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

Part 4 out of 15

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(Sec. 47), saying, "Behold, it is expedient in me that my servant
John [Whitmer] should write and keep a regular history" of the
church. John fell into disfavor in later years, and, when he
refused to give up his records, Smith and Rigdon addressed a
letter to him,* in connection with his dismissal, which said that
his notes required correction by them before publication,
"knowing your incompetency as a historian, that writings coming
from your pen could not be put to press without our correcting
them, or else the church must suffer reproach. Indeed, sir, we
never supposed you capable of writing a history." Why the Lord
did not consult Smith and Rigdon before making this appointment
is one of the unexplained mysteries.

* Millennial Star, Vol. XVI, p. 133.

These "revelations," which increased in number from 16 in 1829 to
19 in 1830, numbered 35 in 1831, and then decreased to 16 in
1832, 13 in 1833, 5 in 1834, 2 in 1835, 3 in 1836, 1 in 1837, 8
in 1838 (in the trying times in Missouri), 1 in 1839, none in
1840, 3 in 1841, none in 1842, and 2, including the one on
polygamy, in 1843. We shall see that in his latter days, in
Nauvoo, Smith was allowed to issue revelations only after they
had been censored by a council. He himself testified to the
reckless use which he made of them, and which perhaps brought
about this action. The following is a quotation from his diary:--

"May 19, 1842.-- While the election [of Smith as mayor by the
city council] was going forward, I received and wrote the
following revelation: 'I Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my
servant Joseph, by the voice of the Spirit, Hiram Kimball has
been insinuating evil and forming evil opinions against you with
others; and if he continue in them, he and they shall be
accursed, for I am the Lord thy God, and will stand by thee and
bless thee.' Which I threw across the room to Hiram Kimball, one
of the counsellors."

Thus it seems that there was some limit to the extent of Joe's
effrontery which could be submitted to.

We shall see that Brigham Young in Utah successfully resisted
constant pressure that was put upon him by his flock to continue
the reception of "revelations." While he was prudent enough to
avoid the pitfalls that would have surrounded him as a revealer,
he was crafty enough not to belittle his own authority in so
doing. In his discourse on the occasion of the open announcement
of polygamy, he said, "If an apostle magnifies his calling, his
words are the words of eternal life and salvation to those who
hearken to them, just as much so as any written revelations
contained in these books" (the two Bibles and the "Doctrine and

Hiram Page was not the only person who tried to imitate Smith's
"revelations." A boy named Isaac Russell gave out such messages
at Kirtland; Gladdin Bishop caused much trouble in the same way
at Nauvoo; the High Council withdrew the hand of fellowship from
Oliver Olney for setting himself up as a prophet; and in the same
year the Times and Seasons announced a pamphlet by J. C.
Brewster, purporting to be one of the lost books of Esdras,
"written by the power of God."

In the Times and Seasons (p. 309) will he found a report of a
conference held in New York City on December 4, 1840, at which
Elder Sydney Roberts was arraigned, charged with "having a
revelation that a certain brother must give him a suit of clothes
and a gold watch, the best that could be had; also saluting the
sisters with what he calls a holy kiss." He was told that he
could retain his membership if he would confess, but he declared
that "he knew the revelations which he had spoken were from God."
So he was thereupon "cut off."

The other source of Mormon belief--the teachings of their leading
men--has been no more consistent nor infallible than Smith's
"revelations." Mormon preachers have been generally uneducated
men, most of them ambitious of power, and ready to use the pulpit
to strengthen their own positions. Many an individual elder, firm
in his faith, has travelled and toiled as faithfully as any
Christian missionary; but these men, while they have added to the
church membership, have not made its beliefs.

Smith probably originated very little of the church polity,
except the doctrine of polygamy, and what is published over his
name is generally the production of some of his counsellors.
Section 130 of the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants," headed
"Important Items of Instruction, given by Joseph the Prophet,
April 2, 1843," contains the following:--

"When the Saviour shall appear, we shall see him as he is. We
shall see that he is a man like ourselves....

"The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's;
the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and
bones, but is a personage of spirit. Were it not so, the Holy
Ghost could not dwell in us."

An article in the Millennial Star, Vol. VI, for which the prophet
vouched, contains the following:--

"The weakest child of God which now exists upon the earth will
possess more dominion, more property, more subjects, and more
power in glory than is possessed by Jesus Christ or by his
Father; while, at the same time, Jesus Christ and his Father will
have their dominion, kingdom and subjects increased in

One more illustration of Smith's doctrinal views will suffice. In
a funeral sermon preached in Nauvoo, March 20, 1842, he said: "As
concerning the resurrection, I will merely say that all men will
come from the grave as they lie down, whether old or young; there
will not be 'added unto their stature one cubit,' neither taken
from it. All will be raised by the power of God, having spirit in
their bodies but not blood."*

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIX, p. 213.

In "The Latter-Day Saints' Catechism or Child's Ladder," by Elder
David Moffat, Genesis v. 1, and Exodus xxxiii. 22, 23, and xxiv.
10 are cited to prove that God has the form and parts of a man.

The greatest vagaries of doctrinal teachings are found during
Brigham Young's reign in Utah. In the way of a curiosity the
following diagram and its explanation, by Orson Hyde, may be
reproduced from the Millennial Star, Vol. IX, p. 23:--

"The above diagram (not included in this etext) shows the order
and unity of the Kingdom of God. The eternal Father sits at the
head, crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Wherever the other
lines meet there sits a king and priest under God, bearing rule,
authority and dominion under the Father. He is one with the
Father because his Kingdom is joined to his Father's and becomes
part of it.... It will be seen by the above diagram that there
are kingdoms of all sizes, an infinite variety to suit all grades
of merit and ability. The chosen vessels of God are the kings and
priests that are placed at the heads of their kingdoms. They have
received their washings and anointings in the Temple of God on

Young's ambition was not to be satisfied until his name was
connected with some doctrine peculiarly his own. Accordingly, in
a long sermon preached in the Tabernacle on April 9, 1852, he
made this announcement (the italics and capitals follow the
official report):--

"Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, saint
and sinner. When our father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he
came into it with a CELESTIAL BODY, and brought Eve, ONE OF HIS
WIVES, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is
MICHAEL, the ARCHANGEL, the ANCIENT OF DAYS, about whom holy men
have written and spoken.* HE is our FATHER and our GOD, AND THE
ONLY GOD WITH WHOM 'WE' HAVE TO DO... Every man upon the earth,
professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it and WILL
KNOW IT SOONER OR LATER.... I could tell you much more about
this; but were I to tell you the whole truth, blasphemy would be
nothing to it, in the estimation of the superstitious and over
righteous of mankind.... Jesus, our Elder Brother, was begotten
in the flesh by the same character that was in the Garden of
Eden, and who is our Father in heaven."**

* Young, in a public discourse on October 23, 1853, declared that
he rejected the story of Adam's creation as "baby stories my
mother taught me when I was a child." But the Mormon Bible (2
Nephi ii. 18-22) tells the story of Adam's fall.

** Journal of Discourses, VOL I, pp. 50, 51.

This doctrine was made a leading point of difference between the
Utah church and the Reorganized Church, when the latter was
organized, but it is no longer defended even in Utah. The Deseret
Evening News of March 21, 1900, said on this point, "That which
President Young set forth in the discourse referred to is not
preached either to the Latter-Day Saints or to the world as a
part of the creed of the church."

Young never hesitated to rebuke an associate whose preaching did
not suit him. In a discourse in Salt Lake City, on March 8, 1857,
he rebuked Orson Pratt, one of the ablest of the church writers,
declaring that Pratt did not "know enough to keep his foot out of
it, but drowns himself in his philosophy." He ridiculed his
doctrine that "the devils in hell are composed of and filled with
the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost, and possess all the knowledge,
wisdom, and power of the gods, "and said, "When I read some of
the writings of such philosophers they make me think, 'O dear,
granny, what a long tail our puss has got.'"*

* Ibid., Vol. IV, p. 297.

The Mormon church still holds that an existing head of that
organization can always interpret the divine will regarding any
question. This was never more strikingly illustrated than when
Woodruff, by a mere dictum, did away with the obligatory
character of polygamy.

When the Mormons were under a cloud in Illinois, in 1842, John
Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat, applied to Smith for a
statement of their belief, and received in reply a list of 13
"Articles of Faith" over Smith's signature. This statement was
intended to win for them sympathy as martyrs to a simple
religious belief, and it has been cited in Congress as proof of
their soul purity. But as illustrating the polity of the church
it is quite valueless.

The doctrine of polygamy and the ceremonies of the Endowment
House will be considered in their proper place. One distinctive
doctrine of the church must be explained before this subject is
dismissed, namely, that which calls for "baptism for the dead."
This doctrine is founded on an interpretation of Corinthians xv.
29: "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if
the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the

An explanation of this doctrine in the Times and Seasons of May
1, 1841, says:--"This text teaches us the important and cheering
truth that the departed spirit is in a probationary state, and
capable of being affected by the proclamation of the Gospel....
Christ offers pardon, peace, holiness, and eternal life to the
quick and the dead, the living, on condition of faith and baptism
for remission of sins; the departed, on the same condition of
faith in person and baptism by a living kinsman in his behalf. It
may be asked, will this baptism by proxy necessarily save the
dead? We answer, no; neither will the same necessarily save the

This doctrine was first taught to the church in Ohio. In later
years, in Nauvoo, Smith seemed willing to accept its paternity,
and in an article in the Times and Seasons of April 15, x 842,
signed "Ed.," when he was its editor, he said that he was the
first to point it out. The article shows, however, that it was
doubtless written by Rigdon, as it indicates a knowledge of the
practice of such baptism by the Marcionites in the second
century, and of Chrysostom's explanation of it. A note on
Corinthians xv. 29, in "The New Testament Commentary for English
Readers," edited by Lord Bishop Ellicott of Gloucester and
Bristol (London, 1878), gives the following historical sketch of
the practice:--

"There have been numerous and ingenious conjectures as to the
meaning of this passage. The only tenable interpretation is that
there existed amongst some of the Christians at Corinth a
practice of baptizing a living person in the stead of some
convert who had died before that sacrament had been administered
to him. Such a practice existed amongst the Marcionites in the
second century, and still earlier amongst a sect called the
Cerinthians. The idea evidently was that, whatever benefit flowed
from baptism, might be thus vicariously secured for the deceased
Christian. St. Chrysostom gives the following description of

"After a catechumen (one prepared for baptism but not actually
baptized) was dead, they hid a living man under the bed of the
deceased; then, coming to the bed of the dead man, they spoke to
him, and asked whether he would receive baptism; and, he making
no answer, the other replied in his stead, and so they baptized
the living for the dead: Does St. Paul then, by what he here
says, sanction the superstitious practice? Certainly not. He
carefully separated himself and the Corinthians, to whom he
immediately addresses himself, from those who adopted this custom
.... Those who do that, and disbelieve a resurrection, refute
themselves. This custom possibly sprang up among the Jewish
converts, who had been accustomed to something similar in their
faith. If a Jew died without having been purified from some
ceremonial uncleanness, some living person had the necessary
ablution performed on him, and the dead were so accounted clean."

Other commentators have found means to explain this text without
giving it reference to a baptism for dead persons, as, for
instance, that it means, "with an interest in the resurrection of
the dead."* Another explanation is that by "the dead" is meant
the dead Christ, as referred to in Romans vi. 3, "Know ye not
that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were
baptized into his death?"

* "Commentary by Bishops and Other Clergy of the Anglican

This doctrine was a very taking one with the uneducated Mormon
converts who crowded into Nauvoo, and the church officers saw in
it a means to hasten the work on the Temple. At first families
would meet on the bank of the Mississippi River, and some one, of
the order of the Melchisedec Priesthood, would baptize them
wholesale for all their dead relatives whose names they could
remember, each sex for relatives of the same. But as soon as the
font in the Temple was ready for use, these baptisms were
restricted to that edifice, and it was required that all the
baptized should have paid their tithings. At a conference at
Nauvoo in October, 1841, Smith said that those who neglected the
baptism of their dead "did it at the peril of their own

* Times and Seasons, Vol. II, p. 578.

The form of church government, as worked out in the early days,
is set forth in the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants." The first
officers provided for were the twelve apostles,* and the next the
elders, priests, teachers, and deacons, Edward Partridge being
announced as the first bishop in 1831. The church was loosely
governed for the first years after its establishment at Kirtland.
A guiding power was provided for in a revelation of March 8, 1833
(Sec. 90), when Smith was told by the Lord that Rigdon and F. G.
Williams were accounted as equal with him "in holding the keys of
this last kingdom." These three first held the famous office of
the First Presidency, representing the Trinity.

* (Sec. 18, June, 1829.)

On February 17, 1834 (Sec. 102), a General High Council of
twenty-four High Priests assembled at Smith's house in Kirtland
and organized the High Council of the church, consisting of
Twelve High Priests, with one or three Presidents, as the case
might require. The office of High Priest, and the organization of
a High Council were apparently an afterthought, and were added to
the "revelation" after its publication in the "Book of
Commandments." Other forms of organization that were from time to
time decided on were announced in a revelation dated March 28,
1835 (Sec. 107), which defined the two priesthoods, Melchisedec
and Aaronic, and their powers. There were to be three Presiding
High Priests to form a Quorum of the Presidency of the church; a
Seventy, called to preach the Gospel, who would form a Quorum
equal in authority to the Quorum of the Twelve, and be presided
over by seven of their number. Smith soon organized two of these
Quorums of Seventies. At the time of the dedications of the
Temple at Nauvoo, in 1844, there were fifteen of them, and to-day
they number more than 120.

Each separate church organization, as formed, was called a Stake,
and each Stake had over it a Presidency, High Priests, and
Council of Twelve. We find the meaning of the word "Stake" in
some of Smith's earlier "revelations." Thus, in the one dated
June 4, 1833, regarding the organization of the church at
Kirtland, it was said, "It is expedient in me that this Stake
that I have set for the strength of Zion be made strong." Again,
in one dated December 16, 1839, on the gathering of the Saints,
it is stated, "I have other places which I will appoint unto
them, and they shall be called Stakes for the curtains, or the
strength of Zion." In Utah, to-day, the Stakes form groups of
settlements, and are generally organized on county lines.

The prophet made a substantial provision for his father, founding
for him the office of Patriarch, in accordance with an
unpublished "revelation." The principal business of the Patriarch
was to dispense "blessings," which were regarded by the faithful
as a sort of charm, to ward off misfortune. Joseph, Sr., awarded
these blessings without charge when he began dispensing them at
Kirtland, but a High Council held there in 1835 allowed him $10 a
week while blessing the church. After his formal anointing in
1836 he was known as Father Smith, and the next year his salary
was made $1.50 a day.* Hyrum became Patriarch when his father
died in 1840, his brother William succeeded him, his Uncle John
came next, and his Uncle Joseph after John. Patriarchal blessings
were advertised in the Mormon newspaper in Nauvoo like other
merchandise. They could be obtained in writing, and contained
promises of almost anything that a man could wish, such as
freedom from poverty and disease, life prolonged until the coming
of Christ, etc.** In 1875 the price of a blessing in Utah had
risen to $2. The office of Patriarch is still continued, with one
chief Patriarch, known as Patriarch of the Church, and
subordinate Patriarchs in the different Stakes. The position of
Patriarch of the church has always been regarded as a hereditary
one, and bestowed on some member of the Smith family, as it is

* The departure of the Patriarch from Ohio was somewhat dramatic.
As his wife tells the story in her book, the old man was taken by
a constable before a justice of the peace on a charge of
performing the marriage service without any authority, and was
fined $3000, and sentenced to the penitentiary in default of
payment. Through the connivance of the constable, who had been a
Mormon, the prisoner was allowed to leap out of a window, and he
remained in hiding at New Portage until his family were ready to
start for Missouri. The revelation of January 19, 1841, announced
that he was then sitting "with Abraham at his right hand."

* Ferris's "Utah and the Mormons," p. 314, and "Wife No. 19," p.



The four missionaries who had been sent to Ohio under Cowdery's
leadership arrived there in October, 1830. Rigdon left Kirtland
on his visit to Smith in New York State in the December
following, and in January, 1831, he returned to Ohio, taking
Smith with him.

The party who set out for Ohio, ostensibly to preach to the
Lamanites, consisted of Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Peter
Whitmer, Jr., and Ziba Peterson, the latter one of Smith's
original converts, who, it may be noted, was deprived of his land
and made to work for others a year later in Missouri, because of
offences against the church authorities. These men preached as
they journeyed, making a brief stop at Buffalo to instruct the
Indians there. On reaching Ohio, Pratt's acquaintance with
Rigdon's Disciples gave him an opportunity to bring the new Bible
to the attention of many people. The character of the Smiths was
quite unknown to the pioneer settlers, and the story of the
miraculously delivered Bible filled many of them with wonder
rather than with unbelief.

The missionaries began the work of organizing a church at once.
Some members of Rigdon's congregation had already formed a
"common stock society," and were believers in a speedy
millennium, and to these the word brought by the new-comers was
especially welcome. Cowdery baptized seventeen persons into the
new church. Rigdon at the start denied his right to do this, and,
in a debate between him and the missionaries which followed at
Rigdon's house, Rigdon quoted Scripture to prove that, even if
they had seen an angel, as they declared, it might have been
Satan transformed. Cowdery asked if he thought that, in response
to a prayer that God would show him an angel, the Heavenly Father
would suffer Satan to deceive him. Rigdon replied that if Cowdery
made such a request of the Heavenly Father "when He has never
promised you such a thing, if the devil never had an opportunity
of deceiving you before, you give him one now."* But after a
brief study of the new book, Rigdon announced that he, too, had
had a "revelation," declaring to him that Mormonism was to be
believed. He saw in a vision all the orders of professing
Christians pass before him, and all were "as corrupt as
corruption itself," while the heart of the man who brought him
the book was "as pure as an angel."

* "It seemed to be a part of Rigdon's plan to make such a fight
that, when he did surrender, the triumph of the cause that had
defeated him would be all the more complete."--Kennedy, "Early
Days of Mormonism."

The announcement of Rigdon's conversation gave Mormonism an
advertisement and a support that had a wide effect, and it
alarmed the orthodox of that part of the country as they had
never been alarmed before. Referring to it, Hayden says, "The
force of this shock was like an earthquake when Symonds Ryder,
Ezra Booth, and many others submitted to the 'New Dispensation.'"
Largely through his influence, the Mormon church at Kirtland soon
numbered more than one hundred members.

During all that autumn and early winter crowds went to Kirtland
to learn about the new religion. On Sundays the roads would be
thronged with people, some in whatever vehicles they owned, some
on horseback, and some on foot, all pressing forward to hear the
expounders of the new Gospel and to learn the particulars of the
new Bible. Pioneers in a country where there was little to give
variety to their lives, they were easily influenced by any
religious excitement, and the announcement of a new Bible and
prophet was certain to arouse their liveliest interest. They had,
indeed, inherited a tendency to religious enthusiasm, so recently
had their parents gone through the excitements of the early days
of Methodism, or of the great revivals of the new West at the
beginning of the century, when (to quote one of the descriptions
given by Henry Howe) more than twenty thousand persons assembled
in one vast encampment, "hundreds of immortal beings moving to
and fro, some preaching, some praying for mercy, others praising
God. Such was the eagerness of the people to attend, that entire
neighborhoods were forsaken, and the roads literally crowded by
those pressing forward on their way to the groves."* Any new
religious leader could then make his influence felt on the
Western border: Dylkes, the "Leatherwood God," had found it
necessary only to announce himself as the real Messiah at an Ohio
campmeeting, in 1828, to build up a sect on that assumption.
Freewill Baptists, Winebrennerians, Disciples, Shakers, and
Universalists were urging their doctrines and confusing the minds
of even the thoughtful with their conflicting views. We have seen
to what beliefs the preaching of the Disciples' evangelists had
led the people of the Western Reserve, and it did not really
require a much broader exercise of faith (or credulity) to accept
the appearance of a new prophet with a new Bible.

* "Historical Collections of the Great West."

While the main body of converts was made up of persons easily
susceptible to religious excitement, and accustomed to have their
opinions on such subjects formed for them, men of education and
more or less training in theology were found among the early
adherents to the new belief. It is interesting to see how the
minds of such men were influenced, and this we are enabled to do
from personal experiences related by some of them.

One of these, John Corrill, a man of intelligence, who stayed
with the church until it was driven out of Missouri, then became
a member of the Missouri Legislature, and wrote a brief history
of the church to the year 1839, in this pamphlet answered very
clearly the question often asked by his friends, "How did you
come to join the Mormons?" A copy of the new Bible was given to
him by Cowdery when the missionaries, on their Western trip,
passed through Ashtabula County, Ohio, where he lived. A brief
reading convinced him that it was a mere money-making scheme, and
when he learned that they had stopped at Kirtland, he did not
entertain a doubt, that, under Rigdon's criticism, the
pretensions of the missionaries would be at once laid bare. When,
on the contrary, word came that Rigdon and the majority of his
society had accepted the new faith, Corrill asked himself: "What
does this mean? Are Elder Rigdon and these men such fools as to
be duped by these impostors?" After talking the matter over with
a neighbor, he decided to visit Kirtland, hoping to bring Rigdon
home with him, with the idea that he might be saved from the
imposition if he could be taken from the influence of the
impostors. But before he reached Kirtland, Corrill heard of
Rigdon's baptism into the new church. Finding Kirtland in a state
of great religious excitement, he sought discussions with the
leaders of the new movement, but not always successfully.

Corrill started home with a "heart full of serious reflections."
Were not the people of Berea nobler than the people of
Thessalonica because "they searched the Scriptures daily; whether
these things were so?" Might he not be fighting against God in
his disbelief? He spent two or three weeks reading the Mormon
Bible; investigated the bad reports of the new sect that reached
him and found them without foundation; went back to Kirtland, and
there convinced himself that the laying on of hands and "speaking
with tongues" were inspired by some supernatural agency; admitted
to himself that, accepting the words of Peter (Acts ii. 17-20),
it was "just as consistent to look for prophets in this age as in
any other." Smith seemed to have been a bad man, but was not
Moses a fugitive from justice, as the murderer of a man whose
body he had hidden in the sand, when God called him as a prophet?
The story of the long hiding and final delivery of the golden
plates to Smith taxed his credulity; but on rereading the
Scriptures he found that books are referred to therein which they
do not contain--Book of Nathan the Prophet, Book of Gad the Seer,
Book of Shemaiah the Prophet, and Book of Iddo the Seer (1 Chron.
xxix. 29; 2 Chron. ix. 29 and xii. 15). This convinced him that
the Scriptures were not complete. Daniel and John were commanded
to seal the Book. David declared (Psalms xxxv.) "that truth shall
spring out of the earth," and from the earth Smith took the
plates; and Ezekiel (xxxvii. 15-21) foretold the existence of two
records, by means of which there shall be a gathering together of
the children of Israel. It finally seemed to Corrill that the
Mormon Bible corresponded with the record of Joseph referred to
by Ezekiel, the Holy Bible being the record of Judah.

Not fully satisfied, he finally decided, however, to join the new
church, with a mental reservation that he would leave it if he
ever found it to be a deception. Explaining his reasons for
leaving it when he did, he says, "I can see nothing that
convinces me that God has been our leader; calculation after
calculation has failed, and plan after plan has been overthrown,
and our prophet seemed not to know the event till too late."

The two other most prominent converts to the new church in Ohio
were the Rev. Ezra Booth, a Methodist preacher of more than
ordinary culture, of Mantua, and Symonds Ryder, a native of
Vermont, whom Alexander Campbell had converted to the Disciples'
belief in 1828, and who occupied the pulpit at Hiram when called
on. Booth visited Smith in 1831, with some members of his own
congregation, and was so impressed by the miraculous curing of
the lame arm of a woman of his party by Smith, that he soon gave
in his allegiance. Ryder had always found one thing lacking in
the Disciples' theology--he looked for some actual "gift of the
Holy Spirit" in the way of "signs" that were to follow them that
believed. He was eventually induced to announce his conversion to
the new church after "he read in a newspaper, an account of the
destruction of Pekin in China, and remembered that, six weeks
before, a young Mormon girl had predicted the destruction of that
city. "This statement was made in the sermon preached at his
funeral. Both of these men confessed their mistake four months
later, after Booth had returned from a trip to Missouri with

Among the ignorant, even the most extravagant of the claims of
the Mormon leaders had influence. One man, when he heard an elder
in the midst of a sermon "speak with tongues," in a language he
had never heard before, "felt a sudden thrill from the back of
his head down his backbone," and was converted on the spot. John
D. Lee, of Catholic education, was convinced by an elder that the
end of the world was near, and sold his property in Illinois for
what it would bring, and moved to Far West, in order to be in the
right place when the last day dawned. Lorenzo Snow, the recent
President of the church, says that he was "thoroughly convinced
that obedience to those [the Mormon] prophets would impart
miraculous powers, manifestations, and revelations," the first
manifestation of which occurred some weeks later, when he heard a
sound over his head "like the rustling of silken robes, and the
spirit of God descended upon me."*

* Biography of Snow, by his sister Eliza.

The arguments that control men's religious opinions are too
varied even for classification. In a case like Mormonism they
range from the really conscientious study of a Corrill to the
whim of the Paumotuan, of whom Stevenson heard in the South Seas,
who turned Mormon when his wife died, after being a pillar of the
Catholic church for fifteen years, on the ground that "that must
be a poor religion that could not save a man his wife." Any
person who will examine those early defences of the Mormon faith,
Parley P. Pratt's "A Voice of Warning," and Orson Pratt's "Divine
Authenticity of the Book of Mormon," will find what use can be
made of an insistence on the literal acceptance of the Scriptures
in defending such a sect as theirs, especially with persons whose
knowledge of the Scriptures is much less than their reverence for

Professor J. B. Turner,* writing in 1842, when the early
teachings of Mormonism had just had their effect in what is now
styled the middle West, observed that these teachings had made
more infidels than Mormon converts. This is accounted for by the
fact that persons who attempted to follow the Mormon argument by
studying the Scriptures, found their previous interpretation of
parts of the Holy Bible overturned, and the whole book placed
under a cloud. W. J. Stillman mentions a similar effect in the
case of Ruskin. When they were in Switzerland, Ruskin would do no
painting on Sunday, while Stillman regarded the sanctity of the
first day of the week as a "theological fiction." In a discussion
of the subject between them, Stillman established to Ruskin's
satisfaction that there was no Scriptural authority for
transferring the day of rest from the seventh to the first day of
the week." The creed had so bound him to the letter, "says
Stillman, "that the least enlargement of the stricture broke it,
and he rejected, not only the tradition of the Sunday Sabbath,
but the whole of the ecclesiastical interpretation of the texts.
He said, 'If they have deceived me in this, they have probably
deceived me in all.'" The Mormons soon learned that it was more
profitable for them to seek converts among those who would accept
without reasoning.

* "Mormonism in all Ages."


The scenes at Kirtland during the first winter of the church
there reached the limit of religious enthusiasm. The younger
members outdid the elder in manifesting their belief. They saw
wonderful lights in the air, and constantly received visions.
Mounting stumps in the field, they preached to imaginary
congregations, and, picking up stones, they would read on them
words which they said disappeared as soon as known. At the
evening prayer-meetings the laying on of hands would be followed
by a sort of fit, in which the enthusiasts would fall apparently
lifeless on the floor, or contort their faces, creep on their
hands or knees, imitate the Indian process of killing and
scalping, and chase balls of fire through the fields.*

*Corrill's "Brief History of the Church," p. 16; Howe's
"Mormonism Unveiled," p. 104.

Some of the young men announced that they had received
"commissions" to teach and preach, written on parchment, which
came to them from the sky, and which they reached by jumping into
the air. Howe reproduces one of these, the conclusion of which,
with the seal, follows:--

"That you had a messenger tell you to go and get the other night,
you must not show to any son of Adam. Obey this, and I will stand
by you in all cases. My servants, obey my commandments in all
cases, and I will provide.

"Be ye always ready, Be ye always ready, Whenever I shall call,
Be ye always ready, My seal.

"There shall be something of great importance revealed when I
shall call you to go: My servants, be faithful over a few things,
and I will make you a ruler over many. Amen, Amen, Amen."

Foolishly extravagant as these manifestations appear (Corrill
says that comparatively few members indulged in them), there was
nothing in them peculiar to the Mormon belief. The meetings of
the Disciples, in the year of Smith's arrival in Ohio and later,
when men like Campbell and Scott spoke, were swayed with the most
intense religious enthusiasm. A description of the effect of
Campbell's preaching at a grove meeting in the Cuyahoga Valley in
1831 says:--

"The woods were full of horses and carriages, and the hundreds
already there were rapidly swelled to many thousands; all were of
one race-the Yankee; all of one calling, or nearly, the
farmer.... When Campbell closed, low murmurs broke and ran
through the awed crowd; men and women from all parts of the vast
assembly with streaming eyes came forward; young men who had
climbed into small trees from curiosity, came down from
conviction, and went forward for baptism."*

* Riddle's "The Portrait."

It is easy to cite very "orthodox" precedents for such
manifestations. One of these we find in the accounts of what were
called "the jerks," which accompanied a great revival in 1803,
brought about by the preaching of the Rev. Joseph Badger, a Yale
graduate and a Congregationalist, who was the first missionary to
the Western Reserve. J. S. C. Abbott, in his history of Ohio,
describing the "jerks," says:--

"The subject was instantaneously seized with spasms in every
muscle, nerve and tendon. His head was thrown backward and
forward, and from side to side, with inconceivable rapidity. So
swift was the motion that the features could no more be discerned
than the spokes of a wheel can be seen when revolving with the
greatest velocity.... All were impressed with a conviction that
there was something supernatural in these convulsions, and that
it was opposing the spirit of God to resist them."

The most extravagant enthusiasm of the Kirtland converts, and the
most extravagant claims of the Mormon leaders at that time, were
exceeded by the manifestations of converts in the early days of
Methodism, and the miraculous occurrences testified to by Wesley
himself,*--a cloud tempering the sun in answer to his prayer; his
horse cured of lameness by faith; the case of a blind Catholic
girl who saw plainly when her eyes rested on the New Testament,
but became blind again when she took up the Mass Book.

* For examples see Lecky's "England in the Nineteenth Century,
Vol. III, Chap. VIII, and Wesley's "Journal."

These Mormon enthusiasts were only suffering from a manifestation
to which man is subject; and we can agree with a Mormon elder
who, although he left the church disgusted with its
extravagances, afterward remarked, "The man of religious feeling
will know how to pity rather than upbraid that zeal without
knowledge which leads a man to fancy that he has found the ladder
of Jacob, and that he sees the angel of the Lord ascending and
descending before his eyes."

When Smith and Rigdon reached Kirtland they found the new church
in a state of chaos because of these wild excitements, and of an
attempt to establish a community of possessions, growing out of
Rigdon's previous teachings. These communists held that what
belonged to one belonged to all, and that they could even use any
one's clothes or other personal property without asking
permission. Many of the flock resented this, and anything but a
condition of brotherly love resulted. Smith, in his account of
the situation as they found it, says that the members were
striving to do the will of God, "though some had strange notions,
and false spirits had crept in among them. With a little caution
and some wisdom, I soon assisted the brothers and sisters to
overcome them. The plan of 'common stock,' which had existed in
what was called 'the family,' whose members generally had
embraced the Everlasting Gospel, was readily abandoned for the
more perfect law of the Lord,"*--which the prophet at once

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, Supt., p. 56.

Smith announced that the Lord had informed him that the ravings
of the converts were of the devil, and this had a deterring
effect; but at an important meeting of elders to receive an
endowment, some three months later, conducted by Smith himself,
the spirits got hold of some of the elders. "It threw one from
his seat to the floor," says Corrill. "It bound another so that
for some time he could not use his limbs or speak; and some other
curious effects were experienced. But by a mighty exertion, in
the name of the Lord, it was exposed and shown to be of an evil


In order not to interrupt the story of the Mormons' experiences
in Ohio, leaving the first steps taken in Missouri to be treated
in connection with the regular course of events in that state, it
will be sufficient to say here that Cowdery, Pratt, and their two
companions continued their journey as far as the western border
of Missouri, in the winter of 1830 and 1831, making their
headquarters at Independence, Jackson County; that, on receipt of
their reports about that country, Smith and Rigdon, with others,
made a trip there in June, 1831, during which the corner-stones
of the City of Zion and the Temple were laid, and officers were
appointed to receive money for the purchase of the land for the
Saints, its division; etc. Smith and Rigdon returned to Kirtland
on August 27, 1831.

The growth of the church in Ohio was rapid. In two or three weeks
after the arrival of the four pioneer missionaries, 127 persons
had been baptized, and by the spring of 1831 the number of
converts had increased to 1000. Almost all the male converts were
honored with the title of elder. By a "revelation" dated February
9, 1831 (Sec. 42), all of these elders, except Smith and Rigdon,
were directed to "go forth in the power of my spirit, preaching
my Gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with
the voice of a trump. "This was the beginning of that extensive
system of proselyting which was soon extended to Europe, which
was so instrumental in augmenting the membership of the church in
its earlier days, and which is still carried on with the utmost
zeal and persistence. The early missionaries travelled north into
Canada and through almost all the states, causing alarm even in
New England by the success of their work. One man there, in 1832,
reprinted at his own expense Alexander Campbell's pamphlet
exposing the ridiculous features of the Mormon Bible, for
distribution as an offset to the arguments of the elders. Women
of means were among those who moved to Kirtland from
Massachusetts. In three years after Smith and Rigdon met in
Palmyra, Mormon congregations had been established in nearly all
the Northern and Middle states and in some of the Southern, with
baptisms of from 30 to 130 in a place.*

Smith had relaxed none of his determination to be the one head of
the church. As soon as he arrived in Kirtland he put forth a long
"revelation" (Sec. 43) which left Rigdon no doubt of the
prophet's intentions. It declared to the elders that "there is
none other [but Smith appointed unto you to receive commandments
and revelations until he be taken," and that "none else shall be
appointed unto his gift except it be through him. "Not only was
Smith's spiritual power thus intrenched, but his temporal welfare
was looked after. "And again I say unto you," continues this
mouthpiece of the Lord, "if ye desire the mysteries of the
Kingdom, provide for him food and raiment and whatsoever he
needeth to accomplish the work wherewith I have commanded him."
In the same month came another declaration, saying (Sec. 41 " is
meet that my servant Joseph Smith, Jr., should have a house
built, in which to live and translate" (the Scriptures). With a
streak of generosity it was added, "It is meet that my servant
Sidney Rigdon should live as seemeth him good."

*Turner's "Mormonism in all Ages," p. 38.

The iron hand with which Smith repressed Rigdon from the date of
their arrival in Ohio affords strong proof of Rigdon's complicity
in the Bible plot, and of Smith's realization of the fact that he
stood to his accomplice in the relation of a burglar to his mate,
where the burglar has both the boodle and the secret in his
possession. An illustration of this occurred during their first
trip to Missouri. Rigdon and Smith did not agree about the
desirability of western Missouri as a permanent abiding-place for
the church. The Rev. Ezra Booth, after leaving the Mormons,
contributed a series of letters on his experience with Smith to
the Ohio Star of Ravenna.* In the first of these he said: "On our
arrival in the western part of the state of Missouri we
discovered that prophecy and visions had failed, or rather had
proved false. This fact was so notorious that Mr. Rigdon himself
says that 'Joseph's vision was a bad thing.'" Smith nevertheless
directed Rigdon to write a description of that promised land,
and, when the production did not suit him, he represented the
Lord as censuring Rigdon in a "revelation" (Sec. 63):--

* Copied in Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled."

"And now behold, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, am not
pleased with my servant Sidney Rigdon; he exalteth himself in his
heart, and receiveth not counsel, but grieveth the spirit.
Wherefore his writing is not acceptable unto the Lord; and he
shall make another, and if the Lord receiveth it not, behold he
standeth no longer in the office which I have appointed him."

That the proud-minded, educated preacher, who refused to allow
Campbell to claim the foundership of the Disciples' church,
should take such a rebuke and threat of dismissal in silence from
Joe Smith of Palmyra, and continue under his leadership,
certainly indicates some wonderful hold that the prophet had upon

While the travelling elders were doing successful work in adding
new converts to the fold, there was beginning to manifest itself
at Kirtland that "apostasy" which lost the church so many members
of influence, and was continued in Missouri so far that Mayor
Grant said, in Salt Lake City, in 1856, that "one-half at least
of the Yankee members of this church have apostatized."* The
secession of men like Booth and Ryder, and their public exposure
of Smith's methods, coupled with rumors of immoral practices in
the fold, were followed by the tarring and feathering of Smith
and Rigdon on the night of Saturday, March 25, 1832. The story of
this outrage is told in Smith's autobiography, and the details
there given may be in the main accepted.

* Journal of Discourses, Vol. III, p. 201.

Smith and his wife were living at the house of a farmer named
Johnson in Hiram township, while he and Rigdon were translating
the Scriptures. Mrs. Smith had taken two infant twins to bring
up, and on the night in question she and her husband were taking
turns sitting up with these babies, who were just recovering from
the measles. While Smith was sleeping, his wife heard a tapping
on the window, but gave it no attention. The mob, believing that
all within were asleep, then burst in the door, seized Smith as
he lay partly dressed on a trundle bed, and rushed him out of
doors, his wife crying "murder." Smith struggled as best he
could, but they carried him around the house, choking him until
he became unconscious. Some thirty yards from the house he saw
Rigdon, "stretched out on the ground, whither they had dragged
him by the heels." When they had carried Smith some thirty yards
farther, some of the mob meantime asking, "Ain't ye going to kill
him?" a council was held and some one asked, "Simmons, where's
the tarbucket?" When the bucket was brought up they tried to
force the "tarpaddle" into Smith's mouth, and also, he says, to
force a phial between his teeth. He adds:

"All my clothes were torn off me except my shirt collar, and one
man fell on me and scratched my body with his nails like a mad
cat. They then left me, and I attempted to rise, but fell again.
I pulled the tar away from my lips, etc., so that I could breathe
more freely, and after a while I began to recover, and raised
myself up, when I saw two lights. I made my way toward one of
them, and found it was father Johnson's. When I had come to the
door I was naked, and the tar made me look as though I had been
covered with blood; and when my wife saw me she thought I was all
smashed to pieces, and fainted. During the affray abroad, the
sisters of the neighborhood collected at my room. I called for a
blanket; they threw me one and shut the door; I wrapped it around
me and went in.... My friends spent the night in scraping and
removing the tar and washing and cleansing my body, so that by
morning I was ready to be clothed again.... With my flesh all
scarified and defaced, I preached [that morning] to the
congregation as usual, and in the afternoon of the same day
baptized three individuals."

Rigdon's treatment is described as still more severe. He was not
only dragged over the ground by the heels, but was well covered
with tar and feathers; and when Smith called on him the next day
he found him delirious, and calling for a razor with which to
kill his wife.

All Mormon accounts of this, as well as later persecutions,
attempt to make the ground of attack hostility to the Mormon
religious beliefs, presenting them entirely in the light of
outrages on liberty of opinion. Symonds Ryder (whom Smith accuses
of being one of the mob), says that the attack had this origin:
The people of Hiram had the reputation of being very receptive
and liberal in their religious views. The Mormons therefore
preached to them, and seemed in a fair way to win a decided
success, when the leaders made their first trip to Missouri.
Papers which they left behind outlining the internal system of
the new church fell into the hands of some of the converts, and
revealed to them the horrid fact that a plot was laid to take
their property from them and place it under the control of Smith,
the Prophet.... Some who had been the dupes of this deception
determined not to let it pass with impunity; and, accordingly, a
company was formed of citizens from Shalersville, Garretsville,
and Hiram, and took Smith and Rigdon from their beds and tarred
and feathered them."*

* Hayden's "Early History of the Disciples' Church in the Western
Reserve," p. 221.

This manifestation of hostility to the leaders of the new church
was only a more pronounced form of that which showed itself
against Smith before he left New York State. When a man of his
character and previous history assumes the right to baptize and
administer the sacrament, he is certain to arouse the animosity,
not only of orthodox church members, but of members of the
community who are lax in their church duties. Goldsmith
illustrates this kind of feeling when, in "She Stoops to
Conquer," he makes one of the "several shabby fellows with punch
and tobacco" in the alehouse say, "I loves to hear him, the
squire sing, bekeays he never gives us nothing that's low," and
another responds, "O, damn anything that's low." The AntiMormon
feeling was intensified and broadened by the aggressiveness with
which the Mormons sought for converts in the orthodox flocks.

Beliefs radically different from those accepted by any of the
orthodox denominations have escaped hostile opposition in this
country, even when they have outraged generally accepted social
customs. The Harmonists, in a body of 600, emigrated to
Pennsylvania to escape the persecution to which they were
subjected in Germany, purchased 5000 acres of land and organized
a town; moved later to Indiana, where they purchased 25,000
acres; and ten years afterward returned to Pennsylvania, and
bought 5000 acres in another place,--all the time holding to
their belief in a community of goods and a speedy coming of
Christ, as well as the duty of practicing celibacy,--without
exciting their neighbors or arousing their enmity. The
Wallingford Community in Connecticut, and the Oneida Community in
New York State, practised free love among themselves without
persecution, until their organizations died from natural causes.
The leaders in these and other independent sects were clean men
within their own rules, honest in their dealings with their
neighbors, never seeking political power, and never pressing
their opinions upon outsiders. An old resident of Wallingford
writes to me, "The Community were, in a way, very generally
respected for their high standard of integrity in all their
business transactions."

As we follow the career of the Mormons from Ohio to Missouri, and
thence to Illinois, we shall read their own testimony about the
character of their leading men, and about their view of the
rights of others in each of their neighborhoods. When Horace
Greeley asked Brigham Young in Salt Lake City for an explanation
of the "persecutions" of the Mormons, his reply was that there
was "no other explanation than is afforded by the crucifixion of
Christ and the kindred treatment of God's ministers, prophets,
and saints in all ages"; which led Greeley to observe that, while
a new sect is always decried and traduced,--naming the Baptists,
Quakers, Methodists, and Universalists,--he could not remember
"that either of them was ever generally represented and regarded
by the other sects of their early days as thieves, robbers, and

* "Overland Journey," p. 214.

Another attempt by Rigdon to assert his independence of Smith
occurred while the latter was still at Mr. Johnson's house and
Rigdon was in Kirtland. The fullest account of this is found in
Mother Smith's "History," pp. 204-206. She says that Rigdon came
in late to a prayer-meeting, much agitated, and, instead of
taking the platform, paced backward and forward on the floor.
Joseph's father told him they would like to hear a discourse from
him, but he replied, "The keys of the Kingdom are rent from the
church, and there shall not be a prayer put up in this house this
day." This caused considerable excitement, and Smith's brother
Hyrum left the house, saying, "I'll put a stop to this fuss
pretty quick," and, mounting a horse, set out for Johnson's and
brought the prophet back with him. On his arrival, a meeting of
the brethren was held, and Joseph declared to them, "I myself
hold the keys of this Last Dispensation, and will forever hold
them, both in time and eternity, so set your hearts at rest upon
that point. All is right." The next day Rigdon was tried before a
council for having "lied in the name of the Lord," and was
"delivered over to the buffetings of Satan," and deprived of his
license, Smith telling him that "the less priesthood he had, the
better it would be for him." Rigdon, Mrs. Smith says, according
to his own account, "was dragged out of bed by the devil three
times in one night by the heels," and, while she does not accept
this literally, she declares that "his contrition was as great as
a man could well live through." After awhile he got another


In January, 1833, Smith announced a revival of the "gift of
tongues," and instituted the ceremony of washing the feet.* Under
the new system, Smith or Rigdon, during a meeting, would call on
some brother, or sister, saying, "Father A., if you will rise in
the name of Jesus Christ you can speak in tongues." The rule
which persons thus called on were to follow was thus explained,
"Arise upon your feet, speak or make some sound, continue to make
sounds of some kind, and the Lord will make a language of it." It
was not necessary that the words should be understood by the
congregation; some other Mormon would undertake their
interpretation. Much ridicule was incurred by the church because
of this kind of revelation. Gunnison relates that when a woman
"speaking in tongues" pronounced "meliar, meli, melee," it was at
once translated by a young wag, "my leg, my thigh, my knee," and,
when he was called before the Council charged with irreverence,
he persisted in his translation, but got off with an
admonition.** At a meeting in Nauvoo in later years a doubting
convert delivered an address in real Choctaw, whereupon a woman
jumped up and offered as a translation an account of the glories
of the new Temple.

* This ceremony has fallen into disuse in Utah.

** "The Mormons." p. 74.

At the conference of June 4, 1831, Smith ordained Elder Wright to
the high priesthood for service among the Indians, with the gift
of tongues, healing the sick, etc. Wright at once declared that
he saw the Saviour. At one of the sessions at Kirtland at this
time, as described by an eye-witness, Smith announced that the
day would come when no man would be permitted to preach unless he
had seen the Lord face to face. Then, addressing Rigdon, he
asked, "Sidney, have you seen the Lord?" The obedient Sidney made
reply, "I saw the image of a man pass before my face, whose locks
were white, and whose countenance was exceedingly fair, even
surpassing all beauty that I ever beheld." Smith at once rebuked
him by telling him that he would have seen more but for his

Almost simultaneously with Smith's first announcement of his
prophetic powers, while working his "peek-stone" in Pennsylvania
and New York, he, as we have seen, claimed ability to perform
miracles, and he announced that he had cast out a devil at
Colesville in 1830.* The performance of miracles became an
essential part of the church work at Kirtland, and had a great
effect on the superstitious converts. The elders, who in the
early days labored in England, laid great stress on their
miraculous power, and there were some amusing exposures of their
pretences. The Millennial Star printed a long list of successful
miracles dating from 1839 to 1850, including the deaf made to
hear, the blind to see, dislocated bones put in place, leprosy
and cholera cured, and fevers rebuked. Smith, Rigdon, and Cowdery
took a leading part in this work at Kirtland.** To a man nearly
dead with consumption Rigdon gave assurance that he would recover
"as sure as there is a God in heaven." The man's death soon
followed. When a child, whose parents had been persuaded to trust
its case to Mormon prayers instead of calling a physician,***
died, Smith and Rigdon promised that it would rise from the dead,
and they went through certain ceremonies to accomplish that

* For particulars of this miracle, see Millennial Star, Vol. XIV,
pp. 28, 32.

** While Smith was in Washington in 1840, pressing on the federal
authorities the claims of the Mormons for redress for their
losses in Missouri, he preached on the church doctrines. A member
of Congress who heard him sent a synopsis of the discourse to his
wife, and Smith printed this entire in his autobiography
(Millennial Star, Vol. XVII, p. 583). Here is one passage: "He
[Smith] performed no miracles. He did not pretend to possess any
such power." This is an illustration of the facility with which
Smith could lie, when to do so would serve his purpose.

*** The Saints were early believers in faith cure. Smith, in a
sermon preached in 1841, urged them "to trust in God when sick,
and live by faith and not by medicine or poison" (Millennial
Star, Vol. XVIII, p. 663). A coroner's jury, in an inquest over a
victim of this faith in London, England, cautioned the sect
against continuing this method of curing (Times and Seasons,
1842, p. 813).

**** For further illustrations of miracle working, in Ohio, see
Kennedy's "Early Days of Mormonism," Chap. V.

The lengths to which Smith dared go in his pretensions are well
illustrated in an incident of these days. Among the curiosities
of a travelling showman who passed through Kirtland were some
Egyptian mummies. As the golden plates from which the Mormon
Bible was translated were written in "reformed Egyptian," the
translator of those plates was interested in all things coming
from Egypt, and at his suggestion the mummies were purchased by
and for the church. On them were found some papyri which Joseph,
with the assistance of Phelps and Cowdery, set about
"translating." Their success was great, and Smith was able to
announce: "We found that one of these rolls contained the
writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph.* Truly we
could see that the Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of
truth." That there might be no question about the accuracy of
Smith's translation, he exhibited a certificate signed by the
proprietor of the show, saying that he had exhibited the
"hieroglyphic characters" to the most learned men in many cities,
"and from all the information that I could ever learn or meet
with, I find that of Joseph Smith, Jr., to correspond in the most
minute matters." * When the papyri were shown to Josiah Quincy
and Charles Francis Adams, on the occasion of their visit to
Nauvoo in 1844, Joseph Smith, pointing out the inscriptions,
said: "That is the handwriting of Abraham, the Father of the
Faithful. This is the autograph of Moses, and these lines were
written by his brother Aaron. Here we have the earliest account
of the creation, from which Moses composed the first Book of
Genesis."--"Figures of the Past," p. 386.

Smith's autobiography contains this memorandum: "October 1, 1835.
This afternoon I labored on the Egyptian alphabet in company with
Brother O. Cowdery and W. W. Phelps, and during the research the
principals of astronomy, as understood by Father Abraham and the
Ancients, unfolded to our understanding. "When he was in the
height of his power in Nauvoo, Smith printed in the Times and
Seasons a reproduction of these hieroglyphics accompanied by this
alleged translation, of what he called "the Book of Abraham," and
they were also printed in the Millennial Star.* The translation
was a meaningless jumble of words after this fashion:--

* See Vol. XIX, p. 100, etc., from which the accompanying
facsimile is taken.

"In the land of the Chaldeans, at the residence of my father, I,
Abraham, saw that it was needful for me to obtain another place
of residence, and finding there was greater happiness and peace
and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the Fathers, and
the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same,
having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring to be
one also who possessed great knowledge, and to possess greater
knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness."

Remy submitted a reproduction of these hieroglyphics to Theodule
Deveria, of the Museum of the Louvre, in Paris, who found, of
course, that Smith's purported translation was wholly fraudulent.
For instance, his Abraham fastened on an altar was a
representation of Osiris coming to life on his funeral couch, his
officiating priest was the god Anubis, and what Smith represents
to indicate an angel of the Lord is "the soul of Osiris, under
the form of a hawk."* Smith's whole career offered no more brazen
illustration of his impostures than this.

* See "A Journey to Great Salt Lake City", by Jules Remy (1861),
Note XVII.

A visitor to the Kirtland Temple some years later paid Joseph's
father half a dollar in order to see the Egyptian curios, which
were kept in the attic of that structure.

A well-authenticated anecdote, giving another illustration of
Smith's professed knowledge of the Egyptian language is told by
the Rev. Henry Caswall, M.A., who, after holding the
Professorship of Divinity in Kemper College, in Missouri, became
vicar of a church in England. Mr. Caswall, on the occasion of a
visit to Nauvoo in 1842, having heard of Smith's Egyptian lore,
took with him an ancient Greek manuscript of the Psalter, on
parchment, with which to test the prophet's scholarship. The
belief of Smith's followers in his powers was shown by their
eagerness to have him see this manuscript, and their persistence
in urging Mr. Caswall to wait a day for Smith's return from
Carthage that he might submit it to the prophet. Mr. Caswall the
next day handed the manuscript to Smith and asked him to explain
its contents. After a brief examination, Smith explained: "It
ain't Greek at all, except perhaps a few words. What ain't Greek
is Egyptian, and what ain't Egyptian is Greek. This book is very
valuable. It is a dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics. These
figures (pointing to the capitals] is Egyptian hieroglyphics
written in the reformed Egyptian. These characters are like the
letters that were engraved on the golden plates."*

* "The City of the Mormons," p. 36 (1842).


When Rigdon returned to Ohio with Smith in January, 1831, it
seems to have been his intention to make Kirtland the permanent
headquarters of the new church. He had written to his people from
Palmyra, "Be it known to you, brethren, that you are dwelling on
your eternal inheritance." When Cowdery and his associates
arrived in Ohio on their first trip, they announced as the
boundaries of the Promised Land the township of Kirtland on the
east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. Within two months of his
arrival at Kirtland Smith gave out a "revelation" (Sec. 45), in
which the Lord commanded the elders to go forth into the western
countries and buildup churches, and they were told of a City of
Refuge for the church, to be called the New Jerusalem. No
definite location of this city was given, and the faithful were
warned to "keep these things from going abroad unto the world."
Another "revelation" of the same month (Sec. 48) announced that
it was necessary for all to remain for the present in their
places of abode, and directed those who had lands "to impart to
the eastern brethren," and the others to buy lands, and all to
save money" to purchase lands for an inheritance, even the city."

The reports of those who first went to Missouri induced Smith and
Rigdon, before they made their first trip to that state, to
announce that the Saints would pass one more winter in Ohio. But
when they had visited the Missouri frontier and realized its
distance from even the Ohio border line, and the actual
privations to which settlers there must submit, their zeal
weakened, and they declared, "It will be many years before we
come here, for the Lord has a great work for us to do in Ohio."
The building of the Temple at Kirtland, and the investments in
lots and in business enterprises there showed that a permanent
settlement in Ohio was then decided on.

Smith's first business enterprise for the church in Ohio was a
general store which he opened in Hiram. This establishment has
been described as "a poorly furnished country store where
commerce looks starvation in the face."* The difficulty of
combining the positions of prophet, head of the church, and
retail merchant was naturally great. The result of the
combination has been graphically pictured by no less an authority
than Brigham Young. In a discourse in Salt Lake City, explaining
why the church did not maintain a store there, Young said:--

* Salt Lake Herald, November 17, 1877.

"You that have lived in Nauvoo, in Missouri, in Kirtland, Ohio,
can you assign a reason why Joseph could not keep a store and be
a merchant? Let me just give you a few reasons; and there are men
here who know just how matters went in those days. Joseph goes to
New York and buys $20,000 worth of goods, comes into Kirtland and
commences to trade. In comes one of the brethren. Brother Joseph,
let me have a frock pattern for my wife: What if Joseph says,
'No, I cannot without money.' The consequence would be, 'He is no
Prophet,' says James. Pretty soon Thomas walks in. 'Brother
Joseph, will you trust me for a pair of boots?' 'No, I cannot let
them go without money.' 'Well,' says Thomas, 'Brother Joseph is
no Prophet; I have found THAT out and I am glad of it.' After a
while in comes Bill and Sister Susan. Says Bill, 'Brother Joseph,
I want a shawl. I have not got any money, but I wish you to trust
me a week or a fortnight.' Well, Brother Joseph thinks the others
have gone and apostatized, and he don't know but these goods will
make the whole church do the same, so he lets Bill have a shawl.
Bill walks of with it and meets a brother. 'Well,' says he, 'what
do you think of Brother Joseph?' 'O, he is a first rate man, and
I fully believe he is a Prophet. He has trusted me with this
shawl.' Richard says, 'I think I will go down and see if he won't
trust me some.' In walks Richard. Brother Joseph, I want to trade
about $20.' 'Well,'says Joseph, 'these goods will make the people
apostatize, so over they go; they are of less value than the
people.' Richard gets his goods. Another comes in the same way to
make a trade of $25, and so it goes. Joseph was a first rate
fellow with them all the time, provided he never would ask them
to pay him. And so you may trace it down through the history of
this people."*

* Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, p. 215.

If this analysis of the flock which Smith gathered in Ohio, and
which formed the nucleus of the settlements in Missouri, was not
permanently recorded in an official church record, its
authenticity would be vigorously assailed.

Later enterprises at Kirtland, undertaken under the auspices of
the church, included a steam sawmill and a tannery, both of which
were losing concerns. But the speculation to which later Mormon
authorities attributed the principal financial disasters of the
church at Kirtland was the purchase of land and its sale as town
lots.* The craze for land speculation in those days was not
confined, however, to the Mormons. That was the period when the
purchase of public lands of the United States seemed likely to
reach no limit. These sales, which amounted to $2,300,000 in
1830, and to $4,800,000 in 1834, lumped to $14,757,600 in 1835,
and to $24,877,179 in 1836. The government deposits (then made in
the state banks) increased from $10,000,000 on January 1, 1835,
to $41,500,000 on June 1, 1836, the increase coming from receipts
from land sales. This led to that bank expansion which was
measured by the growth of bank capital in this country from
$61,000,000 to $200,000,000 between 1830 and 1834, with a further
advance to $251,000,000.

* "Real estate rose from 100 to 800 per cent and in many cases
more. Men who were not thought worth $50 or $100 became
purchasers of thousands. Notes (sometimes cash), deeds and
mortgages passed and repassed, till all, or nearly all, supposed
they had become wealthy, or at least had acquired a
competence."--Messenger and Advocate, June, 1837.

The Mormon leaders and their people were peculiarly liable to be
led into disaster when sharing in this speculators' fever. They
were, however, quick to take advantage of the spirit of the
times. The Zion of Missouri lost its attractiveness to them, and
on February 23, 1833, the Presidency decided to purchase land at
Kirtland, and to establish there on a permanent Stake of Zion.
The land purchases of the church began at once, and we find a
record of one Council meeting, on March 23, 1833, at which it was
decided to buy three farms costing respectively $4000, $2100, and
$5000. Kirtland was laid out (on paper) with 32 streets, cutting
one another at right angles, each four rods wide. This provided
for 225 blocks of 20 lots each. Twenty-nine of the streets were
named after Mormons. Joseph and his family appear many times in
the list of conveyors of these lots. The original map of the
city, as described in Smith's autobiography, provided for 24
public buildings temples, schools, etc.; no lot to contain more
than one house, and that not to be nearer than 25 feet from the
street, with a prohibition against erecting a stable on a house

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, pp. 438-439.

Of course this Mormon capital must have a grand church edifice,
to meet Smith's views, and he called a council to decide about
the character of the new meeting-house. A few of the speakers
favored a modest frame building, but a majority thought a log one
better suited to their means. Joseph rebuked the latter, asking,
"Shall we, brethren, build a house for our God of logs?" and he
straightway led them to the corner of a wheat field, where the
trench for the foundation was at once begun.* No greater
exhibition of business folly could have been given than the
undertaking of the costly building then planned on so slender a
financial foundation.

* Mother Smith's "Biographical Sketches" p. 213.

The corner-stone was laid on July 23, 1833, and the Temple was
not dedicated until March 27, 1836. Mormon devotion certainly
showed itself while this work was going on. Every male member was
expected to give oneseventh of his time to the building without
pay, and those who worked on it at day's wages had, in most
instances, no other income, and often lived on nothing but corn
meal. The women, as their share, knit and wove garments for the

The Temple, which is of stone covered with a cement stucco (it is
still in use), measures 60 by 80 feet on the ground, is 123 feet
in height to the top of the spire, and contains two stories and
an attic.

The cost of this Temple was $40,000, and, notwithstanding the
sacrifices made by the Saints in assisting its construction, and
the schemes of the church officers to secure funds, a debt of
from $15,000 to $20,000 remained upon it. That the church was
financially embarrassed at the very beginning of the work is
shown by a letter addressed to the brethren in Zion, Missouri, by
Smith, Rigdon, and Williams, dated June 25, 1833, in which they
said, "Say to Brother Gilbert that we have no power to assist him
in a pecuniary point, as we know not the hour when we shall be
sued for debts which we have contracted ourselves in New York."*

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, p. 450.

To understand the business crash and scandals which compelled
Smith and his associates to flee from Ohio, it is necessary to
explain the business system adopted by the church under them.
This system began with a rule about the consecration of property.
As originally published in the Evening and Morning Star, and in
chapter xliv of the "Book of Commandments," this rule declared,
"Thou shalt consecrate all thy properties, that which thou hast,
unto me, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken," with
a provision that the Bishop, after he had received such an
irrevocable deed, should appoint every man a steward over so much
of his property as would be sufficient for himself and family. In
the later edition of the "Doctrine and Covenants" this was
changed to read, "And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and
consecrate thy properties for their support," etc.

By a "revelation" given out while the heads of the church were in
Jackson County, Missouri, in April, 1832 (Sec. 82), a sort of
firm was appointed, including Smith, Rigdon, Cowdery, Harris, and
N. K. Whitney, "to manage the affairs of the poor, and all things
pertaining to the bishopric," both in Ohio and Missouri. This
firm thus assumed control of the property which "revelation" had
placed in the hands of the Bishop. This arrangement was known as
The Order of Enoch. Next came a "revelation" dated April 23,
1834. (Sec. 104), by which the properties of the Order were
divided, Rigdon getting the place in which he was living in
Kirtland, and the tannery; Harris a lot, with a command to
"devote his monies for the proclaiming of my words"; Cowdery and
Williams, the printing-office, with some extra lots to Cowdery;
and Smith, the lot designed for the Temple, and "the inheritance
on which his father resides." The building of the Temple having
brought the Mormon leaders into debt, this "revelation," was
designed to help them out, and it contained these further
directions, in the voice of the Lord, be it remembered: "The
covenants being broken through transgression, by covetousness and
feigned words, therefore you are dissolved as a United Order with
your brethren, that you are not bound only up to this hour unto
them, only on this wise, as I said, by loan as shall be agreed by
this Order in council, as your circumstances will admit, and the
voice of the council direct.....

"And again verily I say unto you, concerning your debts, behold
it is my will that you should pay all your debts; and it is my
will that you should humble yourselves before me, and obtain this
blessing by your diligence and humility and the prayer of faith;
and inasmuch as you are diligent and humble, and exercise the
prayer of faith, behold, I will soften the hearts of those to
whom you are in debt, until I shall send means unto you for your
deliverance.... I give you a promise that you shall be delivered
this once out of your bondage; inasmuch as you obtained a chance
to loan money by hundreds, or thousands even until you shall loan
enough [meaning borrow] to deliver yourselves from bondage, it is
your privilege; and pledge the properties which I have put into
your hands this once.... The master will not suffer his house to
be broken up. Even so. Amen."

It does not appear that the Mormon leaders took advantage of this
authorization to borrow money on Kirtland real estate, if they
could; but in 1835 they set up several mercantile establishments,
finding firms in Cleveland, Buffalo, and farther east who would
take their notes on six months' time." A great part of the goods
of these houses, "says William Harris, "went to pay the workmen
on the Temple, and many were sold on credit, so that when the
notes became due the houses were not able to meet them."

Smith's autobiography relates part of one story of an effort of
his to secure money at this trying time, the complete details of
which have been since supplied. He simply says that on July 25,
1836, in company with his brother Hyrum, Sidney Rigdon, and
Oliver Cowdery, he started on a trip which brought them to Salem,
Massachusetts, where "we hired a house and occupied the same
during the month, teaching the people from house to house."* The
Mormon of to-day, in reading his "Doctrine and Covenants," finds
Section 111 very perplexing. No place of its reception is given,
but it goes on to say:--

* Millennial Star, Vol. XV, p. 281.

"I, the Lord your God, am not displeased with your coming this
journey, notwithstanding your follies; I have much treasure in
this city for you, for the benefit of Zion;...and it shall come
to pass in due time, that I will give this city into your hands,
that you shall have power over it, insomuch that they shall not
discover your secret parts; and its wealth pertaining to gold and
silver shall be yours. Concern not yourself about your debts, for
I will give you power to pay them.... And inquire diligently
concerning the more ancient inhabitants and founders of this
city; for there are more treasures than one for you in this

"This city" was Salem, Massachusetts, and the "revelation" was
put forth to brace up the spirits of Smith's fellow-travellers. A
Mormon named Burgess had gone to Kirtland with a story about a
large amount of money that was buried in the cellar of a house in
Salem which had belonged to a widow, and the location of which he
alone knew. Smith credited this report, and looked to the
treasure to assist him in his financial difficulties, and he took
the persons named with him on the trip. But when they got there
Burgess said that time had so changed the appearance of the
houses that he could not be sure which was the widow's, and he
cleared out. Smith then hired a house which he thought might be
the right one,--it proved not to be,--and it was when his
associates were--becoming discouraged that the ex-money-digger
uttered the words quoted, to strengthen their courage. "We speak
of these things with regret," says Ebenezer Robinson, who
believed in the prophet's divine calling to the last.*

* The Return, July, 1889.

Brought face to face with apparent financial disaster, the next
step taken to prevent this was the establishment of a bank. Smith
told of a "revelation" concerning a bank "which would swallow up
all other banks." An application for a charter was made to the
Ohio legislature, but it was refused. The law of Ohio at that
time provided that "all notes and bills, bonds and other
securities [of an unchartered bank] shall be held and taken in
all courts as absolutely void." This, however, did not deter a
man of Smith's audacity, and soon came the announcement of the
organization of the "Kirtland Safety Society Bank," with an
alleged capital of $4,000,000. The articles of agreement had been
drawn up on November 2, 1836, and Oliver Cowdery had been sent to
Philadelphia to get the plates for the notes at the same time
that Orson Hyde set out to the state capital to secure a charter.
Cowdery took no chances of failure, and he came back not only
with a plate, but with $200,000 in printed bills. To avoid the
inconvenience of having no charter, the members of the Safety
Society met on January 2, 1837, and reorganized under the name of
the "Kirtland Society Anti-banking Company," and, in the hope of
placing the bills within the law (or at least beyond its reach),
the word "Bank" was changed with a stamp so that it read
"Anti-BANK-ing Co.," as in the facsimile here presented.

W. Harris thus describes the banking scheme:--

"Subscribers for stock were allowed to pay the amount of their
subscriptions in town lots at five or six times their real value;
others paid in personal property at a high valuation, and some
were paid in cash. When the notes were first issued they were
current in the vicinity, and Smith took advantage of their credit
to pay off with them the debts he and his brethren had contracted
in the neighborhood for land, etc. The Eastern creditors,
however, refused to take them. This led to the expedient of
exchanging them for the notes of other banks.

Accordingly, the Elders were sent into the country to barter off
Kirtland money, which they did with great zeal, and continued the
operation until the notes were not worth twelve and a half cents
to the dollar."*

* "Mormonism Portrayed," p. 31

Just how much of this currency was issued the records do not
show. Hall says that Brigham Young, who had joined the flock at
Kirtland, disposed of $10,000 worth of it in the States, and that
Smith and other church officers reaped a rich harvest with it in
Canada, explaining, "The credit of the bank here was good, even
high."* Kidder quotes a gentleman living near Kirtland who said
that the cash capital paid in was only about $5000, and that they
succeeded in floating from $50,000 to $100,000. Ann Eliza,
Brigham's "wife No. 19," says that her father invested everything
he had but his house and shop in the bank, and lost it all.

* "Abominations of Mormonism Exposed" (1852), pp. 19, 20.

Cyrus Smalling, one of the Seventy at Kirtland, wrote an account
of Kirtland banking operations under date of March 10, 1841, in
which he said that Smith and his associates collected about $6000
in specie, and that when people in the neighborhood went to the
bank to inquire about its specie reserve, "Smith had some one or
two hundred boxes made, and gathered all the lead and shot the
village had, or that part of it that he controlled, and filled
the boxes with lead, shot, etc., and marked them $1000 each.
Then, when they went to examine the vault, he had one box on a
table partly filled for them to see; and when they proceeded to
the vault, Smith told them that the church had $200,000 in
specie; and he opened one box and they saw that it was silver;
and they were seemingly satisfied, and went away for a few days
until the elders were packed off in every direction to pass their
paper money."*

* "Mormons; or Knavery Exposed" (1841).

Smith believed in specie payments to his bank, whatever might be
his intentions as regards the redemption of his notes, for, in
the Messenger and Advocate (pp. 441-443), following the by-laws
of the Anti-banking Company, was printed a statement signed by
him, saying:--

"We want the brethren from abroad to call on us and take stock in
the Safety Society, and we would remind them of the sayings of
the Prophet Isaiah contained in the 60th chapter, and more
particularly in the 9th and 17th verses which are as follows:--

"Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish
first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold
with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God.

"For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver,

The Messenger and Advocate (edited by W. A. Cowdery), of July,
1837, contained a long article on the bank and its troubles,
pointing out, first, that the bank was opened without a charter,
being "considered a kind of joint stock association," and that
"the private property of the stockholders was holden in
proportion to the amount of their subscriptions for the
redemption of the paper," and also that its notes were absolutely
void under the state law. The editor goes on to say:--

"Previously to the commencement of discounting by the bank, large
debts had been contracted for merchandise in New York and other
cities, and large contracts entered into for real estate in this
and adjoining towns; some of them had fallen due and must be met,
or incur forfeitures of large sums. These causes, we are bound to
believe, operated to induce the officers of the bank to let out
larger sums than their better judgments dictated, which almost
invariably fell into or passed through the hands of those who
sought our ruin.... Hundreds who were enemies either came or sent
their agents and demanded specie, till the officers thought best
to refuse payment."

This subtle explanation of the suspension of specie payments is
followed with a discussion of monopolies, etc., leading up to a
statement of the obligations of the Mormons in regard to the
discredited bank-notes, most of which were in circulation
elsewhere. To the question; "Shall we unite as one man, say it is
good, and make it good by taking it on a par with gold?" he
replies, "No," explaining that, owing to the fewness of the
church members as compared with the world at large, "it must be
confined in its circulation and par value to the limits of our
own society." To the question, "Shall we then take it at its
marked price for our property," he again replies, "No,"
explaining that their enemies had received the paper at a
discount, and that, to receive it at par from them, would "give
them voluntarily and with one eye open just that advantage over
us to oppress, degrade and depress us." This combined financial
and spiritual adviser closes his article by urging the brethren
to set apart a portion of their time to the service of God, and a
portion to "the study of the science of our government and the
news of the day."

A card which appeared in the Messenger and Advocate of August,
1837, signed by Smith, warned "the brethren and friends of the
church to beware of speculators, renegades, and gamblers who are
duping the unwary and unsuspecting by palming upon them those
bills, which are of no worth here."

The actual test of the bank's soundness had come when a request
was made for the redemption of the notes. The notes seem to have
been accepted freely in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where it was
taken for granted that a cashier and president who professed to
be prophets of the Lord would not give countenance to bank paper
of doubtful value.* When stories about the concern reached the
Pittsburg banks, they sent an agent to Kirtland with a package of
the notes for redemption. Rigdon loudly asserted the stability of
the institution; but when a request for coin was repeated, it was
promptly refused by him on the ground that the bills were a
circulating medium" for the accommodation of the public, "and
that to call any of them in would defeat their object.**

* "Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 71.

** "Early Days of Mormonism," p. 163.

Other creditors of the Mormons were now becoming active in their
demands. For failing to meet a note given to the bank at
Painesville, Smith, Rigdon, and N. K. Whitney were put under
$8000 bonds. Smith, Rigdon, and Cowdery were called into court as
indorsers of paper for one of the Mormon firms, and judgment was
given against them. To satisfy a firm of New York merchants the
heads of the church gave a note for $4500 secured by a mortgage
on their interest in the new Temple and its contents.* The
Egyptian mummies were especially excepted from this mortgage.
Mother Smith describes how these relics were saved by "various
stratagems" under an execution of $50 issued against the prophet.

* Ibid., pp. 159-160.

The scheme of calling the bank corporation an "anti-banking"
society did not save the officers from prosecution under the
state law. Informers against violators of the banking law
received in Ohio a share of the fine imposed, and this led to the
filing of an information against Rigdon and Smith in March, 1837,
by one S. D. Rounds, in the Geauga County Court, charging them
with violating the law, and demanding a penalty of $1000 They
were at once arrested and held in bail, and were convicted the
following October. They appealed on the ground that the
institution was an association and not a bank; but this plea was
never ruled upon by the court, as the bank suspended payments and
closed its doors in November, 1837, and, before the appeal could
be argued, Smith and Rigdon had fled from the state to Missouri.


It is easy to understand that a church whose leaders had such
views of financial responsibility as Smith's and Rigdon's, and
whose members were ready to apostatize when they could not obtain
credit at the prophet's store, was anything but a harmonious
body. Smith was not a man to maintain his own dignity or to spare
the feelings of his associates. Wilford Woodruff, describing his
first sight of the prophet, at Kirtland, in 1834, said he found
him with his brother Hyrum, wearing a very old hat and engaged in
the sport of shooting at a mark. Woodruff accompanied him to his
house, where Smith at once brought out a wolfskin, and said,
"Brother Woodruff, I want you to help me tan this," and the two
took off their coats and went to work at the skin.* Smith's
contempt for Rigdon was never concealed. Writing of the situation
at Kirtland in 1833, he spoke of Rigdon as possessing "a
selfishness and independence of mind which too often manifestly
destroys the confidence of those who would lay down their lives
for him."** Smith was in the habit of announcing, from his lofty
pulpit in the Temple, "The truth is good enough without dressing
up, but brother Rigdon will now proceed to dress it up."*** Some
of the new converts backed out as soon as they got a close view
of the church. Elder G. A. Smith, a cousin of Joseph, in a sermon
in Salt Lake City, in 1855, mentioned some incidents of this
kind. One family, who had journeyed a long distance to join the
church in Kirtland, changed their minds because Joseph's wife
invited them to have a cup of tea "after the word of wisdom was
given." Another family withdrew after seeing Joseph begin playing
with his children as soon as he rested from the work of
translating the Scriptures for the day. A Canadian ex-Methodist
prayed so long at family worship at Father Johnson's that Joseph
told him flatly "not to bray so much like a jackass." The prayer
thereupon returned to Canada.

* Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, p. 101.

** Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, pp. 584-585.

*** Lippincott's Magazine, August, 1880.

But the discontented were not confined to new-comers. Jealousy
and dissatisfaction were constantly manifesting themselves among
Smith's old standbys. Written charges made against Cowdery and
David Whitmer, when they were driven out of Far West, Missouri,
told them: "You commenced your wickedness by heading a party to
disturb the worship of the Saints in the first day of the week,
and made the house of the Lord in Kirtland to be a scene of abuse
and slander, to destroy the reputation of those whom the church
had appointed to be their teachers, and for no other cause only
that you were not the persons." In more exact terms, their
offence was opposition to the course pursued by Smith. During the
winter and spring of 1837, these rebels included in their list F.
G. Williams, of the First Presidency, Martin Harris, D. Whitmer,
Lyman E. Johnson, P. P. Pratt, and W. E. McLellin. In May, 1837,
a High Council was held in Kirtland to try these men. Pratt at
once objected to being tried by a body of which Smith and Rigdon
were members, as they had expressed opinions against him. Rigdon
confessed that he could not conscientiously try the case, Cowdery
did likewise, Williams very properly withdrew, and "the Council
dispersed in confusion."* It was never reassembled, but the
offenders were not forgotten, and their punishment came later.

* Millennial Star, Vol. XVI, p. 10.

Mother Smith attributes much of the discord among the members at
this time to "a certain young woman," an inmate of David
Whitmer's house, who began prophesying with the assistance of a
black stone. This seer predicted Smith's fall from office because
of his transgressions, and that David Whitmer or Martin Harris
would succeed him. Her proselytes became so numerous that a
written list of them showed that "a great proportion of the
church were decidedly in favor with the new party."*

* "Biographical Sketches," p. 221.

While Smith was thus fighting leading members of his own church,
he was called upon to defend himself against a serious charge in
court. A farmer near Kirtland, named Grandison Newell, received
information from a seceding Mormon that Smith had directed the
latter and another Mormon named Davis to kill Newell because he
was a particularly open opponent of the new sect. The affidavit
of this man set forth that he and Davis had twice gone to
Newell's house to carry out Smith's order, and were only
prevented by the absence of the intended victim. Smith was placed
under $500 bonds on this charge, but on the formal hearing he was
discharged on the ground of insufficient evidence.*

* Fanny Brewer of Boston, in an affidavit published in 1842,
declared, "I am personally acquainted with one of the employees,
Davis by name, and he frankly acknowledged to me that he was
prepared to do the deed under the direction of the prophet, and
was only prevented by the entreaties of his wife."

A rebellious spirit had manifested itself among the brethren in
Missouri soon after Smith returned from his first visit to that
state. W. W. Phelps questioned the prophet's "monarchical power
and authority," and an unpleasant correspondence sprung up
between them. As Smith did not succeed by his own pen in
silencing his accusers, a conference of twelve high priests was
called by him in Kirtland in January, 1833, which appointed Orson
Hyde and Smith's brother Hyrum to write to the Missouri brethren.
In this letter they were told plainly that, unless the rebellious
spirit ceased, the Lord would seek another Zion. To Phelps the
message was sent, "If you have fat beef and potatoes, eat them in
singleness of heart, and not boast yourself in these things." It
was, however, as a concession to this spirit of complaint,
according to Ferris, that Smith announced the "revelation" which
placed the church in the hands of a supreme governing body of

Smith himself furnishes a very complete picture of the disrupted
condition of the Mormons in 1838, in an editorial in the Elders'
journal, dated August, of that year. The tone of the article,
too, sheds further light on Smith's character. Referring to the
course of "a set of creatures" whom the church had excluded from
fellowship, he says they "had recourse to the foulest lying to
hide their iniquity...; and this gang of horse thieves and
drunkards were called upon immediately to write their lives on
paper." Smith then goes on to pay his respects to various
officers of the church, all of whom, it should be remembered,
held their positions through "revelation" and were therefore
professedly chosen directly by God.

Of a statement by Warren Parish, one of the Seventy and an
officer of the bank, Smith says: "Granny Parish made such an
awful fuss about what was conceived in him that, night after
night and day after day, he poured forth his agony before all
living, as they saw proper to assemble. For a rational being to
have looked at him and heard him groan and grunt, and saw him
sweat and struggle, would have supposed that his womb was as much
swollen as was Rebecca's when the angel told her there were two
nations there." He also accuses Parish of immorality and stealing

Here is a part of Smith's picture of Dr. W. A. Cowdery, a
presiding high priest: "This poor pitiful beggar came to Kirtland
a few years since with a large family, nearly naked and
destitute. It was really painful to see this pious Doctor's (for
such he professed to be) rags flying when he walked upon the
streets. He was taken in by us in this pitiful condition, and we
put him into the printing-office and gave him enormous wages, not
because he could earn it, but merely out of pity.... A truly
niggardly spirit manifested itself in all his meanness."

Smith's old friend Martin Harris, now a high priest, and Cyrus
Smalling, one of the Seventy, are lumped among Parish's
"lackeys,", of whom Smith says: "They are so far beneath contempt
that a notice of them would be too great a sacrifice for a
gentleman to make." Of Leonard Rich, one of the seven presidents
of the seventy elders, Smith says that he "was generally so drunk
that he had to support himself by something to keep from falling
down." J. F. Boynton and Luke Johnson, two of the Twelve, are
called "a pair of young blacklegs," and Stephen Burnett, an
elder, is styled "a little ignorant blockhead, whose heart was so
set on money that he would at any time sell his soul for $50, and
then think he had made an excellent bargain."

Smith's own personal character was freely attacked, and the
subject became so public that it received notice in the Elders'
Journal. One charge was improper conduct toward an orphan girl
whom Mrs. Smith had taken into her family. Smith's autobiography
contains an account of a council held in New Portage, Ohio, in
1834, at which Rigdon accused Martin Harris of telling A. C.
Russel that "Joseph drank too much liquor when he was translating
the Book of Mormon," and Harris set up as a defence that "this
thing occurred previous to the translating of the Book."*

* Millennial Star, Vol. XV, p. 12.

There was a good deal of talk concerning a confession "about a
girl," which Oliver Cowdery was reported to have said that Smith
made to him. Denials of this for Cowdery appeared in the Elders'
Journal of July, 1838, one man's statement ending thus, "Joseph
asked if he ever said to him (Oliver) that he (Joseph) confessed
to any one that he was guilty of the above crime; and Oliver,
after some hesitation, answered no."

The Elders' Journal of August, 1838, contains a retraction by
Parley P. Pratt of a letter he had written, in which he censured
both Smith and Rigdon, "using great severity and harshness in
regard to certain business transactions." In that letter Pratt
confessed that "the whole scheme of speculation" in which the
Mormon leaders were engaged was of the "devil," and he begged
Smith to make restitution for having sold him, for $2000, three
lots of land that did not cost Smith over $200.

Not only was the moral character of Smith and other individual
members of the church successfully attacked at this time, but the
charge was openly made that polygamy was practised and
sanctioned. In the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants," published in
Kirtland in 1835, Section 101 was devoted to the marriage rite.
It contained this declaration: "Inasmuch as this Church of Christ
has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy,
we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and
one woman one husband, except in case of death, when either is at
liberty to marry again." The value of such a denial is seen in
the ease with which this section was blotted out by Smith's later
"revelation" establishing polygamy.

An admission that even elders did practise polygamy at that time
is found in a minute of a meeting of the Presidents of the
Seventies, held on April 29, 1837, which made this declaration:
"First, that we will have no fellowship whatever with any elder
belonging to the Quorum of the Seventies, who is guilty of

* Messenger and Advocate, p. 511.

Again: The Elders' journal dated Far West, Missouri, 1838,
contained a list of answers by Smith to certain questions which,
in an earlier number, he had said were daily and hourly asked by
all classes of people. Among these was the following: "Q. Do the
Mormons believe in having more wives than one? A. No, not at the
same time." (He condemns the plan of marrying within a few weeks
or months of the death of the first wife.) The statement has been
made that polygamy first suggested itself to Smith in Ohio, while
he was translating the so-called "Book of Abraham" from the
papyri found on the Egyptian mummies. This so-called translation
required some study of the Old Testament, and it is not at all
improbable that Smith's natural inclination toward such a
doctrine as polygamy secured a foundation in his reading of the
Old Testament license to have a plurality of wives.

For the business troubles hanging over the community, Smith and
Rigdon were held especially accountable. The flock had seen the
funds confided by them to the Bishop invested partly in land that
was divided among some of the Mormon leaders. Smith and Rigdon
were provided with a house near the Temple, and a printing-office
was established there, which was under Smith's management.
Naturally, when the stock and notes of the bank became valueless,
its local victims held its organizers responsible for the
disaster. Mother Smith gives us an illustration of the depth of
this feeling. One Sunday evening, while her husband was preaching
at Kirtland, when Joseph was in Cleveland "on business pertaining
to the bank," the elder Smith reflected sharply upon Warren
Parish, on whom the Smiths tried to place the responsibility for
the bank failure. Parish, who was present, leaped forward and
tried to drag the old man out of the pulpit. Smith, Sr., appealed
to Oliver Cowdery for help, but Oliver retained his seat. Then
the prophet's brother William sprang to his father's assistance,
and carried Parish bodily out of the church. Thereupon John
Boynton, who was provided with a sword cane, drew his weapon and
threatened to run it through the younger Smith. "At this
juncture," says Mrs. Smith, "I left the house, not only terrified
at the scene, but likewise sick at heart to see the apostasy of
which Joseph had prophesied was so near at hand."*

* "Biographical Sketches," p. 221.

Eliza Snow gives a slightly different version of the same
outbreak, describing its wind-up as follows:--

John Boynton and others drew their pistols and bowie knives and
rushed down from the stand into a congregation, Boynton saying he
would blow out the brains of the first man who dared lay hands on
him.... Amid screams and shrieks, the policemen in ejecting the
belligerents knocked down a stove pipe, which fell helter-skelter
among the people; but, although bowie knives and pistols were
wrested from their owners and thrown hither and thither to
prevent disastrous results, no one was hurt, and after a short
but terrible scene to be enacted in a Temple of God, order was
restored and the services of the day proceeded as usual."*

* "Biography of Lorenzo Snow," p. 20.

Smith made a stubborn defence of his business conduct. He
attributed the disaster to the bank to Parish's peculation, and
the general troubles of the church to "the spirit of speculation
in lands and property of all kinds," as he puts it in his
autobiography, wherein he alleges that "the evils were actually
brought about by the brethren not giving heed to my counsel." If
Smith gave any such counsel, it is unfortunate for his reputation
that neither the church records nor his "revelations" contain any
mention of it.

The final struggle came in December, 1837, when Smith and Rigdon
made their last public appearance in the Kirtland Temple. Smith
was as bold and aggressive as ever, but Rigdon, weak from
illness, had to be supported to his seat. An eye-witness of the
day's proceedings says* that "the pathos of Rigdon's plea, and
the power of his denunciation, swayed the feelings and shook the
judgments of his hearers as never in the old days of peace, and,
when he had finished and was led out, a perfect silence reigned
in the Temple until its door had closed upon him forever. Smith
made a resolute and determined battle; false reports had been
circulated, and those by whom the offence had come must repent
and acknowledge their sin or be cut off from fellowship in this
world, and from honor and power in that to come." He not only
maintained his right to speak as the head of the church, but,
after the accused had partly presented their case, and one of
them had given him the lie openly, he proposed a vote on their
excommunication at once and a hearing of their further pleas at a
later date. This extraordinary proposal led one of the accused to
cry out, "You would cut a man's head off and hear him afterward."
Finally it was voted to postpone the whole subject for a few

* "Early Days of Mormonism," Kennedy, p. 169.

But the two leaders of the church did not attend this adjourned
session. Alarmed by rumors that Grandison Newell had secured a
warrant for their arrest on a charge of fraud in connection with
the affairs of the bank (unfounded rumors, as it later appeared),
they fled from Kirtland on horseback on the evening of January
12, 1838, and Smith never revisited that town. In his description
of their flight, Smith explained that they merely followed the
direction of Jesus, who said, "When they persecute you in one

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