Mormon History

RLDS Versus LDS - 1865

Chicago Evening Journal May 15, 1865


A Letter from Joseph Smith, leader of the Mormon Opposition
to Brigham Young, Defining his Creed, Etc.


                                                            Plano. Ill., May 22, 1865
Editor of the Chicago Evening Journal:

Spying in your issue of the 19th instant, [among] the "Gleanings," an item referring to "Trouble Among the Mormons," and being one of individuals referred to in that article of news, I thought a line from [me] concerning the difference existing as [to] points of doctrines between Brigham Young and myself, might not be uninteresting to your readers.

[I am] aware of the impracticality of making the news journals of the day the vehicles of quarrels between churchmen or religious monomaniacs; but as those journals [---- hape], in a great measure, to the opinions of the public, I am in hopes that a [few] lines may not be considered amiss in [my] behalf.

Philanthropists and reformers have never occupied an enviable position at the [start] of their career in the estimation of mankind, however truthful time may have proved their theories to be. This, in the religion to which I refer, I am placed before the public as antagonistic to Brigham Young, in a contest for the possible emoluments of a ruler. This is directly true; [but] if this were the only ambition that [stirred] me to effort (promising that success was attainable under the auspices by which the tenure of his office is held) then [he], and all others within the influence of a healthier state of moral ethics, might. [in all] propriety, declare the ambition to be [a wrong] one.

Regarded as an item of news only, giving notice that a new sect has come into existence, it is five years too late, for, during the last five years, while the nation has been struggling with the Southern rebellion, I, with many others, have been engaged in an endeavor to arrest the progress of Utah Mormonism. It might be [assumed] by some that I was in the Territory of Utah waging this dispute with [Brighamism], while the truth is I have never [been] west of Omaha, Nebraska, and have [never] yet seen the Mecca of modern polygamist believers.

I am not alone in this contest, for rising [seven] thousand earnest minded men and women are united at the present time in a [fight] as fatal to the creed of Brigham Young and fellow-believers, as was the command: "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me," to the idolatrous worshippers the day in which the words were uttered.

[The] scattered from Maine to the thriving cities on the west shores of California [on this] land and over the sea, whence have come the many thousands of those who have gone to Utah, we are earnestly striving [to] make head against the perverters of the doctrines of Christ.

[Concerned] this letter should become too intrusive, I will briefly state some points of difference between our faith and doctrines [against] that of Brigham Young.

We worship God, and not Adam.

We believe this to be a gathering dispensation, but do not believe in gathering to the Salt land.

We believe that loyalty is becoming to the Christian: and do not believe that rebellion and sedition are justifiable in [those] people whose rights are guaranteed to them by a benevolent government.

I now quote from a book published in 1845, one year after my father was killed, and since re-published by us in 1864. It is a book called the "Doctrine and Covenants of the Church." and is to us in the place of a book of discipline. In an article on marriage, it is declared:

"That we believe that one man should have one wife" and the woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again."

This was published by the church during the regime of laws under which it was [operating] at my father's death, which took place in June, 1844, and the difference between myself and Brigham is easily measured, when I affirm the foregoing quotation as my belief on that point.

In the Book of Mormon, which has been [more] commonly known as the Mormon Bible, but which is by all so-called "Mormons" [received] as good authority in mooted questions, there occurs the following emphatic language:

"Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, said the Lord. Wherefore, my brethren, hear me and hearken to the word of the Lord, for there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife: and concubines he shall have none."

We, therefore, believe that it is lawful in the sight of God for a man to have one wife, and do not believe it to be lawful for any man to have a plurality of wives.

We believe that murder, arson, theft, [------], in fact all the crimes known to the law, are criminal in any one, and do not believe that God commands men to disregard the rights of his fellow-man in any particular.

We believe there is one body and one faith, even as men are called in one hope [in] their calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgressions. We believe that God is no respector of persons; but that whoever [receiveth] him and worketh righteousness, [in] every nation, is accepted of Him.

I have the pleasure of signing myself, yours most respectfully.
                                                     JOSEPH SMITH.