Sp. Col. Index   |   Mormon Classics   |   Bookshelf   |   Newspaper Articles   |   History Vault

Charles A. Dana and George Ripley (eds.)
The New American Cyclopedia, NY, 1861.

(an update of the 1858 edition, published between 1861 and 1863)

Appleton's Cyclopaedia of Amer. Bio.  |  New Schaff-Herzog Encycl.  |  Encyclopedia Americana




Popular  Dictionary


G E N E R A L   K N O W L E D G E.






443 & 445   BROADWAY.

Pages 1 - 732 of this volume were not transcribed.

                                                                      MORMONS                                                                       733

At the present day well authenticated pictures of Morland bring large prices.

MORMONS, or Latter Day Saints, the followers of a religion founded by Joseph Smith, who was born at Sharon, Windsor co., Vt., Dec. 23, 1803, and killed at Carthage, Ill., June 27, 1844. At the age of 16 years he removed with his parents to Palmyra, Wayne co., N.Y. From the testimony of their neighbors in Palmyra, the reputation of the Smiths was bad. they avoided honest labor, and occupied themselves chiefly in digging for hidden treasures and in similar visionary pursuits. they were intemperate and untruthful, and were commonly suspected of sheep stealing and other offenses. Upward of 60 of the most respectable citizens of Wayne co. testified in 1833, under oath, that the Smith family were of immoral, false, and fraudulent character, and that Joseph was the worst of the them. These statements are not, in general, contradicted by the Mormons. His most distinguished disciple, Brigham Young, says: "the doctrine he teaches is all I know about the matter; bring any thing against that if you can. As to any thing else, I do not care if he acts like a devil; he has brought forth a doctrine that will save us, if we abide by it. He may get drunk every day of his life, sleep with his neighbor's wife every night, run horses and gamble; I do mot care any thing about that, for I never embrace nay man in my faith." The Mormon writers state that Smith was very poorly educated. He could read with difficulty, wrote an imperfect hand, and had a very limited understanding of the elementary rules of arithmetic. The revelations, proclamations, letters, and other documents put forth by him in the subsequent part of his career, were generally written by others. According to his own account, Smith at about the age of 15 years began to have visions. On the night of Sept. 21, 1823, the angel Moroni appeared to him three times, giving him much instruction, and informing him that God had a work for him to do; and that a record written upon gold plates, and giving an account of the ancient inhabitants of America and the dealings of God with them, was deposited in a particular place in the earth (a hill in Manchester, Ontario co., N.Y.), and with the record, two transparent stones in silver bows like spectacles, which were anciently called the Urim and Thummim, on looking through which the golden plates would become intelligible. On Sept. 23, 1827, the angle of the Lord placed in Smith's hands the plates and the Urim and Thummim. The plates were nearly 8 inches long by 7 wide, and a little thinner than ordinary tin, and were bound together by 3 rings running through the whole. Altogether they were about 6 inches thick, and were neatly engraved on each side with hieroglyphics in a language called the reformed Egyptian, not then known on the earth. From these plates Smith, sitting behind a blanket hung across the room to keep the sacred records
from the profane eyes, read off, with the aid of the stone spectacles, the "Book of Mormon," or Golden Bible as he sometimes called it, to Oliver Cowdery, who wrote it down as Smith read it. It was printed in 1830, in a volume of several hundred pages. Appended to it was a statement signed by Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, who had become professed believers in Smith's supernatural pretensions, and are called by the Mormons "the three witnesses." They said: "We declare with words of soberness than an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes that we beheld and saw the plates and the engravings thereon." Several years afterward, however, all three of these witnesses quarreled with Smith, renounced Mormonism, and avowed the falsity of their testimony. In a Mormon publication ""Elder's Journal" (1837), Smith himself wrote thus of Harris: "there are negroes who have white skins as well as black ones; Granny Parish and others who acted as lackeys, such as Martin Harris. But they are so far beneath my contempt, that to notice any of them would be too great a sacrifice for a gentleman to make." Immediately on the appearance of the "Book of Mormon" many of Smith's neighbors testified that he had repeatedly made contradictory statements about the plates and the Golden Bible. Peter Ingersoll, one of his intimate friends, declared under oath: "Smith told me the whole affair was a hoax, that he had no such book, and did not believe that there was such a book in existence; but, said he, as I have got the damned fools fixed, I shall carry out the fun." The "Book of Mormon" is a collection of 16 distinct books professing to be written at different periods by successive prophets. Its style is an exceedingly clumsy and verbose imitation of that of the common English translation of the Bible, portions of which, to the number in all of 300 passages, are incorporated without acknowledgment, and a re frequently cited by Mormons as specimens of the book. A multitude of names are introduced, some Hebrew and biblical, others Greek and Latin, and the rest imitations of the former. The first book professes to be the work of Nephi, a Jew, the son of Lehi, who dwelt at Jerusalem in the days of King Zedekiah, about 600 B.C. In obedience to the command of the Lord, who appeared to him in a dream, he went into the wilderness of Arabia and dwelt there a long time with his family. At length, still under divine instruction, Lehi and his family set out in search of a promised land, and after traveling "nearly eastward" for 8 years, "through a wilderness," they reached the ocean. here they built a ship, and, guided by a compass, sailed to America. the Book of Mormon itself gives no indication of the part of the continent on which they landed, but later Mormon interpretations or revelations declare it to have been the coast of Chili. Those who arrived in America were Lehi and his wife, his 4 sons,

734                                                                       MORMONS                                                                      

Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi, and their 4 wives, 3 "sons of Ishmael" and their 2 wives, and Zoram, a servant, and his wife; in all, 8 adult men with as many wives. Beside these there were 2 infant sons of Lehi born during the journey through the wilderness, Jacob and Joseph. In America they found "beasts in the forest of every kind, both the cow, and the ox, and the ass, and the horse, and the goat." Soon after his arrival in America Lehi died, and dissensions speedily ensued between Nephi and his elder brothers Laman and Lemuel; and, separating from them, Nephi moved into the wilderness accompanied by Sam and Zoram and their families, the boys Jacob and Joseph, and such of the women and children as took his side. Laman and Lemuel and the "sons of Ishmael" and their families, as a punishment for rebelling against Nephi, whom the Lord had appointed to be their ruler, were cursed by the Lord, and they and all their posterity condemned to have dark skins and to "become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, which did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey." This was the origin of the American Indians, who are consequently believed by the Mormons to be of Jewish race. Nephi and his 4 companions multiplied and prospered in their new settlement to such a degree that within 30 years after their departure from Jerusalem, that is, within 22 years after their arrival in America, they had become so prosperous and rich that Nephi says: "And I did teach my people to build buildings; and to work in all manner of wood and iron, and of copper and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance. An I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon, save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land; wherefore it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine * * * * And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers over the land of my people. And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness. And thirty years had passed away from the time we left Jerusalem." Nephi died about 50 years after his arrival in America, and his people continued to be called Nephites and to be governed by kings bearing the name of Nephi for many generations. The record of their history was continued on golden plates by Jacob the brother of Nephi, Enos the son of Jacob, Jarom the son of Enos, Omni the son of Jarom, and finally by Mormon, whose name is given to a single book, as well as to the whole volume, and who, "many hundred years after the coming of Christ," transmitted to his son Moroni the plates containing the writings of the authors already mentioned, together with those of Mosiah, Zeniff, Alma, Helaman, Nephi the Second, and Nephi the Third. These books consist almost wholly of a narrative of transactions in North and South America, chiefly of wars between the Nephites and the Lamanites or red men, and of revolutions in the land of Zarahemla, which was near the isthmus of Darien, where there was an exceeding great city. At length, in the days of Nephi the Second, a terrible earthquake announced the crucifixion of Christ at Jerusalem, and 3 days afterward the Lord himself descended out of heaven into the chief city of the Nephites, in sight of all the people, to whom he exhibited his wounded side and the prints of the nails in his hands and feet. He remained among them 40 days, instructing them in Christianity and instituting Christian churches. The Christians of America, unlike their brethren in the old world, immediately adopted the Christian era for their chronological computations; and according to the record, in the 4 following centuries the wars between them and the heathen Lamanites continued to rage, with great destruction of the Christians, whose populous and civilized cities, which were very numerous throughout North America, were gradually captured and destroyed. In the year 334 the Christians made their final stand on the hill Cumorah, in western New York, where in a grand battle 230,000 of them were slain. Moroni, one of the survivors, after wandering a fugitive till A.D. 420, sealed up the golden plates on which all these things were written and hid them in the hill where they were found by Joseph Smith. One of the books in the collection, the book of Ether, gives an account of an earlier settlement of America than that of Lehi, by a colony from the tower of Babel, soon after the deluge, which was led by Jared, and in time became a great nation which was destroyed for its sins before the arrival of the colony from Jerusalem. The book of Alma, which professes to have been written several centuries before Christ, contains the following passage: "For do we not read, that God is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and that in him is neither variableness nor shadow of changing?" These expressions, which the author of Alma cites as written and read in his day, were also written in Greek by Paul and James in their epistles in the first century after Christ. At a still earlier period Nephi, anticipating Shakespeare, speaks of "the cold and silent grave whence no traveler returns." -- The religious teachings of the "Book of Mormon" relate in great part to doctrinal questions that were rife in the villages of western New York about 1830. Calvinism, Universalism, Methodism, Millenarianism, Roman Catholicism, and other modern forms of belief are discussed. Infant baptism is warmly condemned, and polygamy is repeatedly denounced as for example: "For behold, thus saith the Lord, this people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the Scriptures; for they seek to excuse them selves in committing whoredoms because of the things which were written concerning

                                                                      MORMONS                                                                       735

David and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph. Wherefore I, the Lord God, will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. Wherefore, my brethren, hear me and hearken to the word of the Lord; for there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; for I, the Lord delighteth in the chastity of women." Free masonry, which about 1830 was a popular subject of dissension in western New York, figures extensively in the "Book of Mormon," which abounds in the anti-masonic denunciations of secret societies, though Smith and all the leading Mormons subsequently became free masons, and organized their ecclesiastical hierarchy in imitation of the masonic system of degrees. -- According to the opponents of Mormonism, from investigations made soon after the appearance of the "Book of Mormon," the fact is fully established that the real author of the work was Solomon Spalding, who was born in Ashford, Conn., in 1761, was graduated at Dartmouth college, and was afterward ordained. After preaching for 3 or 4 years, he relinquished the ministry, and engaged in mercantile business in Cherry Valley, N.Y., whence in 1809 he removed to Conneaut, Ohio. From Conneaut in 1812 he removed to Pittsburg, and thence in 1814 to Amity, Penn., where he died in 1816. He had an inveterate taste for literary pursuits, and wrote several novels, which he was in the habit of reading to his friends in manuscript, as they were so worthless that he could find no publisher for them, while his poverty prevented him from issuing them at his own expense. During his residence in Ohio in 1810-'11-'12 he wrote a romance to account for the peopling of America by deriving the Indians from the Hebrews, in accordance with an absurd notion then prevalent in some parts of the country that the American Indians were descended from the lost tribes of Israel. As early as 1813 this work was announced in the newspapers as forthcoming, and as containing a translation of the "Book of Mormon." Spalding entitled his book "Manuscript Found," and intended to publish with it by way of preface or advertisement a fictitious account of its discovery in a cave in Ohio. His widow, in a statement published by her in the "Boston Journal," May 18, 1839, declares that in 1812 he placed his manuscript in a printing office at Pittsburgh, with which Sidney Rigdon was connected. Rigdon, she says, copied the manuscript; and his possession of a copy was known to all in the printing office, and was often mentioned by himself. Subsequently the original manuscript was returned to the author, who soon after died. His widow preserved it till after the publication of the "Book of Mormon," when she sent it to Conneaut, where a public meeting, composed in part of persons who remembered Spalding's work, had requested her to send the manuscript that it might be publicly compared with the "Book of Mormon." She says in conclusion: "I am sure that nothing would grieve my husband more, were he living, than the use which has been made of his work. The air of antiquity which was thrown about the composition doubtless suggested the idea of converting it to the purposes of delusion. Thus a historical romance, with the addition of a few pious expressions, and extracts from the Sacred Scriptures, has been construed into a new Bible, and palmed off upon a company of poor deluded fanatics as divine." Sidney Rigdon was born in St. Clair township, Allegheny co., Penn., Feb. 19, 1793. Soon after getting possession of a copy of Spalding's manuscript, he quitted the printing office and became a preacher of doctrines peculiar to himself, and very similar to those afterward incorporated into the "Book of Mormon." He had a small body of converts to his notions when about 1829 he became associated with Joseph Smith, who was then endeavoring to gain believers to his tale of the golden plates and stone spectacles. It is asserted that through Rigdon's agency Smith became possessed of a copy of Spalding's manuscript, which he read from behind the blanket to his amanuensis, Oliver Cowdery, with such additions as suited the views and purposes of Rigdon and himself. Immediately on its publication, the "Book of Mormon was claimed not only by Spalding's widow but by many of his friends as his long lost work. John Spalding, a brother of Solomon, says in a deposition: "I made him (Solomon Spalding) a visit in about 3 years after (1813), and found that he had failed, and considerably involved in debt. He then told me had he been writing a book, which he intended to have printed, the avails of which he thought would enable him to pay all his debts. The book was entitled the "Manuscript Found," of which he read to me many passages. It was an historical romance of the first settlers of America, endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the descendants of the Jews, or the lost tribes. It gave a detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till they arrived in America, under the command of NEPHI AND LEHI. They afterwards had quarrels and contentions, and separated into two distinct nations, one of which he denominated Nephites and the other Lamanites. Cruel and bloody wars ensued, in which great multitudes were slain. They buried their dead in large heaps, which caused the mounds so common in this country. Their arts, sciences and civilization were brought into view, in order to account for all the curious antiquities, found in various parts of North and South America. I have recently read the Book of Mormon, and to my great surprise I find nearly the same historical matter,

736                                                                       MORMONS                                                                      

names, &c. as they were in my brother's writings. I well remember that he wrote in the old style, and commenced about every sentence with 'And it came to pass,' or 'Now it came to pass,' the same as in the 'Book of Mormon;' and according to the best of my recollection and belief, it is the same as my brother Solomon wrote, with the exception of the religious matter. By what means it has fallen into the hands of Joseph Smith, Jr. I am unable to determine." Martha Spalding, the wife of John Spalding, Henry Lake, the partner in business of Solomon Spalding, and many others corroborated these statements in the fullest manner. John N. Miller of Springfield, Penn., testified in Sept., 1833, that in 1811 he was in the employ of Spalding, and lodged and boarded in his house, and frequently perused portions of the "Manuscript Found," which the author also sometimes read to him. Miller says: "I have recently examined the 'Book of Mormon,' and find in it the writings of Solomon Spalding, from beginning to end, but mixed up with Scripture and other religious matter, which I did not meet in the "Manuscript Found.' Many of the passages in the Mormon book are verbatim from Spalding, and others in part. The names of Nephi, Lehi, Moroni, and in fact all the principal names are brought fresh to my recollection by the gold Bible." The printing of the "Book of Mormon" was done at the expense of Martin Harris, who had some property, and was persuaded that he could make money in the speculation. While the work was in progress, this man called upon Prof. Anthon of New York with a transcript on paper which Smith had given him of the characters on one of the golden plates. "This paper," Prof. Anthon states in a letter dated New York, Feb. 17, 1834. "was a singular [scroll]. It consisted of all kinds of crooked characters disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets, Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes; Roman letters, inverted or placed sideways, were arranged in perpendicular columns; and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican calendar given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived." This letter was written to contradict a report set afloat by Smith that Prof. Anthon had pronounced the characters to be Egyptian hieroglyphics. -- Smith and Rigdon seem at first to have had vague and confused ideas as to the nature and design of the church they were about to establish. They were both inclined to teach millenarianism, which at that time was beginning to attract attention in western New York, and they accordingly settled into the doctrine that the millennium was close at hand, that the Indians were to be speedily converted, and that America was to be the final gathering place of the saints, who were to assemble at New Zion or New Jerusalem, somewhere in the interior of the continent. With the "Book of Mormon" as their text and authority, they began to preach this new gospel; and Smith's family and a few of his associates, together with some of Rigdon's previous followers, were soon numerous enough to constitute the Mormon church, as it was styled by the people around them, or the church of Latter Day Saints, as they presently began to call themselves. The church was first regularly organized at Manchester, N.Y., April 6, 1830, and the first conference was held at Fayette, N.Y., in June, at which time the number of believers had increased to 30. Smith, directed as he said by revelation, in Jan. 1831, led the whole body of believers to Kirtland, Ohio, which was to be the seat of the New Jerusalem. Here converts were rapidly made, and soon, desiring a wider field for the growth of the church, Smith and Rigdon traveled westward, looking for a suitable location, which was found in Independence, Jackson co., Mo., where in August Smith dedicated a site for the temple to be erected by the saints, and named the place New Jerusalem. On their return to Kirtland, where they proposed to remain for 5 years "and make money," Smith and Rigdon established a mill and a store, and set up a bank without a charter, of which Smith appointed himself president, and made Rigdon cashier. The neighboring country was flooded with notes of very doubtful value; and in consequence of this and other business transactions in which Smith and Rigdon were accused of fraudulent dealing, a mob on the night of March 22, 1832, dragged the two prophets from their beds, and tarred and feathered them. About a year afterward a government for the church was instituted, consisting of 3 presidents, Smith, Rigdon, and Frederic G. Williams, who together were styled the first presidency, a revelation from the Lord having declared that the sins of Rigdon and Williams were forgiven, "and that they were henceforth to be accounted as equal with Joseph Smith, jr., in holding the keys of his last kingdom." About this time Brigham Young became a convert to Mormonism. He was born at Whitingham, Vt., June 1, 1801, and was the son of a farmer who had been a soldier of the revolution. He arrived in Kirtland toward the close of 1832, and was soon ordained an elder, and began to preach. His talent and shrewdness speedily made him prominent, and in Feb. 1835, when a further step was taken in the organization of a hierarchy by the institution of the quorum of the 12 apostles, he was ordained one of the 12, and sent out with the other apostles to preach the new doctrines. His field of labor was the eastern states, and he was signally successful in making converts. In 1836 a large and costly temple, which had been for 3 years in process of building was consecrated at Kirtland; and in 1837 Orson Hyde and Heber C. Kimball, the latter of whom had become a convert in

                                                                      MORMONS                                                                       737

1832, were sent as missionaries to England. In Jan. 1838, the bank at Kirtland having failed, Smith and Rigdon, to avoid arrest for fraud, fled in the night, hotly pursued by their creditors, and took refuge in Missouri. In that state, meanwhile, large numbers of Mormons had collected, and had become involved in quarrels with the people, by whom they were charged with plundering and burning habitations, and with secret assassinations; and after various conflicts with mobs, who drove them successively from Jackson co. and from Clay co., they settled in Caldwell co., at the town of Far West, where Smith and Rigdon joined them. The conflicts with the Missourians still continued, and many outrages were committed and several persons killed on both sides. In the midst of their external troubles, internal dissensions broke out among the Mormons. Several of their leading men apostatized and accused Smith of gross crimes and frauds. On Oct. 24, 1838, Thomas B. March [sic], president of the 12 apostles, and Orson Hyde, also one of the apostles, made before a justice of the peace in Ray co., Mo., an affidavit in which March said, corrobrated by Hyde: "They have among them a company, consisting of all that are considered true Mormons, called the Danites, who have taken an oath to support the heads of the church in all things that they say or do, whether right or wrong.... The plan of said Smith, the prophet, is to take this state; and he professes to his people to intend taking the United States, anil ultimately the whole world. This is the belief of the church, and my own opinion of the prophet's plan and intentions. The prophet inculcates the notion, and it is believed by every true Mormon, that Smith's prophecies are superior to the law of the land. I have heard the prophet say that he would yet tread down his enemies and walk over their dead bodies; that if he was not let alone he would be a second Mahomet to this generation, and that he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky mountains to the Atlantic ocean." The defiant and menacing tone of the Mormon leaders contributed much to the excitement against them. Rigdon, in a sermon preached at Far West, July 4, 1838, said: "We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men in the name of Jesus Christ to come on us no more for ever. The man, or the set of men, who attempts it, does it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us, it shall be between them and us a war of extermination, for we will follow them till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us. For we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed." Toward the close of 1838 the conflict between the Mormons and the Missourians assumed the character and proportions of civil war. The Mormons armed themselves, and, assembling in large bodies, fortified their towns and defied the officers of the law. The militia of the state was called out by the governor, and Rigdon and Smith were arrested, charged with treason, murder, and felony. The forces of the state being overwhelming in number, the Mormons capitulated and agreed to quit Missouri, and to the number of several thousands crossed the Mississippi into Illinois. They were soon after joined by Smith, who broke out of the jail where he had been confined awaiting trial. Rigdon had previously been liberated by a writ of habeas corpus. liberated by a writ of habeas corpus. The following extract from the message of the governor of Missouri in 1840 states the character of the transactions which resulted in the expulsion of the Mormons: "These people had violated the laws of the land by open and avowed resistance to them; they had undertaken, without the aid of the civil authority, to redress their real or fancied grievances; they had instituted among themselves a government of their own, independent of and in opposition to the government of this state; they had, at an inclement season of the year, driven the inhabitants of an entire county from their homes, ravaged their crops,and destroyed their dwellings. Under these circumstances it became the imperious duty of the executive to interpose and exercise the powers with which he was invested, to protect the lives and property of our citizens, to restore order and tranquillity to the country, and maintain the supremacy of our laws." The Mormons were kindly received in Illinois, and Dr. Isaac Galland, who owned a large tract of land at Commerce, in Hancock co., gave Smith a considerable portion of it in order to enhance the value of the rest by the settlement of the Mormons there. Smith accordingly received a revelation commanding the saints to establish themselves at Commerce, and build a city to be called Nauvoo on the land presented to him, which he divided into house lots and sold to his followers at high prices. By this transaction, and by other equally successful speculations, the prophet in a few years amassed a considerable fortune. Nauvoo soon grew to be a city of several thousand inhabitants, the saints being summoned by a new revelation to assemble there from all quarters of the world, and to build a temple for the Lord, and a hotel in which Smith and his family should "have place from generation to generation, for ever and ever." The legislature of Illinois granted a charter for the city of Nauvoo, conferring upon it extraordinary privileges, which enabled Smith, Rigdon, and the other leaders to exercise almost unlimited civil power. They were authorized by charter to organize a military body, which was accordingly formed under the name of the Nauvoo legion, and comprised nearly all the Mormons capable of bearing arms. Smith was commander of this force with the rank of lieutenant general. Besides this office, he held those of mayor of the city and first president of the church. By a revelation given April 6, 1830, he had been appointed "seer, translator, prophet, apostle of

738                                                                       MORMONS                                                                      

Jesus Christ, and elder of the church;" and the Lord had said to him: "The church shall give heed to all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you; for his word shall ye receive as if from my own mouth, in all patience and faith." This revelation gave the prophet absolute authority over his followers, making him the mouthpiece of God himself. The civil and military offices which he conferred upon himself at Nauvoo and the legion at his command gave him supreme power within the city, whose charter had been purposely so framed that the state authorities were almost excluded from jurisdiction within its limits. On April 6, 1841, the foundation of the temple was laid at Nauvoo, by Lieut. Gen. Smith, who appeared at the head of the legion, surrounded by a numerous military staff; and the saints being commanded by revelation not only to contribute to its erection, but to labor personally upon the work every tenth day, its walls rapidly arose. -- In 1838 Smith had persuaded several women to cohabit with him, calling them his spiritual wives, although he had a lawful wife to whom he had been married in 1827. His wife became jealous of these rivals, and to pacify her Smith received, July 12, 1843, a revelation authorizing polygamy. This fact being whispered at Nauvoo, much scandal was created in consequence. The imputation was strenuously denied in public, and in 1845 [sic] the heads of the church deemed it prudent to put forth a formal denial in the following words: "Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crimes of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have but one wife, and one woman but one husband; except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again." It was not till 1852 that they admitted the truth, and boldly avowed and defended polygamy on the authority of the revelation of 1843. Meantime Smith in 1843 and 1844 made advances to so many women in Nauvoo, soliciting them to become his spiritual wives, that great uproar was created by the declarations of those whose virtue was proof against his attempts. Among others who repelled and denounced him publicly was Mrs. Foster, wife of Dr. Foster. Her husband, together with William Law and others who had been similarly outraged, renounced Mormonism, and commenced at Nauvoo the publication of a newspaper, the "Expositor," to expose Smith. In the first number they printed the affidavits of 16 women to the effect that Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and others had endeavored to convert them to the spiritual wife doctrine, and to seduce them under the plea of having had special commission from heaven. This publication created great excitement, and on May 6, 1844, Smith and a party of his followers attacked the "Expositor" office and razed it to the ground, destroying the presses and other contents of the building. Foster and Law fled and took refuge in Carthage, the county seat, where they obtained warrants against Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum Smith, and 16 others. The warrant was served upon Smith, but he refused to obey, and the constable who served it was driven from Nauvoo. The county authorities called out the militia to enforce the law; the Mormons armed themselves, and a civil war seemed impending, when the governor of the state persuaded the two Smiths to surrender and take their trial. They were committed to the jail at Carthage, and a guard stationed for their protection. On the evening of June 27 a mob, composed chiefly of Missourians, attacked the jail, overpowered the guard, and fired upon the prisoners with rifles through a window and door. Hyrum Smith was instantly shot dead. Joseph returned the fire with a revolver till his charges were exhausted, and then attempted to escape through t he window, but was shot as he leaped through it and fell to the ground dead. The death of the prophet caused much temporary confusion among the saints. Sidney Rigdon aspired to succeed him as head of the church; but Brigham Young was chosen first president, and Rigdon, being contumacious, was cut off from the communion of the faithful, cursed, and solemnly delivered to the devil "to be buffeted in the flesh for a thousand years." In 1845 the charter of Nauvoo was repealed by the legislature of Illinois, and the Mormons made preparations to remove to the Rocky mountains. Early in the following year they gathered in considerable numbers at Council Bluffs, Iowa. Those who remained in Nauvoo became again involved in trouble with the surrounding people, and in Sept., 1845, the city was cannonaded for 3 days and its inhabitants driven out at the point of the bayonet. In the following year pioneers crossed the plains from Council Bluffs to Salt Lake valley, Utah, where Brigham Young arrived July 24, 1847. In May, 1848, the main body of the saints set out for Utah, and arrived at the Great Salt lake in the autumn. Salt Lake City was founded (see Salt Lake City), and large tracts of land were brought under cultivation. An "emigration fund" was established, and large numbers of converts were brought by a well organized system from Europe, chiefly from the working classes of Great Britain, and especially from Wales. A considerable number came also from Sweden and Norway, and a smaller number from Germany, Switzerland, and France. In March, 1849, a convention was held at Salt Lake City and a state organized under the name of Deseret, a word understood by the Mormons to signify "the land of the honey bee." A legislature was elected and a constitution framed and sent to Washington; but congress refused to recognize the new state, and in September organized the country occupied by the Mormons into the territory of Utah, of which Brigham Young was appointed governor by President Fillmore. In the following year the federal judges were forced by threats

                                                                      MORMONS                                                                       739

of violence from Brigham Young to quit Utah, and the laws of the United States were openly defied and subverted. This led to the removal of Brigham Young, and the appointment of Col. Steptoe of the U. S. army as governor. Col. Steptoe arrived in Utah in Aug. 1854, with a battalion of soldiers; but such was the state of affairs in the territory that he did not deem it prudent to assume the office of governor, and after wintering in Salt Lake City he formally resigned his post and removed with his troops to California. In a sermon preached in the tabernacle at Salt Lake City on the Sunday after Col. Steptoe's departure, Brigham Young said: "I am and will be governor, and no power can hinder it, until the Lord Almighty says: 'Brigham, you need not be governor any longer.'" Most of the civil officers who were commissioned about the same time with Col. Steptoe arrived in Utah a few months after he had departed. They were harassed and terrified like their predecessors. In February, 1856, a mob of armed Mormons, instigated by sermons from the heads of the church, broke into the court room of the U. S. district judge, and at the point of the bowie knife compelled Judge Drummond to adjourn his court sine die. Soon afterward all the U. S. officers, with the exception of the Indian agent, were forced to flee from the territory. These and similar outrages at length determined President Buchanan to supersede Brigham Young in the office of governor, and to send to Utah a military force to protect the federal officers and to compel obedience to the laws. The Mormons attempted to justify their treatment of the U. S. officials, by alleging that some of them were profligate and disreputable persons, an accusation which they attempted to sustain by scandalous statements which were probably not entirely destitute of truth. In 1857 the office of governor of Utah was conferred upon Alfred Cumming, a superintendent of Indian affairs on the upper Missouri, and that of chief justice on Judge Eckels of Indiana; and a force of 2,500 men under experienced officers was sent to protect them in the discharge of their functions. The Mormons were greatly excited at the approach of these troops. Young in his capacity of governor issued a proclamation denouncing the army as a mob, and forbidding it to enter the territory, and calling the people of Utah to arms to repel its advance. The army reached Utah in September, and on Oct. 5 and 6 a party of mounted Mormons destroyed several of the supply trains, and a few days later cut off 800 oxen from the rear of the army and drove them to Salt Lake City. The army, of which Col. Johnston had by this time assumed the command, was overtaken by the snows of winter before it could reach Salt Lake valley, and about the middle of November went into winter quarters on Black's Fork near Fort Bridger. On Nov. 27 Gov. Cumming issued a proclamation declaring the territory to be in a state of rebellion. In the spring of 1858, however, by the intervention of Mr. Thomas L. Kane of Pennsylvania, who had gone to Utah by way of California, bearing letters from President Buchanan, a good understanding was brought about between Gov. Cumming and the Mormon leaders; and toward the end of May two commissioners, Gov. Powell of Kentucky and Major McCulloch of Texas, arrived at the camp with a proclamation from the president, offering pardon to all Mormons who would submit themselves to federal authority. This offer was accepted by the heads of the church, and shortly afterward the troops entered Salt Lake valley, and were, stationed at Camp Floyd on the western side of Lake Utah, about 40 m. from Salt Lake City, where they remained till May, 1860, when they were withdrawn from the territory. -- The number of Mormons in Utah is computed by their own authorities at 80,000 or 100,000, but it is maintained by other residents of the territory that this is an exaggeration, and that the real number is about 50,000. The number in other parts of the United States is very small. In New York and its neighborhood there are about 200. The number in the old world is estimated at 100,000, chiefly in Europe, though some are found in Asia, Africa, Australia, and Polynesia. -- The priesthood of the Mormon church is organized into the following quorums: the first presidency, the twelve apostles, the high council, the seventies, high priests, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons. The first presidency (in 1860) consists of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Daniel C. Wells. They preside over and direct the affairs of the whole church. The twelve apostles constitute a travelling presiding high council. The whole hierarchy is divided into two bodies, the Melchisedek priesthood and the Aaronic priesthood. To the former, which is the highest, belong the offices of apostle, seventy, patriarch, high priest, and elder. The Aaronic priesthood includes the offices of bishop, priest, teacher, and deacon, and can be held only by "literal descendants of Aaron," who are designated as such by revelation. The Mormon church teaches that there are many gods, and that eminent saints become gods in heaven, and rise one above another in power and glory to infinity. Joseph Smith is now the god of this generation. His superior god is Jesus, whose superior god and father is Adam. Above Adam is Jehovah, and above Jehovah is Elohim. All of these gods have many wives, and they all rule over their own descendants, who are constantly increasing in number and dominion. The glory of a saint when he becomes a god depends in some degree on the number of his wives and children, and therefore polygamy is inculcated and wives are "sealed" to saints here on earth to augment their power in the heavens. The gods are in the form of men, and they are the fathers of the souls of men in this world. The ten commandments are considered the rule of life, together

740                                                                       MORMONS                                                                      

with a revelation given to Joseph Smith, Feb. 27, 1833, which is called "A Word of Wisdom." It teaches that it is not good to drink wine or strong drinks, excepting in the sacrament of the Lord's supper, and then it should be home-made grape wine; that it is not good to drink hot drinks, or chew or smoke tobacco; that strong drinks are for the washing of the body, and that tobacco is an herb for bruises and sick cattle; that herbs and fruits are for the food of man; that grain is for the food of man and beasts and fowls; and that flesh is not to be eaten by man excepting in times of winter, cold, and famine. This "Word of Wisdom," however, is not regarded precisely as a commandment, but as a revelation to show forth the will of God, and "suited to the condition of all saints, young and old, male and female, without distinction." Infant baptism is condemned, but the children of the saints are considered old enough at 8 years to be baptized. Baptism for the dead is practised, a living person being publicly baptized as the representative of one or more deceased persons. Washington, Franklin, and other famous men have thus been vicariously baptized into the church. There have been many dispensations of religious truth, beginning with Adam and ending with the greatest of all, that through Joseph Smith, which is to culminate in the building of the New Jerusalem in Jackson co., Mo., and the gathering together of all the saints on the continent of America. A portion of the Mormons reject polygamy, and do not approve of the political schemes of Brigham Young and the leaders of the church in Utah. Joseph Smith, the son of the prophet, is regarded by them as the true living head of the church, and under his direction they have established themselves at Nauvoo. Their number is inconsiderable. (For the political and social condition of the Mormons in Utah, see Utah.) -- See "The Mormons," by Charles Mackay (London, 1851); "The Mormons or Latter Day Saints in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake," by Lieut. J. W. Gunnison (Philadelphia, 1852); "Utah and the Mormons," by Benjamin G. Ferris (New York, 1850); "The Book of Doctrines and Covenants selected from the Revelations of God by Joseph Smith " (Liverpool, 1854); "A compendium of the Faith and Doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," by Franklin D. Richards, one of the twelve apostles (Liverpool, 1857); "Mormonism, its Leaders and Designs," by John Hyde, jr., formerly a Mormon elder (New York, 1857).

  The remainder of this volume was not transcribed.

Click here for a higher resolution view of this image.

Transcriber's Comments

Although he is credited here as being the author of this article (for provisional citation purposes), there is nothing in the original publication which specifically points to Dana as the sole writer. It is equally possible that George Ripley or some other, uncredited person composed the article. The Chicago Inter Ocean of Feb. 25, 1882 ascribes the article to Robert Carter. The summary of Mormonism and its history is extensive and draws upon the common knowledge then available on the subject. The results are reliable in some parts, but not in others. The article abounds in errors and over-generalizations, but it is a typical production of the times and was probably received as being authoritative by a good many of its readers. Vice President Schuyler Colfax quoted from this Encyclopedia in his exposition on Mormonism, published in New York City's The Independent on Dec. 2, 1869, under the title, "The Mormon Question." LDS Apostle John Taylor responded in the Deseret News, pointing out several errors Colfax had taken from the Encyclopedia and from other sources.

Robert Patterson, Jr., in about 1881, quizzed the writer of the article as to his evidence in support of the report saying that Spalding's manuscript story "as early as 1813... was announced in the newspapers as forthcoming, and as containing a translation of the 'Book of Mormon.'"

According to Patterson (who cited the quote as coming from "Appleton's Cyclopaedia"), the author of the article "could not recall his authority for the statement, but was positive that he had ample warrant for it at the time of writing." Patterson searched the Pittsburgh newspapers of 1813, looking for just such an announcement of a Spalding manuscript being made ready for the press, but could find nothing. Assuming that the article's dubious claim has any validity, there would be no reason to limit such a Spalding publication announcement to the Pittsburgh newspapers -- it might just as well have been printed elsewhere, in anticipation of out-of-town sales.

return to top of page

Return to:  Special Collections Index  |  Spalding Studies Library

last revised: Jan. 28, 2010