Emma Smith often vacillated between accepting and rejecting polygamy. In our next conversation with Dr. Bill Smith we will talk about how she vacillated between these two extremes.
Bill: Like I said, she was up and down about it. At some point apparently in May 1843 she had accepted the idea at least in a limited way. Then later she becomes very negative about it. During this period when the revelation is given in July 12, 1843, she has become very, very negative about the idea.
We don’t know everything that happened with her, what she heard. She was in Relief Society, and you know how in small towns, Nauvoo was a relatively small town we would think of it so today. In that day it was a fairly large place, so you knew practically everybody and people talked about what they saw, who was doing what. So, the kind of knowledgebase that Emma had, we don’t know for sure but she probably had her finger on what was going on in the female population and the male population of Nauvoo.
Oliver Cowdery has been accused of practicing polygamy before he was authorized to do so. In our next conversation with Dr. Bill Smith we’ll address these rumors. Are they true?
Bill: That I think is wrong. I think it developed out of a story that happened because before Oliver left on his Lamanite mission to the borders of the Lamanites in Missouri, he was with Parley Pratt and a couple of other guys going to be missionaries out there to the Lamanites. They get commissioned by revelation to do this.
Before he leaves, he has asked Elizabeth Whitmer to marry him, so he is engaged to her. On the way through Ohio he meets another woman there, falls madly in love with her, asks her to marry him. That’s the extent of any Cowdery polygamy. That was a pretty big issue for a number of early Mormons. Some of his mission companions talk about this later. That was a big issue. He has a high council session about this thing. He repents. “I’m really going to marry Elizabeth.” This other woman was just a flight of fancy or something. But that’s the extent of it.
We will talk about Oliver’s accusation of Joseph’s dirty, nasty, filthy affair with Fanny Alger.
Bill: There is no evidence as far as I know of that. I think that Oliver and some other people were aware of the Alger affair…
What do you make of Oliver and Emma’s opposition to polygamy?