The Audio Version
The Audio Version
Episode 10 (Common Questions): Emma Smith's Path Through Polygamy

Emma encountered difficult challenges arising from the establishment of plural marriage. Joseph Smith reported that he was commanded to establish the practice of polygamy in the Church. He secretly married his first plural wife, Fanny Alger, in 1835 in Kirtland, Ohio. However, when Emma Smith discovered it, she became very upset and sent Fanny away. Joseph entered into his second plural marriage in 1841 while living in Nauvoo—again without informing Emma.

Emma accepted plural marriage teachings briefly in the spring of 1843 and gave Joseph four wives in May, but then she immediately rejected the principle. On July 12 at Hyrum Smith’s invitation, the Prophet dictated a revelation (now D&C 132), which Hyrum presented to Emma in the hope that she would again accept Joseph’s practice of polygamy. Afterwards, he reported that “he had never received a more severe talking to in his life, that Emma was very bitter and full of resentment and anger.” Immediately she demanded that Joseph transfer financial resources to sustain her and her children should anything happen to Joseph or to their marriage. She apparently also required Joseph to obtain her permission before marrying any additional plural wives (and, indeed, he was sealed to only two after that date).