--Introduction: This Time Joseph Smith Conjurs up Visions of Poisoning
Joseph Smith’s inventively lustful claim that God commanded him to practice polygamy ended up causing him all kinds of grief (including contributing to his death at Carthage, Illinois, after he had ordered a newspaper press destroyed for having exposed his polygamous affairs).
Before he was actually murdered, however, Jumpy Joe suspected that even his wife was out to kill him over his polygamous philanderings.
--Attempted Coffee Killing: Joseph's Hallucinatory Hang-Ups Over a Murder-Minded Emma
In their book, "Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith,” LDS authors Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery write of Smith’s polygamy-produced paranoia:
"Although Emma's attempt to accept plural marriage brought temporary peace to the Smith household, neither Emma's resolve nor the peace lasted long. Emily Partridge commented that Joseph 'would walk the floor back and forth, with his hands clasped behind him (a way he had of placing his hands when his mind was deeply troubled), his countenance showing that he was weighed down with some terrible burden.'
"The strain in his private life, coupled with threats from marauders and dissension within the church and community, began to affect Joseph's health. On Sunday, November 5, Joseph became suddenly sick and vomited so hard that he dislocated his jaw and 'raised fresh blood.'
"His self-diagnosis was that he had every symptom of poisoning. But he was well enough in the evening to attend an Endowment Council meeting in the room over the red brick store.
"According to current medical literature, no poison available in 1844 was caustic enough to pool blood in the stomach so rapidly after ingestion as Joseph's symptoms indicate and still be so ineffective as to allow the victim to pursue normal activities within a few hours . . . .
"Twenty-two years later Brigham Young described a 'secret council,' . . . at which he said Joseph accused Emma of the poisoning and 'called upon her to deny it if she could . . . . He told her that she was a child of hell, and literally the most wicked woman on this earth, that there was not one more wicked than she. He told her where she got the poison, and how she put it in a cup of coffee; said he, 'You got that poison so and so, and I drank it, but you could not kill me.' When it entered his stomach he went to the door and threw it off. He spoke to her in that council in a very severe manner, and she never said one word in reply. I have witnesses all around, who can testify that I am now telling the truth. Twice she undertook to kill him.' [Young] did not elaborate on the alleged second occurrence, but in 1866 Brigham's rhetoric could well have been stronger that Joseph's actual words, for it came at a time when Brigham was particularly hostile toward Emma.
"Evidence suggests that Joseph indeed accused Emma of poisoning his coffee. His diary records that he and Emma did not participate in the Prayer Circle at that meeting . . . . This is particularly significant because members were asked not to join the Prayer Circle if they had feelings of antagonism toward anyone else in the group. Only unusual circumstances would have restrained them. Apparently Joseph believed at the time that Emma poisoned him, but strong evidence suggests that his self-diagnosis was mistaken and, therefore, so was his accusation of Emma.
"Five weeks later Joseph again experienced sudden nausea and vomiting. 'I awoke this morning in good health but was soon suddenly seized with a great dryness of the mouth and throat, and sickness of the stomach, and vomited freely . . . . I was never prostrated so low, in so short a time, before, but by evening was considerably revived.'
"He mentioned being 'somewhat out of health' on January 21, 'somewhat unwell' on April 2, and 'suddenly taken sick,' on April 28 . . . .
"Acute indigestion, food poisoning, ulcers, gallstones, and other diseases cause a reaction similar to Joseph's. Certainly Joseph's life was filled with the emotional tension and conflict that traditionally accompany ulcers. When he had his second attack of vomiting early in December, his diary states: 'My wife waited on me, assisted by my scribe, Willard Richards, and his brother Levi, who administered some hers and mild drinks.' . . . In this instance Joseph portrayed Emma as a helper and nurse instead of the instigator of the attack .
"He apparently failed to correct the conclusions held by Brigham Young and John Taylor, for Emma remained forever suspect in their minds.
"Stories of poisoning drew in another suspect: Samuel Smith's daughter Mary later wrote to her cousin Ina Coolbrith that Eliza R. Snow poisoned Joseph. She said that while Eliza resided in her Uncle Joseph's house Emma fixed Joseph a cup of coffee and Eliza poured something in it, then Joseph drank and vomited. Eliza had not lived in the house for nearly a year.
"Desdemona Wadsworth Fullmer, a plural married to Joseph by Brigham Young in July, wrote an autobiography in 1868 and related a bizarre dream that may have been prompted by rumors of Emma poisoning Joseph. She stated: 'In the rise of polygamy [Emma] Smith was going to poison me. I told [the dream] to brother Joseph. He told me it was true. She would do it if she could.'
"The talk of poisoning may have prompted Emily Partridge to say of this period: 'There were times, one in particular that I was really afraid of my life.' . . . She was far more likely to fear retribution from Emma than Emma was to administer it. But circulation of poisoning stories gave rise to apprehension and suspicion directed toward Emma." (pp. 163-65)
--Brigham Young Also Asserted That An Evil Emma Was Out to do In Joseph But Was Thwarted by Faith
A suspicious Brigham Young with his own paranoia over Emma claimed in an 1863 sermon that she tried to kick Young and his pals out of the Church, as well as attempted to murder her righteously roaming-eye husband Joseph:
"In Joseph's da[y] she [Emma] tried to throw me, Br. Heber, Br. Willard Richards and the Twelve Apostles out of the Church, and tried to destroy the whole church and I know it.
"Joseph himself testified before high Heaven more than once that she had administered poison to him. There are men and women present today who can bear witness that more hell was never wrapped up in any human being than there is in her. She gave him too heavy a dose and he vomited it up and was saved by faith." ("BYA," vol. 4 Gen. Conf. 7 Oct. 1863)
--Another Mormon Teaswtified That Emma Was Toxic to the Prophet But That God Provided the Antidote
In his journal, Charles Lowell Walker wrote:
"Br Snow . . . also related that when Emma, Joseph's first wife, heard of the Revelation [on polygamy] she sought the life of Joseph and tired to poison him, but he was delivered by the Power of God. ("Diary of Charles Lowell Walker ,” vol. 1, p. 438, 17 December 1876)
--Still, There Are Those Like Sandra Tanner Who Think That Emma
Really Did Try to Pickle Her Polygamous Prophet-Partner with Poison
"The simple fact is that Mormon historians have already shown the Emma Smith/Joseph Smith/Polygamy story to be very different than the LDS would like to have it. I mean, come on, you have to ask yourself why Brigham Young once (in public!) claimed Emma Smith tried to poison Joseph, but now Mormons only talk about what a great marriage the Smiths had.
"Read 'Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith' or 'In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith' or 'Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling' - three books written by Mormons." ("Interview with Sandra Tanner on the Life of Emma Smith--Wife of Mormon Founder”)
--Conclusion: You Wonder How a Philandering Joe Could Sleep at Night
Indeed, wouldn’t you be a bit of an insomniac too if you were convinced that your wife was conspiring to fatally spike your Kool Aid?
For the possible poisoning death of Brigham Young, see: http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,1051678
For the possible poisoning death of Samuel H. Smith (Joseph Smith's brother), see: http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,1051659
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/14/2013 12:27PM by steve benson.