George D. Smith Speaks to the Friends of the Marriott Library
George D. Smith, author of the award-winning book, Nauvoo Polygamy: “… but we called it celestial marriage,” will speak to a gathering of Friends of the Marriott Library on Sunday about the process of researching and writing his book and what he discovered along the way. The event is open to the public and will be held at the library’s Gould Auditorium on the University of Utah campus.
The topic George Smith was primarily interested in was how 196 Mormon men were initiated into polygamy in the 1840s in Nauvoo, Illinois, and how the inner circle of 32 men served as role models for the others. George Smith’s book is the most definitive study to date of this earliest period in the development of Mormon polygamy. The practice was transported to the American frontier by the pioneer settlers and became an incendiary topic within nineteenth-century American politics.
In response to George Smith, some critics have said that plural marriage in Nauvoo was spiritual and did not involve sex. Critics have also said, inconsistently, that since Joseph Smith had sex with Fanny Alger in the 1830s, this means that plural marriage pre-dated Nauvoo. George Smith disagrees and points to the number of babies born to polygamist men in Nauvoo to show that it was not simply spiritual in nature.