I've put a lot of time into researching this connection with Emma and William Law and I do believe that some "bargain" was struck by Joseph and Emma concerning her having a "Spiritual Husband". The rumors got back to Law, but he didn't agree to any of it. He says so. Clayton gives us the background, that Emma was "disposed to be revenged on him for some things," and told Joseph that if he could "indulge" himself, then she should be able to also. I think that Emma knew Joseph well enough that it wasn't going to happen and she was right, it didn't. But here is the key to understanding the whole Partridge matter. Joseph suggested that he gets to keep the Partridges, which Emma found out about and she could have her Spiritual Husband. But then Joseph writes the "revelation" and reneges on the deal. So Emma did too. What happened, I think, is that Emma found out about the Partridges when Jackson was staying with the Smiths. Again, Clayton, who says that when they came back from a jaunt to their farm on May 23, Joseph went to speak to Eliza Partridge alone and Emma went upstairs after him and Joseph held the door on her. Joseph was worried about Jackson being in the house alone with his Spiritual Wives. Clayton says he called Jackson "rotten hearted", but that didn't last since Joseph tried to get him to join the church and made him a Lieutenant Colonel in the Nauvoo Legion (Aide-de-Camp) on January 5, 1844.
It was only five days after this, on May 28, 1844 that Joseph is "sealed" to Emma. Hyrum accepted polygamy also during this time, (May 26). What had happened is that Emma found out about Clayton's marriage to Margaret Moon on April 27. She was close to the Farr family and Margaret had been engaged to Aaron Farr, who had to be informed that she was "marrying" Clayton. The May 23 date has gotten a lot of notoriety because of the stuff with Eliza and Joseph Jackson, but there is something else in there also, this line,
Conversed with H[eber] C. K[imball] concerning a plot that is being laid to entrap the brethren of the secret priesthood by Brother H[yrum] and others.
Emma and Law were also involved in this scheming to bring this all to light. Why does Joseph all of a sudden get sealed to Emma on May 28th? Everyone thinks that it is because she accepted polygamy and gave him the Partridge sisters herself. Nope. It was all about Hyrum. How did Joseph sell Hyrum on Spiritual Wifeism? Well, you have to go to Hyrum to find out. Fortunately, he gave a speech in April of 1844 and here is what he said,
I married me a wife, and I am the only one who had any right to her. We had five children, the covenant was made four our lives. She fell into the grave before God showed us his order. God has shown me that the covenant is dead, and had no force, neither could I have her in the resurrection, but we should be as the angels--it troubled me. President Joseph said you can have her sealed to you upon the same principles as you can be baptized for the dead. I enquired what can I do for any second wife? You can also make a covenant with her for eternity and have her sealed to you by the authority of the priesthood.
I named the subject to my present wife, and she said, “I will act as proxy for your wife that is dead, and I will be sealed to you for eternity myself for I never had any other husband. I love you and I do not want to be separate from you nor be forever alone in the world to come.” If there is any man that has no more sense, and will make a base story of such a fact, his name shall be published. What honest man or woman can find fault with such a doctrine as this? None. It is a doctrine not to be preached to the world; but to the Saints who have obeyed the gospel and gathered to Zion. It is glad tiding of great joy.
The Lord has given Joseph the power to seal on earth and in heaven [for] those who are found worthy; having the Spirit of Elijah and Elias, he has power to seal with a seal that shall never be broken, and it shall be in force in the morn of the resurrection. Talk about spiritual wives! One that is dead and gone is spiritual. We will come up in the morn of the resurrection; and every soul that is saved will receive an eternal increase of glory. Will you believe this, (loud shouts of aye).
Every great and good principle should be taught to the Saints, but some must not be taught to the world; until they are prepared to receive them; it would be like casting pearls before swine. No man must attempt to preach them.
I believe every good man should have one wife in this life, and I know if I had two I should not know what to do with them; they might quarrel about me, and I might get a whipping. One is enough, and I warn all of you not to attempt it; if a man should begin to find out, you would get into some cell in Alton. ...
The idea of marrying for eternity is the seal of the covenant, and is easily understood; and as to speaking of it, I could make all the world believe it, for it is noble and grand; it is necessary in consequence of the broken covenants in the world. I never saw any scripture but what was written by Prophet to instruct and prepare mankind for eternity. I read that what God joins together, let no man put asunder. I see magistrates and Priests in the world, but not one who is empowered to join together by the authority of God. Nor yet have I seen any priest that dare say that he has the authority of God; there is not a sectarian Priest in Christendom that dare say he has the authority by direct revelation from God. When I look at the seal of the new Covenant and reflect that all the covenants made by the authority of man are only made to be in force during the natural life and end there, I rejoice that what is the consideration of the Almighty God, everything rightfully and lawfully belongs to man if he fulfills the stipulated conditions; and if a thing belongs to me legally, it cannot belong to any one else. (Order of speech re-arranged by me)
Here is how Joseph converted Hyrum. Hyrum's first wife was dead, but Joseph told them he could have them both based on the same principle as Baptism for the Dead, the "sealing" power. (This is powerful evidence that Baptism for the Dead came first, then the principle was applied to "Eternal Marriage".)
So Hyrum is "sealed" to his living wife, and then his FIRST WIFE. Why in the world was Joseph not "sealed" to HIS First Wife? Joseph had to do it then. It made the whole thing palatable to Hyrum. Joseph was holding out the "sealing" on Emma to get her to accept his Spiritual Wives, but could no longer do so. Since Hyrum would have two wives in Eternity, how easy it was to get him to accept the principle on earth. And he did, though he denied it was being practiced, just like Joseph did. Can you imagine Hyrum's reaction when he finds out that Joseph is NOT "sealed" to Emma? And then Joseph pens the "revelation" and Hyrum thinks he can persuade her as Joseph did him. Nope. He was dead wrong. Joseph had tried and come up empty. But he lets Hyrum try, and Emma says she doesn't believe a word of it. She then burns the "revelation" or has Joseph do it.
But then the cat is out of the bag, Joseph has admitted to Emma that yes, he has other Spiritual Wives and she is livid. So what does she do? Clayton tells us,
[June 23, 1843. Friday.] This A.M. President Joseph took me and conversed considerable concerning some delicate matters. Said [Emma] wanted to lay a snare for me. He told me last night of this and said he had felt troubled. He said [Emma] had treated him coldly and badly since I came…and he knew she was disposed to be revenged on him for some things. She thought that if he would indulge himself she would too. He cautioned me very kindly for which I felt thankful. He said [Robert] Thompson professed great friendship for him but he gave away to temptation and he had to die. Also Brother [Newel] Knight he gave him one but he went to loose conduct and he could not save him. Also B[righam] Y[oung] had transgressed his covenant and he pled with the Lord to spare him this end and he did so, otherwise he would have died. B[righam] denied having transgressed. He said if I would do right by him and abide his council he would save my life while he lived. I feel desirous to do right and would rather die than loose my interest in the celestial kingdom…
Emma wanted to "lay a snare" for whom? CLAYTON. Why? Because of Margaret Moon. Emma now knows for sure that this is an EARTHLY ordinance, not just a "spiritual" order. Margaret is pregnant. And this all is just heating up. Here is what Erastus Snow claimed later,
Emma used her womanly nature to teas[e] and annoy Joseph and went so far as to threaten Joseph that she would leave Hi[m] and cohabit with another man and the Lord forbade her in the Revelation.
William H. Walker was married to Olive Farr, the sister of Aaron Farr. (William had a brother named Lorin who married Joseph F. Smith's sister, and their sister Lucy was one of Joseph secret Spiritual Wives) Two years later, Clayton would marry Diantha Farr, Olive and Aaron’s sister. William was also living in the Smith home at the time. William M. Thompson gave this account about something that happened on July 9th at the Smith Homestead:
I went down to Joseph’s house at intermission on Sunday 9th July 1843, I had some business with him, he and his family were eating dinner Sister Emma William Walker Mother Smith & Young Joseph was presant he invited me to Eat dinner & some others that I did not know ^ Bro Joseph Envited me to Eat dinner Bro Joseph & Emma was talking about the Mornings Sermon. Emma said that he had made some statements that the Brethern & sisters thought applied to her that was not very complimentary she said she wanted him to apologise or explain in the afternoon after some talk backwards & Forwards Between Joseph Emma & others at the table, Bro Joseph Looked at me where I was sitting In the south part of the house he said Looking at me at the same time pointing his finger at Emma & said that there woman was the greatest Enimy I ever had in my Life. yes said he again that there woman was the greates Enimy I ever had in ^all my Life & My Bro Hyrum was always my best friend. William M. Thompson, Wednesday, Aug. 23rd, 1854.
Notice Walker's name is scratched out, but he was living there. There is no record of that morning sermon, but in the afternoon Joseph “remarked that all was well between him and the heavens and that he had no enmity against any one.” (Smith Diary) Hyrum is now Joseph's best friend, not Emma.
Again, in private he is all over Emma but to the public, he gives a picture that all is rosy. It was not. We then have the two entries by Clayton about the "revelation",
July 12, 1843. Wednesday.] This A.M. I wrote a Revelation consisting of 10 pages on the order of the priesthood, showing the designs in Moses, Abraham, David and Solomon having many wives and concubines &c.42 After it was wrote Presidents Joseph and Hyrum presented it and read it to E[mma] who said she did not believe a word of it and appeared very rebellious. Joseph told me to Deed all the unincumbered lots to E[mma] and the children. He appears much troubled about E[mma].
[July 13, 1843. Thursday.] This A.M. Joseph sent for me and when I arrived he called me up into his private room with E[mma] and there stated an agreement they had mutually entered into. They both stated their feelings on many subjects and wept considerable. O may the Lord soften her heart that she may be willing to keep and abide by his Holy Law… (George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, p.110)
Read them carefully. What agreement? Not polygamy, because Clayton writes "O may the Lord SOFTEN HER HEART THAT SHE MAY BE WILLING TO KEEP AND ABIDE BY HIS HOLY LAW." Be WILLING to. She wasn't then. So the agreement? The next day:
[July 15, 1843. Saturday.] Made Deed for 1/2 S[team] B[oat] Maid of Iowa from Joseph to Emma. Also a Deed to E[mma] for over 60 city lots…
Emma gets all the property and half the Maid of Iowa. She is now holding a lot of cards here. What do the Spiritual Wives have? Nothing except a lot here and there that Joseph gave to them. And was Emma "willing to keep and abide by his holy law"? No. It only got worse. She DID NOT participate in ANY of those "sealings" to other women. Then, Clayton writes,
[July 22, 1843. Saturday.]…M[argaret] and A[aron Farr] had a long conversation together. She. has stood true to her covenant with W[illiam] C[layton]. I also had some talk with him and although the shock is severe he endures it patiently.43 And I pray the Great Eloheem to make up the loss to him an hundred fold and enable him to rejoice in all things. My heart aches with grief on his and M[argaret]'s account and could almost say O that I had never known h[er].
This absolutely gets back to Emma. Clayton even wants to have the "sealing" revoked, but Joseph says no. (Though he does so with the Partridge sisters just a few months later at Emma's insistence.)
[July 27, 1843. Thursday.] I went to see President Joseph in our conversation about M[argaret] and A[aron] he said if A[aron] went to making me any trouble he would defend me to the uttermost and stand by me through all, for which I feel thankful…
[August 3, 1843. Thursday.] A.M. at President Joseph's…Conversed about W[illiam] Law, Emma &c…
Here is where the Emma/Law problem begins to be a big problem. Emma then revolts...
August 11, 1843 Joseph told me to day that [William] "Walker" had been speaking to him concerning my having taken M[argaret] away from A[aron] and intimated that I had done wrong. I told him to be quiet and say no more about it. He also told me Emma was considerably displeased with it but says he she will soon get over it. In the agony of mind which I have endured on this subject I said I was sorry I had done it, at which Joseph told me not to say so. I finally asked him if I had done wrong in what I had done. He answered no you have a right to get all you can.
Emma did not "get over it". Here is what happened,
[August 16, 1843. Wednesday.]…We returned and met President Joseph and some of the family going to the funeral of Judge Adams. P.M. I went with A[lpheus] Young to look at a lot and called at Sister Booths who is in trouble. Robert [Booth] is gone away to work, Sarah Ann [Booth] is gone to Keokuk, and Elesabeth  and husband is going to Chicago this evening. This A.M. Joseph told me that since E[mma] came back from St. Louis she had resisted the P[riesthood] in toto and he had to tell her he would relinquish all for her sake. She said she would [have] given him E[liza] and E[mily] P[artridge], but he knew if he took them she would pitch on him and obtain a divorce and leave him. He however told me he should not relinquish anything. O God deliver thy servant from iniquity and bondage.
Emma has now "resisted the Priesthood in toto", and Joseph had to promise to "relinquish all for her sake". And then Joseph tells Clayton that at one time Emma WOULD HAVE given him the Partridges, but that Joseph knew that IF HE TOOK THEM, she would divorce him, so he never did. Later, in Utah, they use this entry to say that Emma had actually chosen the girls and took part in a second "mock sealing" to them. But I have evidence that Emily Partridge changed her story about Emma, which I will reveal at a later time.
Then, Emma goes about trying to separate Joseph from his Spiritual Wives. She goes and harasses Flora Woodworth, who then elopes with Carlos Gove. She confronts Eliza Snow. She boots out all of the women she suspects being Spiritual Wives. Lucy Walker leaves the house, as do the Partridges. We have no info on the Lawrence sisters, but they are gone too. The only one that remained was Malissa Lott, but Emma did not know about her. In the fall of 1843, Emma tells Bathsheba Smith,
I was anointed in Sister Emma Smith’s house [in the fall of 1843], she (Emma Smith) said in my presence, to me and to others who were also present upon that occasion: “Your husbands are going to take more wives, and if you don’t consent to it, you must put your foot down and keep it there.” Much more was said in regard to plural marriage at that time by Sister Emma Smith, who seemed opposed to the principle.
In October, Joseph goes up and down the street in front of the Mansion and shouts out that men can only have one wife and the he "forbids" anything else. (Smith Diary)
But Joseph didn't seem to learn his lesson and has Fanny Young "sealed" to himself on November 2. A few days later Joseph is violently ill at the table and blames Emma for spiking his coffee with some kind of poison. After this, Joseph does not take another Spiritual Wife.
This is the timeline based on the EVIDENCE. Emma does have some conversations with Law over the summer, but things finally cool down for her and as Walmart continues to put the heat on Joseph in Dec, Jan and until the assassination in June. Emma did get what she wanted, though if Joseph had lived, who knows what he would have done? But he gave up many of his Spiritual Wives for her sake, even though he did not want to. He continued to allow others to practice Spiritual Wifeism in secret. Marks claimed that Joseph admitted it was a mistake, but that could have been posturing by Joseph for his and Emma's sake. I think it was, I think Joseph didn't want to give it up. Before Joseph went to Carthage, Emma wanted a blessing and Joseph told her to write one and she did. In it she wrote,
I desire with all my heart to honor and respect my husband as my head, ever to live in his confidence and by acting in unison with him retain the place which God has given me by his side, and I ask my Heavenly Father that through humility, I may be enabled to overcome that curse which was pronounced upon the daughters of Eve.
The "curse of Eve" wasn't just childbearing, it was,
Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."
This is what Emma wanted to overcome, her being "ruled over". She wanted them "acting in unison" with her "by his side", not as a Spiritual Wife flunky that could be dismissed with a handshake as were the Partridges.