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith title the chapter covering the spring and summer of 1842 "In Search of Iniquity," since Emma was at this time taking a very active role in watching over the morals of the community.

So polygamy rumors were definitely in the air in August 1842, and Emma's awareness of Joseph's earlier experimentation with the practice in Kirtland undoubtedly made her especially sensitive to possible signs of its reappearance (and Joseph all the more wary as a result). It does not seem out of the question, then, that Joseph might have worried about Emma's reaction on seeing Sarah Ann (alone of all the Whitney children) accompanying her parents on a special visit to the Prophet in hiding.

That certainly speaks to what may have been at the forefront of Emma's mind during the preceeding months. However, it is clear from Emma's own letters, words, and actions, as well as in all of what Joseph said and did during the few days prior to August 18, that what was foremost on both of their minds at the time was keeping Joseph safely hidden and out of the hands of the Missourians and their accomplices. So, in terms of strength of argument, I believe my argument is stronger by virtue of its closer proximity in the time to when the letter was written.

It is true that Joseph didn't want his hiding place to be discovered by his enemies, and he mentions this in the letter. But he doesn't seem overly concerned about it, instructing the Whitneys to "be careful to escape observation, as much as possible..." (emphasis added). He didn't want them to stay home. Joseph seems to have felt the risk to himself abating since he spent the following night (the 19th) at home with Emma and moved back home to stay on August 22nd.

If Joseph had thought the Whitneys' visit was likely to jeopardize either his or their physical safety, he wouldn't have encouraged it.

I don't know that Joseph was concerned about physical harm coming to he or the Whitneys, or even Emma for that matter, otherwise it is doubtful that he would have allowed his wife to visit him. Rather, to me, it was concern about Joseph's whereabouts being detected and him being captured or arrested by those pursuing him. And, as previously pointed out, there was less chance of detection the less different parties gathered with Joseph to conduct business, particularly in conjunction with Emma.

No, his main preoccupation was to avoid an unpleasant encounter with Emma: "the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safty" (underlining in original). By "safety" Joseph evidently meant privacy. Elsewhere in the letter he writes: "I have a room intirely by myself, the whole matter can be attended to with most perfect safty." What was this "matter" he wanted to attend to privately, without interference from Emma? I believe it was the sealing blessing he wished to offer to Newel and Elizabeth Whitney.

You could be right. The use of the word "safty" in the section I bolded above does appear to imply "privacy". Now, whether it was meant to imply the same in the section of the letter in question, I suppose that is open to reasonable debate and reasonable differences of opinion.

The good news is, whether one interprets it the way you do, or the way I do, it isn't all that important, nor is it irrelevant to whether Joseph was a prophet of God and whether the restored gospel is of God.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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I read the wiki article and I have a concern. Does anyone know the provenance on this letter? How long has it been around? When was it first referenced? Does anyone know anything about it--not the content, but the actual physical letter.

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If it's a hassle don't worry about it, just have too much time on my hands right now with a mind that won't stop. I tried to open the Whitney family website, but it wouldn't do it, if I'm still curious about it later, I can try again.

I couldn't find much online. The best source seems to be Todd Compton: "After Sarah Ann, four more children

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I read the wiki article and I have a concern. Does anyone know the provenance on this letter? How long has it been around? When was it first referenced? Does anyone know anything about it--not the content, but the actual physical letter.

The first publication of the letter occurred in 1984 in Dean Jessee's The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, which would indicate that the actual letter exists among the Joseph Smith papers. This seems to indicate that it will reappear, with photographs, as part of the Joseph Smith Papers project (if it hasn't already been included in Volume 1: Journals).

WW

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The first publication of the letter occurred in 1984 in Dean Jessee's The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, which would indicate that the actual letter exists among the Joseph Smith papers. This seems to indicate that it will reappear, with photographs, as part of the Joseph Smith Papers project (if it hasn't already been included in Volume 1: Journals).

WW

Michael Marquardt published the letter even earlier in his 1973 pamphlet "The Strange Marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, Joseph C. Kingsbury, and Heber C. Kimball," obtaining photographs of the letter from the George Albert Smith Family Papers, Manuscript 36, Box 1, Early Smith Documents, 1731-1849, Folder 18, in the Special Collections, Western Americana, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah (source). The original is in the LDS Church Archives.

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Michael Marquardt published the letter even earlier in his 1973 pamphlet "The Strange Marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, Joseph C. Kingsbury, and Heber C. Kimball," obtaining photographs of the letter from the George Albert Smith Family Papers, Manuscript 36, Box 1, Early Smith Documents, 1731-1849, Folder 18, in the Special Collections, Western Americana, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah (source). The original is in the LDS Church Archives.

Any idea of which volume of the JSP this might end up in?

WW

Edited to add: The 1973 Marquardt reference has been added to the wiki article as being the first publication of the letter. Whitney letter

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Any idea of which volume of the JSP this might end up in?

WW

No idea. I expect it will show up in the Documents series, but I couldn't say which volume (there are 11 planned). The first one is due to be released this year. If they start with autograph letters, it might be in there. But I really don't know. You'd have to ask a JSP insider (which, sad to say, I'm not).

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If Joseph had thought the Whitneys' visit was likely to jeopardize either his or their physical safety, he wouldn't have encouraged it. No, his main preoccupation was to avoid an unpleasant encounter with Emma: "the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safty" (underlining in original). By "safety" Joseph evidently meant privacy. Elsewhere in the letter he writes: "I have a room intirely by myself, the whole matter can be attended to with most perfect safty." What was this "matter" he wanted to attend to privately, without interference from Emma? I believe it was the sealing blessing he wished to offer to Newel and Elizabeth Whitney.

I've added this to the wiki article:

Joseph wished to discuss and/or perform a sealing ordinance that Emma had not yet received

Joseph had been sealed to Sarah Ann three weeks before without Emma's knowledge. [8] Joseph may have wished to offer a sealing blessing to Newel and Elizabeth Whitney at this time. Given Joseph's indication to the Whitney's that he wished to "git the fulness of my blessings sealed upon our heads," and the fact that Emma herself was not sealed until she accepted the doctrine of plural marriage nine months later, it is likely that an encounter between the Whitney's and Emma would have become a very uncomfortable situation for all involved. It would have become even more uncomfortable had Emma discovered that Joseph and Sarah Ann had been sealed. Joseph wanted to attend to this matter privately, without interference from Emma.

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Wonka accepts all payment in the form of chocolate.

BTW, the name of the little girl in my avatar, my granddaughter, is "Emma."

WW

Wonka, I would say that she's like, waaay cute (which she is), but then I'd have all kinds of people trying to read between the lines of this thread, wondering exactly what it is that I mean by that, so I'm afraid I just can't say anything. ;) (But if I did say something, I'd say she's like, waaay cute, because she is! And the apple of her grandfather's eye, to boot, I'm sure! :P)

P.S.: I also loooove chocolate!

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Wonka accepts all payment in the form of chocolate.

BTW, the name of the little girl in my avatar, my granddaughter, is "Emma."

WW

Very darling. I want one.

By the way, is that a coonskin hat she's sporting, or is she the vanguard of a new hair style. :P

Bear in mind, my eyes are going bad, and those 80x80 pixel avatars are getting dimmer by the day ...

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