James H. Fairchild (1817-1902)
"Solomon Spaulding and the Book of Mormon"
Biblotheca Sacra XLII:1 (#165 -- Jan. 1885)
"Mormonism and the Spaulding Manuscript"
Biblotheca Sacra XLIII:1 (#177 -- Jan. 1886)
[ 1 ]
One of the strangest religious phenomena of modern times is before us; and all the more striking because the Latter-day Church has had its career not at all in the Dark Ages or in Arabia. Its deeds have been done before the public and in a blaze of light. It has lived and prospered in spite of railroad, telegraph, and newspaper; has not been argued down or laughed down; has successfully defied the reason of the nineteenth century and the moral sense of Christendom. Nor are we at all likely to deal
16 Mormonism [Jan.
moral nature. Baptism is for the remission of sins, and washes away all taint and guilt to date. This rite may be repeated indefinitely, and must be so often as one wanders and becomes disobedient. Also, all who gather from foreign lands or any region outside, as soon as possible after reaching Zion must be re-baptized. Immersion is the only valid form, and this has no efficacy unless the administrator is a member of the Mormon priesthood. Infant baptism is an abomination before God, though the youngest may properly be blessed by the elders. Confirmation, or laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, is according to the exact fashion of apostolic times. By means of this ordinance communication is opened with God, angels, and the heavens. The saint is comforted thereby, truth is brought to remembrance, and he is led into all truth. He receives, at least potentially, as an inheritance visions, dreams, prophecies, tongues, healings, etc. And, moreover, only by this gift so received can he know that Jesus Christ is Lord, that Joseph is a prophet, and that Mormonism is from God. Such cogent knowledge it is the privilege and duty of every saint to possess. Obedience to these four principles, always under the tuition of the priesthood, is essential to adoption into the kingdom of God and church of Jesus Christ. If either faith, repentance, baptism, or confirmation be lacking, salvation is impossible.
SCRIPTURES. The followers of Joseph Smith are most lavishly supplied with authoritative standards of faith and practice, and affect to pity Christendom because so poverty-stricken in this regard. Not less than three books unite to voice for them heavenly truth and the will of the Most High, of which two are owed to the pen of the prophet; while the best source of communication from the skies subsists in unwritten form, or at least as membra disjecta, not having been gathered in print. The Bible is the word of God so far as correctly translated.
The Book of Mormon is also and equally the word of
1885.] Mormonism 17
God. This latter work is in entire agreement with the Hebrew Scriptures, but also illustrates and supplements them in many and most important particulars, especially by narrating the history of a branch of the Israelitish stock which emigrated to the Western Continent in remote generations, and by supplying the record of certain revelations bestowed upon them. This famous production is not far from the size of the Old Testament, and not less than one-eighteenth of its contents is composed of quotations from the Bible, whole chapters being transferred from Isaiah. Curiously enough, in every case the rendering of King James' translation is followed to the letter, and even in all its errors, though not made till more than a thousand years after Moroni laid the book away in the hill Cumorah! Hamlet is quoted 2,200 years before the bard of Avon was born. Hosts of citations are made from the Gospels and Epistles, when as yet the latter were unpenned. Phraseology abounds which was current in Smith's day in American politics and Methodist revivals, such as, "If ye have experienced a change of heart;" "Ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation;" "I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love." One hero put to death all who would not "enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom, that they might maintain a free government." "There were no robbers nor murderers in those days; neither were there Lamanites, or any manner of ites." "And when Moroni had said these words he went forth, waving the rent of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which he had wrote upon the rent," Such fine sentiment and diction we have from the seers of North and South America! As to the origin of the Book of Mormon, there is little room to doubt that Solomon Spaulding's romance furnished the bulk of the historical portion: but how the manuscript came into Smith's hands, no one knows. 1
1 (See, however, President Fairchild's communication, among the Critical Notes of this number. -- EDS,)
18 Mormonism [Jan.
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1885.] Critical Notes 173
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SOLOMON SPAULDING AND THE BOOK OF MORMON.The theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon in the traditional manuscript of Solomon Spaulding will probably have to be relinquished. That manuscript is doubtless now in the possession of Mr. L. L. Rice, of Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, formerly an anti-slavery editor in Ohio, and for many years State printer at Columbus, During a recent visit to Honolulu, I suggested to Mr. Rice that he might have valuable anti-slavery documents in his possession which he would be willing to contribute to the rich collection already in the Oberlin College Library. In pursuance of this suggestion Mr. Rice began looking over his old pamphlets and papers, and at length came upon an old, worn, and faded manuscript of about 175 pages, small quarto, purporting to be a history of the migrations and conflicts of the ancient Indian tribes which occupied the territory now belonging to the states of New York, Ohio and Kentucky. On the last page of this manuscript is a certificate and signature giving the names of several persons known to the signer, who have assured him that, to their personal knowledge, the manuscript was the writing of Solomon Spaulding. Mr. Rice has no recollection how or when this manuscript came into his
174 Critical Notes [Jan.
possession. It was enveloped in a coarse piece of wrapping paper and endorsed in Mr. Rice's handwriting "A manuscript story."
There seems no reason to doubt that this is the long-lost story. Mr. Rice, myself, and others compared it with the Book of Mormon, and could detect no resemblance between the two, in general or in detail. There seems to be no name or incident common to the two. The solemn style of the Book of Mormon, in imitation of the English Scriptures, does not appear in the manuscript. The only resemblance is in the fact that both profess to set forth the history of lost tribes. Some other explanation of the origin of the Book of Mormon must be found, if any explanation is required.
JAMES H. FAIRCHILD.
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1886.] Critical Notes 167
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MORMONISM AND THE SPAULDING MANUSCRIPT.Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson, in her recent work entitled New Light on Mormonism, 1 introduces herself as a grand-niece of Solomon Spaulding, who wrote "the romance called The Manuscript Found, from which the Book of Mormon was formulated." Her leading purpose seems to be to show that the Book of Mormon had its literary origin in an historical romance written by Solomon Spaulding, but never published by him, and
1 With Introduction by Thurlow Weed. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1885, (pp. 272. 6 x 3.5 in.)
168 Critical Notes [Jan.
never intended to serve the purpose to which it has been perverted. The volume doubtless derives its title from the effort to establish this theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon, although it contains other matter connected with the history of Mormonism and the character of its doctrines. The book is vigorously and clearly written, and makes a strong impression of the wickedness of this great delusion of modern times.
The author clearly distinguishes between the Mormonism of Utah, as established by Brigham Young, and that of the Josephites, led by Joseph Smith, Jr., who indignantly repudiate polygamy and regard the system maintained in Utah as a great apostasy; yet she maintains that Joseph Smith, the father, received a revelation at Nauvoo encouraging polygamy, and had made a beginning in its practice. The proof of this is in the fact that Brigham Young, some years afterward, set forth such a revelation, claiming that Smith received it in 1843, but did not publish it. The Josephites deny this utterly, and charge the revelation as an imposture of Young.
There seems little in common between the two bodies of Mormons, except that they both hold the Book of Mormon as a revelation and Joseph Smith as a prophet. But the Book of Mormon contains no new system of religion, and could not of itself have given rise to the organized iniquity which prevails in Utah. It was only as the Book of Mormon was supplemented by further pretended revelations invented by shrewd and unscrupulous men that the mischief grew. It may be claimed, not unreasonably, that the credulity and superstition which could accept the Book of Mormon as a revelation made ultimate Mormonism possible.
The question chiefly discussed in Mrs. Dickinson's little volume, whether the Book of Mormon originated in a manuscript of Solomon Spaulding, is interesting, but by no means of special importance. The book is not so wonderful that it could not have been produced by Joseph Smith or Sidney Rigdon, or some other of the shrewd and unscrupulous, but uncultivated, leaders of the delusion. There is no occasion to go far to find its origin. It might be satisfactory to trace it to a definite source in the Spaulding manuscript, but Mormonism, as it exists at present, has so little connection with the Book of Mormon that such a discovery would scarcely disturb it.
Mrs. Dickinson's theory is that Rev. Solomon Spaulding, a graduate of Dartmouth College, living at Conneaut, O., in 1810-12, wrote an historical romance purporting to give the origin and history of the people occupying the continent in the early ages, whose remains are found in the ancient mounds and earthworks scattered over the country, -- that Spaulding carried this manuscript to Pittsburg, Pa., and left it for some months in the printing office of Robert Patterson, whom he had asked to print it, -- that while it was lying in this office Sidney Rigdon, who was probably employed there as a printer, took a copy of it, and fifteen years afterward, in collusion with Joseph Smith, wrought out of this manuscript the Book of Mormon.
Many of the facts on which this theory rests are proved beyond question. Spaulding wrote such a manuscript, which he called The Manuscript Found, because he represented it as a translation of an ancient record which he had
1886.] Critical Notes 169
found buried in a mound not far from his house in Conneaut. This manuscript he was accustomed to read to his neighbors gathered at his house, during the progress of its composition, and there are persons still living who heard the reading from time to time as the work went on. Twenty years or more afterward, when the Book of Mormon was brought into Northern Ohio, in connection with the preaching of Sidney Rigdon, some of Spaulding's old neighbors, as they listened to the new revelation, were reminded of the readings which they had heard so many years before, and seemed to recognize names and incidents as the same in the two documents. Thus the idea gained currency that the Book of Mormon had its origin in the manuscript of Solomon Spaulding.
In 1834, E. D. Howe, of Painesville, O., about to publish a book entitled Mormonism Unveiled, arranged qith Dr. D. P. Hurlbut, of Conneaut, to go to Mrs. Spaulding, then living with her daughter in Munson, Mass., to procure from her the old manuscript of her husband, who had died in Amity, Pa., eighteen years before. The manuscript was supposed to be at that time in an old trunk, at the house of a cousin of Mrs. Spaulding, in Hartwick, N. Y. Hurlbut obtained an order from Mrs. Spaulding (Davidson), found the manuscript, and delivered it, as he claims, to Mr. Howe at Painesville. It did not prove to be what was expected. It was a manuscript of Spaulding, corresponding in many general qualities with the traditional character of the Manuscript Found; but was clearly not the basis of the Book of Mormon, and did not serve the purpose which they had anticipated. This manuscript was in Mr. Howe's possession several years, and was finally lost, Mr. Hurlbut having failed, according to his promise, to return it to Mrs. Spaulding.
At this point Mrs. Dickinson introduces the supposition that Hurlbut obtained two manuscripts from the old trunk, one of which he delivered to Howe, and the other, The Manuscript Found, he treacherously sold to the Mormons. This charge Hurlburt denied to the day of his death, in 1882. Mr. Howe, in a letter to Hurlbut dated August 7, 1880 (p. 259), says: "Hardly a year passes by that I do not receive more or less inquiries, some of which seem to reflect on your honesty in regard to the manuscript obtained from that wonderful old trunk, that was all explained truthfully in the book I published; as I then believed, and have ever since, that Spaulding's 'Manuscript Found' was never found or received by you." Yet, in an interview with Mrs. Dickinson (p. 273 [sic - p. 73]), Howe is represented as expressing a suspicion of Hurlbut's fair dealing in the matter.
The manuscript which Hurlbut actually delivered to Howe was recently discovered in the possession of L. L. Rice, Esq., of Honolulu, and has been forwarded by him to the Library of Oberlin College for safe keeping. A brief notice of this manuscript was given in the January number of the Bibliotheca Sacra, 1885. In many general features this manuscript fulfils the conditions of the Manuscript Found. The package in its wrapper is about an inch in thickness (p. 238). The manuscript is much worn and discolored by use as well as age, showing that it has been abundantly read and handled.
170 Critical Notes [Jan.
It is represented in the introduction as a translation from an ancient record found in a mound near the author's dwelling (pp. 15, 16). The writing of the story was suggested to the author by his interest in the ancient mounds, and the story is a professed account of the people that constructed these mounds and earthworks. The manuscript is unfinished -- the story stops before the end is reached (p. 17 & p. 239). The manuscript fails to meet the traditional requirements of the Manuscript Found, in that there is not a name or an incident in it which is found in the Book of Mormon. It is not written in the solemn style of the accepted version of the Scriptures, as the Book of Mormon is, and as is claimed for the traditional manuscript. Yet, from a general resemblance, the manuscript and the Book of Mormon might suggest each other, and it is conceivable that one who had heard the manuscript twenty years before should be reminded of it on hearing the Book of Mormon. It is on such recollections, on the part of the old neighbors of Spaulding, that the claim is based that the Book of Mormon had its origin in a manuscript of Solomon Spaulding. The following is a transcript, with orthography corrected, of the three introductory pages of the manuscript. A crumbling of the edges of the paper occasions the loss of two or three words.
Near the west bank of the Conneaught river there are the remains of an ancient fort. As I was walking and forming various conjectures respecting the character, situation and numbers of those people, who far exceed the present race of Indians in works of art and inginuity, I happened to tread on a flat stone. This was at a small distance from the fort, and it lay on the top of a small mound of earth exactly horizontal. The face of it had a singular appearance. I discovered a number of characters, which appeared to me to be letters, but so much effaced by the ravages of time, that I could not read the inscription. With the assistance of a leaver I raised the stone; but you may easily conjecture my astonishment when I discovered that its ends and sides rested on stones, and that it was designed as a cover to an artificial cave. I found by examining that its sides were lined with stones built in a conical form, with ... down, and that it was about 8 feet deep. Determined to investigate the design of this extraordinary work of antiquity, I prepared myself with necessary requisites for that purpose and descended to the bottom of the cave. Observing one side to be perpendicular nearly three feet from the bottom, I began to inspect that part with accuracy. Here I noticed a big, flat stone fixed in the form of a doar. I immediately tore it down and lo! a cavity within the wall presented itself, it being about three feet in diameter from side to side, and about two feet high. Within this cavity I found an earthen box, with a cover which shut it perfectly tite. The box was two feet in length, one and half in breadth, and one and three inches in diameter. My mind, filled with awful sensations which crowded fast upon me, would hardly permit my hands to remove this venerable deposit, but curiosity soon gained the ascendancy; the box was taken and raised to open. When I had removed the cover I found
1886.] Critical Notes 171
that it contained twenty-eight rolls of parchment; and that when ... appeared to be manuscripts written in an elegant hand with Roman letters the Latin Language
The author then proceeds with his story giving an account of a company of travellers and sailors, in the days of the Emperor Constantine, on the voyage from Rome to Britain, driven by a tempest across the ocean to the western continent. A writer in this company prepares an account of their wanderings, and their association with various tribes and nations of the original inhabitants of the country, their habits and civilization and conflicts, and leaves the record for a coming generation to discover
On the last page, in a different hand from the body of the manuscript, is the following endorsement:
"The Writings of Solomon Spalding. Proved by Aaron Wright, Oliver Smith, John N. Miller, and others. The testimonies of these gentlemen are now in my possession. D. P. HURLBUT."
No one who sees this manuscript can doubt its genuineness. Mr. Rice succeeded Mr. Howe in the printing office at Painesville in 1839, and thus came into possession of the manuscript, which has lain unobserved among his papers until the last year.
Yet Mrs. Dickinson says (pp. 79, 80): "It is remembered at Conneaut that he (Hirlbut) returned with a manuscript, or that was so reported. This is presumably the manuscript which E. D. Howe says was lying in his office at Painesville for years, and which the Mormons pretend was compared with 'the Golden Bible of Joseph,' at a public meeting the Mormons called for the purpose, and found to be entirely wanting in the essentials claimed for it. It was beyond question, from very strong circumstantial evidence, the manufactured manuscript prepared by Hurlbut, or his confederates, for the occasion." This "strong circumstantial evidence" utterly fails in sight of the manuscript.
The discovery of this manuscript does not prove that there may not have been another, which became the basis of the Book of Mormon, but it seems clearly to furnish a presumption against the existence of another; and it is doubtful whether the evidence on the subject, thus far published, can set aside this presumption. Mrs. Dickinson follows up and presents this evidence with abundant zeal, not always with a judicial temper. Imagination seems often to supply the vacancy when facts are wanting, and the conclusion is drawn without misgiving. As an instance take the following (p. 16): "A young printer named Sidney Rigdon, was in Mr. Patterson's printing house; he had been there but a short time, and, from many indisputable facts, it is believed he had followed Mr. Spaulding from Conneaut, or its immediate neighborhood, and having heard him read 'The Manuscript Found,
172 Critical Notes [Jan.
and announce his plans for its publication, devised a treachery toward both author and publisher, which the world has reason to remember." Now how much of this is fact, and how much fancy? Sidney Rigdon was born in 1793, and was only nineteen years of age in 1812, when Spaulding left Conneaut and went to Pittsburg. He was born in Allegheny county county, Pa., and as his relatives testify, lived in the same neighborhood until after Spaulding left Conneaut, and could not have known Spaulding or followed him. The proof is wanting that he was ever connected with Patterson's printing office, or was ever a printer at all. Rev. R. Patterson, of The Presbyterian Banner, of Pittsburg, the son of Patterson the printer, has published a very able monograph on this question, and he has not been able to establish any connection of Rigdon with his father's printing office.
Again, (p. 32): "Smith is known to have had a copy of the Spaulding manuscript in his possession about the year 1820, or at the time these three worthies (Smith, Rigdon, and Pratt) met, as it is certain that the scheme of the great Mormon fraud originated about this period between Smith, and Rigdon." These confident assertions do not seem to have a shadow of evidence to sustain them.
Still again, the chapter (pp. 62-76) in which the author sets forth her interview with Hurlbut and with Howe, and the little incident of the delay of her trunk between Painesville and Conneaut, which she invests with great mystery, discloses an activity of the imagination little calculated to secure the reader's confidence in the results attained.
As the case now stands one must still doubt whether the Book of Mormon had its origin in a manuscript by Solomon Spaulding. One who has had experience of the uncertainty of memory after the lapse of twenty years especially in connection with fresh occurrences which suggest resemblances and supply particulars, cannot escape the apprehension that many of the definite recollections of Spaulding's neighbors may have risen from the Book of Mormon itself. It is thus that the exact fulfilment of dreams takes place. The definiteness of the dream springs from the event with which it has some general correspondence. Of course evidence might appear within a year, or even a month, which would remove all doubt, and there are those who believe the traditional manuscript is in existence and will still come to light.
It cannot be denied that there is a strong antecedent improbability that a smart, self-confident man, like Rigdon, intellectually far more vigorous than Spaulding, should purloin, or sit down to copy, an extended manuscript of no significance or value, with the thought that he might need it at some remote future time. Still further, to one who has examined this recently discovered manuscript, it seems antecedently improbable that Spaulding could have been the author of the Book of Mormon. It would be difficult to find a greater contrast than that of the somewhat turgid and exuberant style of the manuscript, with its show of learning, and the constrained, meagre, childish style of the Book of Mormon, written in imitation of the English Scriptures. It might be thought that the attempt to imitate the
1886.] Critical Notes 173
Scriptures would explain the contrast in style. But in this fact lies another imporbability. The Book of Mormon is highly religious and even orthodox in its tone, permeated with Scripture conceptions, and phrases, and quotations, exhibiting remarkable reverence for the Scriptures, and familiarity with their contents on the part of the author or authors. Nothing of the kind appears in the manuscript of Spaulding recently recovered; and indeed the neighbors of Spaulding who had heard the traditional manuscript, and testified to its identity with the Book of Mormon, were careful to except various religious matters which had been introduced. But the religious matter and scripture quotations pervade the entire book, and could not have been introduced by another hand. That Spaulding had no such regard for the Scriptures, as the Book of Mormon indicates, no familiarity with them, and no taste in that direction may be inferred from two loose leaves, in his handwriting, accompanying the manuscript now brought to light. The leaves are of the same form and texture as those of the manuscript, and apparently of equal age. The statement they contain seems to have been written in reply to a friend who inquired of his religious views. We quote the essential part:
"In giving you my sentiments of the Christian religion, you will discern that I do not believe certain facts and certain propositions to be true merely because my ancestors believed them, and because they are popular. In forming my creed I bring every thing to the standard of reason. This is an unerring and sure guide in all matters of faith and practice. Having divested myself therefore of traditionary and vulgar prejudices, and submitting to the guidance of reason, it is impossible for me to have the same sentiments of the Christian religion which its advocates consider as orthodox. It is in my view a mass of contradictions, and a heterogeneous mixture of wisdom and folly, nor can I find any clear and incontrovertible evidence of its being a revelation from an infinitely benevolent and wise God. It is true that I never have had the leisure nor patience to read every part of it with critical attention, or to study the metaphissical jargon of divines in its vindication. It is enough for me to know that propositions which are in contradiction to each other cannot both be true and that doctrines and facts which represent the Supreme Being as a barbarous and cruel tyrant, can never be dictated by infinite wisdom. Whatever the clergy say on the contrary, can have no effect in altering my sentiments. I know as well as they that two and two are four, and that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles. But, notwithstanding I disavow any belief in the divinity of the Bible, and consider it a mere human production, designed to enrich and agrandize its authors and enable them to manage the multitude; yet casting aside a considerable mass of rubbish and fanatical rant, I find that it contains a system of ethics or morals which cannot be excelled, on account of their tendency to alleviate the condition of man and to promote individual, social, and public happiness, and that in various ways it represents the Almighty as possessing attributes worthy of a transcendantal character. Having a view therefore to those parts of the Bible which are truly
174 Critical Notes [Jan.
good and excellent, I sometimes speak of it in terms of high commendation, and indeed, I am inclined to believe that, notwithstanding the mischiefs and miseries miseries which have been produced by the bigoted zeal of fanatics and interested priests, yet that such evils are more than counterbalanced in a Christian land by the benefits which result to the great mass of the people by their believing that the Bible is of Divine origin, and that it contains a revelation from God. Such being my view of the subject I make no exertions to dissipate their happy delusions."
It is incredible that a man holding such views of the Scriptures, and writing from a literary impulse for his own entertainment, would have produced a work like the Book of Mormon. In the absence of positive evidence such considerations must have weight. "New light" is still needed on the question of Spaulding's connection with the Book of Mormon.
JAMES H. FAIRCHILD.
(lower portion of this page not transcribed)
President Fairchild's Congregational Club Lecture
EVIDENCE THAT THE BOOK OF MORMON
The accepted theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon is that it was based upon a manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding, purporting to set forth the origin and civilization of the American Indians, and to account for the ancient mounds, earthworks, and other remains of the early inhabitants, which are scattered over the land. The first publication of this idea seems to have been made by the late E. D. Howe, of Painesville, O., in a volume written, printed, and published by him at Painesville in 1834, entitled Mormonism Unvailed. He seems to have been the first to gather evidence upon the subject from the original sources, and most that have written on the subject have depended essentially upon the material furnished by him. The theory has become traditional, and has found its way into all the anti-Mormon literature, and into the general cyclopaedias. Professor George P. Fisher, in his book on general history, just published, adopts the theory. The question is intrinsically of slight importance, whether or not the Book of Mormon is based upon a manuscript of Spaulding's. It required only a very moderate degree of literary ability and investigation to produce the book; and several of the original leaders of the fanaticism must have been adequate to the work. It is perhaps impossible, at this day, to prove or disprove the Spaulding theory.
President Fairchild here brought forward and read the statements of several persons in regard to the book, and afterward proceeded to consider the claims made for it. From remarks made during the course of his essay and in answer to questions asked after the reading of the paper it was evident that the essayist did not believe the book to be what its friends claimed for it, viz., a book which Sidney Rigdon and other Mormon lights had taken and by adding or rewriting into it certain religious ideas had made out of it what was now the Book of Mormon. President Fairchild was of the opinion that instead of this being the case it was more probable that Joe Smith wrote the above-named book.
President Fairchild said that it was the accepted tradition of the Book of Mormon that it was from a book written by Solomon Spaulding who formerly resided at Conneaut, O. This tradition, as said, has become general, and is accepted by anti-Mormon writers, and has found its way into the encyclopedias. The speaker gave a history of the life of Spaulding, who was born in Connecticut, but lived for many years on the Western Reserve. He had a literary tendency, and wrote a manuscript on the early inhabitants, and it was said that he consulted with a Pittsburg printer named Patterson with reference to having it published, but it never appeared. Spaulding was in the habit of reading his manuscript to his neighbors and became familiar with it. The name of the manuscript was "The Manuscript Found; a Historical Romance of the American Indians."
Twenty years after this Mormon preachers appeared at Conneaut with the Mormon Bible, and the people said that it had been written by Spaulding. The lecturer read from "The History of Mormonism," a book published by E. D. Howe, of Painesville, the testimony of eight witnesses who were positive that the essential portions of the Book of Mormon and the manuscript were identical. They are both in obsolete style, and the phrases "It came to pass," are the same. In 1834 a messenger was sent to Spaulding's wife, but she knew nothing of the manuscript, but in 1839 a statement was published, purporting to be from her, fully describing it.
This seems to be an enlargement of memory, and is evidence that Mrs. Spaulding had nothing to do with it.President Fairchild then described this famous manuscript.
The manuscript, lost sight of for so long, turned up at Honolulu last year, when it was found among a lot of old papers by L. L. Rice, formerly State Printer at Columbus.President Fairchild showed the antiquated original story to the audience -- composed of 170 pages closely written -- contains about 45,000 words -- yellow with age -- has been published in book form by the Josephite Mormons since it came into the possession of Mr. Fairchild.
The manuscript has no resemblance to the Book of Mormon, and is a story of a ship coming to this country from Rome in the days of Constantine.President Fairchild then read a selection from the manuscript, showing the scope of the work.
The only question is, what light does this manuscript throw on the Book of Mormon, and was there another manuscript which Spaulding read to the neighbors and which resembled this book? The Book of Mormon is permeated with Christian ideas, and Spaulding's writings show that he was ignorant of the Bible, and it does not seem possible that he could have written the Book of Mormon, which is based on orthodox principles, and is not the book of the latter day Mormons. We must remember in regard to the history of these witnesses that the Book of Mormon was fresh in their minds, they gave their testimony, while the remembrance of the manuscript was obscure. There has been an attempt to follow this manuscript by the Conneaut witnesses from Patterson's office to Sidney Rigdon, who they say, was a printer. But it has been proven that he never was a printer, and never was in Pittsburg until after the Book of Mormon appeared. The blunt syntax of the Book of Mormon could not have come from Rigdon's hand, but is more liable to have come from Joe Smith, who was not so well educated.President Fairchild then read from Howe's book the account of Rigdon's conversion to Mormonism, which occurred near Mentor. Soon after his baptism in 1831 [sic], he visited Joe Smith at Palmyra [sic], N. Y., and was thereafter a shining light in Mormonism.
Mrs. Dickinson maintains in her book that two manuscripts were found, and that one was treacherously sold to the Mormons, and the other to Howe, but this has not been proven. Howe [scowls] at any such idea or belief, and exculpates Hurlbut, who procured the manuscript for him from double dealing. Some think that the manuscript is still in existence, and think that it will be brought to light at some future day.Mr. Fairchild has not made up his mind that there is not another manuscript. He says that Mormonism and the Book of Mormon are different things, and that Rigdon had much to do with Mormonism.
James H. Fairchild (1817-1902)
"Manuscript of Solomon Spaulding"
W.R.H.S. Tracts No. 77
(Cleveland: W.R.H.S., Spring 1886)
[ 187 ]
The accepted theory of the origin of the "Book of Mormon" connects it with a manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding, purporting to set forth the origin and civilization of the American Indians, and to account for the ancient mounds and earthworks and other remains of the ancient inhabitants which are scattered over the land.
The first publication of this idea seems to have been made by the late E. D. Howe, of Painesville, in a volume published by himself at Painesville in 1834, and entitled "Mormonism Unveiled." He, with an associate, D. P. Hurlbut, of Conneaut, seems to have been the first to gather evidence on the subject from the original sources; and most later writers on Mormonism have depended essentially upon the material furnished by him. The theory of the connection of the "Book of Mormon" with Spaulding's manuscript has become traditional, and has found its way into all anti-Mormon literature and into the general cyclopaedies, such as the Britannia, Chambers', Appleton's, McClintock & Strong's and probably others. Prof. George P. Fisher, in his work on general history, just published, adopts the theory.
The question whether or not the "Book of Mormon" is based upon a manuscript of Spaulding is intrinsically of little importance. It required only a very moderate degree of literary ability and invention to produce the book, and several of the original leaders of the fanaticism must have been adequate to the work. It is perhaps, impossible at this day to prove or disprove the Spaulding theory.
* A paper read before the Northern Ohio and Western Reserve Historical Society, March 23, 1886.
-- 188 --The unquestionable facts bearing on the case are as follows:
Solomon Solomon Spaulding was born in Connecticut in 1761, graduated at Dartmouth College in 1785, was ordained to the ministry, preached in New England a few years, taught an academy in Cherry Valley, New York, or carried on mercantile business there and failed, and in 1809 removed to New Salem, now Conneaut, in Ohio, where, in company with one Henry Lake he established an iron foundry. His business not prospering, he removed to Pittsburgh, or its vicinity, in 1812, and a year or two later, to Amity, Pennsylvania, where he died in 1816, at the age of fifty-five years. Spaulding had a literary tendency, and while living at Conneaut he entertained himself with writing a story which purported to be an account of the original inhabitants of the country, their habits, customs, and civilization, their migrations and their conflicts. From time to time, as his work went on, he would call in his neighbors and read to them portions of his manuscript, so that they became familiar with his undertaking. He talked with some of them about publishing his book, in the hope of retrieving his fortune financially; and this appears to have been his purpose when he went to Pittsburgh. There is evidence that he conferred with a printer, at Pittsburgh, by the name of Patterson, in reference to the publication, but the book never appeared.
Soon after the publication of the Mormon book in 1830, Mormon preachers appeared in considerable numbers in Northern Ohio, and attracted much attention in the neighborhood of Conneaut. As some of their gatherings where the new Bible was read, persons were present who had heard the Spaulding manuscript, and were struck with the resemblance between the two. Thus the opinion arose and was propagated from that the Mormon book was written by Solomon Spaulding. It was the proper place for the testing of the theory. The fact that it obtained a foothold there affords a presumption in favor of the idea, and the testimony
-- 189 --of parties on the ground, if fully trustworthy, establishes the fact beyond question. These testimonies were gathered in 1833, apparently with reference to their publication in Howe's book. As these are the entire base of the theory, I will give from the book the essential portions of them, found on pages 278-87. The first is from the testimony of John Spaulding, the brother of Solomon:
In 1810 I removed to Ohio, and found him (Solomon) engaged in building a forge. I made him a visit about three years after, and found that he had failed, and considerably involved in debt. He then told me he had been writing a book, which he intended to have printed, the avails of which he thought would enable him to pay all his debts. The book was entitled the "Manuscript Found," of which he read to me many passages. It was an historical romance of the first settlers of America, endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the descendants of the Jews, or the lost tribes. It gave a detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till they arrived in America, under the command of Nephi and Lehi. They afterwards had quarrels and contentions, and separated into two distinct nations, one of which he denominated Nephites and the other Lamanites. Cruel and bloody wars ensued, in which great multitudes were slain. They buried their dead in large heaps, which caused the mounds so common in this country. Their arts, sciences and civilization were brought into view, in order to account for all the curious antiquities, found in various parts of North and South America. I have recently read the "Book of Mormon," and to my great surprise, I find nearly the same historical matter, names, etc., as they were in my brother's writings. I well remember that he wrote in the old style, and commenced about every sentence with "and it came to pass," or "now it came to pass," the same as in the "Book of Mormon," and according to the best of my recollection and belief, it is the same as my brother Solomon wrote, with the exception of the religious matter. By what means it has fallen into the hands of Joseph Smith, Jr. I am unable to determine.
Testimony of Martha, wife of John:
... The lapse of time which has intervened, prevents my recollecting but few of the leading incidents of his writings; but the names of Nephi and Lehi, are yet fresh in my memory, as being the principal heroes of his tale.
Testimony of Henry Lake, partner of S. Spaulding, Conneaut, September, 1833:
-- 190 --
He (Spaulding) very frequently read to me from a manuscript which he was writing, which he entitled the "Manuscript Found," and which he represented as being found in this town. I spent many hours in hearing him read said writings, and became well acquainted with its contents... This book represented the American Indians as the descendants of the lost tribes, gave an account of their leaving Jerusalem, their contentions and wars, which were many and great. One time, when he was reading to me the tragic account of Laban, I pointed out to him what I considered an inconsistency, which he promised to correct; but by referring to the "Book of Mormon," I find that it stands there just as he read it to me then. Some months ago I borrowed the "Golden Bible," put it into my pocket, carried it home, and thought no more of it. About a week after, my wife found the book in my coat pocket as it hung up, and commenced reading it aloud as I lay upon the bed. She had not read twenty minutes till I was astonished to find the same passages in it that Spaulding had read to me more, than twenty years before from his "Manuscript Found." I well recollect telling Mr. Spaulding that the so frequent use of the words "and it came to pass," "now it came to pass," rendered it ridiculous.
Testimony of Miller, an employee of Spaulding. Springfield, Pennsylvania, September, 1833:
... While there, I boarded and lodged in the family of said Spaulding for several months. I was soon introduced to the manuscripts of Spaulding, and perused them as often as I had leisure. He had written two or three books or pamphlets on different subjects; but that which more particularly drew my attention was one which he called the "Manuscript Found." From this he would frequently read some humorous passages to the company present. It purported to be the history of the first settlement of America before discovered by Columbus. He brought them off from Jerusalem under their leaders, detailing their travels by land and water, their manners, customs, laws, wars, etc.... I have recently examined the "Book of Mormon," and find in it the writings of Solomon Spaulding, from beginning to end, but mixed up with scripture and other religious matter which I did not meet with in the "Manuscript Found." Many of the passages in the "Mormon Book" are verbatim from Spaulding, and others in part. The names of Nephi, Lehi, Moroni, and in fact all the principal names, are brought fresh to my recollection by the "Gold Bible."Testimony of a neighbor, Aaron Wright:
When at his house one day he showed and read to me a history he was writing, of the lost tribes of Israel, purporting that they were the first settlers of America, and that the Indians were their decendants.... He traced their journey from Jerusalem to America, as it is given in the "Book of Mormon," excepting the religious matter. The historical part of the "Book of Mormon," I know to be the same as I read and heard read from the writings
-- 191 --
of Spaulding, more than twenty years ago; the names, more especially, are the same without any alteration.... In conclusion, I will observe, that the names of, and most of the historical part of the "Book of Mormon," were as familiar to me before I read it, as most modern history....
Testimony of O. Smith, a neighbor, with whom Spaulding boarded.
... During the time he was at my house I read and heard read one hundred pages or more. Nephi and Lehi were by him represented as leading characters when they first started for America. Their main object was to escape the judgments which they supposed were coming upon the old world; but no religious matter was introduced, as I now recollect.... This was the last I heard of Spaulding or his book until the "Book of Mormon" came into the neighborhood. When I heard the historical part of it related, I at once said it was the writings of old Solomon Spaulding. Soon after, I obtained the book, and on reading it found much of it the same as Spaulding had written, more than twenty years before.
Testimony of Nahum Howard. Conneaut, August, 18:
I first became acquainted with Solomon Spaulding, in Decenber, 1810. After that time I frequently saw him at his house and also at my house. I once, in conversation with him, expressed a surprise at not having any account of the inhabitants once in this country who erected the old forts, mounds, etc. He then told me that he was writing a history of that race of people; and afterwards frequently showed me his writings, which I read. I have lately read the "Book of Mormon," and believe it to be the same as Spaulding wrote, except the religious part.
Statement of Artemus Cunningham:
... Before showingme his manuscripts he went into a verbal relation of its outlines, saying that it was a fabulous or romantic history of the first settlement of this country, and as it purported to have been a record found buried in the earth, or in a cave, he had adopted the ancient or Scripture style of writing. He then presented his manuscripts, when we sat down and spent a good share of the night, in reading them, and conversing upon them. I well remember the name of Nephi, which appeared to be the principal hero of the story. The frequent repetition of the phrase, "I Nephi," I recollect as distinctly as though it was yesterday, although the general features of the story have passed from my memory, through the lapse of twenty-two years.... The Mormon bible I have partially examined, and am fully of the opinion that Solomon Spaulding had written its outlines before he left Conneaut.This testimony of Cunningham is without his signature, but is called his statement
-- 192 --
Of these eight witnesses, five distinctly state that the religious matter in the "Book of Mormon" was not contained in Spaulding's manuscript. the others state that the historical part of the "Book of Mormon" is the same as of Spaulding's "Manuscript Found."
Mr. Howe inquired of Mr. Patterson, the printer, at Pittsburgh, with whom it was represented that Spaulding conferred in referrence to the publication of his manuscript, but Patterson had, at that time, no recollection of the subject, but in 1842, some eight years after the publication of Howe's book, Mr. Patterson signed a statement certifying that a gentleman had put into the hands of the foreman of his printing office, "a manuscript of a singular work, chiefly in the style of our English translation of the Bible," that he (Patterson) read a few pages of it, but as the author could not furnish the means, the manuscript was not printed.
Mr. Howe sent a messenger, D. P. Hurlbut of Conneaut, to the widow of Solomon Spaulding (Mrs. Davison by a second marriage), who was then living with her daughter in Monson, Massachusetts, to ascertain farther about the manuscript and to procure it if it were still within reach. Mrs. Davison stated that her husband had a variety of manuscripts, one of which was entitled the "Manuscript Found," but of its contents she had no distinct remembrance; she thought it was once taken to Patterson's printing ofice in Pittsburgh, and whether it was ever returned to the house again she was quite uncertain. If it was returned, it must be with the other manuscripts in a trunk which she left in Otsego county, New York.
This was all that Mrs. D. knew of the manuscript in 1834, when Howe published his book; but in 1839, five years later, a statement was published in the Boston Recorder under her signature, in which she describes the manuscript very fully, states very definitely that Mr. Patterson took the manuscript, kept it a long time, was greatly pleased with it, and promised to publish it if Mr. Spaulding would make out a title page and preface, which Mr. S. refused to do. She
-- 193 --
further states that at her husband's death, the manuscript came into her possession and was carefully preserved. This seems to be a great enlargement of memory or of knowledge since 1834, and it is difficult to read the extended and elaborate statement without reaching the conclusion that Mrs. Spaulding-Davison had very little to do with it. Rev. Robert Patterson, son of Rev. Robert Patterson, the printer, now editor of the Presbyterian Banner of Pittsburgh, published some years since a paper on this question, and in quoting a paragraph from this statement of Mrs. Spaulding-Davison, he says it was made to Rev. D. R. Austin of Monson, Massachusetts, written down by him and published in the Boston Recorder.
Mr. Hurlbut, on his visit to Mrs. Davison, obtained from her permission to examine the old hair trunk at her cousin's in Hartwick, New York, in which the manuscript, if in existence, was to be found, and to carry it to Mr. Howe for comparison with the "Book of Mormon." He found but one manuscript, and this he delivered to Mr. Howe who describes it briefly, but somewhat inaccurately in his book, page 288.
The manuscript, lost sight of since the date of Howe's book, came to light at Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, a year ago last August, in the possession of Mr. L. L. Rice, formerly State printer at Columbus, Ohio. I had asked Mr. Rice, who was an anti-slavery editor in Ohio many years ago, to examine his old pamphlets and papers and see what contributions he could make to the anti-slavery literature of the Oberlin college library. After a few days he brought out an old manuscript with the following certificate on a blank page:
The writings of Solomon Spaulding, proved by Aaron Wright, Oliver Smith, John N. Miller and others. The testimonies of the above gentlemen are now in my possession. D. P. HURLBUT.The three men named are of the eight witnesses brought forward by Howe. This manuscript is now in my possession, and it is at hand this evening. It is soiled and worn and discolored with age. It consists of about one hundred and seventy pages,
-- 194 --
small quarto, unruled, and for the most part closely written -- not far from forty-five thousand words. It has been printed by the Josephite Mormons of Lamoni, Iowa, from a copy of the manuscript taken since it came into my possession. As thus printed it makes one hundred and thirty-two pages of three hundred and twenty words each -- equal to about one-sixth part of the "Book of Mormon." No date attaches to the manuscript proper, but on a blank page there is a fragment of a letter containing the date, January, 1812. Mr. Rice probably came into possession of the manuscript in 1839, when he succeeded Mr. Howe in the printing office at Painesville, but he has no recollection of ever having seen the manuscript until it came to his notice in Honolulu.
The manuscript has no resemblance to the 'Book of Mormon,' except in some very general features. There is not a name or an incident common to the two. It is not written in the solemn Scripture style. It is a story of the coming to this country, from Rome, of a ship's company, driven by a storm across the ocean, in the days of the Emperor Constantine. They never returned to their own land, but cast in their lot with the aborginal tribes inhabiting the country; and it is chiefly occupied with an account of the civilization and conflicts of these tribes -- the Delawares, Ohions, Kentucks, Sciotans, Chiaugand, etc. etc. The names of persons are entirely original, quite as remarkable as those in the "Book of Mormon," but never the same -- such as Bombal, Kadocam, Lobaska, Hamboon, Ulipoon, Lamesa, etc. The introduction expresses the purpose or motive of the author in its composition, and is as follows -- orthography uncorrected, and a few words lost by the crumbling of the manuscript:
Near the west bank of the Conneaught river there are the remains of an ancient fort. As I was walking and forming various conjectures respecting the character, situation and numbers of those people, who far exceed the present race of Indians in works of art and inginuity, I happened to tread on a flat stone. This was at a small distance from the fort, and it lay on the top of a small mound of earth exactly horizontal. The face of it had a singular appearance. I discovered a number of characters, which appeared to me to be letters, but so much effaced by the ravages of time, that I could not read the inscription. With the assistance of a leaver I raised the stone; but you may easily conjecture
-- 195 --
my astonishment when I discovered that its ends and sides rested on stones, and that it was designed as a cover to an artificial cave. I found by examining that its sides were lined with stones built in a conical form, with ... down, and that it was about 8 feet deep. Determined to investigate the design of this extraordinary work of antiquity, I prepared myself with necessary requisites for that purpose and descended to the bottom of the cave. Observing one side to be perpendicular nearly three feet from the bottom, I began to inspect that part with accuracy. Here I noticed a big, flat stone fixed in the form of a doar. I immediately tore it down and lo! a cavity within the wall presented itself, it being about three feet in diameter from side to side, and about two feet high. Within this cavity I found an earthen box, with a cover which shut it perfectly tite. The box was two feet in length, one and half in breadth, and one and three inches in diameter. My mind, filled with awful sensations which crowded fast upon me, would hardly permit my hands to remove this venerable deposit, but curiosity soon gained the ascendancy; the box was taken and raised to open ... of parchment, and that when ... the Latin Language. They were written on a variety of subjects, but the roll which principally attracted my attention contained a history of the author's life and that part of America which extends along the great lakes and the waters of the Mississippy.Solomon Spaulding's attitude toward the sacred Scriptures and Christianity is brought to light by a record, apparently a copy of a letter, on two loose leaves found in connection with the manuscript, written on paper of the same quality, and in the same handwriting; the statement is without beginning or end, but the substantial part remains as follows:
But having every reason to place the highest confidence in your friendship and prudence, I have no reluctance in complying with with your request in giving you my sentiments of the Christian religion, and so far from considering the freedom you took in making the request, impertinence, I view it as a mark of your affectionate solicitude for my happiness. In giving you my sentiments of the Christian religion, you will perceive that I do not believe certain facts and certain propositions to be true, merely because my ancestors believed them and because they are popular. In forming my creed I bring every thing to the standard of reason. This is an unerring and sure guide in all matters of faith and practice. Having divested myself therefore of traditionary and vulgar prejudice, and submitting to the guidance of reason, it is impossible for me to have the same sentiments of the Christian religion which its advocates consider as orthodox. It is in my view a mass of contradictions, and an heterogeneous mixture of wisdom and folly, nor can I find any clear and incontrovertible evidence of its being a revelation from an infinitely benevolent and wise God.
-- 196 --
It is true that I never have had the leisure nor patience to read every part of it with critical attention, or to study the metaphissical jargon of divines in its vindication. It is enough for me to know that propositions which are in contradiction to each other cannot both be true and that doctrines and facts which represent the Supreme Being as a barbarous and cruel tyrant, can never be dictated by infinite wisdom. Whatever the clergy say on the contrary can have no effect in altering my sentiments. I know as well as they that two and two make four, and that three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles. But, notwithstanding I disavow any belief in the divinity of the Bible, and consider it a mere human production, designed to enrich and agrandize its authors and enable them to manage the multitude; yet casting aside a considerable mass of rubbish and fanatical rant, I find that it contains a system of ethics or morals which cannot be excelled on account of their tendency to ameliorate the condition of man, to promote individual, social and public happiness, and that in various instances it represents the Almighty as possessing attributes worthy of a transcendant character; having a view therefore, to those parts of the Bible which are truly good and excellent [I] sometimes speak of it in [terms] of high commendation, and indeed, I am inclined to believe that, notwithstanding the mischiefs and miseries miseries which have been produced by the bigoted zeal of fanatics and interested priests, yet that such evils are more than counterbalanced in a Christian land by the benefits which result to the great mass of the people by their believing that the Bible is of divine origin, and that it contains a revelation from God. Such being my view of the subject, I make no exertions to dissipate their happy delusions.The only important question connected with this manuscript is, what light, if any, does it throw on the origin of the "Book of Mormon?" This manuscript clearly was not the basis of the book. Was there another manuscript, which Spaulding was accustomed to read to his neighbors, out of which the "Book of Mormon" gre, under the hand of Sidney Rigdon or Joseph Smith, or both? If we could accept without misgiving the testimony of the eight witnesses, brought forward in Howe's book, we should be obliged to accept the fact of another manuscript. We are to remember that twenty-two years or more had elapsed since they had heard the manuscript read; and before they began to recall their remembrances they had read or heard the "Book of Mormon," and also the suggestion that the book had its origin in the manuscript of Spaulding. What effect these things had upon the exactness of their memory is a matter of doubt. No one was present to cross-question, and Hurlbut and Howe were intent upon finding the testimony to support their theory.
-- 197 --
In its more general features the present manuscript fulfills the requirements of the "Manuscript Found." It purports to have been taken from an artificial cave in a mound, and thus was naturally called the "Manuscript Found." It sets forth the coming of a colony from the eastern continent, and is an account of the aboriginal inhabitants of the country, suggested by the mounds and earthworks in the vicinity of the author, and was written to explain the origin of these works. This purpose it pursues with a directness not found in the "Book of Mormon." These general features would naturally bring it to remembrance, on reading the account of the finding of the plates of the "Book of Mormon."
Of the eight witnesses brought forward by Howe, five are careful to except the "religious matter" of the "Book of Mormon," as not contained in the manuscript of Spaulding, and the theory is that this matter was interpolated by Sidney Rigdon, or some other man who expanded the manuscript into the book. This strikes me as an important circumstance. The "Book of Mormon" is permeated in every page and paragraph with religious and Scriptural ideas. It is first and foremost a religious book, and the contrast between it and the supposed manuscript must have been very striking to have led five of these witnesses to call this difference to mind and mention it, after the lapse of twenty years and more. The other three witnesses are careful to say that the "Book of Mormon," in its "historical parts," is derived from the Spaulding manuscript, thus implying the same exception expressed by the others. Now it is difficult -- almost impossible, to believe that the religious sentiments of the "Book of Mormon" were wrought into interpolation. They are of the original tissue and substance of the document, and a man as self-reliant and smart as Sidney Rigdon, with a superabundant gift of tingue and every form of utterance, would never have accepted the servile task. There could have been no motive to it, nor could the blundering syntax of the "Book of Mormon" have come from Rigdon's
-- 198 --
hand. He had the gift of speech which would have made the style distasteful and impossible to him.
The minuter features of the testimony of these witnesses are obviously of more weight in their bearing upon the probability of another manuscript. When they speak of the Scriptural style of the manuscript, the frequent recurrence of the expression, "and it came to pass," the names recalled, "Nephi," "Lehi," and others, the remembrance seems too definite to be called in question. But it must be remembered that the "Book of Mormon" was fresh in their minds, and their recollections of the manuscript found were very remote and dim. That under the pressure and suggestion of Hurlbut and Howe, they should put the ideas at hand in place of those remote and forgotten, and imagine that they remembered what they had recently read, would be only an ordinary example of the frailty of memory, and it would not be unnatural or improbable that such an illusion should be propagated among Spaulding's old neighbors at Conneaut. This view must, of course, be purely hypothetical, and could have little force against the positive testimony.
There has been an attempt to support the testimony of these Conneaut witnesses by following the manuscript through Patterson's office, at Pittsburgh, to the hands of Sidney Rigdon. This theory is sustained by abundance of conjecture, but by very little positive evidence. It has come to be a tradition that Rigdon was a printer in Patterson's office when Spaulding went to Pittsburgh, and thus became acquainted with the manuscript, either stole it or copied it, and after brooding over it fifteen years brought out the Mormon Bible. This would be interesting if true; but there seems no ground to dispute the positive testimony of Rigdon's brothers that he was never a printer, and never lived in Pittsburgh at all until 1822, eight years after Spaulding left, and then was there as pastor of a Baptist church.
Rigdon sent from Nauvoo, in 1839, to the Boston Journal, an indignant denial of the statement of Mrs. Spaulding-Davison, already referred to. A sentence or two from this denial will be sufficient
-- 199 --
It is only necessary to say, in relation to the whole story about Spaulding's writings being in the hands of Mr. Patterson, who was at Pittsburgh, and who is said to have kept a printing office, etc., etc., is the most base of lies, without even the shadow of truth.... If I were to say that I ever hears of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding and his hopeful wife until D. P. Hurlbut wrote his lie about me, I should be a liar like unto themselves.The claim in reference to Rigdon's connection with the Spaulding manuscript seems to become more and more definite with every new statement of the case, and without any addition to the evidence. Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson, a grandneice of Mrs. Solomon Spaulding, in her "New Light on Mormonism," recently published, finds it easy to put imaginings in the place of facts, in her statements in reference to Rigdon, as follows:
At an early age he was a printer by trade, and is known to have been in Conneaut, Ohio, at the time Spaulding read his "Manuscript Found" to his neighbors,... and it is easy to believe the report that he followed or preceded Spaulding to Pittsburgh, knowing all his plans, in order to obtain his manuscript, or copy it, while it was in Patterson's printing house -- an easy thing to do, as the fact of the manuscript being left carelessly in the office for months, is not questionable. -- p. 47.Over against these fancies are the facts given in the testimony of Rigdon's brothers, published by Rev. Robert Patterson, of Pittsburgh, that when Spaulding was reading his manuscript to his neighbors in Conneaut, Rigdon was a boy seventeen or eighteen years of age, on his father's farm in Allegheny county, Pennsylvania; that he never was a printer, and did not live in Pittsburgh until 1822, six years after Spaulding's death.
Another example of the increasing definiteness of the tradition may be found in a volume just published at Cincinnati, giving an account of the various religious sects. Speaking of the "Book of Mormon," the writer says: "Rigdon, who afterwards became Smith's right-hand man, is known to have copied this (Spaulding's) manuscript. A comparison of the 'Book of Mormon' with the original manuscript of this novel, satisfies all, except professing Mormons, that the Mormon bible is simply the old novel revised and corrected by Smith and Rigdon" -- an illustration of the facility with which a shadowy tradition becomes definite history.
-- 200 --
It does not appear that Smith and Rigdon had any acquaintance with each other until after the publication of the Mormon book. In Howe's book we have a full account of Rigdon's conversion to Mormonism at Mentor, in the autumn of 1830, when Parley P. Pratt introduced to him two Mormon missionaries from Palmyra, New York. In a pamphlet published by Pratt, in 1838, he gives a similar account of Rigdon's conversion and states positively that Smith and Rigdon never saw each other until early in 1831. So far as I am aware, there is nothing to disprove this statement.
A somewhat prevalent theory, which Mrs. Dickinson maintains, is that Hurlbut took two manuscripts from the old trunk in Hartwick, New York -- one the genuine "Manuscript Found," which he treacherously sold to the Mormons, the other which he delivered to Howe, and which is present this evening. Of this there seems to be no proof. Howe intimates no such thing in his book. It is true that Mrs. Dickinson reports an interview of her own with Howe, in 1830, in which he expresses the opinion that Hurlbut had two manuscripts, one of which he sold to the Mormons, but in the appendix to her book (page 259) she publishes a letter from Howe to Hurlbut, written two or three months before the interview, in which he disclaims any such suspicion.
There are those who claim to know that the last manuscript is still in existence, and will be brought forth to light at some future day. It would not seem unreasonable to suspend judgment in the case until the new light shall come. Professor Whitsitt, of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, has given much attention to the internal structure of the "Book of Mormon," and is about to publish a life of Sidney Rigdon in which he will maintain, and expects to prove, that Rigdon is responsible for the "Book of Mormon," and he had Spaulding's manuscript as the basis of his work.
JAMES H. FAIRCHILD.
James H. Fairchild (1817-1902)
Miscellaneous Writings on
The Oberlin Spalding, MS., etc.
Excerpt from Swing's 1907 biography:
292 arrival at Honolulu
293 Oahu sightseeing
295 Big Island sightseeing
300 Spalding MS. discovered
Excerpt from Fairchild's 1884 Journal
Aug 30 Lahaina
Aug 31 Honolulu
Aug 31 Spalding MS.
Sept 1 departs Honolulu
[ 291 ]
His most striking experiences in travel, after those of 1870, occurred in the summer of I884, when he was able to visit California and view the beauties of the Yosemite Valley. After the enjoyment of this tour he found a delightful surprise awaiting him. An extension of his journey had been planned for him, into the fascinating toils of which he was easily led. This was a visit, rare in those days, to the Hawaiian Islands. "Six old Oberlin students and friends" prepared the surprise, and provided for the expenses of the trip with a willing generosity. It was a twofold pleasure who was anticipated; he would see the
292 JAMES HARRIS FAIRCHILD
wonders of this "Paradise of the Pacific," they would have the joy of seeing him for a brief season in these new scenes. The plan was in every way successful more than realizing all expectations.
The steamer from San Francisco arrived in Honolulu harbor on Friday, August 7, I884. Eight or nine Oberlin students were at the wharf to give him a welcome. Robert W. Logan and Mary Logan had left their regrets behind them, being compelled to sail for Micronesia just before the president's arrival. In a letter written by Henry Castle to his sister then in Germany, he said, "The sensation with us just now is the presence of President Fairchild, who reached here day before yesterday. We were down to the steamer to meet him, of course, standing out on the end of the wharf and straining our eyes to catch the first glimpse of him as the boat went by. We recognized him as he passed, and then we started off at a lively pace for the Oceanic Co.'s wharf. It was delightful to see him, I assure you, and brought back old times in a very lively manner." Mr. A. Bowen, in a letter to Robert Logan writes of the scene:-- "With my hat off I walked down the wharf beside the good old president, and felt so full of joy and pride that it seemed as if I really should burst!"
The president was entertained at the residence of Dr. and Mrs. Whitney, Mrs. Whitney being a graduate of the Literary class of 1859. That evening a reception was held, over a hundred invitations having: been sent out. Chinese lanterns in great profusion were strung along the avenue of palms from the great archway to the house. Hon. W. R. Castle, one of the leading attorneys of the islands, and a former Oberlin student, made an address
A TRIP TO HAWAII, 1884 293
of welcome, in which he ventured to make a play on President Fairchild's name which was not uncomplimentary to his dignity:-- "While Honolulu is justly celebrated for the beauty of its children, it is safe to say that we have never before looked on such a fair child as this! President Fairchild, with his usual modesty," writes Mrs. Whitney, "turned the attention which had been directed upon himself to the college he loved:-- 'I appreciate, of course, that the cordial reception given me to-night is not because of any interest that I inspire, but it is for the college which I represent.'" -- and then he gave the facts of particular interest about Oberlin, which he, better than any other, knew how to make real and to estimate at their true worth
The sight-seeing began at once. "Yesterday" (Saturday) wrote Henry Castle, "we took the president up to the Pali. The president, Dr. and Mrs. Whitney, and Mr. Rice (Mrs. Whitney's brother) rode in a double-seated carriage, while Dr. and Mrs. Hyde, myself and some others rode horseback. We stopped at Luuakaha, but lunched farther up the valley. I thought President Fairchild seemed to enjoy everything very much. He thought the Pali very fine, and compared it to the Yosemite, where he had just been." The reader who has not made this climb, and from the summit seen the ocean on both sides this narrow part of the island of Oahu and the charm of the landscape stretching out and losing itself in the ocean, and the ocean losing itself in the indistinct lines of the sky with all the hues of blending color, can hardly realize what a justifiable pride must have inspired these friends in giving President Fairchild this vision. A glimpse of the scene from the high point of the summit is sketched by Henry Castle in
294 JAMES HARRIS FAIRCHILD
that letter of August 9:-- "Mr. Rice, Carrie Gilman, May Atherton and myself climbed that steep height immediately to the right hand of the Pali as you go up. It was a tremendous climb right on the verge of the abyss, about five hundred feet I should think, above the road. Words, at least my words, cannot adequately set forth the beauty of that wide stretch of landscape, green with pasture and cane fields, flecked with alternate shadow and light, dotted with groves of brilliant kukui and dark ohia and hao, bounded by the keen line of surf startling the eye by its whiteness -- nor of that broad beet of sea whose blue was shading into purple, under the gloom of storm-clouds driving up from the immeasurably distant horizon."
The president was laid hold of for a sermon on the first opportunity -- the next morning at Fort Street. "The sermon," wrote Henry Castle, "was an excellent one. It was of the Oberlin length, forty-five minutes. I found it a great treat to hear him again. We hope to have him here to stay before he goes. I intend to take him up Punchbowl. I must also propound some questions to him now that I have the chance."
The president, like all favored guests in Honolulu before and since, was not allowed to remain long at rest. Besides the picnic at the Pali on Saturday there were also similar outings to Waialae, up the Manoa Valley, off to the salt lake just back of Pearl Harbor, and "all the drives around Honolulu." The president did not refuse to avail himself of the opportunity to make a trial at. sea bathing in the Pacific, the first attempt, at Waialae, and then the famous Waikiki beach.
A TRIP TO HAWAII, 1884 295
But the one great trip of the visit, and indeed of lifetime, was that which was made to the volcano on the island of Hawaii, which was then in a state of violent eruption, and affording a scene of unsurpassed grandeur. This is a trip by itself, as it necessitates short ocean voyage through the islands, of a day and a night, and the currents are swift and billowy. But being a good sailor, President Fairchild suffered no special discomfort. Spending a Sunday at Hilo he preached in the foreign church there, his text being from Ecc1. 12: 13, 14, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; fear God and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing whether it be good or whether it be evil." -- "It was a good sermon. Every word and expression was one of dignity and power."
The island of Hawaii, the largest of the Hawaiian group, rises gradually from the ocean to the volcanic summits near the centre some forty to sixty miles from the sea. The two highest points, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, more than three miles in height, are covered with snow in winter. In 1880 one of these volcanoes had been violently active, sending down its side great: streams of glowing lava, one of which came within half a mile of Hilo. On the side of this immense cone is the volcano of Kilauea, four thousand feet above the sea. It is Kilauea, the largest living: volcano in the world, that is visited by the traveller and the scientist. Its crater is nine miles in circumference and about six hundred feet in depth. The walls are precipitous cliffs partly covered with vegetation. The lava floor of this vast pit is traversed
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by cracks and fissures from which steam and sulphurous vapors were continually arising, while near one side of this inferno was the burning lake which language has been exhausted to describe.
From Hilo to the volcano is a ride of thirty miles, which was then more difficult than now, for there were neither stage road nor steam cars. The party to accompany the president was made up of Mt. Dyer -- a school-teacher, and two Oberlin graduates -- Rev. W. B. Oleson, their host in Hilo, and Mr. Bowen who furnishes the narrative. They breakfasted at the early hour of five o'clock and were ready to start at six. But as usual for Hilo, with its eleven or twelve feet of rainfall in the year, it was a rainy morning. Indeed, it was a pouring rain into which they must push as they took up their plodding journey. But they were well protected by rain-coats and leggins, the president wearing; a hat which " looked like an inverted galvanized iron bucket." He was cheerful, but he appreciated the situation and remarked that "if this were at Oberlin it would be called a crazy venture." It was nearly five o'clock in the afternoon when, "worn and somewhat stiffened," they arrived at the Volcano House, which stands on the very brink of the crater.
"The next day," writes Mr. Bowen, "we were to go down into the crater. But a physician who was stopping at the Volcano House frightened us about the president's going down:-- 'He is just of the build, age and habit to have an apoplectic attack, especially if overheated, as would likely be the case when coming out of the crater.' The president, who was consulted, at once decided that the only prudent course under
A TRIP TO HAWAII, 1884 297
the circumstances was to heed the warning and not go down. We were very much disturbed. He had certainly not taken this long tedious ride for the pleasure of it, and it seemed too bad that he should not see what he had come for. But the president was perfectly calm, -- not the slightest show of disappointment in his face. I told him that it was a rough jaunt anyway; and I would keep him company at the hotel. The doctor, however, finally moderated his prohibition and decided that if the trip could be made by easy stages it could be accomplished without risk, and we all went down together.
The descent into the crater is about six hundred feet. Then comes the long walk of nearly three miles across the bottom to the lake of burning lava. We of course had our guides. We made the start at two o'clock in the afternoon, so as to make our first observations by daylight. Everything showed that we were walking over what had once been a seething mass of fiery liquid, which had taken al sorts of shapes when it cooled, -- eddies, pools, waves and rivulets, with here and there great fissures, out of which came sulphurous gases with their offensive odors. The thin crust: creaked under our feet like the snow at home on a frosty morning. After times of resting we finally reached the first of the fiery lakes, --Halemaumau. From the banks we could see playing at one time as many as six or seven fire fountains, -- the edge of the whole lake was lifted with fire, and we could heat the swashing of the waves of fire as they went dashing and breaking against the sides nearest us. Mr. Oleson and Pastor Cruzan, who had joined the party, were very venturesome, going to the edge, and heaving great
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blocks of lava into the cauldron. It is needless to say that the rest of the party, including the president, did not indulge in these indiscretions, the president 'would not risk his wife's happiness in that way.'
"When the party passed on to Dana Lake it seemed a cold mass, like a frozen pond, with nothing in particular to attract our attention. From all appearances one could have safely walked all over it. But one could hear the ominous washing of the waves against its sides, and in a few minutes there appeared In one corner a little cracle of fire, and the guide announced that a 'break up' was about to begin. Another crack, and another -- and the great boiling red waves rolled up out of each opening. The cracks widened, the waves rolled together, great cakes of lava bumped against each other, and the whole surface was in an undulating motion, with steaming, hissing fire rolling out everywhere. Now the cakes melted as fast as they formed, sometimes slipping on end, and being sucked down into the unfathomable depths below. The whole mass was now one lake of fire. All this was in the daytime. But what shall I say of the scene at night? Everything now stood out in more intense vividness. We could see to read by the light. The clouds above reflected the brilliant color. When the 'break up' came it was simply indescribable. No words can possibly convey the impression made upon our minds of the grandeur and awfulness of it all.
" Between the 'break ups; the party took refuge behind a bulwark of lava blocks to keep off the cold winds, and amid these weird surroundings there were many brilliant displays of wisdom on many subjects of science and philosophy, which the members of that
A TRIP TO HAWAII, 1884 299
group will never forget, but which cannot here be reported. When we turned away and finally started for the hotel the president remarked, 'Now I feel as if I had commenced my homeward journey.' The tedious return was taken up by the party in single file as they had come, with a half dozen swaying lanterns and each man with his staff trying to keep in the steps of the guides, and avoid breaking through the crust which in places was so thin that one of the party would occasionally pierce it, but only to the more substantial foundation of lava beneath.
"The long zigzag climb up the precipitous sides of the crater, concerning which we had our lingering fears, was at last undertaken, and made more comfortable and safe by the use of two poles, with helpers at the ends, the president holding to the poles in the middle, the leader pulling and the follower pushing, until after occasional restings it was safely accomplished, and the hotel reached at a late hour." As can readily be imagined this jaunt was followed by welcome but not dreamless slumbers. The journey back to Hilo was made on the following day, an unusually hot and sultry one, this time because there was no rain to cool the atmosphere. As can be imagined all were tired travellers at nightfall. Before taking & final leave of this island and while the steamer was loading at one of the ports for the return, the president was given a ride on the little railroad leading up to Kohala. This is an exceedingly crooked narrow gauge road, almost doubling on itself, so that some of the curves " make the newcomer shudder as he turns them." "Yes," said the president, "it is the most marvellous piece of engineering for a railroad that
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I have ever seen. If I could have seen this with bird's-eye view before undertaking the journey I doubt I should have been willing to attempt it."
While the president was away from Honolulu on his volcano trip, a discovery was made in the home of Mrs. Whitney which resulted in adding a valuable historical relic to the Oberlin College library. "At this time," writes Mrs. Whitney, "my father, L. L. Rice, discovered among his books and papers the famous Spaulding manuscript" -- of great historical value in relation to the origin of Mormonism. "The remarkable thing about this discovery was that the manuscript had been lost and looked for for fifty years or more. The family had moved from Painesville, Ohio, to Cleveland, hence to Columbus, to Oberlin, and finally, after my mother's death, my father had come here to spend his last days with us. On leaving Oberlin he destroyed, as he supposed, all his old letters and papers, without discovering the manuscript. When the president was leaving for his trip to the volcano he asked my father if he had not some anti-slavery literature he would like to devote to that department of the Oberlin Library. It was while looking over his papers in response to that request that he found the manuscript. When father and I were alone at lunch he remarked, 'A wonderful thing has happened to me to-day. I have found the Spaulding manuscript among my papers, all of which I supposed I had destroyed.' When the president returned from the volcano we told him of the circumstances, at the table. I have often laughed to think how he stretched out his arms in surprise, and was so absorbed with interest that when the butter, and pickles and jelly were passed, instead of
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helping himself he set them down by his plate, making a circle about it, till at length laughingly came to himself again."
The exciting pleasures and discomforts of this charming Hawaiian trip came to an end amid leave takings even more affectionate than the greetings which had marked its beginning. His visit however proved not to be a mere summer outing. It had done good to the cause that lay near to his heart. "To-morrow," wrote Henry Castle, on August 31st, "President Fairchild leaves for home. He has evidently enjoyed his visit to these islands thoroughly, as we certainly have, and he goes home I think carrying many pleasant recollections of these happy shores. A number of students from the islands are to be added to the college. Among the letters to be opened on the homeward voyage was one from Mr. B____, which not only spoke of pleasurable memories but contained a more substantial token of affection in the form of a $500 gift to the college, "a student's first loving return to his alma mater."
The return from the coast was made by the Northern Pacific route, and its chief diversion was a tour in the recently opened Yellowstone National Park. Here President Fairchild was joined by his son George, and together they viewed its beauties and the many caprices of nature which compose its attractions. It was not: till after the fall term of the college had opened that he was back again from his remarkable summer's outing, brown and refreshed for his arduous work, and with memories for a lifetime.
[1884 James H. Fairchild Journal -- excerpts typescript]
Sat. Aug. 30, at sunrise stopped at Lahaina [illegible]
Crowds of natives on board who play the guitar & [clamor] all night in the steerage.
Mr. [-------] on board with his family...
& took a carriage to Mr. Castle's, where my trunk had been sent from Dr. W's, found Mr. C. not so well as when I left, learned at evening that [three] young folks, one young lady & two young men are going on to Oberlin with me, to school.
Sunday, Aug 31, Preached in the morning in the Fort St. Church contrary to my intention. The preaching had been announced without my knowledge, -- a warm day, 80 degrees indeed every day is warm, At non went home with the Whitneys to dinner. -- Father Rice had been looking over his papers to see what Anti-Slavery documents he had for [our] library & came upon an old manuscript story [---------] [-----] to [have]
been written by Solomon Spaulding. Probably the one which has been supposed to be transformation of the Mormon Bible, -- unquestionably a genuine document, Mr. Rice must have had it 40 years, but can not tell how it came to him -- had never looked [----- ---] -- had utterly forgotten it, I spent an hour in looking it through, It bears no resemblance to the book of Mormon, except that it is a rambling story of about the same literary merit, manifestly written by a man of limited education, but some thought, purporting to give the history of the Indians of New York, Kentucky & Ohio -- their wars &c, The book would be a gratification to the Mormons,
as putting an end to the story that their book is a reprint of Solomon Spaulding's manuscript. I do not think they have any thing to do with each other, Went to Mr. Wm. Castles & stayed with them over night, --
Monday Sept 1st, the day to sail on the Alameda... [illegible]
[from: Oberlin Review 13:11 (Feb. 20, 1886)]
The difficulty, with all our means of publication, of getting facts correctly stated, is curiously illustrated in connection with the above caption. On January 23, a special dispatch was telegraphed from Chicago to leading papers in New York, saying that a "Professor Samuel S. Portello declares that he has discovered the veritable Spaulding romance from which, it is said, Joseph Smith wrote his 'Book of Mormon.'"
Who Professor Partello is, I do not know, but that he should put forth such [a] claim as this is astonishing, for the facts to which he refers were brought to light and published to the world several months ago. In the summer of 1884, President Fairchild, of Oberlin College, was in Honolulu, visiting Mr, L. L. Rice, an old friend, and a former anti-slavery advocate and editor. At President Fairchild's suggestion, and while he was with him, Mr. Rice examined his stores of old documents to select out ant-slavery publications for presentation to the Oberlin College Library. In the process this celebrated manuscript of Spaulding's was found and thoroughly examined and its contents noted.
President Fairchild at once announced its discovery and briefly described it in the Bibliotheca Sacra for January, 1885. The announcement was presented by Mr. Rice to the Library of Oberlin College, and in January, 1886, President Fairchild gave a more extended account of it and its bearing upon the supposed origin of the Book of Mormon. Meanwhile the Mormons sent to Oberlin and had a copy made from which they have re-published the manuscript to prove that the Book of Mormon neither had any connection with this nor with any romance which such a writer could have produced. With this conclusion of the Mormons President Fairchild fully agrees and so it would seem most every one who gives the matter careful attention. The question is not one of much intrinsic importance, since the Book of Mormon is neither better nor worse whether it was original with Smith or whether he borrowed its drivelling nonsense from somebody else. But when such standard writers as Professor Fisher think it worth while to state it as a fact that the Book of Mormon was largely borrowed from Spaulding's manuscript, and a Chicago Professor thinks it an honor worth claiming and telegraphing to New York, that he had discovered the long-lost romance, the public is probably sufficiently interested to give attention to the real facts.
In this case it would seem that the press by its power of giving currency to ill-apprehended statements of facts is in more danger of concealing than of revealing the truth. It remains to be seen whether we can successfully correct the erroneous statements about this document so that it shall not go into future encyclopaedias as teaching the exact opposit of what it really does. If not, we may well be thankful that the Christian documents were launched upon the world at a time when one day's news did not totally erase the news of the day before.
G. Frederick Wright
(this page is under construction)
James Harris Fairchild
President of Oberlin College (1866-1889)
James Harris Fairchild (1817-1902), teacher and theologian, served as third President of Oberlin College with which he was associated from its beginnings and for sixty-eight years thereafter. He was born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts to Grandison (1792-1890) and Nancy (Harris) Fairchild (1795-1875). The family joined the westward current of migration in 1818, settling in the town of Brownhelm in the Western Reserve of Northern Ohio, nine miles from Oberlin. At the age of fourteen, Fairchild attended the newly opened high school in Elyria, and at seventeen, he entered the first freshman class at Oberlin Collegiate Institute (as Oberlin College was known until 1850). Fairchild graduated from the College Department in 1838 and entered the graduate Theological Department, completing the theological course in 1841. He was married November 29, 1841 at Minden, Louisiana to Mary Fletcher Kellogg (1817-90), one of the first women to enroll in the College course in 1837. Six girls and two boys were born to the Fairchilds, all but one of whom attended Oberlin.
During his years in the Theological Department, Fairchild served as Tutor in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew for the College Department (1839-42), becoming Professor of Languages in 1842. In 1847, he was appointed Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, and in 1858, he was named to the chair of Systematic Theology and Moral Philosophy. During Charles Grandison Finney's tenure as President (1851-66), Fairchild assumed most of the administrative duties of the office. Upon Finney's resignation in 1866, Fairchild, then chairman of the faculty, was elected President. During his twnety-three tenure as President, the college's assets increased to a value of one million dollars, and its faculty grew from ten to twenty-three professors. Through Fairchild's personal example and theological bent, Oberlin's reputation evolved away from that of the Finney-inspired reformist enclave towards the mainstream. At Oberlin, Fairchild encouraged a respect for pure reason and expressed his belief in the power of education to shape human character. Although he supported the education of women and their right to the vote, he nevertheless wrote in an 1870 article, "Woman's Right to the Ballot," that the ballot had been "withheld from woman because the work of government seemed incompatible with the womanly character and work," adding, "If a woman chooses to feel dishonored by the arrangement, it is merely a matter of her own interpretation." His anti-slavery stance is well-known, particularly after he provided the refuge of his own garret to the fugitive slave, John Price, in 1858. In questions of reform, Fairchild was a moderate.
In 1870 and 1871, President Fairchild traveled in Europe, Egypt, and the Holy Land. In 1884, he visited California and Hawaii. Fairchild resigned the presidency in 1889 and retired as Professor of Theology in 1898, but he continued to teach as Professor Emeritus until 1902. He served as a member of the Prudential Committee from 1847 to 1901, as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1889 to 1901, and, during the last year of his life, was prevailed upon to continue his service as an honorary member of the Board.
In addition to numerous essays, commencement addresses, and sermons, Fairchild published several books, including Moral Philosophy or the Science of Obligation (1869), and Elements of Theology, Natural and Revealed (1892). His pamphlet, "Coeducation of the Sexes," appeared in the annual report of the United States Commissioner of 1867. Fairchild's Oberlin, the Colony and the College (1883) and his inaugural address published in 1866, "Educational Arrangements and College Life at Oberlin," remain major sources for the study of early Oberlin history.
Fairchild's last years in Oberlin were occupied with writing, teaching, and lending counsel to the college with which he had become wholly identified; yet, he was not unbroken. Grief was a constant companion for Fairchild, who endured the untimely deaths of six of his eight children: Emma Frances (d. 1859), Alice Cowles (d.1876), Grace Augusta (d. 1893), George Hornell (d. 1894), Mary Fletcher (d. 1897), and Catherine Cooley (d.1902). Just one month after losing Catherine, Fairchild died in Oberlin on March 19, 1902 at the age of 84.