Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

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dande48
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Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Post by dande48 » 21 Jun 2017, 22:15

Minyan Man wrote:
21 Jun 2017, 21:32
In FamilySearch.org they show JS with (43) spouses. Fanny Alger is not one of them. Did she stay in the church after JS's death?
She joined the Universalist Church, after she moved to Indiana.
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SilentDawning
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Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Post by SilentDawning » 22 Jun 2017, 09:55

I think it was an affair. Fannie was apparently very attractive, Joseph succumbed. I do think plural marriage was a cover up for JS's sexual appetite. It also played into the hands of the church in creating fast population growth among the more committed members when institutionalized as plural marriage doctrine eventually.

The idea of having a lot of "morally approved" sexual partners is also something I don't think the average man would mind -- provided it was considered moral and sanctioned by the church if he had a moral compass. Plural marriage provides that morality.

A moral man would probably never go on about the sexual benefits of plural marriage, preferring to clothe it in spiritual or obedience terms. But it wouldn't surprise me if the idea of multiple wives would be attractive to him.

Add an isolated, obedient community to the mix and I can see why it caught on. But I do think JS had a pretty strong libido and Fanny Alger was pretty and he succumbed.
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Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Post by Roy » 22 Jun 2017, 14:16

dande48 wrote:
21 Jun 2017, 20:56
Oliver Cowdreywas also excommunicated for the accusation that Joseph Smith had committed adultery with Fanny. Had it been a polygamous marriage, the Church council would've acknowledged it.
My memory of this event probably comes from RSR. In it JS was insistent that he had never said that he was guilty of adultery or never used adultery to describe his relationship with Fanny. Once OC had acknowledged as much JS seemed satisfied.

From Wikipedia:
As Richard Bushman has noted, Smith "never denied a relationship with Alger, but insisted it was not adulterous. He wanted it on record that he had never confessed to such a sin."[8] The best statement Smith could obtain from Cowdery was an affirmation that Smith had never acknowledged himself to have been guilty of adultery. "That," wrote Bushman, "was all Joseph wanted: an admission that he had not termed the Alger affair adulterous." In April 1838, Mormon leaders meeting as the Far West High Council excommunicated Cowdery, in part because he had "seemed to insinuate" that Smith was guilty of adultery.[9]
I also remember something about JS praying to know if he was guilty of adultery and getting the answer back that he was not. At any rate, the word adultery seemed to have stuck a very personal chord with JS.

I suppose it is a similar issue to having the president share classified information. If the president has broad authority to declassify information then any information that he shared becomes declassified on his say so. Similarly, if a prophet has the authority to both bind and loose marriages at will then any associations that he has with members of the opposite sex may be deemed marriages on his say so.
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dande48
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Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Post by dande48 » 23 Jun 2017, 07:58

Roy wrote:
22 Jun 2017, 14:16
My memory of this event probably comes from RSR. In it JS was insistent that he had never said that he was guilty of adultery or never used adultery to describe his relationship with Fanny. Once OC had acknowledged as much JS seemed satisfied.

I also remember something about JS praying to know if he was guilty of adultery and getting the answer back that he was not. At any rate, the word adultery seemed to have stuck a very personal chord with JS.

I suppose it is a similar issue to having the president share classified information. If the president has broad authority to declassify information then any information that he shared becomes declassified on his say so. Similarly, if a prophet has the authority to both bind and loose marriages at will then any associations that he has with members of the opposite sex may be deemed marriages on his say so.
That's a fair point. I don't think JS felt in the end like he had done anything wrong... but referring to your analogy to the president, I have to say it reminds me a lot of the Bill Clinton scandal. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." Only later to bring into question what he actually meant by "sexual relations" or "that woman". In the case of Ann Webb vs Brigham Young, it was officially ruled that polygamous marriages were legally invalid; which means that what constituted as marriage beyond monogammy was entirely up to Joseph Smith (or God, if we assume he was acting under His authority). The real question is, was "marriage" applied by Joseph Smith to Fanny Alger's relationship before or after the fact? Did Fanny herself define the relationship as a marriage? And if yes, was it in accordance with the gospel of Polygammy, as later defined by Joseph Smith?

I also think, if you have to ask if you've committed adultery, you probably have.
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Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Post by gospeltangents » 11 Jul 2017, 19:24

I just completed an interview with Brian Hales. Regarding Fanny, Brian said some interesting things.
Don Bradley’s done some really good research and he dates the discovery to I think it’s June, May-June of 1836, so if the marriage occurred in say late April, May-June and lasted just a few months before Emma found out, which is entirely plausible, I don’t know that I embrace that, but Don at least we know when it broke up. We can date that pretty well, then it could have been a sealing. The authority could have been sealing authority that Joseph would have given to Levi.
He also said
But the other reason that I think this was an actual marriage and ceremony was performed was that Eliza Snow moved in in early 1836 to live with the Smiths and teach their children. In 1887, he was an independent historian, Andrew Jensen showed up at Eliza’s door and said I’m trying to make a list of all of the wives of Joseph Smith. He had been down to see Melissa Lott and Melissa Lot had given him thirteen names that he’d written down on this piece of paper and at some point instead of him writing down what Eliza was saying, he turned the paper over to her and gave her the pencil, and she wrote an additional thirteen names, and among those names were Fanny Alger.

So my theory is that if this had been an adulterous relationship, and he also wrote a paper on Fanny where he quotes Eliza as saying she was well-acquainted with Fanny, and that Fanny was the one that Emma made such a fuss about, so Eliza was there and I think Eliza would have known the details of what was going on. She considered Fanny a wife and so these two bits of evidence to me I think are convincing for me that this was in fact a marriage, probably not a sealing, and again I place it to late ’35, early ’36 but there’s really no way to date it.
But I think this is my favorite quote.
the people that Joseph Smith told about Fanny Alger as a plural wife, they didn’t believe him. But most of the people that learned it from Fanny did believe which is interesting. Fanny’s family believed. The family that Fanny went to live with was Chauncey Webb and Eliza Jane Webb, they believed that this was an actual marriage, but Joseph is caught with Fanny and they’re in a haymow, they’re in a barn, and we were out there in Kirtland with the John Whitmer Historical Association meeting this last September, and I asked Mark, ‘where is the barn?’ He had no idea. It’s long since been destroyed.

They were discovered by Emma “in the act.” We could assume that was something sexual. Some people want to say it was in the act of getting married by Levi, the ceremony. It’s a bit of a stretch. Maybe he was in the act of something affectionate. Virtually anything affectionate would have been over the line in Emma’s eyes understandably. She caught them, and she’s not accepting Joseph’s explanation at all.

‘This is a plural marriage. God authorized it.’

‘Yeah right. She’s pretty and this isn’t working for me.’

Joseph, according to one of the accounts gets Oliver and says in the middle of the night. ‘Oliver, come help me with this.’ Oliver hears the story and sides with Emma and thinks Joseph is having an adulterous affair. That was his opinion, probably right up until his death, that Joseph was not authorized to marry her. It wasn’t a marriage. He made hints to members of the high council that Joseph had been guilty of adultery. He did not accept any story of a marriage ceremony as being valid, and neither did Emma.
It kills me that Fanny was a more believable witness than Joseph.
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Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Post by DarkJedi » 12 Jul 2017, 08:10

gospeltangents wrote:
11 Jul 2017, 19:24
I just completed an interview with Brian Hales. Regarding Fanny, Brian said some interesting things.

But I think this is my favorite quote.
the people that Joseph Smith told about Fanny Alger as a plural wife, they didn’t believe him. But most of the people that learned it from Fanny did believe which is interesting. Fanny’s family believed. The family that Fanny went to live with was Chauncey Webb and Eliza Jane Webb, they believed that this was an actual marriage, but Joseph is caught with Fanny and they’re in a haymow, they’re in a barn, and we were out there in Kirtland with the John Whitmer Historical Association meeting this last September, and I asked Mark, ‘where is the barn?’ He had no idea. It’s long since been destroyed.

They were discovered by Emma “in the act.” We could assume that was something sexual. Some people want to say it was in the act of getting married by Levi, the ceremony. It’s a bit of a stretch. Maybe he was in the act of something affectionate. Virtually anything affectionate would have been over the line in Emma’s eyes understandably. She caught them, and she’s not accepting Joseph’s explanation at all.

‘This is a plural marriage. God authorized it.’

‘Yeah right. She’s pretty and this isn’t working for me.’

Joseph, according to one of the accounts gets Oliver and says in the middle of the night. ‘Oliver, come help me with this.’ Oliver hears the story and sides with Emma and thinks Joseph is having an adulterous affair. That was his opinion, probably right up until his death, that Joseph was not authorized to marry her. It wasn’t a marriage. He made hints to members of the high council that Joseph had been guilty of adultery. He did not accept any story of a marriage ceremony as being valid, and neither did Emma.
It kills me that Fanny was a more believable witness than Joseph.
Yes, but who, besides perhaps Emma, knew Joseph better than anyone? Probably Oliver. At this time Oliver was still "the second elder of the church" as well as assistant president of the church and a member of the presiding high council. Although it's pretty clear Oliver was opposed to plural marriage, it seems doubtful Joseph would not have shared with Oliver, although it is possible especially if Joseph already knew about Oliver's views. My own take on it is that Oliver did know and didn't believe Joseph (or Fanny) either.
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Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Post by DoubtingTom » 12 Jul 2017, 09:27

There is another possibility besides the duality of whether or not this was a marriage. In my mind it's entirely plausible (and even most likely) that this started as an affair and Joseph told Fanny it was a God-approved marriage to make either or both of them feel less guilty about it.

So to me it's irrelevant whether or not Joseph or Fanny thought of it as a marriage. I'm sure eventually both did and would have told others the same.

The important point to me is whether or not God in fact authorized or commanded it. And for me, the most reliable way to analyze is to look at the fruits. I see no positive fruits from that relationship - the hurt to Emma, the accusations and persecutions for adultery charges, the secretive nature, the shaming and harm. In my mind, there is no way God authorized or commanded that relationship. What would be the point? I don't believe everyday in God anymore, but I certainly don't believe in a God who would command or authorize this sort of thing that only brought about shame, harm, betrayal, and loss.

I know we don't have all the information, but to me Joseph was simply wrong in this and used his religious authority to call it something different than what it actually was.

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Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Post by hawkgrrrl » 13 Jul 2017, 12:51

As two women commented on Rick's W&T post about this, they don't really care what Hales thinks about polygamy. They care that the church still "loves" it (e.g. won't repudiate it, despite the pain it causes women).

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Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Post by gospeltangents » 13 Jul 2017, 15:38

Yes, I agree with Hawk. Even if Joseph had no sex with any wives by Emma, Someone on Facebook posted a note saying,
Let’s assume Brian is right. For some reason, Joseph married 30+ women and never had sex with any of them. For additional unexplained reasons, he felt too uncomfortable to share any of this with Emma even though he wasn’t being intimate with these women (enter flaming sword, etc.), and God didn’t deem it worthy to send an angel (flaming sword or otherwise) to convince Emma of this divine duty. But let’s put all that aside and believe this is exactly what happened.

Even if all of that is correct, every last word, it is undisputed that for almost 60 years, all of the church leaders and his successors did do all of this. Not only were they intimate with their polygamous wives, some of whom were very young girls, they celebrated those relationships and *condemned* monogamy. Not only were sexual polygamous relationships justified, they were *preferable,* considered the eternal order of marriage, and just like the relationship that God Himself had.

And that’s the best-case, faith-affirming angle Brian is arguing for.
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Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Post by Shawn » 16 Nov 2017, 16:27

The situation is confusing and I believe God was not the author of it.

The Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo essay states that "Several Latter-day Saints who had lived in Kirtland reported decades later that Joseph Smith had married Alger...." Did you see that? It was decades later when it was claimed they were married!

Hales admits that "it is obvious Emma did not believe the ceremony was valid and concluded the relationship was adulterous" and that Cowdery "sided with Emma, discounting the validity of the polygamous marriage and later referring to it as a 'dirty, nasty, filthy scrape.'"

And here is a very damning detail: Hales wrote, "As a consequence of the discovery, Emma immediately 'turned Fanny out of the house.'" I can't figure out how it might have been okay for Joseph to marry Fanny and then allow her to be kicked out of the house.

Also, Joseph obviously didn't follow the rule outlined in D&C 132:61.

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