The following letters were written by Ezra Booth, a Methodist Clergyman, and addressed to a presiding Elder. He was an early convert to Mormonism, and renounced it as soon as he was fully convinced of its nature and design. -- He gives a clear and compregensive view of the whole imposition, in a plain and unvarnished style, and will doubtless carry conviction to every rational mind, that the whole is a base fabrication. They were originally published in the Ohio Star; but their limited circulation has induced us to place them in this work.
NELSON, Portage Co. Sept. 1831.
Rev. Ira Eddy ---
Dear Sir: I received yours of the 2d inst. and heartily thank you for the favor. It revives afresh in my recollection the scenes of past years, upon the remembrance of which, I dwell with a mixture of pleasurable and painful sensations. I arrived at my home on the 1sr of the present month, having finished my tour to the west; since which time the scenes and events in the history of my life, for the last few months, have passed in review before my mind.
You are not, it is probable, ignorant of the designs of my most singular and romantic undertaking: sufficient to say, it was for the purpose of exploring the promised land -- laying the foundation of the city of Zion, and placing the corner stone of the temple of God. A journey of one thousand miles to the west, has taught me far more abundantly, than I should have probably learned from any other
source. It has taught me quite beyond my knowledge, the imbecility of human nature, and especially my own weakness. It has unfolded in its proper character, a delusion to which I had fallen a victim, and taught me the humiliating truth, that I was exerting the powers of both my mind and body, and sacrificing my time and property, to build up a system of delusion, almost unparalleled in the annals of the world.
If God be a God of consistency and wisdom I now know Mormonism to be a delusion; and this knowledge is built upon the testimony of my senses. In proclaiming it, I am aware I proclaim my own misfortune -- but in doing it, I remove a burden from my mind, and discharge a duty as humbling to myself, as it may be profitable to others. You had heard the story of my wanderings, and "was induced to believe that I had been visited with a species of mental derangement," and therefore, you "had given me up, as one among those friends of early association, who in the lapse of time, would be as though they had not existed." You had concluded that the magic charm of delusion and falsehood, had so wrapped its sable mantle around me, as to exclude the light of truth and secure me a devoted slave. But thanks be to God! the spell is dissipated, and the "captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and not die in the pit."
When I embraced Mormonism, I conscientiously believed it to be of God. The impressions of my mind were deep and powerful, and my feelings were excited to a degree to which I had been a stranger. Like a ghost, it haunted me by night and by day, until I was mysteriously hurried, as it were, by a kind of necessity, into the vortex of delusion. -- At times I was much elated; but generally, things in prospect were the greatest stimulants to action.
On our arrival in the western part of the State of Missouri
the place of our destination, we discovered that prophecy and vision had failed, or rather had proved false. -- The fact was so notorious, and the evidence so clear, that no one could mistake it -- so much so, that Mr. Rigdon himself said that "Joseph's vision was a bad thing." This was glossed over, apparently, to the satisfaction of most persons present; but not fully to my own. It excited a suspicion that some things were not right, and prepared my mind for the investigation of a variety of circumstances, which occurred during my residence there, and indeed, to review the whole subject, from its commencement to that time. My opportunities for a thorough investigation, were far greater than they could have been, had I remained at home; and therefore, I do not regret that I made the journey, though I sincerely regret the cause of it. Since my return, I have had several interviews with Messrs. Smith, Rigdon and Cowdery, and the various shifts and turns, to which they resorted in order to obviate objectors and difficulties, produced in my mind additional evidence, that there was nothing else than a deeply laid plan of craft and deception.
The relation in which Smith stands to the church, is that of a Prophet, Seer, Revealer, and Translator; and when he speaks by the Spirit, or says he knows a thing by the communication of the Spirit, it is received as coming directly from the mouth of the Lord. When he says he knows a thing to be so, thus it must stand without controversy. A question is agitated between two Elders of the church -- whether or not a bucket of water will become heavier by putting a living fish in it. Much is said by each of the disputants; when at length, Smith decides in the negative, by saying -- "I know by the spirit, that it will be no heavier." Any person who chooses, may easily ascertain by actual experiment, whether the Prophet was influenced in this decision by a true or false spirit.
It is not my design, at this time, to enter into particulars relative to the evidence upon which my renunciation of Mormonism is founded. This evidence is derived from various sources, and is clear and full, and the conviction which it produces, at least on my mind, is irresistible. You are not aware of the nature of this deception, and the spirit that uniformly attends it; nor can you ever know it, unless you yield to its influence, and by experience learn what it is to fall under its power: "from which my earnest prayer is, that you may ever, ever escape."
There probably never was a plan better suited to lead the sinner and the conscientious, when in an unguarded hour they listen to its fatal insinuations. The plan is so ingeniously contrived, having for its aim one principal point, viz: the establishment of a society in Missouri, over which the contrivers of this delusive system, are to possess unlimited and despotic sway. To accomplish this, the Elders of the church, by commandment given in Missouri, and of which I was both an eye and an ear witness, are to go forth to preach Mormonism to every creature; and now, said Mr. Rigdon --"The Lord has set us our stint; no matter how soon we perform it -- for when this is done, he will make his second appearance."
I do sincerely, and I trust in deep humility, return unfeigned gratitude to the God of infinite mercy, who, in condescension to my weakness, by a peculiar train of providences, brought me to the light, enabled me to see the hidden things of darkness, and delivered me from the snare of the fowler, and from the contagious pestilence which threatened my entire destruction. The scenes of the past few months, are so different from all others in my life, that they are in truth to me "as a dream when one awaketh." Had my fall affected only myself, my reflections would be far less painful than they now are. But to know -- that whatever influence I may have possessed, has been exerted to draw others into a delusion, from which they may not soon be extricated, is to me a source of sorrow and deep regret. They are at this moment the object of my greatest anxiety and commiseration. I crave their forgiveness, and assure them, that they will ever have an interest in my addresses to the throne of grace. It shall be my endeavor to undo, as far as possible, what I have done in this case, and also to prevent the spread of a delusion, pernicious in its influence, and destructive in its consequences to the body and the soul -- to the present and eternal interests of all men.
I am, through restoring mercy and grace, as in former years, though unworthily, yet affectionately yours in Christ,
Were there none but myself interested in the exposition of Mormonism, I can assure you my time would be otherwise employed than in writing upon a subject which has heretofore been to me one of deep interest, and at times has occasioned a painful anxiety of mind. I could wish, if possible, to bury it in oblivion; and to remember it no more forever. But as this is a thing which cannot be accomplished in a moment, for the sake of others, who may be exposed to the delusion, from which, through the mercy of God, I have been recovered, and others who are at present involved in it: and also in compliance with your request, I will, as far as I have ability, unfold a system of darkness, fraught with glaring absurdity, and deceptive as falsehood itself.
were endowed. It is called the fullness of the gospel of both Jew and Gentile: and is the test by which every man's faith is to be tried. Judgments are denounced against the sinners of this generation; or in other words, all who reject the Book of Mormon, are threatened with eternal damnation. Great promises are made to such as embrace it, signs and wonders are to attend them, such as healing the sick, the blind made to see, the lame to walk, &c,; and they are to receive an everlasting inheritance in "the land of Missouri," where the Savior will make his second appearance; at which place the foundation of the temple of God, and the City of Zion, have been laid, and are soon to be built. It is also to be a city of Refuge, and a safe asylum when the storms of vengeance shall pour upon the earth, and those who reject the Book of Mormon, shall be swept off as with the besom of destruction. Then shall the riches of the Gentile be consecrated to the Mormonites; they shall have lands and cattle in abundance, and shall possess the gold and silver, and all the treasures of their enemies.
The Mormonite preachers go forth proclaiming repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. The form of baptism is similar to other orders; only it is prefaced with -- "having authority given me of Jesus Christ;" also, the laying on of hands -- "In the name of Jesus Christ, receive ye the Holy Ghost." Many of them have been ordained to the High Priesthood, or the order of Melchisedec; and profess to be endowed with the same power as the ancient apostles were. But they have been hitherto unsuccessful in finding the lame, the halt, and the blind, who had faith sufficient to become the subjects of their miracles: and it is now concluded that this work must be postponed until they get to Missouri; for the Lord will not show those signs
to this wicked and adulterous generation. In the commandment given to the churches in the State of New York, to remove to the State of Ohio, they were assured that these miracles should be wrought in the State of Ohio; but now they must be deferred until they are settled in Missouri.
As the Mormonite church depends principally upon the commandments, and as most of them are concealed from the world, it will be necessary to make some statement respecting them. These commandments come from Smith, at such times and on such occasions as he feels disposed to speak, and Rigdon or Cowdery to write them. Their exact number I have never taken pains to ascertain. I have the "27th commandment to Emma my daughter in Zion;" and should presume there are betwixt fifty and a hundred. -- They received the addition of five or six while in Missouri; and these are considered a miracle in themselves, sufficient to convince any rational mind. But none but the strong in faith are permitted to witness their origin. I had an opportunity of seeing this wonderful exhibition of the wisdom and power of God, at three different times; and I must say, that it bore striking marks of human weakness and wickedness. They are received in the church as divinely inspired, and the name of the Lord is substituted for that of Smith. They are called "The Commandments of the Lord," They are considered "The mysteries of the Kingdom;" and to divulge them to the world, is the same as casting pearls before swine. When they and the Scriptures are at variance, the Scriptures are wrongly translated; and Smith, though totally ignorant of the original, being a translator or an alterator, can easily harmonize them. Every thing in the church is done by commandment: and yet it is said to be done by the voice of the church. For instance, Smith gets a commandment that he shall be the "head of the church," or that he "shall rule the Conference," or that the Church
shall build him an elegant house, and give him 1000 dollars. For this the members of the church must vote, or they will be cast off for revelling against the commandments of the Lord. In addition to the Book of Mormon, and the commandments, there are revelations which are not written. -- In this department, though Smith is the principal, yet there are others who profess to receive revelations; but after all, Smith is to decide whether they come from the Lord or the devil. Some have been so unfortunate as to have their revelations palmed off upon the latter. These revelations entirely supercede the Bible, and in fact, the Bible is declared too defective to be trusted, in its present form; and it is designed that it shall undergo a thorough alteration, or as they say, translation. This work is now in operation. The Gospel of St. Matthew has already received the purifying touch, and is prepared for the use of the church. It was intended to have kept this work a profound secret, and strict commandments were given for that purpose; and even the salvation of the church was said to depend upon it. The secret is divulged, but the penalty is not as yet inflicted. -- Their revelations are said to be an addition to the Bible. -- But instead of being an addition, they destroy its use; for everything which need be known, whether present, past or future, they can learn from Smith, for he has declared to the church, that he "knows all things that will take place from this time to the end of the world." If then, placing the Bible under circumstances which render it entirely useless, is infidelity, Mormonism is infidelity.
Joseph Smith, Jun., Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, may be considered as the principals in this work; and let Martin Harris tell the story, and he is the most conspicuous of the four. -- He informed me, that he went to the place where Joseph resided, and Joseph had given it up, on account of the opposition of his wife and
others; but he told Joseph. "I have not come down here for nothing, and we will go on with it." Martin Harris is what may be called a great talker, and extravagant boaster; so much so, that he renders himself disagreeable to many of his society. The money he has expended, and the great things he has done, form a considerable topic of his conversation; he understands all prophecies, and knows every thing by the spirit, and he can silence almost any opposer by talking faster, and louder than he can: or by telling him, "I know every thing and you know nothing: I am a wise man and you are a fool;" and in this respect he stands a fair sample of many others in the church. Yours affectionately,
Mormonism has in part changed its character, and assumed a different dress, from that under which it made its first appearance on the Western Reserve. Many extraordinary circumstances which then existed, have vanished out of sight; and the Mormonites desire, not only to forget them, but wish them blotted out of the memory of others. Those wonders which they wish to have forgotten, stand as the principal foundation of the faith of several hundred of the members of their church.
With the wonders of Mormonism, or some of them, I design to occupy your attention in this letter; and I wish you to observe here, and hereafter remember, that the evidence by which all my statements are supported, is derived from my own experience and observation, or from testimony of persons who still adhere to Mormonism; and I hold myself responsible to any tribunal, whether on earth or in heaven, for the truth of what I write, or at least for an intention to write the truth, and nothing but the truth.
"Being carried away by the spirit" and "I know it to be
so by the spirit," are well known phrases, and in common use in the Mormonite church. We will first notice the gift of tongues, exercised by some when carried away in the spirit. These persons were apparently lost to all surrounding circumstances, and wrapt up in the contemplation of things, and in communion with persons not present. -- They articulated sounds, which but few persons professed to understand; and those few declared them to be the Indian language. A merchant, who had formerly been a member of the Methodist society, observed, he had formerly traded with the Indians, and he knew it to be their dialect. Being myself present on one of these occasions, a person proffered his services as my interpreter, and translated these sounds to me which were unintelligible, into English language. One individual could read any chapter of the Old or New Testament, in several different languages. This was known to be the case by a person who professed to understand those languages. In the midst of this delirium they would, at times, fancy themselves addressing a congregation of their red brethren; mounted on a stump, or the fence, or from some elevated situation, would harangue their assembly until they had convinced or converted them. They would then lead them into the water, and baptize them, and pronounce their sins forgiven. In this exercise, some of them actually went into the water; and in the water, performed the ceremony used in baptizing. These actors assumed the visage of the savage, and so nearly imitated him, not only in language, but in gestures and actions, that it seemed the soul and body were completely metamorphosed into the Indian. No doubt was then entertained but that was an extraordinary work of the Lord, designed to prepare those young men for the Indian mission; and many who are still leaders of the church, could say, "we know by the spirit that it is the work of the Lord." And now
they can say, "they know it is the work of the devil." Most of those who were the principal actors, have since apostatized, and the work is unanimously discarded by the church. The limits which my want of time to write, as well as your want of patience to read compel me to prescribe for myself, will allow me only to touch on some of the most prominent parts of this newly invented and heterogeneous system.
A new method of obtaining authority to preach the Gospel was introduced into the church. One declared he had received a commission, directly from Heaven, written upon parchment. Another, that it was written upon the palm of his hand, and upon the lid of his Bible, &c. Three witnesses, and they were formerly considered persons of veracity, testified they saw the parchment, or something like it, when put into the hands of the candidate. These commissions, when transcribed upon a piece of paper, were read to the church, and the persons who had received them, were ordained to the Elder's office, and sent out into the world to preach. But this also sunk into discredit, and experienced the fate of the former.
Visions also, were in high credit, and sounded abroad as an infallible testimony in favor of Mormonism. The visionary, at times, imagined he saw the city of New Jerusalem, unlocked its gate, and entered within the walls; passed through its various apartments, and then returned, locked the gate, and put the key into his pocket. When this tour was finished, he would entertain admiring friends, with a detailed description of the Heavenly City.
The condition of the ten tribes of Israel since their captivity, unto the present time, has excited considerable anxiety, and given rise to much speculation among the learned. But after all the researches which have been made, the place of their residence has never been satisfactorily ascertained.
But these visionaries have discovered their place of residence to be contigious to the north pole; separated from the rest of the world by impassable mountains of ice and snow. In this sequestered residence, they enjoy the society of Elijah the Prophet, and John the Revelator, and perhaps the three immortalized Nephites -- By and by, the mountains of ice and snow are to give way, and open a passage for the return of these tribes, to the land of Palestine.
About this time the ministration of angels was supposed to be frequent in the church. The heavenly visitants made their appearance to certain individuals: they seldom made any communication, but presented themselves as spectacles to be gazed upon, with silent admiration.
Smith is the only one at present, to my knowledge, who pretends to hold converse with the inhabitants of the celestial world. It seems, from his statements, that he can have access to them when and where he pleases. He does not pretend that he sees them with his natural, but with his spiritual, eyes; and he says he can see them as well with his eyes shut, as with them open. So also in the translating. The subject stands before his eyes in print, but it matters not whether his eyes are open or shut; he can see as well one way as the other.
You have probably read the testimony of the three witnesses appended to the Book of Mormon. These witnesses testify that an angel appeared to them, and presented them the golden plates, and the voice of God declared it to be a divine record. To this they frequently testify, in the presence of large congregations. When in Missouri, I had an opportunity to examine a commandment given to these witnesses, previous to their seeing the plates. They were informed that they should see and hear these things by faith, and then they should testify to the world, as though
they had seen and heard, as I see a man, and hear his voice: but after all, it amounts simply to this -- that by faith or imagination, they saw the plates and the angel, and by faith or imagination they heard the voice of the Lord.
Smith describes an angel as having the appearance of a "tall, slim, well-built, handsome man, with a bright pillar upon his head." The devil once, he says, appeared to him in the same form, excepting upon his head he had a "black pillar," and by this mark he was able to distinguish him from the former.
It passes for a current fact in the Mormon church, that there are immense treasures in the earth, especially in those places in the state of New-York from whence many of the Mormons emigrated last spring : and when they become sufficiently purified, these treasures are to be poured into the lap of their church; to use their own language, they are to be the richest people in the world. These treasures were discovered several years since, by means of the dark glass, the same with which Smith says he translated the most of the Book of Mormon. Several of those persons, together with Smith, who were unsuccessfully engaged in digging and searching for these treasures, now reside in this county, and from themselves I received this information.
From the time that Mormonism first made its appearance upon the stage, until the grand tour of the Missouri, an expectation universally pervaded the church, that the time was not far distant, when the deaf, the dumb, the maimed, the blind, &c. would become the subjects of the miraculous power of God, so that every defect in their systems would be entirely removed.
This expectation originated from, and was grounded upon
a variety of premises, included in a number of commandments, or verbal revelations from Smith, or, as he is styled "the head of the church." As the 4th of June last was appointed for the sessions of the conference, it was ascertained, that that was the time specified, when the great and mighty work was to be commenced, and such was the confidence of some, that knowledge superceded their faith, and they did not hesitate to declare themselves perfectly assured that the work of miracles would commence at the ensuing conference. With such strong assurances, and with the most elevated expectations, the conference assembled at the time appointed. To give, if possible, energy to expectation, Smith, the day before the conference, professing to be filled with the spirit of prophecy, declared, that "not three days should pass away, before some should see their Savior, face to face." Soon after the session commenced, Smith arose to harangue the conference. He reminded those present of the prophecy, which he said "was given by the spirit yesterday." He wished them not to be overcome with surprise, when that event ushered in. He continued, until by long speaking, himself and some others became much excited. He then laid his hands on the head of Elder Wight, who had participated largely in the warm feeling of his leader, and ordained him to the High Priesthood. He was set apart for the service of the Indians, and was ordained to the gift of tongues, healing the sick, casting out devils, and discerning spirits; and in like manner he ordained several others; and then called upon Wight to take the floor. Wight arose, and presented a pale countenance, a fierce look, with his arms extended, and his hands cramped back, the whole system agitated, and a very unpleasant object to look upon. He exhibited himself as an instance of the great power of God, and called upon those around him "if you want to see a sign, look at me." He then stepped upon a bench, and declared with a loud voice, he saw the Savior: and thereby, for the time being, rescued Smith's prophecy from merited contempt. -- It, however, procured Wight the authority to ordain the rest. So said the spirit, and so said Smith. The spirit in Smith selected those to be ordained, and the spirit in Wight ordained them. But the spirit in Wight proved an erring dictator; so much so, that some of the candidates felt the weight of hands thrice, before the work was rightly done. Another Elder, who had been ordained to the same office as Wight, at the bidding of Smith, stepped upon the floor. Then ensued a scene, of which you can form no adequate conception; and which, I would forbear relating, did not the truth require it. The Elder moved upon the floor, his legs inclining to a bend; one shoulder elevated above the other, upon which the head seemed disposed to recline, his arms partly extended; his hands partly clenched; his mouth partly open, and contracted in the shape of an italic O; his eyes assumed a wild ferocious cast, and his whole appearance presented a frightful object to the view of the beholder. -- "Speak, Brother Harvey" said Smith. But Harvey intimated by signs, that his power of articulation was in a state of suspense, and that he was unable to speak. Some conjectured that Harvey was possessed of the devil, but Smith said, "the Lord binds in order to set at liberty." After different opinions had been given, and there had been much confusion, Smith learnt by the spirit, that Harvey was under a diabolical influence, and that Satan had bound him; and he commanded the unclean spirit to come out of him.
It now became clearly manifest, that "the man of sin was revealed," for the express purpose that the elders should become acquainted with the devices of Satan; and after that they would possess knowledge sufficient to manage him. This, Smith declared to be a miracle, and his success in
this case, encouraged him to work other and different miracles. Taking the hand of one of the Elders in his own, a hand which by accident had been rendered defective, he said, "Brother Murdock, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to straighten your hand; in the mean while endeavoring to accomplish the work by using his own hand to open the hand of the other. The effort proved unsuccessful; but he again articulated the same commandment, in a more authoritative and louder tone of voice; and while uttering with his tongue, his hands were at work; but after all the exertion of his power, both natural and supernatural, the deficient hand returned to its former position, where it still remains. But ill success in this case, did not discourage him from undertaking another. One of the Elders who was decriped in one of his legs, was set upon the floor, and commanded, in the name of Jesus Christ to walk. He walked a step or two, his faith failed, and he was again compelled to have recourse to his former assistant, and he has had occasion to use it ever since.
A dead body. which had been retained above ground two or three days, under the expectation that the dead would be raised, was insensible to the voice of those who commanded it to awake into life, and is destined to sleep in the grave till the last trump shall sound, and the power of God easily accomplishes the work, which frustrated the attempts, and bid defiance to the puny efforts of the Mormonite. * (* That an attempt was made to raise the child, is denied, of course, as every other attempt has been, after the entire failure was obvious to all. The parents of the deceased child, however, state, that they were prevented from procuring medical aid for the child, by the representations of the elders, that there was no danger -- that it would certainly be restored. The father had no other idea but that the child was to be raised; neither did his faith fail him till preparations were made for its interment. He then awoke from his dream of delusion, and dissolved his connection with the impostors.)
Under these discouraging circumstances, the horizon of Mormonism gathered darkness, and a storm seemed to hang impending over the church. The gloom of disappointed expectation, overspread the countenances of many, while they labored to investigate the cause of this failure. To add. if possible, to their mortification, a larger assembly collected on the Sabbath, in order to hear preaching. In the midst of the meeting the congregation was dismissed by Rigdon, and the people sent to their homes. He was directed to do this, he said, by the spirit. But it was generally believed, that he was directed solely by fear; and that he had mistaken the spirit of cowardice, for the spirit of the Lord. Several of the Elders said they "felt the spirit to preach" to the congregation: and Rigdon felt the spirit to send the people home: such was the unity which then prevailed among them.
You will doubtless say, can it be possible that the minds of men, and men who possess the appearance of honesty, can be so strangely infatuated, as still to adhere to a system, after it had occasioned so much agitation, and so much disappointment. One reason which can be assigned for this, is, the adherents are generally inclined to consider the system so perfect, as to admit of no suspicion; and the confusion and disappointment, are attributed to some other cause. Another, and principal reason is, delusion always effects the mind with a species of delirium, and this delirium arises in a degree proportionate to the magnitude of the delusion. These men, upon other subjects, will converse like other men; but when their favorite system is brought into view, its inconsistencies and contradictions are resolved into inexplicable mystery; and this will not only apply to the delusions now under consideration, but in my view, to every delusion, from the highest to the lowest; and it matters
not whether it carries the stamp of popularity or its opposite.
Yours affectionately, EZRA BOOTH.
In my last letter I gave you a faint representation of the events which transpired and the circumstances which attended the meeting of the Mormonite Conference. Though many stumbled, yet none irrecoverably fell. Another grand object was presented, and the attention was somewhat diverted from these scenes of disappointment, through which we had recently passed. The tour to the Missouri, revived the sinking expectations, and gave new energy to faith and hope. In that distant region, anticipation was to be realized in full, and the objects of faith and hope, were to become the objects of knowledge and fruition. A commandment was received, and Elders were directed to take their journey for the "promised land." They were commanded to go two by two, with the exception of Rigdon, Smith, Harris, and Partridge; and it was designed that these should find an easier method of transporting themselves, than to travel that distance on foot. They were careful to make suitable provision for themselves, both in money and other articles, that while on their journey, they might carry the appearance of gentlemen filling some important station in life; while many, who were destined to travel on foot, with packs on their backs, were so fixed with the ardor of enthusiasm, that they supposed they could travel to Missouri with but little or no money. These carried the appearance, and were justly entitled to the character of beggars, for when the little money they took with them was expended, they subsisted by begging, until they arrived at their journey's end.
Being myself one of the number selected to perform the journey by land, and not being much accustomed to travel
on foot, I hesitated for a while; but believing it to be the will of God, I resolved on an unreserved surrender of myself to the work, and on the 15th of June, in company with the one appointed to travel with me, took up my line of march for Missouri. I do not design to trouble you with a relation of the particulars, but will observe, that after I left the north part of the State of Ohio, I made a speedy and prosperous journey to Missouri. I preached twice in Ohio, thrice in Indiana, once in Illinois, and once in Missouri. We were commanded to preach by the spirit, and my impressions were, that farther to the westward, I should enjoy more of the spirit's influence; and though I travelled one thousand miles to the west, my anticipations in this respect, were never realized. I seldom proclaimed Mormonism with that liberty which I enjoyed in my public exercises, while a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. I supposed that at some future time, the spirit would endow me to preach with an unusual degree of liberty. That period has never arrived, and I am persuaded it never will, and I now sincerely desire the spirit of truth to direct my pen, while I endeavor to expose the errors and absurdities of the system I then advocated.
When we arrived at the place to which our mission destined us, we perceived to our mortification, that disappointment, instead of being confined to the State of Ohio, had journeyed thither before us. We would gladly have avoided here an interview with this, our old companion; but this was impossible, she met us, and stared us in the face which way soever we turned, nor was it possible to look her out of countenance, or put the blush upon her pallid features, or expel her from our society. Some were for making the best of her they could; but for myself, I resolved that she should be expelled, or at any rate, that her visits should be less frequent, or I would abandon the habituation entirely.
When we commenced our journey for Missouri, we expected an "effectual door" would be opened, to proclaim the new system of faith, in that region; and that those who were ordained to the gift of tongues, would have an opportunity to display their supernatural talent, in communicating to the Indians, in their own dialect. Some who were ordained to this office, absolutely knew that through this medium, they should gain access to the natives; and I will venture to say, I know, that their success will be similar to that of their predecessor, Oliver Cowdery, who stated that he was endowed with the same fore knowledge. But the event has proved his presumption false. For more than two weeks, while I remained there, the disposition of the Elders appeared to be averse to preaching, either to the white or the red people, and indeed adverse circumstances prevented it.
We expected to assemble together in conference according to the commandment, and the Lord would signally display his power, for the confirmation of our faith; but we commenced our journey home before most of the Elders arrived. It is true, a conference was held, but it was considered so unimportant, that myself and another man were permitted to be absent, for the purpose of procuring the means of conveyance down the river. We expected to find a large church, which Smith said, was revealed to him in a vision, Oliver had raised up there. This large church was found to consist of four females.
We expected to witness the exercise if those miraculous gifts, to which some were ordained while in the State of Ohio. But the same difficulty, the same want of faith among the people, which counteracted them here, prevailed there; consequently no miracles could be wrought. We expected to see the foundation of the City and temple laid; and this we were permitted to see, and it was in fact a curiosity,
but not worth going to Missouri to see. The honor of consecrating the land, &c. was conferred on Rigdon. -- The commandment reads thus: "let my servant Sidney consecrate and dedicate the land, and the spot for the Temple" -- again, "Behold I give unto my servant Sidney a commandment, that he shall write a description of the land of Zion, and a statement of the will of God, as it shall be made known to him by the spirit, and a subscription to be presented to the Churches, to obtain money to purchase lands, for the inheritance of the children of God; for behold the Lord willeth that his Disciples, and the children of men, should open their hearts, to purchase the whole region of country, lest they receive none inheritance, save it be by the shedding of blood." The childish exultation of the Mormonite leaders, while they echoed and reechoed, the Lord has given us this whole region of country; "this whole region of country is ours;" when it was manifest, agreeable to the commandment, that the gift was only obtained, by purchasing it at a dear rate with money, and that, in order to save themselves the trouble of "the shedding of blood," would, under other circumstances, have been truly diverting. But when viewing it as an instance of a deep laid scheme, and the cunning artifice of crafty impostors, designed to allure the credulous and the unsuspecting, into a state of unqualified vassalage, it presents a melancholy picture of the depravity of the human heart, while destitute of those virtues, inculcated in the Gospel by the blessed Redeemer.
It was conjectured by the inhabitants of Jackson county, that the Mormonites, as a body are wealthy, and many of them entertain fears, that next December, when the list of land is exposed for sale, they will out-bid others, and establish themselves as the most powerful body in the county. -- But they may dismiss their fears in this respect; for the
Mormonites as a body, are comparatively poor, and destined so to remain, until they pursue a different course as it relates to economy and industry, from what they have hitherto pursued. There were ten families, which came by water, landed there the day on which I arrived; and all the land which the Bishop said they had means to purchase, was less than thirty acres to the family; and thirty acres in that country, is little enough for wood and timber land; as fifteen acres upon an average here, are worth thirty there. Neither need they fear that the Mormonites, were they so disposed, will obtain the possession of their lands "by shedding of blood," until the spirit selects more courageous leaders than Smith or Rigdon.
It is well know[n] that the ostensible design of the Mormonites in settling in the western part of Missouri, is to convert the Indians to the faith of Mormonism. In this, the leaders appear to have in view, as a mode, the Jesuits of the 16th century, who established themselves in South America, by gaining an entire ascendancy over the hearts and consciences of the natives, and thereby became their masters. As Independence is the place of general rendezvous and head quarters of the Mormonites, it may not be amiss to notice it. It is a new town, containing a court house built of brick, two or three merchant's stores, and 15 or 20 dwelling houses, built mostly of logs hewed on both sides; and is situated on a handsome rise of ground, about three miles south of [the] Missouri river, and about 12 miles east of the dividing line between the United States and the Indian Reserve, and is the county seat of Jackson county. In this place it is designed to establish the Lord's printing press, of which Wm. W. Phelps and O. Cowdery are to have the management;
and also, the Lord's store-house, committed in charge to S. Gilbert. By the means of these two grand engines, they expect to make the wicked feel the weight of their tremendous power. West of the line lies the territory, selected by the government of the United States, for the future residence of the Indians; to which place, a number of tribes have recently moved. The question is frequently asked, do the Indians seem disposed to receive Mormonism; or have any of them yet embraced it? To which question I have heard some of the leaders reply, "O yes," when the truth is, not an individual had embraced it when I left that place. Nor is there any prospect they will embrace it. It is true, that some of the Indians appear to listen with a degree of attention, while the Mormonite teacher pretends to disclose to them the secrets of their origins, the history of their ancestors, and that the great Spirit designs, in this generation, to restore them to the possession of their lands, now occupied by the whites; and the Indians shall go forth among the white people, "as a lion among the beasts of the forests, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through, both treadeth down and teareth to pieces, and no man can deliver. Thy hand shall be lifted up against thy adversaries, (the whites) and all their enemies (the whites) shall be cut off." Here you have a fair specimen of the method adopted in the Book of Mormon, and preached by the Mormonite teachers, for the purpose of enlisting the feelings, and in gratiating themselves with the Indians; and should success attend their endeavors, and the minds of the Indians become inflamed with the enthusiastic spirit which Mormonism inspires, they may be inclined to try the experiment, whether "by shedding of blood," they can expel the white inhabitants, or reduce them to a state of servitude; and by this means, regain the possession of the lands occupied by their forefathers.
The laying of the foundation of Zion was attended with considerable parade and an ostentatious display of talents, both by Rigdon and Cowdery. The place being designated as the site where the city was to commence, on the day appointed we repaired to the spot, not only as spectators, but each one to act the part assigned him in the great work of laying the foundation of the "glorious city of New Jerusalem." Rigdon consecrated the ground, by an address, in the first place to the God whom the Mormons profess to worship; and then making some remarks respecting the extraordinary purpose for which we were assembled, prepared the way for administering the oath of allegiance to those who were to receive their "everlasting inheritance" in that city. He laid them under the most solemn obligations to constantly obey all the commandments of Smith. He enjoined it upon them to express a great degree of gratitude for the free donation, and then, as the Lord's Vicegerent, he gratuitously bestowed upon them, that for which they had paid an exorbitant price in money. These preliminaries being ended, a shrub oak, about ten inches in diameter at the butt, the best that could be obtained near at hand, was prostrated, trimmed, and cut off at a suitable length; and twelve men, answering to the twelve apostles, by means of handspikes, conveyed it to the place. Cowdery craved the privilege of laying the corner-stone. He selected a small rough stone, the best he could find, carried it in one hand to the spot, removed the surface of the earth to prepare a place for its reception, and then displayed his oratorical power, in delivering an address, suited to the important occasion. The stone being placed, one end of the shrub oak stick was laid upon it; and there was laid down the first stone and stick, which are to form an essential part of the splendid city of Zion.
The next day the ground for the temple was consecrated,
and Smith claimed the honour of laying the corner-stone himself. Should the inhabitants of Independence feel a desire to visit this place, destined at some future time to become celebrated, they will have only to walk one half of a mile out of the town, to a rise of ground, a short distance south of the road. They will be able to ascertain the spot by the means of a. sapling, distinguished from the others by the bark being broken off on the north and on the east side. On the south side of the sapling will be found the letter T, which stands for temple; and on the east side Zom! for Zomas; which Smith says is the original word for Zion. Near the foot of the sapling they will find a small stone covered over with bushes, which were cut for that purpose. This is the corner-stone for the temple. They can there have the privilege of beholding the mighty work, accomplished by about thirty men, who left their homes, traveled one thousand miles, most of them on foot, and expended more than $1000 in cash.
Having completed the work, or rather finding but little business for us to accomplish in Missouri, most of us became anxious to return home. And none appeared to be more so than Rigdon and Smith, whose plans for future subsistence were considerably frustrated. They expected to find a country abounding with the necessaries and comforts of life. But the prospect appeared somewhat gloomy, and will probably remain so for some years to come. That they were disappointed, is evident from the change which appeared in their calculations. Before they went to Missouri, their language was "we shall winter in Ohio but one winter more;" and when in Missouri, "it will be many years before we come here, for the Lord has a great work for us to do in Ohio," and the great work is, to make a thorough alteration of the Bible, and invent new revelations, and these are to be sent to Missouri, in order to be printed.
This coming to save the expense of postage, is parallel with their other calculations. But no matter for that, it will save them the difficulties and hardships incident to the settling of a new country; and also the dangers to which they would be exposed, in case the Indians should commence hostilities upon the whites; and moreover, they have an easy method to supply themselves with cash at any time when occasion requires. The authority of a commandment will easily untie the purse strings of those whose consciences are under their control; and they find it much easier, and better suited to their dispositions, to write commandments, than to gain a livelihood by the sweat of the brow: and indeed, Smith has commanded himself not to labor, and by his mandate, has enjoined it upon the church to support him. The Bishop, when we were in Missouri, intimated that he and others were too much inclined to indolence. -- He replied, "I am commanded not to labor."
Yours affectionately, EZRA BOOTH.
The following, with but a little variation, is the copy of a letter to the Bishop of the Mormonite church, who by commandment, has received his station, and now resides in Missouri. His business is to superintend the secular concerns of the church. He holds a deed to the lands, and the members receive a writing from him, signifying, that they are to possess the land as their own, so long as they are obedient to Smith's commandments. The Bishop is, in reality, the Vicegerent of Smith, and those in coalition with him; and holds his office during their will and pleasure. I think him to be an honest man as yet, but there is a point beyond which he cannot go, unless he prostrates his honor in the dust, and prostitutes his conscience to the vilest of purposes. He has frequently staggered
and been ready to fall. The conference last year, gave him a tremendous shock, from which with difficulty he recovered. The law of the church enjoins, that no debt with the world shall be contracted. But a thousand acres of land in the town of Thompson could be purchased for one half its value, and he was commanded to secure it; and in order to do it, he was under the necessity to contract a debt to the world. He hesitated, but the command was repeated, "you must secure the land." He was one of the number who was ordained to the gift of discerning spirits; and in a commandment, a pattern was given by which the good spirit might be distinguished from the bad, which rendered the gift of supernatural discernment useless: for the division was to be made from external appearances, and not from any thing discovered internally. He saw the impropriety, and it shook his faith. I am suspicious the time is not far distant, when by commandment, this office will be bestowed upon a more trusty and confidential person; perhaps Smith's brother or father, or some one who has been disciplined in the State of New York. Then it will become his business to make over the whole property, by deed of conveyance, to the person appointed by the commandment to supercede him. The Mormonites will tell you, that business of this nature is done by the voice of the church. It is like this: a sovereign issues his decrees, and then says to his subjects, hold up your right hands, in favor of my decrees being carried into effect. Should any refuse, they are sure to be hung for rebellion.
SEPTEMBER 20, 1831.
Sir -- From a sense of duty, I take up my pen, to communicate to you the present impressions of my mind, which originated from facts, which occurred during my stay there, and while returning home. I arrived safely at my home,
on the 1st instant, after having passed through a variety of scenes, some of which, I design to disclose to you in this letter. You will probably be surprised, when you learn, that I am no longer a member of the Mormonite church. -- The circumstances which led to this are numerous, and of such a character, that I should have been compelled to sacrifice every principle of honesty, or cease to support a system, which I conceive to be grossly inconsistent, and in opposition to the best interests of human society. The first thing that materially affected my mind, so as to weaken my confidence, was the falsehood of Joseph's vision. You know perfectly well, that Joseph had, or said he had, a vision, or revelation, in which it was made known to him by the spirit, that Oliver had raised up a large church in Missouri. This was so confidently believed, previous to our leaving Ohio, that while calculating the number of the church, several hundred were added, supposed to be in Missouri. The great church was found to consist of three or four families. The night we took lodgings in the school house, and the morning which succeeded it, presented circumstances which I had not anticipated. When you intimated to Joseph that the land which he and Oliver had selected, was inferior in point of quality to other lands adjoining, had you seen the same spirit manifested in me, which you saw in him, would you not have concluded me to be under the influence of violent passions, bordering on madness, rather than the meek and gentle spirit which the Gospel inculcates? When you complained that he had abused you, you observed to him, "I wish you not to tell us any more, that you know these by the spirit when you do not; you told us, that Oliver had raised up a large church here, and there is no such thing;" he replied, "I see it, and it will be so." This appeared to me, to be a shift, better suited to an impostor, than to a true Prophet of the Lord.
And from that time I resolved to weigh every circumstance; and I can assure you that no one that has a bearing on the subject, escaped my notice. But the spirit considered your insolence to Joseph too intolerable to be passed over unnoticed. Hence the commandment: "If he repent not of his sins, which is unbelief and blindness of heart, let him take heed lest he fall. Behold his mission is given unto him, and it shall not be given again." -- You are to be careful, to submit to all the abuse which Joseph sees fit to pour upon you; and to swallow, passively, all the spurious visions, and false prophecies, that he in his clemency thinks proper to bestow upon you, lest you fall from your Bishoprick, never to regain it. These men under whose influence you act, were entire strangers to you until you embraced this new system of faith. Now, permit me to inquire, have you not frequently observed in Joseph, a want of that sobriety, prudence and stability, which are some of the most prominent traits in the christian character? Have you not often discovered in him, a spirit of lightness and levity, a temper easily irritated, and an habitual proneness to jesting and joking? Have you not often proven to your satisfaction that he says he knows things to be so by the spirit, when they are not so? You most certainly have. Have you not reason to believe, or at least to suspect, that the revelations which come from him, are something short of infallible, and instead of being the production of divine wisdom, emanate from his own weak mind? Some suppose his weakness, nay, his wickedness, can form no reasonable objection to his revelations; and "were he to get another man's wife, and seek to kill her husband, it could be no reason why we should not believe revelations through him, for David did the same." So Sidney asserted, and many others concurred with him in sentiment. The commandment we received to purchase, or make a water
craft, directed us to proceed down the river in it as far as St. Louis, and from thence, with the exception of Joseph and his two scribes, we were to proceed on our journey home two by two. The means of conveyance being procured, we embarked for St. Louis, but unpropitious events rolled on, superceded the commandment, frustrated our plans, and we had separated before we had accomplished one half of the voyage. The cause which produced this disastrous result, was a spirit of animosity and discord, which made its appearance on board, the morning after we left Independence. The conduct of the Elders became very displeasing to Oliver, who, in the greatness of his power, uttered this malediction: "as the Lord God liveth, if you do not behave better, some accident will befall you." The manner in which this was handed out, evinced it to be the ebullition of a spirit, similar to that which influenced Joseph in the school-house. No accident, however, befel them, until Joseph, in the afternoon of the third day, assumed the direction of affairs on board that canoe, which, with other matters of difference, together with Oliver's curse, increased the irritation of the crew, who, in time of danger, refused to exert their physical powers, in consequence of which they ran foul of a sawyer, and were in danger of upsetting . This was sufficient to flutter the timid spirit of the Prophet and his scribe, who had accompanied him on board of that canoe, and like the sea-tossed mariner, when threatened with a watery grave, they unanimously desired to set their feet once more upon something more firm than a liquid surface; therefore, by the persuasion of Joseph, we landed before sunset, to pass the night upon the bank of the river. Preparations were made to spend the night as comfortably as existing circumstances would admit, and then an attempt was made, to effect a reconciliation between the contending parties. The business of settlement elicited much conversation, and excited considerable feeling on both sides. Oliver's denunciation was brought into view; his conduct and equipage were compared to "a fop of a sportsman;" he and Joseph were represented as highly imperious and quite dictatorial; and Joseph and Sidney were reprimanded for their excessive cowardice. Joseph seemed inclined to arm himself, according to his usual custom, in case of opposition, with the judgments of God, for the purpose of pouring them, like a thunder bolt upon the rebellious elders; but one or two retorted, "None of your threats:" which completely disarmed him, and he reserved his judgment for a more suitable occasion. Finding myself but little interested in the settlement, believing the principles of discord too deeply rooted to be easily eradicated, I laid myself down upon the ground, and in silence contemplated awhile the events of the evening, as they passed before me. These are the men to whom the Lord has intrusted the mysteries, and the keys of his kingdom; whom he has authorized to bind or loose on earth, and their decision shall be ratified in Heaven. These are the men sent forth, to promulgate a new revelation, and to usher in a new dispensation -- at whose presence the "Heavens are to shake, the hills tremble, the mountains quake, and the earth open and swallow up their enemies." -- These are the leaders of the church, and the only church on earth the Lord beholds with approbation. Surely, I never witnessed so much confusion and discord, among the Elders of any other church; nevertheless they are all doomed to be a perpetual curse; except they receive the doctrines and precepts which Mormonism inculcates, and place themselves under the tuition of men, more ignorant and unholy than themselves. In the midst of meditations like these, I sunk into the arms of sleep, but was awakened at a late hour, to witness and consent to a reconciliation
between the parties. The next morning Joseph manifested an aversion to risk his person any more upon the rough and angry current of the Missouri, and, in fact, upon any other river; and he again had recourse to his usual method, of freeing himself from the embarrassments of a former commandment, by obtaining another in opposition to it. A new commandment was issued, in which a great curse was pronounced against the waters: navigating them was to be attended with extreme danger; and all the saints, in general, were prohibited in journeying upon them, to the promised land. From this circumstance, the Missouri river was named the river of Destruction. It was decreed that we should proceed on our journey by land, and preach by the way as we passed along. Joseph, Sidney, and Oliver were to press their way forward with all possible speed, and to preach only in Cincinnati; and there they were to lift up their voices, and proclaim against the whole of that wicked city. The method by which Joseph and Co. designed to proceed home, it was discovered, would be very expensive. "The Lord don't care how much money it takes to get us home," said Sidney. Not satisfied with the money they received from the bishop, they used their best endeavors to exact money from others, who had but little, compared with what they had; telling them, in substance "You can beg your passage on foot, but as we are to travel in the stage we must have money."
You will find, sir, that the expense of these three men was one hundred dollars more than three of our company expended, while on our journey home; and, for the sake of truth and honesty, let these men never again open their mouths, to insult the common sense of mankind, by contending for equality, and the community of goods in society, until there is a thorough alteration in their method of proceeding. It seems, however, they had drained their pockets, when they arrived at Cincinnati,
for there they were under the necessity of pawning their trunk, in order to continue their journey home. Here they violated the commandment, by not preaching; and when an inquiry was made respecting the cause of that neglect, at one time they said they could get no house to preach in; at another time they stated that they could have had the court-house, had they stayed a day or two longer, but the Lord made it known to them that they should go on; and other similar excuses, involving like contradictions. Thus they turn and twist the commandments to suit their whims, and they violate them when they please with perfect impunity. They can any time obtain a commandment suited to their desires, and as their desires fluctuate and become reversed, they get a new one to supercede the other, and hence the contradictions which abound in this species of revelation. The next day after, we were cast upon the shore, and had commenced our journey by land, myself and three others went on board of a canoe, and recommenced our voyage down the river. From this time a constant gale of prosperity wafted us forward, and not an event transpired, but what tended to our advancement, until we arrived at our much desired homes. At St. Louis, we took passage in a steam-boat, and came to Wellsville; and from thence in the stage home. We travelled afloat eight hundred miles farther than the three who took their passage in the stage, and arrived at our homes but a few days later. -- It is true, we violated the commandment by not preaching by the way, and so did they by not preaching at Cincinnati. But it seems that none of us considered the commandment worthy of much notice.
In this voyage upon the waters, we demonstrated that the great dangers existed only in imagination, and the commandment to be the offspring of a pusillanimous spirit. -- The spirit also revealed to Joseph, that "on the steamboats, plots were already laid for our destruction." This too we proved to be false. While descending the Missouri river, Peter and Frederick, two of my company, divulged a secret respecting Oliver, which placed his conduct on a parallel with Ziba's; for which Ziba was deprived of his Elder and Apostleship: "Let that which was bestowed upon Ziba be taken from him, and let him stand as a member in the church, and let him labor with his own hands with the brethren." And thus by commandment, poor Ziba, one of the twelve Apostles, is thrust down; while Oliver the scribe, also an Apostle, who had been guilty of similar conduct, is set on high, to prepare work for the press; and no commandment touches him, only to exalt him higher. -- These two persons stated, that had they known previous to their journey to Missouri, what they then knew, they never should have accompanied Oliver thither,
Sidney, since his return has written a description of Zion. But it differs essentially from that which you wrote; so much so, that either yours or his must be false. Knowing him to be constitutionally inclined to exaggerate, and suspecting that this habit would be as likely to preponderate in his written as in his oral communications, you cautioned him against it. "What I write will be written by the most infallible inspiration of the holy spirit," said he with an air of contempt. You must be careful, sir, or it will again sound in your ears, "if he repent not" for giving a false description of the land of Zion, let him take heed lest he fall from his office. This, Sidney said, was one reason why you was not permitted to return to the State of Ohio. The want of time and paper warn me to bring this letter to a close. And now permit me to entreat you, to candidly view the whole matter, from the commencement unto the present time. Look at it with your eyes, and no longer suffer these strangers to blind your eyes, and daub you over with
their untempared mortar. Think how often you have been stumbled by these discordant revelations, false visions, and lying prophecies. Put into practice the resolutions you expressed to me the morning after the collision in the school house, that you would go home, and attend to your own business. Transfer the lands you hold in your hands, to the persons whose money paid for it. Place yourself from under the influence of the men who have deceived you; burst asunder the bands of delusion; fly for your life, fly from the habitations haunted by impostors; and having done this, you most surely will be glad and rejoice, and prove to your own satisfaction, as I have done, the falsity of Joseph's prophetic declaration, "if you turn against us you will enjoy no more satisfaction in the world."
Some things are intimated in the foregoing letter, which more properly belongs to Cowdery's mission to the Indians; and when I come to notice that mission, those things will probably be more fully exhibited.
It is also indirectly stated, that Rigdon has acquired the habit of exaggeration. The truth of this statement, I presume, will be doubted but by few, who have been long acquainted with him. Most of his communications carry the appearance of high and false coloring; and I am persuaded, that truth by this embellishing touch, often degenerates into fiction, I have heard him several different times, give a representation of the interview between himself, and to use his own phraseology, "the far-famed Alexander Campbell." This man s wonted shrewdness and presence of mind forsook him when in the presence of this gigantic Mormonite; so much so, that "he was quite confused and silly." I will give tou a specimen of the language, with which Rigdon said he assailed him: "You have lied, Alexander. Alexander you have lied. If you do not receive the Book of Mormon, you will be damned." With such like arguments
he brow-beat his antagonist, until he had silenced and set him down, like the pusillanimous cur, at the feet of his chastising master. "You are a liar, you are a child of the Devil, you are an enemy to all righteousness, and the spirit of the Devil is in you," and the like is dealt out profusely against an obstinate opponent, and especially, one whom they are pleased to nickname apostate. I regret the necessity I am under of making such statements, and could wish there had been no occasion for them. But truth compels me to it, and the good of society demands it.
-- Yours, &c.
The origin of the aborigines of this country, and the history before the introduction of the eastern literature into the western hemisphere, has afforded a subject for much speculation, and deep research among the learned; and has occasioned considerable curiosity, among various classes of people. But the subject still remains an impenetrable obscurity; and will so remain, unless He who has the power to speak. "let there be light," and the light shall break forth out of obscurity. But as this is a subject better calculated to gratify the speculative inquirer, than to purify the heart, by rectifying wrong principles in the mind, or to increase that kind of knowledge intimately connected with, and essential to practical improvements either in civil or religious society, we may reasonably doubt, whether the great Jehovah will soon, if ever, condescend to clear away the darkness, by giving a revelation, merely to gratify the desires of persons, who delight to wander in the region of conjecture and speculation. But he has already done it, cries the Mormonite herald. The Book of Mormon, which I hold in my hand, is a divine revelation, and the very thing we need, to burst the cloud and remove the darkness, which
has long surrounded the mysterious and degraded aborigines. We now know that the natives who inhabit the forests of America, are a "branch of the House of Israel;" and by means of this blessed book, they are soon, even in this generation, to be restored to the knowledge, and the true worship of the God of Israel. -- Among them is to be built, the "glorious city of the New Jerusalem." In the midst of which is to stand, the splendid and magnificent temple, dedicated to the Most High God, and "Oliver being called and commanded of the Lord God, to go forth among the Lamanites, to proclaim glad tidings of great joy unto them, by presenting unto them, the fullness of the gospel of the only begotten son of God," &c. The grand enterprise of introducing this new dispensation, or the fullness of the Gospel, among the Indian tribes, who have recently received the appellation of Lamanites, was committed in charge to Oliver Cowdery, a young man of high fame among the Mormonites. His credentials, and the credentials of the three others associated with him in the mission, will be found in the following revelations, which I transcribe for your perusal, and also for some future remarks, which I design to offer.
A REVELATION UNTO OLIVER, GIVEN SEPTEMBER, 1830.
Behold, I say unto you Oliver, that it shall be given unto thee, that thou shalt be heard by the church, in all things whatsoever thou shalt teach them by the comforter, concerning the revelations and commandments which I have given. But, verily, verily I say unto you, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church, excepting my servant Joseph, for he receiveth them even as Moses, and thou shalt be obedient unto the things which I shall give unto him, even as Aaron, to declare faithfully the commandments and the revelations, with power and authority
unto the church. And if thou art led at any time by the comforter to speak or teach, or at all times by the way of commandment unto the church, thou mayest do it; but thou shalt not write by way of commandment but by wisdom: and thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church; for I have given him the keys of the mysteries of the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto him another in his stead -- and now, behold I say unto you, that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and thou shalt have revelations but write them not by way of commandment. -- And now I say unto you, that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold I say unto you, that it shall be among the Lamanites. Thou shalt not leave this place until after the conference, and my servant Joseph shall be appointed to rule the conference, by the voice of it; and what he saith unto thee that thou shalt tell. And again, thou shalt take thy brother Hiram between him and thee alone, and tell him that these things which he hath written from that stone are not of me, and that Satan hath deceived him, for behold these things have not been appointed unto him, neither shall any thing be appointed to any in this church, contrary to the church covenant, for all things must be done in order and by commandment, by the prayer of faith, and thou shalt settle all these things before thou shalt take thy journey among the Lamanites; and it shall be given from to time, that thou shalt go, until the time that thou shalt return, what thou shalt do; and thou must open thy mouth at all times declaring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing. -- Amen.
MANCHESTER, October 17, 1830.
I, Oliver, being commanded of the Lord God to go forth unto the Lamanites, to proclaim glad tidings of great joy unto them, by presenting unto them the fullness of the gospel, of the only begotten son of God; and also, to rear up a pillar as a witness where the temple of God shall be built, in the glorious New Jerusalem; and having certain brothers with me, who are called of God to assist me, whose names are Parley, Peter, and Ziba, do therefore most solemnly covenant with God, that I will walk humbly before him, and do this business, and this glorious work according as he shall direct me by the Holy Ghost; ever praying for mine and their prosperity, and deliverance from bonds, and from imprisonment, and whatsoever may befall us, with all patience and faith. -- Amen. OLIVER COWDERY.
We, the undersigned, being called and commanded of the Lord God, to accompany our brother Oliver Cowdery to go to the Lamanites and to assist in the above mentioned glorious work and business. We do therefore, most solemnly covenant before God, that we will assist him faithfully in this thing, by giving heed unto all his words and advice, which is, or shall be given him by the spirit of truth, ever praying with all prayer and supplication, for our and his prosperity, and our deliverance from bonds, and imprisonments, and whatsoever may come upon us, with all patience and faith. -- Amen.
Signed in presence of
JOSEPH SMITH, Jun.
DAVID WHITMER. P. P. PRATT,
In the preceding revelation, the principal thing which claims your attention, is the mission to the Indians; for with that mission many circumstances are connected, which clearly evince, that it originated from human imbecility, and diabolical depravity. -- There are also some other things the meaning of which you will not be likely to apprehend, without some explanation. In this, as well as several of the commandments, it is clearly and explicitly stated, that
the right of delivering written commandments, and revelations, belong exclusively to Smith, and no other person can interfere, without being guilty of sacrilege. In this office he is to stand, until another is appointed in his place, and no other can be appointed in his stead, unless he falls through transgression; and in such a case, he himself is authorized to appoint his successor. But how is he to be detected, should he become guilty of transgression. The commandment makes provision for this. His guilt will become manifest by his inability to utter more revelations, and should he presume "to get another man's wife," and commit adultery; and "by the shedding of blood, seek to kill her husband," if he retain the use of his tongue, so as to be able to utter his jargon, he can continue as long as he pleases in the bed of adultery, and wrap himself with garments stained with blood, shed by his own hands, and still retain the spotless innocence of the holiest among mortals; and must be continued in the office of revelator, and head of the church. Some others, and especially Cowdery, have earnestly desired to relieve Smith of some part of his burden. Cowdery's desires for this work were so keen and excessive, as, to use his own language, "it was unto me a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forebearing, and I could forbear no longer;" and he did in fact, issue some productions, which he said bore the divine impress; but Smith fixed upon them the stamp of devilish. But it seems, in order to compromise the matter, that Cowdery was permitted to "speak or to teach, at all times, by way of commandment unto the church; but not to write them by way of commandment:" thus Cowdery is authorized to give verbal commandments to the church by the inspiration of the spirit, which, if he afterwards writes, ceases to be inspiration; therefore, a commandment delivered orally, may be divinely inspired; but the same communicated, written verbatim, so far loses its former character, that it degenerates into a prediction of an infernal stamp. Here is a mystery, for aught I know, peculiar to Mormonism; and none but Mormonites, I presume, will attempt to unravel it. But it finds its parallel in the following: Smith asures his followers, that what he speaks by the spirit, and is written, is infallible in operation. but if it is not written, he may sometimes be mistaken. -- He tells them that the right to deliver written revelations, belongs exclusively to himself, and no other person shall interfer in the business; and if he transgresses he will graciously condescend to appoint another in his stead, and the only proof produced for the support of such assertions, is barely his word, upon which they implicitly rely, and because entirely resigned to place their person and property under his control, and even risk the salvation of their souls upon his say-so. Such glaring duplicity on the one hand, and unaccountable credulity on the other, seldom have a parallel in the annals of men.
Never was there a despot more jealous of his prerogative than Smith; and never was a fortress guarded with more vigilance and ardor against every invading foe, than he guards these. Smith apprehended a rival in the department of written inspiration, from another quarter, and hence Cowdery was commissioned to commence an attack and suppress the enemy, before he had acquired sufficient stability and strength so as to become formidable. "Thou shalt take thy brother Hiram, between him and thee alone, and tell him that the things he hath written from that stone, &c." Hiram Page, one of the eight witnesses, and also one of the "money diggers," found a smooth stone, upon which there appeared to be a writing, which when transcribed upon paper, disappeared from the stone, and another impression appeared in its place. This when copied, vanished,
and so it continued, alternately appearing and disappearing; in the meanwhile, he continued to write, until he had written over considerable paper. It bore striking marks of a Mormonite revelation, and was received as an authentic document by most of the Mormonites, till Smith, by his superior sagacity, discovered it to be a Satanic fraud.
A female professing to be a prophetess, made her appearance in Kirtland, and so ingratiated herself into the esteem and favor of some of the Elders, that they received her, as a person commissioned to act a conspicuous part in Mormonizing the world. Rigdon, and some others, gave her the right hand of fellowship, and literally saluted her with what they called the kiss of charity. But Smith, viewing her as an encroachment upon his sacred premises, declared her an impostor, and she returned to the place from whence she came. Her visit, however, made a deep impression on the minds of many, and the barbed arrow which she left in the hearts of some, is not yet eradicated.
In this letter the mission to the Indians will be brought into view, and with it are connected circumstances and facts, sufficient, one would suppose, to convince every honest and unprejudiced Mormonite, of the fallacy and deception of Mormonism. But a Mormonite of the highest grade is invulnerable by facts the most notorious, and evidence as glaring as the noon-day sun; for they affirm, they know by the spirit that Mormonism is what it pretends to be, and should Smith acknowledge it to be a fabrication, they would not believe him. This forms the highest climax in Mormonism, and but few have attained it. After Cowdery and his three associates had left the State of New York,
while bending their course to the west, he was directed by the spirit to Kirtland, for the special purpose of enlisting Rigdon in the Mormonite cause. I have since learned that the spirit which directed in this rnterprise, was no other than Pratt, who had previously become acquainted with Rigdon and had been proselyred by him into what is called the Campbellite faith. This new systen appears to have been particularly suited to Rigdon's taste, and calculated to make an impression on his mind. But before he could fully embrace it, he must "receive a testimony from God." In order to do this he labored as he was directed by his Preceptor, almost incessantly and earnestly in praying, till at length his mind was wrapped up in a vision; and to use his own language, "to my astonishment I saw the different orders of professing Christians passing before my eyes, with their hearts exposed to view, and they were as corrupt as corruption itself. That society to which I belonged also passed before my eyes, and to my astonishment It was as corrupt as the others. Last of all that little man who bro't me the Book of Mormon, passed before my eyes with his heart open, and it was as pure as an angel; and this was a testimony from God; that the Book of Mormon, was a Divine Revelation. Rigdon is one who has ascended to the summit of Mormonism; and this vision stands as the foundation of his knowledge. He frequently affirms, that these things are not a matter of faith with him, but of absolute knowledge. He has been favored with many remarkable and extraordinary visions, in some of which he saw Kirtland with the surrounding country consecrated as the promised land, and the churches in the state of New York expected to receive their everlasting inheritance in the state of Ohio, and this expectation was grounded on Rigdon's vision while in the state of New York. These visions are considered by the church as entitled to no credit and laid aside as mere rubbish.
As it relates to the purity of the heart of "that little man," if a pure and pleasant fountain can send forth corrupt and bitter streams, then may the heart of that man be pure, who enters into a matrimonial contract with a young lady, and obtains the consent of her parents; but as soon as his back is turned upon her, he violates his engagements, and prostitutes his honor by becoming the gallant of another, and resolved in his heart, and expresses resolutions to marry her. But as the practice of a man will ever stand as a general criterion by which the principles of the heart are to be tested, we say that the heart of such a man is the reverse of purity.
From Kirtland, Cowdery & Co. were directed by the spirit to Sandusky, where they contemplated opening their mission and proselyting the Indians residing at that place. But neither Cowdery, nor the spirit which directed him was able to open the way to, or make any impression upon their minds. Being frustrated in this, his first attempt to convert the natives, he turned his attention and course to the Missouri, and when near the eastern line of that state, he halted for several days, for the purpose of obtaining, by inquiry, information respecting the Indians still further west. It appears that he was fearful that his infallible guide, (the spirit,) was incapable to direct him, while proceeding further to the west; consequently, he applied to men more capable of giving instruction than the spirit, by which he was influenced. When he arrived at the western line of Missouri, he passed into the Indian territory, where he remained but a short time, before he was notified by the U. S. Agent, that he must either re-cross the line, or be compelled to take up his residence in the garrison, forty miles up the Arkansas river. As there was no other alternative, the former seemed to him the most expedient; and he never possessed courage sufficient to pass the line, or visit the residence of
the Indians since. Thus you behold a man, "called and commanded of the Lord God, to go forth unto the Lamanites," and establish his church among them; but no sooner is he set down in the field of his mission, and surrounded by his anticipated converts, than he is driven by a comparative nothing, from the fields, and obliged to relinquish his contemplated harvest. -- This is the person commissioned by the Lord to proceed to the western wilds, and as he himself stated, "to the place where the foot of a white man never trod," to rear up a pillar for a witness, where the temple of God shall be built, in the glorious New Jerusalem. But alas! he was arrested by man in his course, and by the breath of man the mighty undertaking was blown into the air, and Cowdery was thrown back among the Gentiles, to wait for the spirit to devise some new plans in the place of those which had been frustrated. But as the city and temple must be built, as every avenue leading to the Indians was closed against the Mormonites, it was thought that they should be built among the Gentiles, which is in direct opposition to the original plan -- as foreign from the design of the spirit, expressed in several commandments, as it would have been had the Directors, who were appointed to build the court-house in Ravenna, built it in Trumbull county, foreign from the design of those who intrusted them with the business.
Though their plans had hitherto failed, they were unwilling to abandon the Indian enterprise; and in a commandment it was stated, that Cowdery and others should receive a written recommendation, signed by the Elders, for the purpose of presenting it to the Indian agent, in order to obtain permission to visit the Indians in their settlements. -- The recommendation was written according to the commandment, and frequent opportunities occurred in which it might have been presented to the agent, but it never was
presented, and of course was useless; he was censured by some for not presenting it, but I suppose the spirit directed him not to do it.
Another method has been invented, in order to remove obstacles which hitherto had proved insurmountable. "The Lord's store-house," is to be furnished with goods suited to the Indian trade, and persons are to obtain license from the government to dispose of them to the Indians in their own territory; at the same time they are to disseminate the principles of Mormonism among them. From this smuggling method of preaching to the Indians, they anticipate a favorable result. In addition to this, and to co-operate with it, it has been made known by revelation, that it will be pleasing to the Lord, should they form a matrimonial alliance with the natives; and by this means the Elders, who comply with the thing so pleasing to the Lord, and for which the Lord has promised to bless those who do it abundantly, gain a residence in the Indian territory, independent of the agent. It has been made known to one, who has left his wife in the State of New York, that he is entirely free from his wife, and he is at pleasure to take him a wife from among the Lamanites. It was easily perceived that this permission was perfectly suited to his desires. I have frequently heard him state that the Lord had made it known to him, that he is as free from his wife as from any other woman; and the only crime I have ever heard alleged against her is, she is violently opposed to Mormonism. But before this contemplated marriage can be carried into effect, he must return to the State of New York and settle his business, for fear, should he return after that affair had taken place, the civil authority would apprehend him as a criminal.
It is with pleasure I close this exposition, having in part accomplished, what I intended when I commenced it. The employment has been an unpleasant one to me, and from
the first, I should gladly have avoided it, could I have done it, and maintained a conscience void of offence, towards God and man. -- But should an individual by this exposition, be extricated or prevented from falling into the delusion, which has been the subject of consideration, I shall be amply compensated, for the painful task which I have performed.
Yours affectionately, EZRA BOOTH.
C H A P T E R X V I.
We have already given the reader a pretty fair view of this artful imposition, which may be considered all that is requisite to stamp it with infamy, in the estimation of rational minds. The preceding letters alone are amply sufficient to scatter the whole system of deception to the four winds; but we have yet many curious and rare documents in store. A few revelations will be here inserted, as a specimen of the manner in which the Prophet governs and rebukes his dupes. The first will show the means he employed to get over and obviate the contentions among them, on their first visit to Missouri, briefly alluded to by Mr. Booth. In this the cloven foot is very prominent.
"ZION, August 3d, 1831.
"Hearken, O ye Elders of my church, and give ear to my word, and learn of me what I will concerning you; for verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the
Kingdom. Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall follow after much tribulation, for after much tribulation cometh the blessing. Wherefore, the day cometh that ye shall be rewarded with much glory -- the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand; remember this, which I tell you before, that you may lay it to heart, and receive that which shall follow.
"Behold, verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you -- that ye might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come, and also that you might be favored of laying the foundation, and bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand, and also that a feast of fat things might be prepared for the poor, yea a feast of fat things, of wine on the lees well refined, that the earth may know that the mouths of the prophets shall not fail; yea, a supper of the house of the Lord, well prepared; unto which all nations shall be invited: firstly, the rich, and the learned, the wise and the noble; and after that cometh the day of my power -- then shall the poor, the lame and the blind, and the deaf, come in unto the marriage of the Lamb, prepared for the great day to come; behold I the Lord hath spoken it, and that the testimony might go forth from Zion, yea from the mouth of the city of the heritage of God; yea, for this cause I have sent you hither, and have selected my servant Edward and appointed unto him his mission in this land; but if he repent not of his sins, which is unbelief and blindness of heart, let him take heed lest he fall. Behold his mission is given unto him, and it shall not be given again; and whosoever standeth in that mission is appointed to be a judge in Israel, like as it was in ancient days, to divide the lands of the heritage of God unto his children, and to judge his people by the testimony
of the just, and by the assistance of his counsellors, according to the laws of the kingdom which were given by the prophets of God: for, verily I say unto you, my laws shall be kept in the land; let no man think that he is ruler, but let God rule, that judgeth according to the council of his own will, or in other words, him that sitteth upon the judgement seat. Let no man break the laws of the land, wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign and subdue all his enemies under his feet. Behold the laws which ye have received from my hand, are the laws of the church -- in this light shall ye hold them forth. Behold, here is wisdom, and as I speak concerning my servant Edward, this land is the land of his residence, and those whom he hath appointed for his counsellors, and all the land of the residence of him whom I have appointed to keep my store-house. Wherefore, let them bring their families to this land, as they shall counsel between themselves and me; for behold it is not meet that I should command in all things, for he that is compelled in all things, is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore, he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will and bring to pass much righteousness, for the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves; and inasmuch as men do good, thay shall in no wise loose their reward; but he that doeth not any thing until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned. Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that have ordained and have not fulfilled. I command, and a man obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing -- then they say in their hearts, this is not the work of the Lord, for his promises
are not fulfilled; but wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above. And now I give unto you further directions concerning this land; it is wisdom in me, that my servant Martin, should be an example unto the church, in laying his money before the bishop of the church; and also, this is the law unto every man that cometh into this land to receive an inheritance, and he shall do with his money according as the law directs; and it is wisdom also, that there should be lands purchased in Independence, for the place of the store-house, and also for the house of the printing, and other directions concerning my servant Martin, of the spirit that he may receive his inheritance as seemeth him good -- and let him repent of his sins, for he seeketh the praise of the world; and also let my servant William stand in the office which I have appointed him, and receive his inheritance in the land; and also, he hath need to repent, for I the Lord am not pleased with him, for he seeketh to exult, and he is not sufficiently meek. Behold, he that hath repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I the Lord remembereth them no more -- by this may ye know if a man repenteth of his sins, behold he will confess them and forsake them; and now verily I say, concerning the residue of the Elders of my church, the time has not yet come for many years, for them to receive their inheritance in this land; except they desire it through prayer only, as it shall be appointed unto them, for behold they shall push the people together from the ends of the earth, wherefore assemble yourselves together, and he that is not appointed to stay in this land, let them preach the gospel in the regions round about; and after that let them return to their homes. Let them preach by the way, and bear testimony of the truth in all places, and call upon the rich, the high, and the low, and the poor, to repent; and let them build up churches inasmuch as the inhabitants of
the earth will repent; and let there be an agent appointed, by the voice of the church. And I give unto my servant Sidney, a commandment, that he shall write a description of the land of Zion, and a statement of the will of God, as it shall be made known by the spirit, unto him; and an epistle and subscription, to be presented unto all the churches, to obtain moneys, to be put into the hands of the Bishop, to purchase lands for an inheritance for the children of God, of himself or of the agent as seemeth him good, or as he shall direct, for behold, the Lord willeth that the disciples and the children of men should open their hearts, even to purchase this whole region of country, as soon as time will permit; behold here is wisdom, lest they receive none inheritance, save by the shedding of blood; and again, inasmuch as there is lands obtained, let there be workmen sent forth, of all kinds, unto this land, to labor for the saints of God: let all these things be done in order, and let the privilege of the land be made known from time to time by the Bishop or the agent of the church; and let the work of the gathering be not by haste nor by flight, but let it be done as it shall be counselled by the Elders of the church at the conference -- according to the knowledge which they shall receive from time to time; and let my servant Sidney consecrate and dedicate this land, and the spot of the temple, unto the Lord; and let a conference meeting be called. And after that, let my servant Sidney and Joseph return, and also my servant Oliver with them, to accomplish the residue of the work which I have appointed unto them in their own land; and the residue as shall be ruled by the conference. And let no man return from this land, except he bear record by the way of that which he knows and most assuredly believes; let that which has been bestowed upon Ziba, be taken from him, and let him stand as a member in the church, and labor with his own hands with the brethren, until he is sufficiently chastened for all his
sins, for he confesseth them not; and he thinketh to hide them. Let the residue of the Elders of this church who are coming to this land, some of whom are exceedingly blessed, also hold a conference upon this land, and let my servant Edward direct the conference which shall be held by them; and let them also return, preaching the Gospel by the way, bearing record of the things which are revealed unto them, for the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost ends of the earth, the gospel must be preached unto every creature, with signs following them that believe, and behold the son of man cometh. -- Amen."
In many of the special revelations, Martin Harris' money has been the ostensible object with the prophet: he being a willing dupe and an excellent stool-pigeon, by which the fiscal department and designs could be accomplished.
The spiritual eye of the prophet ever kept in view the finances of his devoted followers, and to filch from their pockets he had only to issue a revelation. In the foregoing manifesto, Martin is called upon, in propria persona, to lay his money before the Bishop, merely as an example to all others. In this, the prophet judged correctly; he well knew the manner in which Martin was associated with him, and the case with which, through his agency, others could be deceived.
A small volume of these revelations has been published, but has been carefully and studiously kept from the "aliens from the house of Israel," and only used by the "strong in faith;" even those of the dupes who dared to think for themselves, have been denied a copy.
A great variety of commandments are delivered orally, on special occasions. And such is the infatuation of the followers of Smith, that every little domestic transaction which he wishes to control, nothing is necessary but a commandment
and the mandate is obeyed. The control of Smith over his simple devotees, is well exhibited in a revelation which secured to his heirs and assigns, the fee simple of one hundred and forty-two acres of valuable land, adjoining their stone temple, in Kirtland; for which the grantor acknowledges the receipt of Two other small lots are also deeded to Smith, as president, and his successor in office. (Query -- will he ever appoint a successor!) Sidney Rigdon also has a deed of two small lots of land, for which $550 purports to be the consideration money. Oliver Cowdery being the next important personage, has a deed of but one small lot. -- These lands were no doubt honestly acquired, in their way of doing business; but we very much doubt whether these large sums of money were obtained in the ordinary way. Thus it is that these self-made prophets and high priests are acquiring possession of real estate in a rich and flourishing country, while their dupes are packed off to the wilds of Missouri, and compelled to "lay their moneys before the bishop," and receive an "inheritance" of about 40 acres of land, if they are so fortunate as to have enough to buy it.
"A word of wisdom for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church; and, also, the saints in Zion: to be sent greeting: not by commandment, or constraint: but by revelation and the word of wisdom: showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days. Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak, and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.
"Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, in consequence of evils and designs which do, and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned
you and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation, that inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him. -- And behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine of your own make.
"And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.
"And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly; and is not good for man; but is an herb for bruises, and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.
"And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.
"And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man. Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof. All these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving. Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I the Lord hath ordained for the use of man, with thanksgiving. Nevertheless, they are to be used sparingly; and it is pleasing unto me, that they should not be used only in times of winter or of cold, or famine. All grain is ordained for the use of man and beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man, but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth: and these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine, and excess of hunger.
"All grain is good for the food of man, as also the fruit of the vine, that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground. Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls, and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks; as also other grain.
"And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow in their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint; and I, the Lord give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them: -- Amen."
In the above revelation, we are presented with the will of heaven, not by way of commandment, but by the word of wisdom adapted to the weakest of all saints.
If such commands originate in the wisdom of God, let us examine them. The first is, that strong drink is forbid, except as an external application -- in this we are inclined measurably to agree with the mandate; but believe there might be reasonable arguments urged in favor of its internal use, under particular circumstances; besides the inspiration of olden time restrained the excessive use and abuse of wine and strong drink, and not its entire abandonment. But like all other modern Mormon inspirations, a little improvement is made to God's former will, as he made it known through his apostles and prophets.
The next command forbids the use of tobacco, but is recommended for all sick cattle as an excellent remedy. -- For the first time we are presented with a remedy direct from heaven, but requires human skill to apply it. To this mode of revealing we object, for this reason, that it requires less research to find remedies, than to apply them; therefore, to say that tobacco is a good remedy for sick cattle, and not defining the quantity nor the quality, nor in what sickness, is the summit of folly and ignorance, and none but a religious maniac would give credence to such pretensions.
We are next told that every wholesome herb, God ordained
for the use of man!! and we should infer that the writer or the recording angel had been inducted into the modern use of herbs, by the celebrated Doct. F. G. Williams, who is associated with the prophet and the nominal proprietor of a monthly paper, which is issued from the Mormon kennel, in Kirtland. F. G. Williams is a revised quack, well known in this vicinity, by his herbarium on either side of his house; but whether he claims protection by right of letters patent from the General Government or by communion with spirits from other worlds, we are not authorized to determine, but should conclude he would be adequate to dictate the above mockery at revelation and rigmarole, in relation to food for cattle, &c.
In conclusion, it is revealed to the "weak saints," that if they live without ardent spirits and tobacco, and use all the herbs which are wholesome, (which they are left to guess at,) and feed each kind of domestic animal their appropriate grain, and feed no corn to horses, they shall have health in their navel and marrow in their bones. -- Humph. It is likewise promised them that they shall improve in wisdom, and that their muscular powers shall be strengthened -- no little consideration for a weak saint.
C H A P T E R X V I I.
We next present to the reader a few, among the many despositions which have been obtained from the neighborhood of the Smith family, and the scene where the far famed Gold Bible had its pretended origin.
The divine authenticity of the Gold Bible or the Book of Mormon, is established by three special and eight collateral witnesses, making in the whole eleven, without whom there is no pretention to testimony; and if their testimony is probable and consistent with truth, and unimpeached, according to the common rules of jurisprudence, we are bound to believe them.
Upon the principles of common law, we are prepared to meet them; and they are offered to us in no other light. Under all circumstances, in civil and ecclesiastical tribunals, witnesses may be impeached, and after a fair hearing, on both sides, the veracity and credibility may be adjudged.
If the eleven witnesses are considered, from what has already been said, unimpeached, we will offer the dispositions of some of the most respected citizens of our country, who solemnly declare upon their oaths that no credit can be given to any one member of the Smith family. Many witnesses declare that they are in the possession of the means of knowing the Smiths for truth and veracity, and that they are not upon a par with mankind in general. Then, according to the common rules of weighing testimony, the eleven witnesses stand impeached before the public; and until rebutting testimony can be produced which shall go to invalidate the respectable host which are here offered, we claim that no credit can or ought to be given to the witnesses to the Book of Mormon.
We have not only testimony impeaching the moral characters of the Smith family, but we show by the witnesses, that they told contradictory stories, from time to time, in relation to their finding the plates, and other circumstances attending it, which go clearly to show that none of them had the fear of God before their eyes, but were moved and instigated by the devil.
Palmyra, Wayne Co. N. Y. Dec. 2d, 1833.
I, Peter Ingersoll, first became acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen. in the year of our Lord, 1822. -- I lived in the neighborhood of said family, until about 1830; during which time the following facts came under my observation.
The general employment of the family, was digging for money. I had frequent invitations to join the company, but always declined being one of their number. They used various arguments to induce me to accept of their invitations. I was once ploughing near the house of Joseph Smith, Sen. about noon, he requested me to walk with him a short distance from his house, for the purpose of seeing whether a mineral rod would work in my hand, saying at the same time he was confident it would. As my oxen were eating, and being myself at leisure, I accepted the invitation. -- When we arrived near the place at which he thought there was money, he cut a small witch hazle bush and gave me direction how to hold it. He then went off some rods, and told me to say to the rod, "work to the money," which I did, in an audible voice. He rebuked me severely for speaking it loud, and said it must be spoken in a whisper. This was rare sport for me. While the old man was standing off some rods, throwing himself into various shapes, I told him the rod did not work. He seemed much surprised at this, and said he thought he saw it move in my hand. It was now time for me to return to my labor. On my
return, I picked up a small stone and was carelessly tossing it from one hand to the other. Said he, (looking very earnestly) what are you going to do with that stone? Throw it at the birds, I replied. No, said the old man, it is of great worth; and upon this I gave it to him. Now, says he, if you only knew the value there is back of my house (and pointing to a place near) -- there, exclaimed he, is one chest of gold and another of silver. He then put the stone which I had given him, into his hat, and stooping forward, he bowed and made sundry maneuvers, quite similar to those of a stool pigeon. At length he took down his hat, and being very much exhausted, said, in a faint voice, "if you knew what I had seen, you would believe." To see the old man thus try to impose upon me, I confess, rather had a tendency to excite contempt than pity. Yet I thought it best to conceal my feelings, preferring to appear the dupe of my credulity, than to expose myself to his resentment. His son Alvin then went through with the same performance, which was equally disgusting.
Another time, the said Joseph, Sen. told me that the best time for digging money, was, in the heat of summer, when the heat of the sun caused the chests of money to rise near the top of the ground. You notice, said he, the large stones on the top of the ground -- we call them rocks, and they truly appear so, but they are, in fact, most of them chests of money raised by the heat of the sun.
At another time, he told me that the ancient inhabitants of this country used camels instead of horses. For proof of this fact, he stated that in a certain hill on the farm of Mr. Cuyler, there was a cave containing an immense value of gold and silver, stands of arms, also, a saddle for a camel, hanging on a peg at one side of the cave. I asked him, of what kind of wood the peg was. He could not tell, but said it had become similar to stone or iron.
The old man at last laid a plan which he thought would accomplish his design. His cows and mine had been gone for some time, and were not to be found, notwithstanding our diligent search for them. Day after day was spent in fruitless search, until at length he proposed to find them by his art of divination. So he took his stand near the corner of his house, with a small stick in his hand, and made several strange and peculiar motions, and then said he could go directly to the cows. So he started off, and went into the woods about one hundred rods distant and found the lost cows. But on finding out the secret of the mystery, Harrison had found the cows, and drove them to the above named place, and milked them. So that this stratagem turned out rather more to his profit that it did to my edification. -- The old man finding that all his efforts to make me a money digger, had proved abortive, at length ceased his importunities. One circumstance, however, I will mention before leaving him. Some time before young Joseph found, or pretended to find, the gold plates, the old man told me that in Canada, there had been a book found, in a hollow tree, that gave an account of the first settlement of this country before it was discovered by Columbus.
In the month of August, 1827, I was hired by Joseph Smith, Jr. to go to Pennsylvania, to move his wife's household furniture up to Manchester, where his wife then was. When we arrived at Mr. Hale's, in Harmony, Pa. from which place he had taken his wife, a scene presented itself, truly affecting. His father-in-law (Mr. Hale) addressed Joseph, in a flood of tears: "You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for money -- pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people." Joseph wept, and acknowledged he could not see in a stone now, nor never could; and that his former pretensions in
that respect, were all false. He then promised to give up his old habits of digging for money and looking into stones. Mr. Hale told Joseph, if he would move to Pennsylvania and work for a living, he would assist him in getting into business. Joseph acceded to this proposition. I then returned with Joseph and his wife to Manchester. One circumstance occurred on the road, worthy of notice, and I believe this is the only instance where Jo ever exhibited true yankee wit. On our journey to Pennsylvania, we could not make the exact change at the toll gate near Ithaca. Joseph told the gate tender, that he would "hand" him the toll on his return, as he was coming back in a few days. On our return, Joseph tendered to him 25 cents, the toll being 12 1/2. He did not recognize Smith, so he accordingly gave him back the 12 1/2 cents. After we had passed the gate, I asked him if he did not agree to pay double gatage on our return? No, said he, I agreed to "hand" it to him, and I did, but he handed it back again.
Joseph told me on his return, that he intended to keep the promise which he had made to his father-in-law; but, said he, it will be hard for me, for they will all oppose, as they want me to look in the stone for them to dig money: and in fact it was as he predicted. They urged him, day after day, to resume his old practice of looking in the stone. -- He seemed much perplexed as to the course he should pursue. In this dilemma, he made me his confident and told me what daily transpired in the family of Smiths. One day he came, and greeted me with a joyful countenance. -- Upon asking the cause of his unusual happiness, he replied in the following language: "As I was passing, yesterday, across the woods, after a heavy shower of rain, I found, in a hollow, some beautiful white sand, that had been washed up by the water. I took off my frock, and tied up several quarts of it, and then went home. On my entering the
house, I found the family at the table eating dinner. They were all anxious to know the contents of my frock. At that moment, I happened to think of what I had heard about a history found in Canada, called the golden Bible; so I very gravely told them it was the golden Bible. To my surprise, they were credulous enough to believe what I said. Accordingly I told them that I had received a commandment to let no one see it, for, says I, no man can see it with the naked eye and live. However, I offered to take out the book and show it to them, but they refuse to see it, and left the room." Now, said Jo, "I have got the damned fools fixed, and will carry out the fun." Notwithstanding, he told me he had no such book, and believed there never was any such book, yet, he told me that he actually went to Willard Chase, to get him to make a chest, in which he might deposit his golden Bible. But, as Chase would not do it, he made a box himself, of clap-boards, and put it into a pillow case, and allowed people only to lift it, and feel of it through the case.
In the fall of 1827, Joseph wanted to go to Pennsylvania. His brother-in-law had come to assist him in moving, but he himself was out of money. He wished to borrow the money of me, and he presented Mr. Hale as security. I told him in case he could obtain assistance from no other source, I would let him have some money. Joseph then went to Palmyra; and, said he, I there met that dam fool, Martin Harris, and told him that I had a command to ask the first honest man I met with, for fifty dollars in money, and he would let me have it. I saw at once, said Jo, that it took his notion, for he promptly gave me the fifty.
Joseph thought this sum was sufficient to bear his expenses to Pennsylvania. So he immediately started off, and since that time I have not been much in his society. While the Smiths were living at Waterloo, William visited my
neighborhood, and upon my inquiry how they came on, he replied, "we do better there than here; we were too well known here to do much.
State of New York, Wayne County, ss:
I certify, that on this 9th day of December, 1833, personally appeared before me the above named Peter Ingersoll, to me known, and made oath, according to law, to the truth of the above statement.
TH. P. BALDWIN,
Judge of Wayne County Court.
TESTIMONY OF WILLIAM STAFFORD.
Manchester, Ontario Co. N. Y. Dec. 8th, 1833.
I, William Stafford, having been called upon to give a true statement of my knowledge, concerning the character and conduct of the family of Smiths, known to the world as the founders of the Mormon sect, do say, that I first became acquainted with Joseph, Sen., and his family in the year 1820. They lived, at that time, in Palmyra, about one mile and a half from my residence. A great part of their time was devoted to digging for money: especially in the night time, when they said the money could be most easily obtained. I have heard them tell marvellous tales, respecting the discoveries they had made in their peculiar occupation of money digging. They would say, for instance, that in such a place, in such a hill, on a certain man's farm, there were deposited keys, barrels and hogsheads of coined silver and gold -- bars of gold, golden images, brass kettles filled with gold and silver -- gold candlesticks, swords, &c. &c. They would say, also, that nearly all the hills in this part of New York, were thrown up by human hands, and in them were large caves, which Joseph, Jr., could see, by placing a stone of singular appearance in his hat, in such a manner as to exclude all light; at which time they pretended
he could see all things within and under the earth, -- that he could see within the above mentioned caves, large gold bars and silver plates -- that he could also discover the spirits in whose charge these treasures were, clothed in ancient dress. At certain times, these treasures could be obtained very easily; at others, the obtaining of them was difficult. The facility of approaching them, depended in a great measure on the state of the moon. New moon and good Friday, I believe, were regarded as the most favorable times for obtaining these treasures. These tales I regarded as visionary. However, being prompted by curiosity, I at length accepted of their invitations, to join them in their nocturnal excursions. I will now relate a few incidents attending these excursions.
Joseph Smith, Sen., came to me one night, and told me, that Joseph Jr. had been looking in his glass, and had seen, not many rods from his house, two or three kegs of gold and silver, some feet under the surface of the earth: and that none others but the elder Joseph and myself could get them. I accordingly consented to go, and early in the evening repaired to the place of deposit. Joseph, Sen. first made a circle, twelve or fourteen feet in diameter. This circle, said he, contains the treasure. He then stuck in the ground a row of witch hazel sticks, around the said circle, for the purpose of keeping off the evil spirits. Within this circle he made another, of about eight or ten feet in diameter. He walked around three times on the periphery of this last circle, muttering to himself something which I could not understand. He next stuck a steel rod in the centre of the circles, and then enjoined profound silence upon us, lest we should arouse the evil spirit who had the charge of these treasures. After we had dug a trench about five feet in depth around the rod, the old man by signs and motions, asked leave of absence, and went to the house to inquire of
young Joseph the cause of our disappointment. He soon returned and said, that Joseph had remained all this time in the house, looking in his stone and watching the motions of the evil spirit--that he saw the spirit come up to the ring and as soon as it beheld the cone which we had formed around the rod, it caused the money to sink. We then went into the house, and the old man observed, that we had made a mistake in the commencemnt of the operation; if it had not been for that, said he, we should have got the money.
At another time, they devised a scheme, by which they might satiate their hunger, with the mutton of one of my sheep. They had seen in my flock of sheep, a large, fat, black weather. Old Joseph and one of the boys came to me one day, and said that Joseph Jr. had discovered some very remarkable and valuable treasures, which could be procured only in one way. That way, was as follows: -- That a black sheep should be taken on to the ground where the treasures were concealed -- that after cutting its throat, it should be led around a circle while bleeding. This being done, the wrath of the evil spirit would be appeased: the treasures could then be obtained, and my share of them was to be four fold. To gratify my curiosity, I let them have a large fat sheep. They afterwards informed me, that the sheep was killed pursuant to commandment; but as there was some mistake in the process, it did not have the desired effect. This, I believe, is the only time they ever made money-digging a profitable business. They, however, had around them constantly a worthless gang, whose employment it was to dig money nights, and who, day times, had more to do with mutton than money.
When they found that the people of this vicinity would no longer put any faith in their schemes for digging money, they then pretended to find a gold bible, of which, they said, the book of Mormon was only an introduction. This
latter book was at length fitted for the press. No means were taken by any individual to suppress its publication: No one apprehended any danger from a book, originating with individuals who had neither influence, honesty or honor. The two Josephs and Hiram, promised to show me the plates, after the book of Mormon was translated. But, afterwards, they pretended to have received an express commandment, forbidding them to show the plates. Respecting the manner of receiving and translating the book of Mormon, their statements were always discordant. The elder Joseph would say that he had seen the plates, and that he knew them to be gold; at other times he would say that they looked like gold; and other times he would say he had not seen the plates at all. I have thus briefly stated a few of the facts, in relation to the conduct and character of this family of Smiths; probably sufficient has been stated without my going into detail.
State of New York, Wayne County, ss:
I certify, that on this 9th day of December, 1833, personally appeared before me, William Stafford, to me known, and made oath to the truth of the above statement, and signed the same.
TH. P. BALDWIN,
Judge of Wane County Court.
TESTIMONY OF WILLARD CHASE
Manchester, Ontario Co. N. Y. 1833.
I became acquainted with the Smith family, known as the authors of the Mormon Bible, in the year 1820. At that time, they were engaged in the money digging business, which they followed until the latter part of the season of 1827. In the year 1822, I was engaged in digging a well. I employed Alvin and Joseph Smith to assist me; the latter of whom is now known as the Mormon prophet. After digging about twenty feet below the surface of the
earth, we discovered a singularly appearing stone, which excited my curiosity. I brought it to the top of the well, and as we were examining it, Joseph put it into his hat, and then his face into the top of his hat. It has been said by Smith, that he brought the stone from the well; but this is false. There was no one in the well but myself. The next morning he came to me, and wished to obtain the stone, alledging that he could see in it; but I told him I did not wish to part with it on account of its being a curiosity, but would lend it. After obtaining the stone, he began to publish abroad what wonders he could discover by looking in it, and made so much disturbance among the credulous part of community, that I ordered the stone to be returned to me again. He had it in his possession about two years. --I believe, some time in 1825, Hiram Smith (brother of Joseph Smith) came to me, and wished to borrow the same stone, alledging that they wanted to accomplish some business of importance, which could not very well be done without the aid of the stone. I told him it was of no particular worth to me, but merely wished to keep it as a curiosity, and if he would pledge me his word and honor, that I should have it when called for, he might take it; which he did and took the stone. I thought I could rely on his word at this time, as he had made a profession of religion. But in this I was disappointed, for he disregarded both his word and honor.
In the fall of 1826, a friend called upon me and wished to see that stone, about which so much had been said; and I told him if he would go with me to Smith's, (a distance of about half a mile) he might see it. But to my surprize, on going to Smith's, and asking him for the stone, he said, "you cannot have it;" I told him it belonged to me, repeated to him the promise he made me, at the time of obtaining the stone: upon which he faced me with a malignant
look and said, "I don't care who in the Devil it belongs to, you shall not have it."
In the month of June, 1827, Joseph Smith, Sen., related to me the following story: "That some years ago, a spirit had appeared to Joseph his son, in a vision, and informed him that in a certain place there was a record on plates of gold, and that he was the person that must obtain them, and this he must do in the following manner: On the 22d of September, he must repair to the place where was deposited this manuscript, dressed in black clothes, and riding a black horse with a switch tail, and demand the book in a certain name, and after obtaining it, he must go directly away, and neither lay it down nor look behind him. They accordingly fitted out Joseph with a suit of black clothes and borrowed a black horse. He repaired to the place of deposit and demanded the book, which was in a stone box, unsealed, and so near the top of the ground that he could see one end of it, and raising it up, took out the book of gold; but fearing some one might discover where he got it, he laid it down to place back the top stone, as he found it; and turning round, to his surprise there was no book in sight. He again opened the box, and in it saw the book, and attempted to take it out, but was hindered. He saw in the box something like a toad, which soon assumed the appearance of a man, and struck him on the side of his head. -- Not being discouraged at trifles, he again stooped down and strove to take the book, when the spirit struck him again, and knocked him three or four rods, and hurt him prodigiously. After recovering from his fright, he enquired why he could not obtain the plates; to which the spirit made reply, because you have not obeyed your orders. He then enquired when he could have them, and was answered thus: come one year from this day, and bring with you your oldest brother, and you shall have them. This spirit, he said
was the spirit of the prophet who wrote this book, and who was sent to Joseph Smith, to make known these things to him. Before the expiration of the year, his oldest brother died; which the old man said was an accidental providence!
Joseph went one year from that day, to demand the book, and the spirit enquired for his brother, and he said that he was dead. The spirit then commanded him to come again, in just one year, and bring a man with him. On asking who might be the man, he was answered that he would know him when he saw him.
Joseph believed that one Samuel T. Lawrence was the man alluded to by the spirit, and went with him to a singular looking hill, in Manchester, and shewed him where the treasure was. Lawrence asked him if he had ever discovered any thing with the plates of gold; he said no: he then asked him to look in his stone, to see if there was any thing with them. He looked, and said there was nothing; he told him to look again, and see if there was not a large pair of specks with the plates; he looked and soon saw a pair of spectacles, the same with which Joseph says he translated the Book of Mormon. Lawrence told him it would not be prudent to let these plates be seen for about two years, as it would make a great disturbance in the neighborhood. Not long after this, Joseph altered his mind, and said L. was not the right man, nor had he told him the right place. About this time he went to Harmony in Pennsylvania, and formed an acquaintance with a young lady, by the name of Emma Hale, whom he wished to marry. -- In the fall of 1826, he wanted to go to Pennsylvania to be married; but being destitute of means, he now set his wits to work, how he should raise money, and get recommendations, to procure the fair one of his choice. He went to Lawrence with the following story, as related to me by Lawrence himself. That he had discovered in Pennsylvania,
on the bank of the Susquehannah River, a very rich mine of silver, and if he would go there with him, he might have a share in the profits; that it was near high water mark and that they could load it into boats and take it down the river to Philadelphia, to market. Lawrence then asked Joseph if he was not deceiving him; no, said he, for I have been there and seen it with my own eyes, and if you do not find it so when we get there, I will bind myself to be your servant for three years. By these grave and fair promises Lawrence was induced to believe something in it, and agreed to go with him. L. soon found that Joseph was out of money, and had to bear his expenses on the way. When they got to Pennsylvania, Joseph wanted L. to recommend him to Miss H., which he did, although he was asked to do it; but could not well get rid of it as he was in his company. L. then wished to see the silver mine, and he and Joseph went to the river, and made search, but found nothing. Thus, Lawrence had his trouble for his pains, and returned home lighter than he went, while Joseph had got his expenses borne, and a recommendation to his girl.
Joseph's next move was to get married; the girl's parents being opposed to the match: as they happened to be from home, he took advantage of the opportunity, and went off with her and was married.
Now, being still destitute of money, he set his wits at work, how he should get back to Manchester, his place of residence; he hit upon the following plan, which succeeded very well. He went to an honest old Dutchman, by the name of Stowel, and told him that he had discovered on the bank of Black River, in the village of Watertown, Jefferson County, N.Y. a cave, in which he had found a bar of gold, as big as his leg, and about three or four feet long. --That he could not get it out alone, on account of its being fast at one end; and if he would move him to Manchester,
N.Y. they would go together, and take a chisel and mallet, and get it, and Stowel should share the prize with him. Stowel moved him.
A short time after their arrival at Manchester, Stowel reminded Joseph of his promise; but he calmly replied, that he would not go, because his wife was now among strangers, and would be very lonesome if he went away. Mr. Stowel was then obliged to return without any gold, and with less money than he came.
In the fore part of September, (I believe,) 1827, the Prophet requested me to make him a chest, informing me that he designed to move back to Pennsylvania, and expecting soon to get his gold book, he wanted a chest to lock it up, giving me to understand at the same time, that if I would make the chest he would give me a share in the book. I told him my business was such that I could not make it: but if he would bring the book to me, I would lock it up for him. He said that would not do, as he was commanded to keep it two years, without letting it come to the eye of any one but himself. This commandment, however, he did not keep, for in less than two years, twelve men said they had seen it. I told him to get it and convince me of its existence, and I would make him a chest; but he said, that would not do, as he must have a chest to lock the book in, as soon as he took it out of the ground. I saw him a few days after, when he told me that I must make the chest. I told him plainly that I could not, upon which he told me that I could have no share in the book.
A few weeks after this conversation, he came to my house, and related the following story: That on the 22d of September, he arose early in the morning, and took a one horse wagon, of some one that had stayed over night at their house, without leave or license; and, together with his wife, repaired to the hill which contained the book. He left his
wife in the wagon, by the road, and went alone to the hill, a distance of thirty or forty rods from the road; he said he then took the book out of the ground and hid it in a tree top, and returned home. He then went to the town of Macedon to work. After about ten days, it having been suggested that some one had got his book, his wife went after him; he hired a horse, and went home in the afternoon, staid long enough to drink one cup of tea, and then went for his book, found it safe, took off his frock, wrapt it round it, put it under his arm and run all the way home, a distance of about two miles. He said he should think it would weigh sixty pounds, and was sure it would weigh forty. On his return home, he said he was attacked by two men in the woods, and knocked them both down and made his escape, arrived safe and secured his treasure. -- He then observed that if it had not been for that stone, (which he acknowledged belonged to me,) he would not have obtained the book. A few days afterwards, he told one of my neighbors that he had not got any such book, nor never had such an one; but that he had told the story to deceive the d---d fool, (meaning me,) to get him to make a chest. His neighbors having become disgusted with his foolish stories, he determined to go back to Pennsylvania, to avoid what he called persecution. His wits were now put to the task to contrive how he should get money to bear his expenses. He met one day in the streets of Palmyra, a rich man, whose name was Martin Harris, and addressed him thus; "I have a commandment from God to ask the first man I meet in the street to give me fifty dollars, to assist me in doing the work of the Lord by translating the Golden Bible." Martin being naturally a credulous man, hands Joseph the money. In the Spring 1829, Harris went to Pennsylvania, and on his return to Palmyra, reported that the Prophet's wife, in the month of
June following would be delivered of a male child that would be able when two years old to translate the Gold Bible. Then, said he, you will see Joseph Smith, Jr. walking through the streets of Palmyra, with a Gold Bible under his arm, and having a gold breast-plate on, and a gold sword hanging by his side. This, however, by the by, proved false.
In April, 1830, I again asked Hiram for the stone which he had borrowed of me; he told me I should not have it, for Joseph made use of it in translating his Bible. I reminded him of his promise, and that he had pledged his honor to return it; but he gave me the lie, saying the stone was not mine nor never was. Harris at the same time flew in a rage, took me by the collar and said I was a liar, and he could prove it by twelve witnesses. After I had extricated myself from him, Hiram, in a rage shook his fist at me, and abused me in a most scandalous manner. Thus I might proceed in describing the character of these High Priests, by relating one transaction after another, which would all tend to set them in the same light in which they were regarded by their neighbors, viz: as a pest to society. I have regarded Joseph Smith Jr. from the time I first became acquainted with him until he left this part of the country, as a man whose word could not be depended upon. -- Hiram's character was but very little better. What I have said respecting the characters of these men, will apply to the whole family. What I have stated relative to the characters of these individuals, thus far, is wholly true. After they became thorough Mormons, their conduct was more disgraceful than before. They did not hesitate to abuse any man, no matter how fair his character, provided he did not embrace their creed. Their tongues were continually employed in spreading scandal and abuse. Although they left this part of the country without paying their just
debts, yet their creditors were glad to have them do so, rather than to have them stay, disturbing the neighborhood.
On the 11th December, 1833, the said Willard Chase appeared before me, and made oath that the foregoing statement to which he has subscribed his name, is true, according to his best recollection and belief.
Justice of the Peace of Wayne County.
THE TESTIMONY OF PARLEY CHASE.
Manchester, December 2d, 1833.
I was acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen., both before and since they became Mormons, and feel free to state that not one of the male members of the Smith family were entitled to any credit, whatsoever. They were lazy, intemperate and worthless men, very much addicted to lying. In this they freqently boasted of their skill. Digging for money was their principal employment. In regard to their Gold Bible speculation, they scarcely ever told two stories alike. The Mormon Bible is said to be a revelation from God, through Joseph Smith Jr., his Prophet, and this same Joseph Smith Jr. to my knowledge, bore the reputation among his neighbors of being a liar. The foregoing statement can be corroborated by all his former neighbors.
Palmyra, December 13th, 1833.
I certify that I have been personally acquainted with Peter Ingersoll for a number of years, and believe him to be a man of strict integrity, truth and veracity.
Palmyra, December 4th, 1833.
I am acquainted with William Stafford and Peter Ingersoll, and believe them to be men of truth and veracity.
J. S. COLT.
Palmyra, December 4th, 1833
We the undersigned, are personally acquainted with William Stafford, Willard Chase and Peter Ingersoll, and believe them to be men of truth and veracity.
NATH'L. H. BECKWITH.
THOMAS ROGERS, 2d.
MARTIN W. WILCOX.
THE TESTIMONY OF DAVID STAFFORD.
Manchester, December 5th, 1833.
I have been acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith Sen. for several years, and I know him to be a drunkard and a liar, and to be much in the habit of gambling. He and his boys were truly a lazy set of fellows, and more particularly Joseph, who, very aptly followed his father's example, and in some respects was worse. When intoxicated he was very quarrelsome. Previous to his going to Pennsylvania to get married, we worked together making a coal-pit. While at work at one time, a dispute arose between us, (he having drinked a little too freely) and some hard words passed between us, and as usual with him at such times, was for fighting. He got the advantage of me in the scuffle, and a gentleman by the name of Ford interfered, when Joseph turned to fighting him. We both entered a complaint against him and he was fined for the breach of the Peace. It is well known, that the general employment of the Smith family was money digging and fortune-telling. They kept around them constantly, a gang of worthless fellows who dug for money nights, and were idle in the day time. It was a mystery to their neighbors how they got their living. I will mention some circumstances and the public may judge for themselves. At different times I have seen them come from the woods early in the morning, bringing meat which looked like mutton. I went into the woods one morning very early, shooting patridges and found Joseph Smith Sen. in company with two other
men, with hoes, shovels and meat that looked like mutton. On seeing me they run like wild men to get out of sight. -- Seeing the old man a few day afterwards, I asked him why he run so the other day in the woods, ah, said he, you know that circumstances alter cases; it will not do to be seen at all time.
I can also state, that Oliver Cowdrey proved himself to be a worthless person and not to be trusted or believed when he taught school in this neighborhood. After his going into the ministry, while officiating in performing the ordinance of baptism in a brook, William Smith, (brother of Joseph Smith) seeing a young man writing down what was said on a piece of board, was quite offended and attempted to take it from him, kicked at him and clinched for a scuffle. -- Such was the conduct of these pretended Disciples of the Lord.
On the 12th day of December, 1833, the said David Stafford appeared before me, and made oath that the foregoing statement, by him subscribed, is true.
Justice of the Peace of Wayne Co. N. Y.
THE TESTIMONY OF BARTON STAFFORD.
Manchester, Ontario Co., N.Y. Nov. 3d, 1833.
Being called upon to give a statement of the character of the family of Joseph Smith, Sen. as far as I know, I can state that I became acquainted with them in 1820, and knew them until 1831, when they left this neighborhood. -- Joseph Smith, Sen. was a noted drunkard and most of the family followed his example, and Joseph, Jr. especially, who was very much addicted to intemperance. In short, not one of the family had the least claims to respectability. Even since he professed to be inspired of the Lord to translate the Book of Mormon, he one day while at work in my father's field, got quite drunk on a composition of cider,
molasses and water. Finding his legs to refuse their office he leaned upon the fence and hung for sometime; at length recovering again, he fell to scuffling with one of the workmen, who tore his shirt nearly off from him. His wife who was at our house on a visit, appeared very much grieved at his conduct, and to protect his back from the rays of the sun, and conceal his nakedness, threw her shawl over his shoulders and in that plight escorted the Prophet home. As an evidence of his piety and devotion, when intoxicated, he frequently made his religion the topic of conversation!!
State of New York, Wayne County, ss:
I certify that on the 9th day of December 1833, personally appeared before me, the above named Barton Stafford, to me known, and solemnly affirmed according to law, to the truth of the above statement and subscribed the same.
THOS. P. BALDWIN,
a Judge of Wayne County Court.
I, Henry Harris, do state that I became acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen. about the year 1820, in the town of Manchester, N. York. They were a family that labored very little -- the chief they did, was to dig for money. Joseph Smith, Jr. the pretended Prophet, used to pretend to tell fortunes; he had a stone which he used to put in his hat, by means of which he professed to tell people's fortunes.
Joseph Smith, Jr. Martin Harris and others, used to meet together in private, a while before the gold plates were found, and were familiarly known by the name of the "Gold Bible Company." They were regarded by the community in which they lived, as a lying and indolent set of men and no confidence could be placed in them.
The character of Joseph Smith, Jr. for truth and veracity was such, that I would not believe him under oath. I was
once on a jury before a Justice's Court and the Jury could not, and did not, believe his testimony to be true. After he pretended to have found the gold plates, I had a conversation with him, and asked him where he found them and how he come to know where they were. He said he had a revelation from God that told him they were hid in a certain hill and he looked in his stone and saw them in the place of deposit; that an angel appeared, and told him he could not get the plates until he was married, and that when he saw the woman that was to be his wife, he should know her, and she would know him. He then went to Pennsylvania, got his wife, and they both went together and got the gold plates -- he said it was revealed to him, that no one must see the plates but himself and wife.
I then asked him what letters were engraved on them, he said italic letters written in an unknown language, and that he had copied some of the words and sent them to Dr. Mitchell and Professor Anthon of New York. By looking on the plates he said he could not understand the words, but it was made known to him that he was the person that must translate them, and on looking through the stone was enabled to translate.
After the Book was published, I frequently bantered him for a copy. He asked fourteen shillings a piece for them; I told him I would not give so much; he told me had had [sic] a revelation that they must be sold at that price.
Sometime afterwards I talked with Martin Harris about buying one of the Books and he told me they had had a new revelation, that they might be sold at ten shillings a piece.
State of Ohio, Cuyahoga County, ss:
Personally appeared before me, Henry Harris, and made oath in due form of law, that the foregoing statements subscribed by him are true.
Justice of the Peace.
Palmyra, Wayne Co. N. Y. 11th mo, 28th, 1833.
In the early part of the winter in 1828, I made a visit to Martin Harris' and was joined in company by Jos. Smith, sen. and his wife. The Gold Bible business, so called, was the topic of conversation, to which I paid particular attention, that I might learn the truth of the whole matter. -- They told me that the report that Joseph, jun. had found golden plates, was true, and that he was in Harmony, Pa. translating them -- that such plates were in existence, and that Joseph, jun. was to obtain them, was revealed to him by the spirit of one of the Saints that was on this continent, previous to its being discovered by Columbus. Old Mrs. Smith observed that she thought he must be a Quaker, as he was dressed very plain. They said that the plates he then had in possession were but an introduction to the Gold Bible -- that all of them upon which the bible was written, were so heavy that it would take four stout men to load them into a cart -- that Joseph had also discovered by looking through his stone, the vessel in which the gold was melted from which the plates were made, and also the machine with which they were rolled; he also discovered in the bottom of the vessel three balls of gold, each as large as his fist. The old lady said also, that after the book was translated, the plates were to be publicly exhibited -- admitance 25 cents. She calculated it would bring in annually an enormous sum of money -- that money would then be very plenty, and the book would also sell for a great price, as it was something entirely new -- that they had been commanded to obtain all the money they could borrow for present necessity, and to repay with gold. The remainder was to be kept in store for the benefit of their family and children. This and the like conversation detained me until about 11 o'clock. Early the next morning, the mystery of the Spirit being like myself (one of the order called Friends)
was reveal by the following circumstance: The old lady took me into another room, and after closing the door, she said, "have you four or five dollars in money that you can lend until our business is brought to a close? the spirit has said you shall receive four fold." I told her that when I gave, I did it not expecting to receive again -- as for money I had none to lend. I then asked her what her particular want of money was; to which she replied, "Joseph wants to take the stage and come home from Pennsylvania to see what we are all about." To which I replied, he might look in his stone and save his time and money. The old lady seemed confused, and left the room, and thus ended the visit.
In the second month following, Martin Harris and his wife were at my house. In conversation about Mormonites, she observed, that she wished her husband would quit them, as she believed it was all false and delusion. To which I head Mr. Harris reply: "What if it is a lie; if you will let me alone I will make money out of it!" I was both an eye and an ear witness of what has been stated above, which is now fresh in my memory, and I give it to the world for the good of mankind. I speak the truth and lie not, God bearing me witness. ABIGAIL HARRIS
Palmyra, Nov. 29, 1833.
Being called upon to give a statement to the world of what I know respecting the Gold Bible speculation, and also of the conduct of Martin Harris, my husband, who is a leading character among the Mormons, I do it free from prejudice, realizing that I must give an account at the bar of God for what I say. Martin Harris was once industrious attentive to his domestic concerns, and thought to be worth about ten thousand dollars. He is naturally quick in his temper and his mad-fits frequently abuses all who may dare to oppose him in his wishes. However strange it may seem, I have been a great sufferer by his unreasonable conduct. At different times while I lived with him, he has whipped, kicked, and turned me out of the house. About a year previous to the report being raised that Smith had found gold plates, he became very intimate with the Smith family, and said he believed Joseph could see in his stone any thing he wished. After this he apparently became very sanguine in his belief, and frequently said he would have no one in his house that did not believe in Mormonism; and because I would not give credit to the report he made about the gold plates, he became more austere towards me. In one of his fits of rage he struck me with the but end of a whip, which I think had been used for driving oxen, and was about the size of my thumb, and three or four feet long. He beat me on the head four or five times, and the next day turned me out of doors twice, and beat me in a shameful manner. -- The next day I went to the town of Marion, and while there my flesh was black and blue in many places. His main complaint against me was, that I was always trying to hinder his making money.
When he found out that I was going to Mr. Putnam's, in Marion, he said he was going too, but they had sent for him to pay them a visit. On arriving at Mr. Putnam's, I asked them if they had sent for Mr. Harris; they replied, they knew nothing about it; he, however, came in the evening. Mrs. Putnam told him never to strike or abuse me any more; he then denied ever striking me; she was however convinced that he lied, as the marks of his beating me were plain to be seen, and remained more than two weeks. Whether the Mormon religion be true or false, I leave the world to judge, for its effects upon Martin Harris have been to make him more cross, turbulent and abusive to me. His whole object was to make money by it. I will give one
circumstance in proof of it. One day, while at Peter Harris' house, I told him he had better leave the company of the Smiths, as their religion was false; to which he replied, if you would let me alone, I could make money by it.
It is in vain for the Mormons to deny these facts; for they are all well known to most of his former neighbors. The man has now become rather an object of pity; he has spent most of his property, and lost the confidence of his former friends. If he had labored as hard on his farm as he has to make Mormons, he might now be one of the wealthiest farmers in the country. He now spends his time in travelling through the country spreading the delusion of Mormonism, and has no regard whatever for his family.
With regard to Mr. Harris' being intimate with Mrs. Haggard, as has been reported, it is but justice to myself to state what facts have come within my own observation, to show whether I had any grounds for jealousy or not. Mr. Harris was very intimate with this family, for some time previous to their going to Ohio. They lived a while in a house which he had built for their accommodation, and here he spent the most of his leisure hours; and made her presents of articles from the store and house. He carried these presents in a private manner, and frequently when he went there, he would pretend to be going to some of the neighbors, on an errand, or to be going into the fields. -- After getting out of sight of the house, he would steer a straight course for Haggard's house, especially if Haggard was from home. At times when Haggard was from home, he would go there in the manner above described, and stay till twelve or one o'clok at night, and sometimes until day light.
If his intentions were evil, the Lord will judge him accordingly, but if good, he did not mean to let his left hand
know what his right hand did. The above statement of facts, I affirm to be true.
Manchester, Ontario County, N. Y. Dec 1st, 1833.
I, Roswell Nichols, first became acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen. nearly five years ago, and I lived a neighbor to the said family about two years. My acquaintance with the family has enabled me to know something of its character for good citizenship, probity and veracity -- For breach of contracts, for the non-payment of debts and borrowed money, and for duplicity with their neighbors, the family was notorious. Once, since the Gold Bible speculation commenced, the old man was sued; and while the sheriff was at his house, he lied to him and was detected in the falsehood. Before he left the house, he confessed that it was sometimes necessary for him to tell an honest lie, in order to live. At another time, he told me that he had received an express command for me to repent and believe as he did, or I must be damned. I refused to comply, and at the same time told him of the various impositions of his family. He then stated their digging was not for money but it was for the obtaining of a Gold Bible. Thus contradicting what he had told me before: for he had often said, that the hills in our neighborhood were nearly all erected by human hands -- that they were all full of gold and silver. And one time, when we were talking on the subject, he pointed to a small hill on my farm, and said, "in that hill there is a stone which is full of gold and silver. I know it to be so, for I have been to the hole, and God said unto me, go not in now, but at a future day you shall go in and find the book open, and then you shall have the treasures." He said that gold and silver was once as plenty as the stones in the field are now -- that the ancients, half of them melted the ore and made the gold and silver, while the other
half buried it deeper in the earth, which accounted for these hills. Upon my enquiring who furnished the food for the whole, he flew into a passion, and called me a sinner, and said he, "you must be eternally damned."
I mention these facts, not because of their intrinsic importance, but simply to show the weak mindedness and low character of the man.
Manchester, Ontario County, Nov. 15th, 1833.
I, Joshua Stafford, became acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen. about the year 1819 or 20. They then were laboring people, in low circumstances. A short time after this, they commenced digging for hidden treasures, and soon after they became indolent, and told marvellous stories about ghosts, hob-goblins, caverns, and various other mysterious matters. Joseph once showed me a piece of wood which he said he took from a box of money, and the reason he gave for not obtaining the box, was, that it moved. At another time, he, (Joseph, Jr.) at a husking, called on me to become security for a horse, and said he would reward me handsomely, for he had found a box of watches, and they were as large as his fist, and he put one of them to his ear, and he could hear it "tick forty rods." Since he could not dispose of them profitably at Canandaigua or Palmyra, he wished to go east with them. He said if he did not return with the horse, I might take his life. I replied, that he knew I would not do that. Well, said he, I did not suppose you would, yet I would be willing that you should. He was nearly intoxicated at the time of the above conversation.
Manchester, Ontario County, Nov. 8th, 1833.
I, Joseph Capron, became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Sen. in the year of our Lord, 1827. They have, since then, been really a peculiar people -- fond of the foolish and
the marvelous -- at one time addicted to vice and the grossest immoralities -- at another time making the highest pretensions to piety and holy intercourse with Almighty God. The family of Smiths held Joseph Jr. in high estimation on account of some supernatural power, which he was supposed to possess. This power he pretended to have received through the medium of a stone of peculiar quality. The stone was placed in a hat, in such a manner as to exclude all light, except that which emanated from the stone itself. This light of the stone, he pretended, enabled him to see any thing he wished. Accordingly he discovered ghosts, infernal spirits, mountains of gold and silver, and many other invaluable treasures deposited in the earth. He would often tell his neighbors of his wonderful discoveries, and urge them to embark in the money digging business. Luxury and wealth were to be given to all who would adhere to his counsel. A gang was soon assembled. Some of them were influenced by curiosity, others were sanguine in their expectations of immediate gain. I will mention one circumstance, by which the uninitiated may know how the company dug for treasures. The sapient Joseph discovered, north west of my house, a chest of gold watches; but, as they were in the possession of the evil spirit, it required skill and stratagem to obtain them. Accordingly, orders were given to stick a parcel of large stakes in the ground, several rods around, in a circular form. This was to be done directly over the spot where the treasures were deposited. A messenger was then sent to Palmyra to procure a polished sword: after which, Samuel F. Lawrence, with a drawn sword in his hand, marched around to guard any assault which his Satanic majesty might be disposed to make. Meantime, the rest of the company were busily employed in digging for the watches. They worked as usual till quite exhausted. But, in spite of their brave defender, Lawrence,
and their bulwark of stakes, the devil came off victorious, and carried away the watches. I might mention numerous schemes by which this young visionary and impostor had recourse to for the purpose of obtaining a livelihood. He, and indeed the whole of the family of Smiths, were notorious for indolence, foolery and falsehood. Their great object appeared to be, to live without work. While they were digging for money, they were daily harrassed by the demands of creditors, which they never were able to pay. At length, Joseph pretended to find the Gold plates. This scheme, he believed, would relieve the family from all pecuniary embarrassment. His father told me, that when the book was published, they would be enabled, from the profits of the work, to carry into successful operation the money digging business. He gave me no intimation, at that time that the book was to be of a religious character, or that it had any thing to do with revelation. He declared it to be a speculation, and said he, "when it is completed, my family will be placed on a level above the generality of mankind"!! JOSEPH CAPRON.
Palmyra, Nov. 28th, 1833
Having been called upon to state a few facts which are material to the characters of some of the leaders of the Mormon sect, I will do so in a concise and plain manner. I have been acquainted with Martin Harris, about thirty years. As a farmer, he was industrious and enterprising, so much so, that he had, (previous to his going into the Gold Bible speculation) accumulated, in real estate, some eight or ten thousand dollars. Although he possessed wealth, his moral and religious character was such, as not to entitle him to respect among his neighbors. He was fretful, peevish and quarrelsome, not only in the neighborhood, but in his family. He was known to frequently abuse
his wife, by whipping her, kicking her out of bed and turning her out of doors &c. Yet he was a public professor of some religion. He was first an orthadox Quaker, then a Universalist, next a Restorationer, then a Baptist, next a Presbyterian, and then a Mormon. By his willingness to become all things unto all men, he has attained a high standing among his Mormon brethren. The Smith family never made any pretentions to respectability.
G. W. STODARD.
I hereby concur in the above statement.
RICHARD H. FORD.
Palmyra, Dec. 4, 1833.
We, the undersigned, have been acquainted with the Smith family, for a number of years, while they resided near this place, and we have no hesitation in saying, that we consider them destitute of that moral character, which ought to entitle them to the confidence of any community. They were particularly famous for visionary projects, spent much of their time in digging for money which they pretended was hid in the earth; and to this day, large excavations may be seen in the earth, not far from their residence, where they used to spend their time in digging for hidden treasures. Joseph Smith, Senior, and his son Joseph, were in particular, considered entirely destitute of moral character, and addicted to vicious habits.
Martin Harris was a man who had acquired a handsome property, and in matters of business his word was considered good; but on moral and religious subjects, he was perfectly visionary -- sometimes advocating one sentiment, and sometimes another. And in reference to all with whom we were acquainted, that have embraced Mormonism from this neighborhood, we are compeled to say, were very visionary, and most of them destitute of moral character, and without
influence in this community; and this may account why they were permitted to go on with their impositions undisturbed. It was not supposed that any of them were possessed of sufficient character or influence to make any one believe their book or their sentiments, and we know not of a single individual in this vicinity that puts the least confidence in their pretended revelations.
Geo. N. Williams,
E. S. Townsend,
Henry P. Alger,
C. E. Thayer,
G. W. Anderson,
H. P. Thayer,
Geo. W. Crosby,
R. S. Williams,
S. P. Seymour,
D. S. Jackways,
Rich'd. D. Clark,
Th. P. Baldwin,
N. H. Beckwith,
Giles. S. Ely,
R. W. Smith,
Thos. Rogers, 2d.
G. A. Hathaway,
David G. Ely,
H. K. Jerome,
E. D. Robinson,
Israel F. Chilson,
Manchester, Nov. 3d, 1833.
We, the undersigned, being personally acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, sen. with whom the celebrated Gold Bible, so called, originated, state: that they were not only a lazy, indolent set of men, but also intemperate; and their word was not to be depended upon; and that we are truly glad to dispense with their society.
Warden A. Reed,
Alfred Stafford, James Gee,
A. H. Wentworth,
Moses C. Smith, Joseph Fish,
Horace N. Barnes,
Harmony, Pa. Mar. 20th, 1834.
I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr. in November,
1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called "money diggers;" and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure. His appearance at this time, was that of a careless young man -- not very well educated, and very saucy and insolent to his father. Smith, and his father, with several other "money-diggers" boarded at my house while they were employed in digging for a mine that they supposed had been opened and worked by the Spaniards, many years since. Young Smith gave the "money-diggers" great encouragement, at first, but when they had arrived in digging, to near the place where he had stated an immense treasure would be found -- he said the enchantment was so powerful that he could not see. They then became discouraged, and soon after dispersed. This took place about the 17th of November, 1825; and one of the company gave me his note for $12.68 for his board, which is still unpaid.
After these occurrences, young Smith made several visits at my house, and at length asked my consent to his marrying my daughter Emma. This I refused, and gave my reasons for so doing; some of which were, that he was a stranger, and followed a business that I could not approve; he then left the place. Not long after this, he returned, and while I was absent from home, carried off my daughter, into the state of New York, where they were married without my approbation or consent. After they had arrived at Palmyra N.Y., Emma wrote to me enquiring whether she could take her property, consisting of clothing, furniture, cows, &c. I replied that her property was safe, and at her disposal. In a short time they returned, bringing with them a Peter Ingersol, and subsequently came to the conclusion that they would move out, and reside upon a place near my residence.
Smith stated to me, that he had given up what he called "glass-looking," and that he expected to work hard for a living, and was willing to do so. He also made arrangements with my son Alva Hale, to go to Palmyra, and move his (Smith's) furniture &c. to this place. He then returned to Palmyra, and soon after, Alva, agreeable to the arrangement, went up and returned with Smith and his family. Soon after this, I was informed they had brought a wonderful book of Plates down with them. I was shown a box in which it is said they were contained, which had to all appearances, been used as a glass box of the common window glass. I was allowed to feel the weight of the box, and they gave me to understand, that the book of plates was then in the box -- into which, however, I was not allowed to look.
I inquired of Joseph Smith Jr., who was to be the first who would be allowed to see the Book of Plates? He said it was a young child. After this, I became dissatisfied, and informed him that if there was any thing in my house of that description, which I could not be allowed to see, he must take it away; if he did not, I was determined to see it. After that, the Plates were said to be hid in the woods.
About this time, Martin Harris made his appearance upon the stage; and Smith began to interpret the characters or hieroglyphics which he said were engraven upon the plates, while Harris wrote down the interpretation. It was said, that Harris wrote down one hundred and sixteen pages, and lost them. Soon after this happened, Martin Harris informed me that he must have a greater witness, and said that he had talked with Joseph about it -- Joseph informed him that he could not, or durst not show him the plates, but that he (Joseph) would go into the woods where the Book of Plates was, and that after he came back, Harris should follow his track in the snow, and find the Book, and examine it for himself. Harris informed me afterwards, that he
followed Smith's directions, and could not find the Plates, and was still dissatisfied.
The next day after this happened, I went to the house where Joseph Smith Jr., lived, and where he and Harris were engaged in their translation of the Book. Each of them had a written piece of paper which they were comparing, and some of the words were "my servant seeketh a greater witness, but no greater witness can be given him." There was also something said about "three that were to see the thing" -- meaning I supposed, the Book of Plates, and that "if the three did not go exactly according to the orders, the thing would be taken from them." I enquired whose words they were, and was informed by Joseph or Emma, (I rather think it was the former) that they were the words of Jesus Christ. I told them, that I considered the whole of it a delusion, and advised them to abandon it. The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods!
After this, Martin Harris went away, and Oliver Cowdery came and wrote for Smith, while he interpreted as above described. This is the same Oliver Cowdery, whose name may be found in the Book of Mormon. Cowdery continued a scribe for Smith until the Book of Mormon was completed as I supposed and understood.
Joseph Smith Jr. resided near me for some time after this, and I had a good opportunity of becoming acquainted with him, and somewhat acquainted with his associates, and I conscientiously believe from the facts I have detailed, and from many other circumstances, which I do not deem it necessary to relate, that the whole "Book of Mormon" (so called) is a silly fabrication of falsehood and wickedness, got up for speculation, and with a design to dupe the credulous
and unwary -- and in order that its fabricators may live upon the spoils of those who swallow the deception.
Affirmed to and subscribed before me, March 20th, 1834.
CHARLES DIMON, J. Peace.
State of Pennsylvania, Susquehana County, ss.
We, the subscribers, associate Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, in and for said county, do certify that we have been many years personally acquainted with Isaac Hale, of Harmony township in this county, who has attested the foregoing statement; and that he is a man of excellent moral character, and of undoubted veracity. Witness our hands.
March 21st, 1834
Elder Lewis also certifies and affirms in relation to Smith as follows:
I have been acquainted with Joseph Smith Jr. for some time: being a relation of his wife, and residing near him, I have had frequent opportunities of conversation with him, and of knowing his opinions and pursuits. From my standing in the Methodist Episcopal Church, I suppose he was careful how he conducted or expressed himself before me. At one time, however, he came to my house, and asked my advice, whether he should proceed to translate the Book of Plates (referred to by Mr. Hale) or not. He said that God had commanded him to translate it, but he was afraid of the people: he remarked, that he was to exhibit the plates to the world, at a certain time, which was then about eighteen months distant. I told him I was not qualified to give advice in such cases. Smith frequently said to me that I should see the plates at the time appointed.
After the time stipulated, had passed away, Smith being at my house was asked why he did not fulfil his promise,
show the Golden Plates and prove himself an honest man? He replied that he, himself was deceived, but that I should see them if I were where they were. I reminded him then, that I stated at the time he made the promise, I was fearful "the enchantment would be so powerful" as to remove the plates, when the time came in which they were to be revealed.
"These circumstances and many others of a similar tenor, embolden me to say that Joseph Smith Jr. is not a man of truth and veracity; and that his general character in this part of the country, is that of an impostor, hypocrite and liar. NATHANIEL C. LEWIS."
Affirmed and subscribed, before me, March 20th, 1834.
CHARLES DIMON, J. Peace.
We subjoin the substance of several affidavits, all taken and made before Charles Dimon Esq. by credible individuals, who have resided near to, and been well acquainted with Joseph Smith Jr. -- illustrative of his character and conduct, while in this region.
Joshua M'Kune states, that he "was acquainted with Joseph Smith Jr. and Martin Harris, during their residence in Harmony, Pa., and knew them to be artful seducers;" -- That they informed him that "Smith had found a sword, breast-plate, and a pair of spectacles, at the time he found the gold plates" -- that these were to be shewn to all the world as evidence of the truth of what was contained in those plates," and that "he (M'Kune) and others should see them at a specified time." He also states that "the time for the exhibition of the Plates, &c. has gone by, and he has not seen them." "Joseph Smith, Jr. told him that (Smith's) first-born child was to translate the characters, and hieroglyphics, upon the Plates into our language at the age of three years; but this child was not permitted to live
to verify the prediction." He also states, that "he has been intimately acquainted with Isaac Hale twenty-four years, and has always found him to be a man of truth, and good morals."
HEZEKIAH M'KUNE states, that "in conversation with Joseph Smith Jr., he (Smith) said he was nearly equal to Jesus Christ; that he was a prophet sent by God to bring in the Jews, and that he was the greatest prophet that had ever arisen."
ALVA HALE, son of Isaac Hale, states, that Joseph Smith Jr. told him that his (Smith's) gift in seeing with a stone and hat, was a gift from God," but also states "that Smith told him at another time that this "peeping" was all d---d nonsense. He (Smith) was deceived himself but did not intend to deceive others; --that he intended to quit the business, (of peeping) and labor for his livelihood." That afterwards, Smith told him, he should see the Plates from which he translated the book of Mormon," and accordingly at the time specified by Smith, he (Hale) "called to see the plates, but Smith did not show them, but appeared angry." He further states, that he knows Joseph Smith Jr. to be an impostor, and a liar, and knows Martin Harris to be a liar likewise.
LEVI LEWIS states, that he has "been acquainted with Joseph Smith Jr. and Martin Harris, and that he has heard them both say, adultery was no crime. Harris said he did not blame Smith for his (Smith's) attempt to seduce Eliza Winters &c.;"-- Mr. Lewis says that he "knows Smith to be a liar; -- that he saw him (Smith) intoxicated at three different times while he was composing the Book of Mormon, and also that he has heard Smith when driving oxen, use language of the greatest profanity. Mr. Lewis also testifies that he heard Smith say he (Smith) was as good as Jesus Christ; -- that it was as bad to injure him as it was to
injure Jesus Christ." "With regard to the plates, Smith said God had deceived him -- which was the reason he (Smith) did not show them."
SOPHIA LEWIS, certifies that she "feard a conversation between Joseph Smith, Jr., and the Rev. James B. Roach, in which Smith called Mr. R. a d-----d fool. Smith also said in the same conversation that he (Smith) was as good as Jesus Christ;" and that she "has frequently heard Smith use profane language. She states that she heard Smith say "the Book of Plates could not be opened under penalty of death by any other person but his (Smith's) first-born, which was to be a male." She says she "was present at the birth of this child, and that it was still-born and very much deformed."
C H A P T E R X V I I I.
It is asserted in the Mormon Bible, that the engravings upon the plates, were in the "Reformed Egyptian." In conformity to this, the Mormonite preachers, and others of the sect, have frequently declared that the engravings upon the plates were, by some of our learned men, who had a specimen shown them, pronounced to be "reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics," or "ancient short hand Egyptian." -- Among others, Professor Anthon, of New York, was frequently mentioned as giving such an opinion. This act of deception and falsehood is only one among hundreds of others, equally gross, which are resorted to by these impostors
to gain prosseytes. It being calculated to have considerable weight, when fully believed, we took the liberty to inform Mr. Anthon of the vile use that was made of his name, in this country; and to request of him a statement of the facts respecting it. The following is his reply:
New York, Feb. 17, 1834.
Dear Sir -- I received this morning your favor of the 9th instant, and lose no time in making a reply. The whole story about my having pronouncd the Mormonite inscription to be "reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics" is perfectly false. Some years ago, a plain, and apparently simple-hearted farmer, called upon me with a note from Dr. Mitchell of our city, now deceased, requesting me to decypher, if possible, a paper, which the farmer would hand me, and which Dr. M. confessed he had been unable to understand. Upon examining the paper in question, I soon came to the conclusion that it was all a trick, perhaps a hoax.
When I asked the person, who brought it, how he obtained the writing, he gave me, as far as I can now recollect, the following account: A "gold book," consisting of a number of plates of gold, fastened together in the shape of a book by wires of the same metal, had been dug up in the northern part of the state of New York, and along with the book an enormous pair of "gold spectacles"! These spectacles were so large, that, if a person attempted to look through them, his two eyes would have to be turned towards one of the glasses merely, the spectacles in question being altogether too large for the breadth of the human face. Whoever examined the plates through the spectacles, was enabled not only to read them, but fully to understand their meaning. All this knowledge, however, was confined at that time to a young man, who had the trunk containing the book and spectacles in his sole possession. This young man was placed behind a curtain, in the garret of a farm
house, and, being thus concealed from view, put on the spectacles occasionally, or rather, looked through one of the glasses, decyphered the characters in the book, and, having committed some of them to paper, handed copies from behind the curtain, to those who stood on the outside. Not a word, however, was said about the plates having been decyphered "by the gift of God." Everything, in this way, was effected by the large pair of spectacles. The farmer added, that he had been requested to contribute a sum of money towards the publication of the "golden book," the contents of which would, as he had been assured, produce an entire change in the world and save it from ruin. So urgent had been these solicitations, that he intended selling his farm and handing over the amount received to those who wished to publish the plates. As a last precautionary step, however, he had resolved to come to New York, and obtain the opinion of the learned about the meaning of the paper which he brought with him, and which had been given him as a part of the contents of the book, although no translation had been furnished at the time by the young man with the spectacles.
On hearing this odd story, I changed my opinion about the paper, and, instead of viewing it any longer as a hoax upon the learned, I began to regard it as part of a scheme to cheat the farmer of his money, and I communicated my suspicions to him, warning him to beware of rogues. He requested an opinion from me in writing, which of course I declined giving, and he then took his leave carrying the paper with him. This paper was in fact a singular scrawl. It consisted of all kinds of crooked characters disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets. Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted or placed sideways, were arranged in perpendicular columns,
and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican Calender given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived. I am thus particular as to the contents of the paper, inasmuch as I have frequently conversed with my friends on the subject, since the Mormonite excitement began, and well remember that the paper contained any thing else but "Egyptian Hieroglyphics." Some time after, the same farmer paid me a second visit. He brought with him the golden book in print, and offered it to me for sale. I declined purchasing. He then asked permission to leave the book with me for examination. I declined receiving it, although his manner was strangely urgent. I adverted once more to the roguery which had been in my opinion practised upon him, and asked him what had become of the gold plates. He informed me that they were in a trunk with the large pair of spectacles. I advised him to go to a magistrate and have the trunk examined. He said the "curse of God" would come upon him should he do this. On my pressing him, however, to pursue the course which I had recommended, he told me that he would open the trunk, if I would take the "curse of God" upon myself. I replied that I would do so with the greatest willingness, and would incur every risk of that nature, provided I could only extricate him from the grasp of rogues. He then left me.
I have thus given you a full statement of all that I know respecting the origin of Mormonism, and must beg you, as a personal favor, to publish this letter immediately, should you find my name mentioned again by these wretched fanatics. Yours respectfully, CHAS. ANTHON.
E. D. Howe, Esq. Painesville, Ohio
That the impostors made the declarations respecting Professor
Anthon, they will undoubtedly deny, as this is their uniform practice, after being fully convinced of any act which militates against them; but in this case it will be in vain. The following letter from Wm. W. Phelpes, a very important personage among them, (who was for a time denominated the Lord's printer) in answer to some enquiries touching the origin of Mormonism, will show what was taught him while a pupil under Smith and Rigdon, and that the story about Mr. Anthon's declarations, was one upon which they placed great reliance. We give the letter in full, for the purpose of further comments.
Canandaigua, Jun. 15, 1831.
Dear Sir -- Yours of the 11th, is before me, but to give you a satisfactory answer, is out of my power. To be sure, I am acquainted with a number of the persons concerned in the publication, called the "Book of Mormon." -- Joseph Smith is a person of very limited abilities in common learning -- but his knowledge of divine things, since the appearance of his book, has astonished many. Mr. Harris, whose name is in the book, is a wealthy farmer, but of small literary acquirements; he is honest, and sincerely declares upon his soul's salvation that the book is true, and was interpreted by Joseph Smith, through a pair of silver spectacles, found with the plates. The places where they dug for the plates, in Manchester, are to be seen. When the plates were said to have been found, a copy of one or two lines of the characters, were taken by Mr. Harris to Utica, Albany and New York; at New York, they were shown to Dr. Mitchell, and he referred to professor Anthon who translated and declared them to be the ancient shorthand Egyptian. So much is true. The family of Smiths is poor, and generally ignorant in common learning.
I have read the book, and many others have, but we have nothing by which we can positively detect it as an imposition,
nor have we any thing more than what I have stated and the book itself, to show its genuineness. We doubt -- supposing, if it is false, it will fall, and if of God, God will sustain it.
I had ten hours discourse with a man from your state, named Sidney Rigdon, a convert to its doctrines, and he declared it was true, and he knew it by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was again given to man in preparation for the millennium: he appeared to be a man of talents, and sincere in his profession. Should any new light be shed on the subject, I will apprise you.
E. D. Howe, Esq.
W. W. PHELPS.
The author of the above letter is, perhaps, deserving of a little more notice. Before the rise of Mormonism, he was an avowed infidel; having remarkable propensity for fame and eminence, he was supercilious, haughty and egotistical. His great ambition was to embark in some speculation where he could shine pre-eminent. He took an active part for several years in the political contests of New York, and made no little display as an editor of a partizan newspaper, and after being foiled in his desires to become a candidate for Lt. Governor of that state, his attention w suddenly diverted by the prospects which were held out to him in the Gold Bible speculation. In this he was sure of becoming a great man, and made the dupes believe he was master of fourteen different languages, of which they frequently boasted. But he soon found that the prophet would suffer no growing rivalships, whose sagacity he had not well calculated, until he was met by a revelation, which informed him that he could rise no higher than a printer: "Let my servant William stand in the office which I have appointed him, and receive his inheritance in the land, and also he hath need to repent, for I the Lord (Jo) am not pleased with him, for he seeketh to exult." It will be noticed by the
foregoing letter, that he had already made up his mind to embrace Mormonism, but still wished to conceal his ambitions. It was not till about six months after that he had made definite arrangements to join them; by first fully understanding what his business was to be. After being created an Elder and Lord's printer, he repaired to Missouri with the squad that first went out, and on his return called on us to "acknowledge his gratitude," as he expressed it, for first directing his attention to Mormonism, saying that he knew nothing about it, till the receipt of our letter -- that he then commenced an investigation of the subject, "and found it to be true"! stating that he had ,made great sacrifices, and abandoned a business worth $2500 a year. We mention these things to show the hypocrisy of the man.
His letter it will be seen is dated the 15th Jan. in answer to ours of the 11th, only four days intervening. During these four days, then, our letter must have traveled over 360 miles, he talked with Rigdon ten hours, examined the holes where Smith had dug for money, and obtained all the other information which he communicates. Besides it is a well known fact that, notwithstanding his large income, he had been thrown into jail on a small debt, and offered to sell out his printing establishment for one hundred and fifty dollars. For his honesty, however, the prophet has left him to till the soil in Missouri, while the business of printing has been transferred to Kirtland, Ohio, and placed under the direction of O. Cowdery.
REMARKABLE EVENTS --- THE CUT.
The reader will already have observed, that a great variety of contradictory stories were elated by the Smith family, before they had any fixed plan of operation, repecting the finding of the plates, from which their book was translated. One is, that after the plates were taken from
their hiding place by Jo, he again laid them down, looked into the hole, where he saw a toad, which immediately transformed itself into a spirit, and gave him a tremendous blow. Another is, that after he had got the plates, a spirit assaulted him with the intention of getting them from his possession, and actually jerked them out of his hands -- Jo, nothing daunted, in return seized them again, and started to run, when his Satanic Majesty, (or the spirit) applied his foot to the prophet's seat of honor, which raised him three or four feet from the ground. This being the opening scene of Mormonism, we have represented the wonderful event in our frontispiece. That the prophet has related a story of this kind, to some of his "weak saints," we have no manner of doubt.
Here then is the finding of the plates, containing a new revelation from Heaven; and the modus operandi may seem to the Mormon, truly wonderful, and in character with that Being who upholds and sustains the Universe; but to the rational mind it can excite no other emotion than contempt for his species.
One scene in the drama of disposing of the plates, we have also placed upon the same cut -- being two of the most important events in the history of Mormonism. The latter story was related by Lemon Copley, (who had been an elder of the society, and was at the time for aught that appeared) under oath, before two magistrates, of Painesville Township, on a trial where the prophet had sworn the peace against one of his seceding brethren.
Mr. Copley testified, that after the Mormon brethren arrived here from Susquehannah, one of them, by the name of Joseph Knight, related to him a story as having been related to him by Joseph Smith, Jun. which excited some curiousity in his mind, he determined to ask Joseph more particularly about it, on the first opportunity. Not long after it was confirmed to him by Joseph himself, who again related it in the following manner: After he had had finished translating the Book of Mormon, he again buried up the plates in the side of a mountain, by command of the Lord; some time after this, he was going through a piece of woods, on a by-path, when he discovered an old man dressed in ordinary gray apparel, sitting upon a log, having in his hand or near by, a small box. On approaching him, he asked him what he had in the box. To which the old man replied, that he had a MONKEY, and for five coppers he might see it. Joseph answered, that he would not give a cent to see a monkey, for he had seen a hundred of them. He then asked the old man where he was going, who said he was going to Charzee. Joseph thenpassed on, and not recollecting any such place in that part of the country, began to ponder over the strange interview, and finally asked the Lord the meaning of it. The Lord told him that the man he saw was MORONI, with the plates, and if he had given him the five coppers, he might have got his plates again.
Here we have a story related by our modern prophet, to his followers, for no other purpose, as we conceive, but to make his pretensions more "marvelous in their eyes." A celebrated Mormon prophet, of ancient times, and one of modern date, have an interview in the woods, and hold a conversation about a MONKEY; one prophet of the Lord relating a falsehood to another!!!
C H A P T E R X I X.
WE proposed in the commencement of this work, to give to the world all the light, of which we were in possession, as to the real and original author or authors of the Book of Mormon. That there has been, from the beginning of the imposture, a more talented knave behind the curtain, is evident to our mind, at least; but whether he will ever be clearly, fully and positively unvailed and brought into open day-light, may of course be doubted. For no person of common prudence and understanding, it may well be presumed, would ever undertake such a speculation upon human credulity, without closing and well securing every door and avenue to a discovery, step by step, as he proceeded. Hence, our investigations upon the subject have necessarily been more limited than was desirable. At the same time, we think that facts and data have been elicited, sufficient at least to raise a strong presumption that the leading features of the "Gold Bible" were first conceived and concocted by one SOLOMON SPALDING, while a resident of Conneaut, Ashtabula county, Ohio. It is admitted by our soundest jurists, that a train of circumstances may often lead the mind to a more satisfactory and unerring conclusion, than positive testimony, unsupported by circumstancial evidence -- for the plain reason, that the one species of testimony is more prone to falsehood than the other. But we proceed with our testimony.
The first witness is Mr. John Spalding, a brother of Solomon, now a resident of Crawford county, Pa. who says:
"Solomon Spalding was born in Ashford, Conn. in
1761, and in early life contracted a taste for literary pursuits. After he left school, he entered Plainfield Academy, where he made great proficiency in study, and excelled most of his class-mates. He next commenced the study of Law, in Windham county, in which he made little progress, having in the mean time 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 considerably involved in debt. He then told me he had been writing a book, which he intended to have printed, the avails of which he thought would enable him to pay all his debts. The book was entitled the "Manuscript Found," of which he read to me many passages. -- It was an historical romance of the first settlers of America, endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the descendants of the Jews, or the lost tribes. It gave a detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till they arrived in America, under the command of NEPHI and LEHI. They afterwards had quarrels and contentions, and separated into two distinct nations, one of which he denominated Nephites and the other Lamanites. Cruel and bloody wars ensued, in which great multitudes were slain. They buried their dead in large heaps, which caused the mounds so common in this country. 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 surprize I find 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. JOHN SPALDING."
Martha Spalding, the wife of John Spalding, says: --
"I was personally acquainted with Solomon Spalding, about twenty years ago. I was at his house a short time before he left Conneaut; he was then writing a historical novel founded upon the first settlers of America. He represented them as an enlightened and warlike people. He had for many years contended that the aborigines of America were the descendants of some of the lost tribes of Israel, and this idea he carried out in the book in question. -- The lapse of time which has intervened, prevents my recollecting but few of the leading incidents of his writings; but the names of Nephi and Lehi are yet fresh in my memory, as being the principal heroes of his tale. They were officers of the company which first came off from Jerusalem. He gave a particular account of their journey by land and sea, till they arrived in America, after which, disputes arose between the chiefs, which caused them to separate into different lands, one of which was called Lamanites and the other Nephites. Between these were recounted tremendous battles, which frequently covered the ground with the slain; and their being buried in large heaps was the cause of the numerous mounds in the country. -- Some of these people he represented as being very large.
I have read the Book of Mormon, which has brought fresh to my recollection the writings of Solomon Spalding; and I have no manner of doubt that the historical part of it, is the same that I read and heard read, more than 20 years ago. The old, obsolete style, and the phrases of "and it came to pass," &c. are the same.
We would here remark by the way, that it would appear that Sol. Spalding, like many other authors, was somewhat vain of his writing, and was constantly showing and reading them to his neighbors. In this way most of his intimate acquaintances became conversant at that time with his writings and designs. 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 family of Smiths and Whitmers, who have told about hearing the voice of an angel.
Conneaut, Ashtabula Co. O. September, 1833.
I left the state of New York, late in the year 1810, and arrived at this place, about the 1st of Jan. following. Soon after my arrival, I formed a co-partnership with Solomon Spalding, for the purpose of re-building a forge which he had commenced a year or two before. He very frequently read to me from a manuscript which he was writing, which he entitled the "Manuscript Found," and which he represented as being found in this town. I spent many hours in hearing him read said writings, and became well acquainted with its contents. He 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 any thing 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 20 minutes till I was astonished to find the same passages in it that Spalding 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. Spalding, that the so frequent use of the words "And it came to pass," "Now it came to pass," rendered it ridiculous. Spalding 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.
Springfield, Pa. September, 1833.
In the year 1811, I was in the employ of Henry Lake and Solomon Spalding, at Conneaut, engaged in rebuilding
a forge. While there, I boarded and lodged in the family of said Spalding, for several months. I was soon introduced to the manuscript of Spalding, and perused them as often as I had leisure. He had written two or three books or pamphlets on different subjects; but that which more particularly drew my attention, was one which he called the "Manuscript Found." From this 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. I have recently examined the Book of Mormon, and find in it the writings of Solomon Spalding, from beginning to end, but mixed up with scripture and other religious matter, which I did not meet with in the "Manuscript Found." Many of the passages in the Mormon Book are verbatim from Spalding, and others in part. The names of Nephi, Lehi, Moroni, and in fact all the principal names, are bro't fresh to my recollection, by the Gold Bible. When Spalding divested his history of its fabulous names, by a verbal explanation, he landed his people near the Straits of Darien, which I am very confident he called Zarahemla, they were marched about that country for a length of time, in which wars and great blood shed ensued, he brought them across North America in a north east direction.
JOHN N. MILLER.
Conneaut, August, 1833.
I first became acquainted with Solomon Spalding in 1808 or 9, when he commenced building a forge on Conneaut creek. When at his house, one day, he showed and read to me a history he was writing, of the lost tribes of Israel, purporting that they were the first settlers of America, and that the Indians were their decendants. Upon this subject we had frequent conversations. He traced their journey from Jerusalem to America, as it is given in the Book of Mormon, excepting the religious matter. The historical part of the Book of Mormon, I know to be the same as I read and heard read from the writings of Spalding, more than twenty years ago; the names more especially are the same without any alteration. He told me his object was to account for all the fortifications, &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. Spalding 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 Spalding's writing, it is the same as he wrote; and if Smith was inspired, I think it was by the same spirit that Spalding was, which he confessed to be the love of money.
Conneaut, August, 1833.
When Solomon Spalding first came to this place, he purchased a tract of land, surveyed it out and commenced selling it. While engaged in this business, he boarded at my house, in all nearly six months. All his leisure hours were occupied in writing a historical novel, founded upon
the first settlers of this country. He said he intended to trace their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till their arrival in America, give an account of their arts, sciences, civilization, wars and contentions. In this way, he would give a satisfactory account of all of the old mounds, so common to this country. During the time he was at my house, I read and heard read one hundred pages or more. Nephi and Lehi were by him represented as leading characters, when they first started for America. Their main object was to escape the judgments which they supposed were coming upon the old world. But no religious matter was introduced, as I now recollect. Just before he left this place, Spalding sent for me to call on him, which I did. -- He then said, that although he was in my debt, he intended to leave the country, and hoped I would not prevent him, for, says he, you know I have been writing the history of the first settlement of America, and I intend to go to Pittsburgh, and there live a retired life, till I have completed the work, and when it is printed, it will bring me a fine sum of money, which will enable me to return and pay off all my debts -- the book, you know will sell, as every one is anxious to learn something upon that subject. This was the last I heard of Spalding 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 Spalding. Soon after, I obtained the book, and on reading it, found much of it the same as Spalding had written, more than twenty years before.
Conneaut, August, 1833.
I first became acquainted with Solomon Spalding, in Dec. 1810. After that time I frequently saw him at his house, and also at my house. I once in conversation with
him expressed a surprise at not having any account of the inhabitants once in this country, who erected the old forts, mounds, &c. He then told me that he was writing a history of that race of people; and afterwards frequently showed me his writings, which I read. I have lately read the Book of Mormon, and believe it to be the same as Spalding wrote, except the religious part. He told me that he intended to get his writings published in Pittsburgh, and he thought that in one century from that time, it would be believed as much as any other history.
Artemas Cunningham, of Perry, Geauga county, states as follows:
"In the month of October, 1811, I went from the township of Madison to Conneaut, for the purpose of securing a debt due me from Solomon Spalding. I tarried with him nearly two days, for the purpose of accomplishing my object, which I was finally unable to do. I found him destitute of the means of paying his debts. His only hope of ever paying his debts, appeared to be upon the sale of a book, which he had been writing. He endeavored to convince me from the nature and character of the work, that it would meet with a ready sale. Before showing me his manuscripts, he went into a verbal relation of its outlines, saying that it was a fabulous or romantic history of the first settlement of this country, and as it purported to have been a record found buried in the earth, or in a cave, he had adopted the ancient or scripture style of writing. He then presented his 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 22 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 Spalding had written its outlines before he left Conneaut."
Statements of the same import, might be multiplied to an indefinite length; but we deem it unnecessary. We are here willing to rest the question, in the hands of any intelligent jury, with a certainty that their verdict would be, that Solomon Spalding first wrote the leading incidents of the Book of Mormon, instead of its being found by the Smith family, while digging for gold, and its contents afterwards made known by the Supreme Being.
But our enquiries did not terminate here. Our next object was to ascertain, if possible, the disposition Spalding made of his manuscripts. For this purpose, a messenger was despatched to look up the widow of Spalding, who was found residing in Massachusetts. From her we learned that Spalding resided in Pittsburgh, about two years, when he removed to the township of Amity, Washington Co. Pa. where he lived about two years, and died in 1816. His widow then removed to Onondaga county, N. Y., married again, and lived in Otsego county, and subsequently removed to Massachusetts. She states that Spalding had a great variety of manuscripts, and recollects that one was entitled the "Manuscript Found," but of its 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
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, N.Y. This is all the information that could be obtained from her, except that Mr. Spalding, while living, entertained a strong antipathy to the Masonic Institution, which may account for its being so frequently mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The fact also, that Spalding, in the latter part of his life, inclined to infidelity, is established by a letter in his hand-writing, now in our possession.
The trunk referred to by the widow, was subsequently examined, and found to contain only a single M. S. book, in Spalding's hand-writing, containing about one quire of paper. This is a romance, purporting to have been translated from the Latin, found on 24 rolls of parchment in a cave, on the banks of the 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 M. S. has been shown to several of the foregoing witnesses, who recognise it as Spalding'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."
Here, then, our enquiries after facts partially cease, on this subject. We have fully shown that the Book of Mormon is the joint production of Solomon Spalding and some other designing knave, or if it is what it purports to be, the Lord God has graciously condescended, in revealing to Smith his will, through spectacles, to place before him and appropriate to his own use, the writings and names of men which had been invented by a person long before in the grave. Having established the fact, therefore, that most of the names and leading incidents contained in the Mormon bible, originated with Solomon Spalding, it is not very material, as we conceive, to show the way and manner by which they fell into the hands of the Smith family. To do this, however, we have made some enquiries.
It was inferred at once that some light might be shed upon this subject, and the mystery revealed, by applying to Patterson & Lambdin, in Pittsburgh. But here again death had interposed a barrier. That establishment was dissolved and broken up many years since, and Lambdin died about eight years ago. Mr. Patterson says he has no recollection of any such manuscript being brought there for publication, neither would he have been likely to have seen it, as the business of printing was conducted wholly by Lambdin at that time. He says, however, that many M. S. books and pamphlets were brought to the office about that time, which remained upon their shelves for years, without being printed or even examined. Now, as Spalding's book can no where be found, or any thing heard of it after being carried to this establishment, there is the strongest presumption that it remained there in seclusion, till about the year 1823 or '24, at which time Sidney Rigdon located himself in that city. We have been credibly informed that he was on terms of intimacy with Lambdin, being seen frequently in his shop. Rigdon resided in Pittsburgh about three years, and during the whole of that time, as he has since frequently asserted, abandoned preaching and all other employment, for the purpose of studying the bible. He left there and came into the county where he now resides, about the time Lambdin died, and commenced preaching some new points of doctrine, which were afterwards found to be inculcated in the Mormon Bible. He resided in this vicinity about four years previous to the appearance of the book, during which time he made several long visits to Pittsburgh, and perhaps to the Susquehannah, where Smith was then digging for money, or pretending to be translating plates. It may be observed also, that about the time Rigdon left Pittsburgh, the Smith family began to tell about finding a book that would contain a history of the first
inhabitants of America, and that two years elapsed before they finally got possession of it.
We are, then, irresistibly led to this conclusion: -- that Lambdin, after having failed in business, had recourse to the old manuscripts then in his possession, in order to raise the wind, by a book speculation, and placed the "Manuscript Found," of Spalding, in the hands of Rigdon, to be embellished, altered, and added to, as he might think expedient; and three years' study of the bible we should deem little time enough to garble it, as it is transferred to the Mormon book. The former dying, left the latter the sole proprietor, who was obliged to resort to his wits, and in a mirculous [sic] way to bring it before the world; for in no other manner could such a book be published without great sacrifice. And where could a more suitable character be found than Jo Smith, whose necromantic fame and arts of deception, had already extended to a considerable distance? That Lambdin was a person every way qualified and fitted for such an enterprise, we have the testimony of his partner in business, and others of his acquaintance. Add to all these circumstances, the facts, that Rigdon had prepared the minds in a great measure, of nearly a hundred of those who had attended his ministration to be in readiness to embrace the first mysterious ism that should be presented -- the appearance of Cowdery at his residence as soon as the Book was printed -- his sudden conversion, after many pretentions to disbelieve it -- his immediately repairing to the residence of Smith, 300 miles distant, where he was forthwith appointed an elder, high priest, and a scribe to the prophet -- the pretended vision that his residence in Ohio was the "promised land," -- the immediate removal of the whole Smith family thither, where they were soon raised from a state of poverty to comparative affluence. We therefore, must hold out Sidney Rigdon to the world as being the original "author and proprietor" of the whole Mormon conspiracy, until further light is elicited upon the lost writings of Solomon Spalding.