On September 24, 1890, Joseph H. Dean returned home from Samoa, where he had been serving as mission president. He returned to Salt Lake City to report on his duties to the First Presidency. After briefly speaking to Wilford Woodruff and George Q. Cannon, Dean sat down with Joseph F. Smith. Dean knew Smith from Smith’s time in the South Pacific. “At his invitation,” Dean wrote in his journal, “I took supper with him, just he and I alone.”During supper, they spoke about:
“nearly every subject, among other things the advisability of my going to Mexico. The Church a ranch or rally there, where a member of the Church in good standing can settle and have all the land he can take care of. He [must] till the land, however, but pays a nominal [fee] for the payment of the interest in the money invested. That is so that no outsiders can get footing there and also so that an apostate could not stay there, as the laws of the state give the owners of the land the privilege of “firing” any renter that doesn’t suit them. A many can have as many wives there as he pleases so long as he only acknowledges one as such, that is, there is a tacit understanding between the church and the Mexican government, that we only practice plural marriage but must outwardly appear to have by one wife. Good land, delightful climate, and all together a desirable place to locate. I fell favorably impressed with the idea of going there.”
The idea that Mexico (and Canada) would be havens for Latter-day Saints who wanted to practice polygamy wasn’t new. In the 1880s, several Latter-day Saints moved to Mexico on the advice of General Authorities (or self-preservation). This set up a place for several dozen more families to relocate from Utah, Idaho, Arizona and other Mormon strongholds after the Manifesto to continue practicing plural marriage in Mexico and Canada.
Considering that Dean’s supper with President Smith came on the eve of the release of the Manifesto, Smith’s openness to polygamists moving to Mexico may shed new light on the Manifesto, or at least tell us what the First Presidency originally intended the Manifesto to be. Some Latter-day Saints, and many members of the United States government and press leaders, seemed to see the Manifesto as a press release, or a smoke and mirrors attempt to improve the Church’s image in the United States, to end the federal prosecution and financial pressure on the LDS Church. The conversation that Dean records in his journal seems to support that conclusion.
 I’d like to thank Amanda HK for pointing out that Smith and Dean knew each other from the Pacific.
 Words in brackets are my best guess. They were illegible in the diary.
 Joseph H. Dean Journals, MS 1530, CHL.
 William Morley Black, Papers BYU Special Collections.
 Carmon Hardy’s Solemn Covenant is particularly helpful in understanding the expectations of the First Presidency and the average Latter-day Saint for Manifesto, and the confusion that the Manifesto caused inside and outside of the LDS Church. B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant, University of Illinois Press, 1992.
 Church leaders maintained a “don’t ask don’t tell” approach to plural marriages, maintaining an attitude that individuals could still enter into plural marriage, but without public pronouncement or approval. This changed with the Second Manifesto in 1905. See Kathleen Flake, The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon apostle. University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
 I believe this conclusion, but I realize that this is ONE conversation with ONE member of the First Presidency. This also doesn’t take into account what the Manifesto became in the collective memory of Latter-day Saints.