My father was a reference librarian at a University here in California. As the only LDS librarian, whenever something relating to the church was being discarded, they were offered to him. He got some interesting items, among them the original three volumes printed by the Government Printing office in 1906 of the “Proceedings before the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the United States Senate in the matter of The Protest Against The Right of Hon. Reed Smoot, A Senator from the State of Utah, to Hold his Seat” While this is all online now, and can be read by anybody with a internet connection, there is something special about holding in my hand the original leather-bound volumes.
Joseph F Smith’s testimony is well documented. Most of the focus is whether he lied about knowing of ongoing plural marriages after the manifesto of 1890, such as the page below where he says he has no knowledge of Wilford Woodruff living in “polygamous cohabitation” after the manifesto.
But what gets overlooked is all the other tidbits that come out when you have sitting President of the Church under oath for several days worth of testimony. Such as the below where President Smith says the rules of succession are “just simply a custom”
Other fun stuff was when they asked him what his business was. He said his principle business was president of the Church. They asked him what other business he was engaged in. He went on to tell them he was president and director of ZCMI, State Bank of Utah, Utah Sugar Company, Zion Saving Bank and Trust, Consolidated Wagon and Machine Company, and several other “small institutions with which I associate” Then Mr Taylor asks Smith if he is associated with the Utah Light and Power Company. he says he is. Taylor asks in what capacity, and Smith says Director and President of the Company. Taylor asks if this is what he had in mind when he said small concerns. Smith says no. Taylor then goes on gets Pres. Smith to admit that he is also Director and President of Salt Lake and Los Angeles Railroad Company, Salt Air Beach Company, Consolidated Light and Power Company, Idaho Sugar Company, the Inland Crystal Salt Company, and the Salt Lake Dramatic Association.
By this time an exasperated Mt Taylor asks Smith “Are you the President of any other corporation?” to which Smith says “I do not know. Perhaps you can tell me. I do not remember any more just now”. Tylor then said “It would seem that the number has grown so large that it would be an undue tax upon your memory to charge you with naming them all”
More interesting items: Pres. Smith says that the First Presidency are NOT Apostles. That a vacancy in the Q12 is filled by the body themselves with consent and approval of the FP. (Still the case today?). The first Q12 (Joseph Smith’s time) was chosen by revelation, the current Q12 by “the choice of the body”, not revelation.
Senator Hoar asked Pres Smith why he kept using phrases like “I presume, My Understanding is, I believe, Not that I know of, So far as I am aware, I think likely” Pres Smith’s reply was when if it was a matter of doctrine, he knows, other stuff he is just remembering the best he can.
Pres. Smith was told by his counsel many times not to answer a question. Most of those pertained to knowledge he had about individuals still cohabitating in plural unions.
Quotes from Pres. Smith that jumped out at me:
“I have never pretended to nor do I profess to have received revelations”
“Not to exceed 3 per cent” (when asked how many practiced polygamy)
One last item, Pres Smith refused to be sworn in for his testimony, he said it was against the scriptures. He was “affirmed”.
So, do any of these jump out to you as unusual, or do you think our current President would come off pretty much the same if put under oath before a congressional committee? This reminded me of Elder Holland in his 2012 BBC Interview, where he was vague answering questions of BofA translation, penalties in the temple endowment, etc.