A. Theodore Schroeder
"Origin of the Book of Mormon"
in: American Hist. Mag. Vol. 1 & 2
(NYC: Americana Society, 1906-07)
Vol. 1 SEPTEMBER, 1906 No. 5
AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE
LYMAN HORACE WEEKS, Editor
ORIGIN OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.
EVERY complete, critical discussion of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon naturally divides itself into three parts:--first, an examination as to the sufficiency of the evidence adduced in support of its miraculous and divine origin; second, an examination of the internal evidences of its origin, 1 such as its verbiage, its alleged history, chronology, archeology, etc.; third, and accounting for its existence by purely human agency and upon a rational basis, remembering that Joseph Smith, the nominal founder and first prophet of Mormonism, was probably too ignorant to have produced the volume unaided. Under the last head, two theories have been advocated by non-Mormons. By one of these, conscious fraud has been imputed to Smith, and by the other, psychic mysteries have been explored 2 in an effort to supplant the conscious fraud by an unconscious self-deception.
I have undertaken nothing entirely new, but have only assigned myself the task of establishing as an historical fact what is now an abandoned and almost forgotten theory. This will be done by marshalling in its support a more complete array of the old evidences than has been heretofore made and the addition of new circumstantial evidence not heretofore used in this connection.
to weigh evidence and the courage to proclaim convictions opposed to accepted church theories-- to such Mormons, though not convinced that the evidence here reviewed amounts to a demonstration it must be that this essay will yet furnish even to them a more believable and more probable theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon than the one which involves a belief in undemonstrable miracles as well as matters entirely outside of all other experience of sane humans. Certainly the theory here advanced requires for its belief the acceptance of less of improbable assumption than does any other explanation offered. With this statement of what it is expected to accomplish we may proceed to review the evidence in detail.
Spaulding did not see the possibility of a new and profitable religion in his "Manuscript Found," then he was more short-sighted than was a nephew of his named King. This nephew told one Hale, a school-teacher, of his belief that he could start a new religion out of this novel and make money thereby, at the same time briefly outlining a plan very similar to the one long afterward adopted by Smith, Rigdon and Company. 9 If we can place any confidence in the report of an interview between a Mormon "elder" and a nephew of Solomon Spaulding, then it would appear that in the opinion of the latter's brother Solomon Spaulding was not a man who would be, by conscientious scruples, deterred from practicing such a fraud, if believed profitable. 10 Be that as it may, Spaulding did hope by the sale of his literary production to make sufficient money to enable him to pay his debts. 11
American Indian. Some of these dated as far back as Clavigaro, a Catholic priest in the seventeenth century.
which they asserted was similar to the Book of Mormon. They further said that Spaulding had told them that he had altered his original plan of writing by going farther back with his dates and writing in the old Scripture style, in order that his story might appear more ancient. 20
of others, the two leading sects of Mormons have published this first manuscript as a refutation of a theory which no one ever advocated, viz. That the manuscript now at Oberlin was the thing from which Smith et al. plagiarized the Book of Mormon. In my judgement, the publication of this first incomplete manuscript story furnishes additional evidence that the rewritten story did constitute the foundation of the Book of Mormon. When we remember what was said in 1834 as to the character of changes made in rewriting, and that the rewritten story was revamped by Smith, Rigdon, and Company, we are astonished at the number of similarities retained; as, for instance, the finding of the story in a stone box, its translation into English, the attempt to account for a portion of the population of this continent, the wars of extermination of two factions, the impossible slaughters of primitive warfare, and the physically impossible armies which were gathered without modern facilities of either transportation or the furnishing of supplies--the fact that after two rewritings, the second being by new authors, there should remain these very unusual features, makes the discovery and publication of this first manuscript only an additional evidence that the second one did furnish the basis of the Book of Mormon.
College the first manuscript story, which had no direct connection with the Book of Mormon and never was claimed to have such, let us now, if we can, trace into the Book of Mormon Spaulding's rewritten story, entitled "The Manuscript Found."
you will make money out of it." 30 On behalf of Patterson it has been said that he directed its return unless the author would furnish ample security to guarantee the expense of publishing, which we can readily believe to have been impossible to the impecunious Spaulding. 31
Smith to have copied it while working for Sabine about 1823, leaving the original there. A fourth theory makes Spaulding copy his story for the publisher while keeping the duplicate at home to be afterward cared for by the family. Under all of these theories, the original of Spaulding's rewritten story was delivered in 1833 to D. P. Hurlburt to be used by E. D. Howe in his then forthcoming book, "Mormonism Unveiled," but, according to the Spaulding family, was by Hurlburt sold to the Mormons, and according to the Mormons, destroyed by Hurlburt because wholly unlike the Book of Mormon. These theories can claim for themselves no greater weight than that, in the opinion of their several non-Mormon advocates, they furnish a possible explanation as to the connecting link between Spaulding and Smith, but upon all essentials, except one, are without any evidence which involves the conclusion deduced from it, and not one of these theories is necessary as an explanation for the established facts. The one element which has direct evidence in its support is the allegation that Spaulding's rewritten story of the "Manuscript Found" was, after Spaulding's death, in the possession of his widow. That allegation rests upon the following statement of Spaulding's daughter, Mrs. McKinstry, and the family belief in it without any additional evidence upon which to base that belief. She says:
The trunk remained at Sabine's until some time soon after 1820, 39 while in 1823 Smith is said to have worked for Sabine as a teamster, and almost certainly heard Spaulding's stories discussed as a matter of family history. If the rewritten story of Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" had been in the trunk at Sabine's while Smith worked there, which is doubtful, he might have stolen it or copied it, though the latter is made almost impossible by Smith's inability to write, 40 and by his youth.
establish the identity of Spaulding's rewritten "Manuscript Found" and the trunk manuscript. Such assertion of identity is contradicted by that more satisfactory evidence to be hereafter reviewed, and which shows that the rewritten manuscript was stolen from the printing office before Spaulding's death; that the latter suspected Rigdon of being the thief; that possession of Rigdon of some such manuscript, and which, on one occasion, he said had been written by Spaulding; Rigdon's advance knowledge of the forthcoming Book of Mormon and his sudden conversion after its appearance, and coupled with a very plain connection between Rigdon and Smith through Parley P. Pratt as intermediary. These conclusions and much of the evidence upon which they are based will contradict Mrs. McKinstry's statement, if she meant by it to assert that the Sabine trunk manuscript contained the names "Mormon," Moroni," "Lamanite," and "Nephi," which names, it will be shown, occur in and only in the rewritten manuscript and the Book of Mormon.
That this woman, at seventy-four, should remember strange names, casually repeated in her presence, before her sixth year, and those names wholly unrelated to anything of direct consequence to her child like, is a feat of memory too extraordinary to give her uncorroborated statement any weight, as against valid contradictory conclusions drawn from established facts.
by the publishers. She seemingly remembers nothing of its second submission while her husband resided at Amity, or else those who wrote and signed her statement didn't see fit to mention it. "The Manuscript then [after Mr. Spaulding's death in 1816] fell into my hands, and was preserved carefully. It has frequently been *examined by my daughter*, Mrs. McKinstry of Monson, Mass., with whom I now reside, and by other friends." 43
"in the main" it was true. 44 Even with her re-affirmance of the story as published, we cannot give it evidentiary weight except in those matters where it is plain from the nature of things that she must have been speaking from personal knowledge.
(pages 395 and 396 were taken up by end notes in the original text).
(To be continued.)
Vol. 1 NOVMBER, 1906 No. 6
AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE
LYMAN HORACE WEEKS, Editor
THE ORIGIN OF THE BOOK
WHEN we digressed from the main lines of our argument, Spaulding's rewritten story had been traced into the hands of Robert Patterson, a Pittsburg publisher, and this prior to Spaulding's death in October, 1816. If the manuscript was never returned to Spaulding after its second submission to Patterson, then what became of it? John Miller, who knew Spaulding at Amity, bailed him out of jail when confined for debt, made his coffin for him, and helped lay him in his grave, says Spaulding told him "there was a man named Sidney Rigdon about the office (of Patterson), and they thought he had stolen it" (the manuscript). 45
French through its proximity to his removal to Amity; hence the date given is probably correct. 46
new corroborative evidence as has been adduced since Spaulding's death.
March, 1819, he was licensed as a Baptist. 54 I am informed by Sidney Rigdon's son that in 1818 his father made a lengthy visit to Pittsburg. In May, 1819, Rigdon moved to Warren, Trumbull County, O., where, in July, he took up his residence with the Rev. Adamson Bentley, later of "Disciple" fame, 55 and was here ordained a regular Baptist preacher. 56 While thus situated Rigdon met, and on June 12, 1820, married Phoebe Brook, 57 who was a sister to Mrs. Bentley. 58 Rigdon continued his preaching hereabouts, not appearing to have any regular charge until February, 1822. In November, 1821, he received a call from the First Baptist Church of Pittsburg, which was accepted, active duties commencing February, 1822, 59 and according to Joseph Smith ended August, 1824, at which time Rigdon was expelled for doctrinal error. 60 Another account fixes the date of his being deposed as October 11, 1823. 61 Thereupon Rigdon, Alexander Campbell, and Walter Scott organized the "Christian Church," otherwise known as "Disciples" -- and, with his following, Rigdon secured the courthouse in Pittsburg in which to do his preaching, at the same time working as a journeyman tanner 62 with his brother-in-law, Br. Brooks. 63 Mr. Lambdin, through whom Rigdon is supposed to have secured access to the Spaulding manuscript, and of whom more shall be written later on, died August 1, 1825, 64 and in 1826 Rigdon returned to Bainbridge, Geauga County, O. 65 Here he soon met Orson Hyde
who became a student of divinity at Mr. Rigdon's, with a view, as Hyde says, of entering the ministry. Except for a little "Campbellite" preaching which he did under Rigdon's guidance, Hyde never appears to have entered any ministry except the Mormon. In 1829 Hyde became a boarder in Rigdon's family, and in 1830 66 he was almost miraculously converted to Mormonism, and still later became one of the first "Quorum" of apostles in the Mormon Church. Rigdon died July 14, 1876. 67
thoroughly convinced was Father Phillips by this time that he was not possessed of the spirit of Christ, notwithstanding his miraculous conversion and flippant speech, that he declared his belief 'that as long as he [Sidney Rigdon] should live, he would be a curse to the church of Christ.'" 68
make many friends in the city, and it would not be strange if almost everybody knew him and he knew all of the prominent citizens. In 1810 Pittsburg had only about 4,000 inhabitants, and in 1820 had but 7,248.
with Lambdin. This statement in many forms has been very often republished since, and between 1834 and 1876, the year of Rigdon's death. During these forty-two years Rigdon never recorded a denial. That fact may, therefore, be taken as true. If Rigdon was on terms of intimacy with Lambdin, and Lambdin, at the time of that intimacy, as is clearly established and undenied, was connected with Patterson in the publishing business, Rigdon, being intimate with him, must have known something of Patterson's business, and assuming his mental faculties unimpaired, he in the statement under consideration, must have told what he knew was untrue, justifying himself by the apparent evidence in his favor that Patterson's printing office was not run in his own name.
failure to deny, since more definite evidence has been preserved.
is one of the circumstances leading Spaulding to suspect Rigdon of the theft.
Thus authenticated, Dr. Winter's statement may be given as much weight as though reduced to writing by himself.
a denial to either. It seems that before that publication Adamson Bentley was orally making statements, probably to the same effect, which remained undenied by Rigdon, though he published a card denouncing his brother-in-law. 78
Though a youth then, I took him to task for expending so much enthusiasm on such a subject, instead of things of the gospel. 80
during the incubation period of Mormonism between 1827 and 1830, preached new matters of doctrine which were afterwards found to be inculcated in the Mormon Bible. The evident purpose of all this was to prepare his congregation for the acceptance of Mormonism, and the end was most successfully achieved. Evidently this and the other circumstances showing Rigdon's foreknowledge of the forthcoming Book of Mormon, all combined with a guilty conscience, irresistibly impelled the making of an explanation tending to allay the suspicion that there was a conscious purpose in all such conduct. This defense is found in a revelation to Sidney Rigdon, dated December 7, 1830, at the alleged first meeting between Rigdon and Smith, and within one month after the former's conversion. The revelation, in part, says:
Vol. 2 JANUARY, 1907 No. 1
AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE
LYMAN HORACE WEEKS, Editor
THE ORIGIN OF THE BOOK OF
WHEN to this evidence already adduced is added, as will be done, conclusive proof of the identity of the salient features of the Book of Mormon and Spaulding's rewritten "Manuscript Found," it would seem that the ease of plagiarism through Rigdon's complicity is established beyond reasonable doubt. The Mormon objector, however, insists that no possible connection between Rigdon and Smith has ever been shown to exist prior to 1830, and that, therefore, even if Rigdon did steal the manuscript, Smith could not have obtained it for use as a help in preparing the Book of Mormon. It would seem as if the facts above recited should, even if unaided by more direct evidence, raise an almost conclusive presumption of the existence of an undiscovered connection between the two. But we are not confined to an inference from such evidence alone. There are still more pointed evidentiary circumstances to which we will now give attention.
Smith was at that time gaining much newspaper notoriety as a "peep-stone" money digger 88 through mention made of him in papers published in several counties in southern New York and northern Pennsylvania. 89 While Smith was thus working the gullible of his neighborhood with his necromancy, Pratt was a peddler, who, it is said, knew almost everybody in western New York. 90 At that time Ontario County took in all the territory of several counties as now bounded, and in 1820 had only a population of 80,267. 91 Pratt, therefore, could hardly have helped knowing Smith's fame, which was such as at once to have suggested him as the star actor in any scheme of fraud requiring a prophet. In view of Pratt's subsequent connection with the Wells family, 92 who were Smith's neighbors and friends, 93 it is more than probable that he knew the Smiths personally in or prior to 1826, although, of course, they would carefully guard the fact of such acquaintance from publicity as a most important secret.
but may reasonably be inferred from an address delivered by Parley P. Pratt in 1843 or '4. In this discourse Pratt tells of an occurrence which transpired on his way to his future Ohio home, which occurrence furnishes the key to his first connection with Mormonism. On his way he stopped at a humble cottage, the name of whose occupant he carefully fails to give. Here, while asleep (so he says), "a messenger of a mild and intelligent countenance suddenly stood before me [Pratt], arrayed in robes of dazzling splendor." According to Mormon theology, an angel is but an exalted man. 99 Of course Sidney Rigdon was an exalted man; why not, then, an angel? This angel claimed to hold the keys to the mysteries of this wonderful country, and took Pratt out to exhibit those mysteries to him. Pratt then had portrayed to his mind the whole future of Mormonism; its cities, with inhabitants from all parts of the globe; its temples, with a yet unattained splendor; its present church organization was, with considerable definiteness, outlined; its political ambition to establish a temporal kingdom of God on the ruins of this government was set forth with quite as much definiteness as in the subsequent more publicly uttered, treasonable sermons. 100 I conclude from the exact manner in which this "Angel of the Prairies" foreknew the ambitions, hopes, and future achievements of the Mormon Church and the similar admitted foreknowledge of Rigdon and the subsequently established connection between Rigdon, Pratt, and Smith, that the "Angel of the Prairies" who outlined to Pratt his then contemplated and now executed religious fraud, was none other than Sidney Rigdon himself, and that this fact accounts for Pratt's failure to give the name of his host or the date of his first meeting with Rigdon. 101
son, it seems, knew nothing personally of the contents of the Spaulding manuscript, 102 which fact Rigdon probably well knew through his intimate acquaintance with Lambdin. In September of 1827 the time was, therefore, as ripe as it was ever likely to be for active preparation in the matter of bringing forth the "Book of Mormon," since probably all those having any intimate knowledge of the "Manuscript Found" had conveniently died.
appeared to Joseph Smith and told him where were the golden plates, that is, Spaulding's "Manuscript Found." Sidney Rigdon, for Smith's purposes, was the "exalted man," the "God" who sent this "heavenly messenger," Parley Parker Pratt, just as the Mormon people now look upon Joseph Smith as the "God to this people." 110 Now, watch the sequel, and no doubt can remain.
were acquainted for a considerable time before Mormonism was first heard of." 115
Smith's autobiography, shows that he did not all of his lifetime make his home with his parents, nor live at Manchester during all of the most important period of Mormon incubation. The probabilities are that Smith moved to Pennsylvania at this time, for the very purpose of making it easier for Rigdon and Pratt, who lived in Ohio, to furnish him the much needed help.
town upwards of a hundred miles from Buffalo, and then took leave of her and of the boat.
Mormon sermon at the house of one Burroughs. "My work was now completed, for which I took leave of my wife and the canal boat some two or three weeks before." 122
County] and reading the 'Book,' he became convinced that it was of God." 125
I understand that the Utah Mormon sect, after publishing "Mother Lucy's" book, condemned it as containing errors, but never pointed out any. The "Josephite" sect of Mormons, however, republished it. It still remains that in telling what she pretended to have seen, she told the story as at some time it had been agreed upon. Further, Lucy Smith could not have written the book, bad as it was from a literary point of view. The statement that it was written under the direct supervision of the prophet, I, therefore, consider as literally true. That it was published in 1853 by Orson Pratt and S. W. Richards, who had undoubtedly heard the stories corroborated many times and saw nothing erroneous in the book, is also significant, as is the further fact that it had been read by Saints four years before any errors were discovered.
material." 132 Pratt's wife was taken to the Whitmers, 133 that she might not want while he was away converting Indians and Rigdon. Thus situated, Pratt took leave of his friends "late in October and started on foot." 134 According to his autobiography it was a hundred miles from Buffalo to Newark, ten miles from Newark to Macedon, where lived the Wells family, 135 and twenty-five miles from Palmyra to the Whitmers in Seneca County. 136 The distance from Buffalo to Cleveland is given as two hundred miles; 137 from Cleveland to Kirtland as thirty miles. 138 These distances were no doubt given as they were believed to be according to the roads as then traveled.
guilty conspirators. Therefore it is now represented that Pratt and Rigdon were at first in a state of great antagonism to Mormonism, which it took weeks to overcome. 145 This cannot be, unless Pratt could walk three hundred and seventy miles in less than no time at all.
where he so carefully prepared the people for the reception of his new faith, is designated as the gathering place of the faithful, the promised land of the "Saints."
Some day will be done a work of supererogation in making a critical examination of the absurdities and contradictions upon which rest the claim of divinity. Present space will only allow the completion of that branch of the argument under consideration.
it was shown to have been due solely to typographical error, 150 thus leaving the statement as corrected free from criticism upon this ground. The very spontaneity of this outburst and its surrounding circumstances absolutely preclude every imputation of premeditation, every suspicion of personal interest, and every impeachment based upon an assumed hatred of Mormonism. Further, when we in addition remember that this occurrence was comparatively close to the time when Spaulding read his manuscript to many of those present in this same audience, then this circumstance will rightfully be accorded a very great evidentiary weight.
read the Book of Mormon, and, to my great surprise, I find NEARLY ALL 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 my best 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.
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 pocked, carried it home, and thought no more about 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 when 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.' Since that I have more carefully 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."
Vol. 2 MAY, 1907 No. 3
AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE
LYMAN HORACE WEEKS, Editor
THE ORIGIN OF THE BOOK OF
OUR fourth witness is John N. Miller, who was employed by Spaulding and Lake at Conneaut and boarded at the former's home. Miller says:
Golden Bible. When Spaulding divested his history of its fabulous names by a 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."
Our sixth witness is Oliver Smith, who testifies:
and he thought that in one century from that time it would be believed as much as any other history.
After the publication of the foregoing evidence (1834) "Apostle" Orson Hyde went to Conneaut, evidently to secure impeaching or contradicting testimony. He received so little comfort that not even a public mention of the trip was made by him until 1841, while he was in London. 152
"Spaulding read to his father much of the former's story, and also heard him give an outline of the whole. Mr. Jackson, under date of December 20, 1880, made the following statement to the Washington County (Pa.) Reporter of January 7, 1881: 154
encomiums from church leaders and the church organ. The Mormon people have called Bennett more kinds of a liar, it seems to me, than any man was ever called before. When Mormons are asked just what statement of Bennett's warrants the charge, they usually confess they never read his book. In the light of subsequent history and later church admissions, there is not one of Bennett's innumerable charges of almost unbelievable iniquity which I cannot demonstrate to be substantially true as to the character of the iniquity, if not the special manifestation of it, and do so wholly from the evidence of Mormon church publications. I, therefore, believe what Bennett says, and here quote so much of his testimony as relates to the origin of the Book of Mormon. He says:
complete. The natural inference, of course, is that the greed for gain furnished the dynamics of the scheme, but we must not leave even this fact without direct evidence. Mormons point to the violent death of Smith as a martyrdom, and assume this a sufficient answer to the charge of selfishness. A man who, as was the case with Smith, dies with a six-shooter in his own hand, firing it at his assailants, 156 is in a novel pose for a martyr, and yet we may admit that Smith would not from selfish ends have chosen a career of imposture had he in the beginning been able to foresee his ignominious end.
If ye desire the mysteries of the kingdom, PROVIDE FOR HIM (Smith) FOOD AND RAIMENT and whatsoever he needeth to accomplish the work. 166
attempt to gratify it at the expense of a like number of poverty-stricken, ignorant unfortunates.
in this church, excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun." 185 Similar revelations seem to have been necessary more than once. 186
and forth through the house. The "Prophet Joseph" being absent from Kirtland, Father Smith requested Rigdon to speak. In a tone of excitement Rigdon replied (and who will say it was not spoken as by one having authority?): "The keys of the Kingdom are rent from the church, and there shall be no prayer put up in this house this day." "Oh, no; I hope not," gasped Father Smith. "I tell you they are," rejoined "Elder Rigdon." The brethren stared and turned pale, and the sisters in anguish cried aloud for relief. "I tell you again," said Sidney, with much feeling, "the keys of the Kingdom are taken from you, and you never will have them again UNTIL YOU BUILD ME A NEW HOUSE."
complied with, yet he had to suffer for his folly, for, according to his own account, he was dragged out of bed by the devil three times in one night, by the heels." Mother Lucy Smith doubtingly adds: "Whether this be true or not, one thing is certain. His contrition of soul was as great as a man could well live through." 191 The last sentence shows beyond dispute that Mother Lucy had her doubts about this silly story she has just narrated, and, of course, we are entitled to similar doubts.
When, as here, we are investigating a case dependent upon circumstantial evidence, we must judge the evidence as a whole. No one circumstance out of many connected ones ever established the ultimate fact. The converse of this proposition is equally true. You cannot show the insufficiency of the evidence by demonstrating that any one circumstance, if it stood alone, would be equally consistent with some other theory than the one in support of which it is cited. The evidentiary circumstances must be viewed as a whole, each in the light of its relation to all the rest. Thus viewed, the circumstantial evidence is strong just in proportion as the circumstances related to, and consistent with, the theory advocated are numerous. In the argument under consideration the circumstantial facts are so numerous, and gathered from so many disconnected sources, corroborated by so many admissions from the accused conspirators and their defenders, that it is utterly impossible to believe them all to have come into being as a mere matter of accidental concomitance.
all of whom are disinterested and who in most circumstances of great evidentiary weight are corroborated by authorized church publications, we have established beyond cavil, and I am sure to the satisfaction of all thinking minds untainted by mysticism, and whose vision is unobscured, that the following are thoroughly established facts:
the suddenness of their conversion, all compel a conviction of their participation in a scheme of religious fraud.
Spaulding's existence was contemporaneous with Anti-Masonic riots, and he harbored a sentiment against all secret societies, 196 which has also been carried through into the Book of Mormon.
(Note: remainder of page 229 and all of 230 taken up by endnotes in original text.)
Vol. 3 MAY, 1908 No. 3
AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE
LYMAN HORACE WEEKS, Editor
MORMONISM AND INTOXICANTS.
MORMONISM seems destined to indefinite growth so long as the leaders can find it as profitable in political influence and commercial affluence as it now is, and the crop of dissatisfied mystics produced by orthodoxy continues to increase. As we grow farther from the beginnings of Mormonism the character of its founders and early members will assume growing importance in the minds of controversialists. If there were no other reason, this would be an adequate warrant for making this permanent record.
Vol. 3 JULY, 1908 No. 4
AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE
LYMAN HORACE WEEKS, Editor
MORMONISM AND INTOXICANTS.
Brigham H. Roberts
"Origin of the Book of Mormon"
in: American Hist. Mag. Vol. 3 & 4
(NYC: Americana Society, 1908-09)
Vol. 3 JULY, 1908 No. 4
AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE
LYMAN HORACE WEEKS, Editor
ORIGIN OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.
IT was natural that the series of articles which Mr. Theodore Schroeder has contributed to this magazine upon various phases of Mormonism should excite a considerable interest among readers everywhere, and especially among those who are believers in the religious principles which Mr. Schroeder has unsparingly criticized. The result has been to call forth a defense of Mormonism and many criticisms of Mr. Schroeder and the attitude which he has assumed towards the Mormon Church. These criticisms have come from several sources and in particular they seem to have moved official Mormondom to desire to present the subject from the point of view of that Church.
Vol. 3 SEPTEMBER, 1908 No. 5
AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE
LYMAN HORACE WEEKS, Editor
ORIGIN OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.
WHEN one undertakes at this late day a serious discussion of the Spaulding theory of the origin of The Book of Mormon, he instinctively feels inclined to begin with an apology to his readers. When Pococke inquired of Grotius, where the proof was of that story of the pigeon, trained to pick peas from Mohomet's ear, and pass for an angel dictating the Koran to him; Grotius answered that there was no proof. The statement here is Carlyle's; and the gruff old Scotch philosopher adds in his sour fashion, "It is really time to dismiss all that." 1 So indeed we think of this Spaulding myth in reference to its being the origin of The Book of Mormon.
Union; 2 when that people who accept the Book of Mormon as a divine revelation have established, for an extent of well nigh three thousand miles through the plateau valleys of the Rocky Mountains -- from the province of Alberta, Canada, to the states of Chihuahua and Sonora in the republic of Mexico -- no less than between six and seven hundred settlements, many of them prosperous towns of large manufacturing as well as of large agriculture and trade interests; when that same people have won world-wide renown as superior colonizers, and are eagerly sought for in such enterprises because of their well known sobriety, honesty, frugality and industry; when that same people are quietly building up an educational system including as it does the founding of universities in its principal centers, and academies elsewhere as feeders to the central educational institutions; 3 when those who accept the Book of Mormon as a divine revelation continuously sustain a corps of missionaries, numbering from twelve to eighteen hundred, to carry their message to the world, and these missionaries are at work in nearly all civilized nations and in the islands of the Pacific, meeting their own expenses and manifesting the unselfishness of their faith by their works -- their service for God and fellowman; when the Book of Mormon itself has been accepted in the first three-quarters of a century of its existence by hundreds of thousands of earnest people of average intelligence and certainly of independent character; when the Book of Mormon itself has been translated into and published in at least eleven languages, in a number of which it has run through many editions and the copies published run into hundreds of thousands, and with no abatement of interest yet manifested; when the Book of Mormon is creating not only a people but also a literature, embracing history, poetry and philosophy; when it is inspiring music, painting and sculpture -- when all this has come of the Book of
2 It must not be supposed that the migration of the Mormon people to the Salt Lake and adjacent valleys when that region was Mexican territory, resulted only in the founding of the state of Utah. Indirectly and directly, too, that movement contributed to the settlement of the entire inter-mountain region, and the founding of the states created out of that territory.
3 This refers to the Brigham Young University at Provo, Utah, the Latter-day Saints' University in Salt Lake City, and fifteen Colleges and Academies in other parts of the territory occupied by the Saints in the inter-mountain West. See "Defense of the Faith and the Saints," p. 226.
Mormon, is it not really about time to dismiss all that silly talk of the Spaulding manuscript being stolen by Rigdon, revamped by him and palmed off upon the world by a backwoods's boy as a revelation, and this practiced fraud and deception being the origin of all this that is here enumerated?
What faith men must have in fraud and dishonesty to think it can start and sustain all this! What a lasting victory is accorded to a thing conceived in fraud, brought forth in iniquity, and perpetuated by continuous falsehood! What credulity is required to believe all this! Let no one hereafter, standing in such ranks, dare say that "cheat," is a horse good only for a short race. They must know better than that from the stand they take in this Book of Mormon matter.
JUSTIFICATIONS FOR REPLYING TO MR. SCHROEDER.Two things, yea, three, justify a reply to Mr. Theodore Schroeder's series of articles on "The Origin of the Book of Mormon," published in the September and November numbers of the American Historical Magazine for 1906, and the January and May numbers for 1907.
The first justification is the fact of the high standing of the magazine in which his articles appeared. Published in a periodical of such rank, if unchallenged, they might lead many to believe undeniable the theory there advanced for the origin of the Book of Mormon, and the argument by which said theory is sustained, unanswerable. It has been from just such circumstances as these with reference to articles that appeared in standard works, in histories and encyclopedias, that mormonism suffered so much defamation in the earlier years of its existence. It now stands recorded in the earlier editions of the American Cyclopedia and in the Encyclopedia Britannica that David Whitmer denied his testimony as one of the witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Mormon; and that his two associate witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, had denied their testimony to that book. Being misinformed from these high sources of information, doubtless tens of thousands have been impressed with those untrue
statements. David Whitmer never denied his testimony. In a brochure issued by himself, in 1887, and referring directly to these false statements, he said:
It is recorded in the American Cyclopaedia and the Encyclopaedia Britannica, that I, David Whitmer, have denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Mormon; and that the other two witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, denied their testimony to that Book. I will say once more to all mankind, that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testify to the world, that neither Oliver Cowdery nor Martin Harris ever at any time denied their testimony. They both died re-affirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. 4
People, however, can still quote the above name standard works to prove that these men denied their testimony and were false witnesses. It is to prevent as far as possible the creation of such conditions respecting Mr. Schroeder's articles in the American Historical Magazine that I think it important that they should be answered.
The second thing that justifies an answer to Mr. Schroeder, is the form in which his treatment of the subject is cast. Much in the form would lead one to believe, at first glance, that here we had a really exhaustive treatise of the origin of the Book of Mormon; that every item of obtainable information had been collected, the mass of facts sifted and net results given, instead of a specious plea made for a special theory. This is evidenced in the constant appeal to sources of information in the notes appended to the articles, of which notes there are one hundred and ninety-six. Then there is an occasional halting in the movement of the argument, as if to weigh the evidence, to balance one statement against another as if to get down to bedrock facts, instead of a mere effort to remove some obstruction in the way of the special theory being worked out. All of which is but so much juggling with forms of treatment, -- an effort to win the reader with shows of honest
4 "Address to all Believers In Christ," p. 8. The high character and reputation for truthfulness of David Whitmer is attested in this brochure by all the leading officials and citizens of Richmond, Mo., (not mormons) where he lived for fifty years, pp. 8-10.
argument, to betray him in deeper consequences. Shimmering under all these forms may be seen the arts of the special pleader bent on making out a case. It is the false appearances of exhaustive and fair treatment of the subject that makes it desirable to answer Mr. Schroeder.
The third justification for answering Mr. Schroeder's articles arises out of a suggestion of the gentleman himself, near the close of his articles, namely, that the actors who participated in the origin of the Book of Mormon are all dead, and that "upon the precise question here discussed, no new evidence is likely to be discovered. All the evidence directly affecting either side of the question has been introduced and reviewed." One may pardon the conscious or unconscious self-complacency contained in this suggestion, and even encourage it by saying to the gentleman that we think he is right; that after him there will come no other who will so diligently search for evidence "on the precise question here discussed." For who but him will ever dare to venture to walk by such light as that by which his footsteps have been guided? 5 But with reference to "all the evidence directly affecting either side of the question" having been "introduced and reviewed," I must hold a different opinion. Believing, however, that Mr. Schroeder has collected, presented and, with as much art as it will be found possible to enlist in such a cause, sustained his special view of the Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon, one can but feel that having reached the climax of evidence and argument the case should be considered by those holding an opposite belief.
PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS.One other preliminary word should be said before coming directly to Mr. Schroeder's theory and argument, and that in relation to the authorities on which the gentleman relies for the support of his views. Of course I am not unacquainted with the old controversy concerning the degree of credibility to be allowed to interested witnesses, and also the suspicion that attaches
5 Mr. Schroeder while living in Utah some years ago was proprietor, editor and publisher of Lucifer's Lantern, a ribald infidel periodical as would be inferred from the title as well as from its contents. It is this to which allusion is made in the text.
to witnesses for the miraculous. I have too long sustained in public debate an unpopular cause not to have heard the cry that the witnesses for the truth for which I contended were "interested witness;" notwithstanding those who were my opponents, at the same time accepted Christianity on the testimony of "interested witnesses," and discarded entirely the testimony of unfriendly witnesses, or "interested witnesses" on the opposite side of the case. I trust that the suggestion in this paragraph will indicate the unfairness of discrediting and discarding entirely the testimony of the witnesses for Joseph Smith's account of the origin of the Book of Mormon, on the ground that they are "interested witnesses," and taking for truth the statements of the "interested witnesses" on the other side of the controversy.
I have some acquaintance also with that school of thought which discredits witnesses of the miraculous. I am familiar with the laborious exposition of that theory by the late Professor Huxley in his article on "The Value of Witnesses to the Miraculous;" 6 and also with his controversy on the same subject with Dr. Henry Wace, prebendary of St. Paul's Cathedral, and other Church of England ministers. 7 One could scarcely live in this critical age of ours and be unaware of the existence of the school of thought which undertakes to bar from the court of public debate the testimony of those who are witnesses of things held to "transcend human experience." Such testimony, it is said, suggests "credulity on the one hand and fraud on the other." 8 And still, both in the history of the past and now, witnesses of the so called miraculous are factors to be reckoned with in our world's controversies. It may be that the future will disclose the fact that very much which in the past has been regarded as miraculous, as transcending "all sane human experience," to use a phrase of Mr. Schroeder's, is only such because of human ignorance at the time of a witnessed event, and that miracles only exist for the
6 The Nineteenth Century Review, March, 1889.
7 The Nineteenth Century Review, February, 1889; also March, April, May and June.
8 "A supernatural relation cannot be accepted as such, that it always implies credulity or imposture," Renan's "Life of Jesus," introduction, p. 45.
ignorant. Still I concede that one needs to be upon his guard respecting this class of evidence, for man's love for the marvelous leads him into strange self-deceptions, as also the practice of deception upon others. But while conceding this on the one hand, on the other I desire to call attention to a matter entirely neglected by Mr. Schroeder, namely, the general untrustworthiness of testimony in religious, controversies where those considering themselves orthodox feel called upon to resist what are supposed to be religious innovations. The truth of this is supported by all ecclesiastical history. Even pious men, where the innovations especially contravene particular doctrines or theories of established institutions in which they are interested, often become utterly unreliable as witnesses in matters where their opponents are concerned.
So universally is the fact here pointed out accepted that citations of particular instances are scarcely necessary as proof. But lest others forget the fact, as Mr. Schroeder apparently has forgotten it, let me ask: Is Roman Catholic historical testimony regarded as reliable where facts relating to Protestants and the Protestant movement are concerned? Where does Martin Luther stand if the testimony of Catholic contemporaries or the representations of Catholic historians are to determine his place in history? A treatise upon the "Protest Reformers" and the value of the sixteenth century reformation, based wholly upon "Bossuet's Variation," and other writers of his kind, would not be regarded as of any special value among intelligent people. And Catholics have fared but little better at the hands of Protestants. The testimony of either party against the other is quite generally regarded with suspicion by those who stand aloof from their controversies, while the respective parties to the discussion mutually denounce each other as false witnesses, until "Catholic lie" and "Protestant misrepresentation" are cries and counter-cries that echo and re-echo through all the pages of Catholic and Protestant controversial and historical literature.
But let us look further up the historic stream of sectarian animosity. What of Jesus, the Son of God himself? If the sectarian Jews, his contemporaries, are alone to be the accepted witnesses of his words and actions and character, what would be
the effect of their testimony upon the historic Christ? It would make him base born, a wine bibber, an associate of harlots, publicans and sinners; it would make him an innovator of sacred customs, a desecrator of the temple, a seditious person, a blasphemer. And so well did the sectaries of his day succeed in making themselves believed that the populace of Jerusalem surged through the streets crying "crucify him, crucify him;" and he was condemned by the Sanhedrin to death, from which fate not even a friendly disposed Roman procurator could save him. The sectarian Jews sub-borned witnesses, who either swore falsely against the Christ, or wrongly interpreted his words and actions; and all this in a holy zeal for the preservation of the established order of things among the Jews. After his resurrection the same characters bribed the Roman guard set to watch the sepulcher, put a lie into their mouths, and pledged their influence as a guarantee against punishment from their superior officers for the neglect of duty involved in the falsehood they were bribed to tell. 9 What was Paul's experience with these same sectarian Jews after he became a proselyte to the Christian faith? Briefly told, the same in character as his master's. 10 So well known is the fact of sectarian bitterness; such the zeal of the orthodox for the established faith, that the Emperor Julian, usually called the "Apostate," who both understood and derided the theological disputes of the hostile Christian sects, invited to the palace the leaders of the hostile sects, that he might enjoy the agreeable spectacle of their furious encounters.
The clamor of controversy sometimes provoked the emperor to exclaim, 'Hear me! The Franks have heard me, and the Alemanni;' but he soon discovered that he was now engaged with more obstinate and implacable enemies; and though he exerted the powers of oratory to persuade them to live in concord, or at least in peace, he was perfectly satisfied, before he dismissed them from his presence, that he had nothing to dread from the union of the Christians. 11
9 Matthew xxvi. 59-70; see also xxvi, xxviii.
10 See Acts of the Apostles from Chapters xiii to xxviii, inclusive.
11 "History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," by Edward Gibbon, chap. xxiii.
Such the bitterness of sectarian strife, in which the orthodox party has even been as harsh, as untruthful, as unscrupulous, as resourceful at invention of evil things, as savage and cruel as the heretics have been. Nay, in the sum of such things the preponderance is on their side.
VARIOUS CLASSES OF WITNESSES.In the application of this melancholy fact to the controversy between Christendom and the Mormon Church respecting the origin of the Book of Mormon, let no one charge me with a begging of the question because I am going to insist that the witnesses quoted by Mr. Schroeder are largely unreliable, because of their zeal against an innovation of orthodox christianity. Not so. It is not my purpose to beg the question by use of the historic fact here brought to view. I only ask that it shall be given its proper value in weighing the evidence to be considered. And I lay stress upon it only because it is an element in the evidence adduced by Mr. Schroeder which is taken no account of at all by him.
He gives no weight at all, considers not at all, the evidence of those who have accepted Joseph Smith's account of the origin of the Book of Mormon, but he gives unbounded credence to every statement from the "interested witnesses" on the other side of the question, except, of course, where they are mutually destructive of each other, then he seeks to explain away the inconsistencies and contradictions. A casual remark, a reported saying, or a confused recollection of some obscure person, of whose character we have no knowledge, nor any means of testing it, find their way into some one or other of the hundred anti-Mormon books published, and then are published by anti-Mormon controversialists as Mr. Schroeder. Citations are made of them in marginal notes, and in time they come to be regarded, by the ordinary reader, as of equal authority with any other witness; and thus the unworthy, unreliable and, in some cases, a positively vicious and false witness is given equal -- and sometimes even more than equal -- credence with witnesses of unimpeachable probity, and high character, and who have back
of their testimony perhaps a life time of toil, suffering, sacrifice, and sometimes martyrdom.
Of this class of witnesses let me here add one further remark. I know that Arch-deacon Paley and his "View of the Evidences of Christianity" are scoffed at by a certain school of latter-day critics, as being somewhat out of date and insipid; but there is one statement he makes that I cannot help but believe has great force in it. He holds in his argument that because the early Christians in support of the Christian miracles of which they were eye witnesses, and which so called miracles could not be resolved into delusion or mistake, passed their lives in labors, dangers, and sufferings, voluntarily undertaken, in attestation of the accounts which they delivered, -- therefore, they are worthy of credence. To illustrate the point forcefully, he says:
"If the reformers in the time of Wickliffe, or of Luther; or those of England, in the time of Henry the Eighth, or of Queen Mary; or the founders of our religious sects since, such as were Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Wesley in our own times; had undergone the life of toil and exertion, of danger and sufferings, which we know that many of them did undergo, for a miraculous story; that is to say, if they had founded their public ministry upon the allegation of miracles wrought within their own knowledge, and upon narratives which could not be resolved into delusion or mistake; and if it had appeared, that their conduct really had its origin in these accounts, I should have believed them." 12
I mention this matter here for two reasons; first because many of those witnesses who accepted the Book of Mormon as true, are of the class of witnesses here spoken of by Dr. Paley. They were men who voluntarily passed their lives in labors, dangers, and sufferings, voluntarily undertaken, in attestation of the accounts they delivered to the world of the Book of Mormon's origin; and second, because having conceded that men should cautiously receive the testimony to the so called miraculous, I desire to say that when the events to which the testimony relates are of such character that they may not be resolved into delusion or mistake, and the testimony is backed up by a life of toil, danger and suffering, not only voluntarily undertaken but
12 Paley's "Evidences," proposition II, chap. I.
persisted in -- then, I say their testimony is such that it commands respect and acceptance; and at the very lowest valuation possible to be put upon it, should out-rank in credibility whole hecatombs of such witnesses to the contrary as quoted by Mr. Schroeder -- witnesses imbued, in many cases, with personal hatred of Joseph Smith and the Mormon system, and all influenced by sectarian zeal to uphold the orthodox view of such Christianity as existed at the time and place in which they lived.
But returning now to the point at which the foregoing digression began, let me say it is the promiscuous mingling and equalizing of witnesses; and the failure to take into account the unreliability of witnesses of the orthodox party when resisting and seeking to overthrow what they regard as an innovation upon their most cherished ideas and institutions, that I charge against Mr. Schroeder's treatment of the origin of the Book of Mormon. The witnesses must be weighed as well as counted in this controversy; and the liability recognized of the anti-Mormon witnesses, in the supposed interests of orthodoxy, resorting to the invention and promulgation of falsehood.
CONFLICTING THEORIES OF ORIGIN.It must not be supposed by the reader of Mr. Schroeder's articles that his theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon is the only anti-Mormon theory of its origin advanced. Of course Mr. Schroeder does not claim that it is, but points out quite the contrary in his first article. Why the matter is referred to in these preliminary remarks, is because I want to assure my readers that we "mormons" get considerable amusement out of conflicting theories advanced to account for the origin of our Book of Mormon. The necessity for a counter-theory for the origin of the book, other than that advanced by Joseph Smith was early recognized. Christendom felt that Joseph Smith's story of the book's origin must be overthrown, else what would come of this new revelation, this new dispensation of God's word? Joseph Smith's account of the origin of the book was a direct challenge to the teachings of modern Christendom that revelation had ceased; that the awful voice of prophecy would
no more be heard; that the volume of scripture was completed and forever closed, and that the Bible was the only volume of scripture. Hence Christendom must find some other origin for this book than that given by Joseph Smith.
The first to respond to this immediately "felt want" of Christendom was Alexander Campbell, founder of the sect of the Disciples. He assigned the book's origin to Joseph Smith point blank, and charged ignorance and conscious fraud upon its author. 13
Next came the "Spaulding Theory" of origin which Campbell accepted in place of his own, and of which more later. Then came Miss Dougal's theory of the prophet's self-delusion, "by the automatic freaks of a vigorous but undisciplined brain, and yielding to these, he became confirmed in the hysterical temperament which always adds to delusion self-deception, and to self-deception half conscious fraud." 14 Next came Mr. I. Woodbridge Riley's theory (1902) of pure hallucination honestly mistaken for inspired visions "with partly conscious and partly unconscious hypnotic powers over others."
Mr. Schroeder, however, will have none of these theories, but turns back to the theory of the Spaulding manuscript origin. To him "the conclusions" of Mr. Riley, because so many material considerations were overlooked by that author, are very unsatisfactory, though admittedly Mr. Riley's effort is the best "along this line." 15 On his part Mr. Riley, speaking of previous theories, especially including the Spaulding theory, says:
In spite of a continuous stream of conjectural literature, it is as yet impossible to pick out any special document as an original source of the Book of Mormon. In particular the commonly accepted Spaulding theory is insoluble from external evidence and disproved by internal evidence. Joseph Smith's record of the Indians 'is a product indigenous to the New York wilderness,'
13 Campbell's critique on the Book of Mormon, appeared in the Millennial Harbinger, vol. II, 1831, under the title "Mormonites." The criticism is exhaustive and bitter. It is, in fact, a fine example of the bitterness of religious controversialists, in defense of orthodox views.
14 "The Mormon Prophet," by Lily Dougal. New York, Appleton & Co., 1899. My quotation is from the preface, p. vii.
15 See Mr. Schroeder's note, 2.
and the authentic work of its author and proprietor. Outwardly, it reflects the local color of Palmyra and Manchester, inwardly, its complex of thought is a replica of Smith's muddled brain. This monument of misplaced energy was possible to the impressionable youth constituted and circumstanced as he was. 16
Mr. Riley's phrase "conjectural literature" is good. It admirably describes the Spaulding theory literature at which it is particularly aimed. That theory being "insoluble from external evidence," is also good; but "disproved by internal evidence," is better. I shall not forget that either, later on. But if these variant theorizers can't convert each other, how can they hope to convert us Mormons? "When rogues fall out, honest men" -- but there, the proverb is somewhat trite and I do not wish to be offensive. But let the merry disagreement of anti-Mormon theorizers go on! Meanwhile new translations of the Book of Mormon multiply, new editions are struck off, and more people are made acquainted with its contents; the Church to which it may be said to have given existence, enlarges her borders and strengthens her stakes. She is gaining a victory over her traducers, and winning her place in the world's history and in the world's religious thought.
MR. SCHROEDER'S STATMENT OF HIS CASE.These preliminary remarks ended, I proceed now with the consideration of Mr. Schroeder's evidence and argument. Mr. Schroeder states the "case" he proposes to prove, item by item, as follows:
It will be shown that Solomon Spaulding was much interested in American antiquities, that he wrote a novel entitled the "Manuscript Found," in which he attempted to account for the existence of the American Indian by giving him an Israelitish origin;
16 "The Founder of Mormonism," 1902. This is a psychological study of Joseph Smith, the prophet. "The aim of this work is to examine Joseph Smith's character and achievements from the standpoint of recent psychology. Sectarians and phrenologists, spiritualists and mesmerists have variously interpreted his more or less abnormal performances -- it remains for the psychologist to have a try at them." The quotation of the text is from the Preface. A review of Mr. Riley's book by the present writer is found in "Defense of the Faith and the Saints," pp. 41-55.
That the first incomplete outline of this story, with many features peculiar to itself and the Book of Mormon, is now in the library of Oberlin college, and that while the story as rewritten was in the hands of a prospective publisher, it was stolen from the office under circumstances which caused Sidney Rigdon, of early Mormon fame, to be suspected as a thief;
That later Rigdon, on two occasions, exhibited a similar manuscript which in one instance he declared had been written by Spaulding and left with a printer for publication. "It will be shown further than Rigdon had opportunity to steal the manuscript and that he foreknew the forthcoming and the contents of the Book of Mormon;
That through Parley P. Pratt, later one of the first Mormon apostles, a plain and certain connection is traced between Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith and that they were friends between 1827 and 1830.
To all this will be added very conclusive evidence of the identity of the distinguished features of Spaulding's "Manuscript Found," and the Book of Mormon.
These facts, coupled with Smith's admitted intellectual incapacity for producing the book unaided, will close the argument upon this branch of the question, and it is hoped will convince all not in the meshes of Mormonism that the Book of Mormon is a plagiarism. 17
THE FACTS OF THE SPAULDING MANUSCRIPT.The facts which may be conceded in Mr. Schroeder's recital of evidences, and the claims generally made in relation to Solomon Spaulding and his precious manuscript, are: that Spaulding was born 1761, in Connecticut; that he graduated from Portsmouth in 1785; that he graduated in theology in 1787, and became an obscure preacher; that he made his residence in New Salem, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, now called Conneaut, about 1808 or 1809; that in the region about Salem were certain mounds and ruins of forts and other fortifications, relics of a supposedly pre-historic civilization; that during Spaulding's residence at Conneaut he wrote a story in some way connected with the ancient inhabitants of America; that this story feigned to be a translation from a Latin manuscript which Spaulding pretended
17 I have taken the liberty of throwing the several propositions into separate paragraphs.
to have found in a cave in the vicinity of Conneaut, hence the title that came to attach to it, "Manuscript Found;" that about 1812 Spaulding moved to Pittsburg where he resided some two years; that while at Pittsburg there may have been something said about publishing this story, but just what is uncertain, and the story was never published; that in 1814 Spaulding removed to Amity, Washington county, Penn.; that in 1816 Spaulding died.
That after the death of Spaulding his wife and daughter at once removed to a home of Mrs. Spaulding's brother, a Mr. William Sabine, in Onondago Valley, Onondago Co., N. Y., taking with them the "Manuscript Found" with other Spaulding papers in an old trunk; 18 that Mrs. Spaulding next moved to the home of her parents in Pomfret, Conn., but leaving her daughter with the old trunk and its papers, including "Manuscript Found," at Sabine's; 19 that in 1820 Mrs. Spaulding married a Mr. Davidson of Hartwicks, a village near Cooperstown, N. Y., and sent for the things she had left at the home of her brother in Onondago; that said things were sent to her, including the old trunk and its papers which reached her at Hartwicks in safety; 20 that Mr. Spaulding's daughter, named Matilda, married Dr. A. McKinstry of Monson, Hampden Co., Mass., in 1828 and went to Monson, Mass., to reside; that soon afterwards Mrs. Davidson (formerly the wife of Spaulding) came to live with her daughter in Monson, leaving the old trunk and its papers in Hartwicks in care of Mr. Jerome Clark; that Mrs. Davidson continued to live with her daughter up to the time of her death, in 1844; 21
That while these former Spauldings were living in Monson, in 1834, one Hurlburt came to them representing that he had been sent by a committee to procure the "Manuscript Found" written by Solomon Spaulding for the purpose of comparing it with the "Mormon bible;" 22 that he represented that he had
18 Sworn statement of Mrs. Matilda McKinstry, the daughter of Solomon Spaulding, Scribner's Magazine, August, 1880.
20 Ibid. The language of Mrs. McKinstry is, "I remember that the old trunk with its contents reached her (Mrs. Davidson) in safety."
22 "History of the Church, vol. II, pp. 2, 3, 47, 49, and note. Also Mrs. McKinstry's affidavit.
been a convert to the Mormon faith but had given it up and through the Spaulding manuscript wished to expose its wickedness; 23 that he presented a letter from William H. Sabine, brother of the former Mrs. Spaulding, requesting her to loan the "Manuscript Found," written by her former husband, to Hurlburt, representing that he (Sabine) was desirous "to up-root this Mormon fraud;" 24 that Mrs. Davidson reluctantly consented to the solicitations of her brother and Hurlburt and gave the latter a note to Jerome Clark, instructing Mr. Clark to open the trunk and deliver the manuscript to Hurlburt; that Hurlburt went to Hartwicks, presented his order to Mr. Clark and got the Manuscript; that Hurlburt got but one manuscript; 25 that this Manuscript Hurlburt delivered to E. D. Howe, then having in course of preparation his anti-Mormon book "Mormonism Unveiled;" 26 that Howe kept said manuscript until after "Mormonism Unveiled" was published, then it passed out of sight and he supposed it to have been burned; 27 that really, however, it was unwittingly conveyed by Howe to one L. L. Rice who purchased Howe's Painesville Telegraph and business in 1834, or 1840; the transfer of the printing department being accompanied with a collection of books and manuscripts, Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" going over with the rest; 28
That some years afterwards Mr. Rice closed up his business affairs in Painesville, Ohio, and made his home in Honolulu, taking with him his books, papers, etc.; 29 that in 1884 he was visited by James H. Fairchild, president of Oberlin College, Ohio; that President Fairchild, while at the residence of Rice suggested that a look through his (Mr. Rice's) papers might discover some anti-slavery documents of importance. (Mr. Rice while editor and proprietor of the Painesville Telegraph having
25 "New Light on Mormonism," p. 260 -- Hurlburt's letter.
26 Statement of D. P. Hurlburt in a letter, dated at Gibsonburg, Ohio, August 19, 1870, "New Light on Mormonism," p. 260.
27 Statement of Hurlburt, "New Light On Mormonism," p. 260; also statement E. D. Howe, in a letter to Hurlburt, August 7, 1880, "New Light on Mormonism," p. 259.
28 See "The Manuscript Found," Rice's verbatim et literatim copy, printed by the Deseret News, 1886, preface.
been especially interested in the question of slavery); that in his search Mr. Rice found a package marked in pencil on the outside, "Manuscript Story-Conneaut Creek;" that on the manuscript was endorsed the following:
The Writings of Solomon Spaulding Proved by Aron Wright Oliver Smith John Miller and others. The testimonies of the above gentlemen are now in my possession.That this manuscript, unquestionably Spaulding's, and the one known as "Manuscript Found," was deposited by Mr. Rice with Oberlin College, Ohio, where it now is preserved; that Mr. L. L. Rice himself made a verbatim et literatim manuscript copy of this paper, including all erasures, alterations, errors, etc., and from this copy the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published "Manuscript Found" in 1886; 31 that it makes a pamphlet of one hundred and twelve pages of printed matter, of about three hundred and fifty words to the page; that in nothing does it resemble the Book of Mormon -- "there seems to be no name or incident common to the two," says President Fairchild, "the solemn style of the Book of Mormon, in imitation of the English Scriptures, does not appear in the Manuscript." 32
The foregoing recital represents the facts concerning Spaulding's "Manuscript Found." The claim that the manuscript, as above traced, was but a first rough sketch of a story which Spaulding abandoned, and that he wrote a second story dealing with matters of more ancient date; that it was written in imitation
30 For the above see Bibliotheca Sacra, published in Oberlin, Ohio, January Number, 1885. Also "The Manuscript Found," Deseret News print, p. 113.
31 Preface, "The Manuscript Found," Deseret News print, Preface.
32 Letter of President Fairchild, Bibliotheca Sacra, January, 1885. Mr. Schroeder, by the way, seems much disturbed over the very frank statement of President Fairchild, published in 1885, to the effect that the theory of the "the origin of the Book of Mormon in the traditional manuscript of Solomon Spaulding will probably have to be relinquished." * * * "Mr. Rice, myself, and others compared it with the Book of Mormon, and could detect no resemblances between the two in general or detail. Some other explanation of the origin of the Book of Mormon must be found, if an explanation is required." This is said, of course, of the manuscript now at Oberlin. It is said of the only manuscript of Solomon Spaulding's treating on ancient America, that any one knows anything about.
of scriptural style, and aligned an Israelitish origin for his colony that came from Jerusalem to America; that in this second story many names were used that are also found in the Book of Mormon, such as Lehi, Nephi, Laman, Zarahemla, etc,; that there is a close structural resemblance between the feigned historical incidents in Spaulding's second story and the Book of Mormon; that this second Spaulding story was deposited with printers at Pittsburg for publication; that while there Sidney Rigdon either stole it and never returned it (Mr. Schroeder's theory), or else that Rigdon borrowed it, copied it and returned the original to the printer; that there were several Spaulding manuscripts, and that Sidney Rigdon stole the one that was finally prepared for the press by Spaulding, and perhaps Joseph Smith stole one of the unfinished Spaulding manuscripts, (Mr. Clark Branden's theory); 33 that this manuscript, plus the religious matter of the Book of Mormon, added by Sidney Rigdon, became the foundation of the Book of Mormon; that Sidney Rigdon either directly or else indirectly through Parley P. Pratt acted as intermediary, and collaborated with Joseph Smith in the production of the Book of Mormon, -- all this, upon which the conclusions of Mr. Schroeder and others who attempted to sustain the Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon depends, is but a conglomerate of wicked invention by embittered sectaries fighting against innovation of their orthodoxy; of bitter, personal spite against Joseph Smith and his work; of mere assumption and inference bottomed on flimsiest premises, under which lies a mass of contradictions and conflicting suppositions which discredit the whole theory, and make any serious support of it, however learned in form and exhaustive in appearance it may be, absolutely contemptible; nay, the more learned and exhaustive the treatment appears to be, the more absolute must become the contempt.
THE TASK OF THE PRESENT WRITER.To prove the things here alleged becomes now the task of the present writer.
33 "Braden-Kelly Debate," pp. 73, 77.
First then as to the matter of Spaulding having rewritten his story, "Manuscript Found;" in which, it is said, he changed the character of it by going further back with his dates, "and writing in the old scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient." Also he must have further changed the character of history, giving the colony he brought to America an Israelite instead of a Roman origin, giving his characters the names of Lehi, Nephi, Laman, Moroni, etc.; instead of Sambol, Hambock, Labanko, Moonrod, Ulipoon, etc.; and the names of the people from Sciotans and Kentucks, to Nephites and Lamanites! This second manuscript and these changes are necessary both to the evidence and the argument of Mr. Schroeder -- necessary to his whole theory; without the existence of this second manuscript and these changes that differentiate it from the manuscript at Oberlin, his "case" collapses. It is conceded by Mr. Schroeder and all through whose hands it has passed, including Mr. Fairchild, president of the Oberlin College, Ohio, and Mr. Rice among whose papers the manuscript now at Oberlin was found, that this Oberlin manuscript, which beyond any doubt Spaulding wrote, could not have been the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon; 34 therefore a second Spaulding manuscript altogether different from this half ribald, silly "Manuscript Found" story must be had; and its mythical existence was brought about in the following manner:
THE ENEMIES OF THE PROPHET.Living in Kirtland and vicinity, and throughout northeastern Ohio, where the headquarters of the church were established in 1831-7, there were many and very bitter enemies of the prophet Joseph and Sidney Rigdon; and also strong antagonism towards the whole Mormon Church, since its doctrines were regarded as menace to orthodox opinions. Among these enemies of the prophet and the church none perhaps were more
34 President Fairchild I have already quoted. Mr. Rice says: "I should as soon think the Book of Revelation was written by the author of Don Quixote, as that the writer of this manuscript (the Spaulding Oberlin manuscript) was the author of the Book of Mormon." From a letter of Mr. L. L. Rice to Mr. Joseph Smith, president of the Reorganized Church -- "History Church of Jesus Christ," vol IV, pp. 471-3.
bitter than "Dr." Philastus Hurlburt, E. D. Howe, Adamson Bentley, Onis Clapp (usually called Deacon Clapp) and his two sons, Thomas J. and Mathew S. Clapp, both of whom were Campbellite preachers; Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott, both prominent in founding the sect of the Disciples; Thomas Campbell, Dr. John Storrs, of Holliston, Mass., Dr. Austin, also of Massachusetts, all sectarian ministers, and many others. Less than fifty miles away from Kirtland, then the centre of mormon propaganda, was Conneaut, the former home of Solomon Spaulding, and on the direct line of travel between the branches of the church in Ohio and those in the state of New York and Canada.
It is said, but I shall develop a somewhat different account of the origin of the Spaulding theory near the close of these articles than is here set down, that "a woman preacher" 35 of the Mormon Church, holding a public meeting at Conneaut, read some passages from the Book of Mormon which the old settlers of the vicinity, and former neighbors of Solomon Spaulding, recognized as very nearly identical with the manuscript story he had read to them some twenty-two or three years before; and as he had feigned to derive this story from a certain manuscript which he pretended to have found in a stone box in a cave, which he afterwards translated into English, there was thought to be sufficient similarity between these circumstances and the Book of Mormon to warrant the charge that the latter was a plagiarism of Spaulding's manuscript. This conclusion led to the sending of "Dr. Philastus Hurlburt to the widow of Spaulding to obtain his manuscript and incidently to visit the former home of the Smiths' for the purpose of obtaining affidavits respecting their character, and more especially respecting the character of Joseph Smith the Prophet." 36Indeed, the whole purpose of the conspirators was to overthrow mormonism -- "to
35 See "Mrs Davidson's statement," first published in the Boston Recorder, May, 1839; also Smucker's "History of the Mormons," p. 41, et seq. It is claimed that "woman preacher," was merely a "typographical error," of which more in a later note, and should read "Mormon preacher."
36 These are the affidavits collected by Hurlburt and delivered to Howe for his book "Mormonism Unveiled," chapter xvii; see also "Origin of the Spaulding Story," by B. Winchester, (1840) p. 10.
up-root this Mormon fraud." 37 Hurlburt presented himself at the home of the former wife and daughter of Spaulding, who were then living in Monson, Mass. He obtained an order from the former Mrs. Spaulding upon those with whom she had left the trunk containing the papers of her late husband, directing them to deliver to Hurlburt the "Manuscript Found." Hurlburt obtained the manuscript and returned to those who sent him upon this mission, chief among whom was E. D. Howe of Painesville, Ohio, the editor of the Painesville Telegraph. To Mr. Howe, Hurlburt delivered the "Manuscript Found," obtained by him from the Spaulding papers; but lo! when it came to be examined by the conspirators, it was a very disappointing document. 38 Howe himself describes it as follows:
This is a romance, purporting to have been translated from the Latin, found in 24 rolls of parchment in a cave, on the banks of Conneaut Creek, but written in modern style, and giving a fabulous account of a ship's being driven upon the American coast, while proceeding from Rome to Britain, a short time previous to the Christian era, this country then being inhabited by indians. 39
This description completely identifies this manuscript delivered by Hurlburt to Howe with the one afterwards found in the papers of Mr. L. L. Rice, and now at Oberlin College. "This old manuscript," says Mr. Howe, "has been shown to several of the foreign witnesses, who recognize it as Spaulding's." The witnesses here alluded to are the old neighbors of Spaulding who testify as to the existence of Spaulding's "Manuscript Found," and of its similarity to the Book of Mormon; and they are eight of Mr. Schroeder's twelve witnesses on whom he relies to prove the same allegement. Right here we reach the crucial point in the Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon; and now let us present it in one view.
A number of people living at Conneaut on hearing the Book of Mormon read in a public meeting, and some of them afterwards
37 Statement of Mrs. McKinstry, daughter of Solomon Spaulding, Scribner's Magazine, August 1880.
38 "New Light on Mormonism," -- statement of Hurlburt, pp. 245, & 260.
39 Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 288.
reading it for themselves, claim a similarity to exist between it and a manuscript which Solomon Spaulding read to them some twenty-two or twenty-three years before. Spaulding's manuscript is unearthed -- "Manuscript Found" -- but it bears no resemblance to the Book of Mormon! There is "no resemblance between the two," to use the language of President Fairchild, of Oberlin College. "There seems to be no name or incident," he continues, "common to the two." 40 Now what will the conspirators do? Search further in the hope of finding another manuscript that may have been the origin of the Book of Mormon, if this one is not? It must be admitted that having gone so far in an effort "to up-root this Mormon fraud" it was worth their while to go still further. The "fraud" was making converts throughout the very region where the conspirators lived; some of their loved ones, members of the family of the conspirators, were "victims" of the "delusion." They will not rest the case here, then. They will look further. The emissary just returned, Hurlburt, or some other will be sent back to make further inquiry and research. The fate of millions may depend upon it. But did the conspirators against mormonism take this course? No. Instead of that they resort to subterfuge. Listen: Howe, referring to the manuscript delivered to him by Hurlburt, writes:
This old manuscript has been shown to several of the foregoing witnesses, who recognize it as Spaulding's, he having told them that he had altered his first plan of writing, by going farther back with dates, and writing in the old scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient. They say that it bears no resemblance to the 'Manuscript Found.' 41
That statement bears all the earmarks of an "afterthought," a silly invention. There is not a single scrap of evidence in all that has been written upon the subject, that goes beyond the date of Hurlburt's delivery of "Manuscript Found," to E. D. Howe, to the effect that Spaulding had written more than one paper that purported to deal with a found manuscript, or the
40 Letter of President Fairchild, Bibliotheca Sacra, January, 1885.
41 Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 288.
ancient inhabitants of America. The "Frogs of Wyndham" and infidel disquisitions were more in his line. 42 Why was it that the neighbors of Spaulding about Conneaut did not say before this manuscript was brought to light by Howe, Hurlburt, et al, that Spaulding had written several manuscripts on the subject of the ancient inhabitants of America; one that told of a Roman colony that came to America and settled in the Ohio valley, the story of their adventures being "written in modern style;" but that this story he abandoned and wrote another, going farther back with his dates and assigning to the people an Israelitish origin and writing in the old scripture style? How valuable such evidence, ante-dating Hurlburt's coming to Conneaut with Spaulding's manuscript, would be! But it does not exist.
There was enough in the fact that Solomon Spaulding had written a story connected in some way with a manuscript which he feigned to have found in a stone box in a cave; which he further feigned to have translated into English; and which story had something to do with a colony coming in ancient times from the Old World to the New; and that there were great and sanguinary wars in the story--to suggest a similarity with the Book of Mormon. With so much as a basis it will go hard with human invention, under the circumstances, if out of the dim recollections, of some twenty-two or twenty-three years ago, it cannot "remember" that there was a similarity and even identity of names between those of Spaulding's Manuscript and those of the Book of Mormon. Especially since the Book of Mormon is now in their hands, and they have either read it, or heard it read and have the names of Lehi, Nephi, Moroni, Zarahemla, and some phrases such as "and it came to pass," etc., with which to refresh their "memories!"
And when they have Spaulding's found manuscript, or "Manuscript Found" placed in their hands by Hurlburt, and have identified it as Spaulding's and none of these things are true respecting it, that is, there is "no resemblance between the two, in general or in detail; * * * * * no name or incident common to the two," then it will again go hard with human invention
42 See Mrs. McKinstry's statement, Scribner's Magazine, August, 1880. Also Deseret News print of "Manuscript Found," pp. 114, 115, where the infidel opinions of Mr. Spaulding are expressed.
if it cannot, under the circumstance, "remember" that this manuscript so thrust into their hands is merely but the rough draft of the real "Manuscript Found;" that this story, in fact was abandoned and Mr. Spaulding informed them that he had recast his whole scheme; 43 and that he wrote into this second story the names and historical incidents now found in the Book of Mormon; that no one ever believed that this first effort of Spaulding's the Manuscript now at Oberlin College, was the foundation of the Book of Mormon. Mr. Schroeder himself says that "from the beginning it was asserted that this manuscript, now at Oberlin, was not the one from which the Book of Mormon was alleged to have been plagiarized." 44 But from what "beginning" was it so asserted? Well, not previous to the bringing to light of the Oberlin manuscript by Hurlburt; but from the time that this manuscript,--the only one we have any real knowledge of Spaulding ever having written on the subject of the ancient inhabitants of America -- disappointed the hopes of the conspirators against Mormonism. That is the only "beginning" from which it has been asserted that the manuscript now at Oberlin was not the one from which the Book of Mormon was alleged to have been plagiarized. The foregoing boldly charges dishonesty, fraudulent invention, and conscious deception upon those who originated this Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon; and I realize that it is incumbent upon me to set forth substantial reasons for such allegations, or else I must bear the odium of making false, or at the very least, unproved charges. Let us then consider, if not all, at least the leading characters of this conspiracy against the Mormon Church, for it will be worth our while.
"DR." PHILASTUS HURLBURT.We start with "Dr." Philastus Hurlburt. He was not a "Doctor" by profession, but being a seventh son, his parents, following the old folk-lore custom, called him "Doctor." He
43 Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 288.
44 American Historical Magazine, vol. 1, No. 5, p. 385.
was formerly a member of the Methodist Church from which he was excluded for immoralities. He appeared in Kirtland in 1833 and began an investigation of Mormonism, and finally claimed to be satisfied of its truth. Joseph E. Johnson, residing at Kirtland at the time, and at whose mother's home Hurlburt boarded for about one year, describes him as "a man of fine physique, very pompous, good looking, very ambitious, with some energy, though of poor education." 45 Sometime after he joined the church he was brought before a conference of high-priests in Kirtland and charged with unchristian-like conduct with women, while on a mission to the eastern states. His commission as an elder was taken from him and he was excommunicated. Being dissatisfied with the result of this trial he appealed his case to the high council at Kirtland, and a hearing was granted him. He confessed his sin before this council and was forgiven; but a few days after this action, he boasted that he had deceived the council in his confession, "and Joseph Smith's God," and this led to his final excommunication. 46
After his excommunication "Dr." Hurlburt became very bitter against the church, and threatened the prophet's life. He was finally arraigned before the court at Chardon, for this offense and placed under bonds to the amount of two hundred dollars "to keep the peace, and, be of good behavior to the citizens of the state of Ohio generally, and to Joseph Smith, Jun., in particular, for the period of six months." He was also required to pay the costs of the prosecution which amounted to one hundred and twelve dollars. 47 When it is remembered how great the excitement was at this time in north-eastern Ohio, respecting Mormonism, how numerous and how bitter were Joseph Smith's enemies, this decision of Judge M. Birchard is important in showing how violent and vicious must have been the character of "Dr." Hurlburt. Yet he becomes the special emissary of the conspirators of north-eastern Ohio, against Mormonism. He is commissioned to secure Spaulding's manuscript
45 Deseret Evening News, December 28, 1880; also "History of the Church," vol. I, p. 355, note. Also Gregg's "Prophet of Palmyra," pp. 427-430.
46 "History of the Church," vol. I, pp. 354-5 and note.
47 "History of the Church," vol. II, pp. 47-49 and notes.
and gather information in New York concerning the character of Joseph Smith, 48 the man whom he so bitterly hates, and whose life he had threatened. And the world is asked to form its opinion of Joseph Smith from the alleged information procured in New York by this man, and published in Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," in the form of affidavits!
Even some who are parties to the Spaulding theory distrusted Hurlburt. Mrs. Davidson, formerly Spaulding's wife, "did not like his appearance, and mistrusted his motives," and it was only because he presented a letter from her brother, William H. Sabine, urging her to loan her former husband's manuscript story to Hurlburt, that she finally, but reluctantly, consented for him to have the paper. 49 Mrs. Ellen Dickinson, grand-niece of Solomon Spaulding, and author of "New Light on Mormonism," charges him with having betrayed his fellow conspirators in Ohio, by securing the "real" "Manuscript Found" and turning it over to the Mormons for a price, and that they destroyed it. 50 Clark Braden in his debate on the Book of Mormon with E. L. Kelly, makes the same charge, and says that Hurlburt got $400.00 for his treachery and boasted of it. 51
Mr. E. D. Howe, author of the first anti-Mormon book of any very great pretention or general interest -- and of which Mr. Schroeder is so eulogistic, speaking of it as "the most important single collection of original evidence ever made upon the subject" -- was the editor of the Painesville Telegraph, and especially bitter towards the Mormons and Mormonism, because his own wife and sister had joined the Mormon Church, at which he was greatly incensed. 52
48 "Origin of the Spaulding Story," by B. Winchester, Philadelphia, (1840) p. 10, "Mormonism Unveiled," chapter xvii. These affidavits gathered up by Hurlburt are quoted by nearly every anti-mormon writer since 1834 until now, the year of grace, 1908; all forgetful of the fact that no matter how many mirrors are brought into a room where a farthing rush light is burning, they do not increase the light burning there, but merely reflect it. It is safe to say that since Howe's publication of "Mormonism Unveiled," in 1834, little or nothing has been added to the stock of "information," from the anti-Mormon side of the controversy.
49 Mrs. McKinstry's statement, Scribner's Magazine, August 1880.
50 "New Light on Mormonism," pp. 62-71.
51 "Braden-Kelly Debate," p. 96. Braden relies upon the statement of Rev. John A. Clark, D. D., in "Gleanings by the Way," p. 265.
52 "Braden-Kelly Debate," pp. 69, 81. See also the Advertisement of Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," -- which precedes the Introduction. Also the Introduction of the same work, for manifestation of bitterness.
REV. ADAMSON BENTLEY ET. AL.Adamson Bentley was a Campbellite preacher, also, a brother-in-law to Sidney Rigdon, having married Rigdon's wife's sister. It appears that the parents of Mrs. Rigdon had settled upon her, or expressed intention of doing so, some considerable property; but the Rev. Bentley, by his influences with the Brooke family, diverted the inheritance designed for Mrs. Rigdon to his own wife; 53 so that in addition to the bitterness which ever attends on sectarian controversies, there must be added in the case of Mr. Bentley the bitterness of family feud; and if the claim of Sidney Rigdon be true, viz., that he was the injured party, in this controversy, there would be intensity of bitterness on the part of Bentley, since it is strangely true that men may forgive those who injure them, but they never forgive the innocence of those whom they wilfully injure. The Reverend Bentley was one of the bitterest of anti-Mormons and a warm supporter and advocate of the Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon. 54 Of Mr. Alexander Campbell, Dr. Storrs and Dr. Austin we shall have occasion to speak later, when considering certain evidence Mr. Schroeder introduces from them. The point now contended for respecting these men who stand as sponsors for the Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon, is simply this, that being ardent sectarian priests zealous for their particular brand of orthodoxy, which Mormonism opposed as false doctrine; 55 and adding to this cause of bitterness the further fact that in some instances these men felt the sense of personal grievance against Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church -- renders them incompetent to be reliable witnesses on the questions at issue. All history, and the well known facts respecting human nature, warrant the conclusion that under such circumstances sectaries in support of their orthodoxy, and by way of reprisal for wrongs, real or imaginary,
53 Messenger and Advocate, p. 334-5. Also Evening and Morning Star, 301 [sic p. 151].
54 See Millennial Harbinger, for 1844, p. 38, et seq. Also "Braden-Kelly Debate," pp. 124-5.
55 "Pearl of Great Price," "Writings of Joseph," p. 85, (edition of 1902); also "History of the Church," vol I, pp. 5, 6. For an exposition and defense of this position see the present writer's "Defense of the Faith and the Saints," p. 26-27 and note.
will stoop to invention of adverse testimony; to misrepresentation; to the creation of a case, or a hurtful theory; will distort facts, in a word will bear false witness. Such false or incompetent witnesses I declare, those parties to be on whom Mr. Schroeder relies for the support of his case.
Let us take first this group of Conneaut witnesses, eight of them, used by Hurlburt, Howe, Bentley, et al, and chiefly relied upon by Mr. Schroeder as supplying the "clinching" 56a evidence for the plagiarism of Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" by the author or authors of the Book of Mormon. They are the most important witnesses on the side of the Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon; yet, by the application of the principle that recognizes the untrustworthiness of witnesses interested in opposing religious innovation; that recognizes the zeal of witnesses interested in supporting orthodoxy; that recognizes the bitterness which characterizes sectarian strife; as also the necessary vagueness of the state of mind of these witnesses in respect of those things of which they testify; as also by the consideration of many other things that will bear upon their statements -- for the evidence and argument is to be cumulative -- I hope to prove quite conclusively that these witnesses are incompetent, and their statements untrue.
56a See heading in American Historical Magazine, vol. 2, No. 1, p. 70, et seq.
(To be Continued).
Vol. 3 NOVEMBER, 1908 No. 6
AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE
LYMAN HORACE WEEKS, Editor
ORIGIN OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.
Not one of this group of eight witnesses whose testimony Howe publishes says one word about a "second manuscript" on the subject of ancient America. The only witnesses of the group who say anything at all about any other manuscripts by Spaulding are John M. Miller, Aaron Wright, and Artemas Cunningham. The first says, in speaking of Spaulding, "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." 56b The second says, "Spaulding had many other manuscripts, which I expect to see when Smith translates his other plate." 57 The third simply
56b Howes's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 283.
57 Ibid, p. 284.
uses the word "manuscript" in the plural when referring to the writings of Spaulding, thus; "Before showing me 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 the country, and as it purported to have been a record buried in the earth or a cave, he had adopted the ancient style of writing. He then presented his manuscript, when we sat down and spent a good share of the night in reading them." 58 It is quite clear that this witness really refers to but one manuscript, though he uses the plural form of the word; leaving only two of this group who refer to more than one manuscript of Spaulding's, and neither of these claim that the other manuscript dealt with subjects relating to ancient America, unless the sneering remark of Aaron Wright to the effect that he expected to see more of Spaulding's manuscripts "when Smith translates his other plate," can be tortured into such a reference.
There is no word then in the signed statement of these witnesses making reference either to a second manuscript on the subject of the ancient people of America, nor any reference made to Spaulding rewriting, or recasting his story "Manuscript Found." Mr. Howe, however, says that the manuscript brought to him by Hurlburt, (and now at Oberlin) was shown to these Conneaut witnesses and that they recognized it as Spaulding's; "he having told them that he had altered his first plan of writing, by going farther back with dates, and writing in the old scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient. They say that it bears no resemblance to the "Manuscript Found." 59 This, however, is only what Mr. Howe says these witnesses said, and is not their testimony at all, as Mr. Schroeder must know since he makes some pretence to a professional knowledge of the law; it is the assertion only of Mr. Howe, it must be remembered; and from his relationship to this controversy, being the author of a book that was a vicious attack upon the Mormon Church; from his association with such men as Hurlburt, Bently, et al, whose purpose it was "to up-root this Mormon fraud;" from the fact of his bitterness, because of the
58 Ibid, p. 286-7.
59 Ibid, p. 288.
membership of his wife and sister in the Mormon Church -- he is not a reliable witness in the case. On the contrary he is a very unreliable witness, as will be shown more completely later, and one marvels that in a case so important, Mr. Howe did not get a statement direct and over the signatures of these Conneaut witnesses, instead of contenting himself by reporting what he alleges they had said to him.
Since these Conneaut witnesses, then, do not testify as to the existence of any second manuscript of Spaulding's dealing with the ancient inhabitants of America, of what exact value is their testimony? The whole eight claim to have heard Solomon Spaulding read his manuscript story; they have all read or heard read parts or all of the Book of Mormon; four of them say that the colony of Spaulding's story came from Jerusalem; four of them say that Spaulding represented the Indians as the lost tribes of Israel; seven recognized in the Book of Mormon a number of names and phrases as identical with the names and phrases of Spaulding's manuscript story; two say that the colony of Israelites of Spaulding's story separated into two distinct peoples or nations, as the colony of Lehi, according to the Book of Mormon, did; and in a general way the whole eight may be said to claim that the historical parts of the Book of Mormon and those of the Spaulding story agree; five of them declare the absence of religious matter in the Spaulding manuscript, and two of them, say it was written in the "old style." Such is the substance of the testimony of this group of witnesses. 60
Now let it be remembered that Spaulding resided in this Conneaut neighborhood something less than three years; 61 these witnesses, his neighbors, heard occasional readings of his manuscript story, which from twenty-one to twenty-four years later they assume to identify with another literary production, the Book of Mormon; and identify it, too, in respect of several very minute and particular things. Are we not asked here to accord to human recollection a vividness and power which to say the
60 Ibid, chapter xix.
61 See statement of John Spaulding, brother to Solomon Spaulding, who fixes date of arrival of the later at Conneaut in 1809 (Howe's "Mormonism," p. 279); and all witnesses agree that he left for Pittsburg in 1812.
least of it, is very exceptional? Who were these people -- these witnesses whose testimony Mr. Schroeder relies upon to "clinch" the charge of plagiarism upon those responsible for the existence of the English translation of the Book of Mormon? Who vouches for the extraordinary intelligence with which they must have been endowed to accomplish the feat of memory ascribed to them, if their testimony is credited? Who knows them and vouches for their honesty, another consideration to be taken into account before their testimony may be wholly satisfactory? Mr. Howe vouches for them (we might say, "of course"!). He says they are all "most respectable men, and highly esteemed for their moral worth, and their characters for truth and veracity, are unimpeachable. In fact the word of any one of them would have more weight in any respectable community than the whole family of Smiths and Whitmers, who have told about hearing the voice of an angel." 62
THE FAILURE OF HOWE'S BOOK.But we have already seen from the nature of things Howe cannot be regarded as a reliable witness in this controversy. And as for putting these witnesses in contrast with the "Smiths and the Whitmers", it must be remembered that the latter have back of their testimony a life of danger, toil, poverty, suffering, and in some cases martyrdom itself, all endured in support of, and on account of the testimony they bore as to the origin of the Book of Mormon; 63 while no such good earnest of veracity stands back of this Conneaut group of Mr. Schroeder's witnesses; and the mere word of Mr. Howe does not give sufficient guarantee of their "character for truth and veracity." Certainly what they stated about the Book of Mormon could not have been regarded as of any great weight, since in spite of the publication of their testimony right in the section of the state of Ohio where most of these witnesses lived, people went on
62 "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 281.
63 The force and value of the testimony of these witnesses is considered at length in the "Young Men's Manual" (Mormon), for 1904, chapters xv to xxi, inclusive. This work is now in course of revision and will soon be published under the title, "New Witnesses for God," Vol. II. For the value of this kind of testimony see Paley's "Evidences," Proposition II, Chapter 1, also the present writer's "New Witness for God," Vol. I, Chapter XVII.
believing the testimony of the "Smiths and the Whitmers" as against that of the Conneaut witnesses, by becoming members of the Church of the Latter-day Saints. The years between 1833, and 1837, years in which this Hurlburt--Howe--Bently--Campbell--Clapp--Spaulding agitation was going on, the growth of the church was most rapid, and north-eastern Ohio was the most fruitful of its proselyting fields. It took six years to sell the first edition of Howe's book, as the second edition was not published until 1840. Relative to the influence of Howe's book, and two other anti-Mormon productions published in north-eastern Ohio, just before Howe's book, Elder Orson Hyde, writing from Kirtland after a missionary tour through a number of surrounding towns and country districts, wrote the "Messenger and Advocate," under date of May 4th, 1836, of which the following passage is an excerpt:
The first weapon raised against the spread of truth, of any consideration in this country was the wicked and scurrilous pamphlet published by A. Campbell. Next, perhaps, were the letters of Ezra Booth; and thirdly, "Mormonism Unveiled," written by Mr. E. D. Howe, alias "Dr." P. Hurlburt. These were designed severally in their turn for the exposure and overthrow of Mormonism, as they termed it; but it appears that heaven has not blessed the means which they employed to effect their object. No weapon raised against it shall prosper. The writings of the above named persons, I find, have no influence in the world at all; for they are not even quoted by opposers, and I believe for no other reason than that they are ashamed of them. 64
Elder Parley P. Pratt, about 1839-40, in answering an attack on the Book of Mormon in Zion's Watchman, said:
In the west, whole neighborhoods embraced Mormonism, after this fable of the Spaulding story had been circulated among them. Indeed, we never conceived it worthy of an answer, until it was converted by the ignorant and impudent dupes or knaves, in this city, who stand at the head of certain religious papers, into something said to be positive, certain, and not to be disputed! 65
64 Messenger and Advocate, p. 296.
65 Thompson's "Evidences" (1841), pp. 182-3; also "Origin of the Spaulding Story," (Winchester), p. 13.
THE CONNEAUT WITNESSES.There remains yet to be considered how much these obscure Conneaut witnesses were flattered by the prospect of coming to be regarded as persons of importance by their connection with this movement against Mormonism, a consideration by no means of slight importance if they were, as is most likely the case, ignorant men and religious fanatics. Also it must be asked to what extent they were under the influence of the conspirators, Hurlburt, Howe, et al, and to what extent they shared the sectarian bitterness of these men against Mormonism. It should be remembered that it is beyond all human probability that they could remember the things about Spaulding's manuscript story that they say they recollect after an elapse of from twenty-one to twenty-four years. Think what the recollection of these Conneaut witnesses respecting the old Spaulding manuscript would have been had one gone into the community to make inquiries about it after an elapse of more than twenty years, and before anything had been heard of the existence of the Book of Mormon!
But it will be said that this is not altogether a fair test on which to build a contrast between what could be recalled without the aid of associated ideas and incidents, and what could be remembered when associated ideas and really similar or identical incidents, names, and phrases, though long forgotten, were repeated. One must necessarily concede something to such a contention. But on the other hand, let it be conceded what a fertilizing effect the recent reading of the Book of Mormon would have on the minds of these witnesses anxious to testify against it! What an awakening effect it would have on the minds of witnesses full of fanatical zeal against what they considered a religious innovation; on the minds of witnesses tempted by the prospect of being lifted from obscurity to a position of importance in their little world; on the minds of witnesses doubtless leagued with crafty conspirators full of bitterness, and confessedly determined "to up-root this Mormon fraud." With the Book of Mormon in their hands from which to refresh their minds as to names and incidents, of course they
will "remember" that Spaulding's colony came from Jerusalem; that he represented the American Indians as descendants of the lost tribes (ignorantly supposing that such was the representation of the Book of Mormon in the matter); 66 that the names of the chief characters in the Spaulding story were "Lehi and Nephi," and one "remembers" that the place were Spaulding landed his colony was near the straights of Darien, which he is "confident" was called "Zarahemla"; while another, that the colonists separated and became two nations and had many great and cruel wars; that the phrases "I, Nephi"; and, "It came to pass," were frequently used in the Spaulding story, just as they were used in the Book of Mormon! All this they "very well remember" -- after reading the Book of Mormon! One very striking thing that was "remembered" in 1834 at Conneaut, in this connection, is not mentioned by any of the group of eight witnesses; it is a thing Mr. Howe missed entirely, and that Mr. Schroeder has not used, though the minuteness of his researches into all things Mormon must forbid us thinking that he has not come in contact with it. Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson brought the matter into view as late as 1885, in her book so frequently quoted by Mr. Schroeder, "New Light on Mormonism." This lady, a grand-niece of Solomon Spaulding's wife, says:
Of the old stories at Conneaut, in 1834, in connection with Solomon Spaulding, was one to the effect that he told his neighbors at the time he entertained them with his romance, that his "Manuscript Found" was a translation of the "Book of Mormon," and he intended to publish a fictitious account of its having been discovered in a "cave, in Ohio," as an advertisement, to advance its sale, when his book was printed. 67
Why did not Mr. Howe publish this precious item -- this "odd" story "told at Conneaut in 1834"? Why does not Mr. Schroeder at least make use of it as among his "clinching"evidences of
66 Nearly all anti-Mormon writers make this blunder, and thereby exhibit their shallow knowledge of the subject. In the colony of Lehi were descendants of the tribe of Manesseh and Ephraim, descendants of the patriarch Joseph, but no where does it claim that the inhabitants of America are descendants of the "lost tribes." For an exhaustive treatise of the subject, see the "Young Men's Manual," 1905-6, Chapter XXXV.
67 "New Light on Mormonism," p. 80.
the plagiarism of the main part of the Book of Mormon by Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, et al? Is it possible that this was even too "raw" for Mr. Schroeder's stout stomach, which is capable of digesting everything anti-Mormon, from "pap to steel?" Or is it so that this bald statement is an outgrowth of the "recollection" process operating at Conneaut after Howe's record was closed? And that here we see the process of "recollection" at work in these Conneaut witnesses, which expands the dim consciousness that an old, eccentric minister, from twenty-one to twenty-four years ago, lived among them two or three years -- read to them some kind of a story about the ancient people of America, the manuscript of which he feigned to have found in a stone box in a cave -- into that remarkable recollection of similarity of names, phrases and historical incidents to be found in their signed statements in Howe's book, until finally, if advocates of the Spaulding theory of origin for the Book of Mormon would but admit into their collection this "odd" story unearthed by Mrs. Dickinson, they might "prove" that Mr. Spaulding's story "Manuscript Found," was a translation of the Book of Mormon," -- and what a victory that would be, O my countrymen!
E. D. HOWE DISCREDITED AS A WITNESS.The reader who will follow me through this review of Mr. Schroeder's evidence and argument, will find by the time the review closes that these Conneaut witnesses -- incompetent and weak as they are as witnesses -- and Mr. Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," are the very heart of this whole Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon. We have seen, in part, how flimsy and incompetent are the eight Conneaut witnesses, on whom Mr. Schroeder relies to "clinch" his evidence of the plagiarism of the Book of Mormon; let us now see how unworthy of belief is Mr. E. D. Howe.
Mr. Howe at the time he was preparing his book, "Mormonism Unveiled," 1833-4, represents the position of the Church to be as follows, in respect of the several matters stated:
About this time an opinion was propagated among them, that
they should never taste death, if they had sufficient faith. They were commanded to have little or no connexion with those who had not embraced their faith, and everything must be done within themselves. Even the wine which they used at their communion, they were ordered to make from cider and other materials. All diseases and sickness among them were to be cured by the Elders, and by the use of herbs -- denouncing the physicians of the world, and their medicines, as enemies to the human race. 68
And then he makes this sneering remark, and emphasizes it with an index hand pointing to it:
They had one or two root doctors among them, for whose benefit it is presumed the Lord made known his will, if at all.
In refutation of these slanders, I quote the revelation by which the Saints were governed in the particulars here named by Howe; a revelation which to the saints of course was the law of God, and which revelation Mr. Howe garbled into the statement above quoted:
And whosever among you that are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believeth, shall be nourished in all tenderness with herbs and mild food, and that not of the world. And the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay hands upon them in my name, and if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me. Thou shalt live together in love, in so much that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection. And it shall come to pass, that those that die in me, shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them; and they that die not in me, woe unto them, for their death is bitter! And again, it shall come to pass, that he that has faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed; he who has faith to see shall see; he who has faith to hear shall hear; the lame who have faith to leap shall leap; and they who have not faith to do these things, but believe in me, have power to become my sons; and in as much as they break not my laws, thou shalt bear their infirmities. 69
This was given to the Church as a law, February 9th, 1831.
68 Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 124.
69 "Doctrine and Covenants," section xxvii. "History of the Church," Vol. I, p. 106.
The revelation as published in the Evening and Morning Star, Missouri, Vol. I, Number 2, July, 1832, and more than two years before Mr. Howe's book was published. (I quote from the original STAR of 1832, not the Kirtland reprint). I challenge Mr. Schroeder and the religious literature of the world for a passage more beautifully sympathetic concerning the sick and those who die, than this passage. And it completely convicts the star witness for this Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon of vile misrepresentation of the saints and the church in several important particulars. So far is the revelation from creating the impression that the saints should never "taste of death," in the sense that they should never die, that it expressly directs what course shall be taken in respect of those who die, both in the case of those who have, and those who have not the hope of a glorious resurrection. As to wine used at communion being made from "cider and other materials," the law of the church is found in a revelation given in September, 1830, as follows:
Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, that you shall not purchase wine, neither strong drink of your enemies: wherefore, you shall partake of none, except it is made new among you; yea, in this my Father's kingdom, which shall be built up on the earth. 70
One looks in vain for the "cider and other materials" in this commandment as to the Sacrament; just as he looks in vain for the denunciations of the "The physicians of the world and their medicines as enemies of the human race." The effort of Mr. Howe in these several particulars was to make the saints ridiculous; he succeeds only in making himself contemptible. And let no one say that Mr. Howe does not allude to the revelations here quoted in refutation of his false accusation, but to opinions propagated outside of these authoritative utterances of the Church. The phraseology employed by Mr. Howe and the allusions to death, sickness, healing, the use of herbs, etc., follows too closely the revelation, as also his allusion to the Lord making "known his will," to admit of such an excuse or defense.
70 "Doctrine and Covenants," section 27.
THE DAVISON STATEMENT.The next testimony to be examined as to the Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon is an alleged statement of Mrs. Matilda Davison, formerly the wife of Solomon Spaulding. Spaulding died in 1816, and four years later Mrs. Spaulding married Mr. Davison, of Hartwicks, New York. The alleged statement of Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison first appeared in the Boston Recorder, in April, 1839, and was widely copied by the religious press of the eastern states.
It was intended by its authors to help out the Spaulding theory in several particulars; first, in that the Spaulding manuscript was written in "ancient style; and as the Old Testament is the most ancient book in the world he (Spaulding) imitated its style as nearly as possible;" second, that the manuscript that Spaulding feigned to have found was "written by one of the lost nation;" third, that it was recovered from the earth; fourth, that a connection is established between Spaulding and Patterson and that the latter told Spaulding to write a title page and preface to his story, and he (Patterson) would publish it; fifth, that a relationship is established by it between Rigdon and Patterson; and sixth, that there was "spontaneity" in affirming the identity between the Book of Mormon and Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" at Conneaut, when the Book of Mormon was publicly read there." 71 On account of the peculiar attitude of Mr. Schroeder towards this Davison statement; as also on account of the methods of creating the materials for the Spaulding theory disclosed by the history of this document, it is important that it should be published in extenso:
ALLEGED STATEMENT OF MRS. DAVISON, FORMERLY THE WIFE
71 The Davison statement is published in the Boston Recorder, April, 1839; Smucker's "Mormonism," p. 41, et seq. "Gleanings by the Way," p. 259, et seq; and many other anti-Mormon books.
I think it a duty which I owe to the public to state what I know touching its origin.
That its claims to a divine origin are wholly unfounded needs no proof to a mind unperverted by the grossest delusions. That any sane person should rank it higher than any other merely human composition is a matter of the greatest astonishment; yet it is received as divine by some who dwell in enlightened New England, and even by those who have sustained the character of devoted Christians. Learning recently that Mormonism had found its way into a church in Massachusetts, and has impregnated some with its gross delusions, so that excommunication has been necessary, I am determined to delay no longer in doing what I can to strip the mask from this mother of sin, and to lay open this pit of abominations.
Solomon Spaulding, to whom I was united in marriage in early life, was a graduate of Dartmouth College, and was distinguished for a lively imagination, and a great fondness for history. At the time of our marriage he resided in Cherry Valley, New York. From this place, we removed to New Salem, Ashtabula county, Ohio, sometimes called Conneaut, as it is situated on Conneaut Creek. Shortly after our removal to this place, his health sunk, and he was laid aside from active labors. In the town of New Salem there are numerous mounds and forts supposed by many to be the dilapidated dwellings and fortifications of a race now extinct. These ancient relics arrest the attention of the new settlers, and become objects of research for the curious. Numerous implements were found, and other articles evincing great skill in the arts. Mr. Spaulding being an educated man, and passionately fond of history, took a lively interest in these developments of antiquity; and in order to beguile the hours of retirement and furnish employment for his lively imagination, he conceived the idea of giving an historical sketch of this long lost race. Their extreme antiquity led him to write in the most ancient style, and as the Old Testament is the most ancient book in the world, he imitated its style as nearly as possible. His sole object in writing this imaginary history was to amuse himself and his neighbors.
This was about the year 1812. Hull's surrender at Detroit occurred near the same time, and I recollect the date well from that circumstance. As he progressed in his narrative the neighbors would come in from time to time to hear portions read, and a great interest in the work was excited among them. It claimed to have been written by one of the lost nation, and to have been recovered from the earth, and assumed the title of 'Manuscript Found.' The neighbors would often inquire how Mr. Spaulding
progressed in deciphering the manuscript; and when he had a sufficient portion prepared, he would inform them, and they would assemble to hear it read. He was enabled, from his acquaintance with the classics and ancient history to introduce many singular names, which were particularly noticed by the people, and could be easily recognized by them. Mr. Solomon Spaulding had a brother, Mr. John Spaulding, residing in the place at the time, who was perfectly familiar with the work, and repeatedly heard the whole of it read. From New Salem we removed to Pittsburg, in Pennsylvania. Here Mr. Spaulding found a friend and acquaintance, in the person of Mr. Patterson, an editor of a newspaper. He exhibited his manuscript to Mr. Patterson, who was very much pleased with it, and borrowed it for perusal. He retained it for a long time, and informed Mr. Spaulding that if he would make out a title page and preface, he would publish it, and it might be a source of profit. This Mr. Spaulding refused to do. Sidney Rigdon, who has figured so largely in the history of the Mormons, was at that time connected with the printing office of Mr. Patterson, as is well known in that region, and as Rigdon himself has frequently stated, became acquainted with Mr. Spaulding's manuscript, and copied it. It was a matter of notoriety and interest to all connected with the printing establishment. At length the manuscript was returned to its author, and soon after we removed to Amity, Washington county, etc., where Mr. Spaulding deceased in 1816. The manuscript then fell into my hands, and was carefully preserved. It has frequently been examined by my daughter, Mrs. McKinstry, of Monson, Mass., with whom I now reside, and by other friends.
After the Book of Mormon came out, a copy of it was taken to New Salem, the place of Mr. Spaulding's former residence, and the very place where the manuscript found was written. A woman preacher appointed a meeting there; and in the meeting read and repeated copious extracts from the Book of Mormon. The historical part was immediately recognized by all the older inhabitants, as the identical work of Mr. Spaulding, in which they had all been so deeply interested years before. Mr. John Spaulding was present and recognized perfectly the work of his brother. He was amazed and afflicted that it should have been perverted to so wicked a purpose. His grief found vent in a flood of tears, and he arose on the spot, and expressed to the meeting his sorrow and regret that the writings of his deceased brother should be used for a purpose so vile and shocking. The excitement in New Salem became so great, that the inhabitants had a meeting, and deputed Dr. Philastus Hurlburt, one of their
numbers, to repair to this place and to obtain from me the original manuscript of Mr. Spaulding, for the purpose of comparing it with the Mormon Bible, to satisfy their own minds, and to prevent their friends from embracing an error so delusive. This was in the year 1834. Dr. Hurlburt brought with him an introduction and request for the manuscript, which was signed by Messrs, Henry Lake, Aaron Wright, and others, with all of whom I was acquainted, as they were my neighbors when I resided at New Salem. I am sure that nothing would grieve my husband more, were he living, than the use which has been made of his work. The air of antiquity which was thrown about the composition, doubtless suggested the idea of converting it to the purpose of delusion. Thus an historical romance, with the addition of a few pious expressions, and extracts from the sacred Scriptures, has been construed into a new Bible, and palmed off upon a company of poor deluded fanatics as divine. I have given the previous brief narration, that this work of deep deception and wickedness may be searched to the foundation and the authors exposed to the contempt and execration they so justly deserve.
(Signed) "MATILDA DAVISON.
Briefly stated the history of the above document is this: Mormon missionaries make their appearance in Holliston, Massachusetts, and are successful in making some converts to their faith, among them several members and a deacon of the Presbyterian Church of that place. Whereupon the Reverend John Storrs, the pastor of this church, becoming concerned for his flock, and having learned of the Spaulding theory, he writes to his friend, the Reverend Dr. R. Austin, residing near Monson, where Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison was making her home with her daughter, Mrs. McKinstry, and urges him to secure a statement from her as to the connection between the writings of her late husband and the Book of Mormon. Mr. Austin made some inquiries of the old lady, wrote down notes as to her answers, then through the Reverend Dr. Storrs publishes this product as a signed statement of Mrs. Davison! The facts came out respecting this document in a letter of Mr. John Haven, of Holliston, Middlesex Co., Mass., to his daughter, Elizabeth Haven, of Quincy, Adams Co., (Illinois) which was published in the Quincy Whig. It represents that Jesse Haven, the brother of Elizabeth
Haven, to whom the letter is addressed, called upon Mrs. Davison and Mrs. McKinstry at their home in Monson, Mass., and spent several hours with them, a Dr. Ely also being present. During this interview Mr. Haven asked the following questions of Mrs. Davison.
THE HAVEN-DAVISON INTERVIEW.Did you, Mrs. Davison, write a letter to John Storrs, giving an account of the origin of the Book of Mormon? Ans: I did not. Did you sign your name to it? Ans: I did not, neither did I ever see the letter until I saw it in the Boston Recorder, the letter was never brought to me to sign. Ques: What agency had you in having this letter sent to Mr. Storrs? Ans: D. R. Austin came to my house and asked me some questions, took some minutes on paper, and from these minutes wrote that letter. Ques: Is what is written in the letter true? Ans: In the main it is. Ques: Have you read the Book of Mormon? Ans: I have read some of it. Ques: Does Mr. Spaulding's manuscript, and the Book of Mormon agree? I think some few of the names are alike. Ques: Does the manuscript describe an idolatrous or a religious people? Ans: An idolatrous people. Ques: Where is the manuscript? Ans: Dr. P. Hurlburt came here and took it, said he would get it printed and let me have one-half the profits. Ques: Has Dr. P. Hurlburt got the manuscript printed? Ans: I received a letter stating it did not read as they expected and they should not print it. Ques: How large is Mr. Spaulding's manuscript? Ans: About one third as large as the Book of Mormon. 72
In addition to fixing the character of the Davison statement, it is quite remarkable how well the answers of Mrs. Davison describe the character of the Spaulding Manuscript now at Oberlin, and not at all the manuscript described by the Conneaut witness, or the manuscript generally contended for by the upholders of the Spaulding theory of the Book of Mormon origin. Mr. Schroeder, however, insists that "the dishonesty of the original publication of the Haven interview is pointed out in 'Gleanings
72 Times and Seasons, Vol. I, (1839) p. 47. Not having access to the Quincy Whig, I quote this passage from the "Times and Seasons" as being most reliable, because published shortly after the letter appeared in the Quincy paper, and practically in the same neighborhood. This to insure the accuracy of the passage over which there is some controversy as will appear later.
by the Way.'" 73 But is it? The Rev. John A. Clark, D. D., author of "Gleanings by the Way," published the alleged Davison statement in the Episcopal Recorder after which he came in contact with the Haven contradiction quoted above. Whereupon he wrote to the Reverend John Storrs who was responsible for the publication of the Davison statement. In the course of his reply to Mr. Clark's inquiries, Mr. Storrs said:
It is very true Mrs. Davison did not write a letter to me, and what is more, of course, she did not sign it. But this she did do, and just what I wrote you in my former letter I supposed she did: she did sign her name to the original copy as prepared from her statement by Mr. Austin. This original copy is now in the hands of Mr. Austin. This he told me last week. 74
The last sentence gives the exact value of this testimony, Mr. Austin told Mr. Storrs that Mrs. Davison had signed the statement. Mr. Storrs himself knew nothing about it beyond what Mr. Austin told him. This Mr. Schroeder, as a professional lawyer, knows is not testimony. But the Reverend Clark wrote Reverend Austin also, and Reverend Austin replied, in which the following occurs:
The circumstances which called forth the letter published in the Boston Recorder in April, 1839, were stated by Mr. Storrs in the introduction to that article. At his request I obtained from Mrs. Davison a statement of the facts contained in that letter, and wrote them out precisely as she related them to me. She then signed the paper with her own hand, which I have now in my possession. Every fact as stated in that letter was related to me by her in the order they are set down. 75
The statement of the Reverend Mr. Austin of course flatly contradicts that of Mrs. Davison; and when the contradiction is between a reverend gentleman on the one hand, and a venerable lady, the wife of a former but retired minister, (Reverend Mr. Spaulding) on the other, one may be justified in declining the delicate task of determining on whose side the truth lies; unless it may be found, as I think it may, otherwise than by directly
73 American Historical Magazine, September, 1906, p. 396, note 44.
74 "Gleanings by the Way," p. 262.
75 "Gleanings by the Way," p. 264.
passing judgment upon the veracity of either of these worthy parties.
MRS. ELLEN E. DICKINSON'S REPUDIATION OF THE DAVISON STATEMENT.Not only have we the denial of Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison as to this document not being signed by her, but we have the manifest contempt shown for it by Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson, grand-niece of Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison. Mrs. Dickinson was the grand daughter of Wm. H. Sabine, already mentioned in these pages, the brother of Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison. Mrs. Dickinson wrote her "New Light on Mormonism" as the representative of the Spaulding family, to set forth "the family traditions" in relation to the subject, and represents her work as being "the only attempt of the Rev. S. Spaulding's relatives to set this matter in its proper light, a duty long delayed to the memory of an upright man!" 76
Mrs. Dickinson devotes a number of her chapters to the elaboration of the Spaulding theory, and in an appendix publishes twenty-seven documents bearing either remotely or immediately upon the subject of the Spaulding manuscript; but the Davison statement is not admitted into the number, though indirectly, but without naming it, she makes a slight quotation from it respecting John Spaulding, brother of Solomon, who by the Davison statement is represented as being "amazed and afflicted that his brother's writings should have been perverted for such a wicked purpose." (i.e. as forming the basis for the Book of Mormon.)
These words occur in the Davison statement and no where else. Mrs. Dickinson quotes them at page 79 of her book. As the source of her authority for the statement she gives reference to the appendix of her book, note 13. We turn to note 13 only to find that we are directed to "John Spaulding's statement -- see No. 4". We turn to "No. 4," only to find the statement of John Spaulding as given in Howe's book in 1834, with not a word about his being "amazed and afflicted," or that "his grief found vent in a flood of tears," etc., also quoted
76 "New Light on Mormonism," preface, p. 4.
by Mrs. Dickinson from the Davison statement, and found no where else, and of which there is nothing in the note in the appendix of her book, which she cites as the authority for her statement. 77 This smacks of juggling with the Davison statement.
Mrs. Dickinson would not admit the Davison document into her collection of such papers, knowing doubtless its history; nor is she willing to deny to her narrative the rich dramatic effects infused into it, by the "Reverend" forgerer of it. We shall see further on how Mr. Schroeder manifests the same disposition towards it. That is, he repudiates its being a statement made by Mrs. Davison, but still he would retain this precious piece of hysteria on the part of John Spaulding -- the "amazement," the "affliction," and, above all, "the flood of tears;" not to adorn a tale, as in the case of Mrs. Dickinson, but to show the "spontaneity" with which the people of Conneaut detected the identity between Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" and the Book of Mormon.78
But to return to Mrs. Dickinson. If she had done her full duty in the premises as an author, she would have made reference to this forged statement credited to her grand-aunt and repudiated it in her name; but such a course is scarcely to be looked for in an anti-Mormon author, of especial bitterness. However, her silence respecting it, and her refusal to admit it into the collection of her documents in the appendix to her book, amounts to the same thing, the repudiation of it by the Spauldings.
REVEREND JOHN A. CLARK AND THE DAVISON STATEMENT.Before proceeding further as to this Davison statement, in a direct line, just a word in relation to the Reverend John A. Clark, author of "Gleanings by the Way," and the spirit he is of. He prefaces his investigation of this Davison statement by saying that he does not think "that the truth or falsehood of Mormonism, in any degree turns upon the correctness or incorrectness of the foregoing statement of Mrs. Davison." Then
77 "New Light on Mormonism," p. 79; also appendix No. 13, No. 4, No. 14. "The New Light" appears a bit unsteady at this point.
78 American Historical Magazine, January 1904, pp. 71, 72.
continues -- "for deceit and imposture are enstamped upon every feature of this monster, evoked by a money digger and a juggler, from the shades of darkness!" This man is evidently in fine temper to act the impartial judge -- to point out "the dishonesty of the original publication" of the Haven-Davison interview, quoted in the foregoing pages. But this is only a partial exhibition of the Reverend gentleman's state of mind in the matter, and we would not do him an injustice.
Following the above ebullition of bitterness he immediately adds this pious thought, in the hope, perhaps, that his piety may balance in the scale his outburst of wrath: "Still if her (Mrs. Davison's) statement be correct, and is to be relied upon, the facts brought out by Mrs. Davison would seem to be one of those singular developments of divine Providence by which imposters are confounded, and their devices brought to naught." 79 Of this it is sufficient to say, that if the gentleman were living today he would be confronted with a very perplexing dilemma. In the event of his taking his stand on the correctness of Mrs. Davison's statement, he would have to lament the failure of "one of those singular developments of divine Providence, by which imposters are confounded and their devices brought to naught;" for the Book of Mormon, notwithstanding the efforts of the Reverend gentleman against it, in his "Gleanings by the Way," has been translated into ten other languages, since his day; has passed through many editions in a number of them, and sold by hundred of thousands. It has resulted in gathering a people; in founding a church that has more of history behind it, and more of prospect before it, than any other modern religious movement in Christendom. On the other hand, if the Reverend gentleman should take his stand on the infallibility of divine Providence, singular or otherwise, from the striking failure of the Davison statement to confound an imposter and bring his devices to naught, he would be under the necessity of reversing his former decisions; he would have to conclude that the Davison statement was not true; and if he could not be brought to the point of acknowledging that he had been fighting against the truth, he would have the humiliation of discovering that he
79 "Gleanings by the Way," p. 259-60.
> had, at least, sought to maintain a falsehood. Fortunately the gentleman is dead, and, let us hope, at peace.
But it is time to return from this digression. In addition to showing what the attitude of the Spauldings was to this document, through Mrs. Dickinson, I appeal from the conflicting testimony of the Reverend Dr. R. Austin and the venerable Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison, to the Davison statement itself as evidence that it is not the product of "an aged woman, and very infirm." 80 I ask any person capable of forming any kind of a literary judgment, to take the statement signed with Mrs. Davison's name, and then say, honor bright, if that is the statement of a woman in private life, much less of one "aged and infirm." Its introduction, almost ideal from a literary standpoint, when the purpose of the document is considered; the movement thence to the introduction of the evidence and its discussion; thence to the conclusion -- so potent, and so desirable to a minister whose church had been invaded by successful Mormon missionaries, but so unlike a woman in private life, viz: "I have given the previous narration, that this work of deep deception and wickedness may be searched to the foundation and the authors exposed to the contempt and execration they so richly deserve." All this too plainly proclaims the professional hand to leave anyone in doubt as to where the truth lies as between the Haven-Davison statement and the Clark-Storrs-Austin story and argument in "Gleanings by the Way," which Mr. Schroeder so warmly commends to us as settling the "dishonesty of the original publication" of the Haven interview. Parley P. Pratt was right when in an article published in the New Era (New York, Nov. 1839). He said:
"A judge of literary production, who can swallow that piece of writing as the production of a woman in private life, can be made to believe that the Book of Mormon is a romance. For the one is as much like a romance as the other is like a woman's composition. The production, signed 'Matilda Davison' is evidently the work of a man accustomed to public address." 81
80 "Gleanings by the Way," p. 265. The statement is the Rev. Dr. Austin's. The New Haven statement represents her as "about seventy years of age and somewhat broke." Times and Seasons, Vol I, p. 47.
81 New Era, impression of November 25, 1839. Same is copied into the Times and Seasons, Vol I, p. 47.
Mr. Schroeder reaches the same conclusion, and that largely too from the literary style of the article. Listen to this comment:
"The argumentative style and the failure to distinguish between personal knowledge and argumentative inferences is all readily understood when the history of this statement is made known. It seem that two preachers, name D. R. Austin and John Storrs, are responsible for this letter. Mrs. Davison never wrote it, but afterwards stated that "in the main" it was true. Even with her reaffirmance of the story as published, we cannot give it evidentiary weight except in those matters where it is plain from the nature of things that she must have been speaking from personal knowledge." 82
There is but one conclusion possible on the point at issue. Mrs. Davison never made the statement, nor signed it. It was the work of the Reverends John Storrs and Dr. R. Austin -- a forgery.
MUTILATION OF THE HAVEN-DAVISON INTERVIEW.At this point I take note of what Mr. Schroeder says in relation to an omission of a question and answer in the Haven-Davison interview in Elder George Reynold's "Myth of the Manuscript Found;" and also of what Mr. Schroeder characterizes as "John Taylor's lying perversion of this alleged interview as reported in his 'Three Nights Public Discussion'." The question and answer referred to are held, in effect, to re-instate the Davison document as evidence, after denying it to be Mrs. Davison's statement, or that she signed it. The question and answer are as follows: "Ques: Is what is written in the letter true? Ans: In the main it is." This is omitted in Elder Reynolds' "Myth of the Manuscript Found" (1883); and copying the Haven interview from his work into my own treatise of the Book of Mormon in the "Young Men's Manual" for 1905-6, the same omission, of course, is made; but of which omission this writer was ignorant until Mr. Schroeder's article called attention to it. Why the omission occurs in Mr. Reynolds' book, I do not know; and although Mr. Reynolds is still alive, his health is so shattered
82 American Historical Magazine, September, 1906, pp. 393-4.
at this time that it would be as useless as it is impossible to question him upon the subject.
Certainly there was no occasion for purposely making the omission since the Book of Mormon is equally defensible with the Davison statement in the record as evidence, or excluded. And as evidence that the omission was not intentional, on the part of Mormon writers, attention is called to the fact that in the Times and Seasons copy of the article from the Quincy Whig, (1840) both the above question and answer are published, (Vol. 1, p. 47). It is also published accurately in "Thompson's Evidence of the Book of Mormon,"(1841); also in "The Origin of the Spaulding Story," by B. Winchester (1840) p. 17. In Mr. Taylor's work -- so severely criticized by Mr. Schroeder, the question and answer stand as follows: "Ques. Is what that letter contains true? Ans. There are some things that I told him." Mr. Schroeder calls this a "lying perversion."
If this were the only variation in the document, as quoted by Elder Taylor, there might be justifiable suspicion that the change was purposely made and was intended to lessen the force of the answer; but, as throughout the version of the Whig article published in the "Three Night's Discussion" -- held in France -- there are quite a number of variations -- and none of them contribute advantage to the pro-Mormon side of the controversy -- there can be no other conclusion, than either that some inaccurate version of the Quincy Whig article had fallen into the hands of President Taylor while in France, and he printed from that imperfect version; or, it may be, that the Quincy Whig article had been published in French, and Elder Taylor's published account of it in his "discussion" was a translation of the French version back into the English. While I am aware that this view is based on conjecture merely, yet if the Whig article as published in the Times and Seasons be compared with Elder Taylor's version in the "Three Night's Discussion," the difference that exists between the two version would not be greater than in two versions so produced. And the character of the variations warrant the conjecture. For example, take these passages:
Ques. Have you read the Book of Mormon?
Ans. I have read some of it.
The Taylor version.
Ques. Have you read the Book of Mormon?
Ans. I have read a little of it.
Ques. Is what is written in the letter true?
Ans. In the main it is.
Ques. Is what that letter contains true?
Ans. There are some things that I told him.
Ques. Does the manuscript and the Book of Mormon agree?
Ans. I think some of the names agree.
Ques. Are you certain that some of the names agree?
Ans. I am not."
Ques. Is there any similarity between Mr. Spaulding's manuscript
and the Book of Mormon?
Ans. Not any, with the exception of some names, something similar
the one to the other.
And so the variations run from beginning to end. They are just such variations, too, as would exist if the Taylor version was produced as conjectured. I trust I may be pardoned for being insistent at this point. I was personally acquainted with the late President John Taylor, and am also his biographer. His letters, official and personal, as also his journals, passed through my hands; his most private life was laid open to me, and I know him to have been a highly honorable gentleman, far above such low subterfuge as that charged against him in the coarse vulgarisms employed by Mr. Schroeder, and which, from no standpoint whatever, are justifiable. 83
MR. SCHROEDER AND THE DAVISON STATEMENT.There is something amusing in the attitude of Mr. Schroeder towards this Davison statement. Although Mr. Schroeder declares
83 See "The Life of John Taylor," by B. H. Roberts, (1892). Lest in some rejoinder to this reply Mr. Schroeder should return to this subject of the Taylor variations, in the Haven-Davison interview, and should seek further to establish his point of view by referring to what is sometimes alleged to be Elder Taylor's denial of the existence of the plural marriage system of the Church when he was in France, (1850), I wish to say that in the above "Life of John Taylor" the alleged denial is dealt with at length, pp. 222-5.
in so many words that "Mrs. Davison never wrote it," and hence must admit it to be a forgery by Reverend gentlemen, yet, since the Haven interview represents Mrs. Davison as saying that it was "true in the main," Mr. Schroeder dogmatizes thus in regard to this "piece of evidence": -- "Even with her re-affirmance of the story as published, we cannot give it evidentiary weight, except in those matters where it is plain from the nature of things that she must have been speaking from personal knowledge." 84 Why, in the name of all that is reasonable? If her re-affirmance is to re-instate any part of the story as worthy of belief, why not all of it, and all the parts equally? Is Mr. Schroeder to pick and choose from his own witnesses as he will, allowing this, but discarding that, as suits his personal view of the Spaulding theory?
What is behind all this proposed jugglery? Simply this: I have already pointed out how vital to Mr. Schroeder's case it is to establish the existence of a second Spaulding manuscript, dealing with American antiquities, a "re-written" story different from this manuscript story now safely lodged in Oberlin college. There is nothing of all this in the Davison statement. This in the eyes of Mr. Schroeder is its first sin, one of omission. Another things essential to Mr. Schroeder's contention is a second submission of the Spaulding manuscript to the Patterson- Lambdin publishers, after the Spauldings had made their home in Amity, Washington county, Pa. Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison "says," observes Mr. Schroeder, "that before leaving Pittsburg for Amity, her husband's manuscript was returned by the publishers." * * * "She seemingly remembers nothing of its second sub-mission while her husband resided at Amity, or else those who wrote and signed her statement didn't see fit to mention it." 85 This is the second sin of omission in the Davison statement. And right here it may be as well to notice another singular thing in reference to these Spaulding documents, the alleged Davison statement and Mrs. McKinstry affidavit, the former published in 1839, the latter in 1880 -- while both are very explicit as to affairs over at Conneaut, there is nothing said in
84 American Historical Magazine, September, 1906, p. 394.
85 Ibid, 392-3. (How careless of them!)
the statement of either about the readings of the manuscript alleged to have taken place before the Amity neighbors, whence come the Amity witnesses, Joseph Miller and Redic McKee. This silence is all the more inexplicable because it was here that the final "polishing" and preparing for the press of the Schroeder- assumed "rewritten" manuscript was going on; and Mrs. McKinstry was more competent to remember such things than when at Conneaut, because then of less tender years. Indeed if the Davison statement is insisted upon as evidence, then Mr. Spaulding refused to have his manuscript published, even though Mr. Patterson suggested it, as he had only written it for his own amusement!
The next sin of the Davison statement is one of commission. The success of Mr. Schroeder's case against the Book of Mormon depends upon establishing his contention that Sidney Rigdon stole the Spaulding manuscript from the printing office of Patterson and Lambdin; and that, after October, 1816, (the time of Spaulding's death), the Schroeder-assumed "rewritten" manuscript was never in the hands of "anybody but Sidney Rigdon." But if the re-affirmance of the Davison statement is to be admitted at all, in evidence, then, according to Mrs. Davison before the family removed from Pittsburg to Amity, the Spaulding manuscript was "returned to its author, and soon after," says the Davison statement, "we removed to Amity, Washington county, etc., where Mr. Spaulding deceased in 1816. The manuscript then fell into my hands, and was carefully preserved. It has frequently been examined by my daughter, Mrs. McKinstry, of Monson, Mass., with whom I now reside, and by other friends." 86
This statement, let it be observed, would not fall within the items which even Mr. Schroeder would exclude from the Davison statement if readmitted as evidence; for it is very clear that as to this item the lady was speaking of a thing about which she had "personal knowledge," the "shibboleth" which gives "evidentiary weight" to what the lady is supposed to have testified to in this "shady" document. But against this damaging affirmation of the Davison document, about the return of the Spaulding
86 See Davison statement in the text above.
manuscript to its author, and Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison's subsequent possession and care of it, Mr. Schroeder says: "Upon the question as to whether or not Spaulding's re-written manuscript was in the possession of anybody but Rigdon at any time after October, 1816, Mrs. Davison's statement as published cannot in any sense whatever be considered as evidence." 87
The reader will now better understand Mr. Schroeder's attitude: what agrees with his theory in the Davison statement shall be accepted, what contradicts it, must be discarded; and this may be applied to the gentleman's attitude to pretty much the whole mass of testimony upon the subject. The attitude of Mr. Schroeder, however, cannot be conceded as proper. Either he must admit the force of the Davison statement against his contentions, as well as where it favors them, or else he must discredit the Davison evidence altogether. One may not have his cake and at the same time eat it. We care not which he does in respect of this particular "piece of evidence." It will be equally advantageous to our argument, whichever he does.
But let us see in what plight this statement leaves Mr. Schroeder's case. If Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison is right about the return of the Spaulding manuscript to its author while yet at Pittsburg; that it was taken to Amity, and after the decease of Mr. Spaulding fell into the hands of Mrs. Spaulding, and "was carefully preserved" by her, and was "frequently examined" by her daughter, -- then Sidney Rigdon did not steal it from Patterson and Lambdin's printing office, whatever Rigdon's connection with that office might have been; and Mr. Schroeder is under the necessity of abandoning one of the chief elements of his case; an element so essential that if abandoned his case collapses into confusion.
To Mr. Schroeder's mind the theft of the manuscript by Mr. Rigdon is the one circumstance that will harmonize all the alleged "established facts," and make the Spaulding theory tenable. To this end he repudiates four other theories as to how the Spaulding manuscript reached the hands of Joseph Smith, by him to be exploited as the book of Mormon.
87 See American Historical Magazine, September, 1906, p. 394.
First, the theory that Joseph Smith himself secured the manuscript from the house of Wm. H. Sabine in 1823 -- (John Hyde's theory.) 88 Second, that Sidney Rigdon copied the manuscript while it was at the printing office of Patterson and Lambdin, (the Storrs-Austin-Davidson statement theory, and also the Spaulding family theory). 89 Third, that Joseph Smith copied it while working for Wm. H. Sabine (brother of Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison, be it remembered), about 1823, but leaving the original there. Fourth, the theory that Spaulding copied his story for the publisher "while keeping the duplicate at home to be afterwards cared for the by the family." Of course, "these various theories" were all invented because of a supposed necessity of accounting for the alleged presence of the re-written 'Manuscript Found' in the trunk at Sabine's house after 1816, the date of Spaulding's death. So says Mr. Schroeder. 90
Very naturally all those interested in maintaining the theory that Spaulding's manuscript was the original source of the Book of Mormon -- except Mr. Schroeder -- would be anxious to maintain the integrity of both the Davison statement and Mrs. McKinstry's affidavit, published in Scribner's Magazine for August, 1880, as the most valuable evidence in existence for the anti-Mormon side of this controversy. But to preserve that integrity they must vindicate Sidney Rigdon from theft of the Spaulding manuscript, for both these witnesses declare the Spaulding manuscript to be in their possession after the death of Spaulding in 1816. The Davison statement represents that the "Manuscript Found," the very manuscript in controversy, that Spaulding has placed in the hands of Patterson "for perusal," was returned to Spaulding before the family left Pittsburg; and at his death, two years later, fell into Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison's hands, and "was carefully preserved;" was frequently examined by her daughter, Mrs. McKinstry, "and by other friends." Mrs. McKinstry testifies as to the association of her father, Solomon
88 "Mormonism: Its leaders and Designs," by John Hyde, Jr., (1857) p 279.
89 "New Light on Mormonism," grand-niece of Mrs. (Solomon Spaulding) Davison, (1885). She declares that Mrs. McKinstry "remembers how her mother talked on the subject, expressing a firm conviction that Sidney Rigdon had copied the manuscript which had been in Mr. Patterson's office in Pittsburg," pp. 23, 24.
90 American Historical Magazine, September, 1906, p. 390.
Spaulding, with Mr. Patterson, at Pittsburg; also as to the contents of the trunk that had been taken to her uncle's, Wm. H. Sabine's, by her mother and herself shortly after the death of her father, containing the papers of her father; and there she claims to have seen the manuscript that the Davison statement says she "frequently examined;" and "on the outside of this manuscript were written the words, 'Manuscript Found'." She did not read it, "but looked through it," and had it many times in her hands and saw the names she "had heard at Conneaut," when her father read the said manuscript to his friends. 91
Nothing could be more explicit than these statements of mother and daughter, and both were in the closest relations to Solomon Spaulding; and what they say is supplemented and emphasized by the grand niece of Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison, Ellen Dickinson, who, in her "New Light on Mormonism," represents Mrs. McKinstry as insisting that her mother, said, -- and the impression is created that she repeatedly said it -- "that Mr. Spaulding had assured her that he had recovered his original manuscript when Patterson had refused to publish it, and she never varied or doubted in this belief." 92
WHY MR. SCHROEDER DISCREDITS THE SPAULDING WITNESSES.The question naturally arises as to how it is that Mr. Schroeder adopts this theory of Rigdon stealing the Spaulding manuscript when it involves him in the necessity of practically throwing overboard these two important witnesses of the Spaulding theory. We have already seen that Mr. Schroeder practically discredits the testimony of the Davison statement; 93 and with no less emphasis he throws over Mrs. McKinstry's testimony on the ground of her incompetency to be a reliable witness because of her tender age -- from four to eleven -- when the things happened of which she testified; and her great age -- seventy-four, (seventy-seven," says Mrs. Dickinson, 94 -- when she made her affidavit as to those distant happenings.
That this woman, at seventy-four, should remember strange
91 See the McKinstry affidavit.
92 "New Light on Mormonism," pp. 23, 24.
93 American Historical Magazine, September, 1906, pp. 392-4.
94 "New Light on Mormonism," Preface.
names, casually repeated in her presence, before her sixth year, and those names wholly unrelated to anything of direct consequence to her child life, is a feat of memory too extraordinary to give her uncorroborated statement any weight as against valid contradictory conclusions drawn from established facts. 95
In a casual re-statement of his theory that Rigdon stole the Spaulding manuscript, and pointing to the alleged related facts of that theory, Mr. Schroeder says: "These conclusions and much of the evidence upon which they are based will contradict Mrs. McKinstry's statement." 96 Then why adopt that theory? A direct answer is nowhere to be found on the face of Mr. Schroeder's articles; but one acquainted with all the variations of the Spaulding theory does not have far to go to understand the reasons. First, there is the shady transactions of the Reverends Clark, Storrs, and Austin in the production of the Davison statement that discredits it; and in Mr. Schroeder's view, the evidentiary value of this document is not very great. 97 Second, Mr. Schroeder knows, for reasons that he himself states, that the McKinstry affidavit is incompetent and cannot be held to establish the alleged facts detailed in it. "That this woman at seventy-four, should remember strange names casually repeated in her presence, before her sixth year,... is a feat of memory too extraordinary," is his own characterization of the absurdity.
Third, Mr. Schroeder knows that the other theories by which an effort is made to connect the Spaulding manuscript with Joseph Smith and the consequent plagiarism of the Book of Mormon from it are untenable. That is, he knows that the theory that Rigdon copied the Spaulding manuscript while it was at Patterson- Lambdin's printing office, the original being returned to Spaulding, cannot be established by evidence. He knows equally well that the theory that Spaulding himself made a copy of his story for the publisher while keeping the duplicate at home to be cared for by his family, cannot be successfully maintained. This copying a manuscript that makes a book of
95 American Historical Magazine, September, 1906, p. 392.
96 Ibid, 391.
97 Ibid, pp. 393-4.
600 pages, of more than 500 words to the page (see first edition of Book of Mormon), is not so easy a task, and the time necessary to such an achievement, by either of these men, make the theories impossible. Fourth, Mr. Schroeder also knows that the theory that Joseph Smith himself stole the Spaulding manuscript from the house of Wm. H. Sabine of Onondaga Valley, in 1823, at which time it is alleged that Joseph Smith worked for Mr. Sabine, cannot be established by evidence.
Fifth, Mr. Schroeder knows that the theory that Joseph Smith copied the Spaulding manuscript while at Sabin's is not only incapable of being established by evidence, but would be ridiculous, even if it could be proven beyond reasonable doubt that Joseph Smith ever worked for Sabine, in 1823, or at any other time, both on account of his age, then eighteen, certainly unschooled, and by some said not to be able to write at all. 98 Yet this man working as a teamster (for so it is said) copies a manuscript which afterwards makes a book of six hundred pages of five hundred words to the page! No wonder that Mr. Schroeder discredits this theory. With all these theories discarded, however, what remains for Spaulding theorists? Nothing but to charge the theft of Spaulding's manuscript to Sidney Rigdon, and to stick to it. To do this, however, they must follow Mr. Schroeder in discrediting the Davison statement; and declare the incompetency of the McKinstry affidavit, for reasons already considered. This destroys for the Spaulding theorists what some regard as the two most valuable documents, (contemptible as they are) on which the theory stands.
98 Mrs. Horace Eaton of Palmyra, "Hand Book of Mormonism."
(To be Continued).
Vol. 4 JANUARY, 1909 No. 1
AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE
LYMAN HORACE WEEKS, Editor
ORIGIN OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.
99 "Mormonism Unveiled," Howe, p. 289.
100 American Historical Magazine, November 1906, p. 518. Miller's letter is given in full in Gregg's "Prophet of Palmyra," p.442; Miller also writes another letter of similar import to the author of "New Light on Mormonism," p. 240. "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" p. 7.
Winchester, "who is a man of undoubted veracity. * * * Mr. Hurlburt states, that he called upon Mr. Patterson who affirmed his ignorance of the whole matter." 101
In 1842, Mr. Patterson was again appealed to upon the subject of the submission of the Spaulding manuscript to him. The appeal was made by the Reverend Samuel Williams who at the time was preparing for publication a pamphlet entitled "Mormonism Exposed." Whereupon Mr. Patterson wrote and signed a brief statement which was afterwards published by the Reverend Williams as follows:
R. Patterson had in his employment Silas Engles at the time, a foreman printer, and general superintendent of the printing business. As he (S.E.) was an excellent scholar, as well as a good printer, to him was intrusted the entire concerns of the office. He even decided on the propriety or otherwise of publishing manuscripts when offered, -- as to their morality, scholarship, etc. In this character, he informed R. P. that a gentleman, from the East originally, had put into his hands a manuscript of a singular work, chiefly in the style of our English translation of the Bible, and handed the copy to R. P., who read only a few pages and finding nothing apparently exceptionable he (R. P.) said to Engles he might publish it if the author furnished the funds or good security. He (the author) failing to comply with the terms, Mr. Engles returned the manuscript, as I supposed at that time, after it had been some weeks in his possession, with other manuscripts in the office.
This communication written and signed 2d April, 1842.
ROBERT PATTERSON. 102
"It is a matter of sincere regret," says the author of "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" "that so meagre a document is all the written evidence that Mr. Patterson has left." And well he may, as one of the Spaulding origin theorists, have such regret. For there is nothing here of Spaulding and his manuscript, nothing of Patterson's interest in it and advising a title page, preface, and the publication of it; nothing of Rigdon and his connection with the manuscript; nothing of its being missing or stolen or copied. Of course "the gentleman from the
101 "Origin of the Spaulding Story," p. 13.
102 "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" p. 7.
East originally, (who) had put into his (Patterson's) hands a manuscript of a singular work, chiefly in the style of our English translation of the Bible," in which neither the printing-firm reader, to whom it was referred, nor Mr. Patterson, had more than a languid interest, according to the above, is made by the Spaulding origin theorists to mean the author of the Spaulding manuscript. There is nothing to justify such a conclusion. Had it been Spaulding's manuscript, which "the gentleman from the East presented," would not Mr. Patterson have remembered it? Would he not have named him? Why should he not? There is but one answer -- the gentleman was not Spaulding. Oh, at this point, for Mr. Patterson's remembrance of an identity of names with "Book of Mormon" names, -- for a "Nephi" now, or "Moroni," or "Zarahemla!" But mark you, what Mr. Patterson refuses to do in the signed statement he prepared especially at his request, Mr. Williams does for him in introducing this signed statement by saying: "Mr. Patterson firmly believes, also, from what he has heard from the Mormon Bible, that it is the same thing he examined at the time." 103 Then why is that not in the statement Robert Patterson signed? The manifest dishonesty of these preachers grows tedious!
Mr. Schroeder next puts in as "evidence" the testimony of Joseph Miller, (the name "John" in Mr. Schroeder's text is evidently a misprint), "who knew Spaulding at Amity, bailed him out of jail when confined for debt, made his Coffin for him when he died, and helped lay him out in his grave"--quite a formidable list of services; also gruesome. And his testimony? Spaulding gold him "there was a man named Sidney Rigdon about the office and they thought he had stolen it" 104 (i.e. the Spaulding Manuscript). This man is heralded in the Cincinnatti Gazette as the "one Man in the United States who can give its (i.e. the Book of Mormon's) origin." Gregg, whom Mr. Schroeder cites as his authority, repeats this announcement, and we marvel that Mr. Schroeder did not include this
103 "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" p. 7.
104 American Historical Magazine, November, 1906, p. 518.
circumstance in his list of qualities that makes this witness so picturesque.
The Miller document quoted by Mr. Schroeder from Gregg's "Prophet of Palmyra," bears date of January 20, 1882; and as Miller was born in 1791 he was then ninety-one years of age. 105 The very earliest statement of Miller's story is in the Pittsburg Telegraph, February 6, 1879, when Miller would be eighty-eight years old. How much reliance is to be placed upon the early recollections of such an aged person after all the talk had, and all the newspaper and magazine articles and discussions that have been published, leading to confusion in the minds of unliterary, uncritical, and often ignorant people, as to dates, the order of events, and mind impressions; and this confusion influenced by their religious zeal, not to say fanaticism; prejudices against supposed heresies; and resentment of religious innovation -- what value, I say, is to be given to the recollections of a very aged person under these circumstances, must be finally determined by the reader. I only ask that the circumstances be known; that they be constantly held in mind and given their due weight, and I shall not fear the judgment.
Mr. Schroeder next introduces what he would fondly have us believe is the testimony of the Reverend Cephus Dodd, "a Presbyterian minister of Amity, Pa." (where Spaulding lived 1814-16); Mr. Dodd was also a practicing physician and attended Spaulding in his last illness. "As early as 1832," says Mr. Schroeder, "this Mr. Dodd took Mr. George M. French of Amity to Spaulding's grave, and there expressed a positive belief that Sidney Rigdon was the agent who had transformed Spaulding's manuscript into the Book of Mormon." Mr. French, we are told, fixes the date through its proximity to his removal to Amity. Following is the comment of Mr. Schroeder on the Reverend Mr. Dodd's "testimony:
"The conclusion thus expressed by Mr. Dodd in advance of al public discussion or evidence is important, because of what is necessarily implied in it. First, it involved a comparison between
105 "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" p. 6.
Spaulding's literary production and the 'Book of Mormon,' with a discovered similarity inducing conviction that the latter was a plagiarism from the former. This comparison presupposes a knowledge of the contents of Spaulding's rewritten manuscript. The second and most important deduction is to be made from the assertion that Sidney Rigdon was the connecting link in the plagiarism. Such a conclusion must have had a foundation in Mr. Dodd's mind, and could have arisen only if he was possessed of personal knowledge of what he considered reliable information creating a conviction in his mind of the probability of Sidney Rigdon's connection with the matter." 106
But not so fast. Let us think of it. Who tells this story? Mr. Dodd in 1832? No. And is it of record that he did all these things that Mr. Schroeder surmises that he did? Again, no. And was Mr. Dodd's "conclusions expressed" in advance of all public discussion or evidence, respecting the Book of Mormon? Not at all. According to the authority Mr. Schroeder himself cites for this Dodd "evidence," and from which he gets the story, the Reverend Mr. Dodd lived until January 16, 1858. But there is no direct statement or evidence from him on the matter here discussed. Nothing was said about it until the publication of "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" in the "History of Washington County, Pa.," 1882, after the discussion of all the evidence, instead of in advance of it. Then Mr. George M. French, according to the author of "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" "in his eighty-third year," "retains a vivid impression" of the foregoing account of a visit to Mr. Spaulding's grave in company with Mr. Dodd; and then the story. 107And Mr. Schroeder would lead his readers to believe that they have in this jumbled mass of second hand "vivid impressions" fifty years old, detailed by a man in his dotage, over eighty-two years old, an expression in "advance of all public discussion or evidence" respecting the Book of Mormon -- in 1832, in fact! And Mr. Schroeder is a professional lawyer!
Of like character but weaker are the rest of Mr. Schroeder's witnesses to the "theft" of the Spaulding manuscript and its
106 American Historical Magazine, November, 1906, p. 519.
107 "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" p. 10.
identity with the Book of Mormon. Such is his "tenth witness," Redick McKee (Joseph Miller, considered above, being his "ninth witness,"); and his "eleventh witness," the Reverend Abner Jackson; and, as Mr. Schroeder himself puts it, -- "Last but not least," John C. Bennett, who also endorses the Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon; for which I had almost said, "thank God!" for nothing could so completely damn a thing as John C,. Bennett's endorsement. Then I restrained the all but expressed exclamation and softened it to the quiet conclusion of -- "fitting climax to such a theory!"
Bennett claims to have had it from the "confederation" -- that "there never were any plates of the Book of Mormon excepting what were seen by the spiritual and not the natural eyes of the witnesses." 108 All these witnesses are as incompetent and contemptible as those whose testimony we have examined, and with this we leave them. It is not necessary to demonstrate over and over again the same proposition, or refute every specific detail of falsehood when they can be classified and dealt with in mass.
OF RIGDON'S ALLEGED "RELIGIOUS DISHONESTY."Mr. Schroeder seeks to make much of what he calls "Rigdon's religious dishonesty" previous to his joining the Mormon Church. Of this and the evidence on which it is based, it is only necessary to say: said dishonesty is charged by the Reverend Samuel Williams, author of "Mormonism Exposed" -- the Reverend gentleman whom we have seen put into his book a statement as to Mr. Patterson's views about the Spaulding manuscript which Mr. Patterson evidently refused to put into his own signed statement, given to Mr. Williams for his anti-Mormon work. The dishonesty alleged against Rigdon has to do with religious experiences which Rigdon is represented by a rival minister as confessing to have feigned in order to obtain membership in the Baptist Church, at Peters Creek. Its source utterly discredits it; and at best it is only
108 "Mormonism Exposed," pp. 123-4.
the all-to-usual exhibition of malice expressed in misrepresentation when a person passes from one religious organization to another.
RIGDON'S OPPORTUNITY TO STEAL SPAULDING'S MANUSCRIPT.The next question which Mr. Schroeder considers is Rigdon's opportunity to steal the Spaulding manuscript. This depends upon whether Sidney Rigdon was at Pittsburg when the Spaulding manuscript was there between 1812, the time of Spaulding's advent into Pittsburg with his manuscript, and 1814, the time of his departure. But to humor Mr. Schroeder we will extend the time so as to include his fiction about a "rewritten" manuscript and its "second submission" to Patterson for publication. So the question is, was Rigdon in Pittsburg between 1812 and 1816, the time of Spaulding's death? Here I insert a brief biography of Sidney Rigdon, up to the time of his joining the Mormon Church. It is taken from the "Illustrated History of Washington County, Pa.," in which was published the treatise on "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" I select this account of Mr. Rigdon's movements up to 1830, because it is the one regarded by Mr. Schroeder as more accurate than other accounts; and it is only slightly different, but in no respect materially so, from the account of Mr. Rigdon published in the "History of Joseph Smith," in the Millennial Star, supplement, volume XIV., and condensed in a foot note in the "History of the Church." 109
"Sidney Rigdon was born near the present village of Library, Allegheny Co., Pa., Feb. 19, 1793; attended in boyhood an ordinary country school; joined the Baptist Church near his home May 31, 1817; studied divinity with a Baptist preacher named Clark in Beaver County, Pa., in the winter of 1818-19, and was licensed to preach; went to Warren, Ohio, where he was ordained, and in the winter of 1821-22 returned to Pittsburg; became pastor of the First Baptist Church there Jan. 28, 1822, and for doctrinal errors was excluded from the Baptist denomination Oct. 11, 1823. He continued to Preach in the court-house to his adherents, but in 1824, according to one account,
109 "History of the Church," vol. I, pp. 120-1, and notes.
he removed to the Western Reserve, Ohio; according to another account he engaged in the tanning business in Pittsburg until 1826, and then removed to the Reserve, residing for brief periods at Bainbridge, Mentor, and Kirtland. At this time he was connected with the Campbellite or Disciple's Church, and preached its doctrines, mingled with extravagant conceits of his own, until in 1830 he joined the Mormons. 110
It will be observed that this does not bring Sidney Rigdon to Pittsburg until 1821-22, some seven years after the Spauldings had left Pittsburg with their precious manuscript, and five years after they had departed from Pennsylvania with it. Mr. Rigdon's own account of his going to Pittsburg puts it in November, 1821, on his return from Ohio, to visit relatives in Allegheny county, Pa. He preached in Pittsburg a few times, and it was his preaching during this visit that led to his being called to become the permanent pastor of the First Baptist Church of that place, where he took up his residence in 1822.
In a communication addressed to the Boston Journal, under date of May 27, 1839, Sidney Rigdon emphatically denies having any connection with Patterson's printing establishment; or with Spaulding and his manuscript. 111 concerning the charge frequently made that Rigdon lived in Pittsburg, and was connected with Patterson's printing office during 1815 and 1816, Mr. Schroeder himself remarks.
"The evidence upon which is based the charge of Rigdon having a permanent residence in Pittsburg during the years in question, or his connection with Patterson's printing office is so unsatisfactory that these issues must be found in favor of Rigdon's denial." 112
Very diligent inquiry was made by the historians of Washington County, to ascertain whether or not Rigdon was in Pittsburg at the time the Spaulding manuscript is alleged to have been there. What makes the matter of inquiry more interesting is the fact that the author of that part of the "History of
110 "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" p. 8.
111 The letter of Rigdon will be found complete in Smucker's "History of the Mormons," pp. 45-48.
112 American Historical Magazine, November, 1906, p. 524.
Washington County" under the caption "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" is Robert Patterson, son of Robert Patterson, who is said to have been the printer to whom Spaulding's manuscript was taken for publication. Robert Patterson, author of "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" in his capacity of historian, sent out a number of letters soliciting information as to the time of Sidney Rigdon's residence in Pittsburg and his connection with the Patterson-Lambdin printing establishment; and also he made personal inquiry on the same subject. The results of such inquiry follows. The term "the present writer" used in the quotations refer to Mr. Patterson himself. After saying that Carvil Rigdon, Sidney's brother, and Peter Boyer, his brother-in-law, were the source of information for Rigdon's biography, Mr. Patterson says:
"Mr. Boyer also in a personal interview with the present writer in 1879, positively affirmed that Rigdon had never lived in Pittsburg previous to 1822, adding that 'they were boys together, and he ought to know.' Mr. Boyer had for a short time embraced Mormonism, but became convinced that it was a delusion, and returned to his membership in the Baptist Church."
It could not then have been through religious sympathy with Mr. Rigdon that Mr. Boyer made this statement.
"Isaac King, a highly-respected citizen of Library, Pa., and an old neighbor of Rigdon, states in a letter to the present writer, dated June 14, 1789, that Sidney lived on the farm of his father until the death of the latter in May, 1810, and for a number of years afterwards; * * * received his education in a log school-house in the vicinity; he began to talk in public on religion soon after his admission to the church, (1817) probably at his own instance, as there is no record of his licensure; 'went to Sharon, Pa., for a time, and was there ordained as a preacher, but soon returned to his farm, which he sold (June 28, 1823), to James Means, and about the time of the sale removed to Pittsburg.'
"Samuel Cooper, of Saltsburg, Pa., a veteran of three wars, in a letter to the present writer, dated June 14, 1879, stated as follows: 'I was acquainted with Mr. Lambdin, was often in the printing-office; was acquainted with Silas Engles, the foreman of the printing-office; he never mentioned Sidney Rigdon's name
to me, so I am satisfied he was never engaged there as a printer. * * * Never saw him in the book-store or printing-office; your father's office was in the celebrated Molly Murphy's Row.'
"Rev. Robert P. DuBois, of New London, Pa., under date of Jan. 9, 1879, writes: 'I entered the book-store of R. Patterson & Lambdin in March, 1818, when about twelve years old, and remained there until the summer of 1820. The firm had under its control the book-store on Fourth Street, a book-bindery, a printing-office, (not newspaper, but job-office, under the name of Butler & Lambdin) entrance on Diamond alley, and a steam paper-mill on the Allegheny (under the name of R. & J. Patterson). I knew nothing of Spaulding (then dead) or of his book, or of Sidney Rigdon.'
"Mrs. R. W. Lambdin, of Irvington, N. Y., widow of the late J. Harrison Lambdin, in response to some inquiries as to her recollections of Rigdon and others, writes under date of Jan. 15, 1882: 'I am sorry to say I shall not be able to give you any information relative to the persons you name. They certainly could not have been friends of Mr. Lambdin.' Mrs. Lambdin resided in Pittsburg from her marriage in 1819 to the death of her husband, Aug. 1, 1825. Mr. Lambdin was born Sept. 1, 1798."
It is to the credit of Mr. Patterson that he recorded these testimonies that must be so unsatisfactory to the Spaulding theory advocates, among whom must be numbered Mr. Patterson himself. He also says that "impartial justice, requires the addition to the above testimony of the very explicit denial of Rigdon himself;" and then quotes the essential part of Mr. Rigdon's denial sent to the Boston Journal in 1839. He criticizes the grammar of the passage, and points out that Mr. Rigdon was mistaken in saying that there was no "Patterson printing-office" in Pittsburg during his residence there; "as his (Rigdon's) pastorate there began in January, 1822, and the firm of 'R. Patterson and Lambdin' was in business until January 1, 1823." But, as related in the statement of the Reverend Robert P. DuBois, given above, since the job printing-office said to be under the "control" of the firm of "R. Patterson and Lambdin," was conducted under the name of "Butler and Lambdin." 113 Mr. Schroeder admits that Mr. Rigdon's slight
113 "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" p. 9. The testimony of the five witnesses alluded to will be found in the same work and page.
mistake was very natural, and does not impair in the least the truth of his denial. Having introduced Mr. Rigdon's denial Mr. Patterson remarks upon the witnesses whose testimony is given above:
"But whatever may be thought of his testimony, as that of an interested party, there can be no doubt that the five preceding witnesses on this point have conscientiously stated what they firmly believed to be the facts. No one who knew them would for a moment doubt their veracity." 114
Here let us notice a statement by Mr. Schroeder, that seems to have some weight on this point. He claims Sidney Rigdon's son, John W. Rigdon, says that his father lived in Pittsburg in 1818; and in the biographical note of Sidney Rigdon published in the "History of Sidney Rigdon," the manuscript of which he has deposited with the church historians, it is there stated:
"In March, 1819, Mr. Rigdon left the farm and made his home with the Reverend Andrew Clark of Pittsburg, also a Baptist minister. While residing with Mr. Clark he took out a license and began from that time his career as a minister. In May, 1819, he removed from Pennsylvania to Trumbull county, Ohio." 115
This would give Sidney Rigdon a residence in Pittsburg from some time in March (1819) until some time in May of the same year -- something like two months. This would give some support to Mr. Schroeder's statement. But in the biographical sketch of Mr. Rigdon in the "History of Washington county," the data of which was supplied to the writer of it by Carvil Rigdon, Sidney's brother, and his brother-in-law, Peter Boyer, it is said that Sidney Rigdon "studied divinity with a Baptist preacher named Clark in Beaver County, Pa., in the winter of 1818-19 and was licensed to preach." Beaver County is immediately north of Allegheny county, in which Pittsburg is located. Notwithstanding the statement of John W. Rigdon has found its way in to the "History of the Church," as above explained,
115 "History of the Church," (1906), vol. 1, p. 121, foot note.
yet Carvil Rigdon and Peter Boyer must be held to be more competent witnesses on this point than John W Rigdon; and more especially since the inquiry made by Mr. Patterson in his capacity of contributor to the "History of Washington County, Pa.," was made in the interest of the Spaulding theory that requires the location of Rigdon in Pittsburg earlier than 1822, when, it is conceded, he took up his residence there. Had the Reverend Mr. Clark with whom Rigdon studied divinity in the spring of 1819 lived in Pittsburg instead of Beaver County, that fact would scarcely have escaped the searching inquiry made upon the subject. But even if the residence of Rigdon for two months in the year named could be fixed in Pittsburg beyond reasonable doubt, the conclusion of Mr. Schroeder as to its effect upon Rigdon's denial of knowledge of the existence of the printing- office of Patterson and Lambdin, would not stand. He puts his argument in syllogistic form, thus:
"Rigdon's son says Rigdon lived in Pittsburg in 1818. Church biographers allege that he preached there regularly after January 18, 1822. During 1818 and 1822 Patterson was in the printing business, and Rigdon's statement must be deemed untrue." 116
To which the answer is: By no means; since if it be allowed that Rigdon was in Pittsburg at all, he was there but some two months -- and the existence of a certain printing establishment might easily escape his knowledge, -- and more especially so since the printing office was run under another firm name, that of "Butler and Lambdin." 117
Let us now return to Mr. Patterson and his "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" We have seen how fairly he recorded this testimony of witnesses that told against his own side of the case, and the certificate of good character he gave those witnesses. It is but fair to him to say that on the opposite side of the question he gives the "Davison" statement credence, apparently not knowing the "shady" character of that document; and that if it was "in the main true," then it carried off the Spaulding
116 American Historical Magazine, November, 1906, p. 526.
117 "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" p. 9.
manuscript beyond the reach of Sidney Rigdon as early as 1814, when the Spauldings left Pittsburg for Amity. Mr. Patterson also records the statement of Joseph Miller, Redick McKee and Mr. French's story of the Reverend Cephus Dodd, whose statements have already been considered, and shown to be incompetent as evidence.
And then he comes to another witness in whom both he and Mr. Schroeder delight as establishing a connection if not between Rigdon and Patterson's printing establishment, then at least between Rigdon and Lambdin. This is Mrs. R. J. Eichbaum of Pittsburg. The facts relating to her are that she was the daughter of John Johnston, and was born August 25, 1792. Her father was post-master of Pittsburg from 1804 to 1822; and was succeeded by William Eichbaum, who held the office until 1833. In 1815 Miss Johnston married William Eichbaum. As soon as she became old enough she assisted her father in attending the post-office. From 1811 to 1816 she became the regular clerk in the office assorting, opening and distributing the mail. And even after her marriage in the absence of her husband, she sometimes attended to these duties. Pittsburg was then a small town, the mail was meagre, and Mrs. Eichbaum remembered those who called regularly for their mail; and now her own words:
"I knew and distinctly remember Robert and Joseph Patterson, J. Harrison Lambdin, Silas Engles, and Sidney Rigdon. I remember Rev. Mr. Spaulding, but simply as one who occasionally called to inquire for letters. I remember that there was an evident intimacy between Lambdin and Rigdon. They very often came to the office together. I particularly remember that they would thus come during the hour on Sabbath afternoon when the office was required to be open, and I remember feeling sure that Rev. Mr. Patterson knew nothing of this, or he would have put a stop to it. I do not know what position, if any, Rigdon filled in Patterson's store or printing-office, but am well assured he was frequently, if not constantly there for a large part of the time when I was clerk in the post-office. I recall Mr. Engles saying that 'Rigdon was always hanging around the printing-office.' He was connected with the tannery before he became a preacher, though he may have continued the business whilst preaching." 118
118 Ibid, p. 10.
This is the strongest and I may say the only testimony existing concerning any connection between Sidney Rigdon and Lambdin. But if this testimony was left to stand with all its strength unimpaired, it is a "far way" between this and the establishment of a connection between Rigdon and the Spaulding manuscript. Even Mr. Schroeder concedes that. In commenting on the above testimony, he says:
"While this does not establish that Sidney Rigdon had a permanent abode in Pittsburg, nor that he was connected with Patterson's printing establishment, it yet explains why seemingly everybody who knew him reached that conclusion." 119
One marvels at the concluding remark in the above passage, in the face of the testimony of the five witnesses quoted by the author of "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" These five witnesses had the best opportunity of knowing of such connection if it existed. They were Rigdon's own boyhood and young manhood companions, employees of the firm of Patterson and Lambdin, including Lambdin's wife, and they all declare there was no such connection, or that they knew of none. And then there is the silence of Robert Patterson, of the firm of Patterson and Lambdin to account for. Patterson, who was solicited for information on the subject but who evidently could give none; and whose disclosure if he had any to make, Rigdon boldly challenged in his Boston Journal article of 1839. Mr. Patterson did not die until September 5th, 1854; 120 and in 1839 Rigdon in the article referred to said:
"If I were to say that I ever heard of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding and his hopeful wife, until Dr. P. Hurlburt wrote his lie about me, I should be a liar like unto themselves. Why was not the testimony of Mr. Patterson obtained to give force to this shameful tale of lies? The only reason is, that he was not a fit tool for them to work with; he would not lie for them, for if he were called on he would testify to what I have here said." 121
119 American Historical Magazine, September, 1906, p. 528.
120 Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" p. 7.
121 "History of the Mormons," Smucker, p. 96.
This is Rigdon's challenge, (Mr. Schroeder nowhere deals with it) and while we regret its form we rejoice in its boldness and emphasis. Mr. Patterson was solicited by the Reverend Samuel Williams, when preparing his "Mormonism Exposed," for a statement, and Mr. Patterson gave one and signed it under date of 2nd of April, 1842, but not a word in it of Rigdon or of his connection with the printing establishment, or his association with Lambdin, or of the complaints of Engles about Rigdon "always hanging around the printing office;" not a word about Spaulding and his manuscript. There is but one conclusion to be reached from this silence, viz., there were no such relations to disclose as are contended for by Mr. Schroeder.
The statement of Mr. Eichbaum is somewhat weakened by the fact that when she gave her statement she was eighty-seven years old and what Mr. Schroeder has implied of memories impaired by age in the case of Mrs. McKinstry, ought to have some application to the testimony of Mrs. Eichbaum. Another consideration weakens it. Taking into account Rigdon's prominence in the public life of Pittsburg from the time of being settled there as the regular pastor of the First Baptist Church, in 1822, up to 1825, the year of Lambdin's death, if any such intimacy had existed between Rigdon and Lambdin as described by Mr. Eichbaum and contended for by Mr. Schroeder, would not Mrs. Lambdin have had some knowledge of it? "Mrs. Lambdin resided in Pittsburg from her marriage in 1819 to the death of her husband, August 1st, 1825." Yet writing to Mr. Patterson, author of "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon," under date of Jan. 15th, 1882, in response to inquiries as to her recollections of Sidney Rigdon and others she says:
"I am sorry to say I shall not be able to give you any information relative to the persons you name. They certainly could not have been friends of Mr. Lambdin." 122
If due weight be given to these considerations, I do not think much importance can attach to the testimony of Mrs. Eichbaum. It simply represents the confused impressions arising
122 "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" p. 9.
from the neighborhood gossip and public discussion of the subject, in a mind grown old.
What Mr. Patterson has said at the close of the testimony pro and con, which he presents in his article in the History of Washington County, is worth repeating:
"These witnesses are all whom we can find after inquiries extending through some three years who can testify at all to Rigdon's residence in Pittsburg before 1816, and to his possible employment in Patterson's printing-office or bindery. Of this employment none of them speak from personal knowledge. In making inquiries among two or three score of the oldest residents of Pittsburg and vicinity, those who had any opinion of the subject invariably, so far as now remembered, repeated the story of Rigdon's employment in Patterson's office, as if it were a well-known and admitted fact; the 'could tell all about it,' but when pressed as to their personal knowledge of it or their authority for the conviction they had none." 123
The search for evidence was prolonged and thorough; evidently, at the outset, the confidence was great; and the results evidently a disappointment. That becomes more apparent when one reads the foot note of the publishers on Mr. Patterson's passage above.
If any one would learn an impressive lesson upon the transitory nature of man's hold upon the remembrance of his fellow-men, let him engage in an investigation into some matter of local or personal history dating back a half century ago. So rapidly, in the very places where a man has lived and labored, does the recollection of him fade into rumor, or myth, or oblivion. The candid reader will doubtless suspend his judgment on this hitherto accepted theory of Rigdon's printership, or set it down as, at the most, only probable, but certainly not yet proved. 124
To these reflections on how quickly recollections of a man in the place where he wrought some portion of his life's work fade into myth or rumor, or oblivion, there may be added the other side of the case; let ever so little a circumstance happen to a
123 "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" p. 11.
124 Ibid, p. 9 foot note.
man in some place where part of his life was passed, and if that man becomes famous, or through any cause becomes notorious, then mark how local gossips and myth-makers spring up on every hand, magnifying the most trivial incidents into events of importance; how new incidents are often invented, which with those that have some foundation in fact are constantly undergoing variations by additions or subtractions or a change in application, until all is distorted, confused and confounded. And many "can tell all about it, until," as Mr. Patterson remarks, "pressed as to their personal knowledge, or their authority for their conviction, then it is discovered they have none." And then one stands face to face with the utter worthlessness of that kind of "evidence" to establish anything good or ill concerning a man, or and event, or a cause. It is out of just such "evidence" as this last that Mr. Schroeder and his fellow "Spauldingites," seek to construct for the Book of Mormon an origin other than that vouched for by Joseph Smith and his associates.
DID RIGDON EXHIBIT THE SPAULDING MANUSCRIPT?Especially out of just such evidence as this grown Mr. Schroeder's next subject -- "Sidney Rigdon exhibits Spaulding's manuscript." While Rigdon was at Pittsburg, 1822-23, a Dr. Winters, then teaching school in the town, was in Rigdon's study when the latter took from his desk a large manuscript and said that a Presbyterian minister named Spaulding whose health had failed brought it to a printer to see if it would not pay to publish it -- "it is a romance of the Bible," Rigdon is reported to have said. Doctor Winter thought no more about it until the Book of Mormon appeared. Then, of course, "he remembered all about it." Dr. Winter, did not commit his recollections of this interview to writing, though he lived until 1878. But Mr. Schroeder finds "something just as good," a daughter writes out what she had heard her father, Dr. Winters, say about it. This was in 1881, about the time interest was renewed in the subject through the publication of Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson's article in Scribner's Magazine for August, 1880.
Of like import is the story of Mrs. Amous Dunlap, of Warren, Ohio. She wrote in answer to inquiries in December, 1879, to the effect that she visited the Rigdon family at Bainbridge, Ohio, when quite a child, (Mr. Rigdon was her aunt). One day the following happened:
During my visit Mr. Rigdon went to his bedroom and took from a trunk, which he kept locked, a certain manuscript. He came into the other room and seated himself by the fire place and commenced reading it. His wife at that moment came into the room and exclaimed, 'What! you're studying that thing again?" or something to that effect. She then added, 'I mean to burn that paper.' He said, 'No, indeed, you will not. This will be a great thing some day! 125
Mr. Schroeder introduces this as one of his items of evidence that Mr. Rigdon foreknew of the forthcoming and contents of the Book of Mormon. The thing that destroys the effect of it is, the undoubted fact that if Sidney Rigdon was engaged in such a scheme as Mr. Schroeder charges he was, then Mrs. Rigdon must have known of it. Now when Mr. Rigdon had before him in 1830 the question of what should be his relationship to Mormonism, and he had decided that it was true and that he would accept it, he naturally was concerned as to what Mrs. Rigdon's attitude would be in the matter, and when he broached the subject to her "he was happy to find that she was not only diligently investigating the subject, but was believing with all her heart, and was desirous of obeying the truth." 126 If it be urged by Mr. Schroeder, as it is most likely to be, that the conversion of Mrs. Rigdon, like that of her husband, was but a sham, a prearranged affair, that she as well as Mr. Rigdon fore-knew of the forth-coming of the Book of Mormon, then the scene at Bainbridge, described by Mrs. Dunlap as taking place, supposedly because of Mr. Rigdon's absorption in Spaulding's manuscript, has no place in the scheme of things to be supported by Mr. Schroeder's contention. But I have referred to this and the Dr. Winter episode merely as illustrations of how variations and additions multiply upon myths when once started. And so
125 Ibid, p. 12.
126 Millennial Star, vol. XIV, supplement, p. 48.
it will continue to be as long as there is a relative who had a relative who heard something about what some one else had said of Rigdon's connection with Patterson and Spaulding; that is, new variations of the story will be constantly appearing.
DID RIGDON FORE-KNOW THE COMING AND CONTENTS OF
I know that Sidney Rigdon told me there was a book coming out, the manuscript of which had been found engraved on gold plates, as much as two years before the Mormon book made its appearance or had been heard of by me.
It must be remembered that Bently and Rigdon married sisters, that they had family troubles in respect of property, as already explained, 127 and were rival preachers, all which would go far to discredit Bently's charge if his charge stood by itself. Alexander Campbell, however, was the editor of the Millennial Harbinger at this time, and in an editorial note on the above mentioned letter, lays the weight of his unqualified confirmation upon it. He says:
"The conversation alluded to in Brother Bently's letter of 1841 was in my presence as well as in his, and my recollection of it led me some two or three years ago, to interrogate Brother Bently, touching his recollections of it, which accorded with mine in every particular except the year in which it occurred, he placing it in the summer of 1827, I, in the summer of 1826, Rigdon at the same time observing that in the plates dug up in New York there was an account not only of the aborigines of this country, but also it was stated that the Christian religion had been preached in this country during the first century just as we were preaching it on the Western Reserve."
127 See note 52, etc., and Evening and Morning Star, p. 301 [sic - p. 151].
This is Mr. Schroeder's strongest "evidence," and must be met at its full height and value. In 1831, in this same Millennial Harbinger, vol. II, beginning at p. 86, is an exhaustive review and analysis of the Book of Mormon, and the most powerful critique of it ever published. It is by the Reverend Alexander Campbell. After giving an analysis of each book, in the Book of Mormon, from Nephi I to Moroni, the last book in it, he then starts an investigation of its "internal evidences," and in the first subdivision he begins in this language: "Smith, its real author, as ignorant and impudent a knave as ever wrote a book, betrays the cloven foot in basing his whole book upon a false fact." Then he proceeds with the argument. In closing his argument on the "internal evidence" he uses the following language:
"The book proposes to be written at intervals and by different persons, during the long period of 1020 years, and yet for uniformity of style, there never was a book more evidently written by one set of fingers, nor more certainly conceived in one cranium since the first book appeared in human language, than this same book. If I could swear to any man's voice, face, or person, assuming different names, I could swear that this book was written by one man. And as Joseph Smith is a very ignorant man and is called the 'author' on the title page, I cannot doubt for a single moment but that he is sole 'author' and 'proprietor' of it."
Mr. Campbell also considers the testimony of the three witnesses, and of the eight witnesses, and denounces them. He is acquainted with the whole subject. He knows that it was claimed for the record that it was engraved on gold plates; that they were found buried in a stone box in New York; that an account is given in the record of the gospel having been preached in America in the first christian century -- for all these things are subjects of his criticism. He criticizes nearly every important doctrine and historical event in the book. He revels in his criticism, and near the conclusion of the whole says:
If this Prophet and his three prophetic witnesses had aught
of speciosity about them or their book, we would have examined it and exposed it in a different manner. I have never felt so fully authorized to address mortal man in the style in which Paul addressed Elymas, the sorcerer, as I feel towards this atheist Smith."
And now question to Mr. Campbell, and to Mr. Schroeder: Could the event described in the letter of Mr. Bently and confirmed by Mr. Campbell's editorial note, have happened in 1826 or 1827 without Mr. Campbell remembering it in 1831 when he wrote this scathing review and critique on the Book of Mormon? Let it be held in mind here how explicit the charge of Bently is. More than two years before the Book of Mormon made its appearance Rigdon told Bently "there was a book coming out the manuscript of which had been found on gold plates." Campbell was present and heard this remark, and also says that Rigdon at the same time observed that "The plates were dug up in New York," and that "the christian religion had been preached in this country during the first christian century, just as we were preaching it on the western reserve." Had these things been said in the presence of Alexander Campbell, two years before the Book of Mormon came out, and so said that they made such a lasting impression upon his mind that in 1844 he remembered them perfectly -- will any reasonable person undertake to say that under the strong stress of feeling exhibited by Alexander Campbell against the Book of Mormon in 1831, remembering too that this same Sidney Rigdon had left the Campbellites and joined the Mormon Church -- under these circumstances, will any person, reasonable or otherwise, say that during the writing of this long and bitter criticism of the Book of Mormon in 1831 the association of ideas and incidents would not have asserted itself and recalled this alleged Bently-Rigdon incident to the mind of Alexander Campbell? Yet not one word in the Campbell review of 1831, to indicate that the Bently-Rigdon incident ever happened.
Yet as he proceeded with his review, it would have been inevitable that he would have discovered Rigdon's forth-promised book -- "the manuscript of which had been found engraved on gold plates." "Why, yes," he would have said, "that must
be the book that Rigdon spoke to Bently about." He read in the preface to the first edition of the Book of Mormon -- and Mr. Campbell made a specialty of this preface in his criticism -- "I would also inform you that the plates of which hath been spoken were found in the township of Manchester, ontario county, New York" -- "Yes, I remember," Mr. Campbell would have exclaimed -- "dug up in New York" -- "I remember, that is what Sidney Rigdon said to Adamson Bently two or three years ago." He came to the account of the appearance of the risen Messiah among the aborigines of America; to the choosing of a ministry and commissioning them to preach the Gospel to all the people -- "Yes" he would have exclaimed, "It is all here; that is what Rigdon said in that Bently conversation in 1826 or 1827, -- 'the christian religion had been preached in this country during the first century, just as we are preaching it on the western reserve'--those were his very words, and now Rigdon has joined the movement of which the coming forth of this book is a leading incident! Well! well!"
Would not such have been the mental process? And would we not, in that event, have had the Book of Mormon criticized by Mr. Campbell in 1831, from quite a different view-point than that from which he treated it? Anyone who can believe that Campbell could remember such an incident as the Bently-Rigdon incident he recites in 1844, and yet that he failed to remember it under all the circumstances of writing his review of the Book of Mormon in 1831, need not stagger over believing any seeming miracle within the experience of man, however extravagant it may be.
I shall never be able to express in words the deep depression that overcame me when the conviction of Alexander Campbell's perfidy was forced upon me. In my early manhood I had read extensively in his works. The evidence he compiled and the argument he made in his great debate with Robert Owen, the English Communist, I regard as the grandest defense ever made of historic Christianity, while his debate with Bishop Purcell on the Roman Catholic Religion is justly described as the "battle of the giants." In these and in his debates with William McCalla and the Reverend N. L. Rice, his
bearing is admirable; he is the courteous gentleman, the splendid scholar, the patient philosopher, the fair opponent. In discussant the Book of Mormon, he exhibits a vulgarity, a bitterness utterly unaccountable, and entirely unworthy of himself; and lastly, and saddest of all, he descends to the low subterfuge of falsehood as in this Bently-Rigdon affair.
One may halt here. The Reverend Mr. Atwater quoted by Mr. Schroeder may now tell his little story, in 1873, of his "recollection" of Sidney Rigdon's reference to the mounds and other antiquities found in some parts of America, and of his saying before the Book of Mormon was published that "there was a book to be published containing an account of these things." Dr. Rosa of Painsville, Ohio, also quoted by Mr. Schroeder, can now tell, in 1841, of a conversation he had with Sidney Rigdon in the early part of 1830, about it being time for a new religion to spring up that "mankind were rife, and ready for it;" and air his suspicions that Rigdon found his "new religion" in Mormonism, and on that and a remembrance of a casual remark of Rigdon's that he expected to be absent from home a few months, build his conclusion that Rigdon "was at least an accessory, if not the principal in getting up this farce" 128 -- of Mormonism. All this I say may be said by these "witnesses," but it is of no effect; for if sectarian prejudice and bitterness and jealousy, coupled with intellectual pride, can so swerve Alexander Campbell from the path direct of truth and fair dealing, it is not to be marveled at if a thousand little Reverend whiffets spring forward with their timely "recollections," that make against the truth.
128 American Historical Magazine, November, 1906, p. 532.
(To be Continued).
Vol. 4 MARCH, 1909 No. 2
AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE
LYMAN HORACE WEEKS, Editor
ORIGIN OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.
Mr. Schroeder represents that Parley P. Pratt was a peddler "who knew almost everybody in western New York," 130 therefore he very likely knew the Smiths previous to 1826. For the statement that Pratt was a peddler, and "ubiquitous," Mr.
129 American Historical Magazine, Jan., 1907, p. 58.
130 "Hand Book on Mormonism" (1882), p. 3.
Schroeder can only cite an address, before the Union Home Missionary meeting in 1881, by Mrs. Horace Eaton, of Palmyra; 131 and she was evidently repeating one of the many idle rumors from the vicinity of Palmyra, as there is no evidence for the statement of Mrs. Eaton, and the story is refuted by the facts as stated in the first three chapters of Pratt's "Autobiography," where his struggles to secure and clear a farm, in partnership with his brother, are detailed. This farm was near the then small town of Oswego on Lake Ontario, in Oswego County. It is true that Pratt in the autumn of 1826 visited his uncles, Ira and Allen Pratt, in Wayne -- then Ontario -- county, New York, -- exact location not given. There is nothing "ubiquitous" about his movements, or any evidence of his wide acquaintance with people.
To give a coloring of dishonesty to the character of Pratt, Mr. Schroeder writes the following passage:
"One of the temptations inducing Pratt's departure from New York was to get to country where, as he himself expresses it, there is 'no law to sweep (away) all the hard earnings of years to pay a small debt.' The ethical status of an average country peddler who is willing to leave his native state to avoid the payment of his 'small debts' furnished a fertile immorality in which to plant the seeds of religious imposture." 132
Mr. Schroeder conceals the fact that the "small debt" not "debts" as put by him, was merely a remainder due to Mr. Morgan of whom Pratt had purchased the farm near Oswego, and which owing to his brother's failure to meet his share of the payments, as also bad markets for the crop of 1826, Mr. Pratt could not pay. Whereupon the farm it had taken years to clear of timber, and the crop was seized by Morgan for that debt. Is Mr. Schroeder justified in giving a sinister aspect to this matter?
We have Pratt located in Amherst, 1826. Sidney Rigdon makes his second journey from Pennsylvania and arrives at Bainbridge, Ohio, in 1826, and in capacity of "Disciple" preacher
131 American Historical Magazine, Jan., 1907, p. 58, also "Hand Book on Mormonism," p. 3.
132 American Historical Magazine, Jan., 1907, p. 59.
visits the surrounding towns where he becomes acquainted with Pratt. All this is granted. But Mr. Schroeder in trying to fix upon the exact time and circumstance of their first meeting, resorts to a jugglery of facts, and builds on the distorted mass such conclusions as can be characterized only by the term shameful. I quote Mr. Schroeder:
"The date of their first meeting is nowhere given, but may reasonably be inferred from an address delivered by Parley P. Pratt in 1843 or '4. In this discourse Pratt tells of an occurrence which transpired on his way to his future Ohio home, which occurrence furnishes the key to his first connection with Mormonism. On his way he stopped at a humble cottage, the name of whose occupant he carefully fails to give. Here, while asleep (so he says), "a messenger of a mild and intelligent countenance suddenly stood before me (Pratt) arrayed in robes of dazzling splendor." According to Mormon theology, an angel is but an exalted man. Of course Sidney Rigdon was an exalted man; why not, then an angel? This angel claimed to hold the keys to the mysteries of this wonderful country, and took Pratt out to exhibit those mysteries to him. Pratt then had portrayed to his mind the whole future of Mormonism; its cities, with inhabitants from all parts of the globe; its temples, with a yet unattained splendor; its present church organization was, with considerable definiteness, outlined; its political ambition to establish a temporal kingdom of God on the ruins of this government was set forth with quite as much definiteness as in the subsequent more publicly uttered, treasonable sermons. I conclude from the exact manner in which this "Angel of the Prairies" foreknew the ambitions, hopes, and future achievements of the Mormon Church and the similar admitted foreknowledge of Rigdon and the subsequently established connection between Rigdon, Pratt, and Smith, that the "Angel of the Prairies" who outlined to Pratt his then contemplated and now executed religious fraud, was none other than Sidney Rigdon himself, and that this fact accounts for Pratt's failure to give the name of his host or the date of his first meeting with Rigdon." 133
"THE ANGEL OF THE PRAIRIES"The work here quoted for these supposedly historical incidents, is entitled "The Angel of the Prairies," and is a work of pure fiction, a product of the author's imagination, professedly
133 American Historical Magazine, Jan., 1907, p. 59.
and confessedly so. 134 It was never delivered as a public address in Nauvoo, though Mr. Schroeder in the above calls it successively an "Address delivered by Parley P. Pratt," a "discourse," and in his notes a "sermon." 135 It was merely read in the presence of Joseph Smith and "a general council," most likely the First Presidency and Mr. Pratt's associates of the Twelve Apostles, as "a curious and extraordinary composition in the similitude of a dream." Such is its author's characterization of it. "It was designed," he continues, "as a reproof of the corruptions and degeneracy of our government, in suffering mobs to murder, plunder, rob and drive their fellow citizens with impunity. It also suggested some reforms." 136 It is no more history, or even prophecy than Johnson's "Rasselas" or Sir Thomas More's "Utopia" is history or prophecy. Yet this fiction, and I charge that Mr. Schroeder knew it to be fiction -- for he could learn the facts from its preface -- must be pressed into service as solemn prose history in order to complete and sustain the vagaries of the Schroeder-Spaulding theory! At first on meeting with this shameful perversion one is inclined to an outburst of vexation. On second thought he remembers that this fragment is but of a piece of the whole fabric of the Spaulding theory, and smiles.
But let us follow Mr. Schroeder further into the realms of his deductions built upon this piece of literary fiction, the "Angel of the Prairies." Parley P. Pratt returned to the home of his aunt Van Cott in Canaan, Columbia county, New York, for the purpose of marrying a Miss Halsey to whom he was engaged. This was in the summer of 1827. Mr. Schroeder makes Pratt's visit to New York for the above purpose, the occasion of placing the Spaulding manuscript in the hands of Joseph Smith, and all the connections are perfected for revamping this old manuscript story into a pretended volume of scripture. And this is the way of it as per Mr. Schroeder:
Pratt was married September 9, 1827. On September 22, 1827, a 'heavenly messenger' appeared to Joseph Smith and
134 "Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt," edition of 1874, p. 367.
135 Note 101 American Historical Magazine, Jan., 1907, p. 74.
136 Same as note 134.
unfolded to him the scheme of the Book of Mormon, and disclosed the whereabouts of the 'Golden Plates.' This 'heavenly messenger' is called the Angel Moroni. According to Mormon theology, 'God may use any beings he has made or that he pleases, and call them his angels, or messengers.' 'Gods, angels, and men are all of one species, one race, one great family.' 'God is a man like unto yourselves; that is the great secret.' Why, of course! 'That is the great secret.' God is but an exalted man,' and may call Parley Parker Pratt his angel. Parley Parker Pratt was the 'heavenly messenger,' the angel who on that day (September 22, 1827), appeared to Joseph Smith and told him where were the golden plates, that is, Spaulding's 'Manuscript Found.' Sidney Rigdon for Smith's purposes, was the 'exalted man,' the 'God' who sent this 'heavenly messenger,' Parley Parker Pratt, just as the Mormon people now look upon Joseph Smith as the 'God to this people.' 137
One might well consider himself under no obligation to treat seriously such a palpable perversion of Mormon ideas as is here presented. But this taking a piece of Mormon fiction, the "Angel of the Prairies," and misrepresenting it first as a "discourse delivered by Parley P. Pratt at Nauvoo; thence elevating it from fiction to a sober historical document; thence building upon it this misrepresentation, and perversion of Mormon ideas and historical facts, exhibits in the person of Mr. Schroeder that order of intelligence that could conceive of others following the same process in relation to the Spaulding Manuscript, until it was converted into a pretended revelation. I think Mr. Schroeder will not gain much for his "evidence" or his "argument" by this wicked perversion of Mormon ideas and facts of history, since it must suggest the innate weakness of a cause that requires such intellectual dishonesty, as is here exhibited.
It is true that the Mormons are anthropomorphists in that they believe that Jesus Christ is the "brightness of God's glory and the express image of his person" 138 -- the revelation of God as well in form as in spiritual attributes; they believe that Jesus Christ is not only divine, but Deity; that he exists now as he did after his resurrection from the dead, an immortal personage
137 American Historical Magazine, Jan., 1907, pp. 60-61.
138 "Hebrews" 1, 3.
of flesh and bones and spirit -- hence that God is an exalted man; that he uses other men, perfected and glorified, such as Noah, Moses, Elijah, and others, as his angels and arch-angels and messengers, to aid in the accomplishment of his purposes. But to represent the Latter-day Saints as believing in or accepting such jugglery as that which Mr. Schroeder charges is an outrage and a direct and conscious misrepresentation of the faith of a people. Joseph Smith indeed proclaimed that God appeared to him; in fact he claims that both the Father and the Son appeared to him, but it is blasphemy to think of Rigdon impersonating them, or either of them, in the manner and for the purpose represented by Mr. Schroeder. This revelation moreover was given in 1820, not 1827. 139 Joseph Smith said an angel visited him and revealed to him the existence of the Book of Mormon; but this was a very definite personage, a man who lived in America in the fourth Century of the Christian Era, now raised from the dead and sent to make this revelation of the American volume of scripture; he was not Parley P. Pratt; and he revealed the existence of the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith in September, 1823, not 1827. 140
THE SUPPOSED MEETINGS OF JOSEPH SMITH AND SIDNEY RIGDON
139 See Joseph Smith's own account "Pearl of Great Price," writings of Joseph Smith, and may other Mormon works.
stranger to be Sidney Rigdon. The other "witnesses," Mrs. Eaton (1881), as also J. H. McCauley, in his "History of Franklin County, Pa., "together with Abel Chase and Lorenzo Saunders, neighbors of the Smith's (the last three are the "witnesses" named by Braden in the "Braden-Kelley Debate," and for which that disputant gives no authority) but repeat the charge of Tucker. Mr. Schroeder himself in another matter, however, discredits Tucker. In his note 115, he says: "Tucker * * * says Rigdon officiated at the wedding of Joseph Smith and Emma Hale, but he fixes the date of the wedding in November, 1829, when in fact it seems to have occurred Jan. 18, 1827. Tucker therefore may have been misinformed." 141 And Joseph Smith, who ought to know, says that he and Emma were married by Esquire Tarbill. 142
Lucy Smith, in her "History of the Prophet Joseph," makes mention of a stranger coming to the home of the Smith's in company with Joseph about the time Martin Harris lost 116 pages of the translation of the Book of Mormon. The reason for the stranger accompanying the prophet to his home was the dejection of spirits and illness and physical weakness of the latter, and out of kindness the stranger insisted upon accompanying Joseph home from the point at which he left the stage on which he had travelled from his home in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Mr. Schroeder, of course, seeks to press the incident into service as an evidence of the acquaintance and co-operation of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon before the Book of Mormon is published; hence as seen through Mr. Schroeder's eyes, the "stranger" is Sidney Rigdon. There is nothing, however, in the narrative of Lucy Smith to warrant the conclusion that this stranger was Sidney Rigdon; and Mr. Schroeder is certainly in error as to the "stranger" being present at the interview between Martin Harris and the Smith's on the next day--the only circumstance that could have made the coming of the "stranger" in any way significant in Mr. Schroeder's theories. 143
141 "Origin and Rise and Progress of Mormonism," pp. 28, 46, 75, 121.
142 "History of the Church," Vol. I, p. 17.
143 The incident of the "stranger" and Joseph, the prophet is found in chapter XXV of Lucy Smith's "History of Joseph, the Prophet." Mr. Schroeder's reference to the incident is in his note 113.
Of course, this allegation of the appearance of Rigdon at the Smith home, resting upon no other basis than the fabrication of Tucker, comes in direct conflict with the express statement of both Parley P. Pratt and Sidney Rigdon, but I am not trying this issue upon the PER CONTRA testimony of "interested" witnesses. I hold that this particular charge of collaboration between Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, involving frequent association and in fact demanding almost constant association between the two in the years from 1827 and 1830, necessarily breaks down under its own weight of absurdity. The movements of Joseph Smith and of Sidney Rigdon are too well known to allow of that association taking place, to say nothing of its being kept secret. The distances separating them during those years are too great to be covered by Sidney Rigdon, even if his falsely alleged occasional absences from Ohio were allowed to stand unchallenged. This matter of distance that separated them, together with the slow modes of travel -- by carriage of horse-back -- badness of roads, etc., seem not to be taken into account at all in the fabrications of Tucker. Sidney Rigdon is operating exclusively in Ohio, in Kirtland and vicinity from 1827 to 1830. Mr. Kelley in his debate with Braden thus summarized the movements of Rigdon during these years from Hayden's "History of the Disciples:"
The Disciple (Campbellite) history sets forth, that Rigdon was their standing minister for the year 1825, at Bainbridge, Ohio; for the year 1826 at Mentor and Bainbridge; for the year 1827 at Mantua; for the year 1828, at Mentor, and this year is the time when he met Alexander Campbell at Warren, Ohio, at their assembly, where the famous passage at arms took place between Campbell and Rigdon of which so much has been said. The next year, 1829, Rigdon continued the work in Mentor, and at Euclid, and founded the church in Perry, Ohio, Aug. 7th. The next year, 1830, he continued as their minister, (and the ablest of them all), at Mentor, Euclid, Kirtland, and occasionally at Hiram, Perry, Mantua, and Painesville. 144
Joseph Smith's movements during the years named are between Manchester, New York, Harmony, Pennsylvania, and
144 "Braden-Kelley Debate," p. 100.
Fayette township (where the Whitmer's lived), New York; a distance from Ohio points, where Rigdon was operating by the nearest roads traveled, of from 250 to 300 miles. Does any one believe that the necessary collaboration was possible under such circumstance as Mr. Schroeder's theory of origin for the Book of Mormon calls for?
Has it ever entered into the thoughts of our opponents that if Sidney Rigdon was the author or adaptor of the Book of Mormon how vast and wide spread must have been the conspiracy that foisted it upon the world? Whole families must have been engaged in it. Men of all ages and various conditions in life, and living in widely separate portions of the country must have been connected with it. First we must include in the catalogue of conspirators the whole of the Smith family, then the Whitmers, Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdery; further, to carry out this absurd idea, Sidney Rigdon and Parley P. Pratt must have been their active fellow-conspirators in arranging, carrying out and consummating their iniquitous fraud. To do this they must have traveled thousands of miles and spent months, perhaps years, to accomplish--what? That is the unsolved problem. Was it for the purpose of duping the world? They, at any rate the great majority of them, were of all men most unlikely to be engaged in such a folly. Their habits, surroundings, station in life, youth and inexperience all forbid such a thought. What could they gain, in any light that could be then presented to their minds, by palming [off] such a deception upon the world? This is another unanswerable question. Then comes the staggering fact, if the Book be a falsity, that all these families, all these diverse characters, in all the trouble, perplexity, persecution and suffering through which they passed, never wavered in their testimony, never changed their statements, never 'went back' on their original declarations, but continued unto death (and they have all passed away), proclaiming that the Book of Mormon was a divine revelation, and that its record was true. Was there ever such an exhibition in the history of the world of such continued, such unabating, such undeviating falsehood? If falsehood it was. We cannot find a place in the annals of their lives
where they wavered, and what makes the matter more remarkable is that it can be said of most of them, as is elsewhere said of the three witnesses, they became offended with the Prophet Joseph, and a number of them openly rebelled against him; but they never retraced one word with regard to the genuineness of Mormon's inspired record. Whether they were friends or foes to Joseph, whether they regarded him as God's continued mouthpiece or as a fallen Prophet, they still persisted in their statements with regard to the book and the veracity of their earlier testimonies. How can we possibly with our knowledge of human nature make this undeviating, unchanging, unwavering course, continuing over fifty years, consistent with a deliberate, premeditated and cunningly -- devised and executed fraud! 145
The last matter of argument in the quotation above, the unwavering adherence of the witnesses to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the relationship they sustained to that work, has peculiar force when applied to the case of Sidney Rigdon. He claims to have known nothing of the Book of Mormon until it was presented to him (as we shall see later by a statement of his) by Parley P. Pratt and Oliver Cowdery, some six months after its publication. But let us suppose for the sake of argument, that he really took the part assigned to him by Mr. Schroeder in bringing into existence the Book of Mormon; that he stole the Spaulding "Manuscript Found" about 1816; that hearing of Smith through Pratt, he then sent the said manuscript to Smith to be announced as a revelation from God' that afterwards he collaborated with Smith to produce the Book of Mormon out of it. It will go without saying that a thief, and especially such a thief, as Rigdon is here represented to be, is a very ignoble character; and it will not be too much to say that if such a character is hard pressed by his associates, or is, what he might consider, ill treated by them, he will very probably betray them. Sidney Rigdon certainly considered himself both hard pressed and positively wronged by his brethren -- but he never "revealed" the "fraud" in which Mormonism is supposed to have had its origin. Joseph Smith sought to be rid of him as his
145 "Myth of Manuscript Found," (1883) pp. 35-6.
counselor at the October Conference of 1843. He directly charged Rigdon with treachery, of being leagued with his deadly enemies, and that he had no confidence in his "integrity and steadfastness;" that Rigdon had been profitless to him as a counselor since their escape from Missouri in 1839. By virtue of a vigorous denial on the part of Rigdon as to some of the charges, and a plea for mercy as to some delinquencies confessed, he was sustained by the conference in his office of counselor to the prophet, notwithstanding the latter was not satisfied with the conclusion of the matter reached by the Conference. "I have thrown him off my shoulders" said he, "and you have again put him upon me. You may carry him, but I will not." 146
After the death of the prophet Sidney Rigdon put in a claim for precedence in authority, claiming that right by virtue of his office as counselor to the prophet now martyred. The priesthood of the church assembled as a body to hear the cause, President Brigham Young presenting the counter claims of the Twelve Apostles as the proper presiding authority in the absence of the First Presidency. Sidney Rigdon was rejected by that body of the priesthood; 147 and shortly after left Nauvoo full of disappointment and bitterness; but he never in those trying days, or in any of the subsequent years of his life, by hint or direct charge or confession, revealed any "fraud" in which Mormonism is supposed to have had its origin; but on the contrary, as we shall see, emphatically reaffirmed his true relationship to the work, and his faith in it.
There is one person, however, who undertakes to say that sidney Rigdon "revealed" the secret concerning the origin of the book of Mormon. This is Clark Braden, who quotes one James Jeffries of St. Louis, as saying in substance that in the fall of 1844, Rigdon in several conversations admitted to him the existence of the Spaulding manuscript; that it traced the origin of the Indians from the lost tribes of Israel; that the manuscript was within his reach for several years; that "He (Rigdon) and Joe Smith used to look over the manuscript and
146 Millennial Star, Vol. 22, pp. 215-6.
147 Millennial Star, Vol. 25, pp. 215, 279.
read it on Sundays. Rigdon said Smith took the manuscript and said 'I'll print it,' and went off to Palmyra, New York." On this "testimony," the Reverend Clark Braden comments: "On his way from Nauvoo to Pittsburg (in the fall of 1844) he (Rigdon) called on his old acquaintance, Mr. Jefferies, in St. Louis, and in his anger at the Mormons, he let out the secrets of Mormonism, just as he told the Mormons he would if they did not make him their leader." 148 This "evidence," however, since it costs him nothing to set aside such palpable absurdity, Mr. Schroeder, with a show of bigness and condescension, discredits by saying: "an alleged admission of Sidney Rigdon to James Jefferies I consider of doubtful value." 149 In this case, as in that of the item presented by Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson, to the effect that it was "remembered" by some of the Conneaut witnesses in 1834, that the "Spaulding Manuscript was the translation of the Book of Mormon" -- the "evidence" manufactured in support of the Spaulding theory of origin, becomes a little too raw for Mr. Schroeder, and his gorge rises at it, and with an air of superiority he "considers it doubtful."
Closely connected with Sidney Rigdon's relationship to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is another matter several times alluded to by Mr. Schroeder, in common with all other advocates of the Spaulding theory of origin, namely, the assumption that "Joseph Smith, the nominal founder and first prophet of Mormonism, was probably too ignorant to have produced the volume unaided." It is because of this assumed inability of Joseph Smith to produce the book that the Spaulding manuscript and Sidney Rigdon are brought into the scheme of production. And yet it is clearly demonstrable that Joseph Smith did not need the assistance of either Spaulding or of Sidney Rigdon in the production of a book equal, if not superior, to the Book of Mormon from a literary stand point. I refer to the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants." It is true this book was not published until 1835; but the revelations of which it is composed began in 1828, and by the close of 1833, one
148 "Braden-Kelley Debate," p. 42.
149 American Historical Magazine, Jan., 1907, p. 75 and note 115.
> hundred and one of the revelations forming the major part of the book, were received and are of record.
There can be no question as to the authorship of this book. Joseph Smith -- under a divine inspiration, as Latter-day Saints believe -- dictated these revelations, and in this way he is their author; and they disclose a literary force and beauty far ahead of the Book of Mormon. If any one shall doubt it, let him read and compare sections 20, 42, 76, 84, 88, and 107 of the "Doctrine and Covenants," with the Book of Mormon. Any part of the book would demonstrate what is here claimed, but these sections particularly demonstrate it. Moreover in all published documents in the current periodicals of the Church, those that may be referred respectfully to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, will disclose the superior excellence in every respect of those produced by the former, over those produced by the latter.
This Spaulding theory, moreover, supposed the necessity of a superior intelligence to Joseph Smith in the production of the Book of Mormon -- in the inception of the "Mormon fraud." But will some one explain -- for Mr. Schroeder fails us at this point -- how it is that Sidney Rigdon, as soon as the Book of Mormon is launched, though having been up to this point the "master spirit" of Mormonism, now suddenly falls into second place in the development of Mormonism, and becomes merely the scribe of the Prophet, as Mr. Schroeder himself points out. It should be remembered that in 1827, the year in which Mr. Schroeder brings them together for the work of collaboration, Rigdon was thirty- four years old, Joseph Smith but twenty-two; and when the Church was organized, Joseph was but twenty-five and Rigdon thirty-seven. With Rigdon's better education (which is granted), how comes it that this man, superior in education and knowledge of the world, and of greater age, consents to occupy second place to Joseph Smith? If Rigdon was the great moving spirit of Mormonism during its incubation, why did he not continue so after the Book of Mormon was printed? The answer is that Sidney Rigdon never was the prophet's superior in talents or even in literary power of expression.
Then, again, in this connection, I call attention to the fact that if the Book of Mormon had been produced as charged by Mr. Schroeder, it would not have been so full of petty errors in grammar and the faulty use of words as if found in the first edition of the Book of Mormon. While entertaining no exalted opinion of the education of either Mr. Spaulding or of Mr. Rigdon, and the works of both are before me, on which to base that judgment, yet I cannot conceive it possible that they, even though but half educated would make such language errors as appear in the first edition. Take for example the following passages from said first edition of the Book of Mormon--speaking of the Urim and Thummim it says:
And the things are called interpreters; and no man can look in them, except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he had not ought, and he should perish; * * * but a seer can know of things which has past, and also of things which is to come * * * and hidden things shall come to light, and things which is not known shall be made known by them. (Page 173)
Blessed are they who humbleth themselves without being compelled to be humble. (Page 314)
Little children doth have words given unto them many times which doth confound the wise and the learned.(Page 315)
But they had fell into great errors, for they would not observe to keep the commandments of God.(Page 310)
Such errors as the foregoing occur frequently throughout the first edition of the Book of Mormon. They are ingrained in it; they are constitutional faults. And while perfectly explicable on the supposition that one unlearned in the grammar of the English language, as confessedly Joseph Smith was, obtaining the thought from the Nephite characters in which the Book of Mormon was written, but left to express said thought in such faulty English as he was master of 150 -- yet utterly inexplicable on the supposition that the manuscript from which the Book of Mormon was printed was
150 For an exposition and defense of this theory of the translation of the Book of Mormon, see the author's treatise of the subject, in "Defense of the Faith and the Saints," (1907) pp. 249-311.
written by Solomon Spaulding and revamped by Sidney Rigdon. The errors in grammar and the occasional wrong use of words are just such errors as would be made by Joseph Smith, an unlettered youth, in working out the translation, but just the errors that such educated men as Spaulding and Rigdon would pride themselves in avoiding. I am of the opinion that this consideration alone would be sufficient to convince a candid mind that whoever wrote the Book of Mormon, neither Sidney Rigdon nor Solomon Spaulding ever wrote it, or any part of it.
In this connection I also call attention to the fact that it is utterly impossible that the Book of Mormon should be the Solomon Spaulding story, "Manuscript Found," plus the religious matter supposed to have been supplied by Sidney Rigdon. This is the claim of all Spauldingite theorists, including Mr. Schroeder. It is based upon the assumption of Joseph Smith's lack of knowledge of theological subjects and controversies. If the book, however, was constructed as the Spaulding theorists claim it was, the line of cleavage would be apparent; the necessarily incongruous parts must be discernable; but no critic has yet appeared bold enough to point out which was originally Spaulding's, and which the Rigdon addition. The fact of the matter is there is no line of cleavage; no point at which one ends and the other begins. You might just as well talk about a line of cleavage between what the element of earth and what the element of sunshine has contributed to the coloring of the pansy or the rose, as to try to indicate what is the religious part added to the Book of Mormon by Rigdon, and what the historical part supplied by Spaulding. The religious and historical parts of the Book of Mormon are perfectly fused. They can no more be separated than sun-light and sun-warmth can be separated from our earth's atmosphere. As the sun's rays penetrate and permeate our earth's atmosphere, so the religious elements, incidents and spirit alike, permeate the Book of Mormon -- in it they are one and inseparable.
OF THE CONVERSION OF PRATT AND RIGDON.As part of Mr. Schroeder's chain of evidence, by which he hopes to establish the cumulative proofs that Pratt, Rigdon and Joseph Smith connived in palming off upon the world
the Spaulding manuscript as a revelation -- the Book of Mormon -- he points to discrepancies in the published accounts of the suddenness or slowness of Pratt's and Rigdon's conversions. Holding that the accounts of their sudden and miraculous conversion, had to be modified, and, in fact, concealed lest they should lead to the suspicion of connivance, if Rigdon and Pratt should be found giving too ready a credence to the Book of Mormon. Of the variations pointed out in Pratt's conversion it is only necessary to say that they are such variations, so slight and unimportant, that if it is considered that they are made by different persons, or, as in the case of Pratt himself, on widely separated occasions, the variations are the sure witnesses that the account is not a concocted one. In the case of one of the authorities quoted, Lucy Smith, mother of the prophet, and author of the "Life of the Prophet Joseph," Mr. Schroeder should be corrected. He states, following a misapprehension of Orson Pratt's, in order to make his statement of more force, that Lucy Smith's book was written under the supervision of Joseph Smith. 151 This is not true, as Lucy Smith did not begin to write her book until after the martyrdom of her son, Joseph. It was in the fall of the year of 1844 that she began her work, and the prophet was killed in June of that year, all of which could have been learned by Mr. Schroeder by consulting the foot notes of the edition of Lucy Smith's book published by the Reorganized Church, in 1880. 152
The discrepancy as to the time element in the conversion of Sidney Rigdon -- as to whether it was two days after Pratt and Cowdery's arrival at Kirtland, or two weeks -- may not be as satisfactorily accounted for as in the case of Parley P. Pratt. Still the chief authority for Mr. Schroeder's whole theory of the Spaulding origin of the Book of Mormon favors the longer period for the conversion of Rigdon, since Mr. Howe represents that the "sudden" conversion of Rigdon occurred "after many pretensions to disbelieve it." 153 Furthermore, in view of the whole question here debated, and the
151 American Historical Magazine, Jan., 1907, p. 67.
152 "Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet," by Lucy Smith, p. 90, foot notes.
153 "Mormonism Unveiled," Howe, p. 290.
overwhelming evidences deduced against the contentions of Mr. Schroeder, the matter of the time it took to convert Sidney Rigdon to Mormonism is of but slight importance.
THE DENIALS OF RIGDON.Mr. Schroeder throughout his argument, intermittently seeks to add force to his "evidence" by saying that Sidney Rigdon never denied this, that, or the other statement though made in his life time. He notices only Rigdon's denial published in the Boston Journal in 1839, and represents it as "absolutely the only recorded public denial ever made by Rigdon, though from 1834 to 1876 he was almost continually under the fire of this charge, reiterated in various forms and with varying proofs." 154 Of course, Mr. Schroeder is allowed to speak with some degree of authority upon the anti-Mormon side of this controversy; but for all that there are some things he does not seem to know about Sidney Rigdon's denials and affirmations. It may be that of the several statements to which Mr. Schroeder attaches the remark of Rigdon's silence, Rigdon never saw one of them; and there is one denial made by Mr. Rigdon that Mr. Schroeder has failed to note, made in 1836; and which, since it is general in its character, may be made to cover the whole period in which Mr. Rigdon is said to have made no denial. In the January number of the Latter-day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, after denouncing Howe's book and those who advocate it, and referring to Mr. Scott, Mr. Campbell and other professed ministers, he says:
"In order to avoid investigation this brotherhood will condescend to mean, low subterfuges, to which a noble-minded man would never condescend; no, he would suffer martyrdom first. Witness Mr. campbell's recommendation of Howe's book, while he knows, as well as every person who reads it, that it is a batch of falsehoods." 155
Inasmuch as Howe's book, published in 1834, charges Rigdon's complicity with the whole procedure by which the Book of
154 American Historical Magazine, Nov., 1906, p. 527.
155 Messenger and Advocate, Jan., 1836, p. 242.
Mormon is alleged to have been produced out of the Spaulding manuscript, and Rigdon above denounces Howe's book as "a batch of falsehoods," we may say there has been in existence ever since January, 1836, Rigdon's denial of the whole Spaulding theory of his complicity with a scheme to deceive men in respect of the Book of Mormon.
However, if that is not sufficient to be convincing, then I wish to produce a well authenticated denial of the most sweeping and convincing nature. John W. Rigdon, the son of Sidney Rigdon, has written a somewhat extended biography of his father which he has filed in its manuscript form in the Church Historian's Office at Salt Lake City. In this narrative he relates his own experience in connection with Mormonism, and his attempt to learn the truth from his father respecting the latter's early connection with the Book of Mormon. He tells of his visit to Utah, in 1863, where he spent the winter among the Mormon people. He was not favorably impressed with their religious life, and came to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon itself was a fraud. He determined in his own heart that if ever he returned home and found his father alive, he would try and find out what he knew of the origin of the Book of Mormon, "although," he adds, "he had never told but one story about it, and that was that Parley P. Pratt and Oliver Cowdery presented him with a bound volume of that book in the year 1830, while he (Sidney Rigdon) was preaching Campbellism at Mentor, Ohio." What John W. Rigdon claims to have seen in Utah, however, together with the fact that Sidney Rigdon had been charged with writing the Book of Mormon, made him suspicious, and he remarks:
"I concluded I would make an investigation for my own satisfaction and find out if I could if he had all these years been deceiving his family and the world, by telling that which was not true, and I was in earnest about it. If Sidney Rigdon, my father, had thrown his life away by telling a falsehood and bringing sorrow and disgrace upon his family, I wanted to know it and was determined to find out the facts, no matter what the consequences might be. I reached home in the fall of 1865, found my father in good health and he was very much pleased to see me. As he had not heard anything from me for some
time, he was afraid that I have been killed by the Indians. Shortly after I had arrived home, I went to my father's room; he was there and alone, and now was the time for me to commence my inquiries in regard to the origin of the Book of Mormon, and as to the truth of the Mormon religion. I told him what I had seen at Salt Lake City, and I said to him that what I had seen at Salt Lake had not impressed me very favorably toward the Mormon Church, and as to the origin of the Book of Mormon I had some doubts. You have been charged with writing that book and giving it to Joseph Smith to introduce to the world. You have always told me one story; that you never saw this book until it was presented to you by Parley P. Pratt and Oliver Cowdery; and all you ever knew of the origin of that book was what they told you and what Joseph Smith and the witnesses who claimed to have seen the plates had told you. It this true? If so, all right; if it is not, you owe it to me and to your family to tell it. You are an old man and you will soon pass away, and I wish to know if Joseph Smith, in your intimacy with him for fourteen years, has not said something to you that led you to believe he obtained that book in some other way than what he had told you. Give me all you know about it, that I may know the truth. My father, after I had finished saying what I have repeated above, looked at me a moment, raised his hand above his head and slowly said, with tears glistening in his eyes: 'My son, I can swear before high heaven that what I have told you about the origin of that book is true. Your mother and sister, (Mrs. Athalia Robinson,) were present when that book was handed to me in Mentor, Ohio, and all I ever knew about the origin of that book was what Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith and the witnesses who claimed they saw the plates have told me, and in all of my intimacy with Joseph Smith he never told me but the one story, and that was that he found it engraved upon gold plates in a hill near Palmyra, New York, and that an angel had appeared to him and directed him where to find it; and I have never, to you or any one else, told but the one story, and that I now repeat to you.' I believe him, and now believe he told me the truth. He also said to me after that that Mormonism was true; that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, and world would find it out some day. 156
Not only does John W. Rigdon give this valuable statement
156 "Life of Sidney Rigdon," by his son, John W. Rigdon, ms. pp. 188-195. The passages quoted in the text will be found in the "History of the Church," Vol. I, pp. 122-3. Also "Y.M.I.A. Manual" for 1905-6, pp. 485-6.
as to his father's position respecting the Book of Mormon, but he adds the following from his mother:
After my father's death, my mother, who survived him several years, was in the enjoyment of good health up to the time of her last sickness, she being eighty-six years old. A short time before her death I had a conversation with her about the origin of the Book of Mormon, and wanted to know what she remembered about its being presented to my father. She said to me in that conversation that what my father had told me about the book being presented to him was true, for she was present at the time and knew that was the first time he ever saw it, and that the stories told about my father writing the Book of Mormon were not true. This she said to me in her old age and when the shadows of the grave were gathering around her; and I believe her. 157
THE REAL ORIGIN OF THE SPAULDING THEORY.A word upon the real origin of the Spaulding theory. It did not originate by a "woman preacher," 158 reading extracts from the Book of Mormon whereupon there was a "spontaneous" recognition of Solomon spaulding's story "Manuscript Found," and an outburst of popular indignation against this deception, as is usually represented to be the case by those who advocate the Spaulding theory, and by Mr. Schroeder in particular. 159 Especially is Mr. Schroeder insistent upon the "spontaneity" with which the spaulding work was recognized when the Book of Mormon was publicly read at Conneaut; though to get this "spontaneity" Mr. Schroeder must needs rely upon the Davison statement which he acknowledges Mrs. Davison never wrote, and which he says can have no "evidentiary weight except in those matters where it is plain from the nature of things that she must have been speaking from her own personal knowledge" 160 -- and in the matter here to be mentioned
157 "History of the Church," vol. I p. 123, note.
158 It is claimed that the words "woman preacher" found in the Davison statement was a typographical error (see Clark's "Gleanings by the Way,") and should read "Mormon preacher;" but the typographical error being claimed after it was learned that the Mormon Church at that time had no women preachers, gives it the color of one of those "after thoughts" which are so frequently seen in this spaulding theory, that one in spite of himself remains doubtful.
159 American Historical Magazine, Jan., 1907, p. 71.
160 Ibid. Sept., 1906, p. 394.
Mrs. Davison could have had no personal knowledge at all. So that Mr. Schroeder throws aside his own limitations within which Mrs. Davison's statement is to be given evidentiary weight, in the interest of his desire for the force of "spontaneity" in the recognition of the Book of Mormon as Spaulding's work. According to the Davison statement, then, when the "woman preacher" in a public meeting read extracts from the Book of Mormon, John Spaulding, residing at Conneaut at the time, and present at the meeting,
"recognized perfectly the work of his brother. He was amazed and afflicted that it should have been perverted to so wicked a purpose. His grief found vent in a flood of tears, and he rose on the spot, and expressed to the meeting his sorrow and regret that the writings of his deceased brother should be used for a purpose so vile and shocking. The excitement in New Salem (Conneaut) became so great that the inhabitants had a meeting and deputed Dr. Philastus Hurlburt one of their number to repair to this place (Monson) and to obtain from me (Mrs. [Spaulding] Davison) the original manuscript of Mr. Spaulding."
One marvels that all this was missed by the authors of "Mormonism Unveiled." Dr. Hurlburt was present, too, in that meeting, and was the chief agent and factor in compiling Howe's book. Yet in the statement published in that book, and credited to John Spaulding, there is not a word of this dramatic circumstance-- this splendid "spontaneity," so much the joy of Mr. Schroeder. There is no "agony of grief;" no "flood of tears;" no "denunciation on the spot;" no reference to a purpose "vile and shocking;" just a plain statement that he had "recently read the Book of Mormon;" and the claim that he found nearly the same historical matter in it as in his brother's writings; some names that were alike; and that the "Manuscript found" held to the theory that the American Indians were descendants of the "lost tribes;" evidently supposing that the Book of Mormon held the same theory. Had any such circumstance as described in the Davison statement occurred, it would undoubtedly have appeared in John Spaulding's statement published by Howe five years before this second version was put forth.
But notwithstanding the bad odor of the whole Davison statement, and the violation of his own principle, under which only it is to be considered possessed of evidentiary weight, Mr. Schroeder uses this highly dramatic fiction to introduce his "clinching" evidence of the plagiarism charged against those responsible for the publication of the Book of Mormon.
The true story of the origin of this Spaulding theory is as follows: When Dr. Hurlburt was finally excommunicated from the Church he took to lecturing against the Mormons, holding forth first at Springfield, Erie county, Penn., some distance east of Conneaut. Finally visiting the Jackson settlement (presumably in the same county) he learned, from one of the Jackson's, of Solomon Spaulding, and that he had written a story called "Manuscript Found." "Not that any of these persons," says my authority, who was well acquainted in the Jackson Settlement, also with Dr. Hurlburt, and attended his anti-Mormon meetings in the neighborhood -- "not that any of these persons had the most distant idea that his (Spaulding's) novel had ever been converted into the Book of Mormon; or that there was any connection between them." 161
It was the conception of Dr. Hurlburt that this Spaulding manuscript could be used in concocting a counter theory for the origin of the Book of Mormon -- "a long felt want," by the way, among those who opposed the book and the work growing out of it. With the information he had obtained in the Jackson Settlement, Hurlburt repairs to Kirtland, holds a public meeting, at which there is great joy, and enthusiasm among the anti-Mormons in that vicinity, because of Hurlburt's theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon. One Mr. Newel, a bitter anti-Mormon, promised to advance $300 for prosecuting the work of identification, and others contributed liberally for the same purpose. Out of this meeting grew the public meeting held later at Conneaut; 162 and which sent Hurlburt upon his journey to Monson, Mass., for Spaulding's manuscript which ultimately he obtained of Mr. Jerome Clark at Hartwicks, New York, on the order of Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison. This manuscript
161 "Origin of the Spaulding Story" (1840), B. Winchester, p. 8.
162 Ibid, pp. 6-14.
Hurlburt brought to E. D. Howe of Painesville, Ohio, for the forth-coming book, "Mormonism Unveiled." It was a disappointment to these conspirators, as already detailed; and as explained by Hurlburt in a letter to Mrs. Davison, "It did not read as expected, and he should not print it." 163
In passing, it should be said that Hurlburt never received but the one manuscript. The theory put forth that he obtained two, one the true "Manuscript Found," which it is alleged, he sold to the Mormons, -- such is the suspicion of the Spauldings -- and a worthless one, the Roman manuscript, now at Oberlin, which he gave to Howe, is one of the many fictions that have grown out of the innumerable surmisings and conjectures associated with the Spaulding theory. Hurlburt himself say on the point, in a signed statement under date of August 19, 1879:
I do not know whether or not the document I received from Mrs. Davison was Spaulding's Manuscript Found, as I never read it entire, and it convinced me that it was not the Spaulding Manuscript; but whatever it was, Mr. Howe received it under the condition on which I took it from Mrs. Davison -- to compare it with the Book of Mormon, and then return it to her. I never received any other manuscript of Spaulding's from Mrs. Davison, or any one else. Of that manuscript I made no other use than to give it, with all my other documents connected with Mormonism, to Mr. Howe. I did not destroy the manuscript nor dispose of it to Jos Smith, or to any other person. 164
This manuscript received by Hurlburt and given to Howe is the only Spaulding manuscript written by Spaulding, making any reference to the antiquities of America. It is the simon-pure and only "Manuscript Found." Against this it is urged by Mr. Schroeder that "no such title is discoverable any where upon or in the body of the manuscript in the Oberlin library." 165 And yet with strange inconsistency he himself a few pages further on admits -- "It is even possible that this first manuscript (meaning the one now at Oberlin), may at sometime have
163 See Haven-Davison Interview.
164 "New Light on Mormonism" appendix, p. 260, No. 17. Letter from Hurlburt; also No. 8, another letter from Hurlburt, and < a href="http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs2/1885DicE.htm#pg259b">No. 16 a letter from Howe.
165 American Historical Review, Sept., 1906, p. 386.
been labeled "Manuscript found." 166 but what is better than any "label" on the manuscript inside or outside; better than any admission of Mr. Schroeder's, is the fact that this manuscript is the one Mr. Spaulding feigned to have found, and that he pretended to translate into English. It is the "found" manuscript, and the only one that Spaulding pretended or feigned to have found. It is the one that Mrs. McKinstry says she had in her hands "many times" at Sabine's after 1816; and that "on the outside of this manuscript were written the words, 'Manuscript Found.'"
Perhaps it was this positive statement that drove Mr. Schroeder to the admission that it is possible that this manuscript at Oberlin may have been so labeled. The descriptions of the Spaulding manuscript called "Manuscript Found," by others, who had knowledge of it, agree very nearly as to its size, and their descriptions fit the manuscript at Oberlin and not al all such a manuscript as would be required to make the Book of Mormon. This, Mrs. McKinstry says that the manuscript she had in her hands many times at Sabine's, and that was tied up with some other stories, and had written on the outside of it, "Manuscript Found," made a manuscript about "one inch thick." Mrs. (Spaulding) Davison in the Haven interview says her husband's manuscript was "about one third as large as the Book of Mormon." (i.e. as would be required to make the Book of Mormon). The Davison statement represents that John Spaulding was perfectly familiar with the work of his brother, "Manuscript Found," "and repeatedly heard the whole of it read," which might be possible with the Spaulding manuscript, which, now that it is printed, makes 112 pages, but scarcely possible respecting a manuscript making a book of about 600 such pages.
This manuscript of Spaulding's has finally been really "found" and published as already detailed; and its publication has resulted in the overthrow of the Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon; and that quite in another way than from disclosing the fact that there is no incident, or name, or set of ideas common to the two productions. The
166 Ibid. p. 390.
publication of the "Manuscript Found" not only demonstrates that this particular manuscript was not the foundation of the Book of Mormon, but it demonstrates, also, that no other writings of Solomon Spaulding's could possibly be the Book of Mormon. Spaulding's manuscript, as published, makes a pamphlet of some 112 pages, of about 350 words to the page, enough matter to give a clear idea of his literary style. I am sure that no person, having any literary judgment will think it possible for the author of "Manuscript Found" to be the author of the Book of Mormon.
Composition in writers becomes individualized as distinctly as the looks, or appearance, or character, of separate individuals; and they no more write in several styles than individuals impersonate different characters. True, by special efforts this latter may be done to a limited extent by a change of tone, costume and the like, but underneath these impersonations is to be seen the real individual; and so with authors. One may sometimes affect a light, and sometimes a serious vein, in prose and poetry. He may imitate a solemn scriptural style even, or the diction of some Greek or Roman author, but underneath it all will be seen the individuality of the writer from which he cannot separate himself any more than he can separate himself from his true form, features, or character. Since we have in this "Manuscript Found" enough of Mr. Spaulding's style to determine its nature, if this manuscript of his was used either as the foundation or the complete work of the Book of Mormon, we should be able to detect Spauldingisms in it; identity of style would be apparent; but these things are entirely absent from every page of the Book of Mormon. Mr. Rice, in whose possession the Spaulding manuscript was found in 1884, does not over-state the matter when he says: "I should as soon think that the Book of Revelation was written by the author of Don Quixote, as that the writer of this manuscript was the author of the Book of Mormon." And again he is right when he says: "It is unlikely that any one who wrote so elaborate a work as the Mormon Bible, would spend his time in getting up so shallow a story as this" -- i.e., the Spaulding Story.
THE MOTIVE FOR PUBLISHING THE BOOK OF MORMON.It must be said for Mr. Schroeder that his theory of the motive prompting the publication of the Book of Mormon is quite in harmony with his theory of its origin. for it is fitting that a thing founded in fraud should -- and it very likely would--have the "greed of gain" as the "dynamics of the scheme;" and that "love of gold, not God," would be the moving cause of action. The only point at which Mr. Schroeder breaks down in his theory of the motive, is just where he breaks down in his theory of origin -- namely, in the proof.
The excerpts from the revelations quoted by Mr. Schroeder fail as proofs for his assumption. He ranges all through the numerous revelations given to the Church from 1830 to 1841. Of the thirteen excerpts quoted by him two only have any bearing upon the Book of Mormon; and these two are from a revelation to Martin Harris, who had covenanted with Joseph Smith and with the publisher of the book, Mr. Grandin, that he would pay for printing it. Yet when the time came to make good his plighted word, he hesitated; whereupon the word of the Lord came, as quoted by Mr. Schroeder: "Impart a portion of thy property; yea, even part of they lands, and all save the support of thy family." So far Mr. Schroeder quotes. The very next paragraph (35) of the revelation goes on -- "Pay the debt thou has contracted with the printer. Release thyself from bondage" -- (i.e. the bondage of debt). Again Mr. Schroeder quotes (verse 26) "I command that thou shalt not covert thine own property." The full paragraph is: "And again I command thee, that thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the Book of Mormon, which contains the truth and the word of God." 167 Just wherein these passages, which are the only ones out of those quoted from the "Doctrine and Covenants" that bear at all on the Book of Mormon -- just wherein they bear witness to the "greed of gain" being the motive that prompted the publication of the book; or how they sustain the idea that "love of gold, not God." was the "dynamics of the scheme," I fail to see.
167 "Doctrine and covenants," Sec. 19: 34, 35, 36.
As for the rest of the passages quoted by Mr. Schroeder, they fall into two classes: first, those that relate to the consecration of properties to the Church; and second, those that command that provisions be made for the sustenance of Joseph Smith and others who were devoting their energies to the work of the Lord. In relation to the first class it will make matters clear for the reader to know that the Saints were called upon to recognize this principle: The earth is the Lord's. He created it. It is his, by virtue of proprietorships; consequently all that man holds, of the world's wealth, is held as a stewardship under God. To give visible recognition to this truth, the Saints were commanded in Missouri to consecrate their property to the Lord through his servants, and receive back a stewardship as from the Lord; and this in order that the great truth -- coming now to be recognized by the best Christian thought of the age as the proper attitude of mind for the believer in God, in respect of his material possessions -- might once for all be established as a doctrine of the Church, emphasized by this visible act of consecration.
As to the second class of quotations directing that provisions shall be made for the material needs of Joseph Smith and his family -- is it necessary to argue at this late day what Paul seems to have settled long ago, viz: "They which minister about holy things, live of the things of the temple. * * * Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel." 168 Is not the justice of this principle universally recognized? I say Mr. Schroeder breaks down at the production of proof for his theory as to motive. And his play upon the changes in this respect has but the sound of brass when applied to Joseph Smith personally or to all the leaders of the Mormon Church from its inception. Never have a people been more blessed with unselfish leaders than the Latter-day Saints. Men blessed with divine insight and power have given their services, practically without remuneration, for the welfare of their people. They have labored in season and out of season for them. They have given not only a teaching service, tending to make the truth clear, but they have
168 "Corinthians" 9: 13, 14.
given freely of their business ability, executive and judicial abilities. Men of statesman-like quality of character have devoted their lives to their people, and practically without earthly reward, and many of them, the most of them, in fact, have died poor in this world's good, but rich in the consciousness of service for fellowman well performed.
I write these words from the midst of a people, who, when they read them, will think of hundreds of men who have lived and wrought out life's service among them, in the very spirit here described. "Greed of gain" furnish "the dynamics" of the Mormon scheme? "Love of gold, not of God," the motive force in Mormonism?" A desire for money": " the inspiring cause of every act of the Mormon Prophet, the very divinity that molded his thoughts and revelations, and brought into being Mormon's books!" 169 Nonsense, Mr. Schroeder; you have studied human nature as well as Mormonism to little purpose if you really think so. Joseph Smith was loved by his people to the verge of idolization. He won and kept that love of theirs to the day of his death. He had the satisfaction of seeing one of his great prophecies fulfilled -- a prophecy given out from a prison cell in 1839, and when his fortunes were fallen to their lowest point -- when his enemies seemed to triumph, and traitors were arrayed against him -- then came the assurance from God -- "Thy people shall never be turned against thee by the testimony of traitors." 170 and they never were, either before his death, or since. "Greed of gain," selfishness; "Love of gold, not God," does not produce these results. Selfishness never wins or holds hearts. Only a life that pours out itself in floods of unselfish service for others wins and holds affections. Such was the life of Joseph Smith, such the lives of Mormon leaders.
CONCLUDING REMARKS.And now my task draws towards its close. My purpose in this paper, in the main, has been merely to refute the theory, together with the alleged evidences and arguments of Mr. Schroeder. My method has been to refute him largely out of the
169 American Historical Magazine, May, 1907, p. 221.
170 "Doctrine and Covenants," Sec. 122.
material and authorities which he himself has introduced. And of course this has kept the discussion of the origin of the Book of Mormon within narrow limits. This paper has been more in the nature of a rejoinder than anything else to Mr. Schroeder's reply to the theory set forth by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the origin of the Book of Mormon.
By this undesigned order of the discussion and by its necessary limitations, the reader is at the disadvantage of not having immediately before him the theory of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon, sustained by the strong array of evidences and arguments, that may be marshalled in its support. 171 But it will help in forming a right conclusion as to the merits of this discussion if what is here suggested be held in mind, namely: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sets forth the claim of a divine origin for the Book of Mormon, sustained by special witnesses, whom God raised up to testify of that origin; sustained also as that Church believes, by a world of evidences, both external and internal. To this Mr. Schroeder has offered a counter-theory of origin, the "Spaulding Theory," to which I have offered this rejoinder. My effort has had no higher aim than this, believing that nothing more was required of me under the circumstances. If my paper shall prove to be, as I think it must, a successful rejoinder; if it exhibits how inherently weak, and foolish this Spaulding theory is, even when most skillfully set forth; if it exhibits the tissue of falsehood and of malice, of which that theory is made up; and the bitterness and hatred in which it had its inception; and exposes the dishonest sophistry by which that theory has been supported, -- I shall be content.
B. H. ROBERTS.
Salt Lake City, Jan., 1909
171 For an extended treatise on this subject see the writer's "New Witness for God," published as Young Men's Manuals, Nos. 7, 8, and 9, 1903-1906.
Transcriber's CommentsTemporary Note #1: B. H. Roberts later revised the text of his four "Origin of the Book of Mormon" articles, which had been published in the American Historical Magazine in 1908 and 1909. Roberts' revised text was printed in Part I (pp. 97-229) of his 1912 book, Defense of the Faith and The Saints, Vol. II. While the additions and corrections Roberts made for his 1912 compiled version of the four original articles should be consulted and studied by the series student of his work, the earlier, shorter text from the American Historical Magazine contains essentially the same information relating to Roberts' response to the Spalding authorship claims.
Since B. H. Roberts wrote his original four articles in response to another set of four articles authored by Theodore A. Schroeder, and published in 1906-07 issues of the American Historical Magazine, it is only natural that in his writing Roberts frequently makes reference to Schroeder's articles and provides numerous citations of the same. The text of Schroeder's four articles outlining the Splading claims for Book of Mormon authorship is essentially identical to that of his 1901 booklet The Origin of the Book of Mormon, which is now available on-line among the e-texts in the Spalding Studies Library "< a href="http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/intro.htm">Special Collections." Its subsequent reprinting as the four articles in American Historical Magazine is also available on-line as a set of e-texts at the S.H.I.E.L.D.S. web-site.
Temporary Note #2: B. H. Roberts several times refers to the publication of an 1839 Sidney Rigdon letter in what he calls the Boston Journal. The only paper printed in Boston during the period with that name was the Boston Mercantile Journal, which began late in 1834 and continued through 1845 under the editorship of Mr. John Sleeper. In 1845 the paper's name was changed to the Boston Weekly Journal, under which title it was issued until 1849. No search through the 1839 issues of the Boston Mercantile Journal has yet turned up in those pages any such letter written by Sidney Rigdon. Indeed, the Rigdon letter in question (dated May 27, 1839) was addressed not to the editors of the Boston Journal, but rather, to "Messrs. Bartlett & Sullivan," the 1839 editor and publisher of the Quincy Whig, a newspaper published in Adams County, Illinois. The Quincy Whig, published Rigdon's vitriolic communication in its June 8, 1839 number.
B. H. Roberts carried over the Boston Journal error in citation from his reading of "Smucker's 'History of the Mormons,' pp. 45-48." This source merely expanded the contents of an 1851 British book, entitled The Mormons, or Latter-Day Saints (a work attributed to Charles Mackay). The 1851 book writer's error in attributation gave rise to the notion that Sidney Rigdon had "boldly challenged" the Spalding authorship claims (along with his own alleged connection with the same) in the pages of the prestigious Boston press. Nothing could stand farther from the truth. As far as can be documented, the only newspaper which took the trouble to reprint Rigdon's embarrassing letter was the Mormons' own Times and Seasons. The letter was written for a local, western Illinois readership (primarily Mormon) and it is extremely unlikely that a clipping from the Whig or the Times and Seasons was ever brought to the attention of "easterners" like the Rev. Robert Patterson, John Storrs, or Matilda Spalding Davison.