Charles A. Shook
True Origin of Book of Mormon
(Cincinnati: Standard Pub. Co., 1914)
THE TRUE ORIGIN OF
SPAULDING'S ROMAN STORY.It was while living at Conneaut that Spaulding became interested in the aboriginal works of the country and began to write romances based upon them. The first of these, which is variously known as his "Manuscript No. I" "Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek," "Honolulu Manuscript" and "Roman Story," he began in the year 1809. 3 This manuscript gives an account of
1 The proof of this is the fragment of a letter attached to his "Manuscript Story."
2 Mrs. Dickinson says that Spaulding was principal of an academy at Cherry Valley, New York. ("New Light on Mormonism," p 13.) His brother John says, however, that he went into the mercantile business in that place with his brother Josiah.
3 Some say in the year 1808.
a party of Romans who, in the time of Constantine, in a voyage to Britain, were driven from their course by contrary winds and were thrown upon our Atlantic coast. Making their way inland, they came in contact with two native tribes, the Sciotans and Kentucks, who are described as living, respectively, north and south of the Ohio River. This story is the purported history of these aboriginal tribes, giving an account of their customs, habits, manner of government and wars. Its author was a Roman by the name of Fabius, who is represented as writing it on twenty-eight rolls of parchment in the Latin language and afterward depositing it in an artificial cave near Conneaut, where Spaulding claims that he discovered it. It was never finished, for it ends abruptly. Spaulding gave as his reason for throwing it aside that he wished to go further back in his dates and write in the old Scriptural style, that his story might appear more ancient -- a wish that was afterwards accomplished in his "Manuscript Found," from which, it is claimed, the Book of Mormon has been revamped.
After Spaulding's death, his widow removed to the home of her brother, W. H. Sabine, of Onondaga Valley, New York. Among the things that she carried with her was an old, "hair-covered trunk" which contained the sermons, essays and a "single manuscript" of her deceased husband. In 1820, Mrs. Spaulding married a Mr. Davison, of Hartwick, New York, and took the trunk to that place with her. Her daughter, Matilda Spaulding, was married to Dr. A. McKinstry in 1828, and removed to Monson, Hampden County, Massachusetts, where her mother followed her soon afterwards and where she spent the remainder of her life. When Mrs. Davison removed from Hartwick, the trunk spoken of was left in the care of her cousin, Mr. Jerome Clark, of that place.
Leaving the Spauldings for the present, we return to Conneaut, Ohio. In 1832 or 1833, a "woman preacher" came to that place and read copious extracts from the Book of Mormon before a congregation composed, in part, of Spaulding's relatives and old acquaintances. The book was immediately recognized by Spaulding' s brother and others as a plagiarism of the "Manuscript Found," and considerable indignation was manifested that it should have been put to so unholy a use as to be transformed into a new Bible. The excitement was so intense that a citizens' meeting was called, and Dr. Philastrus [sic] Hurlburt, who had been a Mormon, but who had been cut off from the church, Mormons say, for immorality, was deputed to visit Mrs. Davison and secure, if possible, the "Manuscript Found," that it might be compared with the Book of Mormon and the fraud be exposed.
Hurlburt went, first, to Onondaga Valley, New York, where he secured the recommendation of Mr. Sabine, Mrs. Davison's brother, and from there to Monson, Massachusetts, where he met Mrs. Davison herself. At first this lady declined to give her consent to let the writings of her former husband pass out of her possession, but upon receiving Hurlburt's solemn promise that the manuscript he was seeking would be returned, she reluctantly acceded, and Hurlburt went to Hartwick and obtained from the old trunk in Mr. Clark's possession the "single manuscript" which it contained, and which at that time was supposed to be the "Manuscript Found."
Hurlburt then returned to Ohio and delivered the manuscript, with other matter which he had collected, to a Mr. E. D. Howe, editor of the Painesville Telegraph, who was then engaged in writing his book, "Mormonism Unveiled." But, when this gentleman examined the
manuscript, he discovered that it was not the "Manuscript Found" at all, but Spaulding's first story, entitled "Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek." He also afterwards exhibited it to the old acquaintances of Spaulding, who immediately recognized it as his work, but who declared that it was not the "Manuscript Found," but another manuscript written earlier.
This romance was not returned to Mrs. Davison, as had been agreed upon, and was soon lost track of. Howe declared that it had been destroyed by fire, while the Spauldings accused Hurlburt of having sold it to the Mormons. But neither of these explanations of its disappearance proved true. In 1839-40, Howe sold his printing establishment to a Mr. L. L. Rice, who, with a partner, began publishing an antislavery newspaper. Rice subsequently sold out and removed to Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, where, in 1884, he accidentally discovered this manuscript in his possession, it having been inadvertently transferred to him by Howe, among other things, when he bought out his printing establishment.
Soon after its discovery, this manuscript was placed in the library of Oberlin College, Ohio, where it still remains. Both of the Mormon Churches have made copies of it, which they publish under the erroneous title, "Manuscript Found."
THE FAIRCHILD -- RICE -- SMITH CORRESPONDENCE.With the finding of the Honolulu manuscript, interest in the question of the origin of the Book of Mormon was re-aroused, and papers and magazines throughout the country heralded the news of the new find and discussed its probable bearing upon the traditional theory, so long held, of the origin of the Book of Mormon in the Spaulding Romance. Pres. J. H. Fairchild, of Oberlin College,
having been in Honolulu at the time of the discovery of this manuscript, wrote a brief note in regard to the same for the Bibliotheca Sacra, which was widely copied by papers and magazines 1 throughout the country. This note, with three letters from the pen of Mr. L. L. Rice, the finder, appear in the preface to the Josephite edition of this manuscript. The note is as follows:
The theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon in the traditional manuscript of Solomon Spaulding, will probably have to be relinquished. That manuscript is doubtless now in the possession of Mr. L. L. Rice, of Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, formerly an anti-slavery editor in Ohio, and for many years State Printer at Columbus. During a recent visit to Honolulu, I suggested to Mr. Rice that he might have valuable anti-slavery documents in his possession, which he would be willing to contribute to the rich collection already in the Oberlin College Library. In pursuance of this suggestion, Mr. Rice began looking over his old pamphlets and papers, and at length came upon on old, worn and faded manuscript of about one hundred and seventy-five pages, small quarto, purporting to be a history of the migrations and conflicts of the ancient Indian Tribes, which occupied the territory now belonging to the States of New York, Ohio and Kentucky. On the last page of this manuscript is a certificate 2 and signature, giving the names of several persons known to the signer, who have assured him that to their personal knowledge the manuscript was the writing of Solomon Spaulding. Mr. Rice has no recollection how or when this manuscript came into his possession. It was enveloped it, a coarse piece of wrapping paper, and endorsed in Mr. Rice's hand-writing, "A Manuscript Story."____________
1 Grinnell (Iowa) Herald; Western Watchman, Eureka, California; New York Observer, Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine, etc.
2 "The Writings of Sollomon Spaulding Proved by Aron Wright, Oliver Smith, John N. Miller & others. The testimonies of the above gentlemen are now in my possession. (Signed) D. P. Hurlburt."
common to the two. The solemn style of the Book of Mormon, in imitation of the English Scriptures, does not appear in the manuscript. The only resemblance is in the fact that both profess to set forth the history of lost tribes. Some other explanation of the origin of the Book of Mormon must be found, if any explanation is required.
The three letters of Mr. Rice I now give, reserving my comments on the same, as I also shall on the note of President Fairchild, until their close:
HONOLULU, Sandwich Islands, March 18, 1885.____________
1 President of the Reorganized Church.
be a relative of Spaulding, and who is getting up a book to show that he was the real author of the Book of Mormon; wants it. She thinks, at least, it should be sent to Spaulding's daughter, a Mrs. Somebody -- but she does not inform me where she lives. Deming says that Howe borrowed it when he was getting up his book, and did not return it, as he should have done, &c.
is but a feeble imitation of the other. Finally, I am more than half convinced that this is his only writing of the sort, and that any pretense that Spaulding was in any sense the author of the other, is a sheer fabrication. It was easy for any body who may have seen this, or heard anything of its contents, to get up the story that they were identical. L. L. R.
a central place, in the vicinity of Conneaut, where the manuscript was written.
the author of the Book of Mormon, I do not attempt to decide. It devolves upon their opponents to show that there are or were other writings of Spalding -- since it is evident that this writing is not the original of the Mormon Bible.
Having put before the reader the foregoing correspondence, I now invite his attention to a brief, critical examination of the same. First, the manuscript described is not the "Manuscript Found," from which it is claimed the Book of Mormon was revamped, but an entirely different romance, entitled on the wrapper, "Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek." Professor Fairchild says that this title appeared on the wrapper in Mr. Rice's handwriting, but Rice, himself, declares that it was there, "in faint penciling," when it first came into his possession. For a reason that will appear in the next chapter, I believe that it was on the wrapper long before it fell into the hands of Dr. Hurlburt.
Secondly, Professor Fairchild seems not to have fully understood, at this time, the Spaulding manuscript theory. He speaks of this manuscript as "the long-lost story," wholly unmindful of the fact that, fifty years before, Howe, in his "Mormonism Unveiled," had given a paragraph outline of it and had declared that he had submitted it to the acquaintances of Spaulding, who had admitted that the latter was its author, but who had expressly denied that it was the "Manuscript Found." It is, therefore, not "the long-lost story" at all, but a totally different story, written earlier and bearing no more relation to the "Manuscript Found" than Longfellow's
"Evangeline" bears to his "Hiawatha." The difference in style between this manuscript and the Book of Mormon is explained by the statement of Spaulding, when he threw it aside, that he intended to change the style and go further back in his dates that his story might appear more ancient. Thirdly, Mr. Rice, in denying that the "Manuscript Story" was in any sense the basis of the Book of Mormon, admits the contention of nearly all learned anti-Mormon polemics, both before and since his time, that another manuscript of Spaulding's might have formed such a basis. He says:
It is certain that this Manuscript is not the origin of the Mormon Bible, whatever some other manuscript may have been.And:
But that would not settle the claim that some other manuscript of Spaulding was the original of it.
Fourthly, Professor Fairchild, in October, 1900, so far changed his sentiments expressed sixteen years before, that he admitted the same contention. In the month mentioned, and shortly before his death, he signed the following statement in the presence of Rev. J. D. Nutting:
With this last statement, Professor Fairchild nullifies the wrong inferences which have been drawn from his first declaration, and swings into line with the position generally assumed by intelligent anti-Mormon polemics, that there was another manuscript, different from the one found in Honolulu, which became the basis of the Book of Mormon.
A MORMON LIE NAILED.In the preface to the copy of the Honolulu manuscript, as published by the Reorganized Mormon Church, I find the following false and misleading statement:
Herewith we present to the reader the notorious "Manuscript Story" ("Manuscript Found")1 of the late Rev. Solomon Spalding. What gives this document prominence is the fact that, for the past fifty years, it has been made to do duty by the opposers of the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as the source, the root, and the inspiration, by and from which Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon wrote said Book of Mormon and organized said Church . . .It would be difficult to find, among all that has been written upon this subject, a more false, misleading and
1 Notice that the title, "Manuscript Found," appears in parentheses. It is not to he found on the manuscript anywhere, and it is wholly a gratuitous assumption to call the latter the "Manuscript Found."
incorrect statement than the foregoing, How an intelligent and honest writer could have penned these words, in the face of what Howe, Hurlburt, Bennett and Braden had written prior to this time to the contrary, is inexplicable. The "Manuscript Story" was never "made to do duty by the opposers of the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as the source, the root, and the inspiration, by and from which Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon wrote said Book of Mormon and organized said Church." From 1834 it was expressly denied that this manuscript had anything to do with the Book of Mormon or that it was the "Manuscript Found." 1 A paragraph review of it was given in Howe's book in 1834, and the contents of it were well known and employed in public discussion 2 before the manuscript, itself, was found in 1884. The writer of the foregoing could not have been ignorant of these facts; they were to be found in the books widely known of and read among the members of his church. 3
In 1834, Howe wrote as follows of the "Manuscript Story":
The trunk referred to by the widow was subsequently examined and found to contain only a single MS. book, in Spalding's handwriting, containing about one quire of paper. This is a romance, purporting to have been translated from the____________
1 "Disbelievers in Joseph Smith's "find" have never claimed that the Book of Mormon was a plagiarism of the Oberlin manuscript, and all the powder used by the Mormons on that subject is a wasted explosive." -- Stanton's "The Three Movements" p. 43.
2 See the "Braden-Kelley Debate," p. 91.
3 The Mormons well knew the contents of the "Manuscript Story" long before it was found in Honolulu, and Reynolds, in his "Myth of the Manuscript Found," p. 51 (1883), gives the outline of it. Then, in the face of the fact that Howe, Bennett and other anti-Mormons, following the Conneaut testimonies about to be given, claimed that the "Manuscript Found" was a Jewish romance, how could he honestly assert that they claimed that the Book of Mormon came from the former? There has been some pretty hard Mormon lying all along the line.
Latin, found on twenty-four 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 the Indians, This old MS. 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."This is the first description ever given in print of this "Manuscript Story" which was afterwards found in the possession of Mr. Rice, of Honolulu. And Howe here disclaims that it was the "Manuscript Found," hence that it was the basis of the Book of Mormon. Yet, in the face of this fact, we are coolly told that this manuscript has been made to do service "as the source, the root, and the inspiration, by and from which Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon wrote said Book of Mormon and organized said Church"!
This same statement appeared again in the second edition of Howe's book of 1840, and in Bennett's "Mormonism Exposed" of 1842.
Howe, again, in 1881, disclaimed any connection or resemblance, whatever, between the "Manuscript Story" and the "Manuscript Found." In a letter, addressed to Elder T. W. Smith, an apostle of the Reorganized Church, he says:
between the Chicagoes and Eries, as I now recollect 1 -- not in Bible style -- but purely modern.
Dr. Hurlburt, also, bears testimony to the fact that the manuscript which he obtained from Mrs. Davison, and which is now in Oberlin College Library, is not the "Manuscript Found." In a statement issued at Gibsonburg, Ohio, January 10, 1881, he says:
To all whom it may concern:____________
1 Notice Howe saying, "As I now recollect." He is mistaken in regard to the tribes mentioned. They were not the Chicagoes and the Eries, but the Sciotans and Kentucks.
nothing of the kind, but being a manuscript upon all entirely different subject. This manuscript I left with E. D. Howe, of Painesville, Geauga county, Ohio, now Lake county, Ohio, with the understanding that when he had examined it he should return it to the widow. Said Howe says the manuscript was destroyed by fire, and further the deponent saith not.
The manuscript, then, which Hurlburt obtained from Mrs. Davison, was not the "Manuscript Found," from which it is claimed the Book of Mormon was taken, but was "upon an entirely different subject." The same distinction between the manuscripts was also made by Clark Braden in the celebrated Braden-Kelley debate, held at Kirtland, Ohio, in 1884, a short time before the Honolulu manuscript came to light. 1
Reader, when the Mormon elder, who comes to your door with his literature, tells you that the "Manuscript Found," from which it is claimed the Book of Mormon was taken, was discovered in Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, in 1884, and that they now have it in printed form for twenty-five cents per copy, don't you believe it. The manuscript from Honolulu is not the "Manuscript Found," but the "Manuscript Story;" the former may be found, revamped, as the Book of Mormon, at the publishing-houses of the Brighamite and Josephite Mormon Churches,
1 See "Braden-Kelley Debate" (first ed.), p. 75.
THE TRUE ORIGIN OF
It has been the contention of some that Spaulding made several drafts of the "Manuscript Found," one of which was in the trunk while it remained at the house of Squire Sabine at Onondaga Valley, and that Joseph Smith, who worked as a teamster for Sabine, either stole or copied it. But I am convinced that this contention is not correct, for, if Smith worked for Sabine at this time, as alleged, 1 but which is doubtful, he was both too young and too illiterate to have taken much interest in such a romance, and the "single manuscript" which this trunk contained is now known to have been, not the "Manuscript Found," but the "Manuscript Story," while the testimony of Joseph Miller, a friend of Spaulding at Amity, Pennsylvania, reveals the fact that the "Manuscript Found," itself, was stolen from the Patterson
1 "New Light on Mormonism," p. 21.
printing-office before Spaulding's death, which occurred in 1816. The confusion upon this point largely arises from the letters of Mrs. Davison and her daughter, Mrs. McKinstry, who seem to have retained but a vague recollection of what Spaulding wrote and to have paid but little attention to his writings after his death. In the letters of both, while a number of statements are undoubtedly correct, there is a distinct tendency to identify the "single manuscript" in the old hair trunk with the "Manuscript Found," which is disproved by that manuscript, itself, since its discovery in 1884.
MRS. DAVISON'S BOSTON "RECORDER" LETTER.In 1838-39, the missionaries of the Mormon Church opened operations in the town of Holliston, Massachusetts. In that town there existed a Congregational church of which the Rev. John Storrs was the pastor. Some of the members of Dr. Storrs' church became proselytes to the Mormon faith, and this caused him to bestir himself to action, 1 and, through Prof. D. R. Austin, principal of the Monson (Massachusetts) Academy, he obtained a statement from Mrs. Davison which he published in May, 1839 in the Boston Recorder. This statement of Mrs. Davison is as follows:
As the Book of Mormon, or Golden Bible (as it was originally called), has excited much attention, and is deemed by a certain new sect of equal authority with the Sacred Scriptures, I think it is a duty which I owe to the public, to state what I know touching its origin.____________
1 P. P. Pratt says: "If the public will be patient, they will doubtless, find that the piece signed 'Matilda Davison' (Spaulding's widow) is a base fabrication by Priest Storrs, of Holliston, Massachusetts, in order to save his craft, after losing the deacon of his church, and several of its most pious and intelligent members, who left his society to embrace what they considered to be truth." --Letter in New York Era, 1839.
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.
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 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. M'Kenstry, of Monson, Mass., with whom I now reside, and by other friends.____________
1 Mormons claim that they never had a "woman preacher," and use this as one of the arguments in their attempt to discredit Mrs. Davison's testimony. But it does not say that it was a Mormon "woman preacher." It may have been a woman preacher of some other connection. The probability, however, it that it is a typographical error for "Mormon preacher," Or it may have been some lady convert to Mormonism, who,
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 Hurlbut, one of their number, 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. Hurlbut 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 purposes 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.The letter of Mrs. Davison, judging from the facts that we now possess, presents to us a strange conglomeration
while not a preacher officially, was practically such by reading copious extracts from the Book of Mormon. Mormon women are not forbidden taking part in their social services, and I have heard them do as much as claimed here.
of truth and error. This confusion is, doubtless, due to the failure of memory during the lapse of time between the death of her husband and the date of her writing, She is certain that one of her husband's romances resembled the Book of Mormon and was written in imitation of the Old Testament style of speech. In this supposition she is doubtless correct. But she is also certain that this manuscript was copied by Rigdon while it lay in the Patterson printing-office, and that it was afterwards returned to her family and was by them carefully preserved until it was delivered to Dr. Hurlburt, In this she is doubtless incorrect. Everything goes to show that the "Manuscript Found" was not finally returned to the Spaulding family, but that it was stolen, not copied, by Sidney Rigdon, who, with the assistance of Smith and Cowdery, transformed it into the Book of Mormon. Mrs. Davison has made a mistake in supposing 1 that the manuscript which she preserved so long as the "Manuscript Found," whereas it was an entirely different manuscript upon an entirely different subject.
THE QUINCY "WHIG" REPLY.Some months after the purported letter of Mrs. Davison appeared in the Boston Recorder, the following interview was published, in reply, in the Whig of Quincy, Illinois:
1 At another time, Mrs. Davison was not as certain that the "Manuscript Found" was returned to her family or that it was the trunk manuscript. Howe says: "She states that Spaulding had a great variety of manuscripts, and recollects that one was entitled the 'Manuscript Found;' but of is contents she has now no distinct knowledge. While they lived in Pittsburgh, she thinks it was once taken to the printing-office of Patterson & Lambdin; but whether it was ever brought back to the house again, she is quite uncertain; if it was, however, it was then, with his other writings, in a trunk which she had left in Otsego County, New York." -- Quoted in "Mormonism Exposed," p. 120.
"Q. -- Has D. P. Hurlburt got the manuscript printed?There are a few points in this "Cunning Device
1 I have copied this letter from Reynolds' "Myth of the Manuscript Found," pp. 21, 22.
Detected"1 to which it will be well to call the reader's attention:
First, if the purported letter of Mrs. Davison, as published in the Boston Recorder, is not genuine, but is the production of Principal D. R. Austin, this may account for the errors which it contains, and which have been circulated as truths by the Mormons themselves. By this letter, the Mormons have zealously sought to establish the identity of the "Manuscript Found" with the "single manuscript" in the old hair trunk and which afterwards fell into the hands of Hurlburt.
Secondly, the charge is made that the "Cunning Device Detected," as I have given it and as it appears in present-day Mormon literature, has been maliciously garbled and an important admission of Mrs. Davison left out. A. T. Schroeder, in his excellent little pamphlet, "The Origin of the Book of Mormon Re-examined in Its Relation to the Spaulding's Manuscript Found," page 13, says:
On page 22 of the "Myth of the Manuscript Found" this interview appears with the statement that the Boston Recorder article was in the main true, carefully omitted.Thomas Gregg, also, claims that the admission of Mrs. Davison, that the Boston Recorder article "was in the main true," was to be found in the Mormon paper, the Times and Seasons, Vol. I., p. 47. 2
If this is true, why have the Mormons left this important admission out of their later publications of the Haven letter? 3
Thirdly, Haven does just what Austin is accused of
1 I have tried to locate the files of The Quincy Whig, containing this letter, but so far have been unsuccessful.
2 "Prophet of Palmyra," p. 421.
3 If this is true, it is not the first time that Mormonism has garbled testimony to further its ends.
having done. He declares that Mrs. Davison told his son, Jesse, that she did not write or sign the Boston Recorder letter, but that Professor Austin came to her home, asked some questions, took down some minutes and wrote the letter. And then Haven, himself, admits that the questions and answers in the "Cunning Device Detected" are not given in their original form. So, if there are just grounds for questioning the Boston Recorder letter, there are equally as just grounds for questioning the Quincy Whig reply. If Mrs. Davison did not write and sign the former, she certainly did not write and sign the latter, and, by his own admission, Haven took as much liberty with what Mrs. Davison told his son, Jesse, as Austin took wit)l what Mrs. Davison told him. And, in favor of the Boston Recorder letter, we have the admission published in the Mormon paper, the Times and Seasons, that it was "in the main true."
Fourthly, this purported interview with Mrs. Davison and her daughter, Mrs. McKinstry, disagrees with the sworn statement of Mrs. McKinstry afterwards made. In her purported interview with Jesse Haven, we find the following: questions and answers:
A. -- I think some of the names agree.
Q. -- Are you certain that some of the names agree?
A. -- I am not.
Afterward he (Spaulding) read the manuscript which I had seen him writing, to the neighbors and to a clergyman, a friend of his, who came to see him. Some of the names that he mentioned, while reading to these people, I have never forgotten. They are as fresh to me today as though I heard them yesterday. They were Mormon, Moroni, Lamenite, Nephi.
In the Haven letter, Mrs. McKinstry is said to have been uncertain in regard to the identity of certain names in her father's manuscript with those in the Book of Mormon; in her affidavit, made in 1880, she says that the four Book of Mormon names given were as fresh to her then as though she had heard them only the day before. It seems very probable that Haven, who was evidently either a Mormon or a Mormon sympathizer, wrote down the answers of Mrs. McKinstry so as to make them appear as favorable as possible to the claims of the Book of Mormon -- an art in which the Mormons are particularly accomplished.
MRS. M'KINSTRY'S AFFIDAVIT.
them was a thousand years old. He set some of his men to work digging into one of these mounds, and I vividly remember how excited he became when he heard that they had exhumed some human bones, portions of gigantic skeletons, and various relics. He talked with my mother of these discoveries in the mound, and was writing every day as the work progressed. Afterward he read the manuscript which I had seen him writing, to the neighbors and to a clergyman, a friend of his, who came to see him. Some of the names that he mentioned while reading to these people I have never forgotten. They are as fresh to me today as though I heard them yesterday. They were Mormon, Maroni, Lamenite, Nephi.
the old trunk, with its contents, reached her in safety. In 1828, I was married to Dr. A. McKinstry of Hampden County, Massachusetts, and went there to reside. Very soon after my mother joined me there, and was with me most of the time until her death in 1844. We heard, not long after she came to live with me -- I do not remember just how long -- something of Mormonism, and the report that it had been taken from my father's "Manuscript Found;" and then came to us direct an account of the Mormon meeting at Conneaut, Ohio, and that, on one occasion, when the Mormon Bible was read there in public, my father's brother, John Spaulding, Mr. Lake and many other persons who were present, at once recognized its similarity to the "Manuscript Found," which they had heard read years before by my father in the same town. There was a great deal of talk and a great deal published at this time about Mormonism all over the country. I believe it was in 1834 that a man named Hurlburt came to my house at Monson to see my mother, who told us that he had been sent by a committee to procure the "Manuscript Found" written by the Reverend Solomon Spaulding, so as to compare it with the Mormon Bible. He presented a letter to my mother from my uncle, William H. Sabine, of Onondaga Valley, in which he requested her to loan this manuscript to Hurlburt, as he (my uncle) was desirous "to uproot (as he expressed it) this Mormon fraud." Hurlburt represented that he had been a convert to Mormonism, but had given it up, and through the "Manuscript Found," wished to expose its wickedness. My mother was careful to have me with her in all the conversations she had with Hurlburt, who spent a day at my house. She did not like his appearance and mistrusted his motives, but having great respect for her brother's wishes and opinions, she reluctantly consented to his request. The old trunk, containing the desired "Manuscript Found," she had placed in the care of Mr. Jerome Clark of Hartwicks, when she came to Monson, intending to send for it. On the repeated promise of Hurlburt to return the manuscript to us, she gave him a letter to Mr. Clark to open the trunk and deliver it to him. We afterwards heard that he had received it from Mr. Clark, at Hartwicks, but from that time we have never had it in our possession, and I have no present knowledge of its existence, Hurlburt never returning it or answering letters requesting
him to do so. Two years ago, I heard he was still living in Ohio, and with my consent he was asked for the "Manuscript Found." He made no response although we have evidence that he received the letter containing the request. So far I have stated facts within my own knowledge. My mother mentioned many other circumstances to me in connection with this subject which are interesting, of my father's literary tastes, his fine education and peculiar temperament. She stated to me that she had heard the manuscript alluded to read by my father, was familiar with its contents, and she deeply regretted that her husband, as she believed, had innocently been the means of furnishing matter for a religious delusion. She said that my father loaned this "Manuscript Found" to Mr. Patterson, of Pittsburgh, and that when he returned it to my father, he said: "Polish it up, finish it, and you will make money out of it." My mother confirmed my remembrances of my father's fondness for history, and told me of his frequent conversations regarding a theory which he had of a prehistoric race which had inhabited this continent, etc., all showing that his mind dwelt on this subject. The "Manuscript Found," she said, was a romance written in Biblical style, and that while she heard it read, she had no special admiration for it more than other romances he wrote and read to her. We never, either of us, ever saw, or in any way communicated with the Mormons, save Hurlburt as above described; and while we have no personal knowledge that the Mormon Bible was taken from the "Manuscript Found," there were many evidences to us that it was, and that Hurlburt and the others at the time thought so. A convincing proof to us of this belief was that my uncle, William H. Sabine, had undoubtedly read the manuscript while it was in his house, and his faith that its production would show to the world that the Mormon Bible had been taken from it, or was the same with slight alterations. I have frequently answered questions which have been asked by different persons regarding the "Manuscript Found," but until now have never made a statement at length for publication. (Signed) M. S. MCKINSTRY.____________
1 This affidavit was first published in Scribner's Monthly for August, 1880.
We call the attention of the reader to the following points which are brought out in the foregoing affidavit:
First, Mrs. McKinstry certifies that her mother told her that her father wrote a number of romances.
Secondly she states further that one of these romances, called the "Manuscript Found," resembled the Book of Mormon in the use of such propel names as Mormon, Maroni, Lamenite and Nephi. This manuscript, then, could not have been the one that Hurlburt afterwards obtained from the old trunk, for that manuscript contains no such names as these.
Thirdly, she declares that her mother informed her that the "Manuscript Found" was written in Biblical style; another proof that it was not the manuscript now in the library of Oberlin College, which is not written in Biblical style.
Fourthly, she states that the manuscript in the old trunk was examined by her when eleven years of age and that it had the words "Manuscript Found" written on the wrapper. In this we know that she was mistaken, for no such title appears on the manuscript found in Honolulu. But the words, "Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek," do appear in "faint penciling." This is the title which Mrs. McKinstry undoubtedly saw when she was eleven years of age, and her mistake is probably due to the failure of memory during the great number of years that elapsed between the time when she last saw this manuscript and the date of her affidavit. This would seem to show that as early as 1817 the title, "Manuscript Story," in "faint penciling," was on the wrapper of the romance front Honolulu and that it was probably placed there by her father himself.
Fifthly, Mrs. McKinstry thinks that the trunk manuscript was the same as the one recognized by the old
citizens of Conneaut as the basis of the Book of Mormon. We shall see, presently, that in this she is mistaken.
Although the letters of both Mrs. Davison and Mrs. McKinstry contain a number of errors, these are easily detected by the facts that have been brought to light since 1884. So, culling these errors, we have the invulnerable facts remaining that Solomon Spaulding wrote one manuscript in Biblical style and employed names that afterwards appeared in the Book of Mormon. This was his celebrated "Manuscript Found."
THE TRUE ORIGIN OF
The opinion of some of those, outside of Mormonism, who have made the matter the subject of special study, is that Solomon Spaulding made three copies, or drafts, of his "Manuscript Found," 1 as follows:
1. The Nephite copy. This copy was written at Conneaut, and is thought to have contained only the outline of Nephite history as given in the Book of Mormon.
2. The Zarahemlaite copy. This copy is thought to have been begun at Conneaut and completed at Pittsburgh. It is supposed to have contained all that was in the former copy, with the account added of the colony which came to America under Mulek at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.
3. The Jaredite copy. This copy is supposed to have been written at Pittsburgh, and to have contained all that
1 See "Braden-Kelley Debate," p. 75.
was in the preceding copies, with the Jaredite portion of the Book of Mormon added.
I must confess that this classification of the writings of Solomon Spaulding is ingenious, but it requires the following of altogether too slender lines of evidence to be very trustworthy. I shall, therefore, make no attempt to discriminate between the different copies, or drafts, of the "Manuscript Found," if such really existed, as some other authors have done, but to settle down to the easier task of showing that this manuscript, whether it originally existed in one or in three drafts, was identical with the Book of Mormon in proper names and general historical outline. 1
In order to accomplish this, I shall put before the reader, in this chapter and in the following chapter, the testimonies of the eleven witnesses referred to, who either at Conneaut or Amity heard the "Manuscript Found" read. The testimonies of the eight to be given in this chapter were first published in Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled" of 1834, 2 and constitute, says A. T. Schroeder, "the most important single collection of original evidence ever made upon the subject."3
1 Personally, I very much doubt if Spaulding ever wrote more than one copy of his "Manuscript Found," though this may have been written In three installments, first the Nephite part, then the Zarahemlaite, and lastly the Jaredite. But that he did write one manuscript at least, which gave a history of the first two peoples, is beyond question.
2 Not having Howe's hook at hand, I have copied them from Bennett's "Mormonism Exposed," pp. 115-120.
3 "The Origin of the Book of Mormon, Re-examined In Its Relation to Spaulding's 'Manuscript Found,'" p. 40.
He next commenced the study of law, in Windham county, in which he made little progress, having in the meantime turned his attention to religious subjects. He soon after entered Dartmouth College, with the intention of qualifying himself for the ministry, where he obtained the degree of A.M. and was afterwards regularly ordained. After preaching three or four years, he gave it up, removed to Cherry Valley, N. Y., and commenced the mercantile business in company with his brother Josiah. In a few years he failed in business, and in the year 1809 removed to Conneaut, in Ohio. The year following, I removed to Ohio, and found him engaged in building a forge. I made him a visit in about three years after; and found that he had failed, and was considerably involved in debt. He then told me had he been writing a book, which he intended to have printed, the avails of which he thought would enable him to pay all his debts. The book was entitled the "Manuscript Found," of which he read to me many passages. It was an historical romance of the first settlers of America, endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the descendants of the Jews, or the lost tribes. It gave a detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till they arrived in America, under the command of Nephi and Lehi. They afterwards had quarrels and contentions, and separated into two distinct nations, one of which he denominated Nephites and the other Lamanites. Cruel and bloody wars ensued, in which great multitudes were slain. They buried their dead in large heaps, which caused the mounds so common in this country. Their arts, sciences and civilization were brought into view, in order to account for all the curious antiquities found in various parts of North and South America. I have recently read the Book of Mormon, and to my great surprise I find it nearly the same historical matter, names, &c. as they were in my brother's writings. I well remember that he wrote in the old style, and commenced about every sentence with "And it came to pass," or "Now it came to pass," the same as in the Book of Mormon, and according to the best of my recollection and belief, it is the same as my brother Solomon wrote, with the exception of the religious matter. By what means it has fallen into the hands of Joseph Smith, Jr. I am unable to determine.
wished me to assist him in getting his production printed, alleging that a book of that kind would meet with a rapid sale. I designed doing so, but the forge not meeting our anticipations, we failed in business, when I declined having anything to do with the publication of the book. This book represented the American Indians as the descendants of the lost tribes, gave an account of their leaving Jerusalem, their contentions and wars, which were many and great. One time, when he was reading to me the tragic account of Laban, I pointed out to him what I considered an inconsistency, which he promised to correct; but by referring to the Book of Mormon, I find to my surprise that it stands there just as he read it to me then. Some months ago I borrowed the Golden Bible, put it into my pocket, carried it home, and thought no more of it. About a week after, my wife found the book in my coat pocket, as it hung up, and commenced reading it aloud as I lay upon the bed. She had not read twenty minutes till I was astonished to find the same passages in it that Spaulding had read to me more, than twenty years before, from his "Manuscript Found." Since that, I have more fully examined the said Golden Bible, and have no hesitation in saying that the historical part of it is principally, if not wholly taken from the "Manuscript Found." I well recollect telling Mr. Spaulding, that the so frequent use of the words "And it came to pass," "Now it came to pass," rendered it ridiculous. Spaulding left here in 1812, and I furnished him the means to carry him to Pittsburgh, where he said he would get the book printed, and pay me. But I never heard any more from him or his writings, till I saw them in the Book of Mormon.
he would frequently read some humorous passages to the company present. It purported to be the history of the first settlement of America, before discovered by Columbus. He brought them off from Jerusalem, under their leaders; detailing their travels by land and water, their manners, customs, laws, wars, &c. He said that he designed it as a historical novel, and that in after years it would be believed by many people as much as the history of England. He soon after failed in business, and told me he should retire from the din of his creditors, finish his book and have it published, which would enable him to pay his debts and support his family. He soon after removed to Pittsburgh, as I understood.
are the same without any alteration. He told me his object was to account for all the fortifications, &c. to be found in this country, and said that in time it would be fully believed by all, except learned men and historians. I once anticipated reading his writings in print, but little expected to see them in a new Bible. Spaulding had many other manuscripts, which I expect to see when Smith translates his other plate. In conclusion, I will observe, that the names of, and most of the historical part of the Book of Mormon, were as familiar to me before I read it, as most modern history. If it is not Spaulding's writing, it is the same as he wrote; and if Smith was inspired, I think it was by the same spirit that Spaulding was, which he confessed to be the love of money. AARON WRIGHT.
will sell, as every one is anxious to learn something upon that subject. This was the last I heard of Spaulding or his book, until the Book of Mormon came into the neighborhood. When I heard the historical part of it related, I at once said it was the writings of old Solomon Spaulding. Soon after, I obtained the book, and on reading it, found much of it the same as Spaulding had written, more than twenty years before.
manuscripts, when we sat down and spent a good share of the night, in reading them, and conversing upon them. I well remember the name of Nephi, which appeared to be the principal hero of the story. The frequent repetition of the phrase, "I Nephi," I recollect as distinctly as though it was but yesterday, although the general features of the story have passed from my memory, through the lapse of twenty-two years. He attempted to account for the numerous antiquities which are found upon this continent, and remarked that, after this generation had passed away, his account of the first inhabitants of America would be considered as authentic as any other history. The Mormon Bible I have partially examined, and am fully of the opinion that Solomon Spaulding had written its outlines before he left Conneaut.
This completes the original testimony on the "Manuscript Found" as given by E. D. Howe in 1834. By it the following points are established:
First, Solomon Spaulding wrote several manuscripts which he was fond of exhibiting to his acquaintances.
Secondly, one of these manuscripts, and the most important of them, bore the title of the "Manuscript Found."
Thirdly, this manuscript agreed with the Book of Mormon in its general historical outline and proper names, it containing such proper names as Lehi, Nephi, Nephites, Lamanites, Laban, Zarahemla and Moroni.
Fouthly, it was also written in Scripture style, and began nearly every passage with "And it came to pass" and "Now it came to pass." It could not, therefore, have been identical with the manuscript found in Honolulu, which does not contain these introductory expressions.
Fifthly, the "Manuscript Found" was devoid of the religious matter found in the Book of Mormon, hence this must have been added later, presumably by Rigdon.
Are these coincidences purely accidental?
THE BOOK OF MORMON
Since 1834, other witnesses have borne testimony to the close resemblance of the "Manuscript Found" to the Book of Mormon, even as touching certain details.
THE TESTIMONY OF JOSEPH MILLER.Joseph Miller was a resident of Amity, Pennsylvania, and a particular friend of Solomon Spaulding while he resided at that place. In a letter to Thomas Gregg, 1 he says:
TEN MILE, Washington Co., Pa., Jan. 20, 1882.____________
1 Prophet of Palmyra," pp. 441, 442.
refer to, on page 148, as Cooper has it, in his reference to being marked with red in their foreheads.
In the Pittsburgh Telegraph of February 6, 1879, we find the following from the pen of Mr. Miller:
Mr. Spaulding seemed to take delight in reading from his manuscript written on foolscap. I heard him read most, if not all of it; and had frequent conversations with him about it. Some time ago I heard most of the Book of Mormon read. On hearing read the account of the battle between the Amlicites and the Nephites (Book of Alma, chapter II.), in which the soldiers one army had placed a red mark on their foreheads, to distinguish them from their enemies, it seemed to reproduce in my mind not only the narrative, but the very words, as they had been impressed on my mind by reading Spaulding's manuscript. 1
THE TESTIMONY OF RUDDICK M'KEEIn the Washington (Pennsylvania) Reporter for April 21, 1879, Ruddick 2 McKee, of Washington, District of Columbia, said in regard to Spaulding and his romance:
In the fall of 1814, I arrived in the village of "Good Will" and, for eighteen or twenty months sold goods in the store previously occupied by Mr. Thos. Brice. It was on the Main street, a few rods west of Spalding's Tavern where I was a boarder. With both Mr. Solomon Spaulding and his wife, I was quite intimately____________
1 "Braden-Kelley Debate," p. 42.
2 Sometimes spelled Redick.
acquainted. I recollect, quite well, Mr. Spaulding spending much time in writing (on sheets of paper torn out of an old book), what purported to be a veritable history of the nations or tribes who inhabited Canaan. He called it "Lost History Found," "Lost Manuscript," or some such name: not disguising that it was wholly a work of the imagination, written to amuse himself, and without any immediate view to publication. I was struck with the minuteness of his details and the apparent truthfulness and sincerity of the author. I have an indistinct recollection of the passages referred to by Mr. Miller, about the Amalekites making a cross with red paint on their foreheads, to distinguish them from their enemies in the confusion of battle. 1
THE TESTIMONY OF ABNER JACKSON.The evidence that I have already given is sufficient to establish the plagiarism, but I introduce one more testimony. The following statement of Rev. Abner Jackson, of Canton, Ohio, was communicated to the Washington County (Pennsylvania) Historical Society, December 20, 1880 2
It is a fact well established that the book called the Book of Mormon, had its origin from a romance that was written by Solomon Spaulding, in Conneaut, a small village in Ashtabula County, Ohio, about AD 1812. Spaulding was a highly educated man about six feet high, of rather slender build, with a dark complexion, black eyes, black hair, rather slow of speech, never trifling, pleasant in conversation, but seldom laughing aloud. His deportment was grave and dignified in society, and he was much respected by those of his acquaintance. He was a clergyman of the Presbyterian order, and for a time a settled pastor in the city of New York. So said his brother John Spaulding and others in the neighborhood, who heard him preach. It was said that failing health caused him to resign the pastorate. He then came to Richfield, Otsego County, New York, and started a store, near where my father lived, about the beginning of the present century.____________
1 Schroeder, p. 46
2 "Prophet of Palmyra," pp. 444-450.
Spaulding contracted for large tracts of land along the shore of Lake Erie, on each side of the state line, in both Pennsylvania and Ohio. My father exchanged with him the farm on which he lived in Otsego County, New York, for land in Erie County, Pa. where the town of Albion now stands, and moved on it A.D. 1805. It was then a dense forest. Shortly after my father moved, Spaulding sold his store in Richfield, and moved to Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio, and built a forge on Conneaut Creek, two miles from Conneaut Harbor and two miles from the State line. In building this he failed, sold out, and about the beginning of the year 1812, commenced to write his famous romance called by him the Manuscript Found.____________
1 If Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" gave this migrational direction, the account was afterwards changed, because the Book of Mormon has them come across the Pacific Ocean to South America.
landing he gave an account of their divisions and subdivisions under different leaders, but two parties controlled the balance. One of them was called the righteous, worshipers and servants of God. These organized with prophets, priests, and teachers, for the education of their children, and settled down to cultivate the soil, and to a life of civilization. The others were idolaters. They contended for a life of idleness; in short, a wild, wicked, savage life.
difficulties and destination, with the same wars, same battles, and same results, with thousands upon thousands slain. Then see the Mormon account of the last battle at Cumorah, where all the righteous were slain. They were called the Nephites, the others were called Lamanites (see Moroni's account of the closing scene) "and now it came to pass that a great battle was fought at Cumorah. The Lamanites slew all the Nephites" (except Moroni), and he said I will write and hide up the Record in the earth, and whither I go it mattereth not." -- Book of Mormon page 344, third American edition. 1 How much this resembles the closing scene in the Manuscript Found. The most singular part of the whole matter is that it follows the romance so closely, with this difference: the first claims to be a romance; the second claims to be a revelation of God, a new Bible! When it was brought to Conneaut and read there in public, old Esq. Wright heard it, and exclaimed, "Old come to Pass has come to life again." Here was the place where Spaulding wrote and read his manuscript to the neighbors for their amusement and 'Squire Wright had often heard him read from his Romance. This was in 1832, sixteen years after Spaulding's death. This 'Squire Wright lived on a farm just outside of the little village. I was acquainted with him for twenty-five years. I lived on his farm when I was a boy and attended school in the village. I am particular to notice these things to show that I had an opportunity of knowing what I am writing about.____________
1 This is not an exact quotation.
after this he died and his wife went to her brother's. His daughter's account of the deceitful method by which Hurlburt gained possession of and retained Spaulding's manuscript, is, I think, important and should not be lost sight of. She was no child then. I think she has done her part well in the vindication of the truth by her unvarnished statement of what she remembered of her father's romance. I have not seen her since she was a little girl, but I have seen both of these productions, heard Spaulding read much of his romance to my father and explain his views and reasons for writing it. I also have seen and read the Book of Mormon, and it follows Spaulding's romance too closely to be anything else than a borrowed production from that romance. I think that, Mrs. McKinstry's statement fills a gap in my account from Spalding's removal to Pittsburgh, to the death of his wife in 1844. I wish, if my statement is published that hers also be published with it, that the truth may be vindicated by the truth beyond any reasonable doubt.
THE MORMON ADMISSIONS OF GENUINENESS.While the Mormons deny the truthfulness of the testimony in this and the preceding chapter, they concede its genuineness. 1 As proof of this, I submit the following extract from the pen of Elder Brigham H. Roberts, of the Utah Mormon Church, taken from the "Young Men's Mutual Improvement Associations Manual" for 1905-1906, pages 465 and 466:
In the fall of 1833, a number of affidavits were taken from the former neighbors and friends of Solomon Spaulding, and one was given by his brother, John Spaulding, and one by the latter's wife, Martha Spaulding. They at the time were residing in Crawford, Pennsylvania, and both testified that they had "recently read the Book of Mormon," and recognized in it the general outlines of Solomon Spaulding's story, claimed especially____________
1 By the genuineness of these testimonies, I mean that they were actually made and subscribed to by the parties to whom they are accredited.
to remember the names "Nephi and Lehi;" the words "Nephites and Lamanites;" as also the ancient scriptural style and the frequent use of the phrase "and it came to pass;" and that the American Indians are descendants of the Jews, or "lost tribes Of Israel."
adding Items that so burdened the theory with inconsistencies and contradictions that it breaks down, as we shall see, under the accumulation.As further proof of the genuineness of the testimony already given, I submit the following admission from the pen of Joseph Smith, president of the Reorganized Church, as found in his pamphlet, "The Spaulding Story Re-examined," page 6:
The witnesses, with scarcely an exception, are of that class that gives secondary or hearsay evidence. 1 John Spaulding tells what his brother told him. Martha Spaulding states, that having read the Book of Mormon, she has no doubt it is the same historically that she read and heard read more than twenty years ago. Nahum Howard states only what he says Spaulding told him. Artemas Cunningham recollects an expression, "I Nephi," as occurring in the reading of a manuscript by Spaulding -- but pleads the lapse of twenty-two years as accounting for a failure to remember more fully the general plot. After a partial examination, he believes that Spaulding wrote the outlines before leaving Conneaut.Having established by the admissions of these gentlemen that the testimonies given were really borne by the individuals to whom they are ascribed, I now pass to prove that the latter were persons of excellent reputation for honesty and veracity. Of the eight whose testimonies are given in the preceding chapter, E. D. Howe says:
We might therefore introduce a great number of witnesses, all testifying to the same general facts; but we have not taken the trouble to procure the statements of but few, all of whom are the 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____________
1 Compare this assertion carefully with the statements of these parties and see how wide of the truth it is.
family of Smiths and Whitmers, who have told about hearing the voice of an angel.As throwing light upon the reputation of two of our witnesses, Aaron Wright and Henry Lake, I also offer the following affidavit of Mr. J. H. Britton, of Painesville, Ohio:
THE STATE OF OHIO,...|
In this chapter and the preceding, we have established three things:
First, that Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" resembled the Book of Mormon in general historical outline
and in such proper names as Lehi, Nephi, Laman, Nephites, Lamanites, Amlicites and Zarahemla.
Secondly, that the testimonies of the eleven individuals, who have certified to these facts, are genuine. Thirdly, that the character of these individuals was considered the best and their reputation for honesty and veracity was unimpeachable.
THE DISCLOSURES OF JOHN C. BENNETT.Dr. John C. Bennett, Quartermaster General of the state of Illinois, became a convert to Mormonism in the summer of 1840 and soon after removed to the city of Nauvoo. Here he rapidly grew in favor with the prophet Joseph Smith and the Mormon people until he was elected to the position of "assistant president" 1 of the Church during the illness of Sidney Rigdon. The intimacy between Smith and Bennett continued until the summer of 1842, when they quarreled and Bennett left Nauvoo. Later, he published an expose of the conditions in that city through the columns of the Sangamo Journal, of Springfield, Illinois, and his book, "Mormonism Exposed." On the origin of the Book of Mormon, he says:
I will remark here, in confirmation of the above, that the Book of Mormon was originally written by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, A.M., as a romance, and entitled the "Manuscript Found," and placed by him in the printing-office of Patterson and Lambdin, in the city of Pittsburg, from whence it was taken by a conspicuous Mormon divine, and re-modeled, by adding the religious portion, placed by him in Smith's possession, and then published to the world as the testimony exemplifies. This I have from the Confederation, and of its perfect correctness there is not the shadow of a doubt. There never were any plates of the Book of Mormon, excepting what were seen____________
1 See Times and Seasons, Vol. II., p. 387.
by the spiritual, and not the natural, eyes of the witnesses. The story of the plates is all chimerical. 1The Mormons answer this and other disclosures of Bennett by saying that he had been cut off from the church, that he was therefore sore at the Prophet, and that his testimony is all a lie. But they can not deny that before his apostasy he was held in the very highest esteem, 2 or that he enjoyed the confidence of the other Mormon leaders as few men did. Therefore, as his story agrees perfectly with what others have testified to, I believe that it must be accepted as true. The "conspicuous Mormon divine" was none other than Sidney Rigdon, who was a warm friend of Bennett and who was on the verge of leaving the Mormons at this time himself.
1 "Mormonism Exposed," pp. 123, 124. Bennett says further: "Shortly after I located in Nauvoo, Joe proposed to me to go to New York, and get some plates engraved, and bring them to him, so that he could exhibit them as the genuine plates of the Book of Mormon, which he pretended had been taken from him, and "hid up" by an angel, and which he would profess to have recovered. He calculated upon making considerable money by this trick, as there would of course be a great anxiety to see the plates, which he intended to exhibit at twenty-five cents a sight. I mentioned this proposition to Mrs. Sarah M. Pratt, on the day the Prophet made it, and requested her to keep it in memory, as it might be of much importance." (p. 175). Mrs. Pratt afterwards confirmed Bennett's statement, Dr. Wyl, "Mormon Portraits," p. 21, says: "When asked by me in the spring of 1885 about this statement of John C. Bennett, Mrs. Pratt confirmed it fully and stated also that Bennett had reported to her this conversation with Joseph on the very day when it happened." Was there ever a bigger grafter then Joseph Smith?
2 Here is one of the many good things said about Bennett by the Mormon press before his apostasy: "We would say, that if untiring diligence to aid the afflicted and the oppressed, zeal for the promotion of literature and intelligence, and a virtuous and consistent conduct, are evidence of popularity, &c., we venture to say that no man deserves the appellations of 'popular and deserving more than Gen. J. C. Bennett." -- Times and Seasons, 2:351.
THE TRUE ORIGIN OF
1 Schroeder, p. 15.
2 Some accounts say in December.
RIGDON'S RELATIONS WITH J. HARRISON LAMBDIN.In the year 1812, Spaulding removed from Conneaut, Ohio, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in order to have his "Manuscript Found" published. At this time, Robert .Patterson was in the printing business in that city in the firm of Patterson & Hopkins, which continued until January, 1818. 1 During the years 1812-16, in which the relations of Spaulding with Patterson existed, J. Harrison Lambdin was an employee at the printing-office. It has been claimed that Rigdon was also employed by Patterson at this time, but this claim lacks proof. However, the facts are established that he was a particular friend of Lambdin and that he spent considerable of his time lounging around the office. As establishing this point, I submit the testimony of Mrs. R. J. Eichbaum, given September 18, 1879:
My father, John Johnston, was postmaster of Pittsburgh for about eighteen years, from 1804 to 1822. My husband, William Eichbaum, succeeded him, and was postmaster for about eleven years, from 1822 to 1833. I was born Aug. 23, 1792, and when I became old enough I assisted my father in attending to the post-office, and became familiar with its duties. From 1811 to 1816, I was the regular clerk in the office, assorting, making up, dispatching, opening, and distributing the mails. Pittsburgh was then a small town, and I was well acquainted with all the stated visitors at the office who called regularly for their mails. So meager at that time were the mails that I could generally tell without looking whether or not there was anything for such persons, though I would usually look in order to satisfy them. I was married in 1815, and the next year my connection with the office ceased, except during the absences of my husband. 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 there was an evident____________
1 Schroeder, p. 19.
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. 1The testimony of Mrs. Eichbaum nullifies the claim of certain Mormon writers that "Sidney Rigdon never was at Pittsburgh, or any other place, at the same time as Mr. Spaulding's manuscript was there, and therefore he could not have seen or read it." 2 While he may not have lived 3 at Pittsburgh until he assumed the pastorate of the Baptist Church of that city, it is very improbable, even if we lay aside the foregoing statement, that he was never there before that event, as his parents' farm was only between six and twelve miles distant and as he continued to reside with his mother until the year 1819. Spaulding's Romance was stolen from Patterson's establishment in 1815 or 1816, at which time Rigdon was twenty-three or twenty-four years of age. To contend, therefore, that a young man that old, in good health and mental vigor, would live but a few miles distant from the leading city and chief trading-point of that part of the country and never visit it, is so absurd that it is not
1 Schroeder, p. 21.
2 "Myth of the Manuscript Found," p. 23.
3 The testimonies that Mormons present (see "Myth, - etc.," p. 25) to prove that Rigdon could not have stolen the manuscript simply prove that he did not live in Pittsburgh before 1821, and this we concede. But he did live only few miles from there until 1819. This Mormons have to concede.
worth consideration. The fact is, that while Rigdon lived at Piney Fork, he was frequently in Pittsburgh, and while there lounged around the printing-office, so he had ample opportunity to steal the manuscript as has been charged.
RIGDON SUSPECTED OF THE THEFT.Rigdon not only had the opportunity to steal the manuscript, but he was also suspected of being the thief by Spaulding himself. On this point, Joseph Miller, whose testimony upon another occasion we have given, says:
My recollection is that Spaulding left a transcript of the manuscript with Patterson for publication. The publication was delayed until Spaulding could write a preface. In the meantime the manuscript was spirited away, and could not be found. Spaulding told me that Sidney Rigdon had taken it, or was suspected of taking it, I recollect distinctly that Rigdon's name was mentioned in connection with it. 1This same gentleman, in a letter to Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson and dated at Ten Mile, Pennsylvania, February 13, 1882, says again:
Patterson said he, Patterson, would publish it, if he, Spaulding, would write a title page. He told me be kept a little store in Pittsburg. He then moved to Amity, leaving a copy of the manuscript in Patterson's hands. After being at Amity some time, he went back to Pittsburg, took his title page; he called it the lost manuscript found. When he went to Pittsburg, the manuscript could not be found. He said there was, or had been, a man by the name of Sidney Rigdon (who) had stole it. 2The physician who attended Spaulding during his last illness was Dr. Cephas Dodd. With him Spaulding was very confidential, and confided to him his suspicions of the theft. After the death of Spaulding, Dr. Dodd purchased
1 Braden-Kelley Debate," p. 44.
2 "New Light on Mormonism," p. 240.
a copy of the Book of Mormon, and, after reading it, inscribed the following on one of the fly-leaves, June 6, 1831:
This work, I am convinced by facts related to me by my deceased patient, Solomon Spaulding, has been made from writings of Spaulding, probably by Sidney Rigdon, who was suspicioned by Spaulding with purloining his manuscript from the publishing-house to which he had taken it; and I am prepared to testify that Spaulding told me that his work was entitled, "The Manuscript Found in the Wilds of Mormon; or Unearthed Records of the Nephites." From his description of its contents, I fully believe that this Book of Mormon is mainly and wickedly copied from it.
RIGDON EXHIBITS THE MANUSCRIPT.The next step in the history of this manuscript is its exhibition by Rigdon. While he was pastor of the Baptist Church of Pittsburgh, Rev. John Winter, M.D., was a member of his church and a schoolteacher of that city. Dr. Winter testifies as follows:
In 1822 or 3, Rigdon took out of his desk in his study a large MS, stating that it was a Bible romance purporting to be a history of the American Indians. That it was written by one, Spaulding, a Presbyterian preacher whose health had failed and who had taken it to the printers to see if it would pay to publish it. And that he (Rigdon) had borrowed it from the printer as a curiosity. 1
Dr. Winter died at Sharon, Pennsylvania, in the year 1878, but his testimony is vouched for by Rev. J. A. Bonsall, his son-in-law, Rev. A. G. Kirk and Mrs. Mary W. Irvine, Dr. Winter's daughter.
Under date of December 7, 1879, Mrs. Amos Dunlap, a niece of Mrs. Rigdon, wrote as follows from Warren, Ohio:
1 Braden-Kelley Debate," p. 42.
When I was quite a child I visited Mr. Rigdon's family. He married my aunt. They at that time lived at Bainbridge, Ohio, (1826-27). During my visit, Mr. Rigdon went to his bedroom and took from a trunk which he kept locked, a certain manuscript We came out into the other room and seated himself by the fireplace and commenced reading it. His wife at that moment came into the room and exclaimed: "What, you are 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." Whenever he was reading this, he was so completely occupied that he seemed entirely unconscious of anything passing around him. 1Since Rigdon, and no one else, has ever claimed that he himself wrote such a manuscript, we are warranted, in the light of the other evidences adduced, in believing that this was none other than the romance of Solomon Spaulding which he had exhibited to Dr. Winter three or four years before.
Rigdon did not stop with the exhibition of this manuscript; he foretold the coming out of a book describing the ancient inhabitants of America, at least three years before the Book of Mormon appeared. In the Millennial Harbinger for 1844, page 39, there appeared the following letter from Adamson Bentley, Rigdon's brother-in-law:
1 Schroeder, p. 24.
You request that I should give you all the information I am in possession of respecting Mormonism. 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 in this country or had been heard of by me. The same I communicated to brother A. Campbell. The Mormon book has nothing of baptism for the remission of sins in it; 1 and of course at the time Rigdon got Solomon Spaulding's manuscript he did not understand the scriptures on that subject. I cannot say he learnt it from me, as he had been about a week with you in Nelson and Windham, before he came to my house. I, however, returned with him to Mentor. He stated to me that he did not feel himself capable of introducing the subject in Mentor, and would not return without me if he had to stay two weeks with us to induce me to go. This is about all I can say. I have no doubt but the account given in Mormonism Unmasked is about the truth. It was got up to deceive the people and obtain their property, and was a wicked contrivance with Sydney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Jr. May God have mercy on wicked men, and may they repent of this their wickedness!
In the same paper, Alexander Campbell, editor, corroborated the foregoing statement and commented upon Bennett's [sic] letter in the following note:
The conversation alluded to in Brother Bentley'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 Bentley touching his recollection of it, which accord 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 due 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.____________
1 In this Bentley was mistaken, and Campbell corrected his mistake in the same issue.
Adamson Bentley and Alexander Campbell were pioneer preachers in the great Restoration movement, and their testimonies will not fail to carry weight. They establish beyond a doubt that Rigdon knew of the operations of Smith years before his pretended conversion to Mormonism.
As further confirmatory of the same contention, we have the testimony of Darwin Atwater, of Mantua Station, Ohio, communicated to A. S. Hayden April 26, 1873, in the form of a letter which is published in the latter's book, "History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve," pages 239, 240. Mr. Atwater says:
Soon after this, the great Mormon defection came on us (Disciples of Christ). Sidney Rigdon preached for us, and notwithstanding his extravagantly wild freaks, he was held in high repute by many. For a few months before his professed conversion to Mormonism. it was noticed that his wild, extravagant propensities had been more marked. That he knew before of the coming of the Book of Mormon is to me certain, from what he said the first of his visits at my father's some years before. He gave a wonderful description of the mounds and other antiquities found in some parts of America, and said that they must have been made by the Aborigines. He said there was a book to be published containing an account of those things. He spoke of these in his eloquent, enthusiastic style, as being a thing most extraordinary.Still another witness, to whom Rigdon expressed his expectations, was Dr. S. Rosa. This gentleman wrote from Painesville, Ohio, under date of June 3, 1841, as follows:
In the early part of the year 1830, when the Book of Mormon appeared, either in May or June, I was in company with, Sidney Rigdon, and rode with him on horseback a few miles. Our conversation was principally upon the subject of religion, as he was at that time a very popular preacher of the denomination calling themselves "Disciples," or Campbellites. He remarked
to me, that it was time for a new religion to spring up; that mankind were all rife and ready for it. I thought he alluded to the Campbellite doctrine. He said it would not be long before something would make its appearance; he also said that he thought of leaving for Pennsylvania, and should be absent for some months. I asked him how long. He said it would depend upon circumstances. I began to think a little strange of his remarks, as he was a minister of the gospel. I left Ohio that fall, and went to the state of New York, to visit my friends, who lived in Waterloo, not far from the mine of golden Bibles. In November I was informed that my old neighbor, E. Partridge, and the Rev. Sidney Rigdon were in Waterloo, and that they both had become the dupes of Joe Smith's necromancies. It then occurred to me that Rigdon's new religion had made its appearance, and when I became informed of the Spaulding manuscript I was confirmed in the opinion that Rigdon was at least accessory if not the principal in getting up this farce. 1Dr. Rosa supplies a number of links for the chain that connects Sidney Rigdon with the Mormon fraud. In the first place, the foregoing conversation occurred, according to Rosa, in May or June of 1830, which was about six months before Rigdon openly united with the Mormons. In the second place, Rigdon told him that a new religion was about to make its appearance, which shows that he had some anticipations along that line, hence that he must have kept informed of the movements of Smith. And, in the third, Rigdon declared that he thought of leaving Pennsylvania and of being gone some months, probably to confer with Smith in regard to the launching of the new ecclesiastical craft.
The evidence which I have presented in this chapter seems to establish conclusively that Sidney Rigdon was an intimate friend of J. Harrison Lambdin, an employee in the Patterson printing-office, and that he, living not more than twelve miles distant from Pittsburgh, was
1 Schroeder, p. 25.
frequently in that city and lounged around the office that at this time the "Manuscript Found" of Spaulding, which had been placed in Patterson's hands for publication, came up missing and that Rigdon was suspected of the theft; that Rigdon, after Spaulding's death, exhibited such a manuscript, which, upon one occasion, he declared had been written by Spaulding, and that at least three years before the Book of Mormon came out and the Mormon Church was organized, he made disclosures to certain individuals which go to show that at this time he was perfectly familiar with the movements and plans of Joseph Smith. 1
1 The "Doctrine and Covenants" (34:2) throws out a hint of Rigdon's former connection with Mormonism in these words: "Behold, verily, verily I say unto my servant Sidney, I have looked upon thee and thy works. I have heard thy prayers and prepared thee for a greater work. Thou art blessed, for thou shalt do great things. Behold, thou wast sent forth even as John, to prepare the way before me, and before Elijah which should come, and thou knew it not." Nearly all Gentiles will agree with the Mormons that Sidney prepared the way before the Mormon delusion, but when it comer to the statement that he knew it not, it is quite another thing.
THE TRUE ORIGIN OF
It is the conviction of nearly all of the opponents of Mormonism, who have paid particular attention to the history of its origin, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was not an emanation from the mind of Joseph Smith, but that it was first conceived of by Sidney Rigdon, 1 and that Smith was merely his tool in giving the movement publicity while he played his part behind the scenes until his pretended conversion in the year 1830. And it is a further conviction that Rigdon and his puppet, Smith, were not the only members of the conspiracy, but that associated with them were Hyrum Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Martin Harris and probably others, who came in to play their particular roles and to receive in return the honors and pecuniary benefits of the Mormon kingdom. 2
The part that Rigdon played in the genesis of Mormonism was most secret, but the evidences of it, though meager, are conclusive, It is certain that he made a
1 Strange as it may seem upon any other hypothesis, the very doctrines that Rigdon preached before 1830 became a most vital pert of the Mormon system after that date.
2 Personally, I am satisfied that the "Gold Bible Company, was composed of a larger number of individuals than the ordinary reader has ever dreamed of, and that each had his part to play in springing the system upon the world. Rigdon was the theologian. Smith the prophet. Cowdery the scribe, Harris the financier, Parley P. Pratt the dreamer and Orson Pratt the logician. The underlying motives were two: first, to make money out of the fraud, and, secondly, to gratify lust. These motives come to the surface, here and there, all the way through the history of Mormonism.
[ facing p. 127 ]
number of clandestine visits to Palmyra before 1830, and was known in that vicinity as the "mysterious stranger," while it is also believed that he communicated with Smith through their confederates, Oliver Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt. Cowdery first appeared publicly upon the Mormon stage in the year 1829, although we have every reason to believe that he was secretly playing an important part before; but Pratt withheld his debut until August, 1830, when he was suddenly and miraculously converted while on a visit to New York and began at once his work as a missionary. From this time on, he was a prominent actor in the Mormon drama until he fell a victim of his own lust at the hands of an enraged husband, Hector McLean, in 1857, whose wife he had seduced and whose home he had broken up. 1
THE PRETENDED CONVERSION OF RIGDON.In October, 1830, a revelation was received directing Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Jr., and Ziba Peterson to leave New York and go on a mission among the Indians.2 As soon as this revelation was received, the "sisters'' of the church set themselves to the task of providing the requisite clothing, and, about the 15th of the month, the four men designated "started on their mission, preaching and baptizing on their way, wherever an opportunity offered. 3
1 Mrs. McLean, who lived in Arkansas, had been converted to Mormonism by Pratt, and, later, had left her husband and children and gone to Salt Lake City, where she became his polygamous wife. After this, she and Pratt returned and attempted to abduct the children, but failed. The enraged father threatened Pratt's life, and the latter fled on horse-back. When McLean heard of his flight, he gave chase, and, overtaking him, killed him with his bowie-knife, twelve miles north of Van Buren, Arkansas.
2 "Doctrine and Covenants," Sec. 31.
3 "Joseph Smith and His Progenitors," p. 205.
Sidney Rigdon, at this time, lived at Mentor, two miles from Kirtland, Ohio, and had given up preaching and gone to farming, declaring that "he had been mistaken all his lifetime." 1 He was evidently cleaning and garnishing his house for its early reception of Mormonism.
Sometime in November, the Mormon missionaries reached Mentor, and Pratt, being acquainted with Rigdon, called upon him and presented him with a copy of the Book of Mormon. Pratt says:
We called on Elder S. Rigdon, and then for the first time his eyes beheld the Book of Mormon. I, myself, had the happiness to present it to him in person. He was much surprised, and it was with much persuasion and argument 2 that he was prevailed on to read it, and after he had read it, he had a great struggle of mind, before he fully believed and embraced it; and when finally convinced of its truth, he called together a large congregation of his friends, neighbors and brethren, and then addressed them very affectionately for nearly two hours during most of which time, both himself and nearly all the congregation were melted into tears. He asked forgiveness of everybody who might have had occasion to be offended with any part of his former life; he forgave all who had persecuted or injured him in any manner, and the next morning himself and wife were baptized by Elder O. Cowdery. I was present, it was a solemn scene, most of the people were great affected, they came out of the water overwhelmed in tears. 3The date of Rigdon's baptism, according to the "Diary" of Lyman Wight, who was baptized at the same time, was November 14, 1830. This is said to have been
1 Testimony of Reuben P. Harmon in the "Braden-Kelley Debate."
2 Pratt did not always tell the same story in regard to the manner in which Rigdon received the Book of Mormon. At another time, he said: "He was much interested, and promised a thorough perusal of the book." -- Journal of History, January, 1910, p. 15. The two diverse accounts by the same person are probably inadvertencies due to neither being the truth.
3 "Myth of the Manuscript Found," p. 33.
about a fortnight 1 after the Book of Mormon was first presented to him. But Howe declares that Rigdon was baptized the second day after Pratt's arrival, 2 while H. H. Clapp, a resident of Rigdon's vicinity, more specifically puts the baptism within thirty-six hours. 3 In any of these cases, Rigdon's conversion was altogether too sudden and romantic for a truly candid, careful and conscientious investigator, especially when we consider the startling claims of Mormonism, and we are strongly impressed that it was only part of a prearranged plan and that his pretended emotions were invented for the occasion to swing his neighbors to that imposture which he had, covertly, been one of the means of foisting upon the world.
RIGDON'S PREVIOUS VISITS TO SMITH.In the month of December following his conversion, Sidney Rigdon went to Waterloo, New York, accompanied by Edward Partridge, for the purpose of meeting Joseph Smith, and immediately took up the work of openly promulgating the Mormon faith. In the latter part of January, Joseph and his family left New York and started for Kirtland, the home of Rigdon, where they arrived about the first of February. 4
Mormons declare that prior to this visit of Rigdon to the Smiths in New York, he had no acquaintance with them and never visited them, and, hence, that he could not have been in collusion with Joseph in springing Mormonism upon the world. As an answer to this claim, I now submit the testimonies of a number of the neighbors
1 "Church History,' Vol. I., p. 141.
2 "Mormonism Unveiled," p. l04
3 H. H. Clapp, in a letter to James T. Cobb, of Utah.
4 "Church History," Vol. I., p. 169.
of the Smiths in New York, who declare that Rigdon did know of Joseph and that he personally visited him before the year 1830.
Mrs. Horace Eaton, wife of Dr. Horace Eaten, who, for thirty-two years, had been a resident of Palmyra and who had heard of the doings of the Smith family from the lips of their acquaintances, says, in a paper read before the Union Home Missionary Meeting held at Buffalo, New York, May 27, 1881
Early in the summer of 1827, a "mysterious stranger" seeks admittance to Joe Smith's cabin. The conferences of the two are most private. This person, whose coming immediately preceded a new departure in the faith, was Sidney Rigdon, a back-sliding clergyman, at this time a Campbellite preacher in Mentor, Ohio. 1Pomeroy Tucker, a neighbor of the Smiths and one of the proof-readers of the Book of Mormon, says:
A mysterious stranger now appears at Smith's and holds intercourse with the famed money-digger. For a considerable time no intimation of the name or purpose of this stranger transpired to the public, not even to Smith's nearest neighbors. It was observed by some that his visits were frequently repeated. The sequel of the intimacies of this stranger and the money-digger will sufficiently appear hereafter. There was great consternation when the 118 pages of manuscript were stolen from Harris, for it seems to have been impossible, for some unaccountable reason, to retranslate the stolen portion. The reappearance of this mysterious stranger at Smith's at this juncture was again the subject of inquiry and conjecture by observers, from whom was withheld all explanations of his identity and purpose. When the Book of Mormon appeared, Rigdon was an early convert. Up to this time, be had played his part in the background, and his occasional visits to Smith's had been observed by the inhabitants as those of the mysterious stranger. It had been his policy to remain in concealment until all things were in readiness for blowing the trumpet of the new gospel.____________
1 "Hand-book on Mormonism," p 3.
He now came to the front as the first regular preacher in Palmyra. 1On May 2, 1879, Abel D. Chase, another neighbor of the Smiths, signed the following statement, relative to the visits of Sidney Rigdon to Palmyra before 1830:
PALMYRA, Wayne Co., N.Y., May 2, 1879.____________
1 "Braden-Kelley Debate," p. 46.
and he is known to us and the entire community here as a man whose word is always the exact truth and above any possible suspicion.I now have the pleasure of presenting to the reader two letters touching upon this point that have never been published before. The first of these was written by Mr. Thomas Gregg, of Hamilton, Illinois, the author of "The Prophet of Palmyra;" the second is the reply to the same, written by Mr. Lorenzo Saunders, of Reading, Hillsdale County, Michigan, who was an intimate acquaintance of the Smiths. Mr. Gregg died before he had the opportunity of publishing Mr. Saunders' letter, and later the correspondence was turned over to Mr. R. B. Neal, of Grayson, Kentucky, secretary of the American Anti-Mormon Association, who has kindly loaned these documents to me to publish in this book. The letters have been carefully copied from their originals and appear just as they were formerly written, except that in that of Saunders a number of errors in spelling, capitalization and punctuation have been corrected. Saunders was an aged man, and this, coupled with his poor educational advantages as a boy, accounts for the errors which appear. I regard his letter as one of the most important documents which we have bearing on the present question.
The letter of Mr. Gregg is as follows:
1 "Mormon Portraits," p. 130.
the origin of Mormonism, and the life and career of Joe Smith, the pretended Prophet. I am engaged on a work -- mainly a History of the Mormon Era in Illinois -- but with which I wish to incorporate the Rise and Progress of the miserable fraud in and about Palmyra. A main point I wish to investigate is as to how the Spaulding Manuscript[s] got into Smith's hands previous to 1829 when the B. of M. was first printed. Some think Cowdery was the medium -- some that it was Rigdon. Of course, it is hard to remember after a period of 50 or 60 years, little occurrences unimportant at the time; but I am induced to apply to you, as a neighbor of the Smiths, hoping you may be able to recall events that may help me out. What can you recall of Cowdery's career? His first appearance among you -- what he was doing -- where he came from -- and what seemed to have brought him into closer relationship with Smith? Also, of Rigdon -- Gilbert says it is thought you saw him once at Smith's. Can you be sure of that? and whether it was before the B. of M. was printed? Did you know the 12 signers, certifying to the Divine origin of the B. of M. -- the Whitmers -- Harris -- Hiram Page -- and all the Smiths -- and were they ignorant or sensible -- learned or unlearned -- and did they or any of them, seem to adhere to Smith while he was digging for treasure, &c.?In reply to Mr. Gregg's letter, Mr. Saunders wrote from Reading, Michigan, as follows:
READING, January 28, 1885. MISTER GREGG,____________
1 He probably means plowing corn, as this was too early in the season for the other.
guilty; he can't see out of his eyes; how dare (he) tell such a lie as that." The time he claimed to have taken the plates from the hill was on the 22 day of September, in 1827, and I went on the next Sunday following with five or six other ones and we hunted the side hill by course and could not find no place where the ground had been broke. There was a large hole where the money diggers had dug a year or two before, but no fresh dirt. There never was such a hole; there never was any plates taken out of that hill nor any other hill in that county, was in Wayne county. It is all a lie. No, sir, I never saw the plates nor no one else. He had an old glass box with a tile (spelling doubtful, C. A. S.) in it, about 7x8 inches, and that was the gold plates and Martin Harris didn't know a gold plate from a brick at this time. Smith and Rigdon had an intimacy but it was very secret and still and there was a mediator between them and that was Cowdery. The Manuscripts was stolen by Rigdon and modeled over by him and then handed over to Cowdery and he copied them and Smith sat behind the curtain and handed them out to Cowdery and as fast as Cowdery copied them, they was handed over to Martin Harris and he took them to Egbert Granden, the one who printed them, and Gilbert set the type. I never knew any of the twelve that claimed to have seen the plates except Martin Harris and the Smiths. I knew all of the Smiths, they had not much learning, they was poor scholars. The older ones did adhere (spelling doubtful, C. A. S.) to Joseph Smith. He had a peep stone he pretended to see in. He could see all the hidden treasures in the ground and all the stolen property. But that was all a lie, he couldn't see nothing. He was an impostor. I now will close. I don't know as you can read this. If you can, please excuse my bad spelling and mistakes. Yours With Respect,
The following deductions from Mr. Saunders' letter should be noted by the reader:
First, Oliver Cowdery first came to Palmyra in the summer of 1826 instead of in the winter of 1828-9, as the Mormons claim.
Secondly, he came from Kirtland, Geauga County, Ohio. Rigdon had removed to the same county the spring before, and Cowdery may have been sent by him to New York for a purpose.
Thirdly, part of the Book of Mormon was written at the home of the Smiths near Palmyra, instead of all of it being written at Harmony, Pennsylvania, and Fayette, New York.
Fourthly, according to Saunders' positive knowledge, Rigdon made at least three visits to Palmyra before 1830: in March, 1827; in the fall of 1827, and in the summer of 1828. We shall, presently, make good use of these dates.
THE MORMON ALIBI.In their attempt to refute the testimony just given, the Mormons claim that the distance between Mentor, Ohio, where Rigdon resided, and Palmyra, New York, where Smith lived, was so great that, in those days of locomotion, it would have been impossible for Rigdon, who was so burdened with the arduous duties of an active minister, to have visited and conferred with Smith as charged. On this point, Elder Heman C. Smith, historian of the Reorganized Church, says:
The life of Sidney Rigdon was that of an active minister, and his whereabouts can be determined by public records so frequently as to make it impossible that he could have made the long and tedious journeys to New York (which this story makes necessary) for the purpose of conspiring with Joseph Smith in those days of slow transportation. -- Church, History, Vol. I, p. 145.
But this position is wholly untenable. Sidney Rigdon was an itinerant preacher and did just what Elder Smith says it was impossible for him to do; he made "long and tedious journeys." And the fact that he made such long and tedious journeys is to be found largely in the literature of the Mormon Church itself. In May, 1819, we find him moving from near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Trumbull County, Ohio, and later, back again. 1 Next, we find him on a mission to Kentucky with his brother-in-law, Adamson Bentley. 2 In the spring of 1826, he removed to Geauga County, Ohio, and located at Bainbridge. 3 After this, we hear of him at Mentor, Perry, Austintown, Shalersville, New Lisbon and Warren, Ohio, and in May or June, 1830 in Pennsylvania. 4 All of these movements occurred before he became a Mormon.
After his pretended conversion, we find him going straight to Waterloo, New York, to confer with Smith and to return with him two months later. In company with Joseph Smith and Freeman Nickerson, in the fall of 1833, he went on a mission to Canada, where he labored one month. In the summer and fall of 1836, we find him it in the Eastern States with Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith and Oliver Cowdery. And last, but not least, we are told that between the years 1831 and 1838, he made four trips to Missouri, a distance of not less than eight hundred miles. 5 As Palmyra, New York, is only 252 miles from Mentor, Ohio, over the L. S. & M. S. and N. Y. C. & H. R. Railroads, and as Rigdon was accustomed to long and frequent moves, the distance would not have
1 "Church History," Vol. I., p. 130.
2 "History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve," p. 19.
3 "History of the Disciples," p. 191.
4 See testimony of Dr. Rosa.
5 "Journal of History," July. 1910. pp. 279-286.
made it impossible for him to have conferred with Smith before 1830.
But, says the Mormon objector, even if what you say is true, it would have required time for Rigdon to have made such visits, and we have his whereabouts determined by public records so frequently that this element is wanting and thus the impossibility still remains. Very well, then, let us examine the alibi.
The following list of events and dates has been compiled by Elder E. L. Kelley, of the Reorganized Church, from court records and historical and personal sources, and arranged as I give it, by Elder Heman C. Smith, of the same church, and published in the Josephite "Journal of History," Vol. III., No. 1, pages 16-20. This list is said to cover the movements of Rigdon from November 2, 1826, to November 14, 1830, so thoroughly and fully that no opening is left to slip in spaces of time sufficiently lengthy for him to visit Palmyra, New York, before his conversion in 1830.
STATE OF OHIO,|
Ohio; baptizing Nancy M. Sanford, William Dunson and wife, and others. (Evidence by Nancy M. Sanford, Mantua, Ohio.)
Stephen Sherman and Wealthy Mathews, agreeably to license obtained from the clerk of court of said county,
March, 1828, Instructor of a class in theology at Mentor, Ohio; and also held a series of meetings at Mentor and Warren, Ohio. Zebulon Rudolph, afterwards an elder in the Disciples Church, was a member of this class in theology, with others. He became a man of note in the Western Reserve.
STATE OF OHIO,
STATE OF OHIO,
Stephen Sherman and Wealthy Mathews, agreeably to license obtained from the clerk of court of said county,
This is the alibi by which our Mormon friends seek so zealously to combat and overthrow the testimonies of Smith's neighbors. But, giving them every date, and this includes the dates of the recording of the various marriage certificates which probably would not have required the personal presence of Rigdon either at court or at any other particular place, and we have them "beaten to a frazzle." Their alibi is so full of great gaps (and these occur right at the very times when our witnesses
declare that Rigdon was in Palmyra) that it is not only worthless as evidence to the Mormons, but is of positive value to their opponents. I now submit the list of dates and events arranged in simpler form and with the wide gaps of time indicated, so that the reader can readily discover the weakness of this alibi as evidence to those who seek by it to prove that Sidney Rigdon could not have been in New York between the years 1826 and 1830.
In this alibi, we have nine wide gaps, of over a month in each, in which the whereabouts of Rigdon is not accounted for, and some of them occurring at the very times when the old citizens of Palmyra say that he was in New York conferring with Smith. Three of these gaps occur in the year 1827, two in 1828, one in 1829 and three in 1830.
As Rigdon lived only 252 miles from Palmyra, if he traveled at the rate of fifty miles a day, which was less than the ordinary distance traveled by stage in those days, 1 it would have required five days to go and five days to return, so in all our calculations concerning Rigdon's visits to New York, we must make an allowance of ten days for time spent on the road.
Again, it is not to be supposed that it would have been necessary for his visits to have been of extraordinary lengths, for, according to the generally accepted theory, the "Manuscript Found" had been thoroughly worked over and was ready for transcription before it passed out of Rigdon's hands. This would make his presence necessary only as an adviser, and this would require him I being there only a few days at most. So, the time it took to go to Palmyra and to return, with sufficient time for a reasonable visit, could be easily included within one month. Rigdon could, therefore, have been in Palmyra, New York, a dozen times between the years 1826 and 1830 and still the list of dates and events as given by Elders Kelley and Smith remain intact.
1 An ex-stage-driver here in Nebraska tells me that be used to make seventy-five miles a day, but the roads were probably better than in New York and Ohio. However, fifty miles a day was easily made. When Rigdon left Kirtland in January, 1838, he went at the rate of sixty miles in ten hours (Church History," 2: 156), and David Whitmer, at the time that he went to Harmony, Pennsylvania, for Smith, in 1829, took just two days to make the distance of 135 miles ("Mother Lucy," p. 162).
The date when Rigdon first met Smith is not known and never will be definitely known, but a statement in Mother Lucy's "Joseph Smith and His Progenitors" (ed. 1908), page 101, raises a strong suspicion that it was late in 1824 or early in 1825. She says:
Shortly after the death of Alvin, a man commenced laboring in the neighborhood, to effect a union of the different churches, in order that all might be agreed, and thus worship God with one heart and with one mind,Alvin died in November, 1824. Rigdon had left the Baptist Church in August preceding, according to his own account, and had become identified with Campbell in preaching the doctrine, which might, in the colloquial of the common people, be defined as "a union of the different churches, in order that all might be agreed, and thus worship God with one heart and one mind." Relatively speaking, there were but few ministers preaching this doctrine at that time, and it should not surprise us if Rigdon were the "man" who came to the Smith neighborhood soon after Alvin's death, and that this event marked his first contact with his "prophet," Joseph Smith.
But, permitting the reader to accept this inference for what it is worth, we pass on to surer ground. Lorenzo Saunders declares that he saw Rigdon at Palmyra three times before 1830: in the middle of March, 1827; in the fall of 1827, and in the summer of 1828. On the last visit, Pomeroy Tucker agrees with Saunders, while Zebulon Rudolph, father-in-law of President Garfield, supplies us with information which would seem to establish a later visit, during the early part of the year 1830. Let us now consider the circumstances which might have required the presence of Rigdon at Palmyra at the different times specified.
In the present consideration, we shall move upon the
theory that Sidney Rigdon was the "angel" that appeared to Joseph Smith. Angels, in Mormon theology, are simply exalted men, 1 and, according to Oliver Cowdery, the voice of the "angel of God," who spoke to himself and Smith at the time of their baptism, did "most mysteriously resemble the voice of Elder Sidney Rigdon." Therefore, I believe that if we put the appearance of Sidney Rigdon at those points in Mormon history wherever "angels" appear, we will have established a number of historical facts.
Saunders says that he first saw Rigdon at the Smiths in the middle of March, 1827. He tells us that he was there to eat maple sugar, and saw a group of five or six men (probably the "Gold Bible Company"), and that Harrison Smith told him that one of them, better dressed than the rest, was Sidney Rigdon, a friend of Joseph's from Pennsylvania. In the month of February of that year, Rigdon preached the funeral sermon of Hannah Tanner, of Chester, Ohio, and in the following month of March commenced a series of meetings at Mentor. After the funeral of the Tanner woman, he could easily have found time to go to Palmyra, play the "angel stunt" and then return in time for the Mentor meeting. And, strange to say, according to Mother Lucy's account, 2 the "angel" did appear to Joseph about this time. In January, 1827, Joseph had returned with his wife from Pennsylvania, "in good health and fine spirits." Some time after this, his father had occasion, one morning, to send him to Manchester. Joseph did not return until nearly six o'clock in the evening, and when his father asked the reason, he replied that he had taken the worst
1 "Gods, angels and men are all of one species, one race, one great family." -- Key to Theology, p. 33
2 "Joseph Smith and His Progenitors," p. 122.
chastisement that he had ever received in his life. Smith, senior, supposing that the chastisement had been given at the hands of some of the neighbors, was very angry, but Joseph quieted him and said that "it was the angel of the Lord: as I passed by the Hill Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel met me, and said that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord; that the time had come for the record to be brought forth; and that I must be up and doing, and set myself about the things which God had commanded me to do." Sure, Joseph had not been paying enough attention to business, but, instead, he had been down to Harmony, Pennsylvania, stealing a wife and, because of the opposition of her people, had some notion of throwing up his prophetic office and working for a living, and "angel" Rigdon, after he had preached Hannah Tanner's funeral sermon, had just quietly slipped over into New York to see about it and give him a chastisement. Joseph said further: "But, father, give yourself no uneasiness concerning the reprimand that I have received, for I know the course that I am to pursue, so all will be well." The course that he was to pursue was to continue to do as he had been doing in deceiving the people by getting them ready for the springing of the great "Latter-day Swindle."
The second time that Saunders saw Rigdon at Palmyra was in the fall of 1827. What occurred in the fall of 1827? On the 22d of September of that year, Joseph Smith claimed to receive the plates, and it was necessary again for "angel" Rigdon, alias Moroni, to be present. And the Mormon alibi is deficient at this point, for, between August 23 and October 9, 1827, we have a gap of one month and seventeen clays in which it does not account for Rigdon's whereabouts. The third visit of Rigdon to Palmyra, that Saunders
mentions, was in the summer of 1828, just before harvest. Tucker seems, also, to have known something about this visit, as he speaks of Rigdon being at the Smiths soon after the 116 pages of manuscript were destroyed by Mrs. Harris. This occurred in the month of June, and again we have the alibi coinciding with the testimony of Saunders and also with the testimony of Pomeroy Tucker. Between the months of June and August, 1828, there are weeks in which no light is thrown upon the movements of Rigdon by the Mormon alibi.
Lastly, we have every reason to believe that Rigdon and Smith were together during the winter preceding the publication of the Book of Mormon. Zebulon Rudolph says:
During the winter previous to the appearance of the Book of Mormon, Rigdon was in the habit of spending weeks away from home, going no one knew whither. He often appeared preoccupied and he would indulge in dreamy, visionary talks, which puzzled those who listened. When the Book of Mormon appeared and Rigdon joined in the advocacy of the new religion the suspicion was at once aroused that he was one of the framers of the new doctrine, and that probably he was not ignorant of the authorship of the Book of Mormon.Between December 31, 1829, and the month of March, 1830, the alibi does not give us a single clue as to the movements of Rigdon except mentioning the fact that on January 12, 1830, the certificate of the marriage between David Chandler and Polly Johnson was recorded.
By the facts that I have just given, I believe that it is positively proved that Sidney Rigdon was in Palmyra, New York, at least four times before he openly became a Mormon: in March, 1827; in September, 1827; in June, 1828, and in the winter of 1830. 1
1 On May 15. 1829, "John the Baptist," whose voice, Cowdery says, "did most mysteriously resemble the voice of Elder Sidney Rigdon," appeared
THE AFFIDAVIT OF KATHERINE SALISBURY.Katherine Salisbury was a sister of Joseph Smith. In the year 1881, she made the following sworn statement, in which she certifies that Sidney Rigdon never was, to her knowledge, in the home of her parents until after his conversion to Mormonism in November, 1830.
STATE OF ILLINOIS____________
to Smith and Cowdery at Harmony, Pennsylvania, and conferred upon them the Aaronic priesthood. Notice that part of May and all of June of that year are not accounted for in the alibi.
father's place, and that it was after the removal of my father from Waterloo, N.Y., to Kirtland, Ohio. That this was in the year 1831, and some months after the publication of the Book of Mormon, and fully one year after the Church was organized, as before stated herein.
It would be supposed that a member of the Smith family, and one who was seventeen years of age in 1830, would, from personal knowledge, be able to give the public information upon the point at issue that would be both valuable and accurate. But such is not the case in the present instance. The affidavit of Mrs. Salisbury is so full of glaring errors that it is wholly valueless as evidence, and the investigator is impressed that it was either made with the design of concealing events that really did happen or else that the affiant was lamentably ignorant of her own family history.
In the first place, Mrs. Salisbury says:
At the time of the publication of said book, my brother, Joseph Smith, Jr., lived in the family of my father, in the town of Manchester, Ohio county, New York, and that he had, all of his life to this time, made his home with the family.The very contrary of this last statement is true. Instead of living all of his life, up to the publication of the Book of Mormon with his parents in Manchester. New York, Joseph went, some time after he was married, to the home of his wife's people, the Hales, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, where he resided from December, 1827, up to June, 1829, when he removed to the home of the
Whitmers in Seneca County. Mother Lucy, in writing of Mrs. Harris says:
When she returned home, being about two weeks after her arrival in Harmony, the place where Joseph resided, she endeavored to dissuade her husband from taking any further part in the publication of the record -- Joseph Smith and His Progenitors (ed. 1908), p. 135.The second error that Mrs. Salisbury makes is in regard to the time of the first public visit of Rigdon to the Smiths. She says:
I remember the time when Sidney Rigdon came to my father's place, and that it was after the removal of my father from Waterloo, N. Y. to Kirtland, Ohio. That this was in the year 1831, and some months after the publication of the Book of Mormon, and fully one year after the Church was organized, as before stated herein.Here Mrs. Salisbury has Rigdon visiting her father's family, for the first time, after they had removed to Kirtland, Ohio, in the year 1831 and "fully one year after the Church was organized." In refutation of this I cite the following from Lucy Smith (p. 205):
In December of the same year (1830), Joseph appointed a meeting at our house. While he was preaching, Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge came in, and seated themselves in the congregation.This was in Waterloo, New York, before 1831, and only about nine months after the Church was organized. If Mrs. Salisbury failed to remember this most important visit of Sidney Rigdon to her father's family at Waterloo, New York, when she was seventeen years of age, is it unlikely that she failed to remember the other visits of this gentleman made secretly and when she was still younger?
1 See "Braden-Kelley Debate" (first ed.), p. 75.
THE BOOK OF MORMON
While I am forced by the logic of the evidence to take the latter view, I believe that Solomon Spaulding incorporated in his "Manuscript Found" some of the features which first appeared in his "Manuscript Story," and that these, notwithstanding the undoubted thorough revision of Sidney Rigdon, have come down to us and appear in the Book of Mormon.
It is my purpose in the present chapter to point out these points of resemblance and to weave them into my fabric accumulative evidence to support the general position that I have taken that the author of the "Manuscript Story" was the author of the basis of the Book of Mormon.
Before making my quotations from the "Manuscript Story," it will be necessary for me to explain the peculiar
markings that occur. As the original manuscript stands, it is full of erasures and mistakes of various kinds. 1 In order to represent these, so that the reader can have the work in print just as it appears in manuscript, it was found necessary by the publishers to invent a system of marking. In this system, those words and sentences which are underlined are stricken out in the original, while those places marked thus -- -- -- -- are illegible. With this explanation, I shall give my quotations' from this manuscript just as they appear in the copy of the original as published by the Reorganized Church. My quotations from the Book of Mormon will also be taken from their reprint of the third American edition of that Book.
BOTH FOUND UNDER A STONE.Both the "Manuscript Story" and the Book of Mormon are said to have been found under a stone, which stone was raised with a lever in the hands of the finder. Spaulding gives the following account of the reputed finding of the first:
Near the west Bank of the Coneaught River there are the remains of an ancient fort. As I was walking and forming various conjectures respecting the character situation & numbers of those people who far exceeded the present Indians in works of art and inginuety, I hapned. to tread on a flat stone. This was at a small distance from the fort, & it lay on the top of a great small mound of Earth exactly horizontal. The face of it had a singular appearance. I discovered a number of characters, which appeared to me to be letters, but so much effaced by the ravages of time, that I could not read the inscription. With the assistance of a leaver I raised the stone. But you may easily____________
1 These are sometimes held up to prove that Spaulding was not as learned a man as he is supposed to have been, but a careful study of his "Manuscript Story" will show that they are due to pure carelessness. In some instances, he spells a word correctly and in others incorrectly. This was, probably, his first draft, which he never expected any one to see.
THE BOOK OF MORMON 157
conjecture my astonishment when I discovered that its ends and sides rested on stones & that it was designed as a cover to an artificial Cave. I found by examining that its sides were lined with stones built in a conical form with --- --- --- --- --- down, & that it was about eight feet deep. -- M. S., p. 11.After giving a description of this cave, Spaulding continues:
Observing one side (of the cave, C. A. S.) to he perpendicular nearly three feet from the bottom, I began to inspect that part with accuracy. Here I noticed a big flat stone fixed in the form of a doar. I immediately tore it down and Lo, a cavity within the wall presented itself it being about three feet in diamiter from side to side and about two feet high. Within this cavity I found an earthen Box with a cover which shut it perfectly tite. The Box was two feet in length one & half in breadth & one & three inches in diameter. My mind filled with awful sensations which crowded fast upon me would hardly permit my hands to remove this venerable deposit, but curiosity soon gained the assendency & the box was taken & raised to open it. When I had removed the Cover I found that it contained twenty-eight rolls of parchment -- & -- that when -- -- -- appeared to be manuscrips written in eligant hand with Roman Letters & in the Latin Language. -- M. S., p. 12.This is Spaulding's fictitious account of the finding of the "Manuscript Story." Now let us read Joseph Smith's description of the finding of the Mormon plates:
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 coveted with earth. Having removed the earth and obtained It lever which I got fixed under the edge of the stone and with a little exertion raised it up, I looked in and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the Breastplate, as stated by the messenger.
The box in which they lay was formed by laying: stones together in some kind of cement; in the bottom of the box, were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them.-- Church History, Vol I., p. 16.Spaulding claimed to find his manuscripts under a flat stone, which he raised with a lever, and in an earthen box. Smith claimed to find his plates under a stone, which was thick in the middle, but thin at the edges, and which he raised with a lever, and in a stone box. Spaulding represents himself as accidentally discovering his records; Smith declares that the depository of his was revealed to him by the angel Moroni.
A GREAT STORM AT SEA.The "Manuscript Story" and the Book of Mormon both agree in describing a great storm at sea during the voyage which brought the people they describe from the Old World to the New. The former says:
One day he (Constantine, C. A. S.) says to me Fabius you must go to Brittian & carry an important -- -- -- -- to the general of our army there -- -- -- -- sail in a vessel & return when she returns. Preparation was made instantly and we sailed -- -- -- The vessel laden with provisions for the army -- -- -- Cloath knives and other implements for their use had now arived neat the coasts of Britain when a tremendous storm arose & drove us into the midst of the boundless Ocean. Soon the whole crew became lost & bewildered. They knew not the direction for to the rising: Sun or polar Star, for the heavens were covered with clouds; & darkness had spread her sable mantle over the face of the raging deep. Their minds were filled with consternation and despair. & unanimously agreed that What could we do? How be extrecated from the insatiabte jaws of a watry tomb. Then it was that we felt our absolute dependence on that Almighty & gracious Being who holds the winds & floods in -- -- -- hands. From him alone could we expect deliverance. To him our most fervent desires assended. Prostrate & on bended nees we poured forth incessant Supplication
& even Old Ocean appeared to sympathize in our distress by returning the echo of our vociferous Cries & lamentations. After being driven five days with incridable velocity before the furious wind the storm abated in its violence. -- M. S., p. 15.The Book of Mormon account of a similar storm is as follows:
And it came to pass that after they (Laman and Lemuel, C. A. S.) had bound me (Nephi, C. A. S.), insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work; wherefore, they knew not whither they should steer the ship, insomuch, that there arose a great storm, yea, a great and terrible tempest; and we were driven back upon the waters for the space of three days; and they began to be frightened exceedingly lest they should be drowned in the sea: nevertheless they did not loose me. And on the fourth day which we had been driven back, the tempest began to be exceeding sore.In both accounts, the storm which occurred ceased in answer to prayer.
THE GREAT SPIRIT.Both records declare that the ancient Americans believed in the Great Spirit. Spaulding gives the following address of an ancient American chieftain:
The Speaker then extended his hands & spoke. Hail, ye favorite children of the great and good Spirit, who resides in the Sun who is the father of all living creatures & whose arms encircle us all around. -- M. S., p. 23.In the Book of Mormon, I find King Lamoni saying this:
Behold, is not this the Great Spirit who doth send such great punishments upon this people, because of their murders? -- B. of M., p. 253.And Ammon is represented as asking King Lamoni:
Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit? And he said Yea. And Ammon said, This is God. -- B. of M., p. 255.This appellation stamps both books as a fraud, for it is now conceded by all of the leading students of the ancient American religions that the American Indian knew nothing whatever of the "Great Spirit" until he heard of him through the white missionary. The native terms for God do not express the idea of personality, but simply of the supernatural in general, the mysterious, the incomprehensible, the unknown. 1
Maj. J. W. Powell, former chief of the Smithsonian Institution, says:
Nations with civilized institutions, art with palaces, monotheism as the worship of the Great Spirit, all vanish from the priscan condition of North America in the light of anthropologic research. Tribes with the social institutions of kinship, art with its highest architectural development exhibited in the structure of communal dwellings, and polytheism in the worship of mythic animals and nature-gods remain. -- First Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, p. 69.Mr. F. S. Dellenbaugh, a prominent archeologist, also says:
They had no understanding of a single "Great Spirit" till____________
1 See Chapter VlII. of my "Cumorah Revisited."
the Europeans, often unconsciously, informed them of their own belief. --North Americans of Yesterday, p. 375.
THE REVOLUTION OF THE EARTH.Fabius, after reaching our shores, reasoned as follows on the revolution of the earth:
Whereas, if according to the platonic system, the earth is a globe & the sun is stationary, then the earth by a moderate velocity -- -- -- perform her revolutions. -- M. S., p. 29.In the Book of Mormon, Helaman says:
Yea, and if he say unto the earth, Move, it is moved; yea, if he say unto the earth, Thou shalt go back, that it lengthen out the day for many hours, it is done: and thus according to his word, the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still: yea, and behold, this is so; for sure it is the earth that moveth, and not the sun. -- B. of M., p, 410.
THE USE OF THE HORSE.Both the "Manuscript Story" and the Book of Mormon inform us that the ancient Americans made use of the horse. In the first mentioned, I find the following:
The ground was plowed by horses & generally made very mellow for the reception of the seed. -- M. S., p. 35.There are a number of references in the Book of Mormon to the use of the horse, but the following will suffice:
And it came to pass that the people of Nephi did till the land, and raise all manner of grain, and of fruit, and flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle, of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses. -- B. of M., p. 133.It is now agreed that, while the horse was an inhabitant of America in the earlier geologic epochs, it ceased to exist long before man had attained to any considerable degree of culture as represented in the Book of Mormon. Dr. D. G. Brinton says:
There is no doubt but that the horse existed on the continent contemporaneously with post-glacial man; and some paleontologists are of the opinion that the European and Asian horses were descendants of the American species; but for some mysterious reason the genus became extinct in the New World many generations before its discovery. -- The American Race, p. 50.
THE MANUFACTURE OF IRON.On the manufacture of iron tools and implements, the "Manuscript Story" says:
The manufacturing of lead Iron & lead was understood, but was not carried on to that extent & perfection as in Europe. A small quantity of Iron in proportion to the number of Inhabitants served to supply them with all the implements which custom had made necessary for their use. By hammering & hardening their Iron they would convert it nearly into the consistence of Steal & fit it for the purpose of edged tools. -- M. S., p. 36.In the Book of Mormon, Nephi says:
And I did teach my people to build buildings: and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance. -- B. of M., p. 64.No fact is better established than that the American race did not use manufactured iron and steel tools before the discovery. Says Prof. Cyrus Thomas, of the Smithsonian Institution:
The use of iron as a metal was unknown in America previous to the discovery by Columbus. -- American Archaeology, p. 11.
HIGH PRIESTS.On this point, the "Manuscript Story" says:
Labamack accepted the office of Emperor & his four counsellor were appointed. Lamban was ordained high Priest & his four assistants chosen. -- M. S., p. 63.
On the appointment of the Nephite Alma to such an office, the Book of Mormon says:
And it came to pass that Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge; he being also the high priest; his father having conferred the office upon him, and had given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church. -- B. of M., p. 204.
Hamack then arose & in his hand he held a stone which he pronounced transparent. Thro' this he could view things present & things to come. could behold the dark intrigues & cabals of foreign courts, &The following is a description of the manner in which Joseph Smith is said to have employed the Urim and Thummim, from the pen of David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses, and published in the Chicago Times of August 7, 1875. Let the reader carefully compare this description with the foregoing account from the "Manuscript Story," and then decide for himself whether or not there are good grounds for believing that this feature of
the Mormon fraud was first conceived in the mind of the dreamer of Conneaut. Whitmer says:
And (I) was an eye-witness to the method of procedure. The plates were not before Joseph while he translated.... The method pursued was common-place, but nevertheless effective. Having placed the Urim and Thummim in his hat, Joseph placed the hat over his face, and with prophetic eyes read the invisible symbols, syllable by syllabic and word by word, while Cowdery or Harris acted as recorders.... So illiterate was Joseph at that time, that he didn't even know that Jerusalem was a walled city, and be was utterly unable to pronounce many of the names which the magic power of the Urim and Thummim revealed, and therefore spelled them out in syllables, and the more erudite scribe put them together. The stone was the same used by the Jaredites at (from) Babel. I have frequently placed it to my eyes, but could see nothing through it. I have seen Joseph, however, place it to his eyes and instantly read signs one hundred and sixty miles distant, and tell exactly what was transpiring there. When I went to Harmony after him, he told me the name of every hotel at which I had stopped on the road, read the signs, and described various scenes without having ever received any information from me. -- Quoted in "Joseph the Seer," p. 72.Hamack could view things present and things to come, dark intrigues and cabals, hidden treasures, amorous practices, and even moles and warts and pimples, through his stone. Joseph could read signs one hundred and sixty miles distant, the names on the hotels, and behold various scenes through which Whitmer passed, through his. Reader, is not this coincidence suspicious, to say the least? 1
I close this chapter with the following verses from the pen of A. O. Hooten, of Bridge, Oregon, in which are summed up the points of identity between the "Manuscript Story" and the Book of Mormon:
1 See also "Mosiah" 5:10 for a similar stone in use by a Nephite seer.
And each of the "records," was very, very old.
Solomon's was in "Latin," and written on "parchment,
Joseph's "Reformed Egyptian," "engraved" on "plates" of "gold."
'Twas just under a "stone," which he raised by a "lever,"
That each found his "record," each dry, safe and sound.
Solomon's in a "box," in a cave "artificial,"
Joseph's in a "box," near the surface of the ground.
Of each of the "records," only part was "translated,"
Each one gave his reasons, why a part was reserved.
Solomon's was a novel, while Joseph's was "more bible"
For many centuries, hidden, miraculously preserved.
The "records" each tell us, while parties crossed the ocean,
Tremendous storms arose, surging billows everywhere,
Yet all were safely landed, and not one life was lost,
They were saved from destruction in answer to prayer.
Each "record" mentions horses, that were found upon the land,
"Burnt offerings" people offered, to cleanse them from all sin,
Judges were appointed, that justice might he done,
And different peoples, three, this land were dwelling in.
Each "translator" must have "planets" that move in regular form.
And "Oracles" their words received, as coming from above.
"Sacred" writings kept separate, and "characters" used for words
The wicked punished for a while, then saved by redeeming love.
Each builds his forts of "earth" thrown up with timbers placed on top,
Has property held in "common," and counsellors four or two,
Has a man whose words, accepted, as coming from above,
Just so be calls it "revelation," that's enough to them 'tis true.
But the thing that was dearest, to each "translator's" heart,
Was the magical "interpreters" or "transparent stone" so clear;
With them nothing could he hidden, all things came to view,
Moles and pimples, warts and wrinkles, all things far and near,
This "missing link" of "evidence" at last completes the chain." 1
Yet Spaulding wrote his "manuscript," before Smith found his "book,"
And there's nineteen points of identity. Will Mormons please explain?
1 The preface to the "Manuscript Story" by the Reorganized Church speaks of it as "this hobgoblin of the pulpit, this 'nigger-in-the-woodpile' of the press and the forum," and this "newly found 'missing link'" which completes the chain of evidence."
THE BOOK OF MORMON
of the Book of Mormon in the "Manuscript Found."
While these objections possess but little force to those who are familiar with the evidences adduced and the positions taken by the advocates of the Spaulding theory, they are so plausible on the face of them and are so ingeniously presented as often to deceive the superficial and those who have little or no information on the grounds that are really occupied by those who hold to this view. It is for the Purpose of supplying this information, therefore, that this chapter is written.
The Mormons have ever taken full advantage of the confusion that arises over the forced identification of the "Manuscript Found" with the "Manuscript Story," and in some instances they have applied the descriptions of the one to the other, and vice versa, and by so doing have produced a mass of apparent contradictions, inconsistencies and absurdities that is both ludicrous and disgusting. It is only when the distinction between the two manuscripts is clearly fixed in the mind that the investigator is able to work himself out of the fog of Mormon sophistry and misrepresentation and into the sunlight of truth.
The true theory of the revamping of the Book of Mormon from the "Manuscript Found" is this: About the year 1809, Solomon Spaulding began an historical novel, based upon the antiquities of America, in which he described the first colonists as coming to our shores from Jerusalem under the leadership of Lehi and Nephi. This novel, which he called the "Manuscript Found," he placed in the printing establishment of Robert Patterson, of Pittsburgh, from which it was stolen by Sidney Rigdon in 1815 or 1816. Rigdon afterwards rewrote this manuscript, retaining only the historical outline, proper names and certain Scriptural expressions, but adding a large
amount of religious matter and clothing the whole in his own style and manner of expression, after which he put it in the hands of Joseph Smith, a young "money-digger" of western New York, about the year 1827, who, in turn, read it off from behind a sheet to another accomplice, Oliver Cowdery, who wrote it clown as it fell from his lips and got it in shape for the printer. I believe this to be the theory of the revamping of the Spaulding story as it would be stated by the majority, at least, of those who advocate it. No one claims that the historical part of the Book of Mormon is just as Spaulding wrote it, word for word. The whole thing was rewritten by Rigdon, who retained from the original only the outline, the proper names and certain Scriptural expressions.
With this explanation, let us now take up the objections that have been offered, and give them a fair, candid and careful examination.
THE SIZE OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.It is objected that the "Manuscript Found" could not have been the basis of the Book of Mormon, for the reason that it was too meager a thing to make a book the size of the latter. Eider E. L. Kelley says:
The manuscript Spaulding is said to have written was too meager a thing to in any sense compare with a manuscript that would make a book the size of the Book of Mormon. -- Braden, and Kelley Debate (first ed.), p. 80.Further on he adds:
Taking up the first reason, it will at once be clear to you that a manuscript written in the English language, as they concede Spaulding's was, to contain the amount of matter that is included in the strictly historical part of the Book of Mormon, would cover at least fifteen hundred pages of foolscap paper. Was the "Manuscript Found" such? The statements of those who claim they saw the "Manuscript Found," place it beyond
doubt that it was no such. Mrs. McKinstry, the daughter of Solomon Spaulding, in her evidence, says, that she, "Read the manuscript frequently when she was about twelve years of age, and that it was about one inch in thickness." She read it frequently, so it could not have been very large. Then their other trumped up witnesses all, or nearly all, say they heard it read. Henry Lake heard it read, John N. Miller heard it read from beginning to end. Aaron Wright heard Spaulding read it, etc. Mrs. Matilda Spaulding, wife of Solomon Spaulding, states in her testimony published in the Illinois Quincy Whig, that it was about a third as large as the Book of Mormon and that her daughter (Mrs. McKinstry) read it frequently. Hurlburt who was commissioned by Henry Lake, John Miller, Aaron Wright, et al. (Braden's witnesses), to go and get the Spaulding writing, went and got it he says, and the only one in Spaulding's handwriting which the widow had. That he delivered it to E. D. Howe of Painesville, who was writing the book to break down the Mormons, and Howe says, page 288, of his book in describing it, that, "The trunk referred to by the widow was subsequently examined and found to contain only a single manuscript book in Spaulding's handwriting, containing about one quire of paper."The above is confusion confounded. It is an instance of flagrantly jumbling the two manuscripts together in order to produce an effect of absurdity and inconsistency. The manuscript which Mesdames Davison and McKinstry describe could not have been the "Manuscript Found" at all, but was the "Manuscript Story." The former was never in the "old hair trunk" after Spaulding's death, for the reason that it was in the hands of Rigdon. These ladies, as we have already shown, were mistaken, for the manuscript they describe has been traced from the old trunk to Hurlburt, from Hurlburt to Howe, from Howe to Rice and from Rice to the Oberlin College Library, and
the only title that it bears is "Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek," and this "in faint penciling," while it is profoundly different from the "Manuscript Found" as this is described by John Spaulding, Henry Lake and the others.
Again, what if the original "Manuscript Found" was a much shorter work than the Book of Mormon? How does this prove that it could not have been the basis of the latter? Mr. Kelley's statement that the historical part of the Book of Mormon alone "would cover at least fifteen hundred pages of foolscap paper," is away wide of the mark. By a test which I have made, I have found that the whole Book of Mormon, historical part and all, can be easily written upon twelve hundred pages. Another fact is that about three-fourths of the book is religious matter, and we contend that this was the work of Rigdon. This would leave, by a fair estimate, about three hundred pages for the historical part, written just as it is, and if this were reduced to a consistent size by the omission of redundant and superfluous language, repetitions, etc., Rigdon's overdress, it would fill a space in print at most one-eighth the size of the Book of Mormon. So the statements of Lake, Miller and Wright, concerning the size of Spaulding's "Manuscript Found," may be correct after all.
THE STYLE OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.I. It is claimed that the historical and doctrinal parts of the Book of Mormon are so closely interwoven that they could not have been the work of two independent writers. Elder J. R. Lambert says:
The historical and doctrinal parts are so closely blended and interwoven, throughout the book, that it is evident that whoever wrote all or any part of the history contained in the book,
also wrote the doctrine presented with it. -- Objections to the Book of Mormon Answered and Refuted, p. 76.But Mr. Lambert proceeds to reason upon the grounds, which we have already denied, that his opponents hold to the view that the historical part of the Book of Mormon is verbally the work of Spaulding. I feel sure that no anti-Mormon writer, who has given the matter due consideration, holds to any such theory. All that we claim is that Rigdon took the historical outline, proper names and certain Scriptural expressions from the "Manuscript Found," and clothed them in his own particular literary style, and presented them to the world as the Book of Mormon. This would not have been an impossible feat, for it is done every day in our public schools, the scholars reproducing in their own language the thoughts of another. This is what we claim Rigdon did.
2. Again, it is objected that the style of the Book of Mormon is altogether too common for a man of the education and literary ability of Solomon Spaulding. 1 Elder W. W. Blair writes:
That any one of judgment, on reading the book, could for one moment think that Rev. Mr. Spaulding, commonly reputed to he a man of poetic nature, romantic tastes and high scholastic attainments, ever wrote the book, or even one page of it, is more than we can believe. Had he, or any man of finished education, written the book, their scholarly attainments would have been manifest in the style, language and arrangement of the book. -- Joseph the Seer, p. 174.____________
1 When it is to the advantage of the Mormons, Spaulding's ability is run up, and when not to their advantage to run it up, it is run down. Right in this same connection, Blair says: "Whoever will read the 'Manuscript Story' written by Rev. Spaulding, will perceive that he had neither the religion, the morals, the information, nor the intellectual ability, to write the Book of Mormon, nor anything to compare with it" (p. 175). In the first quotation, the Book of Mormon, as a literary production, is below Spaulding; in this quotation, it is above him.
But here, again, Mr. Blair proceeds to argue along the same line as Mr. Lambert, and assumes that his opponents hold that the Book of Mormon, or at least the historical part of it, is just as it came from Spaulding's pen without being worked over. I say that no such theory would, for a moment, be held by any anti-Mormon polemic who would give the subject the consideration that it deserves. While the outline, proper names and a few Scriptural expressions, as "And it came to pass," etc., are undoubtedly Spaulding's, the dress, with its frills and flounces of verbosity, redundancy and repetition, comes from the dressmaking establishment of Sidney Rigdon.
3. It is further objected that the Book of Mormon is not written either in the style of Rigdon or that of Smith, hence that it must have come from a higher source and must be divine. On this point, Elder George Reynolds says:
It is not written in the language of either Joseph Smith or Sidney Rigdon. If we compare the revelations given through Joseph Smith at the time the plates were being translated, we find an altogether different diction; or let us compare it with the Lectures on Faith in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants and then with the acknowledged writings of Sidney Rigdon, and we shall find there is nothing common in any of these with the peculiarities of grammatical construction and verbal idiosyncrasies of the Book of Mormon. -- Myth of the Manuscript Found, pp. 38, 39.But I am not so sure of this. In some respects the style of the Book of Mormon may differ from the style of Smith's revelations, the difference being due to the respective character of each, one being mainly historic, the other mainly prophetic. But, how about Rigdon? His style is described to have been "eloquent" and "enthusiastic," just such a style as would abound in verbosity
and redundancy of speech.1 Besides being a backwoods preacher of those times when revival excitement ran high, he undoubtedly employed the hackneyed expressions of the backwoods revivalist. Such Book of Mormon expressions; therefore, as "everlastingly too late," "did sing redeeming love," "experienced a change of heart" and "lay down the weapons of your rebellion," strongly impress us as Rigdonisms, and confine the production of the Book of Mormon to that period in the world's history when such expressions were in common use.
THE CHARACTER OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.The doctrinal character of the Book of Mormon is made a further objection to its Spaulding authorship, it being claimed that it smacks more of "Campbellism" than it does of Presbyterianism.
The doctrinal portions of the Book of Mormon are not those that one would expect from a retired clergyman of the Presbyterian school. They begin with the history and are intimately interwoven, with it from first to last; and some of the cardinal features of the Presbyterian Confession of Faith are discarded. A Baptist writer, Professor Whitsitt, in a lecture delivered before a Baptist Pastors' Conference, and published in the Western Recorder, takes the ground that the Book of Mormon was written in the direct interest of the Campbellites and in support of their confession of faith, that "Jesus is the Christ." -- Joseph Smith, in "The Spaulding Story Re-examined," p. 13.But it has never been claimed that Spaulding's romance
1 Hayden says of Rigdon: "His action was graceful, his language copious, fluent in utterance, with articulation clear and musical." -- History of the Disciples, p. 192.
was a religious romance. It was purely an historical account of a fictitious people, and to this all of his relatives and acquaintances agree. The religious part was added by Sidney Rigdon, who, from 1824 to 1830, was a co-laborer with Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott and Adamson Bentley, in the great Restoration movement, hence the points of "Campbellism," so-called, which appear. Another thing to be taken into consideration is that Solomon Spaulding, at this time, was neither a Presbyterian nor a "Campbellite," but a skeptic, and so if he had any religious views at all, they must have been antagonistic to Christianity. All that the religious character of the Book of Mormon proves is that it was revamped from the "Manuscript Found" after Rigdon had become familiar with the doctrine of baptism for the remission of sins and other points of theology as held by the Campbells.
SMITH'S INABILITY TO PRODUCE THE BOOK OF MORMON.It is denied that Joseph Smith could, in any way, have produced the Book of Mormon, and, as it was above his ability, it is claimed that it must have come from God. Mr. Blair says:
That Joseph Smith, without the inspiration of God, could write that book, abounding as it does in the most accurate items of history, declaring improbable historical facts, facts which have since been fully attested by the antiquarian and the geologist; disseminating a system of morals and religion that challenges the criticism, and that is worthy of the admiration of the race and publishing a series of prophecies the most important and startling, many of which are being fulfilled under our own observation -- that he could do such a work, under such conditions, it would be far more difficult to believe, than to believe what he claims, viz., the guidance and inspiration of God. -- Joseph the Seer, p. 175.Let us, to start with, take a look at the remarkable
things which Mr. Blair refers to as proof that Smith was under the guidance and inspiration of God.
In the first place, it is claimed that he produced a book which abounds in the most accurate items of history, many of which have since been fully attested by the antiquarian and the geologist. This statement is sufficient to raise a smile. Is a book which says that Christ was to be "born at Jerusalem" (Alma 5:2) historically accurate? And is a book which stands in open conflict with the great facts pertaining to the ancient inhabitants of America, as revealed by archaeological research, to be trusted as coming from God? I have proved conclusively a score or more of connections between the Book of Mormon and archaeological science, 1 and yet we repeatedly hear, in spite of these proofs to the contrary, that the claims of the Book of Mormon have been fully confirmed "by the antiquarian and the geologist"!
As for the morality of the Book of Mormon, it proves nothing as to its inspiration. Thousands of books teach good morals without being inspired. Such books as "Pilgrim's Progress," by Bunyan; "In His Steps," by Sheldon, and "What a Young Man Ought to Know," by Stall, are morally uplifting to a greater degree than the Book of Mormon, and yet their authors would hoot at the suggestion that they were inspired to write them. The moral light which shines from the pages of the Book of Mormon is reflected from the Bible. It has not given the world a single moral truth that it did not have in the Christian Scriptures before it appeared.
Lastly, Smith's prophecies or revelations are decidedly weak in proving that he was under the guidance and inspiration of God. The honest and virtuous mind can
1 See my "Cumorah Revisited."
have but little confidence in a prophet whose guiding spirit speaks of an individual as "my servant John C. Bennett," and promises to accept his work if he continues (Doc. and Cov., 107:6), when, at the same time, he was "a very mean man" and a wife deserter, having "a wife and two or three children in McConnelsville, Morgan County, Ohio" (Church History, Vol. II., p. 585). Either the Mormon god connived at wife desertion in defiance of Matt. 19:5, or else he was ignorant in 1841 of what Bennett did in 1838.
So, whether you take up the Book of Mormon as a history or a code of morals, or consider the prophecies of Joseph Smith, you will find nothing so remarkable that it would be above the ability of the "Gold Bible Company."
But, turning now to the real part which Smith played in the imposture, we find that it would not require more than a young man of his age and education, and of that time, was able to perform. His sole work was, first, to play the prophet, and, secondly, to read off to Cowdery, from behind the sheet, "syllable by syllable and word by word," what Rigdon had already written down. And this he did, according to Whitmer, in a most bungling manner, having to spell some of the words out, letter by letter. To claim that he had to be inspired for such a procedure, is an insult to common sense.
THE CHALLENGE TO PRODUCE THE MANUSCRIPT.But perhaps the flimsiest objection that has ever been raised against this theory is that the opponents of the Book of Mormon have never been able to produce the manuscript which they claim was its original, hence that this manuscript never existed. As early as 1839, Parley P. Pratt, through the New York Era, tauntingly said:
Now if there is such a manuscript in existence, let it comb forward at once and not he kept in the dark.In throwing out this challenge, Pratt knew perfectly well that he was safe, and every Mormon knows the same in issuing the same challenge to-day, for the "Gold Bible Company" would have had a smaller degree of common sense than we give them credit for if, after this manuscript had served its purpose, they had carelessly let it lie around to fall into Gentile hands and thus expose their fraud.
It is not strange that Mormons would take advantage of such an objection, and grasp at it as a drowning man would at a straw, in order to save their failing cause, but the incomprehensible thing is that some anti-Mormon writers, who have rejected the Spaulding theory, have also thrown out this challenge to the members of their own party, and at the inability of the latter to produce the manuscript have derisively declared that "the entire theory connecting Sidney Rigdon and the Spaulding romance with Joseph Smith in originating the Book of Mormon must be abandoned." Rev. D. H. Bays, who for twenty-seven years was an elder in the Reorganized Church, and who, after his apostasy, wrote his "Doctrines and Dogmas of Mormonism," in a rather caustic letter to A. T. Schroeder, 1 then of Salt Lake City, Utah, and dated at Battle Creek, Michigan, September 7, 1899, demands:
If "three manuscripts" ever existed, why not produce the evidence to prove it? Why not induce that library of "over one thousand books and pamphlets" to yield up some of its hidden treasures of knowledge upon this point, and settle this mooted question once for all? Mormonism for more than half a century____________
1 Mr. Schroeder, later, ably refuted the contentions of Mr. Bays in his "The Origin of the Book of Mormon Re-examined," etc.
has been demanding the production of the "Manuscript Found," that it might be compared with the Book of Mormon. -- Josephite "Journal of History," January, 1900, p. 93.He then sums up his arguments against the Spaulding theory in the following astounding propositions:
1. The existence of a second manuscript is assumed, not proved.It is surprising to me now, after once having sided with Mr. Bays in his theory of the Cowdery-Smith origin of the Book of Mormon, that a gentleman, so familiar with the history and evidence of the present controversy, as he claims to have been, should take his stand upon two such baseless propositions as these.
First, the existence of Spaulding's "second manuscript" is not assumed, but proved -- proved by the testimony of eleven witnesses, the genuineness of which testimony is admitted both by the Brighamite, Roberts, and the Josephite, Smith. As these gentlemen, and no others, have ever shown that our eleven witnesses lied in the testimonies which it is admitted they gave, these testimonies stand as proving that the "second manuscript" of Spaulding really existed. And yet Bays overlooked this fact!
Secondly, how Mr. Bays could say that no proofs have ever been offered to show the "absolute identity" of the names in this "second manuscript" with those in the Book of Mormon, when eight of these admittedly genuine testimonies had been before the world for sixty-six years certifying to this very fact, is also beyond the limits of human understanding.
Mr. Bays' whole argument, then, falls in the face of
the eleven testimonies which we have already given in Chapters VI. and VII.
The demand to produce Spaulding's second manuscript suggests the following illustration: Jones steals a hog from Brown. Eleven of Brown's friends see the hog in Jones' pen and identify it as belonging to Brown. Jones takes the hog to White and they kill and eat it. After the hog is all devoured, Brown has Jones arrested for the crime and introduces his eleven witnesses to prove his guilt. But the justice decides that, as the hog can not be produced, Jones is innocent.
Now for the application: Rigdon steals a manuscript from Spaulding and, with Smith's assistance, revamps it into the Book of Mormon, after which he destroys it, as no doubt he did. Eleven witnesses testify to the identity, in historical outline and proper names, of Spaulding's manuscript with the Book of Mormon, but Rev. D. H. Bays and the Mormons demand that, as the Spaulding manuscript can not be produced, the case against Rigdon be dismissed and he be adjudged not guilty!
THE CHARACTERS OF HURLBURT AND HOWE.It is charged that the characters of Hurlburt and Howe, who secured the testimonies of eight of the eleven witnesses which we have given, were so corrupt that these testimonies are discredited thereby. Elder E. L. Kelley says:
Do you blame me, then, ladies and gentlemen, for stating before you I cannot take as evidence anything that has passed through such hands as Mr. Hurlburt and Howe, unless I have the original statement to compare, or it can be proven outside in some way that these statements that he has been referring to -- but never reading in full to you -- are unaltered and genuine? Here is where he gets his John Spaulding, Martha Spaulding, Henry Lake, John Miller, Aaron Wright, Oliver Smith and
Nahum Howard. Do you want me to swallow their contradictory, self-accusing, wholly improbable, malicious falsehoods, rather than accept the truth of God? Could anything pure and immaculate have passed through that sewer of filth and come out worthy of the palate of decent men and women? -- Braden and Kelley Debate (first ed.), pp. 115, 116.The charge that is made against Hurlburt is that he was cut off from the church for immorality, and against Howe, that he was jealous because his wife and sister united with the Mormons.
But, suppose that both of these charges are true, how does that affect the testimonies of John Spaulding and the rest, since it is admitted by the highest Mormon authority that these testimonies are genuine? Hurlburt and Howe may have possessed characters as black as midnight, but if the statements they secured were actually made and signed as represented, how has their own individual corruption affected them? With the admissions of genuineness which their own leading men have made, it appears very inconsistent for the Mormon churches to attempt to discredit the Conneaut testimonies by the poor characters of men who never made them.
Mr. Kelley did with these testimonies just what all Mormons do and have to do: he issued a blustering denial and brought out no proof to support the same, simply calling them "contradictory, self-accusing, wholly improbable, malicious falsehoods." Let the reader compare this charge with the statements themselves, and he will see how far it is from the truth.
As for the accusations against Hurlburt and Howe, they may have been guilty of the things charged and they may not. The policy of Mormonism has always been to attempt to blacken the character of every man who has ever openly and successfully opposed it, Howe's
book is, probably, the most important book ever written against Mormonism, as it was the first and contains so much original testimony that stands as a huge mountain in the way of the onward advance of Mormonism. Unable to meet and overthrow this testimony, the Mormons turn and vent their spleen on the devoted heads of its compilers. Other men, also, besides Hurlburt, were guilty of seduction in the Mormon Church, and among them Smith himself, but they were never excommunicated.
SUPPOSED CONTRADICTIONS IN THE "MANUSCRIPT FOUND"
1. It is said that the "Manuscript Found" is declared to have described an idolatrous people instead of a people who worshipped God and obeyed his laws as the Book of Mormon describes. This objection is based upon a question and its answer found in the Haven-Davison interview as published in the Quincy Whig of 1839.
Q. Does the manuscript describe an idolatrous or a religious people?But here, again, we have the same old play on Mrs. Davison's mistake of confounding the trunk manuscript with the "Manuscript Found." The former does describe an idolatrous people, the aborigines, but it also describes a Christian colony which came from Rome. The latter described a company of Jews that came from Jerusalem, and, while only incidentally religious, probably represented them as worshipers of their Jehovah.
2. It is objected, further, that, according to the Conneaut testimonies, the "Manuscript Found" described the
Jewish colony as the lost tribes of Israel, while the Book of Mormon makes them out to be only of the tribe of Joseph. After giving. on page 46 of his "Myth of the Manuscript Found," the claim that Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" gave an account of the immigration of the lost tribes to America, Reynolds says on page 47:
It is well to remark that the Book of Mormon makes but very few references to the ten tribes, and in those few, it directly, plainly and unequivocally states that the American Indians are not the descendants of the ten tribes, and further, that the ten tribes never were in America, or any part of it, during any portion of their existence as a nation. On the other hand, the Book of Mormon as directly informs us from whom the aborigines, or natives of this continent, are descended. This being the case, how is it possible for the two works to be identical?To this objection I reply as follows: The theory of the Book of Mormon is so closely akin to the theory of the origin of the American Indians in the lost tribes, as advocated before and about 1830 by such writers as Adair, Boudinot, Smith and Priest, that it would be very easy for the witnesses, who had not heard the "Manuscript Found" read for twenty years, to confound one with the other. Even to-day we hear intelligent people, some of whom have read the Book of Mormon, un-thoughtedly speak of it as a history of the lost tribes. 1 The important thing is that the writers of both romances have the ancient inhabitants (Israelites) coming from the city of Jerusalem and under the leadership of Lehi and Nephi.
1 As an example of this common mistake, see "North Americans of Yesterday," p. 403, by Frederick S. Dellenbaugh, an employee of our National Museum and an accomplished archeologist, where he says: "Certain resemblances between the myths of the Amerinds and those of the Israelites increased the belief that the American race is the Lost Tribes. The Mormons specially hold to this opinion. But there is positively no ground for the belief."
The Rev. Abner Jackson, in his testimony, says that Spaulding begins "their (Nephites?) departure from Palestine, or Judea, then up through Asia, points out their exposures, hardships and sufferings, also their disputes and quarrels, especially when they built their craft for passing over the straits." This is objected to as being entirely different from the migrational account in the Book of Mormon, which has the Nephites crossing over the Pacific Ocean and landing upon the coast of South America. This objection may be met in several ways: first, it may have been according to the original plot of the "Manuscript Found," as heard read by Jackson, to have the Nephites enter America via Behring Strait, and this feature may have been afterwards changed by Spaulding himself or it may have been changed by Rigdon still later; or, what seems more probable, Jackson, who was a very aged man at the time that he made his statement, may have confused the migrational account in the "Manuscript Found" with the theory, so widely held when he was a boy, that the lost tribes entered America by way of Alaska. The latter was the theory of many investigators at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
RECAPITULATION.In conclusion, I wish to sum up the points which I have endeavored to establish in the preceding pages:
I. THE "MANUSCRIPT STORY."1. About 1809, Solomon Spaulding, a retired Congregational or Presbyterian preacher, living at Conneaut, Ohio, wrote a small manuscript which he claimed to have found written in the Latin language on twenty-eight rolls of parchment in an artificial cave on Conneaut Creek and which purported to be the historical account of a
party of Romans who were thrown upon our shores in the time of Constantine the Great.
2. This manuscript he abandoned and placed in an "old hair trunk," which at his death in 1816 was taken to the home of his wife's brother, W. H. Sabine, of Onondaga Valley, New York.
3. In 1820, this trunk, with the manuscript, was removed to Hartwick, New York, where it was later placed in the care of Jerome Clark, a cousin of Mrs. Spaulding, now Mrs. Davison.
4. The manuscript remained in the "old hair trunk" until 1834, when Dr. Hurlburt, from Ohio, with the permission of Mrs. Spaulding-Davison, took it to Painesville, of that State, and turned it over to E. D. Howe, author of "Mormonism Unveiled."
5. It was in the possession of E. D. Howe until 1839 or 1840, when it was inadvertently transferred to L. L. Rice, who bought Howe's printing establishment. Rice took it to Columbus, Ohio, where for years he was the State printer.
6. After this, Rice removed to Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, and, though unaware of it, carried this manuscript with him. In 1884 it was accidentally discovered by him, and later placed in the Oberlin College Library, Oberlin, Ohio.
7. The Mormons have published copies of it, which they erroneously entitle "Manuscript Found."
II. "THE "MANUSCRIPT FOUND."1. In 1809, after he had thrown aside his "Manuscript Story," Spaulding began a new romance in the Scriptural style, which he entitled "Manuscript Found." This romance, which he often read to his neighbors, purported to be the history of a Jewish colony that came to
our shores in early times under the leadership of Lehi and Nephi.
2. In 1813, Spaulding removed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the purpose of having this manuscript printed, and placed it in the printing establishment of Robert Patterson.
3. In 1814, Spaulding left Pittsburgh and went to Amity, Pennsylvania, where he died in October, 1816.
4. While Spaulding's relations with Patterson existed, the latter had in his employ a young man by the name of J. Harrison Lambdin, who, in turn, had a friend by the name of Sidney Rigdon, who lived a few miles in the country on his mother's farm, but who frequently lounged around the printing-office.
5. Before Spaulding's death, his manuscript came up missing, and he told two intimate acquaintances, Joseph Miller and Dr. Cephas Dodd, that he suspected Rigdon of the theft.
6. In 1822 or 1823, and again in 1826 or 1827, Rigdon exhibited such a manuscript to Dr. John Winter and Mrs. Amos Dunlap, his wife's niece, which he told the former had been written by a man by the name of Spaulding.
7. Between the years 1826 and 1830 he told Adamson Bentley, Alexander Campbell, Darwin Atwater and Dr. Rosa a number of startling things, among them that a golden book had been dug up in New York which gave an account of the ancient inhabitants of this continent and slated that the Christian religion had been preached here in early times just as it was then being preached by Campbell and his coadjutors.
8. During this time, Rigdon was seen at Palmyra, New York, or vicinity, at three different times: in March, 1827; in the fall of 1827, and again in the summer of 1828.
In the late fall of 1830 Rigdon was converted to Mormonism, after only a few days' investigation, and later became one of its most prominent leaders.
These, I believe, are the links in that chain of evidence which, when followed from the Book of Mormon, leads us directly to Spaulding's "Manuscript Found"
Charles A. Shook's 1914 Book