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The Story of the Mormons: From the Date of their Origin to the Year 1901 by William Alexander Linn

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possibility of changing the story about his alleged golden plates
so that they would serve as the basis for a new Bible such as was
finally produced, and as a means of making him a prophet, cannot
be ascertained. That some directing mind gave the final shape to
the scheme is shown by the difference between the first accounts
of his discovery by means of the stone, and the one provided in
his autobiography. We have also evidence that the story of a
direct revelation by an angel came some time later than the
version which Joe gave first to his acquaintances in

James T. Cobb of Salt Lake City, who has given much time to
investigating matters connected with early Mormon history,
received a letter under date of April 23, 1879, from Hiel and
Joseph Lewis, sons of the Rev. Nathaniel Lewis, of Harmony,
Pennsylvania, and relatives of Joseph's father-in-law, in which
they gave the story of the finding of the plates as told in their
hearing by Joe to their father, when he was translating them.
This statement, in effect, was that he dreamed of an iron box
containing gold plates curiously engraved, which he must
translate into a book; that twice when he attempted to secure the
plates he was knocked down, and when he asked why he could not
have them, "he saw a man standing over the spot who, to him,
appeared like a Spaniard, having a long beard down over his
breast, with his throat cut from ear to ear and the blood
streaming down, who told him that he could not get it alone." (He
then narrated how he got the box in company with Emma.) In all
this narrative there was not one word about visions of God, or of
angels, or heavenly revelations; all his information was by that
dream and that bleeding ghost. The heavenly visions and messages
of angels, etc., contained in the Mormon books were
afterthoughts, revised to order."

In direct confirmation of this we have the following account of
the disclosure of the buried articles as given by Joe's father to
Fayette Lapham when the Bible was first published:--

"Soon after joining the church he [Joseph] had a very singular
dream.... A very large, tall man appeared to him dressed in an
ancient suit of clothes, and the clothes were bloody. This man
told him of a buried treasure, and gave him directions by means
of which he could find the place. In the course of a year Smith
did find it, and, visiting it by night, "I by some supernatural
power" was enabled to overturn a huge boulder under which was a
square block of masonry, in the centre of which were the articles
as described. Taking up the first article, he saw others below;
laying down the first, he endeavored to secure the others; but,
before he could get hold of them, the one he had taken up slid
back to the place he had taken it from, and, to his great
surprise and terror, the rock immediately fell back to its former
place, nearly crushing him [Joseph] in its descent. (While trying
in vain to raise the rock again with levers, Joseph felt
something strike him on the breast, a third blow knocking him
down; and as he lay on the ground he saw the tall man, who told
him that the delivery of the articles would be deferred a year
because Joseph had not strictly followed the directions given to
him. The heedless Joseph allowed himself to forget the date fixed
for his next visit, and when he went to the place again, the tall
man appeared and told him that, because of his lack of
punctuality, he would have to wait still another year before the
hidden articles would be confided to him. "Come in one year from
this time, and bring your oldest brother with you," said the
guardian of the treasures, "then you may have them. "Before the
date named arrived, the elder brother had died, and Joseph
decided that his wife was the proper person to accompany him. Mr.
Lapham's report proceeds as follows:--

"At the expiration of the year he [Joseph] procured a horse and
light wagon, with a chest and pillowcase, and proceeded
punctually with his wife to find the hidden treasure. When they
had gone as far as they could with the wagon, Joseph took the
pillow-case and started for the rock. Upon passing a fence a host
of devils began to screech and to scream, and make all sorts of
hideous yells, for the purpose of terrifying him and preventing
the attainment of his object; but Joseph was courageous and
pursued his way in spite of them. Arriving at the stone, he again
lifted it with the aid of superhuman power, as at first, and
secured the first or uppermost article, this time putting it
carefully into the pillow-case before laying it down. He now
attempted to secure the remainder; but just then the same old man
appeared, and said to him that the time had not yet arrived for
their exhibition to the world, but that when the proper time came
he should have them and exhibit them, with the one he had now
secured; until that time arrived, no one must be allowed to touch
the one he had in his possession; for if they did, they would be
knocked down by some superhuman power. Joseph ascertained that
the remaining articles were a gold hilt and chain, and a gold
ball with two pointers. The hilt and chain had once been part of
a sword of unusual size; but the blade had rusted away and become
useless. Joseph then turned the rock back, took the article in
the pillow-case, and returned to the wagon. The devils, with more
hideous yells than before, followed him to the fence; as he was
getting over the fence, one of the devils struck him a blow on
the side, where a black and blue spot remained three or four
days; but Joseph persevered and brought the article safely home.
"I weighed it," said Mr. Smith, Sr., "and it weighed 30 pounds.
In answer to our question as to what it was that Joseph had thus
obtained, he said it consisted of a set of gold plates, about six
inches wide and nine or ten inches long. They were in the form of
a book."*

* Historical Magazine, May, 1870.

We may now contrast these early accounts of the disclosure with
the version given in the Prophet's autobiography (written, be it
remembered, in Nauvoo in 1838), the one accepted by all orthodox
Mormons. One of its striking features will be found to be the
transformation of the Spaniard-with-his-throat-cut into a
messenger from Heaven.*

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, Supt.

It was, according to this later account, when he was in his
fifteenth year, and when his father's family were "proselyted to
the Presbyterian church," that he became puzzled by the divergent
opinions he heard from different pulpits. One day, while reading
the epistle of James (not a common habit of his, as his mother
would testify), Joseph was struck by the words, "If any of you
lack wisdom, let him ask of God. "Reflecting on this injunction,
he retired to the woods" on the morning of a beautiful clear day
early in the spring of 1820, and there he for the first time
uttered a spoken prayer. "As soon as he began praying he was
overcome by some power, and "thick darkness" gathered around him.
Just when he was ready to give himself up as lost, he managed to
call on God for deliverance, whereupon he saw a pillar of light
descending upon him, and two personages of indescribable glory
standing in the air above him, one of whom, calling him by name,
said to the other, "This is my beloved Son, hear him."
Straightway Joseph, not forgetting the main object of his going
to the woods, asked the two personages: "which of all the sects
was right. "He was told that all were wrong, and that he must
join none of them; that all creeds were an abomination, and that
all professors were corrupt. He came to himself lying on his

The effect on the boy of this startling manifestation was not
radically beneficial, as he himself concedes. "Forbidden to join
any other religious sects of the day, of tender years, "and badly
treated by persons who should have been his friends, he admits
that in the next three years he "frequently fell into many
foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth and the
corruption of human nature, which, I am sorry to say, led me into
diverse temptations, to the gratification of many appetites
offensive in the sight of God. "It was during this period that he
was most active in the use of his "peek-stone."

On the night of September 21, 1823, to proceed with his own
account, when again praying to God for the forgiveness of his
sins, the room became light, and a person clothed in a robe of
exquisite whiteness, and having "a countenance truly like
lightning, "called him by name, and said that his visitor was a
messenger sent from God, and that his name was Nephi. This was a
mistake on the part of somebody, because the visitor's real name
was Moroni, who hid the plates where they were deposited. Smith

"He said there was a book deposited, written upon golden plates,
giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent and
the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness
of the Everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by
the Saviour to the ancient inhabitants. Also, there were two
stones in silver bows (and these stones, fastened to a
breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim)
deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these
stones was what constituted seers in ancient or former times, and
that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the

The messenger then made some liberal quotations from the
prophecies of the Old Testament (changing them to suit his
purpose), and ended by commanding Smith, when he got the plates,
at a future date, to show them only to those as commanded, lest
he be destroyed. Then he ascended into heaven. The next day the
messenger appeared again, and directed Joseph to tell his father
of the commandment which he had received. When he had done so,
his father told him to go as directed. He knew the place (ever
since known locally as "Mormon Hill") as soon as he arrived
there, and his narrative proceeds as follows:--

"Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario Co., N. Y.,
stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any
in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from
the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates,
deposited in a stone box; this stone was thick and rounded in the
middle on the upper side, and thinner toward the edges, so that
the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge
all round was covered with earth. Having removed the earth and
obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone,
and with a little exertion raised it up, I looked in, and there,
indeed, did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim and
breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they
lay was formed by laying stones together in a kind of cement. In
the bottom of the box were laid two stones crosswise of the box,
and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with
them. I made an attempt to take them out, but was forbidden by
the messenger. I was again informed that the time for bringing
them out had not yet arrived, neither would till four years from
that time; but he told me that I should come to that place
precisely one year from that time, and that he would there meet
with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time
should come for obtaining the plates".

Mother Smith gives an explanation of Joe's failure to secure the
plates on this occasion, which he omits: "As he was taking them,
the unhappy thought darted through his mind that probably there
was something else in the box besides the plates, which would be
of pecuniary advantage to him.... Joseph was overcome by the
power of darkness, and forgot the injunction that was laid upon
him. "The mistakes which the Deity made in Joe's character
constantly suggest to the lay reader the query why the Urim and
Thummim were not turned on Joe.

On September 22, 1827, when Joe visited the hill (following his
own story again), the same messenger delivered to him the plates,
the Urim and Thummim and the breastplate, with the warning that
if he "let them go carelessly" he would be "cut off", and a
charge to keep them until the messenger called for them.

Mother Smith's story of the securing of the plates is to the
effect that about midnight of September 21 Joseph and his wife
drove away from his father's house with a horse and wagon
belonging to a Mr. Knight. He returned after breakfast the next
morning, bringing with him the Urim and Thummim, which he showed
to her, and which she describes as "two smooth, three-cornered
diamonds set in glass, and the glasses were set in silver bows
that were connected with each other in much the same way as
old-fashioned spectacles. "She says that she also saw the
breastplate through a handkerchief, and that it "was concave on
one side and convex on the other, and extended from the neck
downward as far as the stomach of a man of extraordinary size. It
had four straps of the same material for the purpose of fastening
it to the breast.... The whole plate was worth at least $500."
The spectacles and breastplate seem to have been more familiar to
Mother Smith than to any other of Joseph's contemporaries and

The substitution of the spectacles called Urim and Thummim for
the "peek-stone" was doubtless an idea of the associate in the
plot, who supplied the theological material found in the Golden
Bible. Tucker considers the "spectacle pretension" an
afterthought of some one when the scheme of translating the
plates into a Bible was evolved, as "it was not heard of outside
of the Smith family for a considerable period subsequent to the
first story."* This is confirmed by the elder Smith's early
account of the discovery. It would be very natural that Rigdon,
with his Bible knowledge, should substitute the more respectable
Urim and Thummim for the "peek-stone" of ill-repute, as the
medium of translation.

* "Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism," p. 33.

The Urim and Thummim were the articles named by the Lord to Moses
in His description of the priestly garments of Aaron. The Bible
leaves them without description;* and the following verses
contain all that is said of them: Exodus xxviii. 30; Leviticus
viii. 8; Numbers xxvii. 21; Deuteronomy xxxiii. 8; Samuel xxviii.
6; Ezra ii. 63; Nehemiah vii. 65. Only a pretence of using
spectacles in the work of translating was kept up, later
descriptions of the process by Joe's associates referring
constantly to the employment of the stone.

* "The Hebrew words are generally considered to be plurales
excellentoe, denoting light (that is, revelation) and truth....
There are two principal opinions respecting the Urim and Thummim.
One is that these words simply denote the four rows of precious
stones in the breastplate of the high priest, and are so called
from their brilliancy and perfection; which stones, in answer to
an appeal to God in difficult cases, indicated His mind and will
by some supernatural appearance.... The other principal opinion
is that the Urim and Thummim were two small oracular images
similar to the Teraphim, personifying revelation and truth, which
were placed in the cavity or pouch formed by the folds of the
breastplate, and which uttered oracles by a voice.... We incline
to Mr. Mede's opinion that the Urim and Thummim were 'things well
known to the patriarchs' as divinely appointed means of inquiries
of the Lord, suited to an infantile state of religion.
"Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature," Kitto and Alexander,

Joe says that while the plates were in his possession
"multitudes" tried to get them away from him, but that he
succeeded in keeping them until they were translated, and then
delivered them again to the messenger, who still retains them.
Mother Smith tells a graphic story of attempts to get the plates
away from her son, and says that when he first received them he
hid them until the next day in a rotten birch log, bringing them
home wrapped in his linen frock under his arm.* Later, she says,
he hid them in a hole dug in the hearth of their house, and again
in a pile of flax in a cooper shop; Willard Chase's daughter
almost found them once by means of a peek-stone of her own.

* Elder Hyde in his "Mormonism" estimates that "from the
description given of them the plates must have weighed nearly two
hundred pounds."

Mother Smith says that Joseph told all the family of his vision
the evening of the day he told his father, charging them to keep
it secret, and she adds:--

"From that time forth Joseph continued to receive instructions
from the Lord, and we continued to get the children together
every evening for the purpose of listening while he gave us a
relation of the same. I presume our family presented an aspect as
singular as any that ever lived upon the face of the earth--all
seated in a circle, father, mother, sons, and daughters, and
giving the most profound attention to a boy eighteen years old,
who had never read the Bible through in his life.... We were now
confirmed in the opinion that God was about to bring to light
something upon which we could stay our mind, or that would give
us a more perfect knowledge of the plan of salvation and the
redemption of the human family."


The only one of his New York neighbors who seems to have taken a
practical interest in Joe's alleged discovery was a farmer named
Martin Harris, who lived a little north of Palmyra. Harris was a
religious enthusiast, who had been a Quaker (as his wife was
still), a Universalist, a Baptist, and a Presbyterian, and whose
sanity it would have been difficult to establish in a surrogate's
court. The Rev. Dr. Clark, who knew him intimately, says, "He had
always been a firm believer in dreams, visions, and ghosts."

*Howe describes him as often declaring that he had talked with
Jesus Christ, angels, and the devil, and saying that "Christ was
the handsomest man he ever saw, and the devil looked like a
jackass, with very short, smooth hair similar to that of a mouse.
"Daniel Hendrix relates that as he and Harris were riding to the
village one evening, and he remarked on the beauty of the moon,
Harris replied that if his companion could only see it as he had,
he might well call it beautiful, explaining that he had actually
visited the moon, and adding that it "was only the faithful who
were permitted to visit the celestial regions." Jesse Townsend, a
resident of Palmyra, in a letter written in 1833, describes him
as a visionary fanatic, unhappily married, who "is considered
here to this day a brute in his domestic relations, a fool and a
dupe to Smith in religion, and an unlearned, conceited hypocrite
generally. "His wife, in an affidavit printed in Howe's book (p.
255), says: "He has whipped, kicked, and turned me out of the
house." Harris, like Joe's mother, was a constant reader of and a
literal believer in the Bible. Tucker says that he "could
probably repeat from memory every text from the Bible, giving the
chapter and verse in each case. "This seems to be an

* "Gleanings by the Way."

Mother Smith's account of Harris's early connection with the
Bible enterprise says that her husband told Harris of the
existence of the plates two or three years before Joe got
possession of them; that when Joe secured them he asked her to go
and tell Harris that he wanted to see him on the subject, an
errand not to her liking, because "Mr. Harris's wife was a very
peculiar woman, "that is, she did not share in her husband's
superstition. Mrs. Smith did not succeed in seeing Harris, but he
soon afterward voluntarily offered Joe fifty dollars "for the
purpose of helping Mr. Smith do the Lord's work. "As Harris was
very "close" in money matters, it is probable that Joe offered
him a partnership in the scheme at the start. Harris seems to
have placed much faith in the selling quality of the new Bible.
He is said to have replied to his wife's early declaration of
disbelief in it: "What if it is a lie. If you will let me alone I
will make money out of it."* The Rev. Ezra Booth said: "Harris
informed me [after his removal to Ohio] that he went to the place
where Joseph resided [in Pennsylvania], and Joseph had given it
[the translation] up on account of the opposition of his wife and
others; and he told Joseph, 'I have not come down here for
nothing, and we will go on with it.'"**

* Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 254.

** Ibid., p. 182.

Just at this time Joe was preparing to move to the neighborhood
of Harmony, Pennsylvania, having made a trip there after his
marriage, during which, Mr. Hale's affidavit says, "Smith stated
to me that he had given up what he called 'glass-looking,' and
that he expected to work hard for a living and was willing to do
so. "Smith's brother-in-law Alva, in accordance with arrangements
then made, went to Palmyra and helped move his effects to a house
near Mr. Hale's. Joe acknowledges that Harris's gift or loan of
fifty dollars enabled him to meet the expenses of moving.

Parley P. Pratt, in a statement published by him in London in
1854, set forth that Smith was driven to Pennsylvania from
Palmyra through fear of his life, and that he took the plates
with him concealed in a barrel of beans, thus eluding the efforts
of persons who tried to secure them by means of a search warrant.
Tucker says that this story rests only on the sending of a
constable after Smith by a man to whom he owed a small debt. The
great interest manifested in the plates in the neighborhood of
Palmyra existed only in Mormon imagination developed in later

According to some accounts, all the work of what was called
"translating" the writing on the plates into what became the
"Book of Mormon" was done at Joe's home in New York State, and
most of it in a cave, but this was not the case. Smith himself
says: "Immediately after my arrival [in Pennsylvania] I commenced
copying the characters off the plates. I copied a considerable
number of them, and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated
some of them, which I did between the time I arrived, at the
house of my wife's father in the month of December (1827) and the
February following.

A clear description of the work of translating as carried on in
Pennsylvania is given in the affidavit made by Smith's
father-in-law, Isaac Hale, in 1834.* He says that soon after
Joe's removal to his neighborhood with his wife, he (Hale) was
shown a box such as is used for the shipment of window glass, and
was told that it contained the "book of plates"; he was allowed
to lift it, but not to look into it. Joe told him that the first
person who would be allowed to see the plates would be a young
child .** The affidavit continues:--

* Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 264.

** Joe's early announcement was that his first-born child was to
have this power, but the child was born dead. This was one of the
earliest of Joe's mistakes in prophesying.

"About this time Martin Harris made his appearance upon the
stage, and Smith began to interpret the characters, or
hieroglyphics, which he said were engraven upon the plates, while
Harris wrote down the interpretation. It was said that Harris
wrote down 116 pages and lost them. Soon after this happened,
Martin Harris informed me that he must have a GREATER WITNESS,
and said that he had talked with Joseph about it. Joseph informed
him that be could not, or durst not, show him the plates, but
that he [Joseph] would go into the woods where the book of plates
was, and that after he came back Harris should follow his track
in the snow, and find the book and examine it for himself. Harris
informed me that he followed Smith's directions, and could not
find the plates and was still dissatisfied.

"The next day after this happened I went to the house where
Joseph Smith, Jr., lived, and where he and Harris were engaged in
their translation of the book. Each of them had a written piece
of paper which they were comparing, and some of the words were, I
my servant seeketh a greater witness, but no greater witness can
be given him.... I inquired whose words they were, and was
informed by Joseph or Emma (I rather think it was the former),
that they were the words of Jesus Christ. I told them that I
considered the whole of it a delusion, and advised them to
abandon it. The manner in which he pretended to read and
interpret was the same as when he looked for the moneydiggers,
with the stone in his hat and his hat over his face, while the
book of plates was at the same time hid in the woods.

"After this, Martin Harris went away, and Oliver Cowdery came and
wrote for Smith, while he interpreted as above described.

"Joseph Smith, Jr., resided near me for some time after this, and
I had a good opportunity of becoming acquainted with him, and
somewhat acquainted with his associates; and I conscientiously
believe, from the facts I have detailed, and from many other
circumstances which I do not deem it necessary to relate, that
the whole Book of Mormon (so-called) is a silly fabrication of
falsehood and wickedness, got up for speculation, and with a
design to dupe the credulous and unwary."

Harris's natural shrewdness in a measure overcame his fanaticism,
and he continued to press Smith for a sight of the plates. Smith
thereupon made one of the first uses of those "revelations" which
played so important a part in his future career, and he announced
one (Section 5, "Doctrine and Covenants"*), in which "I, the
Lord" declared to Smith that the latter had entered into a
covenant with Him not to show the plates to any one except as the
Lord commanded him. Harris finally demanded of Smith at least a
specimen of the writing on the plates for submission to experts
in such subjects. As Harris was the only man of means interested
in this scheme of publication, Joe supplied him with a paper
containing some characters which he said were copied from one of
the plates. This paper increased Harris's belief in the reality
of Joe's discovery, but he sought further advice before opening
his purse. Dr. Clark describes a call Harris made on him early
one morning, greatly excited, requesting a private interview. On
hearing his story, Dr. Clark advised him that the scheme was a
hoax, devised to extort money from him, but Harris showed the
slip of paper containing the mysterious characters, and was not
to be persuaded.

* All references to the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants" refer to
the sections and verses of the Salt Lake city edition of 1890.

Seeking confirmation, however, Harris made a trip to New York
City in order to submit the characters to experts there. Among
others, he called on Professor Charles Anthon. His interview with
Professor Anthon has been a cause of many and conflicting
statements, some Mormons misrepresenting it for their own
purposes and others explaining away the professor's accounts of
it. The following statement was written by Professor Anthon in
reply to an inquiry by E. D. Howe:--

"NEW YORK, February 17, 1834.

"DEAR SIR: I received your favor of the 9th, and lose no time in
making a reply. The whole story about my pronouncing the Mormon
inscription to be 'reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics' is perfectly
false. Some years ago a plain, apparently simple-hearted farmer
called on me with a note from Dr. Mitchell, of our city, now
dead, requesting me to decypher, if possible, the paper which the
farmer would hand me, and which Dr. M. confessed he had been
unable to understand. Upon examining the paper in question, I
soon came to the conclusion that it was all a trick--perhaps a
hoax. When I asked the person who brought it how he obtained the
writing, he gave me, as far as I can recollect, the following
account: A 'gold book' consisting of a number of plates fastened
together in the shape of a book by wires of the same metal, had
been dug up in the northern part of the state of New York, and
along with the book an enormous pair of 'spectacles'! These
spectacles were so large that, if a person attempted to look
through them, his two eyes would have to be turned toward one of
the glasses merely, the spectacles in question being altogether
too large for the breadth of the human face. Whoever examined the
plates through the spectacles, was enabled, not only to read
them, but fully to understand their meaning. All this knowledge,
however, was confined to a young man who had the trunk containing
the book and spectacles in his sole possession. This young man
was placed behind a curtain in the garret of a farmhouse, and
being thus concealed from view, put on the spectacles
occasionally, or rather, looked through one of the glasses,
decyphered the characters in the book, and, having committed some
of them to paper, handed copies from behind the curtain to those
who stood on the outside. Not a word, however, was said about the
plates being decyphered 'by the gift of God.' Everything in this
way was effected by the large pair of spectacles. The farmer
added that he had been requested to contribute a sum of money
toward the publication of the 'golden book,' the contents of
which would, as he had been assured, produce an entire change in
the world, and save it from ruin. So urgent had been these
solicitations, that he intended selling his farm, and handing
over the amount received to those who wished to publish the
plates. As a last precautionary step, however, he had resolved to
come to New York, and obtain the opinion of the learned about the
meaning of the paper which he had brought with him, and which had
been given him as part of the contents of the book, although no
translation had been furnished at the time by the young man with
the spectacles. On hearing this odd story, I changed my opinion
about the paper, and, instead of viewing it any longer as a hoax
upon the learned, I began to regard it as a part of a scheme to
cheat the farmer of his money, and I communicated my suspicions
to him, warning him to beware of rogues. He requested an opinion
from me in writing, which, of course, I declined giving, and he
then took his leave, carrying his paper with him.

"This paper was in fact a singular scrawl. It consisted of all
kinds of crooked characters, disposed in columns, and had
evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the
time a book containing various alphabets. Greek and Hebrew
letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted, or
placed sideways, were arranged and placed in perpendicular
columns; and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle,
divided into various compartments, decked with various strange
marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican Calendar, given by
Humbolt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source
whence it was, derived. I am thus particular as to the contents
of the paper, inasmuch as I have frequently conversed with my
friends on the subject since the Mormonite excitement began, and
well remember that the paper contained anything else but
'Egyptian Hieroglyphics.'

"Some time after, the farmer paid me a second visit. He brought
with him the golden book in print, and offered it to me for sale.
I declined purchasing. He then asked permission to leave the book
with me for examination. I declined receiving it, although his
manner was strangely urgent. I adverted once more to the roguery
which had been, in my opinion, practised upon him, and asked him
what had become of the gold plates. He informed me that they were
in a trunk with the large pair of spectacles. I advised him to go
to a magistrate, and have the trunk examined. He said 'the curse
of God' would come upon him should he do this. On my pressing
him, however, to pursue the course which I had recommended, he
told me he would open the trunk if I would take 'the curse of
God' upon myself. I replied I would do so with the greatest
willingness, and would incur every risk of that nature provided I
could only extricate him from the grasp of the rogues. He then
left me.

"I have thus given you a full statement of all that I know
respecting the origin of Mormonism, and must beg you, as a
personal favor, to publish this letter immediately, should you
find my name mentioned again by these wretched fanatics. Yours


* "Mormonism Unveiled," pp. 270-272. A letter from Professor
Anthon to the Rev. Dr. Coit, rector of Trinity Church, New
Rochelle, New York, dated April 3, 1841, containing practically
the same statement, will be found in Clark's" "Gleanings by the
Way," pp. 233-238.

While Mormon speakers quoted Anthon as vouching for the
mysterious writing, their writers were more cautious. P. P.
Pratt, in his "Voice of Warning" (1837), said that Professor
Anthon was unable to decipher the characters, "but he presumed
that if the original records could be brought, he could assist in
translating them. Orson Pratt, in his "Remarkable Visions"
(1848), saw in the Professor's failure only a verification of
Isaiah xxix. 11 and 12:--

"And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book
that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying,
Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed:
and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying,
Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned."

John D. Lee, in his "Mormonism Unveiled," mentions the generally
used excuse of the Mormons for the professor's failure to
translate the writing, namely, that Anthon told Harris that "they
were written in a sealed language, unknown to the present age.
"Smith, in his autobiography, quotes Harris's account of his
interview as follows:--

"I went to New York City and presented the characters which had
been translated, with the translation thereof, to Prof. Anthon, a
man quite celebrated for his literary attainments. Prof. Anthon
stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had
before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those
which were not yet translated, and he said they were Egyptian,
Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic, and he said they were the true

Harris declared that the professor gave him a certificate to this
effect, but took it back and tore it up when told that an angel
of God had revealed the plates to Joe, saying that "there were no
such things as ministering angels. "This account by Harris of his
interview with Professor Anthon will assist the reader in
estimating the value of Harris's future testimony as to the
existence of the plates.

Harris's trip to New York City was not entirely satisfactory to
him, and, as Smith himself relates, "He began to tease me to give
him liberty to carry the writings home and show them, and desired
of me that I would enquire of the Lord through the Urim and
Thummim if he might not do so. "Smith complied with this request,
but the permission was twice refused; the third time it was
granted, but on condition that Harris would show the manuscript
translation to only five persons, who were named, one of them
being his wife.

In including Mrs. Harris in this list, the Lord made one of the
greatest mistakes into which he ever fell in using Joe as a
mouthpiece. Mrs. Harris's Quaker belief had led her from the
start to protest against the Bible scheme, and to warn her
husband against the Smith family, and she vigorously opposed his
investment of any money in the publication of the book. On the
occasion of his first visit to Joe in Pennsylvania, according to
Mother Smith, Mrs. Harris was determined to accompany him, and he
had to depart without her knowledge; and when he went the second
time, she did accompany him, and she ransacked the house to find
the "record" (as the plates are often called in the Smiths'

When Harris returned home with the translated pages which Joe
intrusted to him (in July, 1828), he showed them to his family
and to others, who tried in vain to convince him that he was a
dupe. Mrs. Harris decided on a more practical course. Getting
possession of the papers, where Harris had deposited them for
safe keeping, she refused to restore them to him. What eventually
became of them is uncertain, one report being that she afterward
burned them.

This should have caused nothing more serious in the way of delay
than the time required to retranslate these pages; for certainly
a well-equipped Divinity, who was revealing a new Bible to
mankind, and supplying so powerful a means of translation as the
Urim and Thummim, could empower the translator to repeat the
words first written. Indeed, the descriptions of the method of
translation given afterward by Smith's confederates would seem to
prove that there could have been but one version of any
translation of the plates, no matter how many times repeated.
Thus, Harris described the translating as follows:--

"By aid of the seer stone [no mention of the magic spectacles]
sentences would appear and were read by the prophet and written
by Martin, and, when finished, he would say 'written'; and if
correctly written, that sentence would disappear, and another
appear in its place; but if not written correctly, it remained
until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was
engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used."*

* Elder Edward Stevenson in the Deseret News (quoted in Reynold's
"Mystery of the Manuscript Fund," p. 91).

David Whitmer, in an account of this process written in his later
years, said:--

"Joseph would put the seer stone into a hat [more testimony
against the use of the spectacles] and put his face in the hat,
drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in
the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of
something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared
the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it
was the translation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the
English to O. Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it
was written down and repeated to brother Joseph to see if it were
correct, then it would disappear and another character with the
interpretation would appear."*

* "Address to Believers in the Book of Mormon."

But to Joseph the matter of reproducing the lost pages of the
translation did not seem simple. When Harris's return to
Pennsylvania was delayed, Joe became anxious and went to Palmyra
to learn what delayed him, and there he heard of Mrs. Harris's
theft of the pages. His mother reports him as saying in
announcing it, "my God, all is lost! all is lost!" Why the
situation was as serious to a sham translator as it would have
been simple to an honest one is easily understood. Whenever Smith
offered a second translation of the missing pages which differed
from the first, a comparison of them with the latter would
furnish proof positive of the fraudulent character of his

All the partners in the business had to share in the punishment
for what had occurred. The Smiths lost all faith in Harris. Joe
says that Harris broke his pledge about showing the translation
only to five persons, and Mother Smith says that because of this
offence "a dense fog spread itself over his fields and blighted
his wheat. "When Joe returned to Pennsylvania an angel appeared
to him, his mother says, and ordered him to give up the Urim and
Thummim, promising, however, to restore them if he was humble and
penitent, and "if so, it will be on the 22d of September."* Here
may be noted one of those failures of mother and son to agree in
their narratives which was excuse enough for Brigham Young to try
to suppress the mother's book. Joe mentions a "revelation" dated
July, 1828 (Sec. 3, "Doctrine and Covenants"), in which Harris
was called "a wicked man, "and which told Smith that he had lost
his privileges for a season, and he adds, "After I had obtained
the above revelation, both the plates and the Urim and Thummim
were taken from me again, BUT IN A FEW DAYS they were returned to

* "Biographical Sketches," by Lucy Smith, p. 125.

** Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, p. 8.

For some ten months after this the work of translation was
discontinued, although Mother Smith says that when she and his
father visited the prophet in Pennsylvania two months after his
return, the first thing they saw was "a red morocco trunk lying
on Emma's bureau which, Joseph shortly informed me, contained the
Urim and Thummim and the plates." Mrs. Harris's act had evidently
thrown the whole machinery of translation out of gear, and Joe
had to await instructions from his human adviser before a plan of
procedure could be announced. During this period (in which Joe
says he worked on his father's farm), says Tucker, "the stranger
[supposed to be Rigdon] had again been at Smith's, and the
prophet had been away from home, maybe to repay the former's

* "Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism," p. 48.

Two matters were decided on in these consultations, viz., that no
attempt would be made to retranslate the lost pages, and that a
second copy of all the rest of the manuscript should be prepared,
to guard against a similar perplexity in case of the loss of
later pages. The proof of the latter statement I find in the fact
that a second copy did exist. Ebenezer Robinson, who was a
leading man in the church from the time of its establishment in
Ohio until Smith's death, says in his recollections that, when
the people assembled on October 2, 1841, to lay the corner-stone
of Nauvoo House, Smith said he had a document to put into the
corner-stone, and Robinson went with him to his house to procure
it. Robinson's story proceeds as follows:--

"He got a manuscript copy of the Book of Mormon, and brought it
into the room where we were standing, and said, 'I will examine
to see if it is all here'; and as he did so I stood near him, at
his left side, and saw distinctly the writing as he turned up the
pages until he hastily went through the book and satisfied
himself that it was all there, when he said, 'I have had trouble
enough with this thing'; which remark struck me with amazement,
as I looked upon it as a sacred treasure."

Robinson says that the manuscript was written on foolscap paper
and most of it in Oliver Cowdery's handwriting. He explains that
two copies were necessary, "as the printer who printed the first
edition of the book had to have a copy, as they would not put the
original copy into his hands for fear of its being altered. This
accounts for David Whitmer having a copy and Joseph Smith having

* The Return, Vol- II, p. 314. Ebenezer Robinson, a printer,
joined the Mormons at Kirtland, followed Smith to Missouri, and
went with the flock to Nauvoo, where he and the prophet's
brother, Don Carlos, established the Times and Seasons. When the
doctrine of polygamy was announced to him and his wife, they
rejected it, and he followed Rigdon to Pennsylvania when Rigdon
was turned out by Young. In later years he was engaged in
business enterprises in Iowa, and was a resident of Davis City
when David Whitmer announced the organization of his church in
Missouri, and, not accepting the view of the prophet entertained
by his descendants in the Reorganized Church, Robinson accepted
baptism from Whitmer. The Return was started by him in January,
1889, and continued until his death, in its second year. His
reminiscences of early Mormon experiences, which were a feature
of the publication, are of value.

Major Bideman, who married the prophet's widow, partly completed
and occupied Nauvoo House after the departure of the Mormons for
Utah, and some years later he took out the cornerstone and opened
it, but found the manuscript so ruined by moisture that only a
little was legible.

In regard to the missing pages, it was decided to announce a
revelation, which is dated May, 1829 (Sec. 10, "Doctrine and
Covenants"), stating that the lost pages had got into the hands
of wicked men, that "Satan has put it into their hearts to alter
the words which you have caused to be written, or which you have
translated, "in accordance with a plan of the devil to destroy
Smith's work. He was directed therefore to translate from the
plates of Nephi, which contained a "more particular account" than
the Book of Lehi from which the original translation was made.

When Smith began translating again, Harris was not reemployed,
but Emma, the prophet's wife, acted as his scribe until April 15,
1829, when a new personage appeared upon the scene. This was
Oliver Cowdery.

Cowdery was a blacksmith by trade, but gave up that occupation,
and, while Joe was translating in Pennsylvania, secured the place
of teacher in the district where the Smiths lived, and boarded
with them. They told him of the new Bible, and, according to
Joe's later account, Cowdery for himself received a revelation of
its divine character, went to Pennsylvania, and from that time
was intimately connected with Joe in the translation and
publication of the book.

In explanation of the change of plan necessarily adopted in the
translation, the following preface appeared in the first edition
of the book, but was dropped later:--


"As many false reports have been circulated respecting the
following work, and also many unlawful measures taken by evil
designing persons to destroy me, and also the work, I would
inform you that I translated, by the gift and power of God, and
caused to be written, one hundred and sixteen pages, the which I
took from the book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from
the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon; which said account,
some person or persons have stolen and kept from me,
notwithstanding my utmost efforts to recover it again--and being
commanded of the Lord that I should not translate the same over
again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord
their God, by altering the words; that they did read contrary
from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I
should bring forth the same words again, or, in other words, if I
should translate the same over again, they would publish that
which they had stolen, and Satan would stir up the hearts of this
generation, that they might not receive this work, but behold,
the Lord said unto me, I will not suffer that Satan shall
accomplish his evil design in this thing; therefore thou shalt
translate from the plates of Nephi until ye come to that which ye
have translated, which ye have retained; and behold, ye shall
publish it as the record of Nephi; and thus I will confound those
who have altered my words. I will not suffer that they shall
destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is
greater than the cunning of the Devil. Wherefore, to be obedient
unto the commandments of God, I have, through His grace and
mercy, accomplished that which He hath commanded me respecting
this thing. I would also inform you that the plates of which hath
been spoken, were found in the township of Manchester, Ontario
County, New York. --THE AUTHOR."

In June, 1829, Smith accepted an invitation to change his
residence to the house of Peter Whitmer, who, with his sons,
David, John, and Peter, Jr., lived at Fayette, Seneca County, New
York, the Whitmers promising his board free and their assistance
in the work of translation. There, Smith says, they resided
"until the translation was finished and the copyright secured."

As five of the Whitmers were "witnesses" to the existence of the
plates, and David continued to be a person of influence in Mormon
circles throughout his long life, information about them is of
value. The prophet's mother again comes to our aid, although her
account conflicts with her son's. The prophet says that David
Whitmer brought the invitation to take up quarters at his
father's, and volunteered the offer of free board and assistance.
Mother Smith says that one day, as Joe was translating the
plates, he came, in the midst of the words of the Holy Writ, to a
commandment to write at once to David Whitmer, requesting him to
come immediately and take the prophet and Cowdery to his house,"
as an evildesigning people were seeking to take away his
[Joseph's] life in order to prevent the work of God from going
forth to the world. "When the letter arrived, David's father told
him that, as they had wheat sown that would require two days'
harrowing, and a quantity of plaster to spread, he could not go
"unless he could get a witness from God that it was absolutely
necessary. "In answer to his inquiry of the Lord on the subject,
David was told to go as soon as his wheat was harrowed in.
Setting to work, he found that at the end of the first day the
two days' harrowing had been completed, and, on going out the
next morning to spread the plaster, he found that work done also,
and his sister told him she had seen three unknown men at work in
the field the day before: so that the task had been accomplished
by "an exhibition of supernatural power."*

* "Biographical Sketches," Lucy Smith, p. 135.

The translation being ready for the press, in June, 1829 (I
follow Tucker's account of the printing of the work), Joseph, his
brother Hyrum, Cowdery, and Harris asked Egbert B. Grandin,
publisher of the Wayne Sentinel at Palmyra, to give them an
estimate of the cost of printing an edition of three thousand
copies, with Harris as security for the payment. Grandin told
them he did not want to undertake the job at any price, and he
tried to persuade Harris not to invest his money in the scheme,
assuring him that it was fraudulent. Application was next made to
Thurlow Weed, then the publisher of the Anti-Masonic Inquirer, at
Rochester, New York. "After reading a few chapters," says Mr.
Weed, "it seemed such a jumble of unintelligent absurdities that
we refused the work, advising Harris not to mortgage his farm and
"beggar his family." Finally, Smith and his associates obtained
from Elihu F. Marshall, a Rochester publisher, a definite bid for
the work, and with this they applied again to Grandin, explaining
that it would be much more convenient for them to have the
printing done at home, and pointing out to him that he might as
well take the job, as his refusal would not prevent the
publication of the book. This argument had weight with him, and
he made a definite contract to print and bind five thousand
copies for the sum of $3000, a mortgage on Harris's farm to be
given him as security. Mrs. Harris had persisted in her refusal
to be in any way a party to the scheme, and she and her husband
had finally made a legal separation, with a division of the
property, after she had entered a complaint against Joe, charging
him with getting money from her husband on fraudulent
representation. At the hearing on this complaint, Harris denied
that he had ever contributed a dollar to Joe at the latter's

Tucker, who did much of the proof-reading of the new Bible,
comparing it with the manuscript copy, says that, when the
printing began, Smith and his associates watched the manuscript
with the greatest vigilance, bringing to the office every morning
as much as the printers could set up during the day, and taking
it away in the evening, forbidding also any alteration. The
foreman, John H. Gilbert, found the manuscript so poorly prepared
as regards grammatical construction, spelling, punctuation, etc.,
that he told them that some corrections must be made, and to this
they finally consented.

Daniel Hendrix, in his recollections, says in confirmation of

"I helped to read proof on many pages of the book, and at odd
times set some type.... The penmanship of the copy furnished was
good, but the grammar, spelling and punctuation were done by John
H. Gilbert, who was chief compositor in the office. I have heard
him swear many a time at the syntax and orthography of Cowdery,
and declare that he would not set another line of the type. There
were no paragraphs, no punctuation and no capitals. All that was
done in the printing office, and what a time there used to be in
straightening sentences out, too. During the printing of the book
I remember that Joe Smith kept in the background."

The following letter is in reply to an inquiry addressed by me to
Albert Chandler, the only survivor, I think, of the men who
helped issue the first edition of Smith's book:--

"COLDWATER, MICH., Dec. 22, 1898.

"My recollections of Joseph Smith, Jr. and of the first steps
taken in regard to his Bible have never been printed. At the time
of the printing of the Mormon Bible by Egbert B. Grandin of the
Sentinel I was an apprentice in the bookbindery connected with
the Sentinel office. I helped to collate and stitch the Gold
Bible, and soon after this was completed, I changed from
book-binding to printing. I learned my trade in the Sentinel

"My recollections of the early history of the Mormon Bible are
vivid to-day. I knew personally Oliver Cowdery, who translated
the Bible, Martin Harris, who mortgaged his farm to procure the
printing, and Joseph Smith Jr., but slightly. What I knew of him
was from hearsay, principally from Martin Harris, who believed
fully in him. Mr. Tucker's 'Origin, Rise, and Progress of
Mormonism' is the fullest account I have ever seen. I doubt if I
can add anything to that history.

"The whole history is shrouded in the deepest mystery. Joseph
Smith Jr., who read through the wonderful spectacles, pretended
to give the scribe the exact reading of the plates, even to
spelling, in which Smith was woefully deficient. Martin Harris
was permitted to be in the room with the scribe, and would try
the knowledge of Smith, as he told me, saying that Smith could
not spell the word February, when his eyes were off the
spectacles through which he pretended to work. This ignorance of
Smith was proof positive to him that Smith was dependent on the
spectacles for the contents of the Bible. Smith and the plates
containing the original of the Mormon Bible were hid from view of
the scribe and Martin Harris by a screen.

"I should think that Martin Harris, after becoming a convert,
gave up his entire time to advertising the Bible to his neighbors
and the public generally in the vicinity of Palmyra. He would
call public meetings and address them himself. He was
enthusiastic, and went so far as to say that God, through the
Latter Day Saints, was to rule the world. I heard him make this
statement, that there would never be another President of the
United States elected; that soon all temporal and spiritual power
would be given over to the prophet Joseph Smith and the Latter
Day Saints. His extravagant statements were the laughing stock of
the people of Palmyra. His stories were hissed at, universally.
To give you an idea of Mr. Harris's superstitions, he told me
that he saw the devil, in all his hideousness, on the road, just
before dark, near his farm, a little north of Palmyra. You can
see that Harris was a fit subject to carry out the scheme of
organizing a new religion.

"The absolute secrecy of the whole inception and publication of
the Mormon Bible stopped positive knowledge. We only knew what
Joseph Smith would permit Martin Harris to publish, in reference
to the whole thing.

"The issuing of the Book of Mormon scarcely made a ripple of
excitement in Palmyra.


* Mr. Chandler moved to Michigan in 1835, and has been connected
with several newspapers in that state, editing the Kalamazoo
Gazette, and founding and publishing the Coldwater Sentinel. He
was elected the first mayor of Coldwater, serving several terms.
He was in his eighty-fifth year when the above letter was

The book was published early in 1830. On paper the sale of the
first edition showed a profit of $3250 at $1.25 a volume, that
being the lowest price to be asked on pain of death, according to
a "special revelation" received by Smith. By the original
agreement Harris was to have the exclusive control of the sale of
the book. But it did not sell. The local community took it no
more seriously than they did Joe himself and his family. The
printer demanded his pay as the work progressed, and it became
necessary for Smith to spur Harris on by announcing a revelation
(Sec. 19, "Doctrine and Covenants"), saying, "I command thee that
thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to
the printing of the Book of Mormon. "Harris accordingly disposed
of his share of the farm and paid Grandin.

To make the book "go," Smith now received a revelation which
permitted his father, soon to be elevated to the title of
Patriarch, to sell it on commission, and Smith, Sr., made
expeditions through the country, taking in pay for any copies
sold such farm produce or "store goods" as he could use in his
own family. How much he "cut" the revealed price of the book in
these trades is not known, but in one instance, when arrested in
Palmyra for a debt of $5.63, he, under pledge of secrecy, offered
seven of the Bibles in settlement, and the creditor, knowing that
the old man had no better assets, accepted the offer as a joke.*

* "Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism," Tucker, p. 63.


The history of the Mormon Bible has been brought uninterruptedly
to this point in order that the reader may be able to follow
clearly each step that had led up to its publication. It is now
necessary to give attention to two subjects intimately connected
with the origin of this book, viz., the use made of what is known
as the "Spaulding manuscript," in supplying the historical part
of the work, and Sidney Rigdon's share in its production.

The most careful student of the career of Joseph Smith, Jr., and
of his family and his associates, up to the year 1827, will fail
to find any ground for the belief that he alone, or simply with
their assistance, was capable of composing the Book of Mormon,
crude in every sense as that work is. We must therefore accept,
as do the Mormons, the statement that the text was divinely
revealed to Smith, or must look for some directing hand behind
the scene, which supplied the historical part and applied the
theological. The "Spaulding manuscript" is believed to have
furnished the basis of the historical part of the work.

Solomon Spaulding, born in Ashford, Connecticut, in 1761, was
graduated from Dartmouth College in 1785, studied divinity, and
for some years had charge of a church. His own family described
him as a peculiar man, given to historical researches, and
evidently of rather unstable disposition. He gave up preaching,
conducted an academy at Cherry Valley, New York, and later moved
to Conneaut, Ohio, where in 1812 he had an interest in an iron
foundry. His attention was there attracted to the ancient mounds
in that vicinity, and he set some of his men to work exploring
one of them. "I vividly remember how excited he became," says his
daughter,when he heard that they had exhumed some human bones,
portions of gigantic skeletons, and various relics. "From these
discoveries he got the idea of writing a fanciful history of the
ancient races of this country.

The title he chose for his book was "The Manuscript Found." He
considered this work a great literary production, counted on
being able to pay his debts from the proceeds of its sale, and
was accustomed to read selections from the manuscript to his
neighbors with evident pride. The impression that such a
production would be likely to make on the author's neighbors in
that frontier region and in those early days, when books were
scarce and authors almost unknown, can with difficulty be
realized now. Barrett Wendell, speaking of the days of Bryant's
early work, says:--

"Ours was a new country...deeply and sensitively aware that it
lacked a literature. Whoever produced writings which could be
pronounced adorable was accordingly regarded by his fellow
citizens as a public benefactor, a great public figure, a
personage of whom the nation could be proud."* This feeling lends
weight to the testimony of Mr. Spaulding's neighbors, who in
later years gave outlines of his work.

* "Literary History of America."

In order to find a publisher Mr. Spaulding moved with his family
to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. A printer named Patterson spoke well
of the manuscript to its author, but no one was found willing to
publish it. The Spauldings afterward moved to Amity,
Pennsylvania, where Mr. Spaulding died in 1816. His widow and
only child went to live with Mrs. Spaulding's brother, W. H.
Sabine, at Onondaga Valley, New York, taking their effects with
them. These included an old trunk containing Mr. Spaulding's
papers. "There were sermons and other papers," says his daughter,
"and I saw a manuscript about an inch thick, closely written,
tied up with some stories my father had written for me, one of
which he called 'The Frogs of Windham.' On the outside of this
manuscript were written the words 'Manuscript Found.' I did not
read it, but looked through it, and had it in my hands many
times, and saw the names I had heard at Conneaut, when my father
read it to his friends. "Mrs. Spaulding next went to her father's
house in Connecticut, leaving her personal property at her
brother's. She married a Mr. Davison in 1820, and the old trunk
was sent to her at her new home in Hartwick, Otsego County, New
York. The daughter was married to a Mr. McKinstry in 1828, and
her mother afterward made her home with her at Monson,
Massachusetts, most of the time until her death in 1844.

When the newly announced Mormon Bible began to be talked about in
Ohio, there were immediate declarations in Spaulding's old
neighborhood of a striking similarity between the Bible story and
the story that Spaulding used to read to his acquaintances there,
and these became positive assertions after the Mormons had held a
meeting at Conneaut. The opinion was confidently expressed there
that, if the manuscript could be found and published, it would
put an end to the Mormon pretence.

About the year 1834 Mrs. Davison received a visit at Monson from
D. P. Hurlbut, a man who had gone over to the Mormons from the
Methodist church, and had apostatized and been expelled. He
represented that he had been sent by a committee to secure "The
Manuscript Found" in order that it might be compared with the
Mormon Bible. As he brought a letter from her brother, Mrs.
Davison, with considerable reluctance, gave him an introduction
to George Clark, in whose house at Hartwick she had left the old
trunk, directing Mr. Clark to let Hurlbut have the manuscript,
receiving his verbal pledge to return it. He obtained a
manuscript from this trunk, but did not keep his pledge.*

* Condensed from an affidavit by Mrs. McKinstry, dated April 3,
1880, in Scribner's Magazine for August, 1880.

The Boston Recorder published in May, 1839, a detailed statement
by Mrs. Davison concerning her knowledge of "The Manuscript
Found." After giving an account of the writing of the story, her
statement continued as follows:--

"Here [in Pittsburg] Mr. Spaulding found a friend and
acquaintance in the person of Mr. Patterson, who was very much
pleased with it, and borrowed it for perusal. He retained it for
a long time, and informed Mr. Spaulding that, if he would make
out a title-page and preface, he would publish it, as it might be
a source of profit. This Mr. Spaulding refused to do. Sidney
Rigdon, who has figured so largely in the history of the Mormons,
was at that time connected with the printing office of Mr.
Patterson, as is well known in that region, and, as Rigdon
himself has frequently stated, became acquainted with Mr.
Spaulding's manuscript and copied it. It was a matter of
notoriety and interest to all connected with the printing
establishment. At length the manuscript was returned to its
author, and soon after we removed to Amity where Mr. Spaulding
deceased in 1816. The manuscript then fell into my hands, and was
carefully preserved."

This statement stirred up the Mormons greatly, and they at once
pronounced the letter a forgery, securing from Mrs. Davison a
statement in which she said that she did not write it. This was
met with a counter statement by the Rev. D. R. Austin that it was
made up from notes of a conversation with her, and was correct.
In confirmation of this the Quincy [Massachusetts] Whig printed a
letter from John Haven of Holliston, Massachusetts, giving a
report of a conversation between his son Jesse and Mrs. Davison
concerning this letter, in which she stated that the letter was
substantially correct, and that some of the names used in the
Mormon Bible were like those in her husband's story. Rigdon
himself, in a letter addressed to the Boston Journal, under date
of May 27, 1839, denied all knowledge of Spaulding, and declared
that there was no printer named Patterson in Pittsburg during his
residence there, although he knew a Robert Patterson who had
owned a printing-office in that city. The larger part of his
letter is a coarse attack on Hurlbut and also on E. D. Howe, the
author of "Mormonism Unveiled, "whose whole family he charged
with scandalous immoralities." If the use of Spaulding's story in
the preparation of the Mormon Bible could be proved by nothing
but this letter of Mrs. Davison, the demonstration would be weak;
but this is only one link in the chain.

Howe, in his painstaking efforts to obtain all probable
information about the Mormon origin from original sources,
secured the affidavits of eight of Spaulding's acquaintances in
Ohio, giving their recollections of the "Manuscript Found."*
Spaulding's brother, John, testified that he heard many passages
of the manuscript read and, describing it, he said:--

* Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," pp. 278-287.

"It was an historical romance of the first settlers of America,
endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the descendants
of the Jews, or the lost tribe. It gave a detailed account of
their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till they arrived
in America, under the command of Nephi and Lehi. They afterwards
had quarrels and contentions, and separated into two distinct
nations, one of which he denominated Nephites, and the other
Lamanites. Cruel and bloody Wars ensued, in which great
multitudes were slain.... I have recently read the "Book of
Mormon," and to my great surprise I find nearly the same
historical matter, names, etc., as they were in my brother's
writings. I well remember that he wrote in the old style, and
commenced about every sentence with 'and it came to pass,' or
'now it came to pass,' the same as in the 'Book of Mormon,' and,
according to the best of my recollection and belief, it is the
same as my brother Solomon wrote, with the exception of the
religious matter."

John Spaulding's wife testified that she had no doubt that the
historical part of the Bible and the manuscript were the same,
and she well recalled such phrases as "it came to pass."

Mr. Spaulding's business partner at Conneaut, Henry Lake,
testified that Spaulding read the manuscript to him many hours,
that the story running through it and the Bible was the same, and
he recalls this circumstance: "One time, when he was reading to
me the tragic account of Laban, I pointed out to him what I
considered an inconsistency, which he promised to correct, but by
referring to the 'Book of Mormon,' I find that it stands there
just as he read it to me then.... I well recollect telling Mr.
Spaulding that the so frequent use of the words 'and it came to
pass,' 'now it came to pass,' rendered it ridiculous."

John N. Miller, an employee of Spaulding in Ohio, and a boarder
in his family for several months, testified that Spaulding had
written more than one book or pamphlet, that he had heard the
author read from the "Manuscript Found," that he recalled the
story running through it, and added: "I have recently examined
the 'Book of Mormon,' and find in it the writings of Solomon
Spaulding, from beginning to end, but mixed up with Scripture and
other religious matter which I did not meet with in the
'Manuscript Found'.... The names of Nephi, Lehi, Moroni, and in
fact all the principal names, are brought fresh to my
recollection by the 'Gold Bible.'"

Practically identical testimony was given by the four other
neighbors. Important additions to this testimony have been made
in later years. A statement by Joseph Miller of Amity,
Pennsylvania, a man of standing in that community, was published
in the Pittsburg Telegraph of February 6, 1879. Mr. Miller said
that he was well acquainted with Spaulding when he lived at
Amity, and heard him read most of the "Manuscript Found," and had
read the Mormon Bible in late years to compare the two. "On
hearing read, "he says," the account from the book of the battle
between the Amlicites (Book of Alma), in which the soldiers of
one army had placed a red mark on their foreheads to distinguish
them from their enemies, it seemed to reproduce in my mind, not
only the narration, but the very words as they had been impressed
on my mind by the reading of Spaulding's manuscript.... The
longer I live, the more firmly I am convinced that Spaulding's
manuscript was appropriated and largely used in getting up the `
Book of Mormon."

Redick McKee, a resident of Amity, Pennsylvania, when Spaulding
lived there, and later a resident of Washington, D. C., in a
letter to the Washington [Pennsylvania] Reporter, of April 21,
1869, stated that he heard Spaulding read from his manuscript,
and added: "I have an indistinct recollection of the passage
referred to by Mr. Miller about the Amlicites making a cross with
red paint on their foreheads to distinguish them from enemies in

The Rev. Abner Judson, of Canton, Ohio, wrote for the Washington
County, Pennsylvania, Historical Society, under date of December
20, 1880, an account of his recollections of the Spaulding
manuscript, and it was printed in the Washington [Pennsylvania]
Reporter of January 7, 1881. Spaulding read a large part of his
manuscript to Mr. Judson's father before the author moved to
Pittsburg, and the son, confined to the house with a lameness,
heard the reading and the accompanying conversations. He says:
"He wrote it in the Bible style. 'And it came to pass,' occurred
so often that some called him 'Old Come-to-pass.' The 'Book of
Mormons' follows the romance too closely to be a stranger ....
When it was brought to Conneaut and read there in public, old
Esquire Wright heard it and exclaimed, "Old Come-to-pass' has
come to life again."*

* Fuller extracts from the testimony of these later witnesses
will be found in Robert Patterson's pamphlet, "Who wrote the Book
of Mormon," reprinted from the "History of Washington County,

The testimony of so many witnesses, so specific in its details,
seems to prove the identity of Spaulding's story and the story
running through the Mormon Bible. The late President James H.
Fairchild of Oberlin, Ohio, whose pamphlet on the subject we
shall next examine, admits that "if we could accept without
misgiving the testimony of the eight witnesses brought forward in
Howe's book, we should be obliged to accept the fact of another
manuscript" (than the one which President Fairchild secured); but
he thinks there is some doubt about the effect on the memory of
these witnesses of the lapse of years and the reading of the new
Bible before they recalled the original story. It must be
remembered, however, that this resemblance was recalled as soon
as they heard the story of the new Bible, and there seems no
ground on which to trace a theory that it was the Bible which
originated in their minds the story ascribed to the manuscript.

The defenders of the Mormon Bible as an original work received
great comfort some fifteen years ago by the announcement that the
original manuscript of Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" had been
discovered in the Sandwich Islands and brought to this country,
and that its narrative bore no resemblance to the Bible story.
The history of this second manuscript is as follows: E. D. Howe
sold his printing establishment at Painesville, Ohio, to L. L.
Rice, who was an antislavery editor there for many years. Mr.
Rice afterward moved to the Sandwich Islands, and there he was
requested by President Fairchild to look over his old papers to
see if he could not find some antislavery matter that would be of
value to the Oberlin College library. One result of his search
was an old manuscript bearing the following certificate: 'The
writings of Solomon Spaulding,' proved by Aaron Wright, Oliver
Smith, John N. Miller and others. The testimonies of the above
gentlemen are now in my possession.


President Fairchild in a paper on this subject which has been
published* gives a description of this manuscript (it has been
printed by the Reorganized Church at Lamoni, Iowa), which shows
that it bears no resemblance to the Bible story. But the
assumption that this proves that the Bible story is original
fails immediately in view of the fact that Mr. Howe made no
concealment of his possession of this second manuscript. Hurlbut
was in Howe's service when he asked Mrs. Davison for an order for
the manuscript, and he gave to Howe, as the result of his visit,
the manuscript which Rice gave to President Fairchild. Howe in
his book (p. 288) describes this manuscript substantially as does
President Fairchild, saying:--

* "Manuscript of Solomon Spaulding and the 'Book of Mormon,'"
Tract No. 77, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland,

"This is a romance, purporting to have been translated from the
Latin, found on twenty-four rolls of parchment in a cave on the
banks of Conneaut Creek, but written in a modern style, and
giving a fabulous account of a ship's being drlven upon the
American coast, while proceeding from Rome to Britain, a short
time pious to the Christian era, this country then being
inhabited by the Indians."*

* Howe says in his book, "The fact that Spaulding in the latter
part of his life inclined to infidelity is established by a
letter in his handwriting now in our possession. "This letter was
given by Rice with the other manuscript to President Fairchild
(who reproduces it), thus adding to the proof that the Rice
manuscript is the one Hurlbut delivered to Howe.

Mr. Howe adds this important statement:--

"This old manuscript has been shown to several of the foregoing
witnesses, who recognize it as Spaulding's, he having told them
that he had altered his first plan of writing, by going further
back with dates, and writing in the old scripture style, in order
that it might appear more ancient. They say that it bears no
resemblance to the 'Manuscript Found.'"

If Howe had considered this manuscript of the least importance as
invalidating the testimony showing the resemblance between the
"Manuscript Found" and the Mormon Bible, he would have destroyed
it (if he was the malignant falsifier the Mormons represented him
to be), and not have first described it in his book; and then
left it to be found by any future owner of his effects. Its
rediscovery has been accepted, however, even by some non-Mormons,
as proof that the Mormon Bible is an original production.*

* Preface to "The Mormon Prophet," Lily Dugall.

Mrs. Ellen E. Dickenson, a great-niece of Spaulding, who has
painstakingly investigated the history of the much-discussed
manuscript, visited D. P. Hurlbut at his home near Gibsonburg,
Ohio, in 1880 (he died in 1882), taking with her Oscar Kellogg, a
lawyer, as a witness to the interview.* She says that her visit
excited him greatly. He told of getting a manuscript for Mr. Howe
at Hartwick, and said he thought it was burned with other of Mr.
Howe's papers. When asked, "Was it Spaulding's manuscript that
was burned?" he replied: "Mrs. Davison thought it was; but when I
just peeked into it, here and there, and saw the names Mormon,
Moroni, Lamanite, Lephi, I thought it was all nonsense. Why, if
it had been the real one, I could have sold it for $3000;** but I
just gave it to Howe because it was of no account. "During the
interview his wife was present, and when Mrs. Dickenson pressed
him with the question, "Do you know where the 'Manuscript Found'
is at the present time?" Mrs. Hurlbut went up to him and said,
"Tell her what you know." She got no satisfactory answer, but he
afterward forwarded to her an affidavit saying that he had
obtained of Mrs. Davison a manuscript supposing it to be
Spaulding's "Manuscript Found," adding: "I did not examine the
manuscript until after I got home, when upon examination I found
it to contain nothing of the kind, but being a manuscript upon an
entirely different subject. This manuscript I left with E. D.

With this presentation of the evidence showing the similarity
between Spaulding's story and the Mormon Bible narrative, we may
next examine the grounds for believing that Sidney Rigdon was
connected with the production of the Bible.

* A full account of this interview is given in her book, "New
Light on Mormonism" (1885).

** There have been surmises that Hurlbut also found the
"Manuscript Found" in the trunk and sold this to the Mormons. He
sent a specific denial of this charge to Robert Patterson in


The man who had more to do with founding the Mormon church than
Joseph Smith, Jr., even if we exclude any share in the production
of the Mormon Bible, and yet who is unknown even by name to most
persons to whom the names of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are
familiar, was Sidney Rigdon. Elder John Hyde, Jr., was well
within the truth when he wrote: "The compiling genius of
Mormonism was Sidney Rigdon. Smith had boisterous impetuosity but
no foresight. Polygamy was not the result of his policy but of
his passions. Sidney gave point, direction, and apparent
consistency to the Mormon system of theology. He invented its
forms and the manner of its arguments.... Had it not been for the
accession of these two men [Rigdon and Parley P. Pratt] Smith
would have been lost, and his schemes frustrated and abandoned."*

* "Mormonism: Its Leaders and Designs" (1857). Hyde, an
Englishman, joined the Mormons in that country when a lad and
began to preach almost at once. He sailed for this country in
1853 and joined the brethren in Salt Lake City. Brigham Young's
rule upset his faith, and he abandoned the belief in 1854. Even
H. H. Bancroft concedes him to have been "an able and honest man,
sober and sincere."

Rigdon (according to the sketch of him presented in Smith's
autobiography,* which he doubtless wrote) was born in St. Clair
township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on February 19, 1793.
His father was a farmer, and he lived on the farm, receiving only
a limited education, until he was twenty-six years old. He then
connected himself with the Baptist church, and received a license
to preach. Selecting Ohio as his field, he continued his work in
rural districts in that state until 1821, when he accepted a call
to a small Baptist church in Pittsburg.

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, Supt.

Twenty years before the publication of the Mormon Bible, Thomas
and Alexander Campbell, Scotchmen, had founded a congregation in
Washington County, Pennsylvania, out of which grew the religious
denomination known as Disciples of Christ, or Campbellites, whose
communicants in the United States numbered 871,017 in the year
1890. The fundamental principle of their teaching was that every
doctrine of belief, or maxim of duty, must rest upon the
authority of Scripture, expressed or implied, all human creeds
being rejected. The Campbells (who had been first Presbyterians
and then Baptists) were wonderful orators and convincing debaters
out of the pulpit, and they drew to themselves many of the most
eloquent exhorters in what was then the western border of the
United States. Among their allies was another Scotchman, Walter
Scott, a musician and schoolteacher by profession, who assisted
them in their newspaper work and became a noted evangelist in
their denomination. During a visit to Pittsburg in 1823, Scott
made Rigdon's acquaintance, and a little later the flocks to
which each preached were united. In August, 1824, Rigdon
announced his withdrawal from his church. Regarding his
withdrawal the sketch in Smith's autobiography says:--

"After he had been in that place [Pittsburg] some time, his mind
was troubled and much perplexed with the idea that the doctrines
maintained by that society were not altogether in accordance with
the Scriptures. This thing continued to agitate his mind more and
more, and his reflections on these occasions were particularly
trying; for, according to his view of the word of God, no other
church with whom he could associate, or that he was acquainted
with, was right; consequently, if he was to disavow the doctrine
of the church with whom he was then associated, he knew of no
other way of obtaining a living, except by manual labor, and at
that time he had a wife and three children to support."

For two years after he gave up his church connection he worked as
a journeyman tanner. This is all the information obtainable about
this part of his life. We next find him preaching at Bainbridge,
Ohio, as an undenominational exhorter, but following the general
views of the Campbells, advising his hearers to reject their
creeds and rest their belief solely on the Bible.

In June, 1826, Rigdon received a call to a Baptist church at
Mentor, Ohio, whose congregation he had pleased when he preached
the funeral sermon of his predecessor. His labors were not
confined, however, to this congregation. We find him acting as
the "stated" minister of a Disciples' church organized at Mantua,
Ohio, in 1827, preaching with Thomas Campbell at Shalersville,
Ohio, in 1828, and thus extending the influence he had acquired
as early as 1820, when Alexander Campbell called him "the great
orator of the Mahoning Association". In 1828 he visited his old
associate Scott, was further confirmed in his faith in the
Disciples' belief, and, taking his brother-in-law Bentley back
with him, they began revival work at Mentor, which led to the
conversion of more than fifty of their hearers. They held
services at Kirtland, Ohio, with equal success, and the story of
this awakening was the main subject of discussion in all the
neighborhood round about. The sketch of Rigdon in Smith's
autobiography closes with this tribute to his power as a
preacher: "The churches where he preached were no longer large
enough to contain the vast assemblies. No longer did he follow
the old beaten track, ...but dared to enter on new grounds,
...threw new light on the sacred volume, ...proved to a
demonstration the literal fulfilment of prophecy ...and the reign
of Christ with his Saints on the earth in the Millennium."

In tracing Rigdon's connection with Smith's enterprise, attention
must be carefully paid both to Rigdon's personal characteristics,
and to the resemblance between the doctrines he had taught in the
pulpit and those that appear in the Mormon Bible.

Rigdon's mental and religious temperament was just of the
character to be attracted by a novelty in religious belief. He,
with his brother-in-law, Adamson Bentley, visited Alexander
Campbell in 1821, and spent a whole night in religious
discussion. When they parted the next day, Rigdon declared that
"if he had within the last year promulgated one error, he had a
thousand," and Mr. Campbell, in his account of the interview,
remarked, "I found it expedient to caution them not to begin to
pull down anything they had builded until they had reviewed,
again and again, what they had heard; not even then rashly and
without much consideration."*

* Millennial Harbinger, 1848, p. 523.

A leading member of the church at Mantua has written, "Sidney
Rigdon preached for us, and, notwithstanding his extravagantly
wild freaks, he was held in high repute by many."*

* "Early History of the Disciples' Church in the Western
Reserve," by A: S. Hayden (1876), p. 239.

An important church discussion occurred at Warren, Ohio, in 1828.
Following out the idea of the literal interpretation of the
Scriptures taught in the Disciples' church, Rigdon sprung on the
meeting an argument in favor of a community of goods, holding
that the apostles established this system at Jerusalem, and that
the modern church, which rested on their example, must follow
them. Alexander Campbell, who was present, at once controverted
this position, showing that the apostles, as narrated in Acts,
"sold their possessions" instead of combining them for a profit,
and citing Bible texts to prove that no "community system"
existed in the early church. This argument carried the meeting,
and Rigdon left the assemblage, embittered against Campbell
beyond forgiveness. To a brother in Warren, on his way home, he
declared, "I have done as much in this reformation as Campbell or
Scott, and yet they get all the honor of it. "This claim is set
forth specifically in the sketch of Rigdon in Smith's
autobiography. Referring to Rigdon and Alexander Campbell, this
statement is there made:--

"After they had separated from the different churches, these
gentlemen were on terms of the greatest friendship, and
frequently met together to discuss the subject of religion, being
yet undetermined respecting the principles of the doctrine of
Christ or what course to pursue. However, from this connection
sprung up a new church in the world, known by the name of
'Campbellites'; they call themselves 'Disciples.' The reason why
they were called Campbellites was in consequence of Mr.
Campbell's periodical, above mentioned [the Christian Baptist],
and it being the means through which they communicated their
sentiments to the world; other than this, Mr. Campbell was no
more the originator of the sect than Elder Rigdon."

Rigdon's bitterness against the Campbells and his old church more
than once manifested itself in his later writings. For instance,
in an article in the Messenger and Advocate (Kirtland), of June,
1837, he said: "One thing has been done by the coming forth of
the Book of Mormon. It has puked the Campbellites effectually; no
emetic could have done so half as well.... The Book of Mormon has
revealed the secrets of Campbellism and unfolded the end of the
system. "In this jealousy of the Campbells, and the discomfiture
as a leader which he received at their hands, we find a
sufficient object for Rigdon's desertion of his old church
associations and desire to build up something, the discovery of
which he could claim, and the government of which he could

To understand the strength of the argument that the doctrinal
teachings of the Mormon Bible were the work of a Disciples'
preacher rather than of the ne'er-do-well Smith, it is only
necessary to examine the teachings of the Disciples' church in
Ohio at that time. The investigator will be startled by the
resemblance between what was then taught to and believed by
Disciples' congregations and the leading beliefs of the Mormon
Bible. In the following examples of this the illustrations of
Disciples' beliefs and teachings are taken from Hayden's "Early
History of the Disciples' Church in the Western Reserve."

The literal interpretation of the Scriptures, on which the Mormon
defenders of their faith so largely depend,--as for explanations
of modern revelations, miracles, and signs,--was preached to so
extreme a point by Ohio Disciples that Alexander Campbell had to
combat them in his Millennial Harbinger. An outcome of this
literal interpretation was a belief in a speedy millennium,
another fundamental belief of the early Mormon church. "The hope
of the millennial glory," says Hayden, "was based on many
passages of the Holy Scriptures.... Millennial hymns were learned
and sung with a joyful fervor.... It is surprising even now, as
memory returns to gather up these interesting remains of that
mighty work, to recall the thorough and extensive knowledge which
the convert quickly obtained. Nebuchadnezzar's vision... many
portions of the Revelation were so thoroughly studied that they
became the staple of the common talk." Rigdon's old Pittsburg
friend, Scott, in his report as evangelist to the church
association at Warren in 1828, said: "Individuals eminently
skilled in the word of God, the history of the world, and the
progress of human improvements see reasons to expect great
changes, much greater than have yet occurred, and which shall
give to political society and to the church a different, a very
different, complexion from what many anticipate. The
millennium--the millennium described in the Scriptures--will
doubtless be a wonder, a terrible wonder, to all."

Disciples' preachers understood that they spoke directly for God,
just as Smith assumed to do in his "revelations." Referring to
the preaching of Rigdon and Bentley, after a visit to Scott in
March, 1828, Hayden says, "They spoke with authority, for the
word which they delivered was not theirs, but that of Jesus
Christ." The Disciples, like the Mormons, at that time looked for
the return of the Jews to Jerusalem. Scott* was an enthusiastic
preacher of this. "The fourteenth chapter of Zechariah," says
Hayden, "was brought forward in proof--all considered as
literal-- that the most marvellous and stupendous physical and
climatic changes were to be wrought in Palestine; and that Jesus
Christ the Messiah was to reign literally in Jerusalem, and in
Mount Zion, and before his ancients, gloriously."

* "In a letter to Dr. Richardson, written in 1830, he [Scott]
says the book of Elias Smith on the prophecies is the only
sensible work on that subject he had seen. He thinks this and
Crowley on the Apocalypse all the student of the Bible wants. He
strongly commends Smith's book to the doctor. This seems to be
the origin of millennial views among us. Rigdon, who always
caught and proclaimed the last word that fell from the lips of
Scott or Campbell, seized these views (about the millennium and
the Jews) and, with the wildness of his extravagant nature,
heralded them everywhere."--"Early History of the Disciples'
Church in the Western Reserve," p. 186.

Campbell taught that "creeds are but statements, with few
exceptions, of doctrinal opinion or speculators' views of
philosophical or dogmatic subjects, and tended to confusion,
disunion, and weakness." Orson Pratt, in his "Divine Authenticity
of the Book of Mormon," thus stated the early Mormon view on the
same subject: "If any man or council, without the aid of
immediate revelation, shall undertake to decide upon such
subjects, and prescribe 'articles of faith' or 'creeds' to govern
the belief or views of others, there will be thousands of
well-meaning people who will not have confidence in the
productions of these fallible men, and, therefore, frame creeds
of their own.... In this way contentions arise."

Finally, attention may be directed to the emphatic declarations
of the Disciples' doctrine of baptism in the Mormon Bible:--

"Ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye
baptize them.... And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and
come forth again out of the water."--3 Nephi Xi. 23, 26.

"I know that it is solemn mockery before God that ye should
baptize little children.... He that supposeth that little
children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the
bond of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity;
wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go
down to hell. For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God
saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish
because he hath no baptism."--Moroni viii. 9, x, 15.

There are but three conclusions possible from all this: that the
Mormon Bible was a work of inspiration, and that the agreement of
its doctrines with Disciples' belief only proves the correctness
of the latter; that Smith, in writing his doctrinal views, hit on
the Disciples' tenets by chance (he had had no opportunity
whatever to study them); or, finally, that some Disciple, learned
in the church, supplied these doctrines to him.

Advancing another step in the examination of Rigdon's connection
with the scheme, we find that even the idea of a new Bible was
common belief among the Ohio Disciples who listened to Scott's
teaching. Describing Scott's preaching in the winter of
1827-1828, Hayden says:--

"He contended ably for the restoration of the true, original
apostolic order which would restore to the church the ancient
gospel as preached by the apostles. The interest became an
excitement; ...the air was thick with rumors of a 'new religion,'
a 'new Bible.'"

Next we may cite two witnesses to show that Rigdon had a
knowledge of Smith's Bible in advance of its publication. His
brother-in-law, Bentley, in a letter to Walter Scott dated
January 22, 1841, said, "I know that Sidney Rigdon told me there
was a book coming out, the manuscript of which had been found
engraved on gold plates, as much as two years before the Mormon
book made its appearance or had been heard of by me."*

* Millennial Harbinger, 1844, p. 39. The Rev. Alexander Campbell
testified that this conversation took place in his presence.

One of the elders of the Disciples' church was Darwin Atwater, a
farmer, who afterward occupied the pulpit, and of whom Hayden
says, "The uniformity of his life, his undeviating devotion, his
high and consistent manliness and superiority of judgment, gave
him an undisputed preeminence in the church." In a letter to
Hayden, dated April 26, 1873, Mr. Atwater said of Rigdon: "For a
few months before his professed conversion to Mormonism it was
noticed that his wild extravagant propensities had been more
marked. That he knew before the coming of the Book of Mormon is
to me certain from what he said during the first of his visits at
my father's, some years before. He gave a wonderful description
of the mounds and other antiquities found in some parts of
America, and said that they must have been made by the
aborigines. He said there was a book to be published containing
an account of those things. He spoke of these in his eloquent,
enthusiastic style, as being a thing most extraordinary. Though a
youth then, I took him to task for expending so much enthusiasm
on such a subject instead of things of the Gospel. In all my
intercourse with him afterward he never spoke of antiquities, or
of the wonderful book that should give account of them, till the
Book of Mormon really was published. He must have thought I was
not the man to reveal that to."*

* "Early History of the Disciples' Church in the Western
Reserve," p. 239.

Dr. Storm Rosa, a leading physician of Ohio, in, a letter to the
Rev. John Hall of Ashtabula, written in 1841, said: "In the early
part of the year 1830 I was in company with Sidney Rigdon, and
rode with him on horseback for a few miles.... He remarked to me
that it was time for a new religion to spring up; that mankind
were all right and ready for it."*

* "Gleanings by the Way," p. 315.

Having thus established the identity of the story running through
the Spaulding manuscript and the historical part of the Mormon
Bible, the agreement of the doctrinal part of the latter with
what was taught at the time by Rigdon and his fellow-workers in
Ohio, and Rigdon's previous knowledge of the coming book, we are
brought to the query: How did the Spaulding manuscript become
incorporated in the Mormon Bible?

It could have been so incorporated in two ways: either by coming
into the possession of Rigdon and being by him copied and placed
in Smith's hands for "translation," with the theological parts
added;* or by coming into possession of Smith in his wanderings
around the neighborhood of Hartwick, and being shown by him to
Rigdon. Every aspect of this matter has been discussed by Mormon
and non-Mormon writers, and it can only be said that definite
proof is lacking. Mormon disputants set forth that Spaulding
moved from Pittsburg to Amity in 1814, and that Rigdon's first
visit to Pittsburg occurred in 1822. On the other hand, evidence
is offered that Rigdon was a "hanger around" Patterson's
printing-office, where Spaulding offered his manuscript, before
the year 1816, and the Rev. John Winter, M.D., who taught school
in Pittsburg when Rigdon preached there, and knew him well,
recalled that Rigdon showed him a large manuscript which he said
a Presbyterian minister named Spaulding had brought to the city
for publication. Dr. Winter's daughter wrote to Robert Patterson
on April 5, 1881: "I have frequently heard my father speak of
Rigdon having Spaulding's manuscript, and that he had gotten it
from the printers to read it as a curiosity; as such he showed it
to father, and at that time Rigdon had no intention of making the
use of it that he afterward did." Mrs. Ellen E. Dickenson, in a
report of a talk with General and Mrs. Garfield on the subject at
Mentor, Ohio, in 1880, reports Mrs. Garfield as saying "that her
father told her that Rigdon in his youth lived in that
neighborhood, and made mysterious journeys to Pittsburg."*** She
also quotes a statement by Mrs. Garfield's** father, Z. Rudolph,
"that during the winter previous to the appearance of the Book of
Mormon, Rigdon was in the habit of spending weeks away from his
home, going no one knew where."**** Tucker says that in the
summer of 1827 "a mysterious stranger appears at Smith's
residence, and holds private interviews with the far-famed
money-digger.... It was observed by some of Smith's nearest
neighbors that his visits were frequently repeated." Again, when
the persons interested in the publication of the Bible were so
alarmed by the abstraction of pages of the translation by Mrs.
Harris, "the reappearance of the mysterious stranger at Smith's
was," he says, "the subject of inquiry and conjecture by
observers from whom was withheld all explanation of his identity
or purpose."*****

* "Rigdon has not been in full fellowship with Smith for more
than a year. He has been in his turn cast aside by Joe to make
room for some new dupe or knave who, perhaps, has come with more
money. He has never been deceived by Joe. I have no doubt that
Rigdon was the originator of the system, and, fearing for its
success, put Joe forward as a sort of fool in the play."--Letter
from a resident near Nauvoo, quoted in the postscript to
Caswall's "City of the Mormons". (1843)

** For a collection of evidence on this subject, see Patterson's
"Who Wrote the Mormon Bible?"

**(Scribner's Magazine, October, 1881.

*** "New Light on Mormonism," p. 252.

***** "Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism," pp. 28, 46.

In a historical inquiry of this kind, it is more important to
establish the fact that a certain thing WAS DONE than to prove
just HOW or WHEN it was done. The entire narrative of the steps
leading up to the announcement of a new Bible, including Smith's
first introduction to the use of a "peek-stone" and his original
employment of it, the changes made in the original version of the
announcement to him of buried plates, and the final production of
a book, partly historical and partly theological, shows that
there was behind Smith some directing mind, and the only one of
his associates in the first few years of the church's history who
could have done the work required was Sidney Rigdon.

President Fairchild, in his paper on the Spaulding manuscript
already referred to, while admitting that "it is perhaps
impossible at this day to prove or disprove the Spaulding
theory," finds any argument against the assumption that Rigdon
supplied the doctrinal part of the new Bible, in the view that "a
man as self-reliant and smart as Rigdon, with a superabundant
gift of tongue and every form of utterance, would never have
accepted the servile task of mere interpolation; "there could
have been no motive to it." This only shows that President
Fairchild wrote without knowledge of the whole subject, with
ignorance of the motives which did exist for Rigdon's conduct,
and without means of acquainting himself with Rigdon's history
during his association with Smith. Some of his motives we have
already ascertained: We shall find that, almost from the
beginning of their removal to Ohio, Smith held him in a
subjection which can be explained only on the theory that Rigdon,
the prominent churchman, had placed himself completely in the
power of the unprincipled Smith, and that, instead of exhibiting
self-reliance, he accepted insult after insult until, just before
Smith's death, he was practically without influence in the
church; and when the time came to elect Smith's successor, he was
turned out-of-doors by Brigham Young with the taunting words,
"Brother Sidney says he will tell our secrets, but I would say, `
'O don't, Brother Sidney! Don't tell our secrets--O don't.' But
if he tells our secrets we will tell his. Tit for tat! President
Fairchild's argument that several of the original leaders of the
fanaticism must have been "adequate to the task" of supplying the
doctrinal part of the book, only furnishes additional proof of
his ignorance of early Mormon history, and his further assumption
that "it is difficult--almost impossible--to believe that the
religious sentiments of the Book of Mormon were wrought into
interpolation" brings him into direct conflict, as we shall see,
with Professor Whitsitt,* amuch better equipped student of the

* Post, pp. 92. 93.

If it should be questioned whether a man of Rigdon's church
connection would deliberately plan such a fraudulent scheme as
the production of the Mormon Bible, the inquiry may be easily
satisfied. One of the first tasks which Smith and Rigdon
undertook, as soon as Rigdon openly joined Smith in New York
State, was the preparation of what they called a new translation
of the Scriptures. This work was undertaken in conformity with a
"revelation" to Smith and Rigdon, dated December, 1830 (Sec. 35,
"Doctrine and Covenants") in which Sidney was told, "And a
commandment I give unto thee, that thou shalt write for him; and
the Scriptures shall be given, even as they are in mine own
bosom, to the salvation of mine own elect. The "translating" was
completed in Ohio, and the manuscript, according to Smith, "was
sealed up, no more to be opened till it arrived in Zion."* This
work was at first kept as a great secret, and Smith and Rigdon
moved to the house of a resident of Hiram township, Portage
County, Ohio, thirty miles from Kirtland, in September, 1831, to
carry it on; but the secret soon got out. The preface to the
edition of the book published at Plano, Illinois, in 1867, under
the title, "The Holy Scriptures translated and corrected by the
Spirit of Revelation, by Joseph Smith, Jr., the Seer," says that
the manuscript remained in the hands of the prophet's widow from
the time of his death until 1866, when it was delivered to a
committee of the Reorganized Mormon conference for publication.
Some of its chapters were known to Mormon readers earlier, since
Corrill gives the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew in his
historical sketch, which was dated 1839.

* Millenial Star, Vol. XIV, p. 361.

The professed object of the translation was to restore the
Scriptures to their original purity and beauty, the Mormon Bible
declaring that "many plain and precious parts" had been taken
from them. The real object, however, was to add to the sacred
writings a prediction of Joseph Smith's coming as a prophet,
which would increase his authority and support the pretensions of
the new Bible. That this was Rigdon's scheme is apparent from the
fact that it was announced as soon as he visited Smith, and was
carried on under his direction, and that the manuscript
translation was all in his handwriting.*

* Wyl's "Mormon Portraits," p.124.

Extended parts of the translation do not differ at all from the
King James version, and many of the changes are verbal and
inconsequential. Rigdon's object appears in the changes made in
the fiftieth chapter of Genesis, and the twenty-ninth chapter of
Isaiah. In the King James version the fiftieth chapter of Genesis
contains twenty-six verses, and ends with the words, "So Joseph
died, being an hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him,
and he was put in a coffin in Eygpt." In the Smith-Rigdon version
this chapter contains thirty-eight verses, the addition
representing Joseph as telling his brethren that a branch of his
people shall be carried into a far country and that a seer shall
be given to them, "and that seer will I bless, and they that seek
to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise I give unto
you; for I will remember you from generation to generation; and
his name shall be called Joseph. And he shall have judgment, and
shall write the word of the Lord."

The twenty-ninth chapter of Isaiah is similarly expanded from
twenty-four short to thirty-two long verses. Verses eleven and
twelve of the King James version read:--

"And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book
that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying,
Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed.

"And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying,
Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned."

The Smith-Rigdon version expands this as follows:-- "11. And it
shall come to pass, that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you
the words of a book; and they shall be the words of them which
have slumbered.

"12. And behold, the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall
be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the
ending thereof.

"13. Wherefore, because of the things which are sealed up, the
things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the
wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore, the book
shall be kept from them.

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