Mr. Smoot Goes to Washington: Mike Paulos and Harvard Heath’s Lectures at Benchmark Books

By March 26, 2008

Ok, not the most original title for a blog entry about Reed Smoot, but anyway…On February 22, 2008, Mike Paulos, editor of The Mormon Church on Trial: Transcripts of the the Reed Smoot Hearings and Harvard Heath, editor of In The World: The Diaries of Reed Smoot spoke at Benchmark Books on what has been recognized as one of the pivotal moments for Mormonism’s 20th Century transition (and a pivotal individual). Again, a special thanks to Brent Brizzi for his laborious and well done transcription. [I’ve left in the incidentals this time…it’s just part of the experience]:

Curt’s Introduction: Welcome everyone, we’re very pleased that you could come and be with us tonight. We almost didn’t have this for a couple of reasons, one of the gentlemen behind me missed his flight this morning from Texas, and fortunately he had a private Lear at the airport as a backup, the Signature Book Lear, (laughter). By way of introduction, most of you know me, and I know most of the people here, but not everyone, my name’s Curt Bench, chief bill payer, oh no, that’s my wife. How many are here for the first time? (I didn’t see how many responded to this, but there was a sizeable crowd, one gentlemen showed late, and put a chair in the hallway to see). Great, here’s a distinguished gentlemen: gentlemen responding: straggler. We do this every now and then, I will tell you that we don’t have near as many author signings as there are authors, we are very selective, and the very best ones we could think of to be here tonight couldn’t make it, (laughter), fortunately Mike and Harvard agreed to come. We really are honored to have Michael Paulos, and Harvard Heath with us. Mike has been a long time customer and friend of ours, and Harvard is kind of the go to scholar that we’ve always been able to access when we need to. I’ll tell you a little bit more about them, but Mike, of course is the editor and compiler of this book: “The Mormon Church on Trial, The Reed Smoot Hearings”. Harvard wrote the introduction to it, and Harvard also edited the Reed Smoot diaries, called “In The World, The Reed Smoot Diaries”. We just happen to have some copies here of each of these books, coincidentally, we would encourage, if you have not yet purchased your copies to do so, these gentlemen will be happy to sign them for you. A few little things we should make people clear on, one question we get asked more than what’s this book about, what’s the code on the keypad at the bathrooms? Make a $25 purchase, and we will give you that information (laughter). The routine is for those of you who haven’t been here before, I give about a 50-60 minute introduction, (some laughter, and crickets from those who didn’t know Curt was kidding). Brief introduction, and then we’re going to have Mike take 10-15-20 minutes, and talk about the book, his experience with it. Before we open up for questions and answers, we’ll ask Harvard to say a little about the Reed Smoot Diaries that he edited. Course both these men have looked at a lot of the same materials, but they have been coming at it from different directions, and the emphases are different. I would also like to do a little fun thing we did at the last one we had and pass this little basket around, and if you’re so inclined, put some money, (laughter). No, actually kind of sad, I was just coming out of the back room, I had to talk to someone that had tried to sell us some stolen books tonight, the reason seems to be just because they don’t have any money, it’s really sad, so I’m not going to ask for a collection. What these are, just some slips of paper, and pens. If you’d like to put your name, if you’re already on our database, then just put your name on here. We’re going to have a drawing and give away, not the authors here, not their books, but we’re going to give away a couple of books, just for your being here to say thanks, and make it a little fun. But, if you’re not on our database already, if you’d like to be, just print your name, address, phone number, email. I’m just going to send that around, we’ll later in the evening, have a drawing to give away some books. Ok, have I missed anything besides the intro’s? Mike actually, well he doesn’t know, well he knows now, he didn’t know up until a couple of years ago, our families actually go way back. My dad, and his grandfather were good friends, and my oldest brother, and his dad were good friends from long ago, in California days. Little did I know that, Mike would come along and become such a good scholar, and produce a wonderful book like this. Mike graduated from UVSC, and BYU, got a BA in Business Finance, and an MBA from the University of Texas, he lives in the San Antonio, Texas area, which is where the Lear is parked. He’s a financial analyst for a health care company, his wife Kim, and he, have three sons. The way we got to know Mike to begin with was as a book collector, he has done avidly. He has informed me tonight, he’s a sports fanatic, which we won’t hold that against him, we’ll look at the book side more than the sports side, some would fight me on that here, I’m sure. He’s published a number of articles in Sunstone, and Utah Historical Quarterly, Journal of Mormon History, all on Reed Smoot. Harvard Heath received a BA, and PHD from BYU. He got his advanced degree in American History, and he specializes in Western History, as I mentioned, he edited “In The World, The Reed Smoot Diaries”. He’s currently working on, and probably will be for the rest of his life, (he replied, better not, Gary will kill me). Let’s reverse that tape, he’s coming right along, he’s almost got it done, the David O. McKay Diaries, and also the James E. Talmage Diaries. Those are two very important projects, and ones that we will all love to see completed, and have in our libraries. He has of course published numerous things in the past, articles and so on. I would like to now turn the time over to Mike Paulos, and let him talk about his book, and then Harvard will say a few words to us, and we’ll open it up to questions for both of these gentlemen to answer, and we’ll take it from there. We’ll have our drawing later, and what’s the saying? My lovely wife, Pat, has been doing as she does so well, putting some wonderful refreshments together, so after we get done with the main part of this, please feel free to go out in to the hallway, and have some refreshments. Thank you again very much for coming…Mike. (Applause).

Mike: Thanks very much for coming. Today for my remarks, I want to give you a sense of what my experience was like doing this project, there was some personal experiences, and watermarks in my own life, that really factored in, that made the whole experience even more rich. But, first, I’d like to say that it was an honor to work with Signature books, Tom, Ron, and Gary, and the entire staff were exceptional to work with, and they improved the contents of the book enormously. Special thanks to Tom, he found me in a bookstore, (Curt says, this book store?) Another bookstore, (laughter) on the their side, more close to downtown. Again, I want to thank everybody for attending today, I want to recognize my father, and my three brothers that are also here, my Brother-in-law, Casey, and all my brothers, and my parents. Oh, did I, and Matty, and Liz, sorry. (Curt: Anybody else). I recognized them, because they all helped me enormously on this project, there was a lot of tedious, painstaking work that they assisted me with, and they did it on demand to. A lot of Saturdays they came and helped me, they also checked out stuff at the BYU library for me, I greatly appreciated that. I also wanted to thank my wife, whose not here, and my three boys for their love and support throughout the entire project. My wife did a lot of scanning, and copy proofing too, and they also showed a lot of patience throughout my Smoot distraction. I was glad that Curt mentioned, that it took me coming here, almost every week for two years for Curt to make the connection that our families were connected. I worked just about 10 blocks south of here, (Curt, I’m a little slow). I’ve come to a lot of book signings, so it makes this even the more sweet. Enough of the introduction, I want to say that the whole Smoot project is essentially, has been a dream come true for me, and let me mention that parenthetically Romney’s run for President was pure serendipity throughout the entire process. It really made it very interesting, being a political junky, I could not have asked for a more interesting topic to study, nor could I have scripted a more interesting backdrop for this research. The amazing thing about the Smoot Hearings project was I frequently picked up on correlation between Smoot’s day, and current events. A couple of the online book reviews of my book, that have been done so far on this book, have mentioned that too. Also, I have written a lot of the material, or published several articles on a lot of these similarities, which were not included in the book, and I want to mention few, what they are, the first one I want to mention was, about a year and a half ago, back when the marriage amendment was being debated in the senate, here was a marriage amendment that was being debated back in Smoot’s day, and I wrote an op ed right after finals at UT…as a student, cause I saw so many parallels between Smoot’s day, and my day, and it got published on the front page, that was a great thrill, but it was so interesting to see all the different parallels from that same time period. The next parallel that I saw, was the political cartooning of religious figures. I think it was back in early 2006 when there was a big Mohammed cartoon controversy, that was the big news in the press, and then I was finding all these political cartoons on Joseph F. Smith, who was the Prophet during the Smoot hearings, and of Smoot, and Joseph Smith didn’t like being cartooned in these, so I wrote an article about it in Sunstone, and it appeared in the December 2006 Sunstone, and I included a whole bunch of political cartoons in there, and I found about 50 total from all different newspapers from across the country, and they’ve been published in, at least half of them have been published in other journals, and also in the book, there’s a middle section that has pictures, and cartoons. Another interesting I found was that, The Salt Lake Tribune ran a story about the book in early December, they also let me, I sent them, and they also posted several political cartoons from the Salt Lake Tribune 100 years ago on their site, I thought that was a fun, fun connection. The third corollary that I picked up on was, Smoot gave a speech, that was essentially his Mormon speech, the day before he was voted in to keep his senate seat, and leading up to the time that Mitt Romney gave his speech there was all this comments that he needed to give a speech like JFK gave, well I wrote an article that essentially, that presented that speech by Smoot, but also said maybe Mitt Romney should give a Smoot speech, rather than a JFK speech, and that was in the spring issue of 2007 of the Utah Historical Quarterly, that was a very interesting thing that I also saw. I have a couple of other parallels of the externalities that were happening during our time, that I saw that paralleled from Smoot’s time. The first was, a general authority, child or grandchild, who publicly attacked the church, and the LDS politician. Frank G. Cannon, who was the son of George Q. Cannon, was also the editor of the
Salt Lake Tribune, and he was covering the hearings of Washington D.C., and he wrote editorial after editorial, slamming the church, and Smoot as he tried to keep his senate seat. Recently, Steve Benson, the cartoonist of the Arizona Republic, I think that’s the newspaper that he does cartoons for, he had a story that came out, where he attacked Mitt Romney and said he was not telling the truth, so I thought that was interesting, and it was interesting that he was also a cartoonist, with my interest in cartoons. I also subscribe to a political cartoon newsletter, they send out stuff, that was the title on one of the emails I got, “A Former Mormon, an Ex-Mormon Political Cartoonist Attacked Mitt Romney”, and during the hearings, Frank J. Cannon was excommunicated because of his editorials. Another interesting corollary that I picked up on, was the publicity of Temple garments, and Temples. Back in December of 1904, The Washington Times, which was a big newspaper in D.C., published on it’s front page a picture of one of the Smoot protestants, I forget his name right now, wearing Temple garments, put it on the front page, I didn’t include it in the book, but that was on the front page, conversely on the Atlantic Monthly web site, Andrew Sullivan whose a journalist, he put up a picture of a couple wearing Temple garments, so I thought that was a similar corollary. The third one I picked up on, was Joseph F. Smith, later on in the hearings, talks about the Smoot hearings as generating a lot of interest in the Church, and missionary work in the Church, or interest in seeking out missionary work, and that certainly has happened today with Mitt Romney, and all the publicity the Church received, at all the press passes, at all the different events that happened along the way. One thing that was interesting that I picked up in the press, I followed the Mitt Romney run for President pretty closely, and I saw a report in Florida, when he was campaigning, leading up to the primary, missionaries that were showing up at his primary event, and I never saw any report of any missionary showing up at any of the Smoot hearings, I think that would have been interesting. But, the newspapers at that time do report a lot of the people that came out to the Smoot hearings to see it, it seems like, the Deseret News, and the Salt Lake Tribune mentioned several times that there were a lot of older women who came there and giggled, or did other things, they were just fascinated, they would get there early, get their seats, especially on the days that Joseph F. Smith, or there was a lot of ballyhoo about the testimony, the seats were packed, and there was always a group of women there. Now all of these comparative items enriched the entire research process immediately, (I believe he meant to say immensely), I just don’t think I could have had a more interesting topic to research. For those who are further interested in the Smoot talk, in addition to what I have said, if the 750 pages are not enough. I presented a paper on Joseph F. Smith’s testimony at MHA this past year, and I also in the winter 2007 Journal of Mormon History, I have a 40 page article on a speech that was given in Smoot’s defense, and Harvard has his entire article on Reed Smoot, the Reed Smoot hearings, and let me say also parenthetically that Harvard, his research and his article is amazing, it was research along with Milton Merrill’s that got me interested initially in the Smoot Hearings, and in Smoot, I want to thank Harvard for that again. Another personal sidebar that enriched my Smoot research while I was in, right in the thick of the project was I was, I had the opportunity to intern with The State Department in the summer of 2006. While I was there touring a lot of the sites, I thought a lot about Smoot, and where he was going to be, at times it was surreal. I was fortunate to have a tour of The West Wing at The White House, and the cabinet room where President Bush, or the President meets with all of his cabinet members, our tour guide said it was built, and was first used by Teddy Roosevelt, President Roosevelt, and I thought that was great because Teddy Roosevelt was Smoot’s most ardent supporter in Washington, and I note that in the footnotes all throughout, he, Smoot, constantly went to President Roosevelt to ask him what he thinks he should do, seeks support, just for a variety of things all throughout the hearing, so this is a definitely surreal experience for me to take in all that while I was working on the hearings. I had a couple of faith promoting stories from this project that I wanted to share. During my research of the Smoot book, I serendipitously found out that my best friend, one of my best friends who was my next door neighbor all throughout growing up was a great-grandson of Carl A. Badger, I had no idea previously. Carl A Badger was Reed Smoot’s secretary all throughout the Smoot hearings, and provides some of the best behind the scenes information analysis of what was going on. Smoot’s diaries during the hearings are missing, and I heard earlier, Harvard, on some of his theories of what happened, maybe he can share some of that later. So anyway, I found out that one of my best friends growing up, he was Carl Badger’s grandson, and his grandma who lived with him next door, who I had known throughout all my growing up years was thrilled that I was a big fan of her father, and she gave me their family book, that catalogued all of the Smoot correspondence, all the Carl A. Badger correspondence, most of it, the most interesting journal entries during the time period, and having this saved me hundreds of hours of having to spend at special collections, so that was great to have happen. The second faith promoting story that I wanted to share, was also in the initial part of my research. My brother Matty whose here today, one of his best friends turned out to be a great great grandson of Reed Smoot which came as a great surprise because his last name is Kawasaki, you would have never dreamed, and he introduced me to the Smoot family, and also scheduled an afternoon for us to go over to the Smoot home, and have a chance to tour it, and I was even given the chance to handle one of Senator Smoot’s copies of the hearing that’s still in their home, it’s so old, they’ve kept it vintage, it’s on 1st East and 1st North, or 1st South right in Provo, I’m from Provo originally, that was great, also on the wall of the Reed Smoot home, is this painting right here, now this was published in the Deseret News this past week, sitting on his wall, I think it’s been there for 100 years, since Smoot had the home, and my brother Matty asked for permission, and went in and took pictures of it, then photo shopped it so you could see it, so that’s where this photo came in. I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about the editorial process that I went through to select the passages of hearings that I did. Professionally, I’m a financial analyst, I have been for at least seven years, and Mormon history has simply been an avocation for me. As a financial analyst I love working with, and manipulating large sets of data, working with spread sheets specifically, and all throughout the Smoot process I employed the use of spreadsheets to organize parts, and correlate all of my work. The actual hearings are a total of 3400 pages, pretty big, large set of data, and I feel like my use of these spreadsheets reduced dramatically the number of hours that I had to spend on back checking, and keeping it all in front of me. I also worked full time throughout this project, except the time I was a full time student at UT Austin, and I read every page of the 3400 pages, and all thousand pages of Harvard Heath’s dissertation on Smoot. Now a, what criteria did I go through to abridge the testimony, the only guideline I was given when I began the project from Smith-Pettit was to abridge what I thought was interesting, that’s essentially what I did. All throughout the hearings there was conflicting testimony on a range of topics from Smoot’s side, and also the prosecution, and in each case as I tried to balance the actual testimony with the footnote describing the testimony, and in some cases actually putting the actual testimony in the footnote, if there was any testimony that was not balanced with the other testimony, with testimony that existed in it, that was strictly an unwitting omission on my part, I took no, I did not try to hide or omit anything. I’m sure that some on either side of the conservative/ liberal spectrum might find fault with an aspect of my editing, but the book is essentially what I thought was interesting, and certainly another editor might have pulled out different stuff. Now one editorial issue that I grappled with, that I haven’t mentioned yet, from the testimony that was given on the LDS Temple ceremony, there was quite a bit of testimony on certain aspects of it, and some parts of the actual ceremony. The Temple testimony that I include in the book is what I determined was not part of the current Temple ceremony, if it was, I took that out, there was no special way I did that, that was just the guideline that I used, and another comment about the annotation is that the BYU Special Collections, not about the, no I’ve done a lot of work on the annotation, sometimes the footnotes are really big, I’m a big fan of footnotes, and I’m glad that Signature kept a lot of them, cause I think that they are some of the most interesting parts. What I have put in the annotations are a lot of letters, Reed Smoot to his friends, but primarily to the First Presidency, also a lot of Carl Badger’s letters to his wife, and those papers are all down at BYU Special Collections, there’s no restrictions on any of those collections. One of the things, I recommend everyone to read the footnotes, I tried to provide as much interesting material as I could, and as much context as I could. Well, I hope that everybody finds this as interesting as I did, I can’t imagine having a better opportunity to learn more about the book world than this, about public policy, and about Mormon history, and I hope everyone else finds it as interesting as I did. (Applause).

Curt: BTW, this is a reprint of the Smoot hearings (holding up a copy of the books), so he took something that big, and put it into something this big, that’s a lot of work.

Harvard Heath: This is a project I often thought of doing, but after doing my dissertation, I couldn’t see going through over 3000 pages, so, I’m glad that Mike did. It is probably one of the most underrated things in Mormon history that no one knows about, it’s a wonderful insight into things that are rather I think, uh, surprising to say the least. This is a chance for General Authorities to be put on the stand, and kind of grilled. I’ve argued elsewhere these hearings have to rank as one of the top two or three most important events in Mormon history, some people would dispute that, but, since the statehood, and the end of polygamy with the manifesto, the Church tried to mainstream itself into Mormon culture, and it was very difficult, and Smoot wanted to run for the senate in 1900, and was told not to by President Snow, they wanted Thomas Kearns to stay there as a friend to the Mormons as a Gentile, and so when he passed away in 1901, the chance came again in 1902, and Smoot asked to run, he’d been called as an apostle in 1900, and that set off a firestorm on some of his brethren because they were upset that an apostle would dirty his hands in politics. It was the old saying that, you shouldn’t mix politics and religion, it was like mixing ice cream with manure, it doesn’t hurt the manure, but it sure ruins the ice cream. (laughter) So Smoot fought that throughout his whole career, every election that he decided to run again, he had almost a majority of the brethren ask him not to, his only ally was Joseph F. Smith, who was the only really important voice that matters in these situations, the prophet is the one that has all the power, and so on many occasions he was asked to step down, but in hindsight, in looking back on Smoot, the Smoot hearings, that was the defining moment to where the Church was finally given a sense of legitimacy, it was a chance to show that we were really Americans, it didn’t solve all the problems, but it smoothed the way, and he was the first person to get the President of the Church into the White House, he was able to get President Smith, and President Grant into the White House on numerous occasions, as well as other General Authorities, which has never happened before. There was a certain acceptance of him, and he’s a strange individual, as you find reading in Mike’s book, he was probably of the old Victorian variety, a very circumspect, kind of think of him as his father Abraham Smoot was a Tennessee person who had some aristocratic leanings, and wanted to dress proper, and act proper. Smoot to many of his colleagues and friends was kind of a bore, a wet blanket, he wasn’t well liked by many people, ‘cept those that counted. During the hearings, as the hearings will point out, there were a lot of ups and downs, initially they thought they would win it easy, and when they began to find people to come testify about things the Church didn’t want public, they began to doubt it was going to work, and so I can count maybe during the hearings, four or five pivotal points where one day they were going to make it, the next day they weren’t going to make it, and there were many calling for him to either resign from the Quorum, or resign from the senate to avoid the embarrassment, and to Joseph F. Smith’s credit, he supported him through this, when others did not want to. I think it’s interesting that President Grant, who a, at this time was a young Turk, who liked to mouth off about a lot of things made a very, well, a very poor choice of words at a University of Utah meeting where he said, he wanted to have more wives but the government wouldn’t let him have them, and this hit the press, and within less than a month he was sent to England on a mission, and was exiled there, he used to write back, saying, how much longer do I have to be here, and Smoot would say keep him there as long as you can. (laughter). Because, if he comes back, they’re going to subpoena him, and he’s going to have to testify. As Mike’s book points out, there were some general authorities that would not adhere to their subpoenas that were given to them, they would not participate, and two of those brethren who were adamant about it, as you well know, Taylor and Cowley were disfellowshipped, and excommunicated, and this is kind of a tragic story because both of them had sent their resignation in almost a year in advance, but the Church didn’t want to use them. Smoot kept begging President Smith to let them go public, so the people of Washington would know we were serious, and the problem occurred when it came time to sustain the general authorities in General Conference, and the first time, Smoot, happened to be out of town on business, so he didn’t have to raise his hand, and the 2nd time he didn’t raise his hand, in support of these two brethren because they came out publicly and said they would not go back to Washington, and embarrass themselves, and put their families to this kind of scrutiny. So it was kind of a sad situation, that they had to make this decision to have these two men leave the quorum, when had this not happened they would have probably had never of had a problem, this goes back to another point, and I’ll close with this. There seems to be every evidence in my opinion that had the Smoot hearings not occurred, that polygamy might have gone on for some time, well we know it did after the manifesto, but, with Smoot’s desire to wipe it out completely, the brethren were forced to do it, and he was very unpopular, BTW with the other members of the quorum, the members that were polygamous. The classic story is, the first secretary before Badger was Ben E Rich’s son, and Smoot thought a lot of Ben E. Rich, he was a republican from southeast Idaho, a strong republican, and long time mission resident. While Smoot was back in Washington, there was a death in the Council of Seventy, and when Smoot came back to visit in Salt Lake he went to one of the Temple meetings. President Smith informed him that they had decided to call Ben E. Rich to be the new Seventy, and says has this been voted on, says well yeah, we all agreed this was the case, well you can’t have him, if he comes in as a polygamist, it’ll be a long time back with the hearings, so President Smith relented, and took away that nomination, and put Levi Young in instead, to avoid the appearance of polygamy in General Authorities. So the Smoot hearings were really a very pivotal part of our history, and I would argue, they were one of the two or three most important things that happened in the Church, some people would dispute that. I guess you want to have a few Q and A’s? (Applause)

Curt Bench: I would like to thank both of them, and I forgot to mention we have several here from Signature Books, publisher of both, Diaries of Reed Smoot, just Signature, anyway we would like to thank the publishers who, they really do produce wonderful books, they’re not only well crafted, almost every one I can think of is a top quality book in every way, including the authorship. Lets throw it open for questions, and why don’t you both just come up here, and stand, and we’ll take them one at a time.

Q: I have a quick question, I’m just a lay member of the Church, I can’t think of how I would have been affected as Jo Schmo, and uh, in Kathleen Flake’s book, Smoot said, I was a republican before I was an apostle, trying to back himself up as a (unintelligible) . I wonder what, if you guys, members of the Church would think, how they felt about the way he handled himself in that way, I just can’t imagine an apostle doing that nowadays. I was a republican before I was an apostle?

Mike Paulos: Do you have any insights Harvard?

Harvard Heath: The past is a foreign country, people do things different there, and Reed Smoot was a surprisingly, this is one of the surprises that I found that, although he came from a very a religious home. A.O. Smoot was one of the early pioneers of the Church, Stake President for 30 years in Utah County. Reed never was very active in the Church, didn’t have much of a testimony, in fact, he used to plead with his mother, she was a Norwegian convert, that he could have her testimony. He went on a mission in 1890, he lasted about ten months, he was called home to help with his father’s business, he wrote in his diary, and letters that he wasn’t sure if this Church was true, but if any Church was, it would probably be the Mormon Church, and so when he, when his mother died, on her death bed he asked again if he could have her testimony given to him, and never got it. Then in 1897, I believe, he was called to be a counselor in the Salt Lake, or Provo, Utah Stake Presidency, and President Woodruff, and President Cannon came down, the first thing they said was: We all know, that you know that Reed was not a very active guy, he’s kinda business type, he’s involved in politics, but, he’s the man the Lord wants, you need to support him, and learn to love him, and that was needed because he was looked upon as this, well as one person called him, “a secular saint”. When he was called in the Quorum three years later, it was quite a shock to think that this man that had been involved his whole life in business, and called now as an apostle, he was what 38 when he came in? He was a politician and a businessman first, and kinda grew into the apostleship, in fact as Mike’s thing will show here, when he was questioned on many things about the Church, he said: I don’t know, I never did do much about that.

Mike: I don’t know how the lay members of the Church would have responded, but I know that a lot of his colleagues in the twelve were disappointed with his testimony, and James E. Talmage, and I note it in the footnotes, was there during Smoot’s testimony, and he says that he, Smoot, showed a lack of full understanding of gospel principles and doctrines, so I think that people in the Quorum, probably didn’t like it that he was a republican first, before he was an apostle, but, I wouldn’t know, it’s hard to blame others.

Comment: It’s a forgivable sin you know. (laughter)

Comment: Republican or politician?

Question: Are there any parallels, about how Mitt Romney answers questions about polygamy, and how Smoot answered it?

Mike: I think there are, I haven’t thought a lot about that, but I know that, uh, that James E. Talmage’s testimony, he was brought into the hearings, as the doctrinal wise, he wasn’t an apostle at the time, but he was considered too fancy, the authority on Church doctrine for the hearings, and I know that his interpretations, he gave in the hearings, the one that I had not thought of, but I think it would be more in line with what Mitt Romney said, he said that he views section 132 as a revelation to one man, and not to the entire Church, so that was his take. I think there were probably is some.

Curt Bench: It’s interesting you would say that, if you don’t mind me jumping in here. Because James E. Talmage was the prime mover, in a edited the Doctrine and Covenants that was published in 1930 that was called Latter Day Revelation, heavily edited, and many sections were not there, or they were partially there, and section 132 was not in this publication, it was published by the Church in 1930. I hadn’t really made that connection, but he does say, as I recall the introduction to that little book, the reason he took out many of them, is because they were given to individuals, and they weren’t really relevant today, although section 132 to say is not relevant to anyone else but Joseph Smith is kind of unusual, but.

Mike: Did you have any thoughts on that? (Referring to Harvard)

Q: Is there any indication of how members of the Church reacted to him becoming an apostle, with a somewhat limited testimony, then going on into politics?

HH: Yeah, there were. This is an age though of lack of communication, only those who knew him in Provo, had concerns. What saved Smoot was his integrity, and character, that couldn’t be gainsayed, and that’s what the, saved him both in Washington, and among the saints here. Being, a parse Republican, of course he was despised by many democrats, and B.H. Roberts, and Charles Penrose, and others were ardent democrats, thought little of Smoot, and his politics, so, there was always unease among many. The fact is he was elected in 1902, in 08, and again in 14, and 20, and 26, so somebody liked him.

Curt Bench: I would just throw the question to our questioner there. Don’t you think there would be something suspicious, or would there be something questionable about somebody wanting to go into politics?

What kind of dubious individual? (laughter)

Curt Bench: Just an inside joke folks, don’t worry about it.

Mike Paulos: I would like to comment on that too. Reed Smoot’s father, Abraham Owen Smoot, he was a pillar of the community in Utah County. I think, like some other General Authorities that were called to be Quorum of the Twelve members, a lot felt like he was called because of the service of his father, at that time.

HH: Much like Heber J. Grant, when he was worried about his call as a young man, he had this vision out in Tooele, where he saw it in the council in heaven, and because of his dad’s service, and his truncated life, he was called to take care of what his dad didn’t accomplish, and then there’s the case that perhaps Reed Smoot was the same type, (unintelligible) , he was a democrat, that’s kind of a bizarre twist.

MP: You said too Harvard, that his father had slaves

HH: Yeah, he was a Tennessee convert, and he brought slaves with him, and they took care of the livery stable in Provo, unfortunately, they passed away in the 1890’s, and that was the last of them, but uh, he was kind of aristocratic, a southerner, I mean in Utah County.

Q: What kind of public response was there to Joseph F. Smith’s statements about not feeling like he was really the prophet, or hadn’t received any revelations to the prophet? To me, it was another corollary to a century later, when we here from our prophet, “I’m not sure we teach that anymore”, about certain doctrines. We’re still fighting polygamy 100 years later, and there didn’t seem to be much outcry a century later about that, which occurred about 12 years ago. What happened in Utah?

HH: I don’t have any first hand accounts, but uh, it must have been troubling.

Q: Was it published? That part of the testimony published locally?

MP: In the Tribune it was.

Comment: So they would have seen it?

MP: They would have seen it, it was published. A lot of people around the country were reading it, as it was being testified to. It was being published in newspapers, and pamphlets.

HH: There is in the Smoot collection, a number of big books, scrapbooks, of all the newspaper articles written about him during the hearings, and in the case I have this was a national praise, everybody got the paper, New York, to Washington, to Philadelphia to read what happened that day, and Utah was no different.

Q: Mike, Do you know if the Deseret News printed that? Are you saying the Deseret News didn’t report on Joseph F. Smith’s testimony that he didn’t receive revelation?

MP: I don’t know if they did or not, but I don’t know if they put the actual, but I know that the Salt Lake Tribune did, entire sections of testimony.

Curt Bench: And in fairness, why don’t you do the follow-up on that as well? That you have in your footnote in the book, what he clarified?

MP: Oh, Ok. With the question about revelation, later on, a month later or so, he was at a, it was some kind of a high council meeting, clarified his views on revelation, I’m actually forgetting exactly what he said.

CB: Didn’t he say, we can find the page, we can find it, instead of dodging it. (laughter). To him revelation meant something for the entire Church, like a, I don’t know the right word either, I can’t remember, but, kinda, but yeah, I mean a major revelation that would affect the entire Church. I don’t think he was saying he doesn’t receive inspiration…Right?

MP: Yeah, I think he certainly made that clear.

CB: It was in that little footnote.

HH: In fact the great story is that, when many of the quorum wanted him to come home, I believe this was the 1908 election. President Smith was coming back on a boat from Europe with Charles W. Nibley, and they were talking about Smoot not going back to Senate, and while he was telling Smith this, Nibley’s account, Smith, uh, slams his hand down on the rail, and says if I ever had a revelation at all about anything is that Smoot should stay in the Senate.

MP: I wanted to go back to the first question. Carl Badger who was Smoot’s personal secretary, his response to the hearings, he was a young, up and coming Latter-Day Saint that had gone back east to get a law degree at George Washington, and if he was reflective of people his age, he was not very happy about a lot of the testimony. Elder Lyman who was the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, his response was similar to others his age, they were not very happy with it.

Nate, you had a question.

Nate: I wonder if either of you would contrast or compare Smoot, with J. Reuben Clark,

In the sense that neither of them was really much involved in the Church before? But, I guess they got involved.

HH: That’s a very acrimonious relationship. Those of you who read Mike Quinn’s book, uh, know he doesn’t like Smoot very much, and if you read Frank Fox’s book on The Public Years, he also doesn’t like Smoot much, and it goes back to the fact that J. Reuben Clark early on had applied to be his clerk. Clerk, is that what you call it?

MP: Secretary.

HH: And uh, he turned him down because he already hired Ben E. Rich’s son. Clark took it as a personal snub, and never forgot it, and so they lived a very tense relationship back in Washington, it got to the point that the Church was held in the Smoot home on Sundays, and many a month, Clark wouldn’t show at the house, because it was held at Smoot’s place, and all through their time together in Washington, they just barely acknowledged friendship. Clark, most people thought Clark deserved all the credit for the Church’s being mainstreamed, his job as Undersecretary of State, and his role in the Monroe Doctrine, and his positions was really they a, pretty important person that brought the Church into the modern age, but Smoot was there long before that, and had greater influence in my opinion.

MP: One other quick item with that. That letter of introduction, that letter of reference that was sent out to Smoot by J. Reuben Clark, had a handwritten note from Joseph F. Smith at the bottom of it, saying you know, I can’t remember what it said, but it said, “this is the guy you need to hire”.

HH: To Smoot’s credit, he made a promise to Ben E. Rich’s son, and felt he had to keep promises.

CB: Let me just read really quick, I found that quote if you’re interested, on pages 33-34, getting back to the clarification. I think it’s important. “President Joseph F. Smith, alluding to his testimony on the subject of revelation which was given on the occasion of the Reed Smoot investigation in Washington, and over which much controversy had arisen, declared that while he had never received from God a revelation on some new doctrine or commandment, to be written and preserved and handed down as a law to the Church, he had been guided, from the day of his baptism to the present, by divine influence, and had been aided time and again by the spirit of God in his work in the ministry, and strongly expressed the wish that if, in his day, some new revelation should be needed by the Church, he might be worthy to receive it”. That was given to the Salt Lake High Council in 1905.

MP: Gary had a question.

Gary: I was just wondering if both of you could maybe talk briefly about what you see, positives and negatives, about having a high Church official in public politics to that level?

HH: First of all, at that time it was not very popular, and like I said, all through his career, about 30 years in the Senate, there were those in the Quorum who were opposed to that, and they were fiercely opposed to it. The only second case we have is where President Benson was involved for eight years in the Cabinet, and that didn’t turn out to be very good for the Church, especially the post Cabinet politics he got involved with, so, I think the Church in recent years, tried to tone that down, and keep brethren out of that arena, it doesn’t auger well for separation of Church and State.

MP: One negative that I saw, reading some of Harvard’s dissertation was having a high Church leader in there, is that at times, the politics of Salt Lake, or even the country, pitted against each other, members of the Quorum of the Twelve, Heber J. Grant, and Reed Smoot had acrimonious relationship for much of the time that Smoot was in there. Additionally, it put Smoot at cross-purposes with a public Church position on a public policy issue, which also happened with prohibition, and some other, some people that President Joseph F. Smith, President Heber J. Grant, I think there was a sheriff in the 1920’s that they endorsed, I don’t think Smoot was for, it put him in a difficult, a catch-22 at times. I think a lot of Latter-Day Saints at that time, thought that he was either being unfaithful, or was not fulfilling his duties as a high ranking Church official.

HH: There was cause and effect though, and that is a, Smoot did things that no one else could do for the Church. Two examples: One, After WW1, it was a wonderful excuse for all the European, and Commonwealth nations to say, no missionaries back in here, we don’t have the food, the housing, plus we don’t like you proselyting our countries, and they were virtually wiped out. George Albert Smith was mission president in Europe back there, had actually a nervous breakdown, they had to bring him home because he couldn’t make any headway at all. So President Grant begged Smoot to step in, so he went over to Europe, and met in Britain with all the high ranking people of the press, and British authorities, says a, here’s the way it’s going to be, bring them back in, or I’m going to go to the Secretary of State, Lansing, we’re going to raise hell. So within a years time they got back all the European countries because of Smoot, so, it was a positive thing he was able to do. Second thing was, there was a lot of anti-Mormon films being produced in England, Trapped by the Mormons, A Mormon Maid, he got those banned, they couldn’t import them into the country. He also contacted Fox Studio’s, and got squashed the a Zane Grey film, Riders of the Purple Sage, which was very anti-Mormon, so, those I guess were positive things that can happen.

MP: One more positive thing that I wanted to mention. Smoot really became the face of Utah, and the face of the Church, and he was considered by many of his colleagues in the country as a very hard working, diligent man with integrity, and for a Church that was in that transition, it was very positive to have Smoot as the face.

CB: Let’s just take one more, we’re running out of time.

Two people wanted to ask a question here.

Q: Can we combine our question.

CB: Both of them real quick.

Q: What happened to the diaries?

MP: Harvard’s a better authority on that.

HH: This has always been one of the great mysteries of the Kingdom, where are the diaries? We had a diary written in 1880, when he went on a mission to Hawaii with his father, we have a missionary diary…1890. His daughter recalls as a young girl in 1880’s, where he got down and wrote in this red book, his diary, but somehow they aren’t extant, and the ones we have at BYU start in 1909, so I tried everywhere, I finally asked someone to check the First Presidency vault, but assured it’s not there, my logical conclusion is they lost either in Washington or in Provo. He mentioned the one time in a letter, that one of his clerks at his office in Washington lost 4-5 boxes of materials that never got to Utah. The second thing is, that when his band got closed by FDR in 33, they had one day to haul all the boxes out of the basement in Provo, and perhaps they were there, but no one really knows for sure.

Q: Did President Smith every really articulate why he was so adamant that Reed Smoot stay in office, and continue as Senator? My Great Great Grandfather was called on the carpet by President Smith for being critical of that, and I was curious.

MP: I’ll make a comment, and then I’m sure Harvard can answer it better. I think that President Smith saw what kind of power Smoot could have, and influence he could have in Washington, there was still a lot of issues with Utah, and Washington D.C., and having an advocate in there, you knew you could count on, I think was a big reason why Joseph F. Smith was so adamant.

HH: The President was highly underrated, he was a pretty savvy person, he really was a savvy person. I agree with what Mike said, he knew that this was the best the Church had going back to Washington, and he supported him when everybody else didn’t support him, there’s a number of references, in Quorum meetings, he would be the only defender he would have in the Quorum meeting. So he just had a sense this is the man for the times, and whatever happens he must stay in Washington.

MP: In addition to that, in your dissertation, several times where the majority of the Quorum on a public policy issue, whether it was Prohibition, or otherwise, where Smoot was one of the only guys that had a contrary position, and Joseph F. Smith trusted his judgment and went with his, and Smoot wound up winning, or them going with Smoot’s position on the issue.

CB: Thank you very much (applause).

CB: Now this being somewhat of a Mormon meeting we’re going to ask you to help with the chairs, (laughter). We just want to get them out of the way, just fold them up, we invite you to browse, invite you to buy books, if you have some that you brought of your own, you’re welcome to bring yours up to be signed. Please feel free to partake of the refreshments out there.


Comments

  1. This is a great resource on an important topic. Thanks Jared and Brent.

    Comment by David G. — March 26, 2008 @ 11:47 am

  2. Thanks again Jared and Brent for this. As DMI Dave pointed out, this is a great service for those who aren’t able to attend events like these.

    Comment by Christopher — March 26, 2008 @ 11:57 am

  3. I.m a huge fan of these transcripts. I know it’s a lot of work, but keep them coming. Great stuff.

    Comment by kevinf — March 26, 2008 @ 2:48 pm

  4. Thanks for the transcript. I’ll read it post haste.

    Comment by BHodges — March 27, 2008 @ 12:00 pm


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