Mormon History

Emma Smith versus Brigham Young - 1872

The Salt Lake Daily Tribune September 6, 1872


As for the doctrine that is promulgated by the sons of Joseph, it is nothing more than any other false religion. We would be very glad to have the privilege of saying that the children of Joseph Smith, Junior, the prophet of God, were form in the faith of the gospel, and following in the footsteps of their father. But what are they doing? Trying to blot out every vestige of the work their father preformed on the earth. Their mission is to endeavor to obliterate every particle of his doctrine, his faith and doings. These boys are not following Joseph Smith, but Emma Bideman. Every person who hearkens to what they say, hearkens unto the will and wishes of Emma Bideman. The boys, themselves, have no will, no mind, no judgment independent of their mother. I do not want to talk about them. I am sorry for them, and I have my own faith in regard to them. I think the Lord will find them by-and-bye -- not Joseph, I have told the people times enough, that they never may depend on Joseph Smith who is now living, but David, who was born after the death of his father, I still look for the day to come when the Lord will touch his eyes. But I do not look for it while his mother lives. The Lord would do it now if David were willing; but he is not, he places his mother first and foremost, and would take her counsel sooner than he would the counsel of the Almighty, consequently he can do nothing, he knows nothing, he has no faith, and we have to let the matter rest in the hands of God for the present. -- Brigham Young, Aug. 24th, 1872.

It has been from the first, that is, since the Mormons left Nauvoo, the very vicious and unmanly habit of Brigham Young, George A. Smith, and others to revile the name of Mrs. Emma Smith Bideman in a most infamous manner. Heber C. Kimball, the eccentric man, who, with all his faults, had sterling stuff in him, has sometimes taken "sister Emmy's" part, as he did in Nauvoo against Brigham, when the latter threatened he would break her up, humble her to his feet and leave her in utter destruction

The chief causes of the vindictive enmity of Brigham Young against the lawful wife of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, are the injuries which he has done her character, before which even this iron-willed cardinal priest has had to bend. She tried to lead her husband away from the counsel of "that bad man," as she called Brigham Young, and with all her might opposed polygamy. And there can be very little doubt that had Joseph Smith followed the moral promptings of his wife instead of his own passions, the ambitious men who were around him, and the women whom Emma Smith would call her husband's concubines, the Mormon prophet would have been alive to day and at the head of a loyal and unoffending people in the Rocky Mountains.

It was polygamy that broke the tie of loyalty between the Mormon prophet and his wife even as it crushed out the fealty he owed to his country. Both in turn madly prophesied against by him, live on, though chastened by trial, in triumph, for both were on the right side, leaving the prophet himself to perish miserably on the side of wrong.

For years one could often hear the story told in Salt Lake City, both by men and women, how "Emmy Smith" rebelled against Joseph, opposed polygamy and burned the revelation. This was all said then in reproach, but there are many now who are turning it to her praise. When she burned that revelation, that foul imposture which has corrupted a religious people and made victims of evey woman who has been entrapped into the system. Every woman in the Mormon Church should have done the same and there would have been no polygamy, but in that case the Mormon "sisters" would have been treated as man's equal, instead of the pattern, [an] Elder of Israel being able to say, "I think no more of taking a wife than I do of buying a cow." these 'authorities' have taken too many wives and thus demoralized both sexes.

We would like to see Emma and her sons, with their followers, come up to "Zion" and let their monogamic church and the polygamic church of Brigham Young contend. We think that if the thousands of Josephites were to flock into Utah under such leadership, this priest-ridden polygamic system would be shaken to its foundations, and the mineral development of this country would justify their coming now. Altogether outside of the Mormon Church there are hundreds of our best citizens who would delight to honor the woman who for thirty years has so nobly fought for the honor of marriage and the integrity of her sex under such trying and peculiar circumstances,

Note: For Brigham Young's entire speech, delivered at Farmington, Utah, on Aug. 24, 1872, see Journal of Discourses XV:135.