The Prophet of Palmyra
(NYC: J. B. Alden, 1890)
T H E
PROPHET OF PALMYRA
M O R M O N I S M
Reviewed and Examined in the Life, Character, and Career of its Founder,
from "Cumorah Hill" to Carthage Jail and the Desert
TOGETHER WITH A COMPLETE
HISTORY OF THE MORMON ERA
In Illinois, and an Exhaustive Investigation of the "Spalding Manuscript"
Theory of the Origin of the Book of Mormon.
T H O M A S G R E G G
JOHN B. ALDEN, PUBLISHER
J O S E P H S M I T H.
TO THE READER.
MRS. PADDOCK, in the Preface to one of her remarkable portrayals of the inner life of Mormonism, has the following paragraph:
"Surely, to-day, whoever inflicts an additional volume upon a long-suffering public, ought to be able to set up an unassailable plea in justification thereof.
While this is true in a general sense, it is doubly so in its relation to that bond of people -- knaves and fanatics -- who, more than fifty years ago began a scheme of deception in New York, which, in its progress since, has caused so much misery and crime in many of the States, and now aims at insubordination and independence in Utah.
Many books have been written on the subject of Mormonism; some of them honest, trustworthy, and valuable; others sensational and unreliable; and still more utterly unworthy. Yet, notwithstanding all this, the great Christian public in America and abroad remains to-day strangely indifferent to, and ignorant of, the origin, character, and purposes of the miserable fraud.
vi TO THE READER.
The undersigned offers no apology for the matter of the following pages. Content with his purpose to add to the mass of credible history, and to aid in expanding a most silly and dangerous delusion, he leaves it with an intelligent and discerning public, hoping neither to escape censure nor disarm criticism.
TH. GREGGHamilton, Illinois, 1889.
518 Governor West and the Polygamists
528 A Characteristic Document
537 Mrs. Emma Smith's Letter
539 The Mormons or Latter-Day Saints
[ xv ]
98 Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris
116 P. P. Pratt
181 The Temple at Nauvoo
189 Hyrum Smith
224 Major-General John C. Bennett
284 The Scene of Smith's Death
304 Brigham Young
382 Baptismal Font
384 Ruins of the Temple at Nauvoo
492 Facsimile from the so-called Book of Abraham
POOR, unfortunate, somewhat unbalanced, yet honest and well-meaning SOLOMON SPALDING! His name will go down to posterity as the innocent originator of one of the most stupendous and wicked frauds ever perpetrated upon the world. Had he lived to witness the result of his work -- work in which he took so much delight and spent so many days of his life -- his gray head would have been bowed down with sorrow. But he was kindly spared the infliction. He died in 1816, and the fraud perpetrated upon his work and his good name was not commenced till some ten or twelve years after he had been laid peacefully in his grave. The story of his connection with the Mormon scheme will be fully told in future chapters of this work.
2 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
Prophets have flourished ever since the world was peopled. But, unfortunately for the world, many of them have been false prophets; and prophesying, instead of being a vehicle of God's will to man, has been used for base and selfish ends and purposes, and to impose on the credulous and unwary. People of every age have been prone to run after false prophets. Hence the boldest, most daring and unscrupulous among them -- he who has put on the most sanctity and arrogated to himself the highest authority -- has generally been the most successful. As a rule, their careers have been short and their influence limited. The claims and pretensions of a few, however, have wrought great evil upon the world, and added many dark and bloody pages to its history. One, and not the least of these, will be the subject of these pages. That such a career as was his, with such remarkable results following, could be run in this enlightened Nineteenth Century, and in a land where Christianity and Civilization have shed their benign rays, is a mystery which the writer prefers to leave his readers to solve.
On the 27th of June, 1844, was killed by a mob at the jail in Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, JOSEPH SMITH, the founder of the sect of Latter-Day Saints, and who claimed to have been divinely commissioned as a "Prophet, Seer, and Revelator."
Born in the State of Vermont, reared in Western New York, residing three or four years in Ohio, about as long in Missouri, and over five years in Illinois, he had adopted a policy which made him inimical to the people everywhere, and finally brought him to a violent and bloody death.
Parallels in this man's remarkable career have been sought in history. It has been likened to that of Mahomet. When at Meccam in Arabia, the great founder of Islamism began his eventful career, he was doubtless honest in his purposes, which were to reform and improve the idolatrous worship of his people. But he was an enthusiast and a fanatic. With an ardent temperament and a restless and uneasy spirit, he could not brook opposition. His efforts met first with neglect, then ridicule and contumely, and finally with resistance and violence. Friends and neighbors turned to enemies, and their opposition increased till he was compelled to fly from his native city to save his life. The vindictive persecution and violence to which he was subjected, changed the character of the man, and henceforth revenge and ambition became his ruling passions.
But his career, in whatever light it may be regarded, was a most remarkable one. Living amongst the idolatries of the Pagan, Jewish, and Christian systems, in one of the darkest of the
4 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
Dark Ages of the world, he built up a system, which, to say the least, was superior to, and an improvement upon, anything by which he was surrounded. His successes were unprecedented in the world's history. During his own lifetime and that of his faithful friend and co-worker, Abou-Bekir, his creed, through his zeal -- aided by the sword and scimiter, potent agents in the work of propagandism in all ages -- had become the recognized faith through all Arabia, and was fast undermining all the other systems about him.
The curious career of the Prophet of Mormonism has sometimes been contrasted with that of this great leader. But the contrast affords but slight parallel. When "Joe Smith" -- as the Mormon Prophet was always designated in his youth (a title which stuck to him through life) -- began his career at Palmyra in the State of New York, his motives were not honest, nor was he prompted by either revenge or ambition. His untutored and feeble intellect had not yet grasped at anything beyond mere toying with mysterious things. It is evident that he had at first no higher purpose in view. He was one of those indolent and illiterate young men, too numerous in all communities, who hope to shun honest labor, and who have imbibed the pernicious doctrine embraced in the phrase: "The world owes me a living." Any means that would enable
him to obtain that living he was ready to employ. Hence, we find him at an early age, trying his skill at little tricks to impose on the credulity of his ignorant associates. As he grew in years, searching for lost treasure became one of his favorite employments; for was it not better, he reasoned, to obtain the golden thousands from the nooks and crevices of the earth, where Captain Kidd and the pirates and robbers had secreted them, and live in ease and idleness, than to obtain a small competency by the slow and uncertain processes of honest labor? And thus he plodded on, till accident opened a new career for him. A petty theft, by himself or one of his co-workers, placed the Spalding "Manuscript Found" in his hands; and then it was that the idea of a new sect, a new creed, a new and deeper play upon popular ignorance and credulity, and consequent power, and place, and fortune, were gradually developed and boldly and persistently and most wickedly carried forward -- aided by confederates as bad as himself and with similar purposes in view.
No; the character and aims of these two false prophets afford but slight parallel; in their successful career, a stronger resemblance is to be traced.
MORMONISM had its origin and incipient growth in Western New York, where it attracted little attention
6 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
beyond the ridicule of sensible people and the gaping wonder of a few seekers after the new and the marvelous -- and it sought fresh fields. In Northern Ohio it gained strength by contact with the world; and there, too, its leaders made the discovery that the way to notoriety and success was to create opposition; and an aggressive policy was boldly adopted, and aggressive tenets engrafted into the creed. In North Missouri it increased greatly in strength; but in its violent contests with its neighbors and the authorities, it became dismembered and broken, and was finally violently expelled from the State. Poor, disheartened, and scattered -- its prophet and some other leaders in prison -- all of its members who could muster courage and means made their way eastward across the State to Illinois, where their forlorn condition attracted the sympathy and aid of all classes of people. Settling in the latter State, at Commerce, in Hancock county, in time the same aggressive policy was pursued; and after eight years of arrogant pretension, active proselytism, and stupendous folly, it met the fate it had encountered in Missouri, together with the loss of its daring prophet and leader. Later, under an equally daring and more able successor, it sought isolation and a home among the rugged crags and mountains and fertile valleys of Utah -- where it
has for more than a third of a century increased in an astonishing degree, and developed into what it now is, an ugly and troublesome excrescence on the body politic, and a disgrace to the nation and to civilization.
While the "Latter-Day Saints" remained in Ohio, Missouri, or Illinois, the "Mormon Question" was only one of local or State concern. But since they have withdrawn to the wilderness, and there within the territory and under the jurisdiction and flag of the United States, have assumed an independent position and arrayed themselves in open hostility to the government, the matter takes a new shape. From a State problem it has advanced to a National one, and one that is daily becoming of greater magnitude, now seriously agitating the minds of the best statesmen of our country.
It bids fair to overshadow all other social questions. It is therefore highly important and necessary that the reading public should be fully informed, not only as to what Mormonism now is, but made acquainted with the origin, history and development of this the most wicked and dangerous folly of the Nineteenth Century, and with the life, character, and purposes of its founders. Such is the task before us, and to which these efforts are directed.
The term "Mormonism" is a coinage of the
8 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
present century. It is derived from the name of one of the chief writers of the so-called Book of Mormon (though why after Mormon, rather than Nephi, Moroni, Alma, Enos, or Lehi, it would be hard to tell) -- a silly and little worthy, but in the eyes of its deluded believers, the most sacred of all books. It is less interesting and far feebler than the Koran, the holy book of Islam. Its chief ingredients are ignorance and arrogance, and it abounds in blasphemy; it is full of falsehood, injustice toward man and impiety toward God. To accept the claims and adopt the teachings of its chief adherents, is to eschew holiness and goodness, and to dethrone the Almighty.
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE IMPOSTURE.
IN the matter of the early life of JOSEPH SMITH there is great contrariety of statement. The testimony of the Smith family, and of his faithful believers, goes to show that he was a most exemplary youth, truthful, without guile, and ever seeking for the highest religious truth. As this is the testimony of interested witnesses only, we are bound to reject it for that of his neighbors, who, with great unanimity, tell a far different story -- that he was indolent, ignorant, intruthful, and superstitious.
This counter-testimony has been obtained from a great many sources -- people in several sections of the country where he was best known, and some of whom, in high standing, are still living to re-affirm statements made long ago by themselves and
10 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
others, and who could have no reason for falsifying or traducing his character. Coupled with much of his conduct after he had reached years of mature manhood, it furnishes irresistible proof that his youth was such as would render it preposterous and impossible that he should have been selected through divine agency to carry a God-given revelation to mankind and lead in a great reformation. To adopt any other theory would require that we should accept entirely new ideas of God's providence and of divine things.
The Smith family to which he belonged was of Yankee origin; Joseph, the elder, having removed from Vermont to Western New York when that country was new and sparsely settled. He is said to have been a soldier of the Revolution. Ignorance and superstition seem to have been traits in the family. The district in which they had resided in Vermont, had for several years been the home of an arrant pretender to supernatural things, living upon the credulity of the people, and who had committed gross crimes under the plea of religious inspiration -- crimes which he afterwards expiated in the State's prison. * Some of the practices of the Mormon Prophet in after years, in New York and elsewhere, show a remarkable resemblance to the doings of this Vermont pretender, leading to
* Stephen Burrows.
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE IMPOSTURE. 11
the conclusion that he must have been at least familiar with them.
Mr. E. D. Howe, in his valuable work, Mormonism Unveiled (Painesville, Ohio, 1834), presents the testimonials of eighty-one persons, neighbors and acquaintances of the Smith family, all attesting to their illiteracy and generally worthless and disreputable character, especially that of the son " Joe," as he was called. Among the most damaging of these statements, perhaps, is that of Isaac Hale, of Harmony, Pa., whose daughter the would-be prophet married. These testimonials, it will be remembered, were obtained in 1833, only three years after the Book of Mormon appeared, and after the Smiths had left Palmyra and Manchester, where most of these certifiers resided.
The prophet's own story of his early life, and the manner in which he was called to the high position he claimed to occupy, is to be found in the third volume of the Times and Seasons, the organ of the Mormon Church at Nauvoo, of which he was editor -- page 706. It purported to have been prepared at the request of Hon. John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat. A few of the leading paragraphs were also contributed to, and are to be found in, a volume entitled, History of Religious Denominations of the United States,
12 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
published in Philadelphia. The more important portions are herewith given:
JOSEPH SMlTH'S STATEMENT."I was born in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, Vermont, on the 23d of December, 1805. When ten years old my parents removed to Palmyra, N. Y., where we resided about four years, and from there we removed to the town of Manchester, a distance of six miles.
"My father was a farmer, and taught me the art of husbandry. When about fourteen years of age, I began to reflect upon the importance of being prepared for a future state, and upon inquiring the plan of salvation, I found there was a great clash in religious sentiment; if I went to one society they referred me to one plan, and another to another, each one pointing to his own particular creed as the summum bonum of perfection. Considering that all could not be right, and that God could not be the author of so much confusion, I determined to investigate the subject more fully, believing that if God had a church it would not be split up into factions, and that if He taught one society to worship one way, and administer in one set of ordinances, He would not teach another principles which were diametrically opposed. Believing the word of God, I had confidence in the declaration of James: 'If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.'
"I retired to a secret place in a grove, and began to call upon the Lord. While fervently engaged in supplication, my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enrapt in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in features and likeness, surrounded by a brilliant
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE IMPOSTURE. 13
light which eclipsed the sun at noon-day. They told me that all the religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines, and that none of them were acknowledged of God as His Church and Kingdom. And I was expressly commanded 'to go not after them,' at the same time receiving a promise that the fulness of the gospel should at some future time be made known to me.
"On the evening of the 21st of September, A.D. 1823, while I was praying unto God, and endeavoring to exercise faith in the precious promises of Scripture, on a sudden a light like that of day, only of a far purer and more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room; indeed, the first sight was as though the house was filled with consuming fire. The appearance produced a shock that affected the whole body. In a moment a personage stood before me, surrounded with a glory yet greater than that with which I was already surrounded. The messenger proclaimed himself to be an angel of God, sent to bring the joyful tidings that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel was at hand to be fulfilled; that the preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah was speedily to commence; that the time was at hand for the gospel in all its fulness, to be preached in power unto all nations, that the people might be prepared for the millennial reign.
"I was informed that I was chosen to. be an instrument in the hands of God to bring about some of his purposes in this glorious dispensation.
"I was informed, also' concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, and shown who they were and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people, was made known to me. I was also .
14 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
told where there was deposited some plates, on which was engraved an abridgment of the records of the ancient prophets that had existed on this continent. The angel appeared to me three times the same night, and unfolded the same things. After having received many visits from the angel of God, unfolding the, majesty and glory of the events that should transpire in the last days, on the morning of the 22d of September, A. D. 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into my hands.
"These records were engraven on plates, which had the appearance of gold; each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long, and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters in the unsealed part were small and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, and much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument, which the ancients called 'Urim and Thummim,' which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breast-plate.
"Through the medium of the 'Urim and Thummim' I translated the records, by the gift and power of God.
"In this important and interesting book, the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages, to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites, and came directly from the tower of Babel. The
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE IMPOSTURE. 15
second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle toward the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. This book also tells us that our Saviour made his appearance upon this continent after his resurrection, that he planted the gospel here in all its fulness, and riches, and power, and blessing; that they had apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessing, as was enjoyed on the eastern continent; that the people were cut off in consequence of their transgressions; that the last of their prophets who existed among them was commanded to write an abridgment of their prophecies, history, etc., and to hide it up in the earth, and that it should come forth and be united with the Bible for the accomplishment of the purposes of God in the last days. For a more particular account, I would refer to the Book of Mormon, which can be purchased at Nauvoo, or from any of our traveling elders."
The account goes on to say that the Church was organized on the 6th day of April, 1830; that the work "rolled forth with astonishing rapidity," and churches were soon formed in the States of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri; that in the latter, large settlements were made, where they suffered divers persecutions and were finally, in 1839, driven out to find a home in
16 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
Illinois. To the good character of the people of Illinois, we have the prophet's own testimony in the following paragraph:
"In the situation before alluded to, we arrived in the State of Illinois in 1839, where we found a hospitable people and a friendly home; a people who were willing to be governed by the principles of law and humanity. We have commenced to build a city called NAUVOO, in Hancock county; we number from six to eight thousand here, besides vast numbers in the country around, and in almost every county in the State. We have a city charter granted us, and a charter for a Legion, the troops of which now number fifteen hundred. We have also a charter for a university, for an agricultural and manufacturing society, have our own laws and administrators, and possess all the privileges that other free and enlightened citizens enjoy.
"... It (the Gospel of Mormonism) has penetrated our cities, it has spread over our villages, and has caused thousands of our intelligent, noble, and patriotic citizens to obey its divine mandates, and be governed by its sacred truths. It has also spread in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales,... and in Germany, Palestine, New Holland, the East Indies, and other places, the standard of truth has been erected."
Exaggeration, in its earlier days, as now, was a marked characteristic of Mormonism. All the foregoing statements, except those relating to the charters and the possession of unusual laws and privileges, were grossly untrue at the time they were written.
In corroboration of his claim to a divine calling,
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE IMPOSTURE. 17
we find in the Times and Seasons, the organ before 'mentioned, an extended "History of Joseph Smith," written in the first person, and running through many issues of that journal. The earliest of these numbers is lost, the first one before us opening with an account of his first adventure with the angel. It is to be noted that, in all this account, he speaks of it as a "vision."
"I have actually seen a vision, and 'who am I, that I can withstand God,' or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? for I had seen a vision."
"... I continued to pursue my common avocations in life until the 21st of September, 1823, all the time suffering severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men, both religious and irreligious, because I continued to affirm that I had seen a vision."
And on that evening he retired to his bed in full confidence that another similar manifestation was to be vouchsafed to him. -- Vol. iii., p. 749, Times and Seasons.
And sure enough, the expected "vision" came -- in the form of a light, "until the room was lighter than at noon-day" -- and in that light a personage appeared and stood by his bedside; he was unearthly white, as were his robes; and his hands and wrists, and feet and ankles, were naked, and he stood on nothing, "for his feet did not touch the floor."
18 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi. * That God had a work for me to do, and that my name should be had for good and evil, among all nations, kindreds and tongues."
We can well believe that this vision was, at least, partly true; for his name has been had for "evil" among many nations.
And then the angel Nephi went on to reveal to him the existence of the "golden plates," the "Urim and Thummim," and the "breastplates," and "silver bows," and that the possession and use of these was what constituted seers in olden times, and that God had prepared these for his use. Then Nephi read to him long chapters from Scripture: third chapter of Malachi, the fourth with variations, the eleventh of Isaiah, the third of Acts, the second of Joel, and many others "too numerous to mention." But -- he so charged him -- when these golden plates were obtained, and the breastplate, and the Urim and Thummim, he was not to show them to any person on pain of utter destruction. And while the angel was still talking, his vision caused him to behold the exact spot where these wonderful things were deposited -- in "Cumorah hill," two miles away. The angel appeared to him twice more
* For the character of this Messenger from God, see other pages of this history.
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE IMPOSTURE. 19
that night, relating "the very same things which be had done at the first visit, without the least variation," and adding more concerning the judgments to come upon this generation. And this not being enough, on the next day, in the field, he had another vision in which the angel appeared as before, and repeated the whole story. -- Times and Seasons, vol. iii., 753.
What may have been the acquirements of Nephi when in the flesh, according to the Book of Mormon, he certainly exhibited great volubility as an angel, in the presence of our vision-seeing prophet; for here we find him reading five chapters from Scripture, "and many others," three times in one night, besides much other talk, "without the least variation."
The next thing to be done was to verify this four-fold vision. How this was done, we are thus informed:
"I left the field, and went to the place where the messenger had told me the plates were deposited; and owing to the distinctness of the vision which I had had concerning it, I knew the place the instant I arrived there. Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario (county, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood; on the west side of this hill not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates deposited in a stone box; this stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges, so that
20 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all around was covered with earth. Having removed the earth and obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up, I looked in, and there, indeed, did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement; in the bottom of the box were laid two stones, crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them. I made an attempt to take them out, but was forbidden by the messenger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it until four years from that time; but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so, until the time should come for obtaining the plates. Accordingly, as I had been commanded, I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruction and intelligence from him at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner His Kingdom was to be conducted in the last days."
And the long four years rolled on; long and tedious they must have seemed to one who had so great and important a commission placed upon him. Ignorant and ill-prepared, as he confessedly was for such a work, he made no special effort to qualify himself, but continued to perform his usual daily labors, sometimes about home and sometimes abroad; part of the time (in the month of October,
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE IMPOSTURE. 21
1825), with an old gentleman named "Stoal," who lived in Chenango County, but was searching for a Spanish silver mine at Harmony, in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. With this gentleman he worked for a month, and --
"Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money-digger."
How digging for a Spanish silver mine on the Susquehanna river in Pennsylvania, would cause excavations all about Palmyra and Manchester, in New York, is left unexplained. We have it from present residents of Palmyra, made to the writer of these pages recently, that, though mostly obliterated by time, some of these excavations are still to be seen.
Within this period of four years, waiting, he was also married to Miss Emma Hale, daughter of Isaac Hale, of Harmony, with whom he boarded while at work for Mr. Stowell. This marriage took place clandestinely, being much opposed by Mr. Hale, who believed his daughter was joining her fortunes with a worthless and undeserving young man.
At length the auspicious 27th of September, 1827, arrived, and our vision-seer went to the already opened stone box, where he met the messenger, as promised, and received the ancient relics at his hands. He was admonished that he would be
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held responsible for them, that if he let them go in any way through neglect, he would be cut off -- and if at any time he (the messenger) should call for them, they must be delivered up.
During all the years previous to his receiving the plates, so the story runs, he had been the subject of violent and cruel persecution, because of his declaration and continued protestation that he "had seen a vision." And now, that the promised precious relics were in his possession, this persecution increased with redoubled force. And this explains the conduct of the angel:
"I soon found out the reason why I received such strict charges to keep them safe, and why it was that the messenger had said that when I had done what was required at my hand, he would call for them; for no sooner was it known that I had them than the most strenuous exertions were used to get them from me; every stratagem that could be invented was resorted to for that purpose; the persecution became more bitter and severe than before, and multitudes were on the alert continually to get them from me if possible; but by the wisdom of God they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand, when, according to arrangements, the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him, and he has them in his charge until this day, being the second day of May, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight."
Martin Harris, of Palmyra, who is declared to be "a gentleman and a farmer of respectability," became
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE IMPOSTURE. 23
interested in the matter, and to him Smith confided some of the characters which he had drawn from the plates. Harris took them to the city of New York for the purpose of having them tested by literary men. The following is given by Smith as Harris's statement on his return:
"I went to the city of New York (said Harris) and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Anthony, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments; Professor Anthony stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said they were Egyptian, Chaldeac, Assyriac, and Arabac, and he said that they were the true characters. He gave me a certificate certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated, was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthony called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him.
"He then said to me, let me see that certificate. I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him, he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them, he replied, 'I cannot read a sealed book.' I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell,
24 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
who sanctioned what Professor Anthony had said respecting both the characters and the translation."
It is evident that the foregoing is a sheer fabrication, concocted by either Harris or the prophet, most probably the latter. Professor Anthon's statement, made some time afterwards' shows in what light he regarded the story told him by Harris.
It is a curious fact, and furnishes another evidence of the true character of Mormonism, that four years before this statement was printed in Nauvoo, this same Martin Harris -- the "gentleman and farmer of respectability" -- was publicly denounced by the prophet through his newspaper organ, as "a liar and swindler." -- See Elders' Journal, August, 1838.
THE AS TOLD BY OTHERS. 25
AS will be shown, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, were the three first certifiers to the miraculous character and divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and the most zealous fanatics in bringing it before the world. Yet, strange to say, every one of them in future years, and during the prophet's lifetime, were either denounced by him or seceded from the sect of which he was the head.
Mr. Whitmer, after following the fortunes of his chief into Ohio,, and thence to Northwest Missouri, finally left the sect for good, for reasons which will herein be shown. He died only a few years since at Richmond, Ray County, Missouri, at an advanced age. A year or two previous to his death he was interviewed by an attache of the Kansas City Journal, on the subject of Mormonism and his previous connection with it, a lengthy report of which is published in that paper. It is well
26 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
written and interesting throughout; but we can only make room for a condensed synopsis, quoting only certain portions entire. Mr. Whitmer's statements, made in his serene old age, and many years after having left the church, are important as to his admissions regarding the wickedness and evil designs of the man whom he had so long regarded as the vicegerent of the Almighty.
Eight other witnesses had followed the three in certifying to the Book of Mormon -- making eleven in all -- and the Journal introduces Mr. Whitmer as "the last of the eleven" -- all the others, with Smith and Rigdon, the principals, having preceded him to their final reckoning.
Mr. Whitmer stated that he was born in Pennsylvania, but at an early age removed with his father's family to Western New York. In Palmyra he became acquainted with Oliver Cowdery, and there first heard of Mormonism, in 1828. Cowdery seems to have led all the Whitmers into Mormonism, and afterwards married into the family.
The manner of the translation of the plates, as told by Whitmer, is so interesting that it is given here in his own words.
"He had two small stones of a chocolate color, nearly egg-shaped and perfectly smooth, but not transparent, called interpreters, which were given
AS TOLD BY OTHERS. 27
him with the plates. He did not use the plates in the translation, but would hold the interpreters to his eyes and cover his face with a hat, excluding all light, and before his eyes would appear what seemed to be parchment, on which would appear the characters of the plates in a line at the top, and immediately below would appear the translation in English, which Smith would read to his scribe, who wrote it down exactly as it fell from his lips. The scribe would then read the sentence written, and if any mistake had been made the characters would remain visible to Smith until corrected, when they faded from sight to be replaced by another line. The translation at my father's occupied about one month, that is from June 1 to July 1, 1829."
"Were the plates under the immediate control of Smith all the time?"
"No, they were not. I will explain how that was. When Joseph first received the plates he translated 116 pages of the book of 'Lehi,' with Martin Harris as scribe. When this had been completed, they rested for a time, and Harris wanted to take the manuscript home with him to show to his family and friends. To this Joseph demurred, but finally asked the Lord if Harris might be allowed to take it. The answer was ;No.' Harris teased Joseph for a long time, and finally persuaded him to ask the Lord a second time, pledging himself to be responsible for its safe keeping. To this second inquiry the Lord told Joseph Harris might take the manuscript, which he did, showing it to a great many people, but through some carelessness allowed it to be stolen from him. This incurred the Lord's displeasure, and he sent an angel to Joseph, demanding the plates, and until Joseph had thoroughly repented of his transgressions would not allow him to have
28 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
the use of them again. When Joseph was again allowed to resume the translation, the plates were taken care of by a messenger of God, and when Joseph wanted to see the plates this messenger was always at hand. The 116 pages of the book of 'Lehi,' which were stolen, were never recovered, nor would the Lord permit Joseph to make a second translation of it."
Continuing the interview, Mr. Whitmer is asked:
"When did you see the plates?"
"It was in the latter part of June, 1829. Joseph, Oliver Cowdery and myself were together, and the angel showed them to us. We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon, but he also showed us the brass plates of the book of Ether and many others. They were shown to us in this way. Joseph and Oliver and I were sitting on a log when we were overshadowed by a light more glorious than that of the sun. In the midst of this light, but a few feet from us, appeared a table, upon which were many golden plates, also the sword of Laban and the directors. I saw them as plain as I see you now, and distinctly heard the voice of the Lord declaiming that the records of the plates of the Book of Mormon were translated by the gift and the power of God."
"Who else saw the plates at this time?"
"No one. Martin Harris, the other witness, saw them the same day, and the eight witnesses, Christian Whitmer, Hiram Page, Jacob Whitmer, Joseph Smith, Sr., Peter Whitmer, Jr., Hyram Smith, Jno. Whitmer, and Samuel H. Smith, saw them next day."
"Did you see the angel?"
"Yes; he stood before us. Our testimony as recorded in the Book of Mormon is absolutely true, just as it is written there."
AS TOLD BY OTHERS. 29
"Can you describe the plates?"
They appeared to be of gold, about six by nine inches in size, about as thick as parchment, a great many in number, and bound together like the leaves of a book by massive rings passing through the back edges. The engraving upon them was very plain and of very curious appearance. Smith made fac-similes of some of the plates, and sent them by Martin Harris to Professors Anson and Mitchell, of New York City, for examination. They pronounced the characters reformed Egyptian, but were unable to read them."
As before stated, Mr. Whitmer continued with his chief and their people in their several attempts at settlement in Missouri, and it was while there that the events occurred which separated him from the leaders. This personal history we prefer to give in his own words -- as illustrating a peculiar phase of human character:
"In 1835 W. W. Phelps and John Whitmer, accompanied by a large number of our people, went to Far West, Caldwell County, and established a church. They lived there, and multiplied very rapidly until 1838, when Elders Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon came out from Ohio and were dissatisfied with the church, and gave new laws, revelations, etc. The leaders of the Far West church refused to conform to the new laws of Smith and Rigdon, and they issued a decree organizing what was termed the 'Danites, or Destroying Angels,' who were bound by the most fearful oaths to obey the commandments of the leaders of the church. The Danites consisted only of those selected by Smith and Rigdon. They threatened myself, John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and Lyman
30 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
Johnson with the vengeance of the Danites unless we took the same oath, but we refused, and fled for our lives to Clay County, and since that time I have had nothing to do with the so-called 'Latter-Day Saints' church, but I still hold to the truth of the original Church of Christ, as organized in New York. During the fall of 1838 the church of Far West became very violent towards the citizens of Caldwell County, which terminated in an uprising similar to that in Jackson County, and they were driven from the State. Smith and Rigdon were arrested and kept prisoners for some time, but finally escaped and went to Nauvoo, Illinois, followed by the saints from Far West, and established a church and built a fine temple. They remained in Nauvoo until 1844, when they became very corrupt, upheld polygamy, established an endowment house, etc., which occasioned an uprising of the people, and Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum and John Taylor, the present head of the church in Salt Lake, were arrested and cast into prison, and the two Smiths afterwards shot and killed through the windows of the jail. The temple was destroyed and the church scattered, a portion going to Salt Lake under the leadership of Brigham Young and John Taylor, where they have remained ever since, practicing the vile system of polygamy and spiritual wifeism.
"I belong to the original church, organized 1n 1829, and have never associated myself with any other, and never upheld the reorganization or change of name to 'Latter-Day Saints,' at Kirtland, Ohio."
The original manuscript of the Book of Mormon is thus referred to by Mr. Whitmer:
(He produced about five hundred pages of manuscript, yellow with age, of large, old-fashioned,
AS TOLD BY OTHERS. 31
unruled foolscap paper, closely written upon both sides with ink, and fastened together in sections with yarn strings. It very plainly showed that it had been through the hands of the printer, the 'take' marks being still upon it.) "This," continued he, "was kept by Oliver Cowdery, and when he came to die he placed them in my care, charging me to preserve them so long as I ]lived. When I die I will leave them to my nephew, David Whitmer, my namesake. J. F. Smith and Orson Pratt, of Salt Lake City, were here three years ago, and offered me a fabulous price for them, but I would not part with them for all the money in the universe."
"Are you not afraid they will be destroyed or stolen?"
"No, the Lord will take care of his own. When this house was destroyed by the cyclone three years ago to-day (June 1, 1878), nothing in the room where this manuscript was kept was harmed. Everything else was completely destroyed."
It is difficult to see wherein such value is attached to this relic, when it is remembered that it is merely the manuscript in Oliver Cowdery's handwriting, made while the prophet was peeping at the little stones in his hat, and pretending to translate from the "Reformed Egyptian." The compositor who set up the type for the Book of Mormon, in the office of the Wayne Sentinel, at Palmyra, retains the proof-sheets of that grand work, to which he, also, attaches much value. They are relics, to be sure; but relics of a miserable, wicked, and blasphemous fraud, which should have
32 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
brought the blush of shame to the faces of all its originators and abettors.
Since this interview, Mr. Whitmer has died -- his friends say, a full believer in the faith in which he had so long lived, and cherishing as a precious jewel the manuscript copy of the Book of Mormon, left in his hands by his brother-in-law, Oliver Cowdery. A believer in the story of Mormonism, he refused, ever since his affront fifty years ago, to hold any intercourse with its founder.
These statements of Mr. Whitmer are valuable as showing how easily a man may be deluded into a belief of supernatural things. Some men's minds, are so constituted as to accept anything of a marvelous nature, rather than plain, simple truth. They are more valuable still, as establishing the oft-denied charges of the existence of an organized "Danite Band" -- organized for the purpose, as Mr. Whitmer states, of working murder and destruction upon enemies and apostates. No recognized leader in the church has heretofore ever been found, but who would deny the existence of any such organization for any such purpose. And yet here is an adherent and believer in the story, and co-worker through all the earlier years, and who came near becoming a victim of its author's vengeance -- who certifies to its truth, and charges that Smith and Rigdon were the organizers and
AS TOLD BY OTHERS. 33
directors of the band. Mr. Whitmer also gives credence to and affirms the charges so long made, and so persistently denied, of the practice of polygamy by the prophet and his leaders at Nauvoo.
Was not this aged and venerable man, standing on the verge of the grave, a valuable witness to the truth and divine origin of the story?
THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
KNOWING that ex-Governor Harding, later a judge in Indiana, had been in his early life a resident of Palmyra, N. Y., and acquainted with the Smith family and the other originators of the Book of Mormon, we addressed him on the subject, and received the following lengthy and interesting reply.
At the date of this letter -- February, 1882 -- and several years later, Judge Harding was residing in Indiana, an octogenarian in age and feeble health, but with a remarkable memory of the events of his long and distinguished life. His recollection and statements concerning the ignorant and superstitious character of young Smith and his father's family, and most of the early adherents to Mormonism, are strongly corroborative of those made by all the citizens of Palmyra from 1830 down to the present time. Human testimony could scarcely be made stronger or more convincing.
"MILAN, IND., Feb., 1882."DEAR SIR: -- Yours of 9th January duly received, and I send you this reply. The incidents
AS TOLD BY OTHERS. 35
I am about to relate would not be worth repeating only as illustrative of the wild fanaticism, superstition, and credulity of persons upon whose veracity mainly depends the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. That such a book, replete with self-evident plagiarisms and humbuggery, that sink it below the dignity of criticism, should find tens of thousands of persons of ordinary intelligence throughout Christendom, who have accepted it as a revelation from God to man, is indeed a moral phenomenon unparalleled in the nineteenth century. In view of these things it is not strange that some daring iconoclast should go forth with his merciless sledge, breaking in fragments the shrines and idols that for thousands of years have struck with reverential awe the hearts of untold millions of men, and leading captive the human will.
"In the summer of 1829, I resolved to return to the place of my nativity, in the vicinity of Palmyra, N. Y. It was from this place that my father had emigrated in the spring of 1820, with his large family, to the newly admitted State of Indiana. This was before the days of railroads, and I took stage from Cincinnati for Cleveland, from Cleveland down the lake shore for Buffalo, where I saw, for the first time, the great canal, only recently completed. On this I took passage for Palmyra.
"In these nine years of transition from boyhood to manhood, most striking changes had taken place. My old-time playmates were no longer little boys and girls, but grown-up men and women; some of whom had taken their positions in society as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. Others had gone down to early graves that had
'Hidden from the living
36 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
"When I left my home in the West, I had never heard of Mormonism, by that name. When I was a student at Brookville, in the fall of 1827, the Brookville Enquirer was laid upon my table, when my eye fell upon a paragraph, credited to some Eastern paper, of the finding of a book of metallic plates, called the 'Golden Bible.' It was found by a young man by the name of Joe Smith, who had spent his time for several years in telling fortunes and digging for hidden treasures, and especially for pots and iron chests of money, supposed to have been buried by Captain Kidd. This paragraph interested me more at the time from the fact that all this had happened near the village of Palmyra, N. Y. I had at the time no certain recollection as to who this 'Joe Smith' was; but remembering having seen a long-legged, tow-headed boy of that name, who was generally fishing in the mill-pond at Durfee's grist-mill on Mud Creek, when my elder brother and I went to the mill. This boy was about three years older than myself, and it turned out that he was the veritable finder of the 'Golden Bible.'
"Of course the paragraph in the Enquirer passed without further notice at the time, and the whole subject was forgotten, until I found myself in the very neighborhood where the thing had happened. At that time the Book of Mormon had not been printed, and no Mormon church had been organized. I do not believe that such a thing as the latter had even been seriously contemplated, and that the publication of the Book of Mormon had for its object only the making of money, by publishing and putting on sale a book that could be readily sold as a curiosity at a high profit. Nevertheless, there was something so unusual in the affair, that it excited a good deal of curiosity and comment. The fact that such a man as Martin Harris should mortgage
AS TOLD BY OTHERS. 37
his farm for a large sum, to secure the publisher for printing the book, should abandon the cultivation of one of the best farms in the neighborhood, and change all his habits of life from industry to indolence and general shiftlessness, was truly phenomenal. He, at the same time, was the only man among all the primitive Mormons who was responsible in a pecuniary sense for a single dollar. Nevertheless, he had become absolutely infatuated, and believed that an immense fortune could be made out of the enterprise. The misfortune that attended Harris from that day did not consist in the loss of money merely, and the general breaking up of his business as a farmer; but the blight and ruin fell upon all his domestic relations -- causing his separation from his wife and family forever. In early life he had been brought up a Quaker, then took to Methodism as more congenial to his nature. He was noted as one who could quote more Scripture than any man in the neighborhood; and as a general thing could give the chapter and verse where some important passage could be found. If one passage more than another seemed to be in his mind, it was this: 'God has chosen the weak things of this world to confound the wise,' His eccentricities and idiosyncrasies had been charitably passed over by all who knew him, until his separation from his wife and family, when he was looked upon as utterly infatuated and crazy. I had been acquainted with this man when a little boy, until my father emigrated from that neighborhood in 1820. He was intimately acquainted with my father's family, and on several occasions had visited our house, in company with Mrs. Harris. None in all that neighborhood were more promising in their future prospects than they.
38 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
"Upon my return to Palmyra, and learning that Martin Harris was the only man of any account, as we say in the West, among all of his near associates, it was but natural that I should seek an early interview with him. I found him at the printing office of the Wayne Sentinel in Palmyra, where the Book of Mormon was being printed. He had heard several days before of my arrival in the neighborhood, and expressed great pleasure at seeing me. A moment or two after, I was introduced to Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith, Sen., and then to the young 'Prophet' himself.
"Here was a most remarkable quartette of persons. I soon learned that at least three of them were in daily attendance at the printing-office, and that they came and went as regularly as the rising and setting of the sun. I have the authority of Martin Harris himself, who stated that some one hundred and fifty pages, more or less, of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon had been stolen, lost, or destroyed, by some evil-minded person, and that the angel of the Lord had appeared to young Joseph and informed him that the devil had appeared in the form of a man or woman, and had possessed himself of the sacred MS.; andJoseph had been commanded by the angel to thenceforth always have at least three witnesses to watch over it when in the hands of the printers. This was the reason given me at the time by Harris, why at least three persons should bring the MS. to the office immediately after sunrise, and take it away before sunset in the evening.
"After my introduction to Cowdery and the Smiths, I entered into conversation with them -- especially with Cowdery and the father of the prophet. But young Joe was hard to be approached. He was very taciturn, and sat most of the time as silent as a Sphynx, seeming to have no
AS TOLD BY OTHERS. 39
recollection of ever having seen me when fishing in Durfee's mill-pond. This young man was by no means of an ordinary type. He had hardly ever been known to laugh in his childhood; and would never work or labor like other boys; and was noted as never having had a fight or quarrel with any other person. But notwithstanding this last redeeming trait, he was hard on birds' nests, and in telling what had happened would exaggerate to such an extent, that it was a common saying in the neighborhood: 'That is as big a lie as young Joe ever told.'
"He was about six feet high, what might be termed long-legged, and with big feet. His hair had turned from tow-color to light auburn, large eyes of a bluish gray, a prominent nose, and a mouth that of itself was a study. His face seemed almost colorless, and with little or no beard.
"Indeed (in the language of Martin Harris): 'What change a few years will make in everything!' And what a demonstration of this truth was afforded in the life and career of the man before me. At that time his weight was about one hundred and fifty pounds, he had not a dollar in the world, and his character was such that credit was impossible. Let the mind pass over the career of this man to the date of his marriage with Emma Hale; his banking and temple-building at Kirtland; his flight as a fugitive from that place to Independence and Far West, Missouri; his forcible expulsion from that State to Nauvoo; the springing up of a city of 20,000 people as if by magic; and where, beside his divine appointment as 'Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,' he became Lieut.-General of a Legion that would make a respectable standing army, mounted on a blooded charger in all the military trappings, that filled with awe the thousands of his followers, and even the outside
40 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
Gentiles. He had now reached the zenith of his glory; and fifteen years from the time I met him at the printing-office, he had become a millionaire, notwithstanding his harem of numerous spiritual wives and concubines.
"In the neighborhood of Palmyra there lived another prophet, older and wiser than the Mormon prophet. This was old George Crane, who had been born and brought up a Quaker. On one occasion Smith and Cowdery had gone to the house of George, who had manifested some interest in the pretended translation. It was in the evening, and when several chapters had been read, Mr. Crane, who had been an attentive listener, in his straightforward, Quaker soberness said: 'Joseph, thy book is blasphemous; and I counsel thee to mend thy ways, or thee will come to some bad end.' George Crane lived to see the fulfilment of that prophecy, when this greatest of all modern deceivers fell out of the back window of the Carthage jail riddled with bullets.
"I had arrived at the printing-office about nine in the morning, and after my interview with Harris, and introduction, as aforesaid, I spent an hour or two with E. B. Grandin and Pomeroy Tucker, proprietor and foreman of the Sentinel. From these gentlemen I learned many particulars that were new to me. I expressed a desire to read the manuscript then in process of being printed; but was informed by them that that was hardly possible, inasmuch as a few sheets only at a time were used as copy in the hands of the printers; and that probably Cowdery and Smith would have no objection to reading it to me, if I would give them an opportunity without interfering with their duties at the office.
"It was now noon, and I went home with my cousin (Mr. Tucker) to dinner. On returning to
AS TOLD BY OTHERS. 41
the office, I found Harris, Cowdery, and the Smiths had remained, substituting a lunch for a regular dinner. My intimacy with them was renewed, and Harris talked incessantly to me on the subject of dreams, and the fearful omens and signs he had seen in the heavens. Of course I became greatly interested, and manifested a desire to hear the miraculous MS. read; and it was agreed that I should go out with them to the house of the elder Smith, and remain over night. In the mean time, I remarked that but one at a time left the printing office, even for a short period.
"The sun had now got down to he roofs of the houses, and the typos had laid by their work. Each page of the MS. that had been used as copy was delivered to Cowdery, and we prepared to return to Smith's. We arrived at our destination a few minutes before sunset. The Smith residence consisted of a log house, not exactly a cabin. Upon our arrival, I was ushered into the best room in company with the others. In a few moments I was left alone, my companions having gone out on pnvate business. An interview with the family was being held by them in the other part of the house. It was not long before they returned, accompanied by Lucy Smith, the prophet's mother. She came close to me, and taking me by the hand, said:
"'I've seed you before. You are the same young man that had on the nice clothes, that I seed in my dream. You had on this nice ruffled shirt, with the same gold breast-pin in it that you have now. Yes, jest ezactly sich a one as this!' -- suiting the action to the word, taking hold of the ruffle, and scrutinizing the pin closely. It was not long till she left the room, and I, following to the door, saw two stout, bare-footed girls, each with a tin bucket of red raspberries. Soon after, the old
42 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
man announced that supper was ready. We went into the other part of the house, where supper was waiting, consisting of brown bread, milk, and abundance of fine raspberries before mentioned. There was no lack of these, and if any left the table without a really good supper, it was not the fault of the hostess. She, good soul -- full sister to all her sex -- began to make excuses, saying:
"'If I had only known what a nice visitor I was goin' to have, I would have put on the table flour bread, and not ryn' Injun.'
"I remarked that it needed no excuses; that the supper was good enough for a king, and that the berries on the table were better than could be bought in any city in America. Beside being true, this had the effect of quieting the feelings of the old lady.
"It was now time to begin the reading of the manuscript, and we retired to the room we had occupied. This was before the days of lucifer matches, and there being no fire, it took some time before a light could be brought into the room. This was done by our good hostess, who set upon the table a tin candlestick with a tallow dip in it, remarking: 'This is the only candle I can find in the house; I thought I had two, but mabby the rats has eat it up.'
"Cowdery commenced his task of reading at the table, the others sitting around. The reading had proceeded for some time, when the candle began to spit and splutter, sometimes almost going out, and flashing up with a red-blue blaze. Here was a phenomenon that could not be mistaken. To say that the blaze had been interrupted by the flax shives that remained in the tow wicking, would not do; but Martin Harris arrived at a conclusion 'across lots:' 'Do you see that,' said he, directing his remark to me and the old lady, who sat beside him. 'I know what that means; it is the
AS TOLD BY OTHERS. 43
Devil trying to put out the light, so that we can't read any more.' 'Yes,' replied the old lady; 'I seed 'im! I seed 'im! as he tried to put out the burnin' wick, when the blaze turned blue.'
"The tallow dip shortened at such a fearful rate that the further reading had to be abandoned. It was now past ten, and the other members of the family retired. The MS. was carefully put away, and directions given as to where we were to sleep. In the mean time Mother Smith loaded a clay pipe with tobacco, which she ground up in her hands; a broom splint was lighted in the candle, and the delicious fumes issued in clouds from the old lady's mouth.
"She now began to talk incessantly for the little time that remained, and told me at some length the dream that she had, when I appeared before her, 'in the nice suit of clothes and ruffled shirt,' as she expressed it; and continued: 'You'll have visions and dreams, mebby, to-night; but don't git skeered; the angel of the Lord will protect you.'
"After breakfast, in the morning, Mother Smith followed me as I arose from the table, and plied me with questions as to whether I had had dreams, and whether I had seen a vision that 'skeered' me. I told her I had a dream, but so strange that I could not tell it to her or any one else. The fact was communicated to Harris and the rest. All saw that I looked sober, and I determined to leave them in doubt and wonder.
"We started back to Palmyra, Cowdery bearing in his hand the sacred scroll. Martin was exceedingly anxious that I should give him at least some glimpse of the strange things I had seen in my dream. I told him that was impossible, and I began to doubt whether I ought to tell it to any human being. They all became interested in my
44 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
reply; and the prophet himself forgetting his taciturnity, said: 'I can tell you what it was. I have felt just as you do. Wait, and the angel of the Lord will open your eyes.' Here we parted, and I returned to the home of my brother."
EX-GOVERNOR HARDING'S LETTER.
"ABOUT two weeks after this I met Martin Harris. He was glad to see me; inquired how I felt since my dream. He told me that since he saw me at Mr. Smith's, he had seen fearful signs in the heavens. That he was standing alone one night, and saw a fiery sword let down out of heaven, and pointing to the east, west, north, and south, then to the hill of Cumorah, where the plates of Nephi were found. At another time, he said, as he was passing with his wagon and horses from town, his horses suddenly stopped and would not budge an inch. When he plied them with his whip, they commenced snorting and pawing the earth as they had never done before. He then commenced smelling brimstone, and knew the Devil was in the road, and saw him plainly as he walked up the hill and disappeared. I said,'What did he look like?'
"He replied: 'Stephen, I will give you the best description that I can. Imagine a greyhound as big as a horse, without any tail, walking upright on his hind legs.'*
"I looked at him with perfect astonishment. 'Now, Stephen,' continued he, 'do tell me your dream.' I dropped my head and answered: 'I am almost afraid to undertake it.' He encouraged me, and said it was revealed to him that another
* Mr. Harris ought to have known that creature could not have been the Devil, as his majesty most surely has a tail. -- T. G.
46 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
vessel was to be chosen, and that Joseph had the gift of interpreting dreams the same as Daniel, who was cast into the lion's den. I said, 'Mr. Harris, after considering the matter, I conclude that I ought not to repeat my dreams to you, only on one condition: that you will pledge your honor not to tell it to any one.' 'Oh, do let me tell it to Joseph. He can tell all about what it means,' 'Well,' said I, 'What I mean is, you may tell it to whom you please, only you shall not connect my name with it,; 'I'll do it! I'll do it!' said he, hastily. 'Joseph will be able to tell who it was, the same as if I told the name.'"
(Here the narrator proceeded to relate a wonderdul dream that never was dreamed, during the course of which, he took occasion to describe some characters that had appeared to him on a scroll -- presenting some of them with a pencil, a micture of stenographic characters and the Greek alphabet, rudely imitated. These were handed to Mr Harris.)
"Speechless with amazement, he looked at them for a moment, and then springing to his feet, and turning his eyes toward heaven, with uplifted hands, cried out:
"'O Lord, God! the very characters that are upon the plates of Nephi!'
"He looked again at the characters, and then at me, with perfect astonishment. His excitement was such that I became positively alarmed, for it seemed to me that he was going crazy. I began to have some compunctions of conscience for the fraud that I had practiced upon him; for I might as well say just here, as well as anywhere, that the dream had beem improvised for the occasion. He suggested that we go to the house of old Man Smith and there relate my dream. I told him that I would never repeat it again to anybody. He bade me good-bye, saying: 'You are a chosen vessel of the Lord.'
EX-GOVERNOR HARDING'S LETTER. 47
"There is but one excuse for my conduct on this occasion; that was, to fathom the depth of his credulity.
"For the next two or three weeks I did not meet Harris or any of the Smiths or Cowdery. About four weeks afterwards I again visited Palmyra, and spent part of the day in the printing-office, where I found the prophet, Cowdery, and Harris again. The latter took me by the hand with a grip and a shake that were full of meaning; even the prophet himself shook hands with me, looking me steadily in the eye as if new ideas possessed him in regard to myself; and it was evident that my dream had been repeated to these people, and that it was a puzzle to them all.
"In the meantime the printing of the Book of Mormon was proceeding. There was abundant evidence that the proof sheets had been carefully corrected. The printing was done on a lever press of that period; and when a suffcient number of pages for the entire edition of five thousand copies had been completed, the type had to be distributed. This was a slow process in comparison with what is done in a jobbing office of to-day. Mr. Tucker, the foreman, had just received from Albany a font of new type, and had set up with his own hands the title page of the Book of Mormon, and preparations were now ready for the first impression. About this time the prophet's father also came in. He, too, had evidently heard of my dream, and shook my hand most cordially. Mr. Grandin and two or three typos were present, as if curious in seeing the first impression of the title page. Tucker took up the ink-balls and made the form ready; then laying the blank sheet upon it, with one pull at the lever the work was done; then taking the impression, looked at it a moment, passed it to Cowdery, who scanned it carefully, and passed it to the
48 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
prophet himself, who seemed to be examining every letter, and without speaking gave it into the hands of his father and Harris. It was then returned to Tucker. Of course we all looked at it with more or less curiosity, and the work was pronounced excellent. Tucker, who was my cousin, then handed it to me, saying: 'Here, Steve, I'll give this to you. You may keep it as a curiosity.' I thanked him, and put it carefully in my pocket.
"It was not long until rumors of the dream had reached the ears of many persons. Upon hearing this I felt some concerned, for I did not want to be mixed up or identified with this thing in the least. But all of my apprehension soon vanished, when I found my name had no connection with it, and that the dream had been a real vision of the prophet himsef! Of course this relieved me of all apprehension, and greatly increased my desire to make further experiments in this wild fanaticism.
"My next subject was Calvin Stoddard, a very clever man, who had been a kind of exhorter among the Methodists. He was a married man, and lived with his wife in a frame house with unpainted weather-boarding, that had become loose from age and exposure to wind and weather. I had met Mr. Stoddard on several occasions, and his conversation generally turned on the subject of the new revelation. He said that we were living in the latter days spoken of in the Bible, and that wonderful things would come to pass on the earth; that he had seen signs in the heavens that would satisfy any one that a new dispensation was coming. That young Joseph had had a dream that was more wonderful than anything he had ever read in the book of Daniel, and that if the village of Palmyra did not repent it would meet the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.
"Mr. Tucker, in his book, has referred to the
EX-GOVERNOR HARDING'S LETTER. 49
call that was given on one occasion, to preach the new gospel. In the main, his statement is substantially true; nevertheless, it does great injustice to the dramatic effect of the call that was given. Suffice it to say, that Stoddard and his wife were among the primitive members of the Mormon Church, and in obedience to the call, continued to preach the best that he could to the close of his life. * Requiscat in pace.
"It was now getting about time for me to return West, and in the month of September, 1829, I took passage on a canal packet for Buffalo. In the meantime marvellous stories were being circulated throughout the neighborhood, in regard to the strange dream of the prophet, and the celestial call of Calvin Stoddard to preach the new gospel. I had received from Harris and Cowdery the first and second chapters of the Book of Mormon. These, with the title page before mentioned, were carefully put away in my trunk. Three or four days before my embarkation, Martin Harris, in company with Cowdery, met me at the village, manifesting a great deal of concern at my intended departure, informing me that young Joseph had been having visions. The day was fixed when I was to leave, and we separated, and the reader may judge of my astonishment when Harris and Cowdery came on board the boat at the first lock below the village, and approached me very much excited, Martin particularly. He wanted to know if I was really starting West. I informed him that I was going directly home to Indiana. He said that the night before the angel of the Lord had visited Joseph, and informed him that I was a
* For the particulars of this remarkable conversation, the reader is referred to the account to be found in another chapter. Mr. Stoddard was married to one of the prophet's sisters, and lived and died in the faith in Illinois -- EDITOR.
50 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
chosen vessel of the Lord, and they must pursue me at least as far as Rochester, and inform me of the commands of the angel, and that I must remain in Palmyra until the printing of the Book of Mormon was completed; after which I must go to the city of London and there remain until the Lord would inform me what to do. This, I confess, was a new phase in this wild fanaticism, and I felt very much puzzled and confounded. The first I said was: 'Where is the money to come from to pay my passage to London?' 'Oh,' said Martin, 'the Lord will find the money. The Book of Mormon will sell for thousands and thousands of dollars, and I can furnish the money any day, f necessary.'
"I confess that for a time I felt very much confused. I had bidden all my friends good-bye, and could not have returned to Palmyra in company with these men without seriously compromising myself. And yet, what a temptation was here presented to me to play the role of the hypocrite and villain! I had no complications, either of love or business, and was as free as the winds that sweep over the prairies. Many times, since Mormonism has become a most dangerous proselytism throughout all Christendom, have I asked myself: What if I had accepted the apple plucked from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, crucified my own sense of honor and manhood, and sold myself to the devil of ambition! It is hardly probable, notwithstanding all this, that the Dead Sea fruit would have turned to ashes on my lips.
"They continued with me until we arrived at Rochester, where we parted. In the mean time it seemed as if these messengers sent to intercept me would hardly take 'No' for an answer. Martin, with great earnestness, dwelt upon the danger of disobeying the commands of the Lord, and prophesied that I would soon be removed from the earth,
EX-GOVERNOR HARDING'S LETTER. 51
and most probably before I reached my destination, quoting several passages of Scripture fitting my case. On leaving, they shook me by the hand most heartily, Martin warning me of the dangers ahead. The whole scene was worthy of the profoundest study. Here were two men, whose names will go down through the ages as witnesses to the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, whose superstition and credulity were such as to unseat all confidence in what are termed miracles; and yet, at that time, the evidence of Martin Harris would have been received in a court of justice against all of the Smiths, Pages, and Whitmers, who have published to the world, in the presence of God, that they had 'seen and hefted' the miraculous plates! This, it will be remembered, was before Brigham Young, Heber Kimball, or John Taylor had ever heard of the new dispensation.
"In 1847, after the expulsion of the Mormons from Nauvoo, I came home one Saturday night from court, and found a stranger at my house. This was not remarkable, for it was generally understood that my doors had never been shut in the face of any human being in distress, black or white. He was a middle-aged man, an Englishman, named Campbell. He told me that he had come from the city of Nauvoo, and was going to some place in Ohio; had heard of me before he left Nauvoo, and hoped I would not consider it an intrusion if he stayed over until Monday morning. He was really an inoffensive-looking person, and was possessed of considerable intelligence. He had emigrated from England a few years before, and was, by trade, a copper-plate engraver. During his stay in my house, I informed him that I had the first title page of the Book of Mormon, that was ever printed, and briefly related to him how it came into my possession. I produced it, and as he examined the strange
52 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
relic it was evident that a feeling of awe and veneration had come over him. 'Is it possible! Is it possible!' exclaimed he, his eyes still fixed upon it. 'The hand of the Lord is in it.' He continued to examine it with so much fascination, I said: 'You take so much interest in this that I will give it to you.'
"'Will you let me take it away?' said he.
"'Oh, yes, sir, you may keep it as your own,' I said.
"'Thank you, sir! God bless you. The angel of the Lord must have directed me to this house.' He said it would add greatly to the value of the relic, if I would write something over my own name. I told him I would do so, and wrote the following:
"'This is the first title page of the Book of Mormon that was ever printed. It was printed in the presence of Joseph Smith, Jr., Joseph Smith, Sr., Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and myself, at the office of the Wayne Sentinel, Palmyra, New York, August, 1829, -- and which was examined and handled by all the persons above named, and the same is hereby respectfully presented to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. STEPHEN S. HARDING, of Milan, Ind.'
"It will be seen, hereafter, how a little crumb of bread cast upon the waters will be returned. This man was evidently as honest and sincere in his belief as any member of the most orthodox church. When I went to the territory of Utah as Governor, in 1862, Mr. Campbell was almost the first one to meet me. He held a clerkship in Salt Lake City. He was really glad to see me, and shaking my hand, said:
"'Governor, the hand of the Lord is in it. This is revelation.' The deep grief that was settled upon him was unexplained, until he informed me
EX-GOVERNOR HARDING'S LETTER. 53
that his eldest son, a young man of promise, had been drowned a day before in the river Jordan, and his body had just been recovered, and was then lying at his house; that he and his wife were nearly overwhelmed with sorrow; but upon hearing of my arrival, he had left her in tears and came to pay his respects to me, and bid me welcome. Poor fellow! It would have been a hard heart that would not have gone out in sympathy for him.
"I soon learned that the first title page had been well preserved in the Historical Society and Museum. It had been placed between two panes of window glass in a stout frame. By this means it could be carefully handled and examined without danger of defacement. It has been examined by thousands and thousands; and after my arrival the number increased. I looked upon it one day myself, in company with a gentleman from San Francisco. I was soon surrounded by a large company of simple-minded people, who, after my appointment as Governor was known, had heard a thousand times from bishops and elders, that the hand of the Lord was in it. But, alas! the faces that I had known in Palmyra could not be seen. The prophet had been overtaken by retributive justice. Hyrum, his brother, had also paid the penalty. The father and mother had disappeared, and poor Martin Harris had been expelled, trampled upon, and insulted by the prophet himself in the zenith of his power, and was now a wanderer and a vagabond. Cowdery had fared little better. Sidney Rigdon was exiled. Unseen hands had been turning the wheel of fortune. 'My hand-maiden, Emma Smith' (referred to in the revelation that cost the prophet his life), was the wife of a Gentile and the third Joseph Smith, eldest son of the prophet, had to appeal to the Governor, asking for protection, before he dared enter the dominions of
54 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
the new hierarch. The whole thing seemed to me more like a romance than a reality.
"In your second letter you ask me certain questions, which I will now briefly answer. Oliver Cowdery, the scribe of the prophet, was a young man of about twenty-four or twenty-five, about age of Smith. I had never known him previous to my return to Palmyra. He had been a school-teacher in country schools, and I am certain had little or no acquaintance with English grammar at that time. If this same Oliver Cowdery studied law and was admitted to practice in Ohio, it must have been after the time that I met him; and if he ever acquired a knowledge of the dead languages, it was certainly afterwards. I never saw, to my knowledge, either Sidney Rigdon, or Parley P. Pratt, the latter of whom was shot by Dr. McLane for proselyting his wife. I knew his brother, Orson Pratt, in Salt Lake City, and also Mrs. McLane, who had been 'sealed' to another man.
"As for 'Joe Smith,' the prophet, I have long been satisfied that his intellectual forces as a man have been greatly underrated. * In deception and low cunning he has had no peer. Mahomet was a much greater man intellectually; but he never could have played the part of Joe Smith, the Mormon Prophet. Ignorant as he is represented to have been, still he was familiar with the Scriptures, and never tired of reading the miracles in the Old Testament and in the New. The revelations that he pretended to have had, were composed and written by somebody, certainly not Solomon Spaulding. The most of them evince quite as much talent in composition as parts of the Manuscript Found. The question again recurs, Who was the author of these Revelations? His last one at Nauvoo, in
* Our opinion is that they have been greatly over-rated. -- EDITOR.
EX-GOVERNOR HARDING'S LETTER. 55
184-, authorizing Polygamy and spiritual marriages, wherein the Lord commanded the prophet not to put his property out of his hands, could hardly have been written by Oliver Cowdery, the 8eneca County lawyer, unless he put into the mouth of the Lord the language of a country justice of the peace. There is another reason, however, of much greater significance, that Cowdery had nothing to do with the revelation, for it was about that time that he and Martin Harris had fallen into disgrace in the Church -- had been excommunicated, and published in the court journal of the prophet as 'liars' and 'white niggers.' *
"That Spaulding's Manuscript Found was the real foundation of Mormonism, I have no doubt. When he wrote his romance in Ohio, surrounded by evidences of a pre-historic race, the sight of canoes at that time in general use, would furnish the idea and model of the sharp-pointed ships, 'of the length of a tree,' constructed at the ship-yards of the Land Bountiful, mentioned in the Book of Mormon. All that he had to do, in the conception of his model, was to put one canoe on top of another, bottom-side up, and the idea supplemented with breathing holes, is almost complete. The bellows made from the skins of beasts, by boss ship-carpenters of Bountiful, his kindling a fire by striking two stones together, and making tools for the workmen out of crude iron ore, are so inexpressive of poetic imagery, that I agree with you, it seems improbable that a clergyman who had
* Here the Governor misapprehends our point. We, nor any one ever supposed that Spalding had ever had anything to do with the "revelations." Our suggestion was to the effect that it may have been Cowdery instead of Rigdon, who somehow obtained the Manuscript Found, and placed it in Smith's hands, at the beginning of the Imposture, and that they two manipulated it into the Book of Mormon, while pretending to "translate " and " transcribe." -- ED.
56 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
graduated at Dartmouth College had ever before been its author. These portions of the MS. fall below the dignity of criticism. There are other portions that might readily be attributed to Mr. Spaulding.
"When I was in Palmyra in 1829, I heard the particulars of the incident as related by Mr. Tucker, when the Smith family was out of meat, and the manner in which the black wether of William Stafford had been obtained. But I refer the reader to the account given in Mr. Tucker's book. The best part of the story, however, had been forgotten by Mr. T., as illustrative of the cunning of the young money-digger. When Stafford was told it required the sacrifice of a black sheep in order to reach the hidden treasure, it was not plain to him why the blood of one sheep was not as good as that of another. His black wether, that had been selected by young Joe, was large and in excellent condition for mutton. Stafford hesitated, and was loth to give him up, offering a white wether of smaller size, yet in good condition. But the coming prophet was not to be foiled in his purpose, and resorted to logic that confounded the objector. 'The reason why it must be a black sheep,' said the young deceiver, 'is because I have found the treasure by means of the black art.' This, of course, was unanswerable, and the black wether was given up.
"With malice toward none, and charity for all, I subscribe myself,
"STEPHEN S. HARDING.
PROFESSOR ANTHON'S STORY.
"NEW YORK, Feb. 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 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 nubmber of plates fatstened 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,
58 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
his two eyes would have to be turned towards one glass -- 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 the garret of a farm-house, and being thus concealed from view, he put on the spectacles occasionally, or, rather, looked through one of the glasses, decyphered the characters in the book, and, having committed some of them to paper, handed copies from behind the curtain to those who stood outside. Not a word was said about their having been decyphered by the 'gift of God.' Everything in this way, was effected by the large pair of spectacles. The farmer added that he had been requested to contribute a sum of money towards 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 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
PROFESSOR ANTHON'S STORY. 59
arranged 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 calender, 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 remember that the paper contained any thing else but 'Egyptian Hieroglyphics.'
Thus it appears that Martin Harris had told the Professor a straight story in regard to the matter, as it had been represented to him; that the book of gold plates, held together with rings, had been dug up in Northern New York; that they were being translated by a young man behind a curtain, through the medium of the Urim and Thummim, which were generally talked of as spectacles -- that it was designed to publish the translation, and that he proposed to contribute money for the purpose -- (he already had fifty dollars and the expenses of this trip in the enterprise.) And no man in his senses can be made to believe that Professor Anthon, with the reputation he possessed as a scientist and man of honor, ever made the reply to Harris that is ascribed to him in Smith's narrative.
This letter of Anthon's was in reply to inquiries
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made of him by Mr. Howe, and first appeared in his expose, Mormonism Unveiled. At a subsequent date, Rev. T. W. Coit addressed a note of inquiry to Professor Anthon, and received in reply the substance of the foregoing, to which he added the following:
"The matter rested here for a considerable time, until one day, when I had ceased entirely to think of the countryman and his paper, he paid me a second visit. He now brought with him a duodecimo volume, which he said was a translation into English of the 'Golden Bible.' He also stated, that notwithstanding his original determination, he had been induced evidently to sell his farm, and apply the money to the publication of the book, and had received the golden plates as a security for payment. He begged my acceptance of the volume, assuring me that it would be found extremely interesting, and that it was already 'making great noise' in the upper part of the State. Suspecting now, that some serious trick was on foot, and that my plain-looking visitor might be in fact a very cunning fellow, I declined his present, and merely contented myself with a slight examination of the volume while he stood by. The more I declined receiving it, however, the more urgent the man became in offering the book, until at last I told him plainly, that if he left the volume, as he said he intended to do, I should most assuredly throw it after him as he departed. I then asked him how he could be so foolish as to sell his farm and engage in this affair; and requested him to tell me if the plates were really of gold. In answer to this latter inquiry, he said, that he had not seen the
PROFESSOR ANTHON'S STORY. 61
plates themselves, which were carefully locked up in a trunk, but that he had the trunk in his possession. I advised him by all means to open the trunk and examine its contents, and if the plates proved to be of gold, which I did not believe at all, to sell them immediately. His reply was, that. if he opened the trunk, the 'curse of Heaven would descend upon him and his children. 'However, added he, 'I will agree to open it, provided you take the 'curse of Heaven' upon yourself, for having advised me to the step.' I told him I was perfectly willing to do so, and begged him to hasten home and examine the trunk, for he would find that he had been cheated. He promised to do as I recommended, and left me, taking his book with him. I have never seen him since.
"Such is a plain statement of all I know respecting the Mormons. My impression now is, that the plain-looking countryman was none other than the prophet Smith himself, who assumed an appearance of great simplicity in order to entrap me, if possible, into some recommendation of his book. That the prophet aided me by his inspiration, in interpreting the volume, is only one of the many amusing falsehoods which the Mormonites utter relative to my participation in their doctrines. Of these doctrines I know nothing whatever, nor have I ever heard a single discourse from any of their preachers, although I have often felt a strong curiosity to become an auditor, since my friends tell me that they frequently name me in their sermons, and even go so far as to say that I am alluded to in the prophecies of Scripture!
"If what I have here written shall prove of any service in opening the eyes of some of their deluded followers to the real designs of those who profess to be the apostles of Mormonism, it will
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afford me satisfaction equalled, I have no doubt, only by that which you yourself will feel on this subject.
"I remain, very respectfully and truly,
"Rev. Dr. Coit, New Rochelle, N. Y."
A TERRIBLE DILEMMA.
AND now comes a most curious part of this remarkable story. Mr. Harris had become the amanuenuis to the prophet while engaged in translating the plates, and from April to June, 1828, had written one hundred and sixteen pages of foolscap, as called out to him by the translator, using the Urim and Thummim. Such valuable service he thought was worthy of recognition from a higher source, so he teased that the instrument might be put into requisition to inquire of the Lord if he might not be permitted to carry the writings home for exhibition to his wife and friends. Twice the Lord pointedly refused; but upon his insisting, leave was granted -- only on the express condition that they must be shown to only five persons, namely: his brother, Preserved Harris, his father and mother, his wife, and her sister, Mrs. Cobb. And he was required to enter into a most solemn covenant to abide by the agreement. He took the
64 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
writings, but failed
A TERRIBLE DILEMMA. 65
REVELATION to Joseph Smith, Jr., given July, 1828, concerning certain manuscripts on the first part of the Book of Mormon, which had been taken from the possession of Martin Harris.
1. The works, and the designs
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that which thou hast done,
A TERRIBLE DILEMMA. 65
The Urim and Thummim were now taken from him, but restored in a few days, and the following revelation was forthcoming, dating ten months after the other. The long delay will probably be made apparent in the sequel.
REVELATION to Joseph Smith, Jr., May, 1828, informing him of the alteration of the manuscript of the fore part of the Book of Mormon.
1. Now, behold, I say unto you
68 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
has put into their hearts
A TERRIBLE DILEMMA. 69
in the day of judgment, yea,
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7. Marvel not
A TERRIBLE DILEMMA. 71
parts of my gospel
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I came unto my own,
A TERRIBLE DILEMMA. 73
And these two long harangues, abounding in absurdities
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of the manuscript of the fore part
STORY AND BOOK EXAMINED.
WE have now followed this story as told by its author, from its inception down to the period of its development into a systematic and wicked scheme of imposture. On it the whole structure of Mormonism is built. It is the ground-work of a delusion, which, for fifty years, has been spreading over the United States and making proselytes in Europe and Asia, and in the islands of the sea.
It contains within itself many evidences of its falsity, which, when properly weighed and considered, must cause it to be rejected by every intelligent and well-balanced mind. And when viewed in connection with surrounding circumstances, and with the well-known characters and lives of its author and chief abettors, it becomes simply astounding that any human heing, in the wide range of humanity, can be found so credulous as to believe it. The fact that hundreds and thousands do
76 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
STORY AND BOOK EXAMINED. 77
written by way of
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deposit the title
STORY AND BOOK EXAMINED. 79
that after multifarious and terrible wars,
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STORY AND BOOK EXAMINED. 81
valuables, "hid up"
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STORY AND BOOK EXAMINED. 83
And there was also
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their search, it could have led them right up to where he and his famishing crew were perishing. Oh, why did not these ancient people think to place that inevitable compass in the stone box with the Urim and Thummim and Laban's sword? or, if there, why was it not delivered to Joseph by the messenger? Let us hope that it may yet be found somewhere about Cumorah hill.
IT is Ether, the historian of the Jaredites, who informs us how the Jared family, after escaping from the "confounding of language" at the Tower of Babel, finally reached these shores. It was a remarkable voyage. Navigators, and, indeed, all who go down to the sea in ships, will be interested in it, and may gain from it some valuable knowledge pertaining to their perilous calling. It is lengthy, and me omit the unimportant portions, retaining the main facts. Jared and his brethren had reached the sea, "and they called the name of the place Moriancumer," and there they dwelt in their tents for the space of four years. But this was not to be their abiding place. Turn to page 542 of the first edition and read the wonderful story:
"And the Lord said, Go to work and build, after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built.
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And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the manner which they had built, according to the instructions of the Lord. And they were small, and they were light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water; and they were built after a manner that they were exceeding tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the sides thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me. And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light, whither shall we steer. -- And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish. And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared, Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top thereof, and also in the bottom thereof; and when thou shalt suffer for air, thou shalt unstop the hole thereof, and receive air. And if it so be that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole thereof, that ye may not perish in the flood. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did so, according as the Lord had commanded. And he cried again unto the Lord, saying, O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold, there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness? And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared, What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows,
EXAMINATION CONTINUED. 87
for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire: for behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea: for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth. And behold, I prepare you against these things: for howbeit, ye cannot cross this great deep, save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you, that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?
And it came to pass that the brother of Jared, (now the number of the vessels which had been prepared, was eight,) went forth unto the mount, which they called the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height, and did moulten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as transparent glass; and he did carry them in his hands upon the top of the mount, and cried again unto the Lord, saying, O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods;... but behold these things which I have moulten out of the rock. And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea. Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to shew forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men. And it came to pass that when the brother of Jared had said these words, behold, the Lord stretched forth
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his hand and touched the stones, one by one, with his finger; and the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord;...
For it came to pass after that the Lord had prepared the stones which the brother of Jared had carried up into the mount, the brother of Jared came down out of the mount, and he did put forth the stones into the vessels which were prepared, one in each end thereof; and behold, they did give light unto the vessels thereof. And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.
And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of food, that thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast, or animal, or fowl that they should carry with them: And it came to pass that when they had done all these things, they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God. And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind. And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.
And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep, there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters, they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the
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waters. And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land, while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind; and they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord. And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them: and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water. And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water; and they did land upon the shore of the promised land.
The historian has not informed us how many persons composed the company in this remarkable voyage. There must have been several though, to properly man each of the vessels. And let us pause to contemplate these eight wonderfully constructed barges, on their adventurous voyages. All built alike -- light like a fowl, long as a tree, tight like a dish; all provided with holes in the bottom and top, and lighted with those transparent stones which the sagacious brother of Jared "did moulten" out of a rock. All laden too, with "whatsoever beast, or animal, or fowl, that they should carry with them," and with "all manner of food" necessary for a year's voyage. They start together before a furious wind, and after nearly a year, land together without so much as one being lost. No monster of the
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deep hurt them;
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of Olmutz, of Sevastopol -- they dwindle into insignificance
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"they had all fallen
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had rendered them such valuable service, and brought them to this land of promise, they found here
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chapters are copied.
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King James version. In 1829-30 Joseph Smith translates certain of these chapters from what he calls the Reformed Egyptian tongue, on plates dug up from the ground in New York, where they had lain thirteen hundred years, themselves a translation from the Hebrew, and "lo and behold," there are thousands who see in this a strong proof of Joe Smith's divine mission!
Many pages might be written, filled with instances of the sense;ess, ridiculous, incongruous, and blasphemous character of the work. But the foregoing are sufficient to show that such a work could never have been sent as a Message from God to man.
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