Three Nights’ Public Discussion between the Revds. C.W. Cleeve, James Robertson, and Philip Carter, and Elder John Taylor of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at Boulogne-Sur-Mer, France

According to the D. Michael Quinn article “LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904” in Dialogue, vol 18, no. 1, Spring 1985, “By this date in 1850, John Taylor had married twelve polygamous wives who had already borne him eight children.[63]”

Quinn also notes that just previous to this time, Orson Pratt, the editor/publisher of the series of pamphlets that Taylor’s pamphlet appears in, had married “four plural wives and fathered two polygamous children.”

[For complete context, this begins with Mr. Robertson’s query on pg 7; emphasis added]

Mr. Robertson nevertheless continued to read most of his speech. – He said he was a stranger in Boulogne, as well his opponents, and his heart warmed to them when he thought how far they come to propagate their opinions of religion – from the Great Salt Lake, in the far west of America; but when he remembered that they acknowledged as their head the impostor J. Smith, jun., and that their mission was to disseminate his imposture, he felt that duty required that they should be fully exposed, and that no false delicacy should be used as regarded them. He and his friends had quoted against the testimony of General Bennett and Professor Caswell, and of works published in America, in 1848. These works had testified that Joseph Smith kept up a seraglio of “Sisters of the White Veil,” and “Sisters of the Green Veil;” and that Sidney Rigdon, who had at one time been almost as great a man among the Mormonites as Joe Smith, had quarreled with Joe for the latter’s attempt to introduce his, Rigdon’s daughter, into the sisterhood. Was there not a body of men amongst the Mormonites called “Danites,” or “Destroying Angels,” who were banded together to assassinate such as were supposed to be enemies of the body? and had not the existence of these men caused the hostility of the Americans to the Mormonite body? had not Governor Boggs been assassinated by this body, or some of them? Now could any of the Mormonites quote in their favour any works of equal authority to those which he (Mr. Robertson and his friends) had produced? It had been said they attempted to limit the power of God, in denying the most daring and blasphemous pretensions of Joseph Smith. It was not true. They did not come here to limit the power of God. God forbid. But they denied that God had revealed anything to Joseph Smith, and they had come here to denounce Joseph Smith as an impostor, on evidence that would satisfy the most expansive-minded jury. Now he (Mr. Robertson) demanded distinctly of Mr. Taylor what was the nature of the sisterhood of the White and Green Veil – what was the nature of the dispute between Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith – and what was the nature of the society called “Danites” or “Destroying Angels.” He (Mr. Robertson) could easily understand the reserve of Mr. Caswell’s conversation when he met with Mr. Taylor. How did he know that Mr. Taylor was not a destroying angel? (Laughter.)

Elder Taylor. – It would seem from the remarks of Mr. Robertson, that he also attaches very great importance to the statement, of Mr. Caswell and John C. Bennett, of course, for want of better testimony. I have already referred to their characters, I have already stated that I proved Mr. Caswell to have told one lie, and a man that will tell one falsehood to injure an innocent people, will tell five hundred, if necessary, for the same object. I have also spoken of John C. Bennett’s character; perhaps these gentlemen suppose that great importance is to be attached to Mr. Caswell’s statement, because he is a reverend gentleman; but reverend gentlemen can tell falsehoods, when it answers their purpose, as well as others. I will presently show some of their proceedings. We have had a terrible account about the murder of Governor Boggs, I suppose given by the Rev. Mr. Caswell. Ex-governor Boggs is now living in California, at the gold mines. (Laughter.) But I suppose he must be dead, because a reverend gentleman said so. Mr. Robertson has told us of a certain editor, who was afraid to pollute his paper with remarks made by some of the gentlemen before referred to. It certainly would have been more to the credit of the persons concerned, notwithstanding they had no regard for the truth, if they had had a little more regard for delicacy; and with all due deference, I must say, that men of the profession and calling of my opponents, would have displayed a little more taste, if they had possessed a little more of that delicacy of feeling which actuated the editor. We are accused here of polygamy, and actions the most indelicate, obscene, and disgusting, such that none but a corrupt and depraved heart could have contrived. These things are too outrageous to admit of belief; therefore leaving the sisters of the “White Veil,” the “Black Veil,” and all the other veils, with those gentlemen to dispose of, together with their authors, as they think best, I shall content myself by reading our views of chastity and marriage, from a work published by us, containing some of the articles of our Faith. “Doctrine and Covenants,” page 330.

“1. According to the custom of all civilised nations, marriage is regulated by laws and ceremonies; therefore we believe that all marriages in this Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints, should be solemnized in a public meeting, or feast, prepared for that purpose; and that the solemnization should be performed by a presiding High Priest, High Priest, Bishop, Elder, or Priest, not even prohibiting those persons who are desirous to get married, of being married by other authority. We believe that it is not right to prohibit members of this church from marrying out of the church, if it be their determination so to do, but such persons will be considered weak in the faith of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

“2. Marriage should be celebrated with prayer and thanksgiving; and at the solemnization, the persons to be married, standing together, the man on the right, and the woman on the left, shall be addressed by the person officiating, as he shall be directed by the Holy Spirit; and if there be no legal objections, he shall say, calling each by their names, “You both mutually agree to be each other’s companion, husband and wife, observing the legal rights belonging to this condition; that is, keeping ourselves wholly for each other, and from all others during your lives.” And when they shall have answered “Yes,” he shall pronounce them husband and wife, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by virtue of the laws of the country, and authority vested in him. ‘May God add his blessing, and keep you to fulfil your covenant from henceforth, and for ever. Amen.’

“3. The Clerk of every Church should keep a record of the marriages solemnized in his branch.

“4. All legal contracts of marriage made before a person is baptized into this Church should be held sacred and fulfilled. Inasmuch as this Church of Jesus Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband; neither is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband. All children are bound by law to obey their parents; and to influence them to embrace any religious faith, or be baptized, or leave their parents without their consent, is unlawful and unjust. We believe that husbands, parents, and masters, who exercise control over their wives, children, and servants, and prevent them from embracing the truth, will have to answer for that sin.”