Did Joseph Smith Marry His Foster Daughters & A Set Of Sisters?

“Among the women was a mother-daughter set and three sister sets. Several of these women included Joseph’s own foster daughters.” (CES Letter)

Not Foster Daughters – Joseph Smith did not have foster daughters. Some women helped briefly as maids and nurses in Smith’s home.

  • CES Letter mentions the “Partridge sisters” but they were nurses for Joseph Smith’s babies, and that was it. Emily Partridge said she was “a nurse girl, for they had a young baby.” Eliza Partridge said this arrangement lasted “about three years.”
  • CES Letter mentions Fanny Alger. The allegation that she was Joseph Smith’s “adopted daughter” rests entirely on rabid anti-Mormon Ann Eliza Young, many years later. Nobody else claimed this. By other accounts, she possibly spent some time as a maid for Emma. That was it.
  • CES Letter mentions Lucy Walker. Lucy refused to answer what kind of relationship they had, but she reported that she stayed at the Smith home briefly while her father was ill, and that this was when Joseph Smith requested a sealing.
  • CES Letter mentions the “Lawrence sisters.” While it is true that Joseph Smith was entrusted with managing the girls’ interests in their deceased father’s estate, their mother was still alive and they were in no way his foster daughters. Even anti-Mormons admit they were possibly “hired help” in the Smith home and that’s it. A lawsuit prepared by Joseph Smith over claims of adultery indicates that the sealings did not involve physical relations.

Modern DNA testing and investigation of witness accounts suggests Joseph Smith had no physical relations with any of his plural “wives.”

Not YoungCES Letter claims they were “young girls living in Joseph’s home as foster daughters.” By 19th century standards, most of these women were teenagers but not very young when they were reportedly sealed.

  • Emily was 19 and Eliza was 22 years old.
  • Fanny was 19 years old when we get the earliest second-hand account that suggests Joseph Smith possibly was sealed to her. But nobody really knows if there was really a sealing at all or what happened.
  • Lucy Walker was 17 years old.
  • The Lawrence sisters were 17 and 19 years old.

Mother/Daughter/Sister Sets Not ImportantCES Letter acts upset that the alleged polygamy included “a mother-daughter set and three sister sets.” I guess they think this contradicts the law of Moses which forbids marrying sisters? But the law of Moses is defunct, so I don’t see why that matters. They appear to really be bringing this issue up to make the polygamy sound more salacious.

Fake Quote From Oliver Cowdery?CES Letter claims:

“Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger was described by Oliver Cowdery as a ‘dirty, nasty, filthy affair’ – Rough Stone Rolling, p.323”

The only source I have seen for this quote is anti-Mormon Richard Bushman. The letter that this quote supposedly came from is not found at josephsmithpapers.org and I have not seen evidence that it exists. The quote is also not provided in context. We don’t know what he is actually talking about. I haven’t seen the full quote, and I don’t even know if it is a real quote.

The trust is, little is known about the Fanny Alger relationship or even if there was one. We don’t have any reason to think it was anything but a simple sealing ceremony.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehoods CES Letter incorrectly claims the Lawrence sisters, Partridge sisters, Fanny Alger, and Lucy Walker were Joseph Smith’s “foster daughters.” Totally false. The premise of this argument is a flat-out lie.

CES Letter claims these were “young girls.” Some were 17 years old, but Eliza Partridge was 22 years old. But 19th century standards, they were not very young.

Argument From
 Ignorance
The “new and everlasting covenant” of sealing was different from civil marriage, as it was for the afterlife and did not involve earthly relations by itself. Only those sealed “for time and eternity” could have involved sexual relationships. There is no evidence of sexual relationships between Joseph Smith and any of his polygamous wives.
Strawman Argument For their vast research into “the real origins of polygamy and how Joseph Smith really practiced it,” CES Letter totally misunderstands what happened. It is easy to tell salacious tales of sordid affairs with teenagers, but CES Letter provides zero evidence that the sealing to those women was the same thing as marriage.
Repetition After detailed attacks on Joseph Smith’s character, CES Letter repeats the sordid claims as part of a condense list. This solidifies their characterization of him as a disgusting creep.
Etymological Fallacy The LDS semantics are unusual, and it is easy for CES Letter to just lump everything together as “marriage.” Marriages for time and sealings for eternity were totally different. Few, if any, of Joseph Smith’s sealings included “for time,” and did not involve physical, earthly relations.
Big LieCES Letter uses the same big lie tactic that they used against the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham. They start of with the big lie that marriage for time and for eternity were the same. This compounds and leads to other lies to attack Joseph Smith’s character, such as this ridiculous lie that Joseph Smith was marrying foster daughters. CES Letter can get away with this stunning lie about “foster daughters” because they already got away with the lie that his sealings were simply “marriages.” One lie leads to another.

This lie is easier for the reader to accept after all those earlier arguments that attached the same kind of narrative about the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham. If Joseph Smith made up all these books of scripture haphazardly, isn’t it reasonable that he made up revelations about marriage in order to steal underage girls?

CES Letter can get away with this Big Lie because it is the consensus among so many people that Joseph Smith had carnal relations with girls, and because it takes so long to actually investigate the evidence. People are too lazy to actually look through all the historical documents. Even mainstream church apologists are beaten down by all of the accusations and have give way to the big lie. They are too tired defending against it. They let CESLetter get away with the big lie that Jospeh Smith “married” underage girls, as we understand the definition of marriage today which involves sexual relations. Even if you don’t believe the allegations, just this association frames Joseph Smith as a creep.

For the Book of Abraham, the big lie was that the book was “translated” from a recovered fragment of papyrus that we now know is the Book of Breathing. They repeat it over and over. With polygamy, the big lie likewise will be used by CES Letter to make all sorts of implications to attack Joseph Smith’s character.

Use Opponent As Authority Tactic – This is a popular Marxist tactic that anti-Mormons use. They use Mormonism’s own authorities to discredit the faith. “The Church now admits that Joseph Smith married Helen Mar Kimball.” Uh, no, not true. CES Letter pretends like the church hasn’t given any official answers about anything, which is totally false, and then they point to official evidence as evidence that they are ‘conceding’.

What makes this tactic powerful is that it:

  • Deceptively discredits the vast research that has been done on Moron history and complicated circumstances of the time.
  • Gives more focus to a phony binary frame that attacks the Mormon church.
  • Divides the ranks of the church.
  • Equates eternal marriage with civil unions and attacks Mormon marriage as an institution

Contradiction StrategyCES Letter gives a few bits of incorrect leading evidence; the reader connects to dots in their mind; and CES Letter pushes it to a sweeping generalization. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, why did he commit adultery with girls who were not old enough to consent? People are much more likely to believe CES Letter‘s string of illogic because they connected the dots out on their own, subconsciously. They are also more likely to believe the evidences for that deduction, which in this case are falsehoods.

We could see the intellectual tricks and sophistry CES Letter used to portray Joseph Smith as a fraud, in their arguments about the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham. Well, even if that were all true and he were a fraud, so what? Aren’t Mormons still nice people who make the world a better place? The powerful thing with these polygamy arguments is that CES Letter tells you why Mormonism is still evil: it victimizes young girls. It matters because Joseph Smith was a creep who preyed on girls. This is easy rhetoric for them to push, as the internet is filled with all kinds of false rumors about Mormon polygamy. It is easy to just repeat the claim over and over, not give any evidence, and make the issue personal through manipulative repetition.

This frame of ‘predator versus victim’ leads us to a Marxist ideology. Marxism is all about protecting victims from the predators. Marxists think the biggest miracle about mankind is that we evolved to the top of the food chain without ever becoming predators of other animals. Economically, Marxists protect working classes from a predator class. Marxism is all about protecting the vulnerable from those seeking unequal advantage–and all about keeping people weak in order to keep them reliant on a benevolent dictator for safety.

A major part of Marxism is the deconstruction of masculinity. They seek to pick positive masculine traits that propagate the ideology, such as the gusto to fight for the cause, and eliminate “toxic masculine” traits such as the desire to marry and have children in a traditional family. They think traditional families are evil because men contribute labor to the economy while women are “subjugated” as mothers and do not perform labor. The ideal for Marxists is a state where men and women are completely equal working bees and children are grown and raised by the benevolent dictator state. Nobody is preying on anybody.

Total Hypocrisy From Anti-Mormons – Yet, in the Soviet Union the minimum age of marriage was 16! And age 15 was considered old enough and were quite common. By age 25 Russian girls were considered “old maids.” So Marxists really have no reason to complain about Joseph Smith! According to Marxist law, he didn’t do anything wrong–even if they were earthly marriages, which they weren’t.

Therefore, any Socialist-leaning anti-Mormon is a total hypocrite when he complains about Joseph Smith’s polygamy. They are only pushing the rhetoric to attack the Mormon traditional family and smear Joseph Smith’s character.

Meanwhile, the “marriage equality” crowd pushes children to make ‘choices’ about their gender and applauds drag parties for 10 year old boys. The age of consent completely flies out the window when it comes to influences pushed onto children in the name of Socialist “equality.”