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(Link)It appears that beginning in 1831, accusations of polygamy were leveled at the Church in general.

Based upon assumptions that the law of consecration included a community of wives as one of its tenets, several of these charges were published.

Phelps says nothing about "church-sanctioned polygamy," one way or the other.

He merely tells his wife that he has no right to any other woman.

In addition, it is unclear why Joseph Smith or other Church leaders needed the Cochranite example to introduce them to plural marriage.

the Phelps letter has been widely touted as the earliest source documenting the advocacy of Mormon polygamy, [but] it is not without its problems.

The obvious approval of the polygamous patriarchs in Genesis is a more likely stimulus for Joseph's questions to the Lord about plural marriage than the Book of Mormon's generally negative view. Phelps reported that on 17 July 1831, the Lord told Joseph "It is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome and just." Phelps then said that he asked Joseph three years later how this commandment could be fulfilled.

The date of 1831 is reinforced by a letter written years later by W. Joseph replied, "In the same manner that Abraham took Hagar and Keturah; and Jacob took Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpha, by revelation.” Phelps' recollection is reinforced by Ezra Booth, an apostate Mormon.

Of the little we do know, much comes from later reminiscences.

Later memories are not useless, but memory can change, and can be influenced by what people later came to believe or desire. There are enough scattered bits of evidence, however, that let us form some tentative conclusions.

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