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Written in 1842 by John Cook Bennett after he was evicted from the Mormon city of Nauvoo, Illinois, History of the Saints has long been presumed to depict what "really happened" with Joseph Smith and polygamy.
Though important (as even the lies a prisoner tells speak surprising truths regarding the prisoner), the main value to modern scholars is a demonstration of how completely different Bennett's understanding was from Joseph's actual teachings. Particularly interesting is Bennett's description of the triune hierarchy of "spiritual wives" (see pp. 220-224), which closely matches the testimonies and experiences of seduced women sworn to before the High Council and detectable in the minutes of the Mormon Relief Society, women who claimed Bennett had seduced them.
Smith's skill at preventing the widespread epidemic of illicit intercourse from completely destroying his religious movement is impressive.
- Meg Stout, 16 Apr 2015