Charles A. Shook
True Origin of Book of Mormon
(Cincinnati: Standard Pub. Co., 1914)
The True Origin
The Book of Mormon
CHARLES A. SHOOK
THE TRUE ORIGIN OF MORMON POLYGAMY
The Standard Publishing Co.
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From the year 1834 to the present, the majority of anti-Mormon polemics and writers have held to the view presented in these pages that the Book of Mormon is nothing more than Solomon Spaulding's "Manuscript Found," revamped. Now and then one has been found who has doubted or denied this theory, but, generally speaking, it is the impregnable rock upon which the anti-Mormon forces have taken their stand.
Having been raised in the Reorganized Mormon Church, I was, from boyhood, taught that this claim is a myth; that the "Manuscript Found" had come to light in Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, in 1884, and that it bears no resemblance, whatever, to the Book of Mormon. The influence of this training followed me even after I had apostatized, and for some years, in papers read before ministerial associations and elsewhere, I denied the Spaulding theory and attributed the Book of Mormon to the joint work of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. In this position I was, later, confirmed by reading the book, "Doctrines and Dogmas of Mormonism," by D. H. Bays (1897), whose views, I found, coincided exactly with my own. It was not until a copy of A. T. Schroeder's little booklet, "The Origin of the Book of Mormon, Re-examined in Its Relation to Spaulding's 'Manuscript Found," fell into my hands that I began to see the strong points in the Spaulding theory which I had overlooked. Becoming convinced from the reading of Schroeder's arguments that there was more to the Spaulding theory than I had supposed, I set myself to the task of collecting and analyzing the evidences with
the result that I am as satisfied to-day that the Book of Mormon originated in the brain of Solomon Spaulding, the dreamer of Conneaut, as I am that "Thanatopsis" originated in the brain of Bryant or "Evangeline" in the brain of Longfellow.
The Mormons have not treated the position of their opponents fairly in this controversy. They have started out by assuming that the Honolulu manuscript is the "Manuscript Found," and then have asserted that those who oppose them claim that the Book of Mormon came from it. But this is not true. From 1834, every opponent of Mormonism, who has given due consideration to the evidences in the case, has differentiated between the manuscript discovered in Honolulu and the "Manuscript Found," denying that the Book of Mormon came from the former and claiming that it came from the latter. The effort of the Mormons to confuse the public mind on this point is strongly suggestive of the tactics of the ink-fish, which, finding itself pursued by the enemy and in sore straits, emits an inky fluid in order that it may escape under its cover.
Already the claim has been made that my books have been written with the view to lining my pockets. In closing, I wish to brand this accusation as absolutely false. Not one cent of profit or royalty from the sale of this book will find its way into my wallet. The money and labor expended upon it have been expended wholly in the interests of truth and not with the thought of remuneration. Having become convinced myself that the Book of Mormon is a monstrous fraud, I have felt it my duty to present to the world the evidences which convinced me of this fact. Hence this book.
CHARLES A. SHOOK.
EDDYVILLE, Neb., Jan. 1, 1914.
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In the year 1820, Joseph became very much interested in religion through the revivals that were conducted in Manchester by the Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists, and, being somewhat perplexed to know just which sect to join, he decided to petition the Lord for enlightenment. So, retiring to the forest, he made the matter the subject of prayer. While he was praying, the Father and the Son appeared to him in vision, told him that he must join none of the existing sects, that their creeds were an abomination, and that their professors were all corrupt. When Joseph related this vision to one of the Methodist preachers in his neighborhood, the preacher told him that it was all of the devil and that there are
no such things nowadays, they having ceased with the apostles.
Joseph received his second vision on the evening of September 21, 1823. According to his account, he had retired to bed and had betaken himself to prayer, when his room was lighted with a heavenly light and a personage stood before him who gave his name as Moroni. 1 Moroni told Joseph that he had come from the presence of the Almighty; that there was a work for him to do; that his name should go out among the people for both good and evil, and that there was a set of gold plates deposited which contained an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and with them two stones, called tile Urim and Thummim, by means of which they were to be translated. The following day, Joseph repaired to the spot, which he had seen in vision and which was on a Hill near Manchester, where he found the plates as represented. His description of their depository, the manner of their burial and the events that occurred, is as follows:
Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario County, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates deposited in a stone box. This stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner toward the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all around was covered with earth. Having retrieved the earth and obtained a lever which I got fixed under the edge of the stone and with a little exertion raised it up, I looked in and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the Breast-plate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement; in the bottom____________
1 In the first account of this angel visit, the angel's name was given as Nephi.
of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and other things with them.In the month of October, 1825, Smith hired out to a Mr. Josiah Stoal, or Stowell, of Chenango County, New York, who took him to Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, and set him to work digging for a lost silver mine. During this time, he boarded with a man by the name of Isaac Hale, and became deeply in love with his daughter, Emma. The Hales were very much opposed to his suit on account of his habits, and so he finally eloped with Emma and was married to her at the house of Squire Tarbill, in South Bainbridge, Chenango County, New York, January 18, 1827.
On September 22, following, Smith received the plates from the hands of the angel, being told that he would be held responsible for their safe-keeping, and that if he let them go through carelessness or neglect he would be cut off. Joseph soon observed the need of caution, for no sooner did his neighbors hear of his pretensions than they began all manner of persecutions. This made it necessary for him to leave Manchester, where he had been living since his elopement, and he removed to the home of his wife's parents in Harmony, Pennsylvania,
being assisted in a financial way by Mr. Martin Harris, a wealthy farmer from near Palmyra, who gave him fifty dollars.
Apostle Parley P. Pratt gives us the following description of the plates and the Urim and Thummim by which they were translated:
These records were engraved on plates, which had the appearance of gold. Each plate was not far from seven by eight inches in width and length, being not quite as thick as common tin. They were filled on both sides with engravings, in Reformed Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, and fastened at the edge with three rings running through the whole. This volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters or letters upon the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, as well as much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument, called by the ancients the Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones, clear as crystal, set in two rims of a bow. This was in use in ancient times by persons called seers. It was an instrument by the use of which they received revelation of things distant, or of things past or future. -- A Voice of Warning, p. 73.In the month of February, 1828, Martin Harris came to visit Smith at Harmony, and obtained from him a transcript of characters from the plates, which he took to New York and submitted to Dr. Mitchell and Professor Anthon, two learned linguists of that city, for their examination. Harris afterwards declared that Anthon pronounced the characters to be Egyptian, Assyrian, Chaldaic and Arabic, and said that Smith's translation was correct, more so then any he had before seen from the Egyptian. 1
1 Anthon afterwards positively denied making any such statement, and said: "This paper was, in fact, a singular scrawl. It consisted of all kinds
Harris returned to Palmyra, arranged his business and then came to Harmony, where he began to write for Joseph. Between April 12 and June 14, 1828, he succeeded in writing 116 pages of foolscap, which, with Smith's permission, he carried home to Palmyra to read to his wife. This manuscript came up missing, and it afterwards leaked out that Mrs. Harris in a rage had burned it. For his carelessness, Harris lost his place as Smith's scribe and Joseph was told that he need not translate that portion of the record again. 1
The work of translation was now interrupted until April 15, 1829, when Oliver Cowdery appeared on the scene. He hid been a schoolteacher in the Smith neighborhood in New York, and, hearing of Joseph's claims from his parents, he had come down to Harmony to visit him. On the 17th of April, following, the work of translation was resumed, and continued without further interruption until it was completed. David Whitmer gives the following description of the manner in which the plates were translated:
I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something____________
of crooked characters disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him a book containing various alphabets. Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted or pieced sideways, were arranged in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican Calendar given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived." -- History of Mormonism, p. 271.
1 "Behold, I say unto you, that you shall not translate again those words, which have gone forth out of your hands; for, behold, they shall not accomplish their evil designs in lying against those words" -- Doctrine and Covenants, 3:6.
resembling parchment would appear; and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man. --Whitmer's Address,On the 15th of the following month, John the Baptist appeared and ordained Smith and Cowdery to the Aaronic priesthood, after which, by the Baptist's command, they baptized and reordained each other.
Soon after Smith's arrival in Harmony, he formed the acquaintance of Peter Whitmer, of Fayette, Seneca County, New York, and in the month of June following his ordination, Whitmer's son, David, came to visit him and urgently invited him to accompany him home and remain until the translation should be finished. Smith acceded, and from this time, until their apostasy in 1838, the Whitmers were among his staunchest friends and most devoted disciples.
During the course of the translation, it was ascertained that the Lord intended to provide three special witnesses who were to have the privilege of viewing the plates. Almost immediately after this discovery, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris requested Joseph to inquire of the Lord if they might not be these special witnesses. Joseph did so, and through the Urim and Thummim received a favorable answer, upon which they all retired to the forest, where, after fervent and
1 If the characters were interpreted for Smith upon the seer-stone, upon what principle was he a translator? Would not this, also, make the Almighty responsible for every grammatical and rhetorical error in the book? If not, why not?
humble prayer, the plates were shown to them by the angel. Their testimony follows:
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, which came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an Angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and it is marvellous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. -- And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.Soon after this, the following testimony was obtained from eight other witnesses wile had been permitted to view the plates:
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jr., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did
handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record, with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety, that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen: and we lie not, God bearing witness of it.When Smith and Cowdery had been ordained to the Aaronic priesthood, John the Baptist informed them that if they would continue faithful, they would also be admitted into the Melchisedec, or higher, priesthood of which Peter, James and John held the keys. They now became anxious to have this promise fulfilled, and so made their desire the subject of fervent prayer. At length, while tarrying before the Lord in a chamber in Whitmer's house, the word of the Lord came to them commanding Joseph to ordain Oliver, and Oliver Joseph, to the eldership of the Church of Jesus Christ.
When the translation of the Book of Mormon was completed, the copyright was secured, June 11, 1829, by Joseph Smith, "Author and Proprietor." The work of publication, which occupied seven months, 1 was let out to Mr. Egbert Grandin, of Palmyra, New York, who agreed to print five thousand copies for the sum of three thousand dollars. Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses, furnished the means for the publication of this edition, and J. H. Gilbert, whose name will be frequently mentioned in the pages of this book, set the type.
1 Letter of J. H. Gilbert to Th. Gregg, dated at Palmyra, New York, December 30, 1884.
FACSIMILE OF TITLE-PAGE OF FIRST EDITION OF MORMON BIBLE.
TITLE-PAGE PALMYRA EDITION OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.
On April 6, 1834 the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" was organized at Fayette, Seneca County, New York, with six members Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Samuel Smith, Hyrum Smith, David Whitmer and Peter Whitmer; Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery becoming elders of the same.
This, in brief, is the history of the rise of Mormonism as given by the Mormons themselves. It is one of the strangest phenomena of human history that a story so absurd and foundationless, and one in which the reputable citizens of Smith's own neighborhood placed not the least bit of credence, should be accepted as a truthful account of what actually happened, by hundreds of thousands of people. It must be because men love darkness rather than light and fiction rather than fact.
THE HISTORICAL OUTLINE OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.Turning our attention now to the Book of Mormon as a reputed sacred history of ancient America, we find that it is written on the plan of the Bible and is divided into fifteen different books, as follows: 1 Nephi, 2 Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni, Words of Mormon, Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, Nephi, Disciple of Nephi, Mormon, Ether and Moroni. Historically, these books cover a period of about twenty-six centuries and describe two distinct nations of people, the Jaredites and Nephites; the Book of Ether being an abridged history of the former, the other fourteen of the latter.
The first people to inhabit America, according the Book of Mormon, were the Jaredites, who came from the tower of Babel under Jared and his brother, the latter a prophet of the Lord. Leaving Babel, the Jaredites ate said to have journeyed northward into Armenia and from there westward over southern Europe to Spain,
the Book of Mormon land of Moriancumer. Here they dwelt on the seashore for four years, at the close of which time they put to sea in eight cigar-shaped barges," 1 and landed, after a voyage of 344 days, upon "the east coast of Central America, near the mouth of the river Motagua." -- Report of Committee on American Archaeology, p. 70. 2
Here they are said to have founded a government, to have built large cities (the ruins of which still remain), to have practiced the arts and customs of an advanced civilization, and to have settled the adjacent country.
From Central America, the Jaredites are said to have spread their borders northward until, finally, they included within their boundaries all of the territory of the present United States. Many Mormon writers identify them with the mythical "Mound Builders," and attribute the earthworks of the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys to their construction, a theory that is nullified by the more recent archaeological researches, which make it necessary to identify the "Mound Builders" with our Indian tribes. 3
After dwelling here for about sixteen hundred years, spreading over the extensive country mentioned and suffering
1 "And they were small, and they were light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water: and they were built after a manner that they were exceeding tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish." -- Ether, 1:5.
2 This committee was appointed at the General Conference of the Reorganized Church, held at Lamoni, Iowa, April 6-19, 1894, for the purpose of outlining and preparing a map, of Book of Mormon history.
3 See Chapter VI. of my "Cumorah Revisited; or, The Book of Mormon, and the Claims of the Mormons, Re-examined, from the Viewpoint of American Archaeology and Ethnology," far a full discussion of the question of the nationality of the Mound Builders.
from dissensions and revolts, the Jaredites came to an end in civil war in a battle fought about 600 B. C. at "Hill Ramah" in western New York, in which thousands were slain in a few days, only two escaping -- Coriantumr, one of the generals, and Ether, a prophet of the Lord. The former was afterward discovered by the people of Zarahemla and dwelt with them "nine moons;" Ether wrote a history of his people on a set of plates and hid them in such a manner that they were afterwards discovered by their successors. This, in brief, is the history of the first colony of immigrants to reach our shores as given in the Book of Mormon.
The book further claims that in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, there was dwelling at Jerusalem a prophet and righteous man by the name of Lehi. Lehi had four sons, Laman, Lemuel, Sam and Nephi, and, as the wickedness of the city was great, he was commanded to take them and his wife, Saraiah, and depart into the wilderness. After their departure, the sons returned to Jerusalem at two different times, first to obtain a set of brass plates which contained the genealogy of their lathers, and, second, to induce the family of Ishmael to join them.
After eight years, by the command of God, this little company, now augmented by the addition of Ishmael's family, built a ship and launched out into the Indian Ocean, committing themselves to the care of God. The voyage was a stormy one, but, notwithstanding this, they successfully crossed the sea, and, in due time, landed "on the coast of Chili, not far from the thirtieth degree, south latitude." -- Report of Committee on American Archaeology, p. 11.
Here, they found all manner of beasts -- the cow, ox, ass, horse, goat and wild goat; also such ores as gold,
silver, iron and copper. Nephi began at once to keep a record of his people, and for this purpose he made a set of plates and began to engrave thereon their history in the "Reformed Egyptian" 1 language. In course of time, Lehi died and the company broke up into two contending factions, the Nephites and Lamanites, named from his two sons, Nephi and Laman. The Nephites were enlightened and civilized; the Lamanites degenerated into common savages -- they were the ancestors of our Indians.
Sometime after the division, the Nephites moved northward into what is now Colombia anti Venezuela, their land of Zarahemla, where they found a colony of people called the Mulekites or Zarahemlaites, who had come over from Jerusalem about the time of its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, under Mulek, one of the sons of Zedekiah. From this time onward, the Nephites and Zarahemlaites were one people.
Being a prolific people, and having their numbers increased by the addition of the Zarahemlaites, the Nephites now sent out colonies into Central America and Mexico and, finally, into the United States, so that in the short space of one thousand years from the time of their landing upon American soil, and notwithstanding their wars with the Lamanites, they inhabited the whole of North America as far to the northward, at least, as the Great Lakes.
But at last they met their downfall. Drunken with the pride of their wonderful achievements, they had forgotten God, and with this forgetfulness came national deterioration, so that they fell an easy prey to their inveterate foes, the Lamanites. Near "Hilt Cumorah"
1 This has been verbally objected to, it being claimed that the "Reformed Egyptian" was not invented until later, but see "Joseph the Seer," p. 145, where Elder Blair coincides with my statement.
(the same as the Jaredite "Ramah") in western New York, the decisive battle was fought about 400 A. D., and the Nephite people were nearly all exterminated. Most of those who escaped, "dissented" to the Lamanites, and from them, it is thought, have come the tribes of "white Indians." 1 Moroni, a prince of royal blood who did not "dissent," hid himself from his enemies, and, in the year 420 A. D., finished the record of his people upon the plates and deposited them in "Hill Cumorah," where they were discovered by Joseph Smith on the twenty-second day of September, 1823.
This is, substantially, the historical account of the Book of Mormon. Wild and weird as it is, it has appealed to those of a dreamy, visionary nature with marvelous effectiveness. And the Mormon churches are largely made up of the dreamy, visionary class. If you take the dream and vision out of Mormonism, you will have but very little left. 2
THE PROPOSITION STATEDSince about the year 1832, it has been asserted by the opponents of Mormonism that, instead of being a true and authentic history of the ancient inhabitants of America, the Book of Mormon is, in fact, a story written by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, a Congregational 3 clergyman, for the purpose of whiling away the hours of his poor health and providing him the means of paying his debts. Although all anti-Mormon writers and polemics
1 "White Indian" is a misnomer. No such Indiana, strictly speaking, ever existed. The term is applied to the lighter tribes of the American race.
2 This is more apparent to one who has been in the faith than to an outsider. The child that is raised a strict Mormon, is taught to carefully regard his dreams. Visions that, to ordinary people, are the effects of a disordered stomach or overworked nerves, are to the good Mormon the voice of the Lord.
3 Or Presbyterian.
have not adopted this view, 1 it is the one most usually relied upon to account for the origin of the book, and, when understood, is one of the most effective arguments that can be brought to bear against the delusion.
The Spaulding theory is, briefly, this: About 1809, Solomon Spaulding, who was then living at Conneaut, or New Salem, Ohio, became very much interested in the aboriginal works of the country and began to write romances based upon them. One of these, which described a colony of Jews who came over from Jerusalem under the leadership of Lehi and Nephi, he entitled "The Manuscript Found." In 1812, Spaulding removed from Conneaut to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and put this manuscript in the hands of one Robert Patterson, for publication. Patterson had an employee by the name of J. Harrison Lambdin, who, in turn, had a friend by the name of Sidney Rigdon, who frequently lounged around the printing-office. The manuscript, at length, came up missing, and Rigdon was suspected of the theft. This suspicion was afterwards confirmed by the fact that he exhibited such a manuscript which he said had been written by a preacher by the name of Spaulding. This manuscript, it is claimed, Rigdon worked over, and, through the assistance of Smith and Cowdery, palmed off upon the religious world as a new revelation from God, the Book of Mormon.
Of course the Mormons strenuously deny any connection whatever between the Book of Mormon and "The Manuscript Found," declaring that the latter was discovered in the possession of Mr. L. L. Rice, of Honolulu,
1 Chief of these is the Rev. D. H. Bays, now deceased, who, after serving as a missionary in the Reorganized Church for twenty-seven years, apostatized and wrote his "Doctrines and Dogmas of Mormonism," in which he denied the above position.
Sandwich Islands, in 1884, and that, upon comparison, it is shown to be entirely different from the former. The Brighamite paper, the Deseret News, for July 19, 1900, says:
The discovery of the manuscript written by Mr. Spaulding and its deposit in the Library at Oberlin College, Ohio, has so completely demolished the theory once relied upon by superficial minds that the Book of Mormon was concocted from that manuscript, that it has been entirely abandoned by all opponents of Mormonism, except the densely ignorant or unscrupulously dishonest.I deny the charge. The opponent of Mormonism, who holds to the theory that the Book of Mormon originated in Spaulding's "The Manuscript Found," is neither "densely ignorant" nor "unscrupulously dishonest." The Honolulu manuscript is not now, and never has been, "The Manuscript Found," but another manuscript, upon an entirely different subject, which was written before Spaulding began his Jewish story. It never was claimed that the Book of Mormon originated in the manuscript found in the Sandwich Islands. That manuscript was known of and was described by the opponents of Mormonism as early as 1834, but it was expressly denied that it had any connection, whatever, with the Book of Mormon. The "densely ignorant" and "unscrupulously dishonest" are the Mormons who purposely confuse the public mind by confounding these manuscripts and speaking of them as one and the same.
THE TRUE ORIGIN OF
The early life of Joseph Smith was spent in an environment of superstition and deception that peculiarly fitted him for the part that he was afterwards to play as the prophet of "the new dispensation." His father before him was a man of questionable veracity and indolent habits, who spent a considerable part of his time in "witching" with a hazel rod, 1 or practicing other ceremonies of a like mysterious nature, in order that he might discover lost mines and buried treasures while his mother was a common fortune-teller, who turned many a penny by tracing in the lines of the open palm the fortune
1 The "rod" was almost as much of an essential part of the paraphernalia of early Mormonism as the seer-stone. In a revelation given to Oliver Cowdery at Harmony, Pennsylvania, April, 1829, I find the following: "O, remember these words and keep my commandments. Remember this is your gift. Now this is not all, for you have another gift, which is the gift of working with the rod: behold, it has told you things: behold, there is no other power save God, that can cause this rod of nature to work in your hands, for it is the work of God; and therefore whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant unto you, that you shall know." This appears in the Book of Commandments" 7: 3, but, as it smacked too much of superstition and dark practices, it was subsequently disguised in the "Doc. and Cov." 8: 3, to read: "O, remember these words, and keep my commandments! Remember this is your gift. Now, this is not all thy gift, for you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron; behold, it has told you many things; behold, there is no other power save the power of God that con cause this gift of Aaron to be with you; therefore doubt not, for it is the gift of God, and you shall hold it in your hands and do marvellous works, and no power shall be able to take it away out of your hands, for it is the work of God."
of the inquirer. 1 With these examples before him, there is little wonder that, in the earlier years of his life, Joseph easily fell into questionable habits and engaged in dark practices, or that later he became one of the prime deceivers in the fraud of Mormonism.
As the foregoing characteristics of the Smith family were well known throughout their immediate neighborhood, and even in that vicinity for miles around, they were not very successful in obtaining, among their acquaintances, adherents to their peculiar religious claims and beliefs. Not a single man of wealth or influence, from either Palmyra or Manchester, excepting Martin Harris, ever joined their standard. The few from that locality, outside of Harris, who followed the Smiths into the Mormon delusion, were all of the lower strata and were largely pals of their midnight mysteries.
At first, Joseph began his deceptions on a small scale and contented himself with simply "peeping" for hidden treasures, but, being phenomenally successful in this small way, he conceived the idea of launching out in a more colossal deception, and, through the assistance of Rigdon, Cowdery, Pratt and others, Mormonism was the result. And, as he found a few who bit at the bait of the "money-digger," he has also found many who have bitten at the bait of the "prophet."
When Smith first promulgated the claim that he had found and deciphered the golden plates, his story was treated with silent contempt by the majority of his acquaintances. Knowing his poor reputation for veracity at home, they supposed that his tale would find few believers abroad. But, when the Mormons had left New York and had become settled at Kirtland, Ohio, and hundreds
1 Mrs. Dr. Horace Eaton In "Hand-book on Mormonism," p. 1.
had begun to flock to their standard, they saw the necessity of doing something to counteract the influence of the delusion, and so gave to the world, in the form of affidavits and signed statements, what they knew of the eccentricities and poor practices of the Smith family.
A number of these affidavits and statements were published in Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," of 1834, and are copied here for the purpose of giving the reader a true history of the early operations of the Smiths and also showing that Joseph was not above being a party to the transformation of one of Spaulding's novels into a "truthful" and "divine" history of the ancient inhabitants of America.
THE AFFIDAVIT OF PETER INGERSOLL.
Palmyra, Wayne County. N. Y. Dec. 2, 1833.
this, and said he thought he saw it move in my hand. It was now time for me to return to my labor. On my return, I picked up a small stone and was carelessly tossing it from one hand to the other. Said he, (looking very earnestly,) "What are you going to do with that stone?" "Throw it at the birds," I replied. "No," said the old man, "it is of great worth;" and upon this I gave it to him. "Now," says he, "if you only knew the value there is back of my house," and pointing to a place near -- "there," exclaimed he, "is one chest of gold and another of silver." He then put the stone which I had given him, into his hat, and stooping forward, he bowed and made sundry maneuvers, quite similar to those of a stool pigeon. At length he took down his hat, and being very much exhausted, said, in a faint voice, "If you knew what I had seen, you would believe." To see the old man thus try to impose upon me, I confess, rather had a tendency to excite contempt than pity. Yet I thought it best to conceal my feelings, preferring to appear the dupe of my credulity, than to expose myself to his resentment. His son Alvin then went through with the same performance, which was equally disgusting.
of divination. So he took his stand near the corner of his house, with a small stick in his hand, and made several strange and peculiar motions, and then said he could go directly to the cows. So he started off, and went into the woods about one hundred rods distant and found the lost cows. But on finding out the secret of the mystery, Harrison had found the cows, and drove them to the above named place, and milked them. So that this stratagem turned out rather more to his profit that it did to my edification. -- The old man finding that all his efforts to make me a money digger, had proved abortive, at length ceased his importunities. One circumstance, however, I will mention before leaving him. Sometime before young Joseph found, or pretended to find, the gold plates, the old man told me that in Canada, there had been a book found, in a hollow tree, that gave an account of the first settlement of this country before it was discovered by Columbus.
recognize Smith, so he accordingly gave him back the 12 1/2 c. After we had passed the gate, I asked him if he did not agree to pay double gateage on our return? "No," said he, "I agreed to hand it to him, and I did, but he handed it back again."
of me, and he presented Mr. Hale as security. I told him in case he could obtain assistance from no other source, I would let him have some money. Joseph then went to Palmyra; and, said he, "I there met that d__n fool, Martin Harris, and told him that I had a command to ask the first honest man I met with, for fifty dollars in money, and he would let me have it. I saw at once," said Joe, "that it took his notion, for he promptly gave me the fifty."
him I did not wish to part with it on account of its being a curiosity, but would lend it. After obtaining the stone, he began to publish abroad what wonders he could discover by looking in it, and made so much disturbance among the credulous part of community, that I ordered the stone to be returned to me again. He had it in his possession about two years. I believe, some time in 1825, Hiram Smith (brother of Joseph Smith) came to me, and wished to borrow the same stone, alleging that they wanted to accomplish some business of importance, which could not very well be done without the aid of the stone. I told him it was of no particular worth to me, but merely wished to keep it as a curiosity, and if he would pledge me his word and honor, that I should have it when called for, he might take it; which he did and took the stone. I thought I could rely on his word at this time, as he had made a profession of religion. But in this I was disappointed, for he disregarded both his word and honor.
see one end of it, and raising it up, took out the book of gold; but fearing some one might discover where he got it, he laid it down to place back the top stone, as he found it; and turning round, to his surprise there was no book in sight. He again opened the box, and in it saw the book, and attempted to take it out, but was hindered. He saw in the box something like a toad, which soon assumed the appearance of a man, and struck him on the side of his head. -- Not being discouraged at trifles, he again stooped down and strove to take the book, when the spirit struck him again, and knocked him three or four rods, and hurt him prodigiously. After recovering from his fright, he enquired why he could not obtain the plates; to which the spirit made reply, "Because you have not obeyed your orders." He then enquired when he could have them, and was answered thus: Come one year from this day, and bring with you your oldest brother, and you shall have them. This spirit, he said was the spirit of the prophet who wrote this book, and who was sent to Joseph Smith, to make known these things to him. Before the expiration of the year, his oldest brother died; which the old man said was an accidental providence!
the right place. About this time he went to Harmony in Pennsylvania, and formed an acquaintance with a young lady, by the name of Emma Hale, whom he wished to marry. -- In the fall of 1826, he wanted to go to Pennsylvania to be married; but being destitute of means, he now set his wits to work, how he should raise money, and get recommendations, to procure the fair one of his choice. He went to Lawrence with the following story, as related to me by Lawrence himself. That he had discovered in Pennsylvania, on the bank of the Susquehannah River, a very rich mine of silver, and if he would go there with him, he might have a share in the profits; that it was near high water mark and that they could load it into boats and take it down the river to Philadelphia, to market. Lawrence then asked Joseph if he was not deceiving him; no, said he, for I have been there and seen it with my own eyes, and if you do not find it so when we get there, I will bind myself to be your servant for three years. By these grave and fair promises Lawrence was induced to believe something in it, and agreed to go with him. L. soon found that Joseph was out of money, and had to bear his expenses on the way. When they got to Pennsylvania, Joseph wanted L. to recommend him to Miss H., which he did, although he was asked to do it; but could not well get rid of it as he was in his company. L. then wished to see the silver mine, and he and Joseph went to the river, and made search, but found nothing. Thus, Lawrence had his trouble for his pains, and returned home lighter than he went, while Joseph had got his expenses borne, and a recommendation to his girl.
out alone, on account of its being fast at one end; and if he would move him to Manchester, N. Y. they would go together, and take a chisel and mallet, and get it, and Stowel should share the prize with him. Stowel moved him.
in the afternoon, staid long enough to drink one cup of tea, and then went for his book, found it safe, took off his frock, wrapt it round it, put it under his arm and run all the way home, a distance of about two miles. He said he should think it would weigh sixty pounds, and was sure it would weigh forty. On his return home, he said he was attacked by two men in the woods, and knocked them both down and made his escape, arrived safe and secured his treasure. He then observed that if it had not been for that stone, (which he acknowledged belonged to me,) he would not have obtained the book. A few days afterwards, he told one of my neighbors that he had not got any such book, nor never had such an one; but that he had told the story to deceive the d___d fool, (meaning me,) to get him to make a chest. His neighbors having become disgusted with his foolish stories, he determined to go back to Pennsylvania, to avoid what he called persecution. His wits were now put to the task to contrive how he should get money to bear his expenses. He met one day in the streets of Palmyra, a rich man, whose name was Martin Harris, and addressed him thus; "I have a commandment from God to ask the first man I meet in the street to give me fifty dollars, to assist me in doing the work of the Lord by translating the golden Bible." Martin being naturally a credulous man, hands Joseph the money. In the spring 1829, Harris went to Pennsylvania, and on his return to Palmyra, reported that the Prophet's wife, in the month of June following would be delivered of a male child that would be able when two years old to translate the golden Bible. Then, said he, you will see Joseph Smith, Jr. walking through the streets of Palmyra, with a gold Bible under his arm, and having a gold breast plate on, and a gold sword hanging by his side. This, however, by the by, proved false.
scandalous manner. Thus I might proceed in describing the character of these high priests, by relating one transaction after another, which would all tend to set them in the same light in which they were regarded by their neighbors, viz: as a pest to society. I have regarded Joseph Smith Jr. from the time I first became acquainted with him until he left this part of the country, as a man whose word could not be depended upon. Hiram's character was but very little better. What I have said respecting the characters of these men, will apply to the whole family. What I have stated relative to the characters of these individuals, thus far, is wholly true. After they became thorough Mormons, their conduct was more disgraceful than before. They did not hesitate to abuse any man, no matter how fair his character, provided he did not embrace their creed. Their tongues were continually employed in spreading scandal and abuse. Although they left this part of the country without paying their just debts, yet their creditors were glad to have them do so, rather than to have them stay, disturbing the neighborhood. WILLARD CHASE.
silver and gold -- bars of gold, golden images, brass kettles filled with gold and silver. gold candlesticks, swords, &c. &c. They would say, also, that nearly all the hills in this part of New York, were thrown up by human hands, and in them were large caves, which Joseph, Jr., could see, by placing a stone of singular appearance in his hat, in such a manner as to exclude all light; at which time they pretended he could see all things within and under the earth, -- that he could see within the above mentioned caves, large gold bars and silver plates, -- that he could also discover the spirits in whose charge these treasures were, clothed in ancient dress. At certain times, these treasures could be obtained very easily; at others, the obtaining of them was difficult. The facility of approaching them, depended in a great measure on the state of the moon. New moon and good Friday, I believe, were regarded as the most favorable times for obtaining these treasures. These tales I regarded as visionary. However, being prompted by curiosity, I at length accepted of their invitations, to join them in their nocturnal excursions. I will now relate a few incidents attending these excursions.
his stone and watching the motions of the evil spirit -- that he saw the spirit come up to the ring and as soon as it beheld the cone which we had formed around the rod, it caused the money to sink. We then went into the house, and the old man observed, that we had made a mistake in the commencement of the operation; if it had not been for that, said he, we should have got the money.
plates, and that he knew them to be gold; at other times he would say that they looked like gold; and other times he would say he had not seen the plates at all. I have thus briefly stated a few of the facts, in relation to the conduct and character of this family of Smiths; probably sufficient has been stated without my going into detail. WILLIAM STAFFORD.
Not long after this, he returned, and while I was absent from home, carried off my daughter, into the state of New York, where they were married without my approbation or consent. After they had arrived at Palmyra N. Y., Emma wrote to me inquiring whether she could take her property, consisting of clothing, furniture, cows, &c. I replied that her property was safe, and at her disposal. In a short time they returned, bringing with them a Peter Ingersoll, and subsequently came to the conclusion that they would move out, and reside upon a place near my residence.
into the woods where the Book of Plates was, and that after he came back, Harris should follow his track in the snow, and find the Book, and examine it for himself. Harris informed me afterwards, that he followed Smith's directions, and could not find the Plates, and was still dissatisfied.
State of Pennsylvania,.|
and we know not of a single individual in this vicinity that puts the least confidence in their pretended revelations.The foregoing affidavits and statements were first published in Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," of 1834, 1 and, subsequently, in Bennett's "Mormonism Exposed," of 1842, from which I have copied them. Yet, notwithstanding their damaging charges and the fact that they have been before the public for eighty years, the Mormons have never made a successful attempt to refute them. Indeed, so far as I am able to learn, but one effort at all has ever been made to clear the reputation of Joseph Smith from the charges made against him by his old neighbors, and this ended in ignominious failure.
In the year 1880, the Reorganized Mormon Church became active in Cadillac, Wexford County, Michigan, and added a number to their faith. To counteract their influence, one Rev. A. Marsh, through a brother minister, Rev. C. C. Thorne, of Manchester, New York, secured the statements of three of the old neighbors of the Smiths, Danford Booth, Orrin Reed and William Bryant, relative to their poor reputation, and published them in
1 Howe's book was republished In 1840 under the title of "History of Mormonism."
the Cadillac News of April 6, 1880. These statements are as follows:
I knew Joe Smith, personally to some extent, saw him frequently, knew well his reputation, he was a lazy, drinking fellow, and loose in his habits in every way. -- Danford Booth. Smith's reputation was bad. I was acquainted with Oliver Cowdery. He was a low pettifogger, the cat's-paw of the Smiths to do their dirty work. -- Orrin Reed. I knew the Smiths, but did not associate with them, for they were too low to associate with. There was no truth in them. Their aim was to get in where they could get property. They broke up homes in that way. Smith had no regular business. He had frequent revelations. -- Wm. Bryant.This aroused the Mormons to action, and the following spring two of their elders went to New York, concealed their identity, interviewed the individuals mentioned, with others, and, returning, published the interviews in the issue of the Saints' Herald, of Plano, Illinois, for June 1, 1881. While these purported interviews do not entirely remove the traditional stigma from the character of Smith and his associates, it must be conceded that, if they were correct, these individuals stood somewhat higher in the moral and social scale than was before believed.
During the interview with Mr. Bryant, this gentleman is said to have denied being personally acquainted with the Smiths, but stated that they were considered a shiftless set and that Joseph had the reputation of being a liar. Mr. Booth is said to have stated that he knew nothing of the Smith's or their character, and to have denied that he ever had any interview with Rev. Mr. Thorne on the subject of Mormonism in which he made the statements as published in the Cadillac News, while Mr. Reed is also said to have stated that he did not know the Smiths and that he had not given a statement to Thorne for publication,
These purported interviews have been repeatedly published as an answer to the affidavits and statements heretofore given. 1
But this effort to relieve the reputation of Smith from the stains that had been placed upon it, ended in bitter defeat. Within six weeks from the time of the publication of these purported interviews, two of the parties mentioned, Danford Booth and Orrin Reed, with another who was interviewed, J. H. Gilbert, came out with affidavits, 2 in which they affirmed that they had been grossly misrepresented. Their affidavits follow:
Danford Booth, of the town of Manchester and county of Ontario, N, Y., being duly affirmed, deposes: He has read the article in the Cadillac Weekly News of April 6th, 1880, respecting "Cowdery and the Smith family" over the signature of C. C. Thorne. The interview therein mentioned between deponent and Thorne did take place The matters therein set forth, alleged to have been stated by the deponent to Thorne, were so stated by deponent to Thorne. He has read also in a paper called the Saints' Herald, of June 1st, 1881, an article purporting to give what was said in an interview between W. H. Kelley and another party and the deponent, in which it is stated that deponent informed said parties that deponent and Thorne never had an interview as alleged by Thorne. Deponent declares that he did not so inform said parties, and that he has no recollection of such a question being asked him by them.____________
1 They may be found in the "Braden-Kelley Debate," pp. 341-378. and "From Palmyra to Independence," pp. 341-378.
2 The county clerk of Ontario County, New York, informed me that these affidavits, with an affidavit of Samantha Payne, an old neighbor of the Smiths, and a letter of Rev. Mr. Thorne, are now on file in the clerk's office at Canandaigua.
what is called "Mormon Hill." During the last forty-six years he has resided in the town of Manchester, and in the same school district in which Joseph Smith and family, of Mormon notoriety, resided, and three-fourths of a mile from "Mormon Hill." He has read an article published in the Cadillac News of April 6th, 1880, respecting "Cowdery and the Smith family," over the signature of C. C. Thorne. The matters therein set forth and alleged to have been stated by deponent to Thorne were so stated by deponent, at the time and in the manner slated in said published article.The affidavits of Booth, Reed and Gilbert plainly refute the only attempt that Mormonism has ever made to secure from the old citizens of Palmyra and Manchester testimonies favorable to the Smiths and their followers, and so leave their reputation about where it was before,
THE BOOK OF MORMON
Before these witnesses were permitted to view the plates, the Lord spoke to them through Joseph, as follows:
Behold, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do, with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, which were given to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face, and the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness, on the borders of the Red Sea and it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them, even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old.
has seen them, for it is by my power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith; and he has translated the book, even that part which I have commanded him, and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true. -- Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 15.Subsequent to this, these men published the testimony already given, in which they affirmed that an angel of God had shown them the plates and that the voice of God had declared that the translation was His gift and by His power.
In reference to this testimony, one of three things is true: they either actually saw the plates and what they described concerning them really occurred, or they were themselves deceived, or their testimony is part of a grand deception of which they were among the prime movers.
The last explanation of the part played by the three witnesses in the genesis of Mormonism I believe to be the true one, for, while Whitmer stubbornly maintained the truthfulness of his testimony up to the very time of his death, Harris, at the beginning of the Mormon movement, made certain assertions to his relatives and acquaintances which go to show that with him Mormonism was only a cold-blooded money proposition; while Cowdery, in 1839, published a full recantation and, in 1840 or 1841, became a member of the Methodist Protestant Church of Tiffin, Ohio, serving it later in the capacity of clerk and Sunday-school superintendent.
DAVID WHITMER.The first connection of David Whitmer with Mormonism was in June, 1829, when he went to Harmony, Pennsylvania, where Smith and Cowdery were at work upon the translation, and brought them back to the home of his father, Peter Whitmer, in Fayette, New York. Shortly after this, in the same month, he was baptized
by Joseph in Seneca Lake and was ordained an elder, and when the Mormon Church was organized at his father's house on April 6, 1830, 1 he became one of its charter members. In 1831, with the larger part of the church in New York, he removed to Kirtland and subsequently to Missouri, where he was cut off from the church April 13, 1838. After this he settled at Richmond, Missouri, where he lived until his death, January 25, 1888.
Whitmer, undoubtedly, adhered to his testimony up to the very last. In a statement issued March 19, 1881, he says:
Unto All Nations, Kindred, Tongues and People, unto Whom These Presents Shall Come:____________
1 Whitmer, in the later years of his life, denied that the church was founded on April 6, 1830. He says; "It is all a mistake about the church being organized on April 6, 1830, as I will show. We were as fully organized -- spiritually -- before April 6th as we were on that day,"-- Address to All Believers in, Christ, p. 33.
I wish here to state: that I do not endorse polygamy or spiritual wifeism. It is a great evil, shocking to the moral sense, and the more so, because practiced in the name of religion. It is of man and not of God, and is especially forbidden in the Book of Mormon itself.To this statement is subjoined the following certificate:
We, the undersigned citizens of Richmond, Ray County, Mo., where David Whitmer has resided since the year A. D. 1838, certify that we have been long and intimately acquainted with him and know him to be a man of the highest integrity, and of
undoubted truth and veracity. Given at Richmond, Mo., this March 19, A. D. 1881.In view of the overwhelming evidences which clearly established that the Book of Mormon is a fraud, two explanations may be given of the adherence of David Whitmer to his original testimony up to the time of his death: first, he may himself have been the victim of deception and may have honestly believed that he saw the plates; or, being fully cognizant of the imposture, he may have preferred to die with the world believing that he was deceived rather than with it believing that he was a deceiver. In either case his story was, evidently, not accepted even by those who certified to his integrity and veracity, for but few, if any, of them were adherents of the Mormon faith.
MARTIN HARRIS.The first that we hear of Martin Harris in connection with Mormonism, was in the fall of 1827, when he gave Joseph fifty dollars to enable him to remove from Manchester to the home of his wife's parents in Harmony, Pennsylvania. In the month of February, following, he
came to Harmony, obtained a transcript of the characters on the plates and took them to Professor Anthon, of New York City. He then returned home, arranged his business, and, going to Harmony, began to write for Joseph, April 12, 1828, continuing as his scribe until he lost the 116 pages of manuscript, when he was deposed. He was baptized in April, 1830, and removed with the church to Kirtland, Ohio, in 1831. In June of the same year, with Joseph Smith and other elders, he left Kirtland for Missouri, where he was present at the dedication of the Temple lot, at Independence, August 3, 1831. He was subsequently cut off, after which he lectured against Mormonism both in this country and in England, 1 but later became somewhat, though probably not entirely, reconciled to the church, and removed to Utah in August, 1870, where he died, at Smithfield, Cache County, in July, 1875.
It is claimed that Harris never denied his testimony, but adhered to it up to the time of his death. As proof of this, the following letters to H. B. Emerson, of New Richmond, Ohio, are submitted:
1 This is sometimes denied. The proof of Harris lecturing against Mormonism in this country is to be found in the charges to that effect published in the Mormon papers after his apostasy. While, as to his lecturing in England, the Josephite, Elder Charles Derry, says that he went there not to oppose Mormonism in general, but only the pretensions of Brigham Young (Joseph the Seer," p. 106, and other works).
had that gift; neither could he have translated the same. I can give, if you require it, one hundred witnesses to the proof of the Book of Mormon. I defy any man to show me any passage of Scripture that I am not posted on or familiar with. I will answer any question you feel like asking to the best of my knowledge, if you can rely on my testimony of the same. In conclusion, I can say that I arrived in Utah safe, in good health and spirits, considering the long journey. I am quite well at present, and have been, generally speaking, since I arrived. With many respects, I remain your humble friend,Without denying the genuineness of the foregoing letters, I now present to the reader the evidence which goes to prove that Martin Harris, while a resident of Palmyra, was of a greedy disposition, possessed an ungovernable temper, lived a questionable life and held extravagant religious views -- the kind of character that
would not hesitate to sign a false statement, provided it might be to his pecuniary interests to do so. The following is a letter of his wife, Lucy Harris, which was first published in Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled":
striking me; she was however convinced that he lied, as the marks of his beating me were plain to be seen, and remained more than two weeks. Whether the Mormon religion be true or false, I leave the world to judge, for its effects upon Martin Harris have been to make him more cross, turbulent and abusive to me. His whole object was to make money by it. I will give one circumstance in proof of it. One day, while at Peter Harris' house, I told him he had better leave the company of the Smiths, as their religion was false; to which he replied, "If you would let me alone, I could make money by it."
In a statement, published by Howe and dated at Palmyra, November 28, 1833, Mrs. Abigail Harris, sister-in-law of Martin, says:
In the second month following, Martin Harris and his wife were at my house. In conversation about Mormonites, she observed that she wished her husband would quit them, as she believed it was all false and a delusion. To which I heard Mr. Harris reply; "What if it is a lie; if you will let me alone I will make money out of it!" I was both an eye and ear witness of what has been stated above.Henry Harris, brother of Martin, made oath to the following statement before Jonathan Lapham, justice of the peace:
Joseph Smith, Jr., Martin Harris and others, used to meet together in private, a while before the gold plates were found, and were familiarly known by the name of the "Gold Bible Company." They were regarded by the community in which they lived, as a lying and indolent set of men, and no confidence could be placed in them.After Harris had apostatized, Smith denounced him in the Elders' Journal 1 of August, 1836 --
as so far beneath contempt that a notice of him would be too great a sacrifice for a gentleman to make. The church exerted some restraint on him, but now he has given loose to all kinds of abominations, lying, cheating, swindling, with all kinds of debauchery.Such a man was Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. With such a character, who can doubt that he would scruple to sign a lie or to maintain its truthfulness up to the very hour of his death?
1 Not having the Elders' Journal at hand, I have copied this from the "Braden-Kelley Debate," p. 173.
OLIVER  :COWDERY.Oliver Cowdery was born in the town of Wells, Rutland County, Vermont, October, 1805. When about twenty years of age, he removed to the State of New York, where he was employed as a clerk in a store until the winter of 1828-9, when he taught school in the town of Manchester. 1 Here he became acquainted with the Smiths, and through them learned of Joseph and the plates. In April, 1829, he went to Harmony, Pennsylvania, where he became the celebrated scribe of Mormonism. He was baptized by Joseph in May, 1829, and continued with the church up to the time of his expulsion, April 12, 1838. After this he removed to Tiffin, Ohio, where he practiced law, and, renouncing Mormonism, united with the Methodist Protestant Church. Later, he went to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, where he followed his profession and became a candidate for the Legislature, but was defeated because of his former connection with Mormonism. 2 The Mormons claim that in 1848 he was rebaptized into the church at Kanesville, Iowa, by Apostle Orson Hyde, and that he contemplated moving to Salt Lake, but was cut off by death before this desire was realized. He died at Richmond, Missouri, in March, 1850, while visiting his brother-in-law, David Whitmer. Whitmer declares that on his death-bed Cowdery charged him to be true to his testimony to the Book of Mormon. 3 However true this last statement may be, and I neither affirm nor deny it, we have positive proof that Oliver Cowdery did, in 1839, renounce Mormonism, and did,
1 Lorenzo Saunders, whose letter is published in Chapter IX., says that he was in league with the Smiths as early as 1826.
2 This information comes from a letter of Judge Gibson, of Tiffin, Ohio, to Th. Gregg, of Hamilton, Illinois, and dated August 3, 1882.
3 See "Whitmer's Address," p. 8.
later, become a member of the Methodist Protestant Church. The evidence in support of this is so clear and conclusive that it is sheer folly for the Mormons to deny it.
In 1839 the following "Defense in a Rehearsal of My Grounds for Separating Myself from the Latter Day Saints" 1 was published by Cowdery, the printing being done at Pressley's job-office, Norton, Ohio:
DEAR PEOPLE OF GOD: -- I offer you a "Defense" which I am grieved to make, but my opposers have put me to the necessity, and so far as my memory serves, I pledge my veracity for the correctness of the account.____________
1 Cowdery's "Defense" may he obtained of R. B. Neal, Grayson, Ky., for ten cents per copy.
FACSIMILE OF THE TITLE-PAGE OF COWDERY'S TRACT
I am well aware that a rehearsal of these things at this day will be unpleasant reading to the First Elder; yet so it is, and it is wisdom that it should be so. Without rehearsing too many things that have caused me, to lose my faith in Bro. Joseph's seership. I regard his frequent prediction that he himself shall tarry on the earth till Christ shall come in glory, and that neither the rage of devils nor the malice of men shall ever cause him to fall by the hand of his enemies until he has seen Christ in the flesh at his final coming, as little short of a piece of blasphemy; and it may be classed with that revelation that some among you will remember which sent Bro. Page and me so unwisely to (3) Toronto with a prediction from the Lord by Urim and Thummim that we would there find a man anxious to buy the First Elder's copyright. I well remember we did not find him, and had to return surprised and disappointed. But so great was my faith, that, in going to Toronto, nothing but calmness pervaded my soul, every doubt was banished, and I as much expected that Bro. Page and I would fulfill the revelation as that we should live. And you may believe without asking me to relate the particulars, that it would be no easy task to describe our desolation and grief.____________
1 This is a mild way of letting the cat out of the bag. I am strongly of the opinion that Rigdon was the "angel" of Mormonism.
Prophet, Seer and Revelator to the Church of Latter Day Saints, into the formation of a secret band at Far West, committed to depredations upon Gentiles and the actual assassination of apostates from the church, which was done in June last and was only one of many wrong steps.
parted and the Redeemer Himself, clothed in glory, stood before me. And He said:
unto the "doctrines of men"! The gospel has been perverted and the Saints are wandering in darkness, while a full cup of suffering is poured upon them. A society has been organized among them to inflict death upon those who are deemed apostates, with the knowledge and sanction of the First Elder.After Cowdery had apostatized, his life, with that of Whitmer and others, was threatened by his former brethren and he was forced to flee from Missouri to Ohio. At this time, it was freely admitted by the Mormons that he had denied his testimony to the Book of Mormon, and the following poem was composed in reference to his renunciation:
To see most people of our day
Reject the glorious gospel sound
Because the simple turn away:
But does it prove there is no time,
Because some watches wilt not go?
"Or prove that Christ was not the Lord
Because that Peter cursed and swore,
Or Book of Mormon not his word
Because denied by Oliver?
Or prove that Joseph Smith is false
Because apostates say 'tis so?"
After severing his connection with the church, and his return to the state of Ohio, Cowdery settled at Tiffin, where he practiced law, and in 1840 or 1841 became a member of the Methodist Protestant Church. During the time that he practiced law in Tiffin, Cowdery's partner was Judge W. Lang. In the following letter, addressed to Thomas Gregg, of Hamilton, Illinois, author of "The Prophet of Palmyra," this gentleman says respecting the history of Cowdery at Tiffin:
word, I say to you that I do know, as well as can now be known, that C. revised the "Manuscript" and Smith and Rigdon approved of it before it became the "Book of Mormon." I have no knowledge of what became of the original. Never heard C. say as to that. Smith was killed while C. lived here. I well remember the effect upon his countenance when he read the news in my presence. He immediately took the paper over to his house to read to his wife. On his return to the office we had a long conversation on the subject, and I was surprised to hear him speak with so much kindness of a man that had so wronged him as Smith had. It elevated him greatly in my already high esteem, and proved to me more than ever the nobility of his nature. C. never gave me a full history of the troubles of the Mormons in Mo. and Ill., but I am sure that the doctrine of polygamy was advocated by Smith and opposed by Cowdery. Then when they became rivals for the leadership, Smith made use of this opposition by Cowdery to destroy his popularity and influence, and which finally culminated in the mob that demolished Cowdery's house the night when he fled. This Whitmer you speak of must be the brother-in-law of Cowdery whose wife was a Whitmer. It may be true that he has the original MS. Now as to whether C. ever openly denounced Mormonism let me say this to you; no man ever knew better than he how to keep one's own counsel. He would never allow any man to drag him into a conversation on the subject. Cowdery was a Democrat and a most powerful advocate of the principles of the party on the stump. For this he became the target of the Whig stumpers and press, who denounced him as a Mormon and made free use of C.'s certificate at the end of the Mormon Bible to crush his influence. He suffered great abuse for this while he lived here on that account. In the second year of his residence here he and his family attached themselves to the Methodist Protestant Church, where they held fellowship to the time they left for Elkhorn. I have now said about all that I feet at liberty to say on these points and hope it may aid you some in your researches. If Mrs. Cowdery is still living, I would be glad to learn her post office address so as to enable me to write to her. You have now the substance of all I remember on the subject and if it proves of any benefit to your enterprise (in which I wish you success), you are certainly welcome. I could
only answer your questions in the manner I did because some of them were not susceptible of a direct answer by me.In a letter to Mr. Gregg, dated at Tiffin, Ohio, August 3, 1882, Judge W. H. Gibson, an old acquaintance and friend of Cowdery, says:
Referring, now, to yours of the 13th February, making inquiries as to Oliver Cowdery, I beg to reply, though perhaps too late for your purpose. I think that it is absolutely certain that Mr. C., after his separation from the Mormons, never conversed on the subject with his most intimate friends, and never by word or act, disclosed anything relating to the conception, development or progress of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." He was an able lawyer, a fine orator, a ready debater and led a blameless life, while residing in this city. He united with the Methodist Protestant Church, and was a consistent, active member.Mrs. Adeline M. Bernard, adopted daughter of Oliver Cowdery, wrote as follows of Cowdery's connection with the Methodist Protestant Church:
was always a very visionary man, but he renounced M. when O. C. did. I do not know of anything more you want to know, but if there is tell me and I will try and inform you the best I can. ADELINE M. BERNARD. 1
I now introduce the affidavit of C. J. Keen, a highly respected citizen of Tiffin, as proof that Cowdery renounced Mormonism and united with the Methodist Protestant Church:
STATE OF OHIO,.|____________
1 The letters of Lang, Gibson and Mrs. Bernard have been turned over to the American Anti-Mormon Association by the family of Th. Gregg, to whom they are addressed. I have made these copies directly from the originals.
to wait on Mr. Cowdery and confer with him respecting his connection with Mormonism and the Book of Mormon.
Another very interesting proof of Cowdery's connection with the Methodist Protestant Church at Tiffin is to be found in the records of the business meetings of the male members of that church. The minutes of such a meeting, held January 18, 1844, are as follows:
Minutes of a meeting of the Mate Members of the Methodist Protestant Church of Tiffin, Seneca County, Ohio, held pursuant to adjournment.
Cushman Chairman, and Oliver Cowdery Secretary. On ascertaining and it appearing that more than two-thirds of the male members of said Society were present, it was on motionIt is not at all likely that Oliver Cowdery would have been chosen secretary of "a meeting of the Male Members of the Methodist Protestant Church of Tiffin, Ohio," if he was not a member of that church; and it is not at all likely that he would have been a member of that church if he had not renounced Mormonism.
With these facts before us, it is sheer folly for Mormonism
any longer to deny that Oliver Cowdery did at one time in his history renounce the faith and did connect himself with the Methodist Protestant Church of Tiffin, Ohio.
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