view frontispiece in in high resolution
ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS:
BIOGRAPHY OF ITS FOUNDERS AND HISTORY OF
PERSONAL REMEMBRANCES AND HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS
BY POMEROY TUCKER,
PALMYRA, N. Y.
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.
443 & 445 BROADWAY.
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Chronologically tracing the Church of Latter-Day Saints, from its singularly humble starting-point, through a wonderfully successful career of domination by crafty leaders over blind infatuation, to its assumed dignity of a newly-revealed gospel dispensation, with its extraordinary hierarchical powers and pretensions, this truthful narrative is necessary to the completion of the history from the foundation of the institution. Events and incidents, which at their occurrence were viewed by enlightened minds as too insignificant for serious thought, are now rescued from oblivion for record and preservation, as important illustrations
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of the groundwork of a stupendous imposture attaining an extended influence and world-wide notoriety.
In claiming for the statements herein set forth the character of fairness and authenticity, it is perhaps appropriate to add in this connection, that the locality of the malversations resulting in the Mormon scheme, is the author's birthplace; that he was well acquainted with "Joe Smith," the first Mormon prophet, and with his father and all the Smith family, since their removal to Palmyra from Vermont in 1816, and during their continuance there and in the adjoining town of Manchester; that he was equally acquainted with Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdery, and with most of the earlier followers of Smith, either as money-diggers or Mormons; that he established at Palmyra, in 1823, and was for many years editor and proprietor of the Wayne Sentinel, and was editorially connected with that paper as the printing by its press of the original edition of the "Book of Mormon" in 1830; that in the progress of the work he performed much of the reading of the proof-sheets, comparing the same with the manuscript copies, and in the mean time had frequent and familiar interviews with the pioneer Mormons, Smith, Cowdery, and Harris; that he was present at the repeated consultations and negotiations between these men and Mr. Grandin in relation to the printing of the book, and united with the latter in the friendly admonitions vainly seeking to divert Harris from his persistent fanaticism in that losing speculation.
P R E F A C E. 5
For corroboratory references, the author is permitted to name Messrs. Joseph Capron, Russell Stoddard, Barton Stafford, and Russell M. Rush, of Manchester, N.Y.; and Messrs. George Beckwith, George W. Cuyler, Richard S. Williams, Willard Chase, John H. Gilbert, and Joseph C. Lovett, of Palmyra; who, with himself (except the last two named), were contemporaries and neighbors of Smith and his family for the whole period of their residence in this locality, and all of whom were familiar with their money-digging reputation and fabulous "Golden Bible" discovery.
The data for the later chapters of this Mormon history, have been obtained from private correspondence, personal communications, official records, and various published works.
PALMYRA, N.Y., May, 1867.
LETTER OF THURLOW WEED.MR. WEED resided at Rochester, near the scene of Smith's delusive practices, at the time of the inception and development of the Mormon invention, and knew either personally or by common fame the chief impostor and his fellows. The letter below will explain itself:
NEW YORK, June 1, 1867.DEAR SIR: I have been so constantly occupied, that I really did not get time to say how much I was interested
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in your history of Mormonism. I have long hoped that some person with personal knowledge of the origin of this great delusion -- who saw it as I did, when it was "no bigger than a man's hand," and who has the courage and capacity to tell the whole truth, would undertake the task. I read enough of your manuscript to be confident that you have discharged this duty faithfully. The character you have given "Joe Smith," his family and associates, corresponds with what I have often heard from the old citizens of Palmyra. Such a work is wanted, and no one but a writer personally and familiarly acquainted with the false prophet and his surroundings could have written it.
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11 Biography of Joseph Smith, Jr. -- Early Life and Times of the
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58 Publication of the Mormon Bible -- Blooming of the Church of
CHAPTER VII.68 Modified Revelation -- Testimony of Witnesses -- A Prophet that
was not a Prophet -- Sidney Rigdon the first regular Preacher
of the New Gospel -- His Sermon -- Calvin Stoddard receives
a "Call" -- Mormon Emigration to Ohio.
CHAPTER VIII.84 Style of the New Revelation -- Passages from the Book -- Scattered
Tribes -- Journey from Jerusalem to the Promised Land
-- Their Tribulations in the Wilderness and at Sea -- Records
"hid up in the Hill Camorah" or Mormon Hill.
CHAPTER IX.111 Origin of the Book of Mormon -- Who Wrote it? -- Mormon
Legends -- Solomon Spaulding's Fable -- Rigdon and Smith
CHAPTER X.129 Kirtland, Ohio -- Maturity of the Mormon Church -- Theology of
the Saints -- Brigham Young converted -- Martin Harris in
Council -- A Division of the Mormons remove to Misouri --
Saints under Proscription.
CHAPTER XI.153 Mormons in Missouri -- Their Prosperity and Adversity -- Failure
of Smith's Bank at Kirtland -- The Prophet and Young flee
to Misouri -- Mob Conflicts -- Interposition of Government
Authorities -- The Saints driven out of the State -- Scattered
Tribes -- Asylum at Nauvoo.
C O N T E N T S. 9
167 Mormons settle at Nauvoo -- Public Sympathy -- Accessions and
CHAPTER XIII.183 The Polygamous Revelation -- Vices of the Saints - Criminations
and Recriminations -- Conflict with State Authorities --
Assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith-- Young succeeds to
the Spiritual Dictatorship -- Rigdon defreated and expelled.
CHAPTER XIV.203 Exodus from Illinois -- Bold Adventure of Brigham Young --
Sufferings on the Plains -- Mexican War and Mormon Battalion
-- Arrival st Salt Lake -- State of Deseret and Territory of Utah
-- Young declared "Prophet of the Lord" -- Corner-Stone of
the New Temple.
CHAPTER XV.224 Political and Military -- Recusancy of Young -- He circumvents
the Enemy -- Clandestine Mormonism -- Missionary Success --
Statistics of the Saints -- Utah, its Lakes and its City.
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260 Modified Theology -- Young's Wealth -- Polygamy and Spiritual
APPENDIX.280 Letter of Ex-Governor Harding -- Fate of Parley P. Pratt -- Temple
Project at Salt Lake -- Places of Mormon Worship -- Population
of the City and Territory -- The Church and Polygamy --
Young's Tithing Resources -- Pioneer Mormons at Palmyra --
Sacred Archives -- "Command" to preach the Gospel of Nephi
-- Statement of the late Rev. James Townsend - War Romance
of Mormonism -- Institution of the Mormon Metropolis.
ERRATA.Page 123, 4th line, "N. Y." is misprinted for Pa.
Page 203, 2d line, read "unpopulated and unexplored region."
Page 238, 5th line from bottom, right name "Stephen S. Harding."
Page 284, 13th line from top, supply omission, "sixty wives, (including his spiritual household.) &c.BR> In Preface, p. 6, the author's name is omitted from the address of Mr. Weed's letter to him as written.
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of Mr. and Mrs. Smith at the time of their emigration to Western New York.
At Palmyra, Mr. Smith, Sr., opened a "cake and beer shop," as described by his signboard, doing business on a small scale, by the profits of which, added to the earnings of an occasional day's work on hire by himself and his elder sons, for the village and farming people, he was understood to secure a scanty but honest living for himself and family. These hired days' works were divided among the various common labor jobs that offered from time to time, such as gardening, harvesting, well-digging, etc.
Mr. Smith's shop merchandise, consisting of gingerbread, pies, boiled eggs, root-beer, and other like notions of traffic, soon became popular with the juvenile people of the town and country, commanding brisk sales, especially on Fourth of July anniversaries, and on military training days, as these prevailed at that period. Peddling was done in the streets on those occasions by the facility of a rude handcart of the proprietor's own construction.
Mr. Smith and his household continued their residence in Palmyra village, living in the manner described, for some two and a half years. In 1818 they settled upon a nearly wild or unimproved piece of land, mostly covered with standing timber, situate about two miles south of Palmyra, being on the north border of the town of Manchester, Ontario County.
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 13
The title of this landed property was vested in non-resident minor heirs; and the premises being uncared for by any local agent or attorney, the Smiths took possession of it by the rights of "squatter sovereignty." They thus remained unmolested in its possession for some twelve years, occupying as their dwelling-place, in the first instance, a small, one-story, smoky log house, which they had built prior to removing there. This house was divided into two rooms, on the ground-floor, and had a low garret, in two apartments. A bedroom wing, built of sawed slabs, was afterward added.
Subsequently this property was purchased by Mr. Smith on contract, a small payment thereon being made by him to bind the bargain; and in this way his occupancy of the premises was prolonged until after the blooming of the Mormon scheme in 1829.
But little improvement was made upon this land by the Smith family in the way of clearing, fencing, or tillage. Their farm-work was done in a slovenly, half-way, profitless manner. Shortly before quitting the premises they erected a small frame-house thereon, partly enclosed, and never finished by them, in which they lived for the remainder of their time there, using their original log hut for a barn. This property, finally vacated by the Smiths in 1831, is now included in the well-organized farm of Mr. Seth T. Chapman, on Stafford Street, running south from Palmyra.
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The chief application of the useful industry of the Smiths during their residence upon this farm-lot, was in the chopping and retailing of cord-wood, the raising and bartering of small crops of agricultural products and garden vegetables, the manufacture and sale of black-ash baskets and birch brooms, the making of maple sugar and molasses in the season for that work, and in the continued business of peddling cake and beer in the village on days of public doings. It was as a clerk in this last-mentioned line of trade that the rising Joseph (the prophet to be) learned his first lessons in commercial and monetary science. and in this connection it may not be out of place to state, in the way of illustration in respect to the beginning of human greatness on his part -- though the mention of the fact is by no means creditable to the memory of the mischievous parties implicated -- that the boys of those by-gone times used to delight in obtaining the valuable goods intrusted to Joseph's clerkship, in exchange for worthless pewter imitation two-shilling pieces.
The larger proportion of the time of the Smiths, however, was spent in hunting and fishing, trapping muskrats ("mushrats" was the word they used), digging out woodchucks from their holes, and idly lounging around the stores and shops in the village. Joseph generally took the leading direction of the rural enterprises mentioned, instead of going to
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 15
school like other boys -- though he was seldom known personally to participate in the practical work involved in these or any other pursuits. Existing as they did from year to year in this thriftless manner, with seemingly inadequate visible means or habits of profitable industry for their respectable livelihood, it is not at all to be wondered at that the suspicions of some good people in the community were apt to be turned toward them, especially in view of the frequently occurring nocturnal depredations and thefts in the neighborhood. On these accounts the inhabitants came to observe more than their former vigilance in the care of their sheepfolds, hencoops, smoke-houses, pork-barrels, and the like domestic interests; though it is but common fairness to accompany this fact by the statement, that it is not within the remembrance of the writer, who in this designedly impartial narrative would "nothing extenuate nor aught set down in malice," if the popular inferences in this matter were ever sustained by judicial investigation.
It is appropriate to remark, however, that the truth of history, no less than proper deference to the recollections of many living witnesses in Palmyra and its vicinity, demand that these reminiscences should be given, intimately blended as they are with the purpose in hand, to present before the public a candid and authentic account of the origin, rise, and progress of Mormonism, from its first foundation.
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At this period in the life and career of Joseph Smith, Jr., or "Joe Smith," as he was universally named, and the Smith family, they were popularly regarded as an illiterate, whisky-drinking, shiftless, irreligious race of people -- the first named, the chief subject of this biography, being unanimously voted the laziest and most worthless of the generation. From the age of twelve to twenty years he is distinctly remembered as a dull-eyed, flaxen-haired prevaricating boy -- noted only for his indolent and vagabondish character, and his habits of exaggeration and untruthfulness. Tactiurnity was among his characteristic idiosyncrasies, and he seldom spoke to any one outside of his intimate associates, except when first addressed by another; and then, by reason of his extravagances of statement, his word was received with the least confidence by those who knew him best. He could utter the most palpable exaggeration or marvelous absurdity with the utmost apparent gravity. He nevertheless evidenced the rapid development of a thinking, plodding, evil-brewing mental composition -- largely given to inventions of low cunning, schemes of mischief and deception, and false and mysterious pretensions. In his moral phrenology the professor might have remarked the organ of secretiveness as very large, and that of conscientiousness "omitted." He was, however, proverably good-natured, very rarely if ever indulging in any combative spirit toward any
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 17
one, whatever might be the provocation, and yet was never known to laugh. Albeit, he seemed to be the pride of his indulgent father, who has been heard to boast of him as the "genus of the family," quoting his own expression.
Joseph, moreover, as he grew in years, had learned to read comprehensively, in which qualification he was far in advance of his elder brother, and even of his father; and his talent was assiduously devoted, as he quitted or modified his idle habits, to the perusal of works of fiction and records of criminality, such for instance as would be classed with the "dime novels" of the present day. The stories of Stephen Burroughs and Captain Kidd, and the like, presented the highest charms for his expanding mental perceptions. As he further advanced in reading and knowledge, he assumed a spiritual or religious turn of mind, and frequently perused the Bible, becoming quite familiar with portions thereof, both of the Old and New Testaments; selected texts from which he quoted and discussed with great assurance when in the presence of his superstitious acquaintances. The Prophecies and Revelations were his special forte. His interpretations of scriptural passages were always original and unique, and his deductions and conclusions often disgustingly blasphemous, according to the common apprehensions of Christian people.
Protracted revival meetings were customary in
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some of the churches, and Smith frequented those of different denominations, sometimes professing to participate in their devotional exercises. At one time he joined the probationary class of the Methodist church in Palmyra, and made some active demonstrations of engagedness, though his assumed convictions were insufficiently grounded or abiding to carry him along to the saving point of conversion, and he soon withdrew from the class. the final conclusion announced by him was, that all sectarianism was fallacious, all the churches on a false foundation, and the Bible a fable.
In unbelief, theory and practice, the Smith family, all as one, so far as they held any definable position upon the subject of religion -- basing this conclusion upon all the early avowals and other evidences remembered, as well as upon the subsequent developments extant -- were unqualified atheists. Can their mockeries of Christianity, their persistent blasphemies, be accounted for upon any other hypothesis?
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS.
Joseph kept this stone, and ever after afterward refused its restoration to the claimants. very soon the pretension transpired that he could see wonderful
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things by its aid. This idea was rapidly enlarged upon from day to day, and in a short time his spiritual endowment was so developed that he asserted the gift and power (with the stone at his eyes) of revealing both things existing and things to come.
For a length of time this clairvoyant manifestation was sought to be turned to selfish advantage, in the way of fortune-telling, and in the pretended discovery by the medium of the seer-stone of lost or stolen property. But the realizations from these sources were insufficient to encourage a long continuance of the experiments, though some small amounts were obtained by them; and a very worthy citizen now living in Palmyra actually paid seventy-five cents in money for being sent some three miles on a fool's errand in pursuit of a stolen roll of cloth. It is presumed to be needless to add, that no genuine discoveries of stolen property were made in this manner, and that the entire proceeds derived from the speculation went into Joe's pocket.
The most glittering sights revealed to the mortal vision of the young impostor in the manner stated were hidden treasures of great value, including enormous deposits of gold and silver sealed in earthen pots or iron chests, and buried in the earth in the immediate vicinity of the place where he stood. These discoveries finally became too dazzling for his eyes in daylight, and he had to shade his vision by looking
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 21
at the stone in his hat! Of course but few persons were sufficiently stolid to listen to these silly pretensions, for they were only of a piece with Joe's habitual extravagances of assertion. Yet he may have had believers.
Persisting in this claim to the gift of spiritual discernment, Smith very soon succeeded in his experiment upon the credulity of a selected audience of ignorant and superstitious persons, to an extent which it is presumed he could not himself anticipated at the outset of the trial. he followed up this advantage, and by its means, in the spring of 1820, raised some small contributions from the people in the vicinity, to defray the expense of digging for the buried money, the precise hiding-place of which he had discovered by the aid of the stone in his hat. At an appointed time, being at a dead hour of night, his dupes and employed laborers repaired with lanterns to the revealed locality of the treasure, which was upon the then forest hill, a short distance from his father's house; and after some preparatory mystic ceremonies, the work of digging began at his signal. Silence, as the condition of success, had been enjoined upon the chosen few present, who were to be sharers in the expected prize. The excavating process was continued for some two hours, without a word being spoken -- the magician meanwhile indicating, by some sort of a want in his hand, the exact
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spot where the spade was to be crowded into the earth -- when, just at the moment the money-box was within the seer's grasp, one of the party, being "tempted by the devil," spoke! The enchantment was broken, and the treasure vanished! Such was Joe's explanation, and, ridiculous as was the idea, it was apparently satisfactory to his dupes.
This was the inauguration of the impostor's money-digging performances; and the description given of this first trial and of its results is as near exactitude as can at this time be recollected from his own accounts. Several of the individuals participating in this and subsequent diggings, and many others well remembering the stories of the time, are yet living witnesses of these follies, and can make suitable corrections if the particulars as stated are not substantially according to the facts.
The imposture was renewed and repeated at frequent intervals from 1820 to 1827, various localities being the scenes of these delusive searches for money, as pointed out by the revelations of the magic stone. And these tricks of young Smith were not too absurd for the credence of his fanatical followers. He was sufficiently artful and persevering to preserve his spell-holding power over their minds, and to keep up his deceptions for the length of time before stated. It certainly evidences extraordinary talent or subtlety, that for so long a period he could maintain the potency
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 23
of his art over numbers of beings in the form of manhood, acknowledging their faith in his supernatural powers. He continued to use this advantage in the progress of his experiments to raise from them and others contributions in money and various articles of value, amounting to a considerable aggregate sum, being enough to pay the digging expenses (whisky and labor), and also in this way securing a handsome surplus, which went in part toward necessary domestic supplies for the Smith family.
In some instances individuals were impelled, in their donations in this business, by the motive of ridding themselves of Smith's importunities, while others advanced the idea that there "might be something in it" as they explained in reply to the unfavorable suggestions of reflecting friends. One respectable and forehanded citizen, now living in Manchester, confesses to having patronized Smith's perseverance on this idea, and says he once handed him a silver dollar, partly in that view and partly to "get rid of the fellow." Smith's father and elder brothers generally participated in the manual labors of these diggings, and their example seemed to revive confidence in the sometimes wavering victims of the imposture, and also to bring others to their aid.
The subsequent operations on this head were conducted substantially in the mode and manner of the finest performance, as described, with slight variations
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in the incantations, and always with the same result -- Smith "almost" getting hold of the money-chest, but finally losing it by the coincident breaking of the "spell" through some unforeseen satanic interposition. By this cause the money would vanish just at the instant of its coming within the necromancer's mortal grasp!
A single instance of Smith's style of conducting these money-diggings will suffice for the whole series, and also serve to illustrate his low cunning, and show the strange infatuation of the persons who yielded to his unprincipled designs. Assuming his accustomed air of mystery on one of the occasions, and pretending to see by his marvelous stone exactly where the sought-for chest of money had lodged in its subterranean transits, Smith gave out the revelation that a "black sheep" would be required as a sacrificial offering upon the enchanted ground before entering upon the work of exhumation. He knew that his kind-hearted neighbor, William Stafford,* who was a listener to his plausible story -- a respectable farmer in comfortable worldly circumstances -- possessed a fine, fat, black wether, intended for division between his family use and the village market, and Smith knew, moreover, that fresh meat was a rarity at his father's home
* Mr. Stafford, beginning in early life, had been for many years a sailor, and was largely prone to the vagaries and superstitions peculiar to his class. He was thus an easy victim.
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 25
where he lived. The scheme succeeded completely. It was arranged that Mr. Stafford should invest the wether as his stock in the speculation, the avails of which were to be equitably shared among the company engaging in it. At the approach of the appointed hour at night, the digging fraternity, with lanterns, and the fattened sheep for the sacrifice, were conducted by Smith to the place where the treasure was to be obtained. There Smith described a circle upon the ground around the buried chest, where the blood of the animal was to be shed as the necessary condition of his power to secure the glittering gold. As usual, not a word was to be spoken during the ceremony, nor until after the prize was brought forth. All things being thus in readiness, the throat of the sheep was cut by one of the party according to previous instructions, the poor animal made to pour its own blood around the circle, and the excavation entered upon in a vigorous and solemn manner. In this case the digging was continued for about three hours, when the "devil" again frustrated the plan exactly in the same way as on the repeated trials before! In the mean time, the elder Smith, aided by one of the junior sons, had withdrawn the sacrificial carcass and reduced its flesh to mutton for his family use.
Such is a true account, so far as it goes, of the long-continued and astonishingly successful career of vice and deception led by Joseph Smith, Jr., which is
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believed to be ample in detail for the object of this publication. these delusions, persevered in and improved upon from time to time, culminated in 1827 by the great imposture of the pretended finding of the "ancient metallic plates resembling gold," afterward translated into the "Golden Bible" of Book of Mormon, as will be explained in subsequent pages.
Numerous traces of the excavations left by Smith are yet remaining as evidences of his impostures and the folly of his dupes, though most of them have become obliterated by the clearing off and tilling of the lands where they were made.
It is an interesting illustrative fact to be noticed in the history of Mormonism, as will hereafter be seen, that the origin of that extraordinary politico-religious institution is traceable to the insignificant little stone found in the digging of Mr. Chase's well in 1819. Such was the acorn of the Mormon oak.
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS.
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A mysterious stranger now appears at Smith's residence, and holds private interviews with the far-famed money-digger. For a considerable length of time no intimation of the name or purpose of this personage transpired to the public, not even to Smith's nearest neighbors. It was observed by some of them that his visits were frequently repeated. The sequel of these private interviews between the stranger and the money-digger will sufficiently appear hereafter.
About this time Smith had a remarkable vision. He pretended that, while engaged in secret prayer, alone in the wilderness, an "angel of the Lord" appeared to him, with the glad tidings that "all his sins had been forgiven," and proclaiming further that "all the religious denominations were believing in false doctrines, and consequently that none of them were accepted of God as His Church and Kingdom;" also that he had received a "promise that the true doctrine and the fullness of the gospel should at some future time be revealed to him. Following this, soon came another angel, (or possibly the same one,) revealing to him that he was to be "the favored instrument of the new revelation;" "that the American Indians were a remnant of the Israelites, who, after coming to this country, had their prophets and inspired writings; that such of their writings as had not been destroyed were safely deposited in a certain
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 29
place made known to him, and to him only; that they contained revelations in regard to the last days, and that, if he remained faithful, he would be the chosen prophet to translate them to the world."
In the fall of the same year Smith had yet a more miraculous and astonishing vision than any preceding one. He now arrogated to himself, by authority of "the spirit of revelation," and in accordance with the previous "promises" made to him, a far higher sphere in the scale of human existence, assuming to possess the gift and power of "prophet, seer, and revelator." On this assumption he announced to his family friends and the bigoted persons who had adhered to his supernaturalism, that he was "commanded," upon a secretly fixed day and hour, to go alone to a certain spot revealed to him by the angel, and there take out of the earth a metallic book of great antiquity in its origin, and of immortal importance in its consequences to the world, which was a record, in mystic letters or characters, of the long-lost tribes of Israel before spoke of, who had primarily inhabited this continent, and which no human being besides himself could see and live; and the power to translate which to the nations of the earth was also given to him only, as the chosen servant of God! This was substantially, if not literally, the pretension of Smith, as related by himself, and repeatedly quoted by his credulous friends at the time.
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Much pains were taken by the Smith family and the prophet's money-digging disciples to give wide circulation to the wonderful revelation, and in great gravity to predict its marvelous fulfilment. It is unknown, however, if the momentous announcement produced any sensation in the community, though it is fair to presume that the victims of Smith's former deceptive practices regarded it with some seriousness.
Accordingly, when the appointed hour came, the prophet, assuming his practised air of mystery, took in hand his money-digging spade and a large napkin, and went off in silence and alone in the solitude of the forest, and after an absence of some three hours, returned, apparently with the sacred charge concealed within the folds of the napkin. Reminding the family of the original injunction of non-intervention and non-inspection was given to them, under the same terrible penalty as before denounced for its violation. Conflicting stories were afterward told in regard to the manner of keeping the book in concealment and safety, which are not worth repeating, further than to mention that the first place of secretion was said to be under a heavy hearthstone in the Smith family mansion.
Smith told a frightful story of the display of celestial pyrotechnics -- the angel who had led him to the discovery again appearing as his guide and protector,
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 31
and confronting ten thousand devils gathered there, with their menacing sulfurous flame and smoke, to deter him from his purpose! This story was repeated and magnified by the believers, and no doubt aided the experiment upon superstitious minds which eventuated so successfully.
Mr. Willard Chase, a carpenter and joiner, was called upon by Smith and requested to make a strong chest in which to keep the golden book under lock and key, in order to prevent the awful calamity that would follow against the person other than himself who should behold it with his natural eyes. He could not pay a shilling for the work, and therefore proposed to make Mr. Chase a sharer in the profits ultimately anticipated in some manner not definitely stated; but the proposition was rejected -- the work was refused on the terms offered. It was understood, however, that the custodian of the precious treasure afterward in some way procured a chest for his purpose, which, with its sacred deposit, was kept in a dark garret of his father's house, where the translations were subsequently made, as will be explained. An anecdote touching this subject used to be related by William T. Hussey and Azel Vandruver. They were notorious wags, and were intimately acquainted with Smith. They called as his friends at his residence, and strongly importuned him for an inspection of the "golden book," offering to take upon themselves
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the risk of the death-penalty denounced. Of course, the request could not be complied with; but they were permitted to go to the chest with its owner, and see where the thing was, and observe its shape and size, concealed under a piece of thick canvas. Smith, with his accustomed solemnity of demeanor, positively persisting in his refusal to uncover it, Hussey became impetuous, and (suiting his action to his word) ejaculated, "Egad! I'll see the critter, live or die!" And stripping off the cover, a large tile-brick was exhibited. But Smith's fertile imagination was equal to the emergency. He claimed that his friends had been sold by a trick of his; and "treating" with the customary whisky hospitalities, the affair ended in good-nature.
With the book was also found, or so pretended, a huge pair of spectacles in a perfect state of preservation, or the Urim and Thummim,* as afterward interpreted,
* The best attainable definition of the very ancient Urim and Thummim is quite vague and indistinct. An accepted biblical ;lexicographer gives the meaning as "light and perfection," or the "shining and the perfect." The following is quoted from Butterworth's Concordance: "There are various conjectures about the Urim and Thummim, whether they were the stones in the high-priest's breast-plate, or something distinct from them; which it is not worth our while to inquire into, since God has left it a secret. It is evident that the Urim and Thummim were appointed to inquire of God by, on momentous occasions, and continued in use (as some think) only till the building of Solomon's Temple, and all conclude that this was never restored after its destruction."
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 33
whereby the mystic record was to be translated and the wonderful dealings of God revealed to man, by the superhuman power of Joe Smith. This spectacle pretension, however, is believed to have been purely an after-thought, for it was not heard of outside of the Smith family for a considerable period subsequent to the first story. So in regard to Smith's after-averment, that he had received a revelation of the existence of the records in 1823, but was not permitted to touch or mention them until "the fullness of time" should come for the great event, this idea was also a secondary invention.
The marvelous metallic book and its accompaniment soon became a common topic of conversation far an near; but the sacred treasure was not seen by mortal eyes, save those of the one announced, until after the lapse of a year or longer time, when it was found expedient to have a new revelation, as Smith's bare word had utterly failed to gain a convert beyond his original circle of believers. By this amended revelation, the veritable existence of the book was certified to by eleven witnesses of Smith's selection. It was then heralded as the Golden Bible, or Book of Mormon, * and as the beginning of a new gospel dispensation. Wonderful stories and predictions followed
* Philologically, "Mormon" is probably synonymous with mormo, which, according to Webster, signifies "bugbear -- false terror." At least, this definition is sufficiently appropriate.
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in regard to the future "light" and destiny of the world, but these were for a time very crude and very conflicting, and therefore scarcely definable or worth repeating, and they had little attraction for public notice or curiosity. The reader will be content with the narration of these things as they ultimately took shape and system.
The spot from which the book is alleged to have been taken, is the yet partially visible pit where the money speculators had previously dug for another kind of treasure, which is upon the summit of what has ever since been known as "Mormon Hill," now owned by Mr. Anson Robinson, in the town of Manchester, New York.
This book of sacred records, after the dispersion of the first vague reports concerning it, was finally described by Smith and his echoes as consisting of metallic leaves or plates resembling gold, bound together in a volume by three rings running through one edge of them, the leaves opening like an ordinary paper book. The leaves were about the thickness of common tin. Each leaf or plate was filled on both sides with engravings of finely-drawn characters, which resembled Egyptian or other hieroglyphics. The Urim and Thummim, found with the records, were two transparent crystals set in the rims of a bow, in the form of spectacles of enormous size. This constituted the seer's instrument whereby the records were to be
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 35
translated and the mysteries of hidden things revealed, and it was to supersede the further use of the magic stone. The entire sacred acquisition was delivered into the hands of the prophet by the heavenly messenger attending him, amid the awful surroundings already stated, after the former had thrown up a few spadefuls of earth in pursuance of the Lord's command. Such was Smith's ingenious story at the time, the characterization of which is left for the reader.
Translations and interpretations were now entered upon by the prophet, and manuscript specimens of these, with some of the literally transcribed characters, were shown to people, including ministers and other gentlemen of learning and influence. These translations purported to relate to the history of scattered tribes of the earth, chiefly "Nephites" and "Lamanites," who, after the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel, had been directed by the Lord across the sea to this then wilderness-land, where they mostly perished by wars among themselves, and by pestilence and famine. and from whose remnants sprang our North American Indians. They were an attempted imitation of the Scriptural style of composition, containing some plagiarisms from the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, drawing largely upon Isaiah and Jeremiah, and taking from Matthew nearly the whole of Christ's Sermon on the Mount, with
36 M O R M O N I S M:
some alterations. The manuscripts were in the handwriting of one Oliver Cowdery, which had been written down by him, as he and Smith declared, from the translations, word for word, as made by the latter with the aid of the mammoth spectacles or Urim and Thummim, and verbally announced by him from behind a blanket-screen drawn across a dark corner of a room at his residence -- for at this time the original revelation, limiting to the prophet the right of seeing the sacred plates, had not yet been changed, and the view with the instrument used was even too brilliant for his own spiritualized eyes in the light! This was the story of the first series of translations, which was always persisted in by the few persons connected with the business at this early period of its progress. The single significance of this theory will doubtless be manifest, when the facts are stated in explanation, that Smith could not write in a legible hand, and hence an amanuensis or scribe was necessary. Cowdery had been a schoolmaster, and was the only man in the band who could make a copy for the printer.
The manifest purpose of exhibiting these manuscripts in the manner adopted, was to test the popular credulity in regard to their assumed divine character; and also to determine, by the responses that should be elicited, as to the practicability of carrying out a concocted design of printing the "new Bible." Among
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 37
others, Mr. George Crane, of the adjoining town of Macedon, a Quaker of intelligence, property, and high respectability (now deceased), was called upon by Smith with several foolscap quires of these so-called translations, for his perusal and opinion, and also for his pecuniary aid to get the work through the press. The impious story, in all its extravagance and garniture, was related to him, to which he quietly listened to the end. And then came the answer of the honest old Ouaker, which was such as would have been withering to the sensibility of an ordinary impostor -- though Smith was unmoved by it, for his spirit of determination was never known to yield consentingly to any adverse human influence. Sternly rebuking Smith's pretensions, and denouncing them as in a high degree blasphemous and wicked, Mr. Crane kindly but earnestly admonished him, for his own good, to desist from his criminal pursuit, warning him that persistence therein would be certain to end in his death upon the gallows, or in some equally ignominious manner. How far this friendly warning was made prophetic, by the murderous catastrophe occurring fifteen years afterward, in Illinois, is a question respectfully submitted to the reader.
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These pioneer Mormon disciples, so far as their names can now be recollected, were as follows, viz.: Oliver Cowdery, Samuel Lawrence, Martin Harris, Preserved Harris, Peter Ingersoll, Charles Ford, George Proper and his wife Dolly, of Palmyra; Ziba Peterson, and Calvin Stoddard and his wife Sophronia, of Macedon; Ezra Thayer, of Brighton; Luman Walters, of Pultneyville; Hiram Page, of
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 39
Fayette; David Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Christian Whitmer, John Whitmer, and Peter Whitmer, Jr., of Phelps; Simeon Nichols, or Farmington; William Stafford, Joshua Stafford, Gad Stafford, David Fish, Abram Fish, Robert Orr, King H. Quance, John Morgan, Orrin Rockwell and his wife Caroline, Widow Sally Risley, and all the remainder of the Smith family, of Manchester.
It is believed that this list embraces all the persons residing at or near the prime seat of the Mormon advent, who from first to last made a profession of belief either in the money-digging or golden bible finding pretensions of Joseph Smith, Jr.; and probably, indeed, not more than one-half of these can be said to have been genuine converts under one head or the other. It has been added in this connection, however, that a man of the name of Parley P. Pratt, or Lorain County, Ohio, who, on hearing of the new religion, after the Mormon book was printed (as he said in explanation of his movement), stopped off a canal-boat at Palmyra, and at Smith's residence embraced the Mormon faith, and joined the organization which had then been imperfectly inaugurated. He was a member of an association of anti-sectarians, mostly dissenters from different religious denominations, whose place of worship was at Mentor, Ohio. "Rev. Sidney Rigdon" was the regular minister of this congregation; though Pratt himself had done something
40 M O R M O N I S M:
in the way of preaching there and elsewhere, and was aspiring to still higher position in the clerical vocation. The latter, with his spiritual guide Rigdon, afterward went with the first emigrants to Kirtland, and, continuing his association with the new sect, immediately became a prominent and efficient co-worker in its priesthood, and was subsequently an important spoke in the Mormon hierarchy at Salt Lake. *
How many of the preceding list of pioneer "Latter-Day Saints" at Palmyra and vicinity remained faithful, or took more than the first degree in the new institution, is now unknown to the writer. It is recollected that at least a portion, perhaps the majority of them, became backsliders after a very brief experience.
The proposition to publish the new revelation was not yet an adjourned question. Martin Harris enthusiastically favored it, and he was the man calculated on for the means of payment for the printing. He was one of the earliest, if not, in truth, the only real believer. He was a religious monomaniac, reading the Scriptures intently, and could probably repeat from memory nearly every text of the Bible from beginning to end, giving the chapter and verse in each case. His superstition and cupidity were both appealed
* The reader, as he pursues this history, will discover the bearing of the coincidence here referred to, upon the questions of the literary origin and prime invention of the "Golden Bible."
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 41
to in this matter. Though he unreservedly gave in his adhesion to the book as of divine appointment, he was by no means so prompt in his willingness to bear the whole cost of printing it, for he was proverbially a covetous, money-loving man, but an honest and benevolent one. His habit had been to look out for the best chances in a bargain, and it was natural that he should desire further opportunity for examination and consideration, and also for trying his influence in proselyting -- the latter object being with a view to judging of the question of reimbursement, should he advance the money required -- and he was accordingly permitted to take the manuscript translations into his possession. Reading a portion of them to his wife, a Quakeress of positive qualities, she denounced the whole performance as silly and impious. His neighbors and friends, whom he importuned and bored on the subject, uniformly expressed the same sentiment and belief, and cautioned him against being imposed upon and defrauded.
But this opposition served only to strengthen Harris's profession of faith and increase his inclination to make the printing investment. Yet he evidenced some method in his madness, for, before doing so, he sought out the "wisdom of learned men," as he said, relative to the genuineness of the revelation and discovery. he accordingly procured from Smith some resemblances of antique characters or hieroglyphics
42 M O R M O N I S M:
purporting to be exact copies from the plates; which, together with the translations in his possession, he carried to New York City, where he sought for them the interpretation and bibliogical scrutiny of such scholars as Hon. Luther Bradish, Dr. Mitchell, Professor Anthon, and others. All the gentlemen applied to were understood to have scouted the whole pretense as too depraved for serious attention, while commiserating the applicant as the victim of fanaticism or insanity.
Harris, nevertheless, stood firm in his position, regarding these untoward results merely as "proving the lack of wisdom" on the part of the rejecters, and also as illustrating the truth of his favorite quotation, that "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise." This was always his self-convincing argument in reply to similar adversity in his fanatical pursuit.
The following is Professor Anthon's account of Harris's interview with him, as given and published a few years afterward. It was addressed in a letter to a friend in reply to inquiries, and dated
"New York, February 17, 1834.Some years ago, a plain, apparently simple-hearted farmer, called on me with a note from Dr. Mitchell, of our city, now dead, requesting me to decipher, if possible, the paper which the farmer would
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 43
hand me. Upon examining the paper in question, I soon came to the conclusion that it was all a trick -- perhaps a hoax. When I asked the person who brought it how he obtained the writing, he gave me the following account: A 'golden book,' consisting of a number of plates fastened together by wires of the same material, had been dug up in the northern part of the State of New York, and along with it an enormous pair of 'spectacles!' These spectacles were so large, that, if any person attempted to look through them, his two eyes would look through one glass only -- the spectacles in question being altogether too large for the human face. 'Whoever,' he said 'examined the plates through the glasses, was enabled not only to read them, but fully to understand their meaning.'
All this knowledge, however was confined to a young man, who had the trunk containing the book and spectacles in his sole possession. This young man was placed behind a curtain, in a garret in a farm-house, and being thus concealed from view, he put on the spectacles occasionally, or, rather, looked through one of the glasses, deciphered the characters in the book, and having committed some of them to paper, handed copies from behind the curtain to those who stood outside. Not a word was said about their being deciphered by the 'gift of God.' Every thing in this way was effected by the large pair of spectacles.
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The farmer added, that he had been requested to contribute a sum of money toward the publication of the 'golden book,' the contents of which would, as he was told, produce an entire change in the world, and save it from ruin. So urgent had been these solicitations, that he intended selling his farm and giving the amount to those who wished to publish the plates. As a last precautionary step, he had resolved to come to New York and obtain the opinion of the 'learned; about the meaning of the paper which he had brought with him, and which had been given him as a part of the contents of the book . . . .
The paper in question was, in fact, a singular scroll. It consisted of all kinds of singular characters, disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets; Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted or placed sideways, were arranged and placed in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle, divided into various compartments, arched 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. I am thus particular as to the contents of the paper, inasmuch as I have frequently conversed with my friends on the subject since the Mormon excitement began, and well
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 45
remember that the paper contained any thing else but "Egyptian hieroglyphics.'
Harris appears not to have presented the "translations" with the hieroglyphics to Professor Anthon, or if so, the immaterial fact had left too slight an impression for his recollection at the time of writing the above statement.
The pursuer after knowledge returned home, confirmed rather than shaken in his belief; for he had taken the sensible conclusions of the "learned men" he had seen by the rule of contraries, declaring in a boastful spirit that God had enabled him, an unlearned man as he was, to "confound worldly wisdom." He apparently became seized with the Golden Bible mania beyond redemption. It was his constant theme wherever he appeared, rendering him, by his readings and commentaries, on object both of sympathy and dread to his friends and all whom he met.
As might have been anticipated, Harris's wife became exceedingly annoyed and disgusted with what she called her husband's "craziness." She foresaw, as she thought, that if he incurred the printing liability, as he had avowed to her his purpose of doing, the event would be the ruin of herself and family.
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Thus exercised, she contrived, in her husband's sleep, to steal from him the particular source of her disturbance, and burned the manuscript to ashes. For years she kept the incendiarism a profound secret to herself, even until after the book was published. Smith and Harris held her accountable for the theft, but supposed she had handed the manuscript to some "evil-designing persons" to be used somehow in injuring their cause. A feud was thus produced between the husband and wife, which was never reconciled.
Great consternation now pervaded the Mormon circles. The reappearance of the mysterious stranger at Smith's was again the subject of inquiry and conjecture by observers, from whom was withheld all explanation of his identity or purpose.
It was not at first an easy task to convince the prophet of the entire innocency of his trusted friend Harris in the matter of this calamitous event, though mutual confidence and friendship were ultimately restored. The great trouble was, the lost translations could not be replaced, or at least such apparently was the difficulty. It might be supposed that, with his golden plates and spectacles before him, and with the benefit of the divine aid as he claimed, the prophet could easily have supplied a duplicate; and so he doubtless would have done had he really been the translator or original author of the composition. To explain his inability to reproduce the missing pages, he said he had received
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a revelation of the Lord's displeasure for his imprudence in placing them in Harris's hands, and on this account forbidding his rewriting the same; and another reason for this interdiction was, that his enemies had obtained possession of the manuscripts, and altered them with a view of "confounding him" and embarrassing his great work of enlightenment and salvation! He and Harris were undoubtedly led to suppose that the lost manuscripts remained in existence, and might somehow be used for the object assigned.
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The work of translation this time had been done in the recess of a dark artificial cave, which Smith had caused to be dug in the east side of the forest-hill
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 49
near his residence, now owned by Mr. Amos Miner. At least such was one account given out by the Mormon fraternity; though another version was, that the prophet continued to pursue his former mode of translating behind the curtain at his house, and only went into the cave to pay his spiritual devotions and seek the continued favor of Divine Wisdom. His stays in the cave varied from fifteen minutes to an hour or over -- the entrance meanwhile being guarded by one or more of his disciples. This ceremony scarcely attracted the curiosity of outsiders, though it was occasionally witnessed by men and boys living near the scene.
This excavation was at the time said to be one hundred and sixty feet in extent, though that is probably an exaggeration. It had a substantial door of two-inch plank, secured by a corresponding lock. From the lapse of time and natural causes the cave has been closed for years, very little mark of its former existence remaining to be seen.
Encouraged by the continued favoring hallucination of Harris, an active canvass was now commenced by the Mormons for the printing. Harris was the only man of property or credit known in all Mormondom; and, as will appear, he happened to be exactly the appropriate subject for the prophet's designs; for without his timely aid and pecuniary sacrifice the Golden Bible would probably have remained forever an unpublished
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romance. And, as has already been intimated, he alone was depended upon for the means to pay for its printing, for no other man of the whole Mormon tribe could have raised a dollar of his own money for that or any other object. he was a prosperous, independent farmer, strict;y upright in his business dealings, and, although evidencing good qualifications in the affairs of his industrial calling, yet he was the slave of the peculiar religious fanaticism controlling his mental organization. "Marvelousness" being his predominating phrenological development, he was noted for the betrayal of vague superstitions -- a belief in dreams, ghosts, hobgoblins, "special providences," terrestrial visits of angels, the interposition of "devils" to afflict sinful men, etc. He was the son of Nathan Harris, an early settler in Palmyra, and aged about forty-three years. His family consisted of a wife, one son, and two daughters.
This was the position of Martin Harris in the community at this important turning-period in his life and career. In June, 1829, Smith and the prophet, his brother Hyrum, Cowdery the scribe, and Harris the believer, applied to Mr. Egbert B. Grandin, then publisher of the Wayne Sentinel at Palmyra (now deceased), for his price to do the work of one edition of three thousand copies. Harris offered to pay or secure payment if a bargain should be made. Only a few sheets of
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 51
the manuscript, as a specimen, with the title-page, were exhibited at this time, though the whole number of folios was stated, whereby could be made a calculation of the cost. Mr. Grandin at once expressed his disinclination to entertain the proposal to print at any price, believing the whole affair to be a wicked imposture and a scheme to defraud Mr. Harris, who was his friend, and whom he advised accordingly. This admonition was kindly but firmly resisted by Harris, and resented with assumed pious indignation by the Smiths, Cowdery taking little or no part in the conversation. Some further parleying followed, Harris resolutely persisting in his deafness to the friendly expressions of regard from Mr. Grandin, and also from several other well-disposed neighbors happening to be present at the interview, who vainly united in the effort to dissuade him from his purpose. Afterward, however, it was thought Harris became for a time in some degree staggered in his confidence; but nothing could be done in the way of printing without his aid, and so the prophet persevered in his spell-binding influence and seductive arts, as will be seen, with ultimate success. Further interviews followed, Grandin being earnestly importuned to reconsider his opinion and determination. He was assured by Harris, that if he refused to do the work, it would be procured elsewhere. And the subject was temporarily dropped, except that Grandin complied with Harris's
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request for an approximate estimate of the cost of the proposed edition.
Immediately thereafter, the same Mormon party, or a portion of them, applied to Mr. Thurlow Weed, of the Anti-Masonic Inquirer at Rochester, from whom they met a similar repulse. Mr. Weed's own words in regard to the manuscript and the printing proposal are: "After reading a few chapters, it seemed such a jumble of unintelligible absurdities, that we refused the work, advising Harris not to mortgage his farm and beggar his family." Mt. Elihu F. Marshall, a book publisher, also at Rochester, was the applied to, and he gave his terms for the printing and binding of the book, with his acceptance of the proffered mode of security for the payment.
Whereupon the "saints" returned to Palmyra, and renewed their request to Mr. Grandin, reassuring him that the work was to be done at any rate, and pleading that they would be saved much inconvenience and cost of travel to have the printing done at Palmyra, where they lived, especially as the manuscripts were to be delivered and the proof-sheets examined daily by them at the printing-office.
It was upon this statement of the facts, and in this view of the case, that Mr. Grandin, on taking the advice of several discreet, fair-minded neighbors, finally reconsidered his course of policy, and entered into contract for the printing and binding of five thousand
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 53
copies of the Book of Mormon at the price of $3,000, taking Harris's bond and mortgage as offered in security for payment. the contract was faithfully and satisfactorily fulfilled by both parties, and the book in its entire edition as bargained for was completed and delivered early in the summer of i830.
In the beginning of the printing the Mormons professed to hold their manuscripts as "sacred." and insisted upon maintaining constant vigilance for their safety during the progress of the work, each morning carrying to the printing-office the installment required for the day, after withdrawing the same at evening. No alteration from copy in any manner was to be made. These things were "strictly commanded," as they said. Mr. John H. Gilbert, as printer, had the chief operative trust of the type-setting and press-work of the job. After the first day's trial he found the manuscripts in so very imperfect a condition, especially in regard to grammar, that be became unwilling further to obey the "command" and so announced to Smith and his party; when, finally, upon much friendly expostulation, he was given a limited discretion in correcting, which was exercised in the particulars of syntax, orthography, punctuation, capitalizing, paragraphing, etc. Many errors under these heads, nevertheless, escaped correction, as appear in the first edition of the printed book. Very soon, too -- after some ten days -- the constant vigilance by the
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Mormons over the manuscripts was relaxed by reason of the confidence they came to repose in the printers. Mr. Gilbert has now in his possession a complete copy of the book in the original sheets, as laid off by him from the press in working.
It may be due to the memory of Mr. Grandin, in relation to this Golden Bible printing contract, to mention the fact that Mrs. Harris, who had so strenuously objected to her husband's fanatical course, fully conceded the propriety of Mr. Grandin's action under the circumstances as they existed.
Meanwhile, Harris and his wife had separated by mutual agreement, on account of her persistent unbelief in Mormonism and refusal to be a party to the mortgage. The family estate was divided, Harris giving her about eighty acres of the farm, with a comfortable house and other property as her share of the assets; and she occupied this property until the time of her death. the main farm and homestead, about one hundred and fifty acres of land, was retained by himself, the mortgage covering only this portion; but Mormonism, more than farming or other business, ever afterward engaged his attention, and this was the beginning of adversity which ultimately reduced him to poverty.
The farm mortgaged was sold by Harris in 1831 at private sale, not by foreclosure, and a sufficiency of the avails went to pay Grandin -- though it is presumed
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 55
Harris might have paid the $3,000 without the sale of the farm. This was among the best properties of the kind in the town. Most of it, including the homestead portion, is the same now owned by Mr. Thomas Chapman, a mile and a half north of the village of Palmyra.
As will be seen, Harris was led to believe that the book would be a profitable speculation for him, and very likely in this may be traced his leading motive for taking the venture. he was vouchsafed the security of a "special revelation" commanding that the new Bible should in no instance be sold at a less price than "ten shillings." and that he himself should have the exclusive right of sale, with all the avails -- the only purpose of the Mormon saints being the unselfish one to "get the great light before the world for the salvation of mankind!" Indeed, he figured up the profits with all the certainty of their realization, that the most enthusiastic calculator would feel in "counting his chickens before they are hatched." Like thousands of fortunes made on paper, this process by Harris was an easy matter, thus: 5,000 books at $1.25 per book, $6,250. First cost, $3,000. Showing a clear speculation of over one hundred per cent upon the investment!
In October following (1829), the printing was considerably advanced, and the ultimate issue of the Book of Mormon had become a fixed fact. The printing
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was done upon a hand-press, and the type of one form had to be distributed before another could be set up; and of course this will account for the tardiness of the work. But the first and second books of "Nephi," and some other portions of the forthcoming revelation, were printed in sheets; -- and armed with a copy of these, Smith commenced other preparations for a mission to Pennsylvania, where he had some relatives residing, and where the before-mentioned "Rev. Sidney Rigdon" was then residing or temporarily sojourning. His wardrobe needed replenishing, and Harris, who was abundantly able to do as he did, and withal counting on his prospective profits in the bible speculation, procured for him a new black suit, remarking to the merchant of whom he bought the cloth, that as the prophet was going on a mission to preach the gospel, it was necessary that he should "appear comely before men;" and consequently ordered the best pattern in the store. Mr. David S. Aldrich, now a prominent dry-goods merchant in Palmyra, sold the cloth as a clerk at the time. The result was, that in November, Smith went to Northern Pennsylvania, as previously appointed, where he married the daughter of Isaac Hale, and was baptized after the Mormon ritual -- Rigdon being the "matchmaker" and the officiating "clergyman" in these celebrations. Mr. Hale, the father-in-law, never became a Mormon.
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 57
Smith soon returned to Palmyra, to complete his grand design, having made on this occasion, so far as known, no sensation as a preacher, nor any progress in his proselytizing mission beyond his nuptial capture.
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ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 59
upon them by the prophet, accompanied by the "laying on of hands" and other ceremonious observances, adding great "promises" of future spiritual endowment, to depend in an essential manner on their fidelity and efficiency in the trust already reposed in them.
The participants generally in this incipient church inauguration were the individuals named as the pioneer saints in a preceding chapter, with perhaps few changes pro and con. The rite of baptism by immersion was administered by the prophet to Cowdery and Harris at their particular request -- a pool for that purpose having been created by constructing a dam across a brook near the place of meeting; and then the other baptisms on this occasion were conducted by Cowdery, including in these benefits both the aged parents of the revelator, Page, Mrs. Rockwell, Dolly Proper, and several of the Whitmer brothers. So far as can be recollected of the proceedings, as verbally reported at the time, no others were then baptized; but afterward this baptismal service was extended to all the saints who had not already been the favored subjects of that ritual, Cowdery continuing to officiate in these solemnities.
The prophet himself was not baptized in this instance, the explanation of the omission being, as stated by some of the faithful, that he was elevated far above "worldly baptism" by reason of his "spiritual sphere;" but another account -- doubtless the accepted
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one -- assigned as the reason in the case that he had previously received the ordinance in Pennsylvania by the ministration of "Brother Rigdon," and was the first Mormon baptized since the times of the primitive Nephites.
A few days after this preliminary launching of the Mormon ship Zion -- this primeval foundation of the Mormon theocracy -- some ten or twelve of the saints went to Fayette, in an adjoining county, where similar observances were had in the formation of the church. There were about thirty persons in attendance on this occasion, believers and spectators, and a number of new converts were reported, Cowdery again performing the baptismal service. But, finally, it was found that the prophet's own county was an unfavorable locality for success in this wonderful religious speculation; the new gospel was held in light repute by the "Gentile" people; conversions did not come up to the anticipations of the leaders; and in the course of the same year these pioneer Mormons emigrated to Ohio.
Now, let the reader's attention be carried back to the commencement of the Golden Bible publication. The book, as a money-making enterprise, fell dead before the public. As a religious demonstration, it was received by the community as "stale, flat, and fulsome." It was repulsive to the popular common-sense, and, beyond the minds of its preexistent devotees, simply awakened contempt and ridicule. It
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found no buyers, or but very few. So that the glittering visions of Harris and others, who might have thought as he had done, seemed to turn out as illusory as had been those of Smith's money-digging dupes. Hence another "command" became necessary in regard to the sale of the book, after a few weeks' faithful but unsuccessful trial of the market by Harris as a monopolist salesman. * This was easily called down by Smith in favor of his patriarch father. Time passed, and yet the disappointment was unalleviated. The patriarch having been permitted by this changed revelation, with the consent of Harris, to appropriate a portion of the avails of sales toward his family necessities, he effected some sales, chiefly in barter trades, on accommodating terms for the purchasers of the books, always nominally maintaining the revealed price of ten shillings, to avoid the awful penalty of "instant death" for any departure from it. Pedestrian
* Harris was proverbially a peaceful as well as an honest man. He was slow to retaliate an offence. The following anecdote will show what manner of man he was. Urging the sale of the book with pertinacious confidence in the genuiness of the Smith revelation, he fell into debate about its character with a neighbor of an irascible temperament. His opponent became angry, and struck him a severe blow upon the right side of his face. instantly turning toward the assailant the other cheek, he quoted the Christian maxim, reading it from the book in his hand, page 481 (as it also appears in Matthew): "Whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."
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peddling jaunts were made in the neighboring villages and surrounding country, and books peddled off by him in exchange for various articles of farmers' produce and shop merchandise, such as "wouldn't come amiss for family use in hard times," In this way considerable improvement was made in the old "saint's" exchequer. Harris, meanwhile, seemed to stand firm in his adhesion to the book's divinity, and always had at his tongue's end an amplitude of scriptural and Mormonic quotations of "promises," giving satisfactory assurance of his ultimate pecuniary and spiritual salvation.
Many appropriate incidents might be related from the memory of individuals yet living at the original scene of this blooming of the Mormon Church, illustrative of the shallowness of the great imposture; but which, given in detail, would surfeit the reader's curiosity. A single anecdote will suffice to show the degree of sincerity attached to the pretended "commandment price" of the book.
The Patriarch and President of the Mormon Church was now preparing to remove with his family to Ohio, where the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum, with others of the faith, had already preceded them, and it was necessary to procure some articles of outfit. In pursuance of this object, he took a basket of "bibles" in his hand and walked to Palmyra village, where he had usually done his small
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 63
traffic, and where sundry unadjusted little scores were ready to confront him, which his overplus book avails and other resources had been insufficient to liquidate, By the then prevailing legal system for the collection of debts (residing as he did, over the county line from Palmyra), he made himself liable to suit by warrant and also detention in imprisonment for non-payment. But necessity being his master, he had taken the incautious venture, and soon found himself in the constable's custody at the suit of a creditor for a small book account. The parties appeared before A.R. Tiffany, Esq., a justice of the peace for Wayne County, by whom the warrant had been issued, After some preliminary parleying by the debtor, he invited and enjoyed a private interview with the creditor in an adjoining room. The debt and costs had now reached the aggregate of $5.63. The embarrassments in the case, after some brief discussion, were found to be of a difficult nature. At last, laying the good-natured claimant under strict confidential injunction, and referring with solemn air to the "command" by which be was empowered to sell his Mormon work only at the price of $1.25 per copy, the crafty "patriarch" proposed, nevertheless, on the express condition that his perfidy should not be exposed, the offer of seven books in full for the demand, being a fraction more than eighty cents apiece. The joke was relished as too
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good to go unpatronized, and though the books were not regarded as possessing any value the claimant, more in a spirit of mischief than otherwise, accepted the compromise accordingly. The finale was, that the Mormon saint was permitted to slip home from a side door, to avoid the importunities from other creditors and it is believed this was his last appearance in Palmyra by daylight.
Such was the advent, and such the popular reception of the Book of Mormon, and the Church of the Latter Day Saints founded thereon as its corner-stone, at the place of their professed origin. The book has since gone through many editions in the different languages of the civilized world. The title-page is as follows:
"BOOK OF MORMON;
AN ACCOUNT WRITTEN BY THE HAND OF MORMON UPON PLATES
TAKEN FROM THE PLATES OF NEPHI.
"Wherefore it is an abridgment of the Record of the People of Nephi; and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile; written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of Prophesy and Revelation. Written, and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed; to come forth by the gift and power of God, unto the interpretation thereof; sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of God; an abridgement taken from the Book of Ether.
"Also, which is a Record of the People of Jared, which were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people when
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 65
they were building a tower to get to Heaven: which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel how great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever; and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting Himself unto all nations. And now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men; wherefore condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgement seat of Christ.
"Author and Proprietor.
"Printed by E. B. Grandin, for the Author.
In revised editions as printed at Nauvoo and Salt Lake, the prima facie inconstancy of styling Smith as the "Author and Proprietor" of the book, as above seen to have been originally assumed, is removed by denominating him as "Translator" only. The first edition also contained a precautionary "preface" in reference to the lost translations before mentioned, which is omitted in the revised editions. It is in the following words:
"To the Reader --
"As many false reports have been circulated respecting the following work, and also many unlawful measures taken by the evil-designing persons to destroy me, and also the work, I would inform you that I translated, by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written, one hundred and sixteen pages, the
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which I took from the Book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon; which said account, some person or persons have stolen and kept from me, notwithstanding my utmost exertions to recover it again -- and being commanded of the Lord that I should not translate the same over again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord their God, by altering the words, that they did read contrary from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I should bring forth the same words again, or, in other words, if I should translate the same over again, they would publish that which they had stolen, and Satan would stir up their hearts of this generation, that they might not receive this work: but behold, the Lord said unto me, I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing; therefore thou shalt translate from the plates of Nephi, until ye come to that which ye have translated, which ye have retained; and behold ye shall publish it as the record of Nephi; and thus I will confound those who have altered my words. I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will shew unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil. Wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, I have, through His grace and mercy, accomplished that which he hath commanded me respecting this thing. I would also inform you that
ITS ORIGIN, RISE, AND PROGRESS. 67
the plates of which hath been spoken, were found in the township of Manchester, Ontario county, New York.
This Mormon revelation is divided into various books, which are here given in the order as they appear in the printed work, viz: "The First Book of Nephi, his Reign and Ministry," seven chapters; "The Second Book of Nephi," fifteen chapters; "The Book of Jacob, the Brother of Nephi," five chapters; "The Book of Enos," one chapter; "The Book of Jarom," one chapter; "The Book of Omni," one chapter; "The Words of Mormon," one chapter; "The Book of Mosiah," thirteen chapters; "The Book of Alma, the Son of Alma," thirty chapters; "The Book of Helaman," five chapters; "The Book of Nephi, the Son of Nephi, which was the Son of Helaman," fourteen chapters; "The Book of Nephi, which is the Son of Nephi, one of the Disciples of Jesus Christ," one chapter; "Book of Mormon," four chapters; "Book of Ether," six chapters; "Book of Moroni," ten chapters. The volume contains five hundred and eighty-eight pages, common duodecimo, small pica letter.
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