Finished. Some chapters better than others, but it finished strong. Was thinking it was a 3/5 star book, but I'll say 4 stars now, probably mostly because of the sheer research and amazing ability to summarize so much in a relatively short book. Again, I am amazed at the early Saints. Their hesitation in accepting the principle, but when converted, you couldn't stop them. They would be faithful no matter the cost, and it is so honorable. I sometimes weep when I think of my cushy life, with my flatscreen TV, my iPhone, my laptop, in the comfort of nice apartment, just one wife and two kids... Those Saints were converted to the Lord and were so faithful, and their stories are inspiring. Even when the 1890 and 1904 manifestos came, there were mixed messages, some secrecy, some confusion, but most had the best of intentions - intentions to follow God, not man, and they were conflicted in that resolution. What a great message of faith and diligence to God - I think we can all learn lessons from these faithful Saints who practiced an eternal principle, one they felt was the cornerstone of their faith. Okay, now a couple nuggets to end:
Chapter on consent of leadership was a bit jumbled. Quinn piece much superior. But it was interesting to again review the differences amongst the Presidents in that time. JFS was so dedicated to preserve it, even behind the backs of his superiors, then ironically, upon pressure from Reed Smoot (more on him later), he was pretty dedicated in ending the practice as well by the later 1900's. Woodruff was strict against at times, passive at other times, did consent to some, mostly just let his counselors authorize. Snow was more strict, pretty adamant at times, counselors/apostles went behind his back quite a bit. JFS was pretty intent on preserving principle until 1905ish, when he felt pressure to publicly reprimand 'offenders.' This caused some negative feelings of betrayal.
From 1890-1910, over time, outside pressure increased (mostly thanks to BH Roberts and Reed Smoot investigations), it got more secret, more confusing, destruction of evidence, cliques within the 12, etc. As you can imagine.
JFS was not afraid to mislead and lie to protect others, particularly the Church. Most of them had hoped they could stop for a time then resume living the eternal principle once they got the gov't off their back. That would explain much of their behavior.
Fascinating story of Wilford Woodruff's possible marriage (to Madame Mountford) in 1897. Evidence is pretty good, but not explicit, because of its secrecy. Born in Jerusalem in 1948, born Anglican, her dad befriended Orson Hyde when he was in Jerusalem. She claimed to be descendent from Ephraim and Melchizedek. Met WW in early 1897, they had a number of meetings together, mostly private ones. Apparently, she, WW, and L. John Nuttal went on a trip to the Pacific (and refused his wife and daughter to come). Registered in Oregon at a hotel under assumed names. Speculation is that they were married by L. John Nuttal on a steamboat off the coast b/w 20 and 22 of Sep 1897. She actually had married a guy in 1890, but were separated. She leaves SLC in 1898 (WW passes away later that year in CA, no mention of Bohemian Grove
in the book
). Later support of this. Apostle Cowley said in 1911 that he was convinced WW married another wife the year before he died. Apostle Anthon Lund mentions how WW took him aside and spoke to him about Madame Mountford. Lund's comment was: "I was rather astonished." Also, it has been reported that the marriage was solemnized by proxy in the SLC temple in 1920. Sources for this paragraph include WW's Journal, Cowley's Trials, Lund Diaries, and the 1920 proxy marriage comes from Quinn in May 1990.
Roberts and Smoot chapter, not a whole lot I want to report, other than to say I'm shocked how much influence Smoot had over the Church. Perhaps it was because he felt as a gov't insider, would be paranoid about the gov't hammering down, Smoot, over and over, demanded JFS do certain things, like excommunicate people, kick them out of the 12, write specific statements for General Conference speaking out against polygamy. It seems it was Smoot that initiated the whole 1904 Manifesto. He was an Apostle by 1900, but still perplexed by how much power he had over policy and what JFS did. JFS did push back a bit, but all the witch-hunting of new plural marriages (even from ones that the 1st presidency secretly authorized) past 1904 caused some real backlash. People felt betrayed. It was messy. I feel like Roberts and Smoot screwed things up for the Church by running for office. It got messy and shined a brighter light on the mess.
Interesting stories of Matthias Cowley and John W. Taylor's resignation from the 12... most in the inner circle felt they were heroes, sacrificing themselves for the good of the Church. JWTaylor's story is interesting. Excommunicated in 1911 (felt betrayed, because JFS apparently told he and Cowley at 1905 resignation, that when things quiet down, they'll be reinstated). Family tradition holds that Cowley rebaptized him later, then performed another plural marriage for him. in 1965, John W. Taylor's priesthood and blessings were posthumously restored at David O. McKay's permission (remember reading about this in Anderson's Development of LDS Temple Worship).
Interesting to see the devolution of the importance of the doctrine. Talmage was a big force in saying it wasn't a vital tenet, is not to be equated with eternal marriage.
Rudger Clawson took another plural wife shortly after the 1904 Manifesto, never penalized, even became President of the 12 in 1921.
Interesting discussion of post-1910 polygamy, some say they were chosen to continue the principle, some believed charged by Pres Smith to indefinitely keep the practice alive, a lot of different reports here. Hardy claims the importance of the 1886 revelation didn't get stressed until the 1930's. John W. Wooley claims to trace his authority to verbal encouragement from Cowley.
Interesting survey from 1960s in the Church: only 2/5 say would live plural marriage if commanded by their prophets. Half say would not live it under any circumstances. [Sadly, I think these numbers are much worse today - I say sadly, because it would be disobeying prophets.]
More liberal ideas creep in, such as from Eugene England, that plural marriage was merely a test and was meant to be permanently rescinded, that monogamy is the real the order of heaven. Hmmm, I seem to be hearing this quite a bit on this forum.
KInda saddened to hear of Church actions/persecution against fundamentalists in 40's through 60's. Leaders actively supported police state measures to stop plural marriage (because they were worried about their image). One report of they actually asked members to sign a loyalty oath to actively implicate polygamists, some were excommunicated if they didn't sign. Church leaders assisted and publicly applauded a mass arrest in 1944 designed to jail Utah polygamists and stop Musser's Truth magazine. Worst, was mormon approval and support of the AZ Short Creek raid in 1953, residents arrested, town under martial law, children relocated with foster families; Deseret News approved the action as necessary for eradicating a "smudge" of the reputations of Utah and Arizona. The polygamists, it said, were a "cancer" on society. [Deseret News, 27 July 1953] I'm sorry, but after reading of the terrible persecution the Church got for decades, it really makes me sad to hear of this. It's wrong. I'll say it. I don't know who in the Church supported this tyranny, but it's wrong. You hear support of this type of treatment today from members. If only they knew their church history, I think they'd hold their tongue and at least have some sympathy.
Well, that's about it. A bit longer summarization than I anticipated. Great book, great research, some chapters aren't that well-done, wished there were more direct quotes rather than summarization, but this book was a monumental effort. Worth the read if this period interests you. Again, as I said, my appreciation for our Church leaders and the Saints in general massively increased. I am inspired by their faith and devotion to God, and I think we can all learn valuable lessons.