This may look like I am trying to "bash" the church, but I have the actual references to all the things I bring up here and encourage Mormons or researchers to verify the accuracy of these statements. This does not look like the Mormonism that the LDS Church portrays in it's TV commercials and public service announcements. Please use historical references if you wish to refute anything here.
This is quoted from 'The Mormon Hierarchy - Origins of Power' by Dr. D. Michael Quinn, Signature Books 1994. I highly recommend the book. It has over 300 pages of references. It took years to write, and it demonstrates in incredible detail, his lifetime of Mormon historical research.
pg. 88: "Smith remained aloof from civil office, but in November 1835 he announced a doctrine I [Quinn] call 'theocratic ethics'. He used this theology to justify his violation of Ohio's marriage laws by performing a marriage for Newel Knight and the undivorced Lydia Goldthwaithe without legal authority to do so... In addition to the bigamous character of this marriage, Smith had no license to perform marriages in Ohio.
Although that was the first statement of this concept, Smith and his associates put that theology into practice long before 1835, and long after. Two months later Smith performed marriage ceremonies for which neither he nor the couples had marriage licenses, and he issued marriage certificates "agreeable to the rules and regulations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Theocratic ethics justified LDS leaders and (by extension) regular Mormons in actions which were contrary to conventional ethics and sometimes in violation of criminal laws.
This ethical independence is essential for understanding certain seemingly inconsistent manifestations in Mormonism. Some had already occurred - reversals in doctrine and divinely revealed procedures, and the publication of unannounced changes in written revelations and historical texts. [I have examples of these below.] The Knight marriage was a public example of Joseph Smith's violation of laws and cultural norms regarding marriage and sexual behavior - the performance of civil marriages by legally unauthorized officiators, monogamous marriage ceremonies in which one or both partners were undivorced from legal spouses, polygamous marriage of a man with more than one living wife, his marriage proposals to females as young as twelve, his sexual relationships with polygamous wives as young as fourteen, polyandry of women with more than one husband, marriage and cohabitation with foster daughters, and Mormon marriages of first cousins, brother-sister, and uncle-niece. Other manifestations of Mormonism's theocratic ethics would soon begin in Kirkland and continue intermittently for decades - the official denials of actual events, the alternating condemnation and tolerance for counterfeiting and stealing from non-Mormons, threats and physical attacks against dissenters or other alleged enemies, the killing and castration of sex offenders, the killing of anti-Mormons, the bribery of government officials, and business ethics at odds with church standards."
Mountains Meadow Massacre 29 Sep. 1857, which was consistent with Mormon teachings of blood atonement. This is well described in the book by the same title by Juanita Brooks, Stanford University Press 1950.
The Circleville Massacre (Utah Historical Quarterly, Winter 1987 pgs 4-21). This describes Mormon militiamen shooting males, while slitting the throats of women and children, identical to the pattern of in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
" 'Wild Bill' Hickman and the Mormon Frontier". Signature Books 1988.
Adulterous relationships later revised to be plural marriages
Again, from Mormon Hierarchy... In 1838 Cowdery broke a confidence and spoke to others about the "dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his [Joseph Smith's] and Fanny Algers". Fanny Alger was the prophet's first secret plural wife from early 1833 to mid-1836. This shows Cowdery's long standing bitterness at Smith's double-standard condemnation of Cowdery's "evils" while the prophet was at the same time in a polygamous relationship with Fanny Alger. See "Mormon Polygamy: A History", Signature Books 1985. Another excellent reference to Smith's adulterous affairs which were later "revised" to be plural marriages is in the book "Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith", University of Illinois Press 1994.
Smith's secret polygamy put him in conflict not only with Cowdery but with every other member of the First Presidency... First counselor Sidney Rigdon withdrew into sullen inactivity for two years after Smith first (unsuccessfully) proposed polygamy to his daughter...
John Taylor - apostle and later a Prophet
This is from a post in the exmormon mail list about John Taylor.
The "I" refers to Richard Packham.
I had told how one of the things that led me to question was seeing a
missionary tract among my grandfather's missionary papers which was a report of a debate in 1850 in England between John Taylor (then an Apostle) and a Protestant minister, in which the minister accused the Mormons of practicing polygamy. Taylor responded that such a base and vile accusation was a lie, and proved the lie by quoting the D&C section (as it was then published) affirming monogamy as the only form of Mormon marriage. What shook my faith was the realization that Taylor was lying, having multiple wives waiting for him in Utah at that very moment.
Several months ago somebody asked me about that tract. I had searched my folks' things last summer when I was home, trying to find it, but without luck. I knew I had seen it, because it had made such an impression on me. I had to answer the inquiry by saying that I could not prove that Taylor had said that.
But I have found it! Not the copy of the tract that my grandfather had owned, but another copy of it. It is reproduced in Orson Pratt's Works, and a photocopy is in Sharon Banister's great handbook "For Any Latter-day Saint" at page 288-298. There Taylor says, in 1850: "We are accused here of polygamy, and actions the most indelicate, obscene, and disgusting, such than [sic] none but a corrupt and depraved heart could have contrived. These things are too outrageous to admit of belief; therefore ... I shall content myself by reading our views of chastity and marriage, from a work published by us, containing some of the articles of our Faith. 'Doctrine and Coventants,' page 330. [1850 version] ... Inasmuch as this Church of Jesus Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again..."
Here are the women to whom John Taylor was married at that time, listed from D. Michael Quinn, _The Mormon Hierarchy: [vol. 1] Origins of Power_, p 597:
Leonora Cannon, md 1833, 4 children
Elizabeth Kaighin, md 1843, 3 children
Jane Ballantyne, md 1844, 3 children
Anna Ballantyne (Allen), md 1844, separated 1845, divorced 1852
Mary A. Oakley, md 1845, 5 children
Mary A. Utley, md 1846
Mary Ramsbottom, md 1846
Sarah Thornton (Coleman) md 1846, div 1852
Lydia Dible (Granger Smith), md 1846
Ann Hughlings (Pitchforth), md 1846
Sophia Whittaker, md 1847, 8 children
Harriet Whittaker, md 1847, 3 children
He had also been married to Mercy R. Fielding (Thompson Smith) for 2 years, 1845-1847.