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Joseph F. Smith
"The Manuscript Found"

in Improvement Era
(Salt Lake City, LDS Church 1900)

  • page 241   Feb. 1900 installment

  • page 377   Mar. 1900 installment

  • page 451   Apr. 1900 installment

  • Transcriber's Comments

  • Spalding claims refutations: 1834-59 by LDS  |  1860-99 by LDS  |  1883 by G. Reynolds


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    Vol. III. FEBRUARY, 1900. No. 4.

    "T H E    M A N U S C R I P T    F O U N D."



    In January, 1885, under the somewhat peculiar circumstances of the times, I was sent on a mission to the Sandwich Islands. I sailed from San Francisco on the steamship Mariposa on the 2nd day of February following, remaining upon this mission until July, 1887. Not long after my arrival on the islands, I received a communication from Elder George Reynolds, enclosing the following letter over the signature of James H. Fairchild, at that time President of the Oberlin College, Ohio, the same being a clipping from the New York Observer of February 5, 1885, which had also been copied into Frank Leslie's Illustrated Sunday Magazine. Brother Reynolds suggested that I call upon Mr. L. L. Rice, of Honolulu, with the view of inquiring more particularly into this matter, which I did at the first opportunity. I subsequently narrated the circumstances of my interviews with that gentleman in a communication which was published in the Deseret News, over the nom de plume "Islander," which gives a detailed account of a

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    subject which I think still possesses sufficient interest to be presented to the readers of the ERA.

    The following is Mr. Fairchild's letter:


    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 of 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 migration 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 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 detail. There seems to be no name nor 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 the lost tribes. Some other explanation of the origin of the Book of Mormon must be found, if any explanation is required.

    JAMES  H.  FAIRCHILD.      

    The letter to the News, under date of Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, June 24, 1885, follows:

    On the morning of the 16th of April, my companion and I made our way to Punahou, about two miles from Honolulu, to the residence of Mr.

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    J. M. Whitney, son-in-law of Mr. L. L. Rice, with whom the latter is at present living.

    On going to the house we met a very aged, but intelligent-looking man at the rear of the dwelling, whom we found to be Mr. Rice. After introducing ourselves, I informed him that I had seen an article, published in the paper by Mr. James H. Fairchild, relative to Mr. Spaulding's romance, from which it was alleged the Book of Mormon was derived, and that interest and curiosity had led us to call on him, in the hopes of seeing it, and of having some conversation with him on the subject. He invited us into the parlor, and when we were seated he asked,

    "Are you Mormons?"

    Of course to this we had but one unequivocal answer. He then enquired how long we had been in the country, our business, etc., to all of which we gave appropriate answers, so that he seemed satisfied that we had come no great distance for the special object of our visit. He then began to talk about as follows, to the best of my recollection:

    "I have no objection to showing you the manuscript; you shall see it, but it is of no value to anybody. I have, with others, compared it with the Book of Mormon, and I undertook to copy it, but ran out of paper before I got it finished and so discontinued it. There is not one word or sentence in it in common with the Book of Mormon. The only possible resemblance is: they both purpose to give an account of American Indians. This manuscript is nothing but a simple story about the tribes of Indians supposed to have inhabited the country in the vicinity of Conneaut, Ohio, where some ancient mounds existed, and it is a very poor story at that. It came into my possession in 183--, when Mr. Winchester and I bought out the printing establishment formerly owned by Mr. E. D. Howe in Painsville, Ohio, in connection with a large number of old papers found in the place and turned over to us with it. I have had it ever since in my possession. I have looked at it scores of times, and often thought I would look into it to see what it was, but never did until a year ago, on the occasion of President Fairchild's visit. Since then I have often wondered that I did not long ago destroy it with other worthless papers. I have recently had letters from several parties making inquiries about this manuscript, and all desiring to obtain possession of it. Mr. Howe thinks he has a claim upon it, but I have told them all they cannot have it. When I get through with it, I shall most likely deposit it in the Oberlin College Library, as I have promised President Fairchild."

    I remarked: "There is no use disguising the fact that we would like to obtain it, or a copy of it," to which he very emphatically replied: "Well, sir, you can't have it."

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    He went into another part of the house and soon returned with a parcel wrapped in a piece of old, brown wrapping paper, and fastened with an old, tow string. I judge the manuscript to be six and a half inches wide and eight inches long, and about an inch in thickness. Holding the parcel before my eyes, he said: "This is just as I received it, and as it has been in my possession for over forty years, tied with that same string. You see that pencil writing? That was written there before it came into my hands."

    This writing in pencil, quite legible, was "Manuscript Story." "But," continued he, "this writing in ink I foolishly wrote there myself very recently; I suppose I ought not to have done it, but with that exception it is just as it came into my hands, and as it has remained for over forty years."

    This writing in ink was as follows: "Writings of Solomon Spaulding," and was inscribed partly over the "Manuscript Story" written in pencil. Mr. Rice then untied the tow string and took off the wrapper, when we saw a time-worn, dingy, somewhat dilapidated old manuscript. I glanced over a portion of the preface, which set forth that in consequence of the existence of large mounds in the vicinity of Conneaut, indicating the former occupation of the country by a numerous people, etc., the author had been induced to write, etc., etc. I do not pretend to give the text, but merely the sense as I gathered it from a hasty glance. Mr. Rice called our attention to the certificate on the last page, which was referred to by Mr. Fairchild in his article published in the New York Observer of February 5, 1885. This certificate gave the names of several persons, known to the writer and signer of the same, who had made affidavits, which the certificate says were "on file in this office," to the effect that they "personally know this manuscript to be the writing of Solomon Spaulding." The certificate and the signature are in the same handwriting, and are those of Doctor Philastus Hurlburt, or rather, the signature is plain, "D. P. Hurlburt."

    Mr. Rice is now about 84 years of age, but he is in good mental and physical condition. He chatted freely relative to his early recollections and acquaintances, not forgetting to give us his mind respecting plural marriage. He said: "I was well acquainted with Sidney Rigdon, both before and after he became a 'Mormon,' and I have heard him preach as a Campbellite and as a 'Mormon.' He was a very smart man, but I never knew the cause of his leaving your Church, or whether he ever denounced 'Mormonism' and the Book of Mormon or not."

    I said: "One cause of his leaving the Church was that he assumed to be the guardian and leader of the Church after the death of the

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    Prophet Joseph, while that authority had been conferred through Joseph Smith upon the Twelve Apostles; and that to my knowledge, Mr. Rigdon had never at any time denied or denounced either 'Mormonism' or the Book of Mormon."

    He said: "I was very well acquainted with Joseph Smith in Kirtland, and I saw him once in Nauvoo." He was also quite well acquainted with Sister E. R. Snow Smith: he said she used to write poetry for his paper, and he always thought her "a very nice, intelligent young lady," and wanted to know if she was still living. As he had refused so emphatically to part with the manuscript or allow it to be copied, I asked him if he would part with the copy he had made, so far as he had gone, for reasonable compensation for his time and labor. At first he refused, but after some talk on the subject, he promised to write Mr. Fairchild by the next mail, and if he made no objection he would perhaps do so.

    There is no doubt that this is the identical, much-talked-of, long-lost, much-believed, but very innocent "Manuscript Found." The facts already demonstrated beyond contradiction stamp its identity with unmistakable certainty. In 1834, it was obtained by Hurlburt from Jerome Clark, at Hardwicks, New York, upon an order from Mrs. Davidson, the widow of Solomon Spaulding, certified to as being the writing of Solomon Spaulding by several persons personally knowing the fact, and subscribed to by D. P. Hurlburt himself, by whom it was taken to the printing establishment of Mr. E. D. Howe, the reputed author of "Mormonism Unveiled," and transferred to Mr. L. L. Rice on his purchasing the printing establishment, and by Mr. Rice preserved until now, without even knowing what it was, for some forty years. It seems that the hand of Providence is plainly visible, for some wise purpose, in the whole affair. And now it has been carefully examined and compared with the Book of Mormon by Mr. L. L. Rice, Mr.James H. Fairchild, President of the Oberlin College Library, Ohio, and by others, and by them declared without similarity in name, incident, purpose or fact with the Book of Mormon. Mr. L. L. Rice declared to Brother Farr and myself that he "believed it to be the only romance of the kind ever written by Mr. Spaulding; and", said he, "somehow I feel that this is a fact.

    From this remark we inferred that it was his belief that the reason it was not published by Mr. Spaulding himself was because it was not worth publishing, "For," said he, "it is only a very simple story, and a very poor one at that."

    Taking this statement as the unreserved judgment of an old editor and a newspaper man, who has not only carefully read it and compared it with the Book of Mormon, but with his own hand copied about two-thirds

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    of it, his opinion must be accepted as of great weight; and it corresponds with the alleged message sent by Mr. Patterson with the Manuscript, when it is said he returned it to Spaulding, "declining to print it," and said, "Polish it up, finish it, and you will make money out of it." It no doubt needed, and still needs, a great deal of "polish."

    On the first instant, (May 1st, 1885,) Brother Farr and I called again on Mr. Rice, when he allowed us to examine the "Manuscript Found." We read the preface and two chapters of the manuscript, which we found what I would call rather a far-fetched story about the discovery of some "twenty-eight sheets of parchment" in an "artificial cave" about "eight feet deep," situated in a mound on the "west side of the Conneaut River." With this parchment, which was "plainly written upon with Roman letters in the Latin language," was a "roll of parchment containing the biography of the writer."

    The first two chapters which we read purport to be a translation of this biography, which sets forth that the writer's name was Fabias, that he was "born in Rome, and received his education under the tuition of a very learned master, at the time that Constantine entered Rome, and was firmly seated as Emperor," to whom Fabias was introduced and was appointed by him one of his secretaries.

    Soon after this, Fabias was sent by Constantine "with an important message to a certain general in England." On the voyage the heavens gathered blackness, obscuring the sun and stars, and a terrific storm arose which continued unabated for five days, when it lulled, but the darkness continued. They were lost at sea. They began to pray "with great lamentations," etc., when a voice came telling them not to be afraid, and they would be taken to a "safe harbor." For five days more they were swiftly driven before the wind and found themselves in the mouth of a very "large river" up which they sailed "for many days," when they came to a village and cast anchor. The natives were alarmed, held a council, and finally extended towards them the hand of friendship, made a great feast for them, sold them a large tract of land for "fifty pieces of scarlet calico and fifty knives," and established with them a covenant of perpetual peace.

    Not daring to venture the dangers and uncertainties of the unknown deep over which they had been so mysteriously driven, they concluded it better to remain than attempt to return to Rome, etc., etc. The ship's company consisted of twenty souls, seven of whom were young women who had embarked at Rome to visit their relatives in England. Luian or Lucian was the name of the captain of the vessel, and Trojenous was the name of his first mate; one of the sailors is called Droll Tom

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    another Crito. There were three ladies of rank among the women. On motion of one of the sailors the women chose their husbands; Lucian, Fabias and Trojenous were of course selected by the three ladies of rank, but six poor fellows had to go without wives, or marry the natives, etc.

    This is about the thread of the story so far as we have read.

    Among those who had written to Mr. Rice for the manuscript were Eber D. Howe, of Painsville, Ohio, (since which Mr. Rice informs me he had a stroke, and was supposed to be on his death-bed); Mr. A. B. Demming, also of Painsville; Albert D. Hagar, librarian of the Chicago Historical Society, Chicago; and Mrs. Ellen S. Dickenson of Boston, grandniece of Solomon Spaulding. Mrs. Dickenson demanded that the manuscript be sent forthwith to her or to Mrs. McInstry, from whose mother it had been "stolen by D. P. Hurlburt." She also asserted that she is writing a book against the "Mormons," and desired the manuscript from which to make extracts, provided it is the one that Hurlburt stole "which she scarcely thinks is the one." Mr. Demming says he does "not think it is the Manuscript Found," for it is rumored that Hurlburt sold it to the "Mormons," and they destroyed it, which he says, "I believe to be true." He was nevertheless clamorous to have this manuscript sent to him immediately, for, writes he, "I desire to make extracts from it as I am writing a book, to be entitled "The Death-blow to Mormonism."' Joseph Smith of the Reorganized church did not ask for the manuscript for himself, but that it might be sent to the Chicago Historical Society, 140 and 142 Dearborn St., Chicago, for preservation. Mr. Hagar, secretary or librarian of said society, desired it also sent there, and promised to defray the postage or expressage, and to have it neatly bound, etc., etc. But Mr. E. D. Howe laid claim to it on the ground that when he sold his printing establishment to his brother, from whom it was turned over to Messrs. Rice & Winchester, in 1839, the manuscript was inadvertently turned over to them with the office. He further states in his letter that the manuscript was left in his office by D. P. Hurlburt, pending efforts to obtain evidence against the Book of Mormon. Mr. Rice showed all these letters which we carefully read and noted. Mr. Demming, who is a reverend gentleman, wrote two letters, both of which seemed to savor of a spirit smarting under the sting of conscious imbecility, and reeking with venom and the bitterness of gall.

    Mr. Rice informed us that his friends, among them the Rev. Sereno E. Bishop, of Honolulu, had advised him not to allow the "Mormons" to get hold of a copy of the manuscript. When I asked them for what reason, he replied, "What, indeed?" The old gentleman had a son in the States who is a minister, (to whom Mr. Demming's letters were addressed,) and

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    he wrote him to make enquiry respecting the existence of Messrs. Aaron Wright, Oliver Smith and John N. Miller, who testified to the identity of the manuscript as Spaulding's writings, and he found them to have been "veritable persons, but they are now all dead." This was the statement which Mr. Rice made to us. Here is a copy of the certificate:
    "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. Hurlburt." (The signature is written as here given.)
    I made another visit to Mr. Rice a few weeks ago, and read several more chapters of the manuscript.

    We again took a good look at the manuscript, which had been returned to him by Mr. Hide, a minister to whom it had been loaned for a time, and by whom I suspect it was copied, although I do not know. We counted the pages and found 169 numbered pages and one and two-thirds pages not numbered, and two loose sheets not apparently belonging to the manuscript, which made in all 175; less pages 133 and 134 which are missing.

    Mr. Rice said that when he was publishing a newspaper, the Republican Monitor, at Cazenovia, New York, he published a very interesting story entitled, "Manuscript Found," and some ten or fifteen years later, while editing the Ohio Star, at Ravenna, Ohio, he republished this story, which was a romance predicated upon some incidents of the Revolutionary War. He was of the opinion that the name of this story by some means had been confounded with Spaulding's manuscript or writings, and that this is the only novel that Spaulding ever wrote.

    I also read another letter from Mr. A. B. Demming, fairly clamoring for the possession of the manuscript. He said he had called on E. D. Howe and D. P. Hurlburt, and spent several days with one and the other of them on the subject of the manuscript, and urged that it be sent at once to Mr. Rice's son, in Painesville, Ohio, with instructions to let no one know of the fact but Mr. Demming.

    On June 15th, 1885, I called upon Mr. Rice again in company with a couple of the brethren, to read a little more of the manuscript. He informed us that he had that day forwarded the original to the Oberlin College Library in care of a lady who was going there, and then made us the following proposition: to let me have the copy he had now finished provided I would have it printed verbatim, complete with erasures, or crossed out parts in italics, and explanation in preface: and after printing, to send fifty copies to Oberlin, twenty-five copies and the manuscript back

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    to him. I accepted the proposition, and he was to draw up a paper setting forth these terms, and he would deliver the copy of the manuscript and a copy of the agreement into my hands at 6 p. m.

    When I returned at the appointed hour, he took me to his room and said: "Mrs. and Mr. Whitney (his daughter and son-in-law) have protested against my letting you have the manuscript until I get the consent of President Fairchild. Now, in view of my promise to you, this places me in a very embarrassing position, for I want to please them, and I regret having to fail in my promise to you; but I think it best to postpone the matter for two or three weeks until I can hear from President Fairchild."

    "What reason," I asked, "do they give for their objection? We agree to your proposition; it is all your own way. The original is beyond our reach, and we could have no other than the most honest motives, with all the expense on our part, in carrying out your proposition."

    The only answer was: "They are not as liberal as I am." I do not know whether this meant that they wanted something more for it, or that they were not as liberal in their sentiments or feelings towards us. I took the last meaning.

    I then said, "Well, Mr. Rice, my curiosity leads me to desire to read it, and I would be pleased if you would lend it to me to read." To this he consented, provided I would return it when I got through. So I brought it home with me, and had it from the evening of the 15th to the morning of the 21st, when I sent it back. I got home with the manuscript on the evening of the 16th.

    We read it. It is a shallow, unfinished story, but withall somewhat interesting in parts, as containing some ideas which the author must have gathered from the traditions of the Indians.  *  *  *  Mr. Rice claims that his copy is verbatim et literatim copy, with scratches, crosses and bad spelling all thrown in. The names "Sambol," "Hamboon," "Labaska," "Labona," "Lamesa," "Mammoona," occur in the story, which might easily be changed. Mammoths were the author's beasts of burden. The two principal tribes of Indians were "Ohions" and "Kentucks," with numerous adjacent tribes --"Sciotams," "Ohons," etc.

    IMPROVEMENT ERA, (MARCH, 1900) Vol. III. No. 5.

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    "T H E    M A N U S C R I P T    F O U N D."



    When I obtained Mr. Rice's verbatim copy of the "Manuscript Found," I had only little faith that he would receive the consent of either Mr. Fairchild or of his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. Whitney, to allow me to publish it. Mr. Whitney was a son of one of the early Calvinist missionaries who, in an early day, was sent by the American Missionary Board to the Sandwich Islands to convert the heathens. He was deeply imbued with strong prejudices against the Latter-day Saints, such as his pious missionary father possessed. His wife entertained similar bias, and I had reason to believe that they would do all in their power to prevent me from obtaining possession of the manuscript for publication, as I desired. Mr. Rice himself was also very determined in his spirit of opposition to The Church, when I first met him, but this feeling gradually softened, and was greatly modified by my repeated interviews with him, and by means of a correspondence which sprang up between us by letter, and continued, at short intervals, up to the time of his last sickness. I was so strongly impressed with this idea as expressed above, or that they would not consent for me to publish it, that I determined to make a copy of the manuscript while it was in my hands. On reaching Laie, I laid the matter before my fellow-missionaries and associates who unanimously concurred with me. We therefore set to work, and in a few days completed an exact copy.

    Contrary, however, to my expectations, when I returned the original manuscript to Mr. Rice, I found his feelings considerably changed. He had received word from Mr. Fairchild, giving his

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    consent to my proposition of publishing the work, which had also caused the reconciliation of his son-in-law and daughter to the idea of letting me publish it. We, therefore, concluded our arrangements, and each signed the agreement, in accordance with the terms first mentioned by him; and so, the manuscript was committed into my hands. I immediately forwarded the same to the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, together with the terms of the agreement, to have the same published and issued in book form. After considerable delay on the part of the News in completing the work, the manuscript was published, and ready for distribution to the world. In strict accord with the agreement between myself and Mr. Rice, his manuscript, together with twenty-five copies of the printed pamphlet, were sent to me. Meanwhile, Mr. Rice had passed suddenly to the great beyond, and I surrendered the manuscript, with the printed copies accompanying it, to his son-in-law, Mr. Whitney, thereby fulfilling to the letter the agreement which I had entered into with Mr. Rice.

    Thus the Spaulding Story, variously called "The Manuscript Found," "Manuscript Story," etc., was at length brought to light from its long hiding place and made public! What a disappointment the discovery and publication of this long lost manuscript must have been, and is, to all those who have predicated the authorship of the Book of Mormon upon it!. It is now made to appear, in a way that can never be denied, that all such claims, statements and representations of authorship are false. They are brought to nought, and it is definitely, openly and irrevocably determined that such claims of authorship are without even the shadow of a foundation.

    It will now be interesting to review, as briefly as possible, some of the desperate efforts which have been made by anti-"Mormons" to connect the origin of the Book of Mormon with this now found, printed and exposed, Solomon Spaulding's manuscript.

    In a book entitled, "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" by Robert Patterson, of Pittsburg, which is perhaps the strongest effort ever put forth with such end in view, we find the following statement:

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    In this discussion there are manifestly but two points to be considered. The first is to establish the fact that the historical portions of the Book of Mormon are certainly derived from Spaulding's Manuscript Found; and the second, to show, if practicable, in what way and by whom the plagiarism was probably effected. Of these, the first is the only vitally important one. If the identity can be determined, imposture will be proved, even though it may not be possible to demonstrate absolutely how the fraud was perpetrated.
    I have conclusively proved -- the printed book itself is the proof, -- that the first and only point is not established or sustained, and that the historical portions of the Book of Mormon, are not derived from Spaulding's "Manuscript Found." Hence, there should be nothing further required in this discussion. But the author proceeds to quote the statements of various witnesses, to some of whom I desire to refer, because, notwithstanding the truth is told irrevocably exposing them as falsehoods, they are constantly being used and quoted against the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. The testimonies are taken from his book:

    John Spaulding, a brother of Solomon, visited the latter at Conneaut just before his removal, and states as follows:

    "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.  *  *  *  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 the exception of the religious matter."

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    Mrs. Martha Spaulding, wife of John Spaulding, states in regard to Solomon Spaulding and his writings as follows:

    "I was personally acquainted with Solomon Spaulding about twenty years ago. The lapse of time which has intervened prevents my recollecting but few of the incidents of his writings, but the names of Lehi and Nephi are yet fresh in my memory as being the principal heroes of his tale. They were officers of the company which first came off from Jerusalem. He gave a particular account of their journey by land and sea till they arrived in America, after which disputes arose between the chiefs, which caused them to separate into different bands, one of which was called Lamanites and the other Nephites. Between these were recounted tremendous battles, which frequently covered the ground with the slain; and these being buried in large heaps was the cause of the numerous mounds in the country.  *  *  *  I have read the Book of Mormon, which has brought fresh to my recollection the writings of Solomon Spaulding; and I have no manner of doubt that the historical part of it is the same that I read and heard read more than twenty years ago. The old, obsolete style, and the phrases of 'And it came to pass,' are the same."
    Henry Lake, the partner of Spaulding in building the forge, writes from Conneaut, in September, 1833, as follows:

    "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 their contents. He wished me to assist him in getting his production printed, alleging that a book of that kind would meet with rapid sale. I designed doing so, but the forge not meeting our anticipations, we failed in business, when I declined having anything to do with the publication of the book. 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, to my surprise, 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

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    twenty years before from his 'Manuscript Found.' Since that I have more fully examined the said Golden Bible, and have no hesitation in saying that the historical part of it is principally if not wholly taken from the '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."

    The author of the book in question comments on the above testimony as follows:

    It should be stated in explanation of the above that the Book of Mormon, at the time of its publication, was frequently spoken of as the "Golden Bible." Also that an incongruity occurs in the story of Laban, in the First Book of Nephi, where Nephi says they "did speak many hard words unto us, their younger brothers, and they did smite us even with a rod." Whereupon an angel appears and says, "Why do you smite your younger brother with a rod?" Consistency would require that the number, whether singular or plural should be the same in both sentences. The oversight is in itself a trifle, but it's occurrence in both the Spaulding Manuscript and the Book of Mormon is an unanswerable proof of identity.

    John N. Miller testifies as follows:

    "In the year 1811, I was in the employ of Henry Lake and Solomon Spaulding, at Conneaut, engaged in rebuilding a forge. While there I boarded and lodged in the family of said Spaulding for several months. I was soon introduced to the Manuscript of Spaulding, and perused it 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.'  *  *  *  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. He said that he designed it as an historical novel, and that in after years it would be believed by many people as much as the history of England.  *  *  *  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 of 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 Golden Bible. When Spaulding divested his history of its fabulous names by a

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    verbal explanation, he landed his people near the straits of Darien, which I am very confident he called Zarahemla. They were marched about that country for a length of time, in which wars and great bloodshed ensued. He brought them across North America in a north-east direction."

    Aaron Wright, a former neighbor of Spaulding, writes at Conneaut, Aug., 1833, as follows:

    "I first became acquainted with Solomon Spaulding in 1808 or 1809 when he commenced building a forge on Conneaut Creek. When at his house one day he showed and read 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 descendants, as it is given in the Book of Mormon, excepting the religious matter. The historical part of the Book of Mormon I knew to be the same as I read and heard read from the writings of Spaulding more than twenty years ago: the names more especially are the same without any alteration. He told me his object was to account for all the fortifications, etc., to be found in this country, and said that in time it would be fully believed by all except learned men and historians. I once anticipated reading his writings in print, but little expected to see them in a new Bible.  *  *  *  In conclusion, I will observe that the names and most of the historical part of the Book of Mormon were as familiar to me before I read it as most modern history.

    Oliver Smith, another old neighbor of Spaulding wrote at Conneaut, Aug., 1833:

    "When Solomon Spaulding first came to this place, he purchased a tract of land, surveyed it out, and commenced selling it. While engaged in this business he boarded at my house, in all nearly six months. All his leisure hours were occupied in writing an historical novel founded upon the first settlers of this country. He said he intended to trace their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till their arrival in America; give an account of their arts, sciences, civilization, wars and contentions. In this way he would give a satisfactory account of all the old mounds so common to this country. 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.  *  *  *  

    (Mr. Smith narrates his last interview with Spaulding, when the latter was about starting for Pittsburg and solicited Smith's leniency, as one of his creditors, not to prevent his going. Mr. Smith then closes as follows:)

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    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 writing 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."

    In another paper, I will present a few comments on these cunningly devised, and seemingly explicit statements, and briefly review some of the unscrupulous falsehoods in the testimony of these and other witnesses who conspired to deceive the world, and to destroy the Book of Mormon.

    IMPROVEMENT ERA, (APRIL, 1900) Vol. III. No. 6.

    [ 451 ]

    "T H E    M A N U S C R I P T    F O U N D."



    Note how carefully the foregoing statements are drawn; see how minute and explicit they are in every particular to prove that the Book of Mormon is identical with the "Manuscript Found." It will readily be seen how forceful and weighty such statements must of necessity be, coming as they do (supposedly) from so-called credible witnesses, and especially from the brother of Solomon Spaulding the author of the very innocent, but much magnified "Manuscript Found." How difficult it would be to disprove such positive and detailed statements, coming from such apparently authentic sources! Had the "Manuscript Found" remained unfound, had it been destroyed, so that the truth or falsity of these statements never could have been proven by comparison with the Book of Mormon itself, one could scarcely blame the unthinking, uninspired world of mankind for their unbelief in, and rejection of, that sacred book.

    But, in the merciful providence of God, it was not ordained that the world should be left in such ignorance; and now that the long-lost "Manuscript Story" has come to light, there is no longer the least shadow of excuse for such unbelief, on the grounds so strongly set forth by the relentless opponents of the Book of Mormon.

    The long concealment of this silly "Manuscript Story" seems to have been designed by Providence for the express purpose of emphasizing this point; and for the further purpose of permitting the more perfect development of the deep-laid schemes of wicked

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    men, inspired by the great enemy of all truth, in their vain attempts to overthrow the work of God and if possible to destroy it; and at last, to reveal to the world the true character of those who have engaged in the despicable undertaking of deceiving mankind, together with their slanderous and villainous methods of compassing their pernicious ends.

    There are other statements of other persons, but all are of the same purport and almost the same language. If one of these statements could be proven true, then all would be so proven. On the contrary, if one were shown to be false, then all must fall, for they all testify, almost word for word, to the same alleged facts.

    Nothing further should be necessary to prove the falsity of the affidavits than to refer the reader to the published "Manuscript Found," but as many may not have access to the "Story," it will be in order to point out a few inaccuracies, misstatements, errors and downright falsehoods contained in the foregoing affidavits. This will be done by the statement of facts, and by quoting witnesses that cannot be impeached.

    No sooner did Mr. Fairchild publish his letter, announcing the discovery of the "Spaulding Manuscript," and make the startling declaration that "some other explanation of the origin of the Book of Mormon must be found, if any explanation is required," than the friends of the "Spaulding Story," and the determined enemies of the Book of Mormon, cried out: "Oh, he is mistaken -- it is not 'The Manuscript Found."' In this way they sought to bolster up their pet theories and deep-laid schemes to deceive the world. But their craft was doomed.

    Mr. Fairchild himself was thoroughly convinced that it was the veritable Spaulding romance which had been made to do such duty in the herculean effort to destroy the Book of Mormon, and "Mormonism." He says: "There seems no reason to doubt that this is the long-lost story. Mr. Rice and myself and others compared it with the Book of Mormon and could detect no resemblance between the two, in general or detail. There seems to be no name nor 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 foregoing shows that Mr. James H. Fairchild, president of

                              THE  MANUSCRIPT  FOUND.                           453

    the Oberlin College, had originally been convinced that the "Manuscript Story" was indeed the origin of the Book of Mormon, and while, perhaps, as eager as anybody to demonstrate that fact, was greatly , as was also Mr. L. L. Rice (and the others referred to as having compared it with the Book of Mormon,) to find that there was "no resemblance between the two in general or detail."

    It also shows how little foundation there is, or ever has been, for the presumption or claim that it was the foundation or source of the Book of Mormon. Mr. L. L. Rice, himself an old editor, literary man and well-read in the history of the Latter-day Saints, and possessor of the "Manuscript Story," as he repeatedly told me, firmly believed it to be the only writings of Solomon Spaulding, and the veritable "Manuscript Found" from which it had been (and surprising to say, still is,) claimed the Book of Mormon was derived. The manner in which this "Manuscript" came into Mr. Rice's hands has been related in the fore-part of this sketch. D. P. Hurlburt obtained the "Manuscript" in 1834, from Mr. Jerome Clark, then residing at Hardwicks, New York, in whose care the "Manuscript" had been left by Mrs. Davison, the widow of Solomon Spaulding, upon an order given by her to Hurlburt for that purpose. At this time, there was no other manuscript writings of Solomon Spaulding in existence.

    When D. P. Hurlburt obtained the "Manuscript," he very naturally proceeded to have it identified by living witnesses, and in his handwriting the following inscription is found thereon:
    "The writings of Solomon Spaulding, proved by Aaron Wright, Oliver Smith, John Miller and others. The testimonies of the above gentlemen are now in my possession. D. P. Hurlburt."
    Hurlburt delivered the "Manuscript" to E. D. Howe & Co., printers, in Painesville, Ohio.

    Mr. L. L. Rice made the following statement to me in the presence of Elder Enoch Farr, in Honolulu, in 1885:

    "This manuscript came into my possession when Mr. Winchester and I bought out the printing establishment of Mr. E. D. Howe, in Painesville, Ohio, in connection with a large amount of old papers found in the place and turned over to us with it. I have had it ever since in my possession."

    It is curious to note that the names of Aaron Wright, Oliver

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    Smith and John N. Miller, who, with others, identified the "Manuscript Story" delivered to D. P. Hurlburt, as the veritable "writings of Solomon Spaulding," are atttached to some of the foregoing statements, taken from the work entitled, "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" and said to be copied from "Mormonism Unveiled," which purports to have been written by E. D. Howe, but is really the production of that corrupt apostate D. P. Hurlburt.

    In the light of facts developed by the discovery of the "Spaulding Story," it would be charitable to believe those statements had been forged, and their names attached to them after they were dead, by some unscrupulous fanatic whose conscienceless soul would shrink from no crime in order to accomplish his purpose.

    Those men, "and others," as stated by Hurlburt, without doubt knew, in 1834, when they gave their testimony respecting the writings of Solomon Spaulding, what they were doing -- simply this, and nothing more: -- That the "Manuscript Story," delivered to D. P. Hurlburt by Jerome Clark, on the order of Mrs Davison, Spaulding's widow, was nothing more or less than the "writtings of Solomon Spaulding." This is sufficient to identify the same for all time. The history of the "Manuscript" and the endorsements upon it, with the opinions of such men as Mr. L. L. Rice, President James H. Fairchild and others attest that fact.

    Mr. R. Patterson, author of "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon," sets forth that Messrs. Wright, Smith and Miller made the statements over their names, in 1833. If this were true, then those men could never have heard Spaulding read his "Manuscript Story," which they certify as being his writings, for there is not one word in the "Manuscript," bearing any similarity or likeness to the Book of Mormon; nor could they have read the "Manuscript Story" themselves and then have made such statements, without knowing they were deliberately lying. The affidavits themselves, as proven by the now open contents of the "Manuscript Story," are deliberate, unqualified falsehoods, without a scintilla of truth in them. It is scarcely possible to think that a number of otherwise reputable men would combine to put forth such base statements. It is more probable that some fanatical opponent of The Church, an enemy to the truth, without conscience or scruple, concocted those statements,

                              THE  MANUSCRIPT  FOUND.                           455

    after those men were dead, and put the falsehoods into their speechless mouths.

    Mr. Robert Patterson, author of "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon," in the outset of his attempt to prove it to have been a plagiarism from "Spaulding's Story," says:

    In our enquiries upon the first point, a merited tribute should be paid to the value of Mr. E. D. Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," issued by its author at Painesville, Ohio, in 1835, only five years after the publication at Palmyra, New York, of the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith. Mr. Howe's was the pioneer upon this subject, and, though long out of print, the few copies extant are still the storehouse from which successive investigators derive their most important facts. It contains the statement of eight witnesses whose testimonials were obtained in 1833, twenty-one years after Mr. Spaulding left Connecticut, seventeen years after his death, and three years after the appearance of the Book of Mormon. Their authenticity has never been impeached.

    It will readily be seen what credence may be placed in these "eight testimonials" when the fact is known that D. P. Hurlburt, a corrupt and malignant apostate, cut off from The Church for immoral conduct, is the real author of E. D. Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," and that while he was concocting the "testimonials" and by and with the aid of Mr. E. D. Howe, was preparing his infamous book, "Mormonism Unveiled" for publication, the "Manuscript Found," the "Manuscript Story," "the writings of Solomon Spaulding," were all in their hands in Mr. E. D. Howe's printing establishment at Painesville; and were brought there about one year before this book was published, by D. P. Hurlburt, for the express purpose of being used, if possible, to prove the plagiarism which Mr. Patterson in his work was so anxious to prove. But it was found that the only way the "Spaulding Story" could be made available was to suppress it, to treat it as lost, as "sold to the Mormons and destroyed by them," as the story runs; then draw upon the cunning resources of the author or authors of "Mormonism Unveiled," and conjure up the "testimonials" of "old neighbors of Spaulding" to prove that Solomon Spaulding wrote the Book of Mormon, intending to destroy the "writings of Solomon Spaulding" which were in their hands, thereby obliterating all possible evidence which

    456                                 IMPROVEMENT  ERA.                                

    those writing might contain, of their deep-laid schemes to deceive the world and escape exposure.

    But Cowper is right. "God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform," and so "Spaulding's writings" escaped the destruction intended for them by Hurlburt, Howe & Co., and by all other schemers, in this cunningly-devised plot to defeat the divine purpose, and in due time they were again brought forth to show how crafty, how vile, how unscrupulous, desperate and damnable are the ways of those who oppose the truth.

    Let us review the statement of one of these pretended witnesses. We will take the testimony of John Spaulding, brother of Solomon. He says:

    It was a historical romance of the first settlers of America, endeaving to show that the American Indians are the descendants of the Jews or the lost tribes.
    The fact is, there is not one word in the "Manuscript Story" about the Indians having descended from the Jews. Indeed, after having read it, and copied a large part of it with my own hand, I cannot recall a single reference to the Jews in the whole story. Again:

    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.
    This is made out of whole cloth. "Spaulding's Story" begins at Rome, not at Jerusalem. The words Nephi, Lehi, Nephites and Lamanites do not occur at all in "Spaulding's Story," nor are there any names remotely resembling them, as the "Manuscript" itself attests. Then Mr. John Spaulding is made to say:

    I have recently read the Book of Mormon, and to my surprise, I find nearly the same historical matter, names, etc., as they were in my brother's writings.
    How very differently Messrs. Fairchild and Rice viewed this same matter when they compared his "brother's writings" with the Book of Mormon! They saw "no resemblance between the two, in general or detail." Again, Mr. J. Spaulding is made to say:

    I well remember that he (Solomon) 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, etc."

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    How very unfortunate it is for the author of the foregoing, whether he was John Spaulding or Robert Patterson, or some other person who may have put such cunning words into his mouth, that the phrases, "And it came to pass," or, "Now it came to pass" do not occur anywhere in the "Manuscript Found," much less "commencing about every sentence."

    And thus every testimony of these alleged credible witnesses might be controverted, but this one is enough to show the falsity of all, owing to their similarity. The example suffices to disprove the great point which Mr. Patterson desired to establish; namely, that the historical portions of the Book of Mormon were certainly derived from the Spaulding manuscript. The foregoing clearly and forever proves that his point is not sustained, and that the historical portions of the Book of Mormon are not derived from Spaulding's writings.

    I have proved that the story in possession of Mr. Rice was the self-same document that Mr. Spaulding wrote; that this story is now in print and may be read by all; that it contains neither names nor subject matter that resemble anything within the pages of the Book of Mormon; that the testimonies given in the book of Mr. Patterson are self-evidently false and contradictory, being based not upon what the witnesses themselves knew, but rather upon the cunningly devised conspiracy and lies of men who combined to destroy the value of the Book of Mormon, but who were thwarted in their designs by the mysterious providences of God.

    There remains nothing further to do than to add my testimony, which I do, that the Book of Mormon is of divine origin; that it was revealed to Joseph the Prophet by an angel of God; and translated from the plates by the power of God, and is given to the world for the benefit and salvation of mankind.


    Transcriber's Comments

    As mentioned in his first article (above) Elder Joseph F. Smith was the first LDS leader to learn of the 1884 Honolulu manuscript discovery. He quickly afterwards reported the happy news to the Saints in Utah that the only extant Solomon Spalding manuscript story had been "carefully examined and compared with the Book of Mormon... declared without similarity in name, incident, purpose or fact with the Book of Mormon... The only possible resemblance is: they both purport to give an account of American Indians."

    Fifteen years later this nephew of Joseph Smith, jr. was an even more honored and respected member of the Salt Lake City Mormon establishment. It is safe to say that once the LDS members read his 1900 articles on Spalding in the official church magazine, all debate upon the subject among the Saints immediately ceased. At that point there would have no doubt in any loyal Mormon's mind that the bothersome "Spalding issue" had finally been fully solved and that whatever fiction the old clergyman might have once scripted, it certainly had nothing to do with the coming forth of the "Nephite record."

    When Joseph F. Smith wrote and published his 1900 articles in the official LDS Improvement Era, he had already long been both the leading member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and a Counselor to then aged and infirm Lorenzo Snow, President of the Church. Having been for so many years in the top leadership of the LDS Church -- and having more recently greatly assisted George Q. Cannon in taking over many of the duties of its President (who would die within a few months, making Smith himself the new LDS top leader) -- all faithful Mormons would have naturally expected that Elder Joseph F. Smith would have possessed a much greater measure of spiritual discernment and divine inspiration than the lesser-ranked Mormon apologists of his day. So, when Smith made it his task to deal directly with the old testimony of the eight "Conneaut witnesses" (as given in 1833 and published in 1834), the LDS readers no doubt accepted his pronouncements on these matters with a much higher degree of trust and respect than they would have, say perhaps, the opinions expressed on the topic by contemporary Mormon writers like George Reynolds and Brigham H. Roberts. In fact, Elder George Reynolds had broached the subject of the "Conneaut witnesses" in the pages of an official LDS publication in 1882, saying: "the story that certain old inhabitants of New Salem, who, it is said, recognized the Book of Mormon, either never made such a statement, or they let their imagination run away with their memory into the endorsement of an impossible falsehood. Either way there is a lie... the falsehood is with those who, in their hatred to modern revelations, have invented their testimony." Joseph F. Smith's 1900 articles expand and elucidate the assertions Reynolds first made for the Church in 1882.

    President Joseph F. Smith's declarations regarding the character and truthfulness of the eight "Conneaut witnesses," building upon the previous assertions published by Reynolds, still stand as the ultimate authoritative LDS statement on this matter. In a nutshell, Smith's 1900 statement says that either those witnesses fabricated their testimony wholesale, or that they allowed D. Philastus Hurlbut to do the same for them. In either case, they could have been nothing more than the tools of Satan in a great "conspiracy" to attack the LDS Church and its sacred scriptures. Their respective statements, then, could hold no truth whatsoever, at least insomuch as the origin of the Book of Mormon was concerned.

    Following Joseph F. Smith's elevation to the LDS Presidency in 1901, there is no record of his revising or expanding his 1900 pronouncements regarding the Spalding authorship claims and the character of the eight witnesses. Assuming that Smith's continuing service thereafter, as the top-most Mormon leader, would have brought him into even higher realms of spiritual discernment and divine inspiration, it is perhaps especially significant that he never subsequently altered the content of his 1900 declarations regarding Book of Mormon authorship claims. Short of a "living prophet-president" of the Church prefixing his announcement on this subject with a "Thus saith the Lord...", Smith's 1900 statments probably stand as the highest and most definitive LDS response to those claims yet offered within Mormonism.

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