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The Women Behind the Prophet: Reevaluating Joseph Smith’s Polygamous Relationships

The founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith, has faced criticism for his multiple marriages while he was alive as well as acclaim as a religious figure. Discussions over this divisive topic continue among academics, historians, and churchgoers. On the other hand, learning more about the complicated reality of Joseph Smith’s wives’ connections with him illuminates new aspects of their lives. We will look at the ladies who married Joseph Smith in this article and talk about their histories, reasons for getting married, and contributions to the early Mormon community.

Emma Smith

At the age of 22, Joseph Smith wed Emma Hale, his first wife. Emma was born into a well-known family, had a superb education, and was very intelligent. Joseph’s magnetism and spiritual skills drew her in, and she recognised that they were inspired by God. Joseph founded his own city and temple at Nauvoo, Illinois, where he also assembled thousands of followers, which marked the beginning of their marriage. Emma was Joseph’s main support system; she had six children, took care of the home while her husband was away frequently, and frequently faced financial difficulties. Her steadfast devotion persisted until 1844, when Joseph passed away in Carthage Prison.

Alger, Fanny

The first lady Joseph publicly acknowledged as his wife was Fanny Alger. Joseph first noticed Fanny, a teenage housekeeper who lived with the Smith household. Fanny was reluctant to accept his proposal at first, but Joseph’s close friends eventually persuaded her to accept. Soon after, Fanny moved out of the Smith home and settled in Kirtland, Ohio, where she gave birth to twins that Joseph had fathered. Following their divorce from Joseph, Fanny went back to her hometown, got married again, and had eight more children. The historical details surrounding Fanny’s connection with Joseph are still unclear due to discrepancies in the descriptions presented by various sources.

Elizabeth Ann Whitmer, aka “Lizzie”

A devoted follower of Mormonism, Elizabeth Ann Whitmer was the cousin of David Whitmer, another significant person in Mormon history. Originally, Elizabeth assisted Joseph in trancribing the Book of Mormon as a scribe. Elizabeth asked to marry Joseph in order to deepen their relationship after learning of his prophetic calling. Her request was fulfilled by Joseph, completing their union in Nauvoo. Before Elizabeth passed away soon after giving birth, the couple had four children together.

Beaman Louisa

Brigham Young, who succeeded Joseph as the church president, grew up next to Louisa Beaman. Louisa married fellow Mormon convert James Adams at the age of eighteen. Sadly, James died shortly after, leaving Louisa defenceless. In an attempt to find comfort, Louisa confided in Brigham Young that she had a dream about meeting her late husband again in paradise. After learning this, Brigham suggested that she wed Joseph Smith, claiming that doing so would enable her to achieve her goals. In the end, Louisa agreed and became one of Joseph Smith wives. Louisa visited Joseph often while he was imprisoned, bringing food and things to keep him going.

Whitney, Sarah Ann

Born in Vermont, Sarah Ann Whitney moved to New York with her family after becoming a member of the Mormon faith. After hearing Joseph’s lessons, Sarah fell madly in love with him and made her own marriage proposal. Joseph gladly accepted her offer, delighted by it. Sarah was a confidante and valued counsellor to Joseph, and the two had a strong emotional relationship. After Joseph’s death, Sarah relocated to Utah Territory in the west, where she brought up her kids and carried on with her religious beliefs.

Jane McNaught Climpson

At the age of fourteen, Jane, who was born in Scotland, moved to Canada. Jane converted to Mormonism shortly after arriving and moved south to join the Nauvoo church congregation. Jane attracted Joseph’s attention there, and he proposed Jane as his seventeenth wife. Jane hesitated at first, but in the end she gave her consent and went on to have three children with Joseph. Sadly, all three of the infants passed away from childhood illnesses, leaving Jane and her surviving family members in a state of intense grief and anguish.

Lightner, Mary Elizabeth Rollins

Mary Elizabeth Rollins was descended from a powerful and prosperous family. Mary had a strong interest in spiritual topics since she was a small child, and when she was still a teenager, she joined the Mormon church. During one of Joseph’s public speeches, Mary met him and fell in love right away. She soon proposed to him. Joseph gladly obliged, taking Mary under his wing. Mary, who was married to Joseph, sadly lost both of her boys within months of their birth. Mary relocated to Salt Lake City after Joseph was arrested and later killed, and she spent a lot of her time advocating for women’s rights there.

In conclusion, learning more about these women’s lives offers a more thorough understanding of the intricate relationships underlying Joseph Smith’s polygamy practices. The young Mormon movement benefited greatly from the distinct experiences and viewpoints that each lady brought to her encounters with Joseph. Their experiences also shed light on some of the difficulties women in that era faced, such as the lack of access to resources and decision-making authority, social expectations surrounding gender roles, and limited educational options. These elements certainly affected the way these ladies interpreted and responded to Joseph’s propositions; they also reflected larger cultural norms and values that still influence how we currently interpret the past.