Marvin S. Hill
"Role of Christian Primitivism..."
(Univ. of Chicago, dissertation, 1968)
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
THE ROLE OF CHRISTIAN PRIMITIVISM
IN THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE MORMON KINGDOM
A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO
THE FACULTY OF THE DIVISION OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
IN CANDIDACY FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY
MARVIN S. HILL
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................................ ii
INTRODUCTION ................................................... 1
I. "THE MILLENNIAL DAY WILL COME. BEHOLD ITS DAWN" ............. 6
II. "A POWERFUL STIMULUS" ...................................... 37
III. A 'PRINCIPLE MEANS IN THE HANDS OF GOD" ................... 80
IV. "I SAY UNTO YOU, BE ONE" ................................... 122
V. "THE SAINTS WILL HAVE A CITY" ............................... 164
VI. "IN A MILITARY SPIRIT" ..................................... 184
VII. "EVERYTHING GOD DOES IS TO AGGRANDIZE HIS KINGDOM" ........ 228
VIII. THY KINGDOM COME ......................................... 266
BIBLOGRAPHY .................................................... 302
thinking boty of the two Virginians, O'Kelly and Stone. But to the
Irishman, Alexander Campbell, nurtured in primitive gospel principles in old
Scotland,1 and encouraged in millennial faith by many students of the
prophecies,2 the apocalyptic vision of a coming brighter day became the center
of his primitive gospel aspirations.3
Alexander Campbell was the son of the Reverend Thomas Campbell, a
minister in a seceder branch of the Presbyterian church in Ireland. The.
father was trained for the ministry in Scotland but had there become disgusted
with the prevailing sectarian conflict.4 In poor health, in 1807,
Thomas Campbell came to the new world, while Alexander remained briefly in
Scotland to further his education.5 Thomas settled in the midst of a biblical
minded, seceder faction of Presbyterians in western Pennsylvania. While the
Pennsylvanians were largely orthodox Presbyterians, Thomas Campbell was
inclinded toward greater latitudinarianism, and invited all factions of the
denomination to attend his services.6 For this break with orthodox Pres-
byterian practice Campbell was asked to defend himself before the Presbytery
of Chartiers. Here the elder Campbell gave full vent to his latitudinarian
views, expressing his faith in man's potential sinlessness, and ability to
respond reasonably to alternatives presented in religious debate. Campbell
affirmed his distaste for exclusive creedalism, and voiced determination to
resist domination by a trained clergy since on the western frontier the layman
was frequently left without their services. Under such circumstances,
1 R. F. West, p. 3, and Garrison and DeGroot, pp. 141-42.
2 R. F. West, pp. 166. 3 Ibid., pp. 163-64.
4 Garrison and DeGroot, pp. 124-28. 5 Ibid., pp. 141-42.
6 Garrison and DeGroot suggest anti-creedalism was at the root of
Campbell's position in regard to free communion. See pp. 130-32.
I believe that Christ will descend, but will immediately return again
Thus there was from a very early period in Mormon history the expectation
that the Saints were soon to have the responsibility to govern. It
made little practical difference whether the kingdom was the church or a
distinct political organization, for according to Mormon prophetic interpretation
the wicked were to be swept from the earth and the Saints would reign
supreme. Benjamin Winchester, an elder who edited the Gospel Reflector in
New York in 1841, identified the kingdom as "the church militant" and held
that "when we speak of the kingdom of God... we mean to be understood as
speaking of an organized government on earth."2 According to his view, Christ
would be the king of the kingdom, but all earthly empires would be swept from
the earth "just prior to the millennium."3
Sidney Rigdon insisted while reminiscing in 1844 that when he first
joined the Mormons in 1830 the political side of their apocalyptic expectations
were even then well developed. He describes in a conference meeting held in
Nauvoo his visit with the Mormons in Waterloo, New York in 1830.
I met the whole church of Christ in a little old log house about 20 feet________________________________
1 Mulder and Mortensen, p. 115. Compare also The Gospel Reflector, I
(May 15, 1841), 261 where a similar idea is developed by Benjamin Winchester.
2 The Gospel Reflector, I (January 15, 1841), 38.
3 Ibid., p. 39 and I (April 15, 1841), 202-203.
come in, they would say we wanted to upset the government, although
Rigdon was caught with some of the Saint enthusiasm for the kingdom
ideal as he warmed to his text.
There we sat... and beheld the glorious visions and powers of________________________________
1 Rigdon's sermon first appeared in the report of the conference in the
Times and Seasons, but I took my notes from another Mormon newspaper, The
Prophet, published by Joseph's brother William, in New York. See IV (June 8,
1844), 2. Hansen discounts the credibility of Rigdon's recollection, but it
is substantiated in part by the fact that Rigdon is cited by a New York news-
paper in 1831 as levying malevolent prophicies upon the town of Waterloo.
Rigdon warned the townsmen and all New Yorkers to "flee the wrath to come"
Palmyra Reflector, February 1, 1831, p. 95. Compare also John Corrill's
account of Rigdon's infatuation with the prophecies. According to Corrill,
immediately after his conversion to Mormonism, Rigdon warned the Ohioans of "great
judgments that should come in the last days, and destruction upon the wicked."
See A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints (St. Louis:
For the author, 1839), p. 8. Nancy Towels, who visited the Mormons in Ohio in
1831, wrote that they expected to "increase and tread down all their enemies
and bruise them beneath their feet." See Mukder and Mortensen, p. 60. Eber
D. Howe noted that the Saints planned an empire that would begin at Kirtland
and reach all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Howe added in another part of
his book that they intend to control "all the secular power in the country."
See his Mormonism Unvailed (Painesville, Ohio: By the author, 1834), pp. 110,
145. Confirmation of the imperial expanse of the kingdom at an early date
is found in W. W. Phelps' exclamation in the Messenger and Advocate, I (December,
1834), 34. "Away with crowns and Kingdoms, away with fames and fashions --
all are vanity... when the Lord comes, the riches of eternity will be given
the Saints... the whole world will become the garden of God and his
[ 80 ]
In the story told by Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon was an inspired
"translation" of ancient records kept upon gold plates by early immigrants to
America. Smith maintained that he had been visited in 1823 by an angel who
informed him of a history which these immigrants had preserved by burying it
in the earth. The record described the religious life of a people who had
journeyed from the old world to the new in three separate migrations, bringing
with them a knowledge of the gospel of Christ.2 The main part of the book
dealt with the Nephites who came to this continent in 600 B.C. and who by 400
A.D. had apostatized from the true faith.3
Smith indicated that four years passed between the time when he was
first informed of the plates and the time when he was allowed to translate
them by means of the "Urim and Thummim," a pair of transparent stones prepared
for interpreting the "Reformed Egyptian" language in which the records were
written.4 A recent Mormon writer concedes that the translation was done by
1 P. Pratt, Autobiography, p. 37.
2 See D.H.C., I, 9-23, 28, 32, 35, and Joseph Smith, The Pearl of Great Price (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1928),
pp. 50-56. The latter is one of the Mormon scriptures.
3 The best source to consult for the content of the Book of Mormon is
the book itself. Most large public libraries have a copy of the 1920 edition,
published in Salt Lake City by the Deseret Book Company.
4 Book of Mormon, p. 538.
(this page is under construction)
spread,1 and the Campbellites and other denominations became alarmed.2
In this context a new theory as to the origin of the Book of Mormon
took shape. Just how the Spaulding theory of the book's beginnings first
developed is not certain.3 The Mormons charged that the theory originated
with Philastus Hurlbut, a Mormon apostate who conspired with Eber D. Howe,
editor of the anti-Mormon Painesville Telegraph, to produce a widely read
expose, Mormonism Unvailed. It was held that Hurlbut had actually written
the book, but because he had such a sordid reputation Howe's name was used
as the author. But this version may exaggerate Hurlbut's role in the affair.4
1 The compilers of "The Journal History of the Church," an unpublished
collection of printed and manuscript resources in the Church Historian's
Office in Salt Lake City, estimate there were 1,500 Saints in Ohio by the end
of 1831. See "Journal History," December 31, 1831.
2 Kennedy, pp. 90-91. Kennedy says the Campbellites took the lead in
opposing the spread of Mormonism but other denominations joined in. Kennedy
indicates that it was Sidney Rigdon's "former high standing" in the Campbellite
church which caused Alexander Campbell to come to Ohio for twenty-two days and
oppose "the new creed." Possibly too, the similarity in doctrine made the two
denominations natural rivals.
3 Benjamin Winchester, a Mormon missionary who was in Pennsylvania when
Hurlbut first came through, claimed Hurlbut learned about Spaulding in
Pennsylvania in a place called Jackson Settlement. See The Origin of the Spaulding
Story Concerning the Manuscript Found (Philadelphia: Brown, Bicking & Guilbert,
1840), pp. 8-11. Charles Shook, however, maintained the people of Conneaut
recognized the similarity between the two works in 1832 when Mormon missionaries
first visited (p. 64). This is countered by Orson Hyde, a missionary in this
period who traveled though Conneaut, Ohio (New Salem) in 1832 and converted
some of Solomon Spaulding's neighbors. Hyde insisted that none "intimated to me
that there was any similarity between the Book of Mormon and Mr. Spaulding's
Romance." Hyde acknowledged that these neighbors had frequently heard the
manuscript read aloud. Hyde's observations appear in Benjamin Winchester, Plain
Facts Showing the Origin of the Spaulding Story, Concerning the Manuscript
Found, and its Being Transformed into the Book of Mormon (Bedford, England:
George J. Adams, 1841), p. 25. Joseph E. Johnson, a Mormon who was in Kirtland
at the time, declared that the charge that the Spaulding manuscript had been
the source for the Book of Mormon was made before Hurlbut went east to collect
testimony. See Thomas Gregg, The Prophet of Palmyra (New York: John B. Alden,
1890), p. 428.
4 George A. Smith, Joseph's cousin, said Hurlbut had threatened that he
would "wash his hands" in Joseph Smith's blood, and that it was the court
There is evidence that several people were involved in the plan to
send Hurlbut to New York in 1833 to learn more about the origin of Mormonism,1
and it is possible that Hurlbut received aid in Salem (Conneaut) from members
of another denomination.2 In any case, the Spaulding theory soon became
generally accepted among most non-Mormon writers as the authentic account of
the origin of the Book of Mormon. One writer in 1914 termed it "the impreg-
nable rock upon which the anti-Mormon forces have taken their stand."3
According to the theory, Joseph Smith was far too ignorant to write
a volume as intricate and as scriptural as the Book of Mormon, hence he was
aided by someone better versed in biblical lore.4 The logical choice at the
time seemed to be Sidney Rigdon, late of the Campbellites, who had broken
with Alexander Campbell over such matters as the gathering, miracles and the
millennium,5 and the desirability of having all property held in common among
proceedings which came of this which discredited him in Ohio, causing Howe to
assume authorship of the book. See "Historical Discourse," Journal of
Discourses by Brigham Young and Others, XI (26 vols.; Liverpool and London:
F. D. Richards and S. W. Richards, 1853-1886), 8. It will be referred to
below as Journal of Discourses. I do not find the above sufficient reason for
concluding that Hurlbut actually wrote the book. There is no doubt that he
collected the important documents.
1 See Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette, January 18, 1834, p. 2,
where it is reported that Hurlbut searched in New York "on behalf of his
fellow townsmen." This piece came originally from the Wayne Sentinel. Compare
the Cleveland Herald, March 22, 1834, p. 2, where it is affirmed that
Hurlbut was sent from Kirtland by a committee appointed by a "public meeting."
Howe himself says that he undertook the writing of his book after being
solicited by "a great number of friends." See the "advertisement" in the
front of his book.
2 This is suggested by Shook who says the parallel between the two was
discovered "in a meeting in Conneaut in 1832 or 1833 where a woman preacher
read some of it." See p. 64.
3 Ibid., p. ix.
4 Linn, p. 50.
5 See Daryl Chase, "Sidney Rigdon -- Early Mormon" (unpublished Master's
thesis, Divinity School, University of Chicago, 1931), pp. 36-37 and compare
"Faith of the Church of Christ in These Last Days," Evening and Morning Star,
the Christian saints.1 In the view of some writers, including Alexander
Campbell himself, who changed his mind about the true authorship of the
Mormon scripture.2 Rigdon was held to have conspired with Joseph Smith in
order to Launch his own religious movement.3 It was said that the ideas
which went into the narrative of the Book of Mormon had come from a novel by
Solomon Spaulding, titled "Manuscript Found,"4 which supposedly told of the
immigration to America of early Israelite tribes. To this narrative base
Rigdon added doctrinal and other religious material. Thus, whatever simi-
larities there were between Campbellite doctrine and that of the Mormons
could be accounted for on the basis that it had been developed by Rigdon,
and then incorporated into the Book of Mormon.5
Despite some able criticism of the Spaulding theory by Riley in 1902
and Daryl Chase in 1931,6 it remained widely accepted until Fawn Brodie
offered an alternative explanation in 1945 in No Man Knows My History. In
her biography of Joseph Smith she maintained that the Book of Mormon was
written by Joseph himself, unaided, except that he borrowed many of his ideas
I (April, 1834), 290. This piece is directed at the Campbellites and indicates
Rigdon differed with Campbell on the gathering before joining the Mormons.
1 Chase, p. 37, and compare Hayden, p. 299.
2 See Millennial Harbinger, 3d Series, I (January, 1844), 38 and 4th
Series, VI: (December, 1856), 698, and compare Painesville Telegraph, March
15, 1831, p. 1.
3 Linn, p. 62.
4 This was the title which Howe's witnesses recalled, but no such work
has ever been located. See below, p. 94, and compare Howe, p. 288.
5 Compare Millennial Harbinger, 3d Series, I (January, 1844), 38 and
Linn, p. 63.
6 Isaac Woodbridge Riley, The Founder of Mormonism: A Psychological
Study of Joseph Smith, Jr. (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co.), pp. 369-95, and
Chase, pp. 39-70.
instrument seems superstitious, 1 it does not necessarily prove that Joseph
Smith was unmoved by the religious attitudes of the day. Primitive gospel
principles provided the central core of motivation among the Mormons, the
Smith family not excluded. Gold digging constituted a means of attracting
initial attention, but it was Joseph Smith's religious revelations with their
primitive gospel overtones which provided the permanent appeal. 2
When Linn wrote his Story of the Mormons (1900) the Spaulding theory
had already taken many turns and twists in a bibliography that became size-
able. 3 By Linn's day the argument centered upon a crucial question. In
1885 L. L. Rice, one time Ohio newspaper editor who had frequently published
anti-Mormon material in his journals, 4 discovered in Honolulu a manuscript by
Solomon Spaulding with the penciled title "Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek."
It was maintained that this was the Spaulding manuscript end that since it
1 So it was pronounced by Dogberry and others. But superstitious or
not, it is obvious the enthusiasm for such undertakings was widespread.
Pomeroy Tucker, although perhaps embarrassed by it all, had to admit that "the
fate of Smith's money-digging performances had been sounded far and near," and
there were still in Palmyra and vicinity "several individuals" who partici-
pated with Smith. Tucker, pp. 22-27.
2 Robert Kent Fielding is a recent writer who assumes that because
Smith employed a seer stone to search for hidden treasure this demonstrates a
"money digging origin of Mormonism." The total religious experience of the
Mormons from 1830 to the present suggests money digging could hardly have
provided a fundamental starting point. See "The Growth of the Mormon Church
in Kirtland, Ohio" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of History,
University of Indiana, 1957), p. 9. This will be referred to below as "The
Growth of the Mormon Church."
3 Two titles which have information in addition to that which I have
developed here and which might be consulted by those interested in the theory
are Ellen E. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism (New York: Funk & Wagnalls,
1885) and Robert Patterson, Jr., Who Wrote the Book of Mormon? (Philadelphia:
L. E. Everts & Co., 1882). The first book was written by a niece of Spaulding
and is extravagant in its argument. Robert Patterson's book is more tightly
constructed. Patterson collected some testimonies in addition to Howe's, but
of course they came late.
4 See below, pp. 109, 168, 181.
differed markedly from the Book of Mormon the theory of a Rigdon-Spaulding
conspiracy must be abandoned. 1
Linn denied that the discovery of the Spaulding novel disproved the
theory. He pointed out, quite correctly, that Howe himself was aware of the
"Manuscript Story" which Rice rediscovered, that Howe had even described its
contents and found them sufficiently different from the Book of Mormon to
convince him that this Spaulding novel had not been the source of the Mormon
Bible's narrative portions. 2 But as Linn said, Howe had not been dismayed
at the existence of this work, he had surmised that there were several
versions of the story, and concluded that the Honolulu manuscript was probably
the original, but that later Spaulding revised it and added material similar
to the Book of Mormon. 3
It is this revised version of the Spaulding theory that Linn and George
Arbaugh have assumed is unquestionable. 4 But Linn and Arbaugh have seemingly
allowed their thinking to go only so far on this issue. Once they demonstrated
that the Rice manuscript had not been crucial so far as Howe was concerned,
they accepted the theory without any further examination. But Howe's argument
was deficient in many respects, as a critical evaluation of the evidence would
1 Linn, p. 56. The president of Oberlin College, Fairchild, had
written a piece arguing that the Spaulding theory had been disproved. Rice
also doubted the plausibility of the theory after finding the "Conneaut Creek
Story." See Arbaugh, Revelation in Mormonism, p. 20.
2 Linn, pp. 56-57.
3 Howe, p. 288.
4 Linn implies that the non-believer must accept it. See p. 50.
Arbaugh writes of the theory as if it is confirmed fact, even going so far
as to attempt to reconstruct which portions of the Book of Mormon were written
by Spaulding and which by Rigdon, although he can only surmise what might
have been in the supposed second manuscript. The whole argument becomes
strained when it is kept in mind that neither Smith nor any Mormon had to go
to the Campbellites for primitive gospel ideas. See Arbaugh, Revelation in
Mormonism, pp. 9-25, but especially pp. 21-25.
It is quite clear from the statements made by Howe as well as those
made by Spaulding's wife and daughter, that the manuscript found in Honolulu
was the one given to Hurlbut by Spaulding's widow, 1 and that it was thought
by Hurlbut to be the manuscript that was the source of the Book of Mormon. 2
After Howe examined it, however, he knew this was not so, 3 and he reconsidered
and concluded that there was a second manuscript. Howe stated that the
witnesses told him that another version more like the book of Mormon existed. 4
But he did not publish this additional testimony, he rested his case on his
own declaration as to what the witnesses told him (he did not say when or
where they spoke to him) and upon his analysis of the original eight testi-
Consequently that part of Howe's argument which can be tested rests
entirely on the original testimonies collected by Hurlbut.5 What do these
1 Howe describes the manuscript given him by Hurlbut in sufficient
detail to show that the Conneaut story is the manuscript involved (p. 288).
Proof that the manuscript given Hurlbut originally by the widow of Spaulding
and his daughter was the one which was found in Honolulu is more complicated,
but amounts to the fact that neither of the two ladies ever said that there
was more than one manuscript, and following through their tale it is clear
that this manuscript wound up in Howe's hands. It was sold to Rice when he
bought the printing establishment. See the letters of Solomon Spaulding's
widow (Mrs. Davison) and Mrs. McKinstry, who was his daughter. These are
found conveniently together in Gregg, pp. 417-26, Further, Hurlbut insisted
that he got only one manuscript, and Howe agreed with this. Hurlbut's letter
is found on p. 414 of Gregg, while Howe's confirmation appears on p. 416.
Dickinson tried to shake this story in an interview with Hurlbut but could
not. See Dickinson, pp. 63-69. Dickinson also interviewed Howe but the
old editor refused to change his story, only surmising that Hurlbut may have
had two manuscripts (pp. 72-73). If Hurlbut did get two manuscripts
Spaulding's wife, who gave him the first, knew nothing about the second.
2 Gregg, p. 414.
3 Howe, p. 288, and compare his statement in Gregg, p. 416.
5 It bears repeating again; neither Spaulding's widow or his daughter
say there were two versions of the Manuscript Found. His daughter did say
that Spaulding had written many stories, but that is not the crucial point.
testimonies say? Two witnesses affirm that Spaulding wrote several stories. 1
Nowhere do any of the witnesses state that he wrote two versions of the same
story. 2 Thus Howe's statement is not sufficiently supported by the evidence
he gives us. Furthermore, where the witnesses describe the parallels between
the Book of Mormon and the Manuscript Found, they invariably give factual
details which appear to be lifted straight from the Book of Mormon. The
witnesses usually admit that they had recently read the Mormon scripture but
affirm that certain aspects of the story described then were initially heard
twenty-two years before, when they read or listened to Solomon Spaulding's
novel. But if the Manuscript Found was in actuality a revision of the initial
story, which we have in published form, 3 then more of the facts which the
witnesses recall should be similar to Spaulding's earlier work. Actually,
what the witnesses remember little resembles the original work, but only the
Book of Mormon. 4 The names which they recollect are from the Book of Mormon,
not the "Conneaut Story."5
1 These were John N. Miller and Aaron Wright. See their testimonies
in Howe pp. 283-284.
2 John N, Miller says that although "he had written two or three books
or pamphlets" these were "on different subjects; but that which more partic-
ularly drew my attention, was one which he called the Manuscript Found." (The
italics are mine.) Wright merely says "Spaulding had many other manuscripts."
3 See Solomon Spaulding, The Manuscript Found (Salt Lake City: Deseret
News Co., 1886). This, of course, is the "Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek,"
found by Rice.
4 Repeatedly what the witnesses recall are facts exactly like those in
the Book of Mormon. For example, the phrase "And it came to pass" is often
remembered but does not appear in the published version of Spaulding's work.
Artemus Cunningham is the sole witness who seems actually to have remembered
something of the Spaulding story, but what is significant is that the facts
he remembers are found in the "Conneaut Story," Cunningham's testimony, p.
286, and compare The Manuscript Found, pp. 1-2.
5 Spaulding had his own distinct set of names. Some of these were
Mamoons, Delwans, Suscowah River, Baska, Tolanga, Rambock, Moonrod, Lamesa,
a daughter of a king, Manboon, Labanco, Sambal, Boakim, Hadoram, Hemelick,
If the ramifications of the Spaulding theory are thoroughly pursued
it becomes very contradictory. 1 There is a far less complicated way that the
testimonies of the eight witnesses can be accounted for. They did indeed
hear Spaulding read from his manuscript, and remembered that the manuscript
told of early immigrants to the new world. They may have vaguely recalled
that the Spaulding novel recounted how the manuscripts upon which the story
had been written were once buried in the earth. And they may have remembered
the wars which Spaulding described and thought these similar to the Book of
Mormon. The point is, there were some superficial similarities in both works. 2
Ulipoon, Gehemo, and Sabamah. Obviously, the Book of Mormon names are differ-
ent. It seems doubtful that Spaulding, who was poor and wanted badly to sell
his manuscript, would bother to contrive a whole new set of names for his
revised story. On Spaulding's poverty see John Spaulding's and Oliver Smith's
testimony in Howe, pp. 279-80, 285.
1 One should read Dickinson's illogical book to see what problems there
are in trying to prove the existence of a second manuscript. The testimonies
of the original witnesses and the wife and daughter of Spaulding do not
support Howe's deductions. Dickinson tried to badger Hurlbut into admitting
that he was working for the Mormons and sold them the original manuscript.
She does not explain why Hurlbut bothered to collect the testimonies reproduced
in Howe if he were secretly working for the Mormons. See pp. 67, 80. She
even goes so far as to suggest that "there is a tradition that Mr. Howe him-
self was half a Mormon when he wrote this volume" (p. 80).
2 Chase makes this point on p. 61. But he minimizes the similarities
between the Book of Mormon and Spaulding's original story. In addition to
the likenesses I have already mentioned, it should be noted that the Spaulding
novel tells how the two major peoples in the tale divided and fought bitterly,
and the Spaulding story adds this interesting passage. "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, & behold discover hidden treasures, secluded from
the eyes of other mortals" (p. 98). This compares to the Book of Mormon where
it reads, "And the Lord said, I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone,
which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my
people which serve me,... the works of their brethren; yea, their secret
works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations,...
and I will bring to light all their secrets,..." And another passage, "And
these Gaddianton robbers... did infest the land, in so much that the inhab-
itants thereof began to hide up their treasures in the earth; and they became
slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land, and they could not hold them
or retain them again. And it came to pass that there were sorceries, and
and after twenty-two years, with a little prompting from Hurlbut, 1 they might
have easily convinced themselves that the books were identical in narrative.
They never maintained that the religious portions of the Book of Mormon had
come from Spaulding. 2
Fawn Brodie's thesis that Joseph Smith borrowed the main theme of the
Book of Mormon from Ethan Smith is not adequately substantiated either. The
major flaw in Brodie's argument is that in reality there were a number of
works, all emanating from men in the ministry, which had themes a close
in some respects to that of the Book of Mormon as Ethan Smith's work. 3
witchcrafts and magics." See pp. 328, 520 and also 443-44. Thus the simi-
larities in the two works are sufficient to make the Spaulding witnesses
assume a certain identity. But the similarities are no greater than between
the Book of Mormon and View of the Hebrews by Ethan Smith, or some other works
1 It must be kept in mind that the testimonies reproduced in Howe were
solicited by Hurlbut, that Hurlbut probably went to Ohio knowing that there
was some similarity between Spaulding's novel and the Book of Mormon. See the
statement of Joseph E. Johnson in Gregg, p. 428. It could be too much to
expect that Hurlbut would not encourage the witnesses to remember that the two
narratives were alike. That Hurlbut went to Ohio specifically to disprove the
claims of Joseph Smith is demonstrated above, p. 83, n. 1.
2 Compare the statements of John N. Miller, Aaron Wright, Oliver Smith
and Nahum Howard on this point in Howe, pp. 283-86,
3 This would include not only Spaulding's novel but also Elias
Boudinot's A Star in the West: or a Humble Attempt to Discover the Long Lost
Tribes of Israel (Trenton, N. J.: D. Fenton, S. Hutchison and J. Dunham, 1816).
Boudinot, like Smith, describes how the lost tribes may have made their way to
America. He too quotes Ezekiel 37, and warns that "the last times of the
scriptures are hastening with rapid strides." Boudinot tells that among the
Indians it is said that they once had a book like that of the white men which
was handed down by their ancestors, but was finally lost, and ever since the
great spirit has been displeased. Further, when the tribes came they brought
with them a sanctified rod which told them the direction they should go.
(Compare the Book of Mormon, p. 39, where father Lehi discovered a round ball
with two spindles which was a direction finder.) Also, Boudinot tells how a
Natchez warrior claimed the Indians had a transparent stone like a Urim and
Thummim, and Boudinot urged that soon the gathering would commence and the
children of Israel be called to their homeland. See pp. 26-27, 46, 110, 114,
205, 296-97. Brodie herself cites other works, like that of James Adair (1775)
and Charles Crawford (1799) in which it is argued that the Indians are the lost
tribes. See Brodie, p. 45.
Only limited excerpts from this work are presented here,
Notes: In this book Hill rephrases his 1968 dissertation comments regarding D.P. Hurlbut and the Spalding authorship claims. Hill is still "uncertain" as to how the Spalding claims originated; he obviously has paid little attention to the statememts of Aaron Wright and Abner Jackson, which might help resolve this question for him. He also dwells on Orson Hyde's misleading statements which give the impression that Solomon Spalding's old associates along the Erie lakefront border-lands between PA and OH did not fathom the origin of those claims. It is almost certain that Hyde only spoke with old Spalding neighbors who had converted to Mormonism (like the Erastus Rudd family) and refrained from interviewing those persons in the area who provided statements for Howe's 1834 Mormonism Unveiled. Hyde's interviews with those selected "neighbors of Mr. Spaulding" bear the marks of Mormon damage control, not objective fact-finding.
Adding nothing new to his 1968 remarks, Hill still wonders about the "woman preacher," little realizing that Charles Shook had merely passed along a misprint from the Matilda Spalding Davison article of 1839. D.R. Austin, the editor of that article, had already made public the necessary correction to "Mormon preacher" in 1841. Thus, while Hill understands several important points, such as "Hurlbut collected important documents for Howe, who authored the bulk of [Mormonism Unvailed]," he fails to see that the old reports concerning the origin of the Spalding claims are not so contradictory as he has imagined. The Spalding authorship assertions began with Orson Hyde's preaching from the Book of Mormon in the Salem Center School, Ashtabula Co., Ohio on Feb. 14 or 15, 1832
The entire contents of this book copyright © 1989 Signature Books, Inc. Only brief excerpts are presented here. Endnotes have been reformatted as footnotes.
QUEST FOR REFUGEThe Mormon Flight from
Marvin S. Hill
Salt Lake City
CHAPTER 2 23
in unto the New Jerusalem. And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I shall be in their midst. 36Like an angelic trumpet the Book of Mormon called the nation to repentance for the time was short. The elect must heed the solemn sound and gather to the holy city. The sword of judgment hung heavily over the land and soon only those within the confines of the city would be safe.
Those who found that the Book of Mormon spoke to their hopes and fears remembered long afterward the shattering impact it had upon their lives. Apostle Parley P. Pratt was converted by reading the book before even meeting a Mormon. He recalled that it was "the principle means, in the hands of God, of directing the entire course of my future life." It was first given to him by a Baptist deacon, and he "read it all day; eating was a burden... [he] preferred reading to sleep." As he read "the spirit of the Lord was upon me and I knew and comprehended that the book was true." 37 Sidney Rigdon's son recalled that his father also "got so engaged in [the book] that it was hard for him to quit long enough to eat his meals. He read it both day and night." 38
William W. Phelps, who became the church's first newspaper editor, said the book "produces an earthquake in this generation. It explains the Bible; it opens the vision of the prophets; it unravels the mystery who first settled this country, and it shows the old paths wherein if a man walk he shall live." 39 More pointedly, Brigham Young reported that the Book of Mormon and the Bible "will save you and me and the whole world." 40
Of course, not everyone reacted positively to the new scripture. Those who rejected it saw it as the work of an impish and impious youth, Joseph Smith. 41 However, when the Mormons moved to Ohio in early 1831, adding hundreds to church rolls, some began to take the work more seriously. Alexander Campbell wrote the first major critique of the book in the fall of 1831, 42 when the Saints were making inroads into his and other congregations in and around Kirtland, Ohio. 43 He declared that the work contradicted the Bible and that it was written by Joseph Smith. 44
Despite this Mormonism spread, 45 and Campbellites and other denominations became increasingly alarmed. 46
In this context a new theory as to the origin of the Book of Mormon emerged, the so-called Spaulding theory. Just how this theory first took shape is uncertain. 47 Mormons charged that it originated with Philastus Hurlbut, a Mormon apostate who collaborated with
36 Ibid., 501. That the Book of Mormon was not merely a history of the Nephites and Lamanites but a warning to contemporary Americans is plain in many passages (see ibid., 60//61, 75, 107-110, 527-28, 535-38).
37 Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1961), 37.
38 "Lecture written by John M. Rigdon on the Early History of the Mormon Church," Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
39 W. W. Phelps to William Smith, 25 Dec. 1844, in Times and Seasons 5 (1 Jan. 1845): 757.
40 JD 4:77.
41 Obadiah Dogberry (Abner Cole) took this view, publishing a caricature of the Mormon scripture called the "Book of Pukei," in the Palmyra Reflector, l2 June 1830, 36-37, and 7 July 1830, 60.
42 This appeared under the title "Delusions" in the Painesville Telegraph, 8 March 1831, 1-2, and "Internal Evidences," 15 March 1831, 1-2. Campbell also published this attack in his Millennial Harbinger, Feb. 1831, and as a brochure in 1832. See Brodie, 471.
43 Amos Hayden, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve (Cincinnati: Chase and Hall, 1876), 215-250, and James Harrison Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1881), 980-91. Campbell gave as his reason for writing "Delusions" that "several hundred persons of different denominations believed" the Book of Mormon (see Painesville Telegraph, 8 March 1831, 2).
44 Painesville Telegraph, 15 March 1831, 1.
45 The compilers of JH estimate that there were approximately 1,500 Mormons in Ohio as of 31 December 1831.
46 Kennedy, 90-91. Kennedy reports that the Campbellites took the lead in opposing the spread of Mormonism but that other denominations joined in. He indicates that it was Sidney Rigdon's "former high standing" in the Campbellite church which caused Alexander Campbell to come to Ohio for twenty-two days and oppose "the new creed." Possibly, too, the similarity in doctrine made the two denominations natural rivals.
47 Benjamin Winchester, a Mormon missionary in Pennsylvania when Hurlbut first traveled through, claimed that Hurlbut learned about Spaulding in Pennsylvania in a place called Jackson Settlement (see Winchester's The Origin of the Spaulding Story Concerning the Manuscript Found [Philadelphia: Brown, Bicking & Guilbert, 1840], 8-11). However, Charles Shook (The True Origin of the Book of Mormon [Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Co., 1914], 64), maintained that the residents of Conneaut (New Salem), Ohio, recognized the similarities between the two works as early as 1832 when Mormon missionaries first visited the region. This is countered by Orson Hyde, a missionary who traveled through Conneaut in 1832, converting some of Spaulding's neighbors. Hyde insisted that none "intimated to me that there was any similarity between the Book of Mormon and Mr. Spaulding's Romance." Hyde acknowledged that these neighbors had frequently heard the manuscript read aloud. Hyde's observations appear in Benjamin Winchester's Plain Facts Showing the Origin of the SpauIding Story. Concerning the Manuscript Found, and its Being Transformed in the Book of Mormon (Bedford, England: George J. Adams, 1841), 25. Joseph E. Johnson, a Mormon in Kirtland at the time, declared that the charge that the Spaulding manuscript had been the source of the Book of Mormon was made before Hurlbut went east to collect testimony (see Thomas Gregg, The Prophet of Palmyra [New York: John B. Allen, 1890], 428).
24 QUEST FOR REFUGE
Eber D. Howe, editor of Ohio's Painesville Telegraph, to produce in 1834 the influential expose, Mormonism Unvailed. Hurlbut collected important documents for Howe, who authored the bulk of the text. Some Mormons have contended that Hurlbut actually wrote the book but that Howe's name appears on the cover due to Hurlbut's unsavory reputation. This greatly exaggerates Hurlbut's role, however. 48
There is no doubt that Hurlbut went to New York in 1833 to learn about the origins of Mormonism 49 and that he received funding from several people in New Salem (Conneaut), Ohio, and elsewhere. 50 In any case, Mormonism Unvailed succeeded in establishing the Spaulding theory as the most widely accepted explanation of the origin of the Book of Mormon among non-Mormon writers. In fact, by 1914 one such writer termed it "the impregnable rock upon which the anti-Mormon forces have taken their stand." 51
According to the theory, Joseph Smith was far too ignorant to write a volume as intricate and scriptural as the Book of Mormon, and was assisted by someone better prepared. 52 The logical choice at the time seemed to be Sidney Rigdon, a former Baptist preacher who had joined the Campbellites but disagreed with Alexander Campbell over such matters as the gathering of Israel, latter-day miracles, the Millennium, 53 and the desirability of having all property held in common among modern Christians. 54 In the view of some writers, eventually including Campbell himself, 55 Rigdon conspired with Joseph Smith to write the text and launch his own religious movement. 56 It was said that the ideas which went into the narrative had come from a novel written by Solomon Spaulding, a would-be author who wrote the "Manuscript Found," which allegedly told of the immigration to America of early Israelitish tribes. 57 To this romantic base Rigdon was said to have added doctrinal and other religious material. Thus alleged similarities between Campbellite and Mormon doctrine could be accounted for. 58
Despite able criticism of the Spaulding theory in 1902, 1931, 1945, and 1977, 59 the theory still retains a few adherents, although Fawn M. Brodie dealt it a heavy blow in 1945 in her biography of the Mormon prophet. She argued that the Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith himself, unaided, except that he borrowed ideas from Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews, a religious text written in the early 1890s which argued that the American Indians were the lost tribes of Israel. 60 Although Brodie has had her critics, 61 her version of the origin of the Book of Mormon has remained the most widely accepted one in non-Mormon scholarly circles during the past forty-four years.
48George A. Smith, Joseph Smith's cousin, said that Hurlbut had threatened that he would "wash his hands" in the prophet's blood and that the court proceedings which resulted from his threats discredited him in Ohio and caused Howe to assume authorship of the book (see "Historical Discourse," in JD n:8).
49 See Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette, 18 Jan. 1834, 2, which reports that Hurlbut searched in New York "on behalf of his fellow townsmen" (the article originally appeared in the Wayne Sentinel). Compare the Cleveland Herald, 22 March 1834, 2, where it is affirmed that Hurlbut was sent from Kirtland by a committee appointed during a "public meeting." Howe himself writes that he undertook the book after being solicited by "a great number of friends" (see the "advertisement" in front of the book).
50 This is suggested by Shook who alleges that the parallels between the two were discovered "in a meeting in Conneaut in 1832 or 1833 where a woman preacher read some of it" (p. 64).
51 Ibid., ix. On the all-but-universal acceptance of the theory until the turn of the century or a little after, see Lester E. Bush, Jr., "The Spaulding Theory Then and Now," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 10 ((Autumn 1977): 40-69.
52 William Alexander Linn, The Story of the Mormons (New York: Russell and Russell, 1963), 50.
53 See Daryl Chase, "Sidney Rigdon -- Early Mormon," M.A. thesis, University of Chicago Divinity School, 1931, 36-37; compare "Faith of the Church of Christ in These Last Days," The Evening and the Morning Star 1 (April 1834): 290.
54 Ibid., 27, and compare Hayden, 299.
55 Campbell had changed his mind as to the authorship of the Book of Mormon. See Millennial Harbinger, 3rd Series, 1 (Jan. 1844): 38, and 4th Series, 6 (Dec. 1856): also Painesville Telegraph, 15 Mar. 1831, 1.
56 Linn, 62.
57 The Manuscript Found was later located in Hawaii but bore little resemblance to the Book of Mormon. Some witnesses claimed that Spaulding had written another work closer to the Book of Mormon, but this manuscript, it if exists, has never been found. For a thorough critique of the argument, see Bush, 53-61.
58 Compare Millennial Harbinger, 3rd Series, 1:38; and Linn, 63.
59 Isaac Woodbridge Riley, The Founder of Mormonism (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1902), 369-95; Chase, 39-70; Brodie, 419-433; and Bush.
60 Brodie, 46-48.
61 See my "Secular or Sectarian History?: A Critique of No Man Knows My History," Church History 43 (March 1974): 78-96.
CHAPTER 2 25
Whatever the origins of the Book of Mormon, when it was translated, probably in June 1829, newspaper editors in Vermont, New York, and Ohio began to take notice of the book, 62 and the curiosity of many was aroused. 63 Inquiries led to converts in Palmyra (although not many) and in southern New York, and the prophet had to give more thought to the organization of a church. These concerns were reflected in the revelations which he continued to receive. 64 Six elders were ordained in June 1830, 65 and a revelation to David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery commanded the choosing of twelve disciples. 66 Under what priesthood authority this was done is still a subject of controversy.
Church tradition holds that Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods were conferred on Smith in 1829, a year before the church was formally organized. Conflict regarding the time sequence largely revolves around the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood. Some years ago historian Kent Fielding argued that the higher priesthood was not conferred on the elders until a conference in Ohio in June 1831. 67 Considerable testimony supports this view. Several men prominent in the early church stated that this priesthood was not introduced until that time, among them David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, William E. McLellin, John Corrill, J. C. Brewster, the prophet's brother, William, and Brigham Young. 68Even those who compiled the official history after the prophet's death quoted him as saying that in 1831 the "authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood was manifest and conferred for the first time upon several of the elders." 69 None of Joseph Smith's contemporaries indicate that the higher priesthood was restored in 1829.
Parley P. Pratt, who joined the Mormons in 1830, affirmed what he believed on the matter very emphatically. He wrote that at the conference in June 1831 "several were selected by revelation, through President Joseph Smith, and ordained to the high priesthood after the holy order of the Son of God; which is after the order of Melchizedek. This is the first occasion in which this priesthood had been revealed and conferred upon the Elders in this dispensation." Pratt said, "The office of the Elder is the same in a certain degree, but not in the fullness." Pratt had been an elder for nine months prior to the conference of 1831. 70 David Whitmer insisted that the idea of a higher priesthood was an afterthought, which had come from Sidney Rigdon. 71Whitmer, 64. William Smith said that in Ohio "Elders, Priests, Teachers and Deacons received some general instructions from the Church concerning the Priesthood of Melchizedek, to which
62 Among those newspapers editorializing on the Book of Mormon are the Rochester Daily Advertizer, 2 April 1830; The Gem (Rochester), 15 May 1830; The Chenango Republican (Oxford), 19 May 1830; the Ohio Star (Ravenna), 9 Dec. 1830. The Painesville Telegraph, which was to become a focal point of anti-Mormonism in Ohio, carried a piece on the book as early as 16 November 1830.
63 No contemporary caught the excitement in some circles better than Lucius Fenn, who wrote of the forthcoming book in February 1830 from Covert, New York, some fifty miles from Palmyra. Fenn observed, "There is something that has taken place lately that is mysterious to usÉthere has been a bible found.... It speaks of the millennium day and night and tells when it is going to take place" (in William Mulder and A. Russell Mortensen, eds, Among the Mormons [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1958], 38).
64 Until June the revelations, later published in DC, had dealt entirely with the translation of the Book of Mormon.
65 Whitmer, 32.
66 BC, 34-39. The revelation was given to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer in June and is now DC 18. In the Book of Commandments the twelve were designated "disciples" as they had been in the Book of Mormon. Later editions, however, termed the twelve "apostles." See BM, 477-85, especially 485, and compare BC, 34, and DC (1835 edition), 172.
67 R. Kent Fielding, "The Growth of the Mormon Church in Kirtland, Ohio," Ph.D. diss., University of Indiana, 1957, 111-13. More recently, Mormon historian Richard Bushman (p. 240-55) acknowledged that the restoration of higher priesthood probably did not occur until two months after the church was organized.
68 Whitmer, 36, 64. Whitmer was wrong about the Book of Mormon not mentioning high priests. He was also inconsistent, ordaining high priests himself in the reorganization he planned with William E. McLellin in 1847 (see his letter to Oliver Cowdery, 8 Sept. 1847, in The Ensign of Liberty of the Church of Christ 1 [May 1848]: 83). Cowdery's views may be contained in Defence in a Rehearsal of My Grounds for Separating Myself from the Latter Day Saints (Norton, OH: Pressley's Job Office, 1839), 4 (although Richard L. Anderson, a professor of religion at Brigham Young University, questions the authenticity of this source, contending that there was no press in Norton in 1839). "The Book of John Whitmer," 8-9, copy in LDSCA. For McLellin's position, see LDSMS 40 (Dec. 1878): 770. John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Including Their Doctrine and Discipline (St. Louis: by the author, 1839), 18. Brewster's views are found in The Olive Branch 2 (Dec. 1849): 89-91. See also William Smith on Mormonism (Lamoni, IA: Herald Steam Book & Job Office, 1883), 20, and JD 9:89 for Brigham Young's address of 7 May 1861.
69 HC 1:175-76. Church historian John Whitmer wrote that at that time Joseph Smith "laid his hands upon Lyman Wight and ordained him to the high priesthood after the holy order of God" ("Book of John Whitmer," 8-9).
70 P. Pratt, 42, 68.
30 QUEST FOR REFUGE
Another Mormon custom during this early period which won them no favor was the holding of SECRET meetings. 119 Sidney Rigdon explained that it was due to fear of persecution that the Saints met in seclusion.
"We knew the whole world would laugh at us, so we concealed ourselves; and there was much excitement about our meetings, charging us with designs against the government, and with laying plans to get money &c, which never existed in the heads of any one else, and if we talked in public, we should have been ridiculed more than we were, the world being entirely ignorant of the testimony of the prophets.... So we were obliged to retire to our secret chambers, and commune ourself with God."
Rigdon felt bolder in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1844 than he did in New York in 1830 and described why the secret meetings were necessary.
The time is now come to tell why we held secret meetings. We were maturing plans fourteen years ago which we can now tell; were we maturing plans to corrupt the world, to destroy the peace of society? Let fourteen years of the experience of the church tell the story. The church would have never been here, if we had not done as we did in secret. The cry of false prophet, and imposter rolled upon us... There was no evil concocted when we first held secret meetings. 120
The Mormons were planning no coup d'etat to seize the reins of government, but already they were set upon separating themselves from American society and awaiting the destruction of all governments that would precede their own rise to power.
119 Smith acknowledged that "the first public discourse delivered by any Mormon came on April 11, 1830 and was given by Oliver Cowdery" (HC 1:81). "A. W. B." charged that Smith met secretly in South Bainbridge with his followers (Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate 2 [9 April 1831]). These meetings may have been held before 1830. John Whitmer confirms the secret meetings. He indicates that while in the church's "infancy" the "disciples used to exclude unbelievers, which caused some to marvel, and converse about this matter because of the things that were written in the Book of Mormon" (see "Book of John Whitmer," 6).
120 The Prophet, 8 June 1844, 2.
64 QUEST FOR REFUGE
"driven out of this place... by persecution, chiefly from the dissenters." 61
For much of the time, compared with Missouri or Illinois afterward, Mormon relations with Gentile neighbors in Ohio had been relatively tolerable. There was little violence, although once the prophet was mobbed and on occasion one or two members threatened. 62 This usually peaceful antipathy can be explained to some extent by the fact that only limited aspects of the kingdom developed at Kirtland.
There was sectarian antagonism at Kirtland initially. 63 E. D. Howe gave generous space in his newspaper to Mormon matters, insisting that it was "the business of an Editor to collect and lay before his readers, whatever seems to agitate the public mind." 64 In December he ran a piece from the Milan Free Press warning northern Ohioans to "BEWARE OF IMPOSTORS." 65 On 15 February 1831, he printed a submission from "M.S.C." of Mentor, who recounted how after the "four pretended prophets" left Kirtland, the Mormons broke into a rash of spiritual excesses. 66
The same issue reproduced Thomas Campbell's open letter to Sidney Rigdon, challenging him to a public debate. Howe justified his continued departure from neutrality by maintaining that the subject of Mormonism had "become a matter of general inquiry and conversation through the whole community." His newspaper was now open, he said, to the "investigation of the divine pretentions of the Book of Mormon and its 'Author and Proprietor,' Joseph Smith." Howe noted at this time that the Mormons numbered several hundred in the area. 67 A barrage of criticism appeared in the Telegraph from 1831 through January 1835, but the amount of space Howe devoted to Mormon issues diminished after 1831. 68
Sectarian opposition declined as Mormon missionary successes among the Campbellites and other denominations slowed. 69 Sectarian antagonism may have dwindled, but politically oriented antipathy increased. 70
As early as March 1831, Howe took occasion to disagree with those who held that Mormonism was the "Anti-Masonic religion." He pointed out that there were also many "republican jacks" among them. 71 As yet he made no complaints about their bloc voting.
Mormons believed that they had destiny manifest to govern themselves and ultimately the nation and the world. But these ambitions were tied to their millennial expectations and may not have demanded immediate involvement in politics in Ohio. But after the expulsion of the Saints from Jackson County the prophet came out
61 JH, 19 Feb. 1839. George W. Robinson wrote in the "Scriptory Book" that Kirtland "was broken up by those who have professed the name of Latter-Day Saints" (Faulring, 198).
62 See HC 1: 261-65; 2:2; 3:1; and George A. Smith's recollection, LDSMS 27 (July 1865): 439. According to Smith, non-Mormons feared that an influx of poor Saints into Kirtland would burden the town. They demanded Mormon removal.]
63 See Willis Thornton, "Gentile and Saint at Kirtland," Ohio State Archaeologicat and Historical Quarterly 63 (1954): 10-17.
64 Painesville Telegraph, 30 Nov. 1830, 3.
65 Ibid., 14 Dec. 1830, 2.
66 Ibid., 15 Feb. 1831, 1.
68 I counted four articles published by Howe in 1830, twenty-five in 1831, three in 1832, two in 1833, and seven in 1834 when Missouri events received attention.
69 Howe himself noted that the "Gold Bible fever seems to be abating in this vicinity" (29 March 1831, 2).
70 Thornton, 18-19.
71 Painesville Telegraph, 22 March 1831, 2.
Notes: Hill has been one of the few Mormon historians addressing the Spalding authorship claims for the Book of Mormon who does not place credit for the origin of those claims upon D.P. Hurlbut. On page 82 of his dissertation Hill says, "this version may exaggerate Hurlbut's role in the affair," and on page 96, "They [the Conneaut witnesses] did indeed hear Spaulding read from his manuscript, and remembered that the manuscript told of early immigrants to the new world. Thus, Hill opts for a middle ground explanation in which D.P. Hurlbut comes across as less of an innovative deceiver and the "Conneaut witnesses" appear to be persons with hazy memories who became subscribers to a kind of group illusion, managed and shaped by Hurlbut -- whereby dim recollections of Spalding's old stories were reinforced by recent readings from the Book of Mormon, resulting in a consensus opinion among the group that Spalding had indeed written a portion of the Mormon book.
While Hill may be technically correct in saying on page 94 and page 95 that none of the early witnesses maintained that Spalding revised his Roman story to produce a Lost Tribes story, Aaron Wright in 1833 said nearly the same thing -- that Spalding "wrote in the first place... for his own amusement and then altered his plan and commenced writing a history of the first settlement of America." The Spalding Roman romance does not tell "a history of the first settlement of America," but a Lost Tribes narrative might well do just that. Also, Spalding's adopted daughter, Matilda, in 1886 wrote of the then recently published Roman story: "I have read much of the Manuscript Story Conneaut Creek which you sent me. I know that it is not the Manuscript Found which contained the words "Nephi, Mormon, Maroni, and Lamanites." While not questioning the origin of the Roman story from the pen of her father, she clearly was saying that she knew of another Spalding manuscript story.
Hill makes the strange comment on page 97, that "Hurlbut probably went to Ohio knowing that there was some similarity between Spaulding's novel and the Book of Mormon." As he does not place this statement into any clear context, it is difficult to determine exactly what time period Hill is speaking of. Presumably he is showing his support for the statement he quoted earlier on page 82, that "Hurlbut learned about Spaulding in Pennsylvania in a place called Jackson Settlement." Since the earliest statement collected in "Ohio" by Hurlbut was that of Aaron Wright (in August of 1833), the above expressed line of thought would have Hurlbut learning of the Spalding authorship claims while he was in Pennsylvania, and then seeking out old Spalding associates like Aaron Wright in nearby Conneaut, Ohio for confirmation of the story. Hill was obviously aware of Abner Jackson's statement on these matters, as he quotes Thomas Gregg's Prophet of Palmyra from the same short chapter wherein a copy of Jackson's words was printed. See Hill's 1989 book for supplemental comments.