I think that most women are set up by Mother Nature at birth to choose and fall for any guy that comes along at some point in her life in the interest of propagating the species. That biological clock starts ticking sometime after puberty and makes her start trying to turn herself inside and out just so long as it makes her attractive to some guy in close proximity. In my grandparents’ day, you married the boy on the neighboring farm likely as not, or fell for the traveling salesman or, like Madge Owens in the 1955 movie PICNIC, fall for the handsome but egotistical drifter who hops back on the train and leaves in the end. I’m not sure why I think of Madge in the context of Emma Hale Smith, but I do. All I can say is, Poor Emma! She didn’t deserve the life Joseph Smith gave her. I try to imagine myself as Emma in an effort to more fully understand what it must have been like for her.
Not only do I give up my family to marry him against my father’s wishes, but eventually I find myself alone while he’s off traveling to further his own ambitions of establishing his new religious order. I take in boarders as my family did in order to keep my children and myself fed. Then I find out years later that the rumors that Joseph’s new church teaches the doctrine of polygamy, of many wives for men but not the other way around (polyandry), is not only true, but he has himself already taken approximately 20 wives in sworn secrecy, including a 14- and a 17-year old.
But I cannot admit my father was right about him after all. I can talk to him. I’ll remind him of our marriage vows, and the original premise of the original Mormon bible that he dictated to me, “Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none.” If he had not been assassinated, I’m certain my husband would have abolished the practice of plural marriage altogether. He as much as promised that in our private conversations.
Poor Emma. Not the first woman to fall victim to a charming drifter whose quest for fame and fortune led him to declaring his intent to run for the presidency of the United States. But then he was cut down by an assasins bullet in 1844. By that time he had apparently accumulated at least 33 wives, one-third of whom were younger than he, and another third were already married.
After his death, Emma lived pretty much outside the graces of the church under Mr. Young. She even remarried, and–as luck or poor choices in men would have it–suffered further heartbreak when her second husband fathered a child with a younger woman. She even took the boy in when he was orphaned around age 12 and raised him herself. This woman was either a saint or a martyr! And certainly had a lot to learn where men were concerned.
When she died, her final words were to Joseph, her deceased husband, something to the effect of “I’m coming Joseph, I’m coming!” She probably died convinced that, had he lived, her first husband would have abolished plural marriage altogether, although from all I’ve read, that probably would not have been the case and there wouldn’t have been a darn thing she could have done about it. Women in the church are at the mercy of their husbands when it comes to eternal salvation.
That’s why I say, Poor Emma. She must have been POed, but she still had to act like a saint! I certainly would not have been. To the point that I might have gone Lorena Bobbitt on what my mother would have said was a sorry excuse for a man, Joseph Smith! Darn those hormones and clicking biological clocks anyhow!