Mormon History

Adultery of Brigham Young - 1847

Quincy Whig December 22, 1847

Supreme J. Court -- Boston.

Divorced from a Woman who had become
the "Spiritual Wife" of a Mormon Leader. --

Henry Cobb vs. Augusta Cobb. This was a libel alleging crim-con on the part of the respondent with Brigham Young, in Nauvoo, in August, 1844, and December, 1845. After living 21 years in good repute with her lawful husband, the respondent became led away with Mormonism, leaving her husband, went to Nauvoo, and joined the church there. After a year's trial of the system she returned to Boston, but not being able to content herself there, she made another trip to Nauvoo; returned to Boston again, and again went off, and she is now supposed to be in California with Young.

Her conduct in Nauvoo was fully described in the deposition of George J. Adams, better known under the name of "Elder Adams," who testified that he knew Mrs. Cobb when she lived in the house of Brigham Young, at Nauvoo. We give the following extracts from the deposition:

"In the fall of 1844 after her return from Nauvoo to Boston, Mrs. Cobb said she loved Brigham Young letter than she did Mr. Cobb, and, live or die, she was going to live with him at all hazards. This was in the course of a conversation in which she used extravagant language in favor of Mr. Young and against Mr. Cobb. Mrs. Cobb went out again to Nauvoo, the second time, and lived with Mr. Young, and their living together and their conduct, was the subject of conversation in the society and out of the society. The subject of conversation, to which I have alluded, was that persons had a right to live together in unlawfyl intercourse, and Mrs. Cobb avowed her belief in this doctrine, and said it was right.

"In conversation with Mrs. Cobb on the subject of spiritual wives, I told her such doctrines would lead to the devil; and she said if it did she would go there with Brigham Young. The Mormons were so incensed with me for my opposition to this doctrine that they attempted to take my life in various ways. I think Mrs. Cobb was originally a woman of good feelings and good principles, but I do not think so of her now. I think she was led away by religious frenzy.

"She said, I never will forsake brother Young, come life or come death. She said that the doctrine taught by Brigham Young was a glorious doctrine; for if she did not love her husband, it gave her a man she did love"

In the cross examination, Mr. Adams stated that he performed on the stage when he was a young man; that he was a merchant tailor in extensive business before he joined the Mormons; that he has, since he withdrew, performed at the National Theatre in this city, that Joseph Smith the founder of Mormonism, did not teach the doctrine of spiritual wives; that Brigham Young, in assuming to be president of the church, had ursurped authority, and that he, Mr. Adams, opposed the usurpation.

The testimony of Mr. Adams was corroborated by a widow lady, who had been to Nauvoo, and while there had taken the first degree in the mysteries of the Mormon church. The second degree gave the privilege of spiritual wife-hood. Mrs. Cobb took this degree, and urged the witness to take it, and spoke of her connection with Young.

Judge Wilde decreed a full divorce from the bonds of matrimony. -- Bost. Post.

Note 1: Augusta Adams was born Dec. 7, 1802 in Beverly (near Lynn), Essex, MA and died Feb. 3, 1886 in Salt Lake City, UT. She married Henry Cobb, Dec. 22, 1822; in Charleton, Worcester, MA and together they had seven children. She was baptized a Mormon by Samuel H. Smith near Boston on June 29, 1832. Augusta apparently continued living with her non-Mormon husband and family until September 1843, when she left Massachusetts in company with LDS President of the Twelve, Brigham Young. Augusta's worshipful infatuation with President Young probably began well before her elopment with him; she gave her last child with Henry Cobb the suggestive name of "Brigham." Brigham Cobb, was born in Massachusetts in late April 1843 and died Oct. 12, 1843 in Cincinnati, while accompanying Augusta and Brigham Young to Nauvoo. Augusta married Brigham Young at Nauvoo on Nov. 2, 1843.

Note 2: George Joshua Adams (1811-1880) was born in Ashford, Warren co., NJ. His possible family relationship with Augusta remains unknown.

Note 3: The vacuous obituary of Augusta Adams Cobb Young was published in the Feb. 4, 1886 Deseret Evening News. For more on Augusta and her children see episode 10 of "The Spalding Saga."

(Mormon Harry Reid would have made a great 19th century anti-Mormon)

Bill Number: S. 3313 (IS)
Bill Title: Victims of Polygamy Assistance Act of 2008 (Introduced in Senate)
Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry   View all legislation sponsored by this member.
Introduced: 2008/07/23
Latest Major Action: 2008/07/23 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Notes: There are no notes for this Bill

S 3313 IS


2d Session

S. 3313

To establish a Federal Polygamy Task Force, to authorize assistance for victims of polygamy, and for other purposes.


July 23, 2008

Mr. REID introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


To establish a Federal Polygamy Task Force, to authorize assistance for victims of polygamy, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Victims of Polygamy Assistance Act of 2008'.


Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Despite the fact that polygamy has been illegal in the United States for over 100 years, the practice of polygamy involving underage marriages is growing. Sizable polygamist communities exist in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, and are expanding into other States.

(2) Polygamist communities are typically controlled by organizations that engage in widespread and systematic violations of State laws and the laws of the United States in order to enrich their leaders and maintain control over their members.

(3) The crimes perpetrated by these organizations include child abuse, domestic violence, welfare fraud, tax evasion, public corruption, witness tampering, and transporting victims across State lines.

(4) Due to the systematic and sophisticated nature of these crimes, State and local law enforcement agencies would benefit from the assistance of the Federal Government as they investigate and prosecute these organizations and their leaders for violations of State law. In addition, violations of Federal law associated with polygamy should be investigated and prosecuted directly by Federal authorities.

(5) The work of State and Federal law enforcement agencies to combat crimes by polygamist organizations would benefit from enhanced collaboration and information-sharing among such agencies.

(6) The establishment of a task force within the Department of Justice to coordinate Federal efforts and collaborate with State agencies would aid in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activities of polygamist organizations in both Federal and State courts.

(7) Polygamist organizations isolate, control, manipulate, and threaten victims with retribution should they ever abandon the organization. Individuals who choose to testify against polygamist organizations in Federal or State court have unique needs, including social services and witness protection support, that warrant Federal assistance.


(a) Establishment- There is established within the Department of Justice a Federal Polygamy Task Force, which shall consist of the Deputy Attorney General, the United States attorneys from affected Federal judicial districts, representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services, and any officer of the Federal Government whom the Deputy Attorney General considers necessary to strengthen Federal law enforcement activities and provide State and local law enforcement officials the assistance they need to address the illegal activity of one or more polygamist organizations.

(b) Purposes- The Federal Polygamy Task Force established under subsection (a) shall--

(1) formulate effective responses to the unique set of crimes committed by polygamist organizations;

(2) establish partnerships with State and local law enforcement agencies to share relevant information and strengthen State and Federal efforts to combat crimes perpetrated by polygamist organizations;

(3) assist States by providing strategies and support for the protection of witnesses;

(4) track the criminal behavior of polygamist organizations that cross State and international borders; and

(5) ensure that local officials charged with protecting the public are not corrupted because of financial, family, or membership ties to a polygamist organization.


The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (42 U.S.C. 10601 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 1404E the following:


`(a) In General- The Director may make grants as provided in section 1404(c)(1)(A) to State, tribal, and local prosecutors' offices, law enforcement agencies, courts, jails, and correctional institutions, and to qualified public and private entities, to develop, establish, and maintain programs for the enforcement of rights and provision of social services (including witness protection, housing, education, vocational training, mental health services, child care, and medical treatment) for an individual who is exploited or otherwise victimized by practitioners of polygamy.

`(b) Authorization of Appropriations- In addition to funds made available under section 1402(d), there are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section--

`(1) $2,000,000 for fiscal year 2009; and

`(2) $2,500,000 for each of the fiscal years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

`(c) False Claims Act- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, amounts collected pursuant to sections 3729 through 3731 of title 31, United States Code (commonly known as the `False Claims Act'), may be used for grants under this section, subject to appropriation.'.


Section 506(a) of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3756(a)) is amended--

(1) in paragraph (1), by striking `and' at the end;

(2) in paragraph (2), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; and'; and

(3) by adding at the end the following:

`(3) $2,000,000, to be granted by the Attorney General to States and units of local government to investigate and prosecute polygamist organizations that violate Federal, State, or local laws.'.