Jonathan B. Turner
Mormonism in all Ages

(NYC: Platt & Peters, 1842)

Chap. 1-3   |   Chap. 4-6   |   Chap. 7-8
  • Title   Intro.   Contents
  • Chapter 1  (pp. 13-34)
  • Chapter 2  (pp. 34-64)
  • Chapter 3  (pp. 65-109)

  • Transcriber's Comments

  • 1842 J. K. Noble Letter   |   Turner Reading Room   |   Turner Slide Show



    OR  THE



    M O R M O N I S M;




    B Y   P R O F E S S O R   J. B.   T U R N E R,


    PUT  TO  DEATH." -- Deut. xiii. 5.
    "WHEREFORE  REBUKE  THEM  SHARPLY." -- Titus, i, 13.

    NEW  YORK:



    [ 2 ]

    Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1842, by
    In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District
    of New York.


    [ 3 ]

    I N T R O D U C T I O N.

    THE Mormons boast of one hundred thousand adherents in this country, and more than ten thousand in Great Britain, where their faith is making rapid progress. This may be an exaggeration; but, at all events, it is time the absurdities of their scheme were exposed. They are, in truth, the most dangerous and virulent enemies to our political and religious purity, and our social and civil peace, that now exist in the Union: not so much, however, on the ground of their direct, as of their indirect influence. The ravages in the front of their march are far less to be dreaded, than the moral pestilence which follows them. The bubbles of fanaticism, it is true, leap and sparkle around their prow, but the dull and sullen waves of atheism roll, and spread wide, in their wake behind. It has ever been true that they have made one hundred infidels to every dozen converts. This fact has not been properly heeded. There is much reason to believe that many of their popular leaders are at heart infidels. Those who can believe that skeptical and ambitious men, who could not be converted to Christianity, have been really made to believe in Joe Smith, may do so if they choose. The multitudes who fall in their ranks and retire, are, in general, reduced to absolute atheism. Some are recovered again; many are not, but sink into still deeper and stronger delusions.

    In their public addresses, nothing is more common than to hear them defend the Book of Mormon, in promiscuous assemblies, by attacking and ridiculing the Bible, either directly or indirectly. Their object generally is to show that if the Book of Mormon is ridiculous, in whole or in part, the Bible is so too. By these and similar processes, they succeed in affecting the minds of the thoughtless multitude with the


    4                                          INTRODUCTION.                                          

    vague impression that the Book of Mormon is at least as truly of divine authority as the Bible. A few receive both, as divine; a far greater number make up their minds to have nothing to do with either.

    Even the most pious and devout members of the professed church of the Mormons labor hard, at all times and in all places, to show that "if the gifts of miracle, healing, prophecy, etc., are not still in the true church, the Bible must be false." To the ignorant, everywhere, they make this appear plausible. They then show that no church pretends to these gifts except their own, while they themselves still fail, totally, to exhibit them to the public. Yet they claim to possess these gifts, and bring forward witnesses from among the initiated, who testify that they have seen them exercised. Thousands are convinced by this argument that the Bible is false, and perhaps tens that Mormonism is true. Hence we find the books of Smith in the houses and hands of infidels, who will neither read nor tolerate the Bible: and no class are so full of charity, sympathy, and compassion for the Mormons, as avowed unbelievers in the divine authority of the scriptures, or downright Atheists. The secret is here: by tolerating the dreamy visions of Joe Smith, they are enabled with more ease to dispense with Jesus Christ and his doctrines.

    Mormonism always fights with desperation; and, if it cannot save its own life, it resolves to stab all other faiths, good and bad. Here lies another of the secrets both of its triumphs: and its havoc. It throws multitudes into this predicament. It urges them to feel and to say -- " We must be either Mormons or Deists." Some dread the latter; many more shrink back from the former. It concentrates all its energies, to throw the minds of those who will listen to its appeals, at once, and at all hazards, into such a position. Can any one, of common sense, doubt the result, whether it were publicly apparent or not?

    The author of this volume has desired to meet and repulse both of the above tendencies of the Mormon scheme. He


                                             INTRODUCTION.                                           5

    has aimed to place the Bible and the Book of Mormon in their true relative positions; and to show that the distance which separates them is infinite; the one proceeding from the light of heaven, the other from the chaos and darkness of the pit. He has no personal ill-will towards any of the Mormons. Be neighbors and fellow-citizens, he would desire, in all his social intercourse with them, to treat them with kindness and respect. But to treat their opinions, or their books in a similar manner, is beyond the reach of his capacity. Nor does he believe: that the public good either requires or admits it. "Soft answers may turn away wrath," but they cannot cure fanatics. The faith of the Mormons, and the practices by which it has been propagated, are of a class which, "to be hated, needs but to be seen" in their true light. They require, therefore, to be exposed. Their Prophet complains that others have called him an impostor and a knave. It will be for himself and others to judge, whether this book does not prove him such. What course he and his friends may take in reference to it, is uncertain. They may pass it by in silent, affected contempt. They may call it all so many "dissenters' and Gentiles' lies." They may also hunt out all the errors, misprints, and misquotations, or inaccurate references, which doubtless will be found here, as well as in the inspired works of Smith, and array these, as a specimen of the whole argument, before their credulous readers. There is one thing, however, they will not do: they will not recommend the book as it is, to the perusal of their followers, as a means of strengthening their faith. Yet they may even pretend to do this, in order to falsify our prediction. As in the game of "outwitting the devil," which we shall have occasion to state, a few months reflection will doubtless enable Smith's divinity to hit upon the most prudent course, whether silence, or contempt, or review.

    Like all other fanaticisms, Mormonism, is adapted in its own nature to awaken either the indignation and contempt,


    6                                          INTRODUCTION.                                          

    or the sympathy and compassion of mankind. It is not the design of this book to excite the latter; but rather, by invoking the former, to exterminate, if possible, that silly credulity on which all similar delusions rest. The folly of Mormonism and the Mormons, and the turpitude of their leaders, are the principal themes of our pages. We leave to them the appropriate task of bewailing the miseries and ruin of this strange and extravagant enthusiasm.

    The chapter on "Fanaticisms" may seem to some useless; to others harsh, misanthropic, and injurious. But their are particular reasons for presenting the subject of human credulity in its most gross and revolting aspects, aside "from its direct bearing on Mormonism. Skeptical writers often insinuate, that if Christians only knew what they know of human credulity, it would destroy their belief in all forms of faith, Christianity not excepted. There is therefore an advantage in admitting, in the outset, even more than they claim on this point, and expressing it in terms equally severe; not only because it is true, but also because it prepares the way more effectually to demolish and annihilate their absurd inferences from that truth. The facts presented, both in this and the other chapters, are indeed far more numerous than it would be either needful or proper to quote in a strictly philosophical essay on these subjects. But if we would increase the real power of true religion, we must first weaken popular credulity. To accomplish this we must exhibit facts. Mere reasoning, with a bare allusion to the facts, can never produce the desired effect in the mass of minds. Again. we ought to take out of the hands of the skeptic the immense advantage which he gains, in first presenting such facts, and then wielding them as arguments against Christianity, by pretending that Christians are either ignorant of them, or afraid to allude to them. "We, the philosophers," say they, "will give you facts, equally as wonderful as any pretended miracles, which the priests strive to keep you ignorant of."


                                             INTRODUCTION.                                           7

    The skeptic should not have this advantage. Better to give him his rope, and then strangle him with the knots which he ties with his own hands.

    Chapter fourth presents only an outline, and by no means a full view, of the proper evidences of Christianity. In giving up human testimony entirely, as a proper basis of religious faith, it may strike some minds that we must also give up Christianity. It is hoped that this chapter will lead them to such reflections as will show that they are mistaken -- that they have really no ground for any such fear.

    The chapters on the history, books, and faith of the Mormons may seem still more objectionable to many -- on the ground that the subjects are often treated with too much harshness and levity. The reader is requested to consider, in the first place, that it is difficult to make that which is in its own nature ridiculous, appear respectable, when truly presented; and that is indeed hard to reason down by mere argument, what has in no manner been reasoned up. To those who can appreciate sound reason these chapters are unnecessary. But to the multitudes who are endangered by Mormonism mere reason can do no good. Throwing aside all other considerations, the author in these chapters, has endeavored so to present the subject, that its inherent grossness and absurdity may be felt, even by those whose reason cannot perceive the truth. He would not simply arm them with arguments, but with what, in many cases, is more powerful than arguments -- with contempt. A Mormon, it is believed, will find it difficult either to reason with, or to proselyte any man who has read this book, however unlearned he may be. This opinion is based not on conjecture, but on actual experiment.

    By most, probably, the seeming spirit of the book will be deemed its greatest fault. It is hoped, however, that what may seem useless and even offensive to some, may prove useful to others. The subject is peculiar; the classes of minds to be influenced are equally peculiar; and if the author


    4                                          INTRODUCTION.                                          

    has wholly Missed his aim, he hopes some one more able, and more successful, will soon supply the deficiency. There is need of it. Yet all must be aware that to write a book on such a subject is indeed a thankless task.

    The present volume is the work of a few weeks' leisure. Neither other duties, nor the merits of the subject, would allow of expending either time or thought on mere style, as such. It is not probable that any able critic will trouble himself to read, much less to review, what is here written. If he should, he will probably find, so far as style is concerned, much to condemn, and little to approve. The ordinary reader, it is hoped, will pardon the book as it is; and, if his taste is sometimes offended, apply himself more exclusively to the thought: if that is generally understood, it is all the author has found time to attempt, and more, probably, than be has performed. If the book in any degree tends to strengthen rational faith, and annihilate its antagonist credulity, it will be all that can be hoped from it. Proximity to the evil, disgust with its authors, abhorrence of their impudent perfidy, their political intrigues, and pretended sanctity, together with the constant fear of an impending civil war, may induce those near at hand, both to think, feel, and speak with greater severity, than others, more remote, may judge either wise or expedient.

    It is by no means intended, however, that the great body of the Mormons are obnoxious to these charges. They are in general, an ignorant, simple, honest, industrious, deluded people. But their leaders are NOT deluded. They know perfectly well the full scope of their own perfidious aims; which, absurd as they may seem to some, are neither more nor less than a religious monarchy in these free states, of which they themselves are to be the centers and the demigods.

    Mormonism, if suffered to spread extensively, and unite with Atheism and Romanism, its natural allies, will soon have power to disturb, not single states only, but the entire Union.


    [ 9 ]

    C O N T E N T S.




    13  Mormon Works -- Smith's conversion -- Vision -- Obtains the plates -- Employs Harris -- Mode of translation -- His books -- New Bible --First Mormon church -- Union with Rigdon, in Ohio -- Rigdon's doctrines and spasms -- His conversion and baptism -- Removal of the church to Ohio -- Kirtland miracles -- Reflections on the real origin of the Mormon doctrines, and the causes of their original success



    34  Endowment and journey to Missouri -- Multitude of elders and proselytes -- Character of proselytes -- Gift of tongues -- Big firm, banks, temple, study of Hebrew, &c. -- Mormon pentecost -- Removal to Mt. Zion, Mo. -- Mob of Jackson co. -- Consequent revelation to Smith -- Army of Zion -- Retreats -- Disturbance in Caldwell -- Salt Sermon -- The Danites -- Poisoning the wells -- The Destructionists -- Rigdon's famous Fourth of July oration -- The prophet's harangue at the head of his troops -- Expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri -- Tragedy at How's Mills -- Mob law -- Arrival of the Mormons at Quincy -- Number and progress of the Mormons -- Charters -- Result of persecution -- Authorities, proclamations, recent revelations, and present designs of Smith -- New temple -- Baptism for the dead -- Polls -- Dangers of civil war.


    10                                   C O N T E N T S.                                   



    65  Instinct of faith -- Instinct of independence -- Desire of power -- Operation of these to produce general credulity and fanaticism -- False Messiahs -- Peculiar analogous fanaticisms -- Serpentinians -- Millenarians -- Circoncelleones -- Stylites -- Eonites -- Beghards -- Quietists -- Whippers, Dancers, Jumpers, and men of Understanding -- Anabaptists -- Davidists -- Illuminati -- Knipperdolings -- Madame Bourignon -- Seekers -- Muggletonians -- Camisards -- Falling Swords -- Swedenborgians -- Salem witchcraft -- Glassites -- Ann Lee -- Jemima Wilkinson -- Joanna Southcote -- Richard Brothers -- French infidels -- Mad Thom, Dilks, Davidson, Miss Campbell, Irving, Matthias, and Joe Smith -- Successive crops of fanatics, and causes -- General agreement of fanatics -- The bottle conjurer -- Love of exciting marvels -- Rules for fanatics



    110  Grounds of caution -- Charter of freedom -- Basis of false schemes of faith -- 1. Force -- 2. Sympathy -- 3. Fanatical experience -- 4. Human testimony -- God's judgment of -- Value of testimony -- Puerility of skeptics -- True grounds for religious belief -- Existence of the Deity -- Personal experience -- Inherent truth of Christianity -- Objections, interpolations, &c. -- Proofs from inevitable inference -- God's mode of furnishing the facts -- Man's mode of explaining them -- Origin of the Bible -- Authority of the Bible -- Laws of nature -- Moral necessity of miracles -- Hume's sophism -- Examples of facts to be explained -- Conclusion.


                                      C O N T E N T S.                                   11



    149  Its claims -- Character of Smith -- Contrasted with Moses -- The sainted twelve of Smith -- Testimony of Smith's three witnesses -- Character of Harris by Smith -- by his own wife -- Character of Cowdery and Whitmer by Smith -- by others -- Capacity of witnesses -- Eye of faith, power of God, &c. -- Disinterestedness of witnesses -- Testimony of the eight witnesses -- Smith's mode of translation.



    182  Evidences from prophecy -- Internal evidence -- Jared's barges -- One hundred and sixteen pages stolen -- Patent English -- Style, authorship, and titles -- Real origin of the Book of Mormon -- Origin of the stone spectacles -- Smith's four year's vacation -- Testimony of John Spaulding -- of Henry Lake -- The Spaulding Manuscript -- Smith's meeting with Harris -- Probable mode of acquiring the book -- Wonderful providences -- War with Missouri yet to come.



    223  The two priesthoods -- First presidency, &c. -- Powers of Smith -- Number of Dignitaries -- Doctrines of faith -- Trinity -- Mormon sacrifice of all things -- Miracles -- Gifts of healing, prophets, &c. -- Casting out devils -- Hierarchy -- Witness of the Spirit -- Equality with God -- Pre-existence -- Preaching -- Creeds -- Real belief of Mormons -- Suppressed and altered revelations -- Patriarchal blessings.


    12                                   C O N T E N T S.                                  



    249  Morbid imagination -- Morbid emotions -- Popular errors as regards human testimony -- as regards influences of Holy Spirit -- St. Bernard -- Land pirate -- Sympathetic convulsions -- Black-death in Germany -- Terantismus in Italy -- Tigretia of Abyssinia -- Tremblers of Cevennes, and Camisards -- Convulsions of St. Medcord -- Animal Magnetism -- Convulsions at Harlaem -- at Anglesea and Unst -- Kirk officer -- English factory -- Revivals at Everton, Cambuslang, and Kentucky -- Jerks, Barks, and Mormons -- Philosophy of these phenomena -- Consequences of absurd opinions -- Internal revelations, visions, raptures, holy comforts, &c. -- Old Monks -- Art of dreaming -- Marvellous experiences of the Mormons -- Sectarianism -- Mystic interpretation -- Mystic and Mormon deity -- Mormon facility of argument -- War on human nature -- Gifts of healing -- Dr. Gerbi's bugs -- Scurvy at Pruda -- Perkins' metallic tractors -- Prophet Austin -- These cures not miracles -- Mormons increase through neglect -- Policy of their leaders


    [ 13 ]





    Mormon Works -- Smith's conversion -- Vision -- Obtains the plates -- Employs Harris -- Mode of translation -- His books -- New Bible -- First Mormon church -- Union with Rigdon, in Ohio -- Rigdon's doctrines and spasms -- His conversion and baptism -- Removal of the church to Ohio -- Kirtland miracles -- Reflections on the real origin of the Mormon doctrines, and the causes of their original success.

    THOUGH the Mormons profess that all their members are personally inspired, and directed of the Lord in all they do, in proportion to their individual faith, still they have but two books which claim to be pre-eminently Divine Revelations, viz., the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrines and Covenants, both the offspring of J. Smith.

    Besides these, they have several other books of great authority and influence in the church, as Pratt's Voice of Warning, reserved volumes and numbers of their past and present periodicals, from the early history of their church to the present day -- e.g., Morning and Evening Star; Messenger and Advocate; Elders' Journal, together with numerous pamphlets, published occasionally, in defence of their church, by their leading elders and functionaries.


    14                                   SMITH'S  CONVERSION.                                  

    THE BOOK OF MORMON was first published by J. Smith, 1830, at Palmyra, N. York, and professes to be the foundation of their whole scheme; in short, a new revelation from God containing "the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ," by which God shall "work a great and marvelous work," " bringing to nought the wisdom of the wise," "gather the children of Israel," and "convince Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ." *

    Smith's account of the manner in which he discovered the golden plates, from which he translated the Book of Mormon, is as follows.

    In the year 1823, when our prophet was about seventeen years of age, his mind became, for the first time deeply excited on the subject of religion, by Mr. Lane, a devoted and talented elder of the Methodist church, under whose preaching there was "a great awakening," and numbers among whom were our prophet and several members of his family, were "professedly added to the kingdom of the Lord." After the revival ceased, the usual strife for proselytes between the several sects commenced; this resulted, so far as the Smiths were concerned, in bringing the mother, one sister, and two brothers into the Presbyterian church; but leaving Joseph, as he states, in disgust with all the sects, and almost in despair of ever coming to the knowledge of the truth, amid so many contradictory and conflicting claims. He resorted to prayer for "a full manifestation of Divine approbation," and "for the assurance that he was accepted of him." This occurred some time in the winter of 1823.

    * See title-page; also the words of the angel to J. Smith. Messenger and Advocate, Vol. I. p. 198.


                                  THE  ANGEL'S  APPEARANCE.                               15

    On the memorable evening of the 21st of September following, after the rest of the family had retired, while engaged in meditation, watching, and prayer to God, suddenly his room was filled with light, "far more pure and glorious than the light of day," and above the brightness of the sun, when lo! a form stood before him, whose face was as lightning, and whose person beamed forth still more refulgent and unutterable splendor. This personage was of somewhat more than ordinary size, his garments were pure white and apparently without seam. This angel (as he proved to be) proceeded to inform Smith that his sins were forgiven and that the Lord had chosen him to bring forth and translate the Book of Mormon, which one Moroni, the last of the Nephites, of the seed of Israel had abridged from the records of his tribe, and engraved on plates of gold, and deposited in a stone box upon the hill Camorah, in Manchester, N. Y., about three miles from his father's house, where said records had already laid deposited about 1400 years. * Notwithstanding all these marvels were twice repeated before morning, and definite instructions given; still Smith says that the next day he went to his "labor as usual." (?) Soon the messenger re-appeared, and warned him to go immediately to the spot described, in search of the plates. †

    He went, and found them deposited in a box of stone, near the surface of the earth, nicely secured both from air and moisture, by means of a peculiar cement applied to the joints of the box. The plates were thin leaves of gold, six or eight inches square, and held together at one edge by metallic rings passing through each leaf.

    On removing the slight deposit of earth, and the

    * See B. of M., p. 529.

    † See Mess. and Adv. p. 156.


    16                                   SMITH  AND  THE  PLATES.                                  

    stone from the top, he attempted to take possession of the records or plates; but he received a shock which not only frustrated his attempt, but also deprived him of his natural strength. This was repeated three times, until finally he involuntarily exclaimed aloud, "Why cannot I obtain this book?" Suddenly the angel of the Lord appears, and informs him, that it was because he had on his way to the hill indulged in mercenary thoughts and desires in regard to enriching himself and his family by the possession of the plates, and the sale of the wonderful book he was about to translate therefrom.

    He resorted to prayer; and again "the heavens were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone around him." Satan and his hosts passed before him, and the angel proceeded to instruct him still further, declaring that he must desire to obtain and translate the plates solely for the glory of God, and the good of his fellow man, without any selfish or pecuniary desires, either in relation to himself or his family, else his gift and power would be taken from him.

    However, he was not permitted to take the plates at this time; but after listening to a long discourse from the angel, he withdrew, and engaged in the service of a man by the name of Stowell, who resided in the town of Bainbridge, Chenango Co., N. York. Stowell employed him, as Smith says, "to dig for a cave of silver, secreted by the Spaniards" near Harmony, Penn., where he first became acquainted with Miss Emma Hale, daughter of Isaac Hale, Esq., of that place. He spent some months, with several others, in search of this treasure, as he states, in the employ of Stowell.

    * See Adv. Vol. I. p. 100


                                  SMITH  EMPLOYS  HARRIS.                               17

    Four years after this memorable 22d of September, 1823, i. e. on the 22d of September, 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records or plates of the Nephites to Joseph Smith, and with them the mystic "Urim and Thummim," or two stones set in a bow, found in the same box with the plates; by looking through these, he was to be enabled to translate the record from the reformed Egyptian, in which unknown tongue they were first written, into what he calls the English language.

    As regards his history and employment during these four years, we must look to other sources for information, which we shall do hereafter. The reader will, in the mean time, bear in mind this story of Smith himself. Neither are we told who covered and secured the box again, although we are advised that these four years of the prophet's life did not roll away without their appropriate marvels; all which matters, together with the events of the foregoing history, were related and varied to suit the exigencies of the case, until the year 1834, when. the history was first interlarded with prophetic declarations of the angel, which had already been fulfilled, the whole story new vamped, stereotyped, and given to the world for the edification of the saints, in the columns of the Messenger and Advocate, under the supervision of Smith, and by the hand of Oliver Cowdery, in substance as above narrated.

    Martin Harris, the first dupe and coadjutor of Smith, at the time of these transactions, (in the fall of 1827,) gave a very different account of the whole matter, on the authority of Smith, to the editor of the Episcopal Recorder, to which I shall refer the reader, instead of repeating the story here. Of the character


    18                                   MODE  OF  TRANSLATION.                                  

    of Harris I shall speak hereafter. However, Smith persuaded Harris to engage with him in translating and publishing the book, which ultimately cost Harris a farm, worth, as it is said, $10,000.

    At this time, Smith himself was both poor and unable to write for the press; Harris therefore loaned him his estate for expenditures, and his hand as scribe.

    According to one account given by Mr. Harris, Joseph suspended a thick blanket across the room, on one side of which he sat and looked through his Urim and Thummim, or stone spectacles, and the Lord caused the correct translation of the mystic record to pass before his eyes, word for word, which he (Joseph) uttered aloud, a word at a time, while Harris sat on the other side of the blanket, and wrote down all as he heard it from Smith.

    Of course the divine wrath was denounced against all who should attempt to gain a view of the plates, except Smith. This kept Martin in his place, though not without some trouble, as sundry revelations. show in the Book of Covenants; until he finally gave place to Oliver Cowdery, as scribe, by whose aid the book was completed and published in 1830, three years after the pretended reception of the plates; thus giving from 1823, when the plates were discovered, to 1827, when they were obtained, four years, for general scheming, and three years for translation, from '27 to '30.

    Various other stories have been circulated as regards the manner of translation; e. g., it is said by the Mormons that Smith put his stones into his hat, and placed

    * See Book of Cov. § 32.


                                         BOOKS  OF  SMITH.                                       19

    his face close to them, and thus saw the words through the stones; in reference to which only one thing is important to be noted, to wit: they all agree in making the Lord responsible not only for the thought, but also for the language of the book, from the necessity of the case, for they all claim that the words passed before Smith's eyes while looking through the pellucid stones.

    The reader will please bear this in mind while reading the chapter on internal evidence.

    The Book of Mormon is a duodecimo volume of 588 pages, consisting of fifteen different books, purporting to be written at different times by the authors whose names they bear. These historical books profess to cover a period of about 1000 years, from the time of Zedekiah, king of Judea, to A. D. 420.

    It is not my purpose to give even an outline of this bundle of gibberish, further than to remark that is professes to trace the history of the aborigines of this continent, in their apostasies, pilgrimages, trials, adventures, and wars, from the time of their leaving Jerusalem, in the reign of Zedekiah, under one Lehi, down to their final disaster, near the hill Camorah, N. Y., where Smith found his bible; in which final contest, according to the prophet Moroni, about 230,000 were slain in a single battle, and he alone escaped to tell the tale. All which we learn through Joseph Smith, by means of the plates and stones already mentioned. Did not this book claim divine authority, it would perhaps be about as harmless as the same amount of nonsense could well be, and might be read with no direct evil, excepting loss of time.

    The Book of Covenants and Revelations, as it is called, contains about 250 pages, 18mo.


    20                                      BOOKS  OF  SMITH.                                      

    The first seventy-two pages contain a series of seven lectures on faith, with questions and answers appended .to each, touching peculiar doctrines of the church.

    Part second is mainly occupied with professed revelations given at sundry times, by God, to J. Smith, respecting the translation of the Book of Mormon, the organization, doctrines, and government of the church; management of it, finances, sending forth preachers, building temples and dwellings for Smith, * removing to the West, founding Mt. Zion in. Missouri, and purchasing lands there, for an everlasting. possession, (?) transferring town-lots, tavern-houses, joint stock, tan-yards, chewing tobacco, doctoring cows, feeding horses, hogs, and hens; in short, revelations touching all those spiritual matters, in which Joe Smith's divinity, in this latter-day glory of the church, appears to have felt a deep and peculiar interest. This is truly the Black Book of Mormonism.

    The whole design of it, from beginning to end, is, to concentrate power and resources around Joe Smith and his compeers, and to swindle the poor fools who believe it divinely inspired, at once out of their money and their wits. It has really exerted a thousand fold more influence, on the doctrines and destinies of the Mormon church, than all other books put together; still it is usually kept in the background; and the Book of Mormon thrown forward, as their main authority, next after the Bible. True, its main design is tolerably concealed, though sufficiently apparent to any man who will compare the several revelations with the actual condition and history of the church at the time they were given. But more of this hereafter.

    * B. C. p. 189.


                                              NEW  BIBLE.                                           21

    Parley P. Pratt's "Voice of Warning" does not profess peculiar inspiration, but is considered by the Mormons as the most able exposition and defence of their peculiar doctrines, especially those which they derive from the prophecies and those which pertain to the "kingdom of God," or, the organization of the church.

    Smith has another work of considerable importance and interest in manuscript, parts of which only have as yet been given to the world. This is a new edition of the Holy Scriptures; "Translated through the power, and gift of God," "by Joseph Smith, jr., the Prophet of the Lord." But how translated? Does Smith understand either Hebrew or Greek? Not at all: but he can read or translate any thing through his famous stones, even the gibberish, which the Mormons mumble over, when they are endowed with the marvelous "gift of tongues," of which so much "hath been spoken."

    The truth is, Smith at first knew so little of what was in the Bible, which he professed to believe, that he had not proceeded far, before a new translation of 'that was indispensable, to save both him and his cause from utter disgrace and ruin.

    Accordingly in this new edition, whole verses and almost entire chapters are added to the original text as occasion requires. In proof of which, compare the 34th of Exodus and the 24th of Matthew with this new translation. But as these examples may not be accessible to some, I will refer to those extracts quoted from the "new translation" in the Book of Covenants, p. 13, et seq.; in which, few verses, taken from the first chapters of Genesis, the doctrines of the trinity, viz., Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, also of the atonement of sacrifices,


    22                                    MORMON  CHURCHES.                                    

    and their import, are fully set forth by the angel of the Lord to Adam.

    Is this from the Hebrew text, or from Smith's stone spectacles? Still these are far from being the worst examples of this new translation; they are only referred to as being most universally at hand. I fear Joseph will have to make several translations more, before he will succeed in making the Bible, in whole or in part, accord either with the Mormon bible or the Book of Covenants, or with the. Mormon hierarchy and church government.

    It is wise to keep this new translation in manuscript, for the special use of the "saints." The profane eyes of the Gentiles might see more in it than is written, even though much more is written than ever was found: in the original text. People who have not faith never exercise a sound and devout discretion in such matters. "But the Lord knoweth them that are his." So says Joseph Smith; and it is kind to reserve now and then a sweet morsel for their special benefit, especially as he is the authorized prophet of God, to "All Nations, kindreds, people, and tongues."

    The remaining periodicals and pamphlets of this sect need no further notice here.

    Immediately after the translation of the Book of Mormon, i. e. on the 6th of April, 1830; the; first Mormon church was organized in Manchester, N. Y., with only six members, viz., Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Samuel Smith, the father and brothers of the prophet, Oliver Cowdery, scribe to Smith, Joseph Knight, and the prophet: Of these, of course, Joseph Smith, jun., the prophet; was "called and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ," and first elder of the new


                                       MORMON  CHURCHES.                                     23

    church, which afterwards assumed the title of the "Church of Latter Day Saints." Oliver Cowdery, the scribe, was, with like propriety, appointed second elder. *

    Soon after, a branch was established at Fayette, and the June following, another in Colesville, N. Y., not far from Bainbridge, where Joseph was employed in 1823, by Stowell, to dig for money as we have seen.

    Twenty were added to the churches in Manchester and Fayette in the month of April, and on the 28th of June following, thirteen were added in Colesville.

    In October, 1830, the number had increased to between seventy and eighty, when four of the elders, P. P. Pratt, O. Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and Tiba Peterson, started for the west, on a mission to the Indians; and in passing, founded a branch of the church in Kirtland, in the northeast part of Ohio. Here they baptized 130 disciples in less than four weeks, and before the next spring, the number was increased to about 1000.

    As this passage in their history is somewhat marvelous in the eyes of others, as well as in the estimation of the Mormons themselves, who declare "that the word of God grew and multiplied, and many priests were obedient to the faith," I shall pause a moment to elucidate it.

    It is evident that here Mormonism first received a decided and resistless impulse. In N. York, where Smith was well known, it crept in the dirt, and still does to this day; but here it rose at once and soared as on the wings of the wind. What then is the cause of this phenomenon? Many in the east have supposed

    * B. of C. p. 77, and Mess. and Adv., Vol. I, p. 204.


    24                                  PRATT  AND  RIGDON.                                  

    that the backwoodsmen of the west are of course either infidels or natural fools, in all matters of faith; and therefore ready to believe this or any other novel absurdity. I admit that we are all, naturally, sufficiently credulous. Nor do we claim any more than our due share of folly in this respect. But I think a more particular and satisfactory solution of this question is at hand.

    The fact is, Mormonism, either by accident or intrigue, here met for the first time and concurred in a new system of doctrines prepared to its hand, and thus gained over to itself their original founders, P. P. Pratt and Sidney Rigdon, and secured not only their talent and zeal in its behalf, but also that of all, or at least, a great part of their followers. This happy concurrence of circumstances, united with the wily policy and stirring eloquence of Pratt and Rigdon, stirred up a popular fanatical sympathy, and set the ball to rolling with resistless force. But to be more particular:

    About the year 1827, A. Campbell, W. Scott, and Sidney Rigdon, with some others residing. in Virginia and Ohio, came off from the Baptist church, and established a new order under the name of Reformed Baptists.

    Among these reformers, Mr. Rigdon, it appears, held to the literal interpretation of the prophecies, as the saints now do, and taught that the long lost tribes of Israel were soon to be restored, and that marvelous revolutions were at hand, not only affecting the moral, but also the political, and even the animal world.

    These doctrines he not only: taught and enforced with all that versatility and power of popular eloquence, with which he is said to be peculiarly gifted, but he


                                     PRATT  AND  RIGDON.                                   25

    also brought to his aid the eccentric and grotesque workings of a nervous and enthusiastic temperament, which at times threw him into spasms and swoonings, similar to those nervous agitations which have so often prevailed, not only in individual instances, but raged as epidemics both in and out of the churches. These fits he interpreted into the agency of the Holy Spirit, as multitudes had done before him, and contended that the miraculous spiritual gifts of the apostolic age were now about to be restored to the church.

    Here we meet for the first time with the Mormon doctrine of prophecies and miracles, in a region where Smith and his bible were never heard of, and long before either of these doctrines had appeared, distinctly, in any of the books, or, probably, in the thoughts of Smith.

    The credulous and simple of course believed all he taught, especially when he confirmed his doctrine by nervous spasms and swooning, and their attendant rhapsodies and marvelous visions. Many hundreds were thus deluded and gathered into a church under his preaching, in Lake county, Ohio. Other preachers soon united their efforts with his, among whom was the famous Parley P. Pratt, the present mouthpiece of the saints. After his conversion to the doctrines of Rigdon; while on a journey, as he says, to visit his native place, Columbia county, N. Y., in August of 1830, he fell in with the Book of Mormon, which had then been published about six months, and gathered about fifty disciples in N. Y. "He was greatly prejudiced against it at first, but after praying to God he became convinced of its truth," as he says, "by the power of the Holy Ghost."


    26                     RIGDON'S  CONVERSION  AND  BAPTISM.                    

    But whether he had a jerk, or a twitch, or a swoon, he has not informed us. On his return to Ohio, he presented the book to his valiant compeer in the faith, Sidney Rigdon. With much persuasion and argument he was prevailed upon to read it, and after a great struggle in his mind, he of course fully believed and embraced it.

    Probably he was convinced in like manner, by a similar spirit and power; for it is indeed difficult to see bow any man, especially of a nervous temperament, could read Smith's book through without being thrown into some sort of hysterics. The marvel is, that it should ever have happened otherwise.

    Cowdery, in the mean time, had converted about seventeen of his society. Rigdon immediately assembled his old followers; a great congregation was gathered, and while he harangued them for nearly two hours, both himself and most of his congregation melted into tears. The next morning himself and wife were baptized, when again there was another outpouring of hysterics and tears; and during the fall of 1830, and the following winter and spring, many of his old disciples, and some others, in all about 1000, were baptized into the Mormon faith. In the glowing language of Pratt, "the Holy Spirit was mightily poured out, the word of God grew and multiplied and many priests were obedient to the word." In about three weeks after he was converted, Rigdon visited Smith, in N. York, and since that time has continued apparently at his feet, drawing his inspiration from the fountain head. Here he not only received a confirmation of his faith; but also a command from the Lord, * through Smith,

    * B. C. 117.


                                        REMOVAL  TO  OHIO.                                     27

    well suited both to his vanity and his aims. It is also reported that Rigdon, after joining the church, and spending a little time in Kirtland, was afraid he had been deceived, and visited Smith to have his doubts removed. He says that on arriving in N. Y., he went first to the enemies, and then to the friends of the church, and heard both stories, and the result was, that he was so fully convinced of the "truth," that he afterward told A. Campbell, "that if Smith should be proved a liar, or say himself that he never found the Book of Mormon, as he reported, he should still believe, and also believe that all who rejected it would be damned." Such remarkable piety rendered it highly expedient that the Lord should appoint him; forthwith, by an express revelation, the orator and oracle of the faith. * This, however, is no unusual instance of faith among the Mormons. I have heard many of them express the same idea. Surely such faith should work wonders, and who can doubt that it does?

    On the return of Rigdon in January, 1831, not only Smith, but also the whole church, removed, by divine commandment, from N. York to Kirtland, Ohio. †

    During the fall and winter of '30 and '31, Kirtland was continually crowded with visitors, who came from all quarters to inquire after the "New Religion." About this time, as we are informed by credible historians and eye-witnesses, "many in the church became very visionary and had divers operations of the Spirit." They saw wonderful lights in the air and on the ground, and had many miraculous visions and experiences. Their conduct grew more and more eccentric and absurd. Sometimes they imitated the grotesque antics of

    * See B. C. 117:5-6.
    † B. C. 119:7.


    28                                   KIRTLAND  MIRACLES.                                  

    the wild Indian, in knocking down, scalping, and tearing out the bowels of his victim, thus anticipating the hour of their fancied mission to those lost souls of Jacob.

    Again, they ran into fields, mounted upon stumps, and, while absorbed in vision, and insensible to all around them, they plunged into the waters of baptism, or harangued the imaginary multitudes by whom they thought they were surrounded. Some professed to receive letters direct from heaven, written on stones or parchment, in characters which they alone had power to translate, and which vanished as soon as the work was performed. Others fell into a trance, and continued apparently lifeless for a long time, and woke only to relate the wonders they had seen touching the future glory of the saints, and the destruction of the unbelieving. Sometimes their faces, bodies, and limbs were violently distorted and convulsed, until they fell prostrate on the ground. Indeed, it is reported by an eye-witness, that at first the laying on the hands of their converts to confer the gift of the Holy Spirit, generally produced an instaneous prostration of both body and mind, often followed by the wonderful gift of tongues, as was supposed, in Indian dialects; which, indeed, none could understand expect by direct inspiration. Some, in imitation of the prophet, received magic stones, through which they professed to see and describe not only the persons, but the dress and employments of persons hundreds of miles distant.

    On page 182, B. C., there is an allusion to one of these marvelous stones given to Hiram Page, and translated by him. A new revelation respecting these wonders, and the spirits which produced them, may be


                                     GIFTS  OF  HEALING.                                   29

    found on page 134, B. C. It seems that Smith's paternal affection for the stone mania led him to treat that with some deference while he condemned all else as the work of the devil, through a most prolific source not only of wonder and faith to the saints, but of conversions.

    All these eccentricities were undoubtedly in part hypocrisy, and in part the natural result of a contagious sympathy, emanating from Smith and Rigdon, and diffusing itself, on well-known epidemic principles, to be noticed more fully hereafter. The more substantial part of the church, however, soon became disgusted and appealed to Smith. After due prayer and deliberation he very wisely had a new revelation, informing them, in substance, that it was all the work of the devil., as mentioned above. It may be well to notice that the stone fever originated in Smith, while Rigdon seems to have been the original proprietor of the trance-vision, and spouting fever. After this new turn in their affairs, Smith and Rigdon appear to have taken to themselves the entire monopoly of wonders of all sorts, and to have commended the saints to the more quiet and appropriate duty of believing. This philosophical division of labor has doubtless conduced much to the quiet of general society, and the edification and docility of the saints. In the winter of 1831, the opinion that they should never taste death, was propagated among them, and all diseases were to yield, not to the profane aid of medicine, but to the faith, prayers, herbs, and poultices of the devout. *

    The prophet himself, however, in the case of his "elect lady," had recourse to s surgeon, greatly to the

    * B. C. 123, 12.


    30                         ORIGIN  OF  MORMON  DOCTRINES.                        

    grief and scandal of the church. Others of less note were piously left to die in the hands of their elders and root doctors. 


    From the preceding narrative, which is taken from their own published writings, so far as the leading facts are concerned, * the inferences are at once apparent and inevitable.

    1. Rigdon and Pratt had been busy, either by accident or intrigue, in preparing for the triumph of Mormonism, in Ohio, for three years before the people in that region ever heard of Smith or his book; that is, from the year 1827, the very same year in which Smith pretends he commenced the translation of the plates, up to the year 1830 when Rigdon and Pratt were professedly converted.

    2. Rigdon, and not Smith, was the originator of their doctrines concerning the literal fulfillment of the prophecies, the restoration of the Jews, the literal reign of the saints in Zion, and the restoration of the miraculous gifts of the apostolic age to the modern church; and that, too, according to their own showing. † Yet these doctrines lie at the foundation of the Mormon church, as all know. Take away these, and there is nothing left in their whole system of sufficient power to engross the intellect of an ape.

    3, Before the union of these two forces, Mormonism

    * See Parley P. Pratt's Truth Vindicated, p. 40; Evening and Morning Star, Vol. I., p. 167 and 90; Corill's History of the Latter Day Saints, p. 16, et. seq.

    † See Pratt, as above, p. 40.


                                CAUSES  OF  THEIR  SUCCESS.                             31

    had neither form nor vigor, spirit nor power: it was a mere turbid ripple, eddying around the Smiths and Whitmers, and their money-digging comrades, without depth or motion, excepting in a very limited circle. It could scarce control the fate, much less excite the emotions of granny Smith herself. It had neither end nor aim, neither object nor force, beyond the already habitual and ordinary aspirations of Joseph, the money-digger. And, indeed, he did not know what to do with it himself, as we shall hereafter see. Before the accession of Rigdon, in 1830, not one of the peculiar and properly fundamental doctrines of Mormonism are to be found in the Book of Mormon; nor were they ever taught, so far as appears, by Smith, unless in loose generalities, which were susceptible of interpretations to suit the circumstances. *

    4. But after the conversion of Rigdon, things soon begin to wear a different aspect. Smith's divinity, in his revelations, appears more explicit, decisive, and imperative. He drops his vague generalities, and occasionally utters a word that is clear, definite, and to the point. He proceeds to organize his church, and propound its doctrines, government, and duties, as though he, at least, had some indistinct ideas of what he meant himself; until finally, after much ado, and great anguish of logomachy, he finally succeeds in making the Mormons understand, that they are to receive at the hands of Smith, as immediate revelations, the same doctrines that, in substance, Rigdon had taught them, while he was, as he admits, an outcast from God and the true church, during the three or four preceding years, and

    * See revelation on the rise of the church, Fayette, N. Y., June, 1830. B. of C., s2. p. 77.


    32                             CAUSES  OF  THEIR  SUCCESS.                            

    that they were to organize the church with two distinct priesthoods, the Melchisedec and the Aaronic, both embracing a sufficient number of presidents, bishops, prophets, priests, elders, &c., to make every Mormon a man of authority, taking due care ever to keep Smith and Rigdon on the top of the heap, "according to the ancient gospel." Let not the profane think strange of this; the ways of Providence are often mysterious, and if there is ever any thing inexplicable here, Joseph Smith, Jun. is fully empowered to receive special revelations, explanatory, whenever or wherever either the edification or the uneasiness of the saints may require them.

    5. Rigdon had been long accustomed to play upon the religious credulity of the people, and to arouse and concentrate the religious emotions of his fellow-men. He could preach, exhort, philosophize, rave, read, sing, pray, and cry whenever and wherever occasion required. And╩after the first "general heat," at each and all of these at once, which occurred at the time of his conversion, confession, and baptism. Mormonism caught, as we have seen, not only his followers and doctrines, but also his spirit, his eloquence, and even his faintings, his swoonings, visions, and ecstasies, and thus became "a thing of life," and rose at once, from wallowing in the gutter with Smith, to soar in the sky with its new compeer. Some have thought that Rigdon was from the first the secret originator of the whole scheme. But of this, to say the least, there is no proof. On the contrary, there is a strong probability that he has been to Mormonism what Peter the Hermit was to the crusades; not the originator of the fanatical materials, but the explosive power from which they derived all their


                                      RIGDON'S  CHARACTER.                                  33

    terror; their brilliancy, and their force. Still, what precise part in the comedy of Mormonism posterity may ultimately assign him is doubtful. Whether he is to be considered as the speaker of the prologue, or the hero, or the fool of the play, is yet doubtful. It is nevertheless true, and susceptible of moral demonstration, that if Sidney Rigdon had not lived, Joe Smith and his book must, have perished in the same timely grave; or rather, in all probability, Joe would have lived to bear the pall of his own book unaided, unhonored, and alone.

    It has often been asked, whether it is credible that a man of Rigdon's information should really believe the Book of Mormon a divine revelation? Those who are credulous enough to believe him sincere may do so if they please; but it is credible that a man of his perverted and ambitious temper, after having run through all creeds, dabbled in politics, turned skeptic, and then again enthusiast, -- is quite credible, that such a man should be converted, with tears in his eyes, to Joe Smith's creed, or any other, from which he could hope to raise the wind, and stand at the helm again, for a season. His well-known character and history render his sudden and whining conversion to Smith neither a mystery nor a miracle. Should Smith's divinity dare to assign him some more humble station among "the Latter Day Saints," probably the world would see him converted again, either to his former skepticism or to some newfangled fanaticism. At present Smith has evident need of him at Nauvoo, at least until some of their new charters have done their best.


    34                  ENDOWMENT  AND  JOURNEY  TO  MISSOURI.                  



    Endowment and journey to Missouri -- Multitude of elders and proselytes -- Character of proselytes -- Gift of tongues -- Big firm, banks, temple, study of Hebrew, &c. -- Mormon pentecost -- Removal to Mt. Zion, Mo. -- Mob of Jackson co. -- Consequent revelation to Smith -- Army of Zion -- Retreats -- Disturbance in Caldwell -- Salt Sermon -- The Danites -- Poisoning the wells -- The Destructionists -- Rigdon's famous Fourth of July oration -- The prophet's harangue at the head of his troops -- Expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri -- Tragedy at How's [sic] Mills -- Mob law -- Arrival of the Mormons at Quincy -- Number and progress of the Mormons -- Charters -- Result of persecution -- Authorities, proclamations, recent revelations, and present designs of Smith -- New temple -- Baptism for the dead -- Polls -- Dangers of civil war.

    IN June, 1831, the elders of the Mormon church, now about fifty in number, were commanded by revelation, through Smith, to assemble at Kirtland to receive the "endowment." The meeting was conducted by Smith. They had assembled expecting mighty exhibitions of something, they knew not what, and of course mighty results followed. The spirit of fanaticism appeared anew among the elders; in spite of counter revelations. "It threw one from his seat upon the floor;" it paralyzed another so that he could neither move nor speak. Other marvels occurred, until by a "mighty exertion in the name of the Lord," it was shown to from an evil source; and the evil spirits were then duly exorcised, and all was quiet. At last it was discovered that the great endowment consisted simply in ordaining a few more priests. The elders were somewhat disappointed and chagrined at the result; and finding it


                                      MULTITUDES  OF  ELDERS.                                  35

    This page not yet transcribed.


    36                                   CHARACTER  OF  PROSELYTES.                                  

    This page not yet transcribed.


                                      APPARENT  HUMILITY.                                  37

    This page not yet transcribed.


    38                                   GIFT  OF  TONGUES.                                  

    This page not yet transcribed.


                                            BIG  FIRM.                                       39

    This page not yet transcribed.


    40                                   TEMPLE,  HEBREW,  ETC.                                  

    This page not yet transcribed.


                                      MORMON  PENTECOST.                                  41

    This page not yet transcribed.


    42                                   MERCHANDISE -- BANKS.                                  

    This page not yet transcribed.


                      REMOVAL  TO  MOUNT  ZION,  MISSOURI.                 43

    This page not yet transcribed.


    44                       MOB  AT  JACKSON  COUNTY, MISSOURI.                      

    This page not yet transcribed.


                                    CONSEQUENT  REVELATIONS.                                45

    This page not yet transcribed.


    46                               ARMY  OF  ZION  MARCHES.                              

    This page not yet transcribed.


                            RETREAT  OF   THE  GRAND  ARMY.                       47

    This page not yet transcribed.


    48                     DISTURBANCES  IN  CALDWELL  COUNTY.                    

    This page not yet transcribed.


                        DISTURBANCES  IN  CALDWELL  COUNTY.                  49

    This page not yet transcribed.


    50                                 SALT  SERMON -- DANITES                                

    This page not yet transcribed.


              DANITES  POISONING  WELLS -- DESTRUCTIONISTS.           51

    This page not yet transcribed.


    52                               RIGDON'S  ORATION  AND  SPIRIT.                              

    This page not yet transcribed.


                                    GEN.  SMITH'S  HARANGUE.                                53

    This page not yet transcribed.


    54                               EXPULSION  FROM  MISSOURI.                              

    This page not yet transcribed.


                                  PERSECUTION  OF  MORMONS.                                55

    This page not yet transcribed.


    56                               TRAGEDY  AT  HOW'S  MILLS.                              

    This page not yet transcribed.


                              CRIMINALITY  OF  THE  PARTIES.                           57

    This page not yet transcribed.


    58                                   ARRIVAL  AT  QUINCY.                                  

    This page not yet transcribed.


                                      ARRIVAL  AT  QUINCY.                                  59

    This page not yet transcribed.


    60                       NUMBER  AND  PROGRESS  OF  MORMONS.                      

    This page not yet transcribed.


                                      CHARTERS  IN  ILLINOIS.                                  61

    This page not yet transcribed.


    62                           RESULTS  OF  THE  PERSECUTION.                          

    This page not yet transcribed.


                          AUTHORITIES, PROCLAMATIONS,  ETC.                      63

    This page not yet transcribed.


    64                     TEMPLE,  BAPTISM,  POLLS,  CIVIL  WAR,  ETC.                      

    gold and silver, to the help of my people, to the house of the daughter of Zion!" &c. They are also informed that all must baptize for the dead at the temple at Nauvoo, after it is completed. This must eventually concentrate all Mormons around Nauvoo. Their standing army, chartered by the, state of Illinois is kept constantly on the drill under their general. Their books are full of prophecies of the utter destruction of all unbelievers, and the overthrow of all governments save their own, and still, full of the most courteous professions of subjection to the civil power. See B. C., pages 191,95, 117; Voice of Warning, page 186, &c., where it will be seen that unbelievers "shall, be cut off," brought "under the feet" of the Mormons, "torn in pieces," "destroyed from off the face of the land," &c., &c., and that too, as Pratt prophesies, in less than fifty years. Their leaders understand all this; their followers do not. It will, probably, be first expounded in full to the Missourians, for Smith's divinity is definitely and positively pledged to retake Zion in Jackson county, either by stratagem or force, or the whole scheme must inevitably fail, even with the Mormons. This explains the gathering at Nauvoo, on the borders of Missouri. Our demagogues would do well to look at these things before they involve us in a civil war with our sister state.

    Smith has also issued his mandate, enjoining all his followers to assemble at the polls and vote for the democratic ticket at the next election. This also explains the silence of many presses, and the pliancy and sycophancy of the demagogues in both political parties. Some of them flatter and fawn around the Mormons; all fear them. This is truly alarming. Real estate constantly falls in value, in their vicinity except that held by Mormons.


                                INSTINCT  OF  FAITH                             65



    Instinct of faith -- Instinct of independence -- Desire of power -- Operation of these to produce general credulity and fanaticism -- False Messiahs -- Peculiar analogous fanaticisms -- Serpentinians -- Millenarians -- Circoncelleones -- Stylites -- Eonites -- Beghards -- Quietists -- Whippers, Dancers, Jumpers, and men of Understanding -- Anabaptists -- Davidists -- Illuminati -- Knipperdolings -- Madame Bourignon -- Seekers -- Muggletonians -- Camisards -- Falling Swords -- Swedenborgians -- Salem witchcraft -- Glassites -- Ann Lee -- Jemima Wilkinson -- Joanna Southcote -- Richard Brothers -- French infidels -- Mad Thom, Dilks, Davidson, Miss Campbell, Irving, Matthias, and Joe Smith -- Successive crops of fanatics, and causes -- General agreement of fanatics -- The bottle conjurer -- Love of exciting marvels -- Rules for fanatics.

    HAVING considered the rise and progress of Mormonism, we pause for a moment to compare it with similar delusions.

    Much of the history of our race, in respect to religion, is the history of fanaticism. Amid so vast an amphitheater of religious lunatics, we shall find some more eccentric, if not more insane, than others; and by casting our eyes back upon the scene, and reflecting upon the credulity and weaknesses of the race, we shall be better prepared to appreciate this new development of human folly, and to contemplate its absurdities without either amazement or alarm.

    There are three fundamental principles which sway the destinies of the human race.

    1. The religious element in the nature of man, which I shall call the instinct of faith.

    2. The instinct of independence.

    Pages 66 to 87 not yet transcribed.


    88                             PARTICULAR  FANATICISMS.                            

    that they were the two last witnesses spoken of in Revelations. They denounced the "ministry of the churches as a lie and an abomination unto the Lord," declared that they were great prophets, had power to work miracles, absolve sins, &c., &c.

    The terrible persecutions which attended the revocation of the edict of Nantes, in 1685, were accompanied with another shoal of fanaticisms on the continent of Europe.

    Three years after, in 1688, the Camisards, or French prophets, appeared. In Dauphiny and Vivarais, in France, five or six hundred of both sexes gave out that they were prophets, inspired of the Holy Ghost. Their number soon increased to thousands, and though of all ages and sexes, they were mostly boys and girls from fifteen to twenty-five years of age. They had strange fits of trembling, fainting, and swooning. They fell on their backs, shut their eyes, saw heaven opened, the angels, paradise, and hell. They dropped down thus, not only in popular assemblies among thousands, but also in the fields alone they fell, and made the hills resound again with their cries for mercy, imprecations on the prevailing sects, and predictions of the near approach of the day of millennium glory. Then, New Jerusalem, the marriage of the Lamb, the reign of the Messiah, and acceptable year of the Lord, was of course to be ushered in by a deluge of judgments: -- sword, fire, famines, earthquakes, plagues, and wars, were all piously reserved for the benefit of their enemies; while the one faith, one baptism, one Lord, and one eternal reign of Mormon glory, was to be their own peculiar inheritance. They pretended not only to the gift of prophecy, but also to the gift of tongues, of miracles,


                              PARTICULAR  FANATICISMS.                           89

    and of healing, of discerning spirits and the secrets of the heart, and to the Mormon power of conferring all these by the laying on of hands. They were brought to the fullest conviction of the reality and truth of all their pretensions, by the internal voice of the Spirit of God, communicating delight and holy joy to the soul, and pouring forth upon them a wonderful fervor of assurance and spirit of prayer. All they said was heard with the utmost reverence and awe. They spread like wildfire, not only on the continent of Europe, but in England. They there gave out that one of their teachers, who had died, would come to life again; fortunately he did not appear, though the multitude kept on believing.

    In 1685, the Tremblers of Cevennes appeared, and were soon followed by the Convulsionaries of St. Menard, both of which sects will be noticed in another place, for a different purpose from the one now on hand.

    In 1686, Sir Walter Scott informs us that the good people of Lanark, in Scotland, saw showers of spiritual swords, guns, hats, bonnets, caps, &c., fall for days in succession.

    About this same period, also, Sabbatai Levi appeared in the east, and the Quietists in France and Spain, already alluded to. Valentine Greatrakes, who appeared in Ireland, and Emanuel Swedenborg, of Sweden, were also among the progeny of this wonderful period of combined persecution, credulity, and delusions.

    Swedenborg, a son of the bishop of Gothnia, was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1688. He was a man of genius, enthusiasm, and extensive learning, and ultimately founded the New Jerusalem Church, which bears his name. His hegira occurred in 1743. At that


    90                               PARTICULAR  FANATICISMS.                          

    time, also, the Lord manifested himself to him, as he imagined, by personal appearance; and opened his spiritual eyes, as he had done the eyes of thousands, both before and since. He, however, was peculiarly favored, for he was enabled to see and converse with spirits, uninterruptedly, for more: than twenty-seven years. Thousands, in all parts of christendom, have believed in the revelations which he published. He maintained that all others might enjoy this same gift of second sight, if they would live in accordance with what he called the laws of their spiritual nature, as doubtless many of them might, and indeed all who could first get a spiritual nature, like his own. Multitudes of day-dreamers, in as many various churches, might attest the truth of this. Unlike most other enthusiasts, however, he was probably sincere in his delusion; and, whatever may be said of the whimsical absurdity of his conceits, his writings, doctrines, and life, were neither vulgar nor immoral, as is the case with most other marvel-dealers. He was probably a learned, pious, devout monomaniac; a little more eccentric, though scarcely more absurd, or insane, than thousands of others whom the world call wise and devout.

    The famous witchcraft phrensy, which exploded in Salem, New England, in 1692, belongs to this same period. Previous to this time, all classes believed in witchcraft, both in this country and in Europe. It was deemed the highest impiety to doubt it, and supposed witches were treated as capital offenders throughout christendom. Divines, statesmen, jurists, physicians, philosophers, and scholars, were all alike swept into this vortex of fanatical delusion, the combined offspring of that infernal spiritual despotism and contemptible credulity,


                              PARTICULAR  FANATICISMS.                          91

    which had for ages crushed and enfeebled the human race. So direful was this mania, that when the British parliament repealed the laws for the execution of witches, in 1735, Scotchmen, of the kirk, confessed and deplored that act of benevolence and humanity as among the annual category of their national sins. In New England, the learned and pious Cotton Mather, by a mistaken zeal, harangued and inflamed the already exorbitant credulity of his hearers. He taught them that they were, one and all, attended by an escort of devils, at home or abroad, awake or asleep, from whose malignant power they could not escape; and to cap the climax of absurdity, he declared that the detestable proceedings of the court at Salem, he thought, had shed marvelous light upon the Word of God!! Of course, these devils soon furnished the people with business. Not only decrepit old men, and helpless women and children, but even dogs were solemnly adjudged and executed, for the imaginary crime of witchcraft. This example is not quoted as an instance of religious fanaticism, properly speaking, but rather to show that there is no end to human credulity, when guided by a popular and fanatical corps of spiritual instructors. Some have imagined that the devil was indeed let loose in a peculiar manner, at this period. No doubt he was; but it was to befool fanatics and courts, not to bewitch dogs. Doubtless, also, the impending horror of Indian wars, and the general consternation of the times, both aided the credulity of the age and prospered the devil in his work.*

    In 1728, soon after the rebellion in Scotland, John Glass arose in that country, founded the sect of Glassites,

    * See Upham's Witchcraft, pages 256, 268.


    92                               PARTICULAR  FANATICISMS.                          

    and taught, among other dogmas, the Mormon doctrines of weekly administration of the Lord's supper, washing each other's feet; literal interpretation of the Scriptures, and community of goods; so far as needed for the poor and the service of the church.

    Another general crop of fanatical sects sprung up, in Great Britain and America, after the great revivals of Whitfield, Wesley, Edwards, and others, and which seem, in some measure, to have clustered around the American and French revolutions. In this class come the Jumpers of Wales, already mentioned, and Jemmia Wilkinson, Ann Lee, Mrs. Buchan, of Scotland and Joanna Southcote, of England.

    In 1776, Ann Lee, daughter of a blacksmith in Manchester, England, commenced her operations near Albany, New York. She was subject to peculiar spasms and convulsions, as many other impostors have been. In these fits, she would clench her hands until the blood oozed through the pores of her skin. She sometimes continued in them until her flesh and strength all wasted away, and she was fed and nursed like an infant. She had supernatural visions and revelations. Like the wife of Smith, she pretended that she was the elect lady, and also that she was the woman spoken of in Revelations; that she and Christ were the two first pillars of the church, and that no blessing could descend to any person but through her. She declared that she was the mother of all the elect, and travailed in childbirth for the whole world; that she could converse with the dead, and speak seventy-two different languages; that she should never die, but ascend to heaven in the twinkling of an eye. She did die, however; but her death was so far from opening the eyes of her dupes, that it


                              PARTICULAR  FANATICISMS.                          93

    rather confirmed them in the faith, and she still numbers about five thousand followers in the United States.

    Like the Mormons, they believe that they are the only true church on earth, that they shall reign with Christ a thousand years, that they have all the apostolic gifts, and like them, they prove all their doctrines from prophecy, as well as by signs and wonders.

    In the same year, 1776, Jemima Wilkinson, the daughter of a Quaker, of Cumberland, Rhode Island, gave out that she had been taken sick, and had actually died, and that her soul went to heaven, and continued there. She heard the inquiry in heaven: "Who will go and preach to a dying world? She answered, "Here am I, send me." Her body was then re-animated by the spirit of Christ, upon which she set up as a public teacher, to give the last call of mercy to the human race. She declared that she had arrived to a state of perfection, and knew all things by immediate revelation, that she could foretell future events, heal all diseases, and discern the secrets of the heart. And, if any person was not healed by her, she attributed it, as the Mormons do, to a want of faith. She assumed the title of universal friend; declared that she had left the realms of glory for the good of mankind, and that all who would not believe in her should be damned. Her first visions occurred during her pretended illness and death, when twenty-four years of age, in 1775. After this, she enjoyed them at her leisure. She pretended that she should live a thousand years, and then be translated, without death. She preached in defence of a community of goods, and took, herself, whatever "the Lord had need of." Multitudes of the poor, and many of the rich, believed on her in New England, and made large


    94                               PARTICULAR  FANATICISMS.                          

    contributions to her. Some gave hundreds, and one even a thousand dollars for her use. Several wealthy families were ruined by her. Neither theft, nor attempted murder, nor the hypocrisy of failing to walk on water, and of attempting to raise a living man to life, placed in a coffin for that purpose, in all which she was fully detected, could undeceive her followers. In spite of her pretended immortality, she died in 1819. Her followers would not believe in her death, even when they saw her corpse. They refused to bury her body, but at last, were compelled to dispose of it, in some way, in secret. Those most interested in the game, by the double magic of either loss or gain, pretended that she had only left them for a time, to return again, and that her spirit would still be the guardian angel of all her followers, who of course, kept on believing. *

    In 1783, a Mrs. Buchan, in Glasgow, pretended that she also was the woman spoken of in Revelations; that the end of the world was near, and that all who believed on her should be taken up to heaven without tasting death. Her own death, however, in this case did somewhat stagger the faith of her followers.

    In 1792, Joanna Southcote, a servant maid of Exter, England, assumed the character of a prophetess, and pretended that she was the woman of the wilderness, and could give the seal of eternal life to her followers. Like Smith & Co., she uttered dreadful prophetic denunciations upon her opposers and the unbelieving nations, and predicted the speedy approach of her millennium. Of course her thousands of followers found all her predictions fulfilled. In the last year of

    * Millennial Harbinger, vol. II., page 278.


                              PARTICULAR  FANATICISMS.                          95

    her life she secluded herself from the world, and especially from the society of the other sex, and gave out that she was with child of the Holy Ghost, and that she should give birth to the Shiloh promised to Jacob before the end of his harvest, which would be the second coming of Christ. Harvest, however, came and went, but no Shiloh appeared. She died on the 27th of the following December. Her disciples refused to buty her. They waited four days for her resurrection and the birth of the Shiloh, until she began to rot. They then consented, with much reluctance, to a post-mortem examination, which fully refuted their belief. Her disciples then, with still greater reluctance, buried her body, but not their faith in her or the promised Shiloh. On the contrary, they continue to flatter themselves that she will yet, in some way, reappear, and that with her will come their long expected Shiloh, and their Mormon gathering and millenium of Mormon glory.

    In this same year, 1792, Richard Brothers published a book of prophecies and visions, and an account of his daily intercourse with God, in London. Among his followers was a member of the British parliament, a profound scholar, and one of the most learned men of his time. He made a speech in the house of commons declaring his full belief in one of the greatest absurdities ever presented to the British populace.

    In the crop of religious fanatics we must also mention the Illuminati, or French atheists, whose particular fanaticism, owing to the peculiarity of the age and country in which they lived, took the form of extreme and puerile credulity in unbelief. That is, they refused to admit and believe the religion of truth and reason


    96                               PARTICULAR  FANATICISMS.                          

    which God has given to the world, and set themselves to work, as all other fanatics have done, to make a better one for themselves and their race. Other fanatics have disbelieved and denounced what they called the absurdities of a particular faith, and advanced and pretended to believe still greater absurdities of their own. The infidel fanatics of France, on the contrary, denounced the absurdity, or what they deemed such, of all faith, and advanced an absurdity of their own which implies and demands a greater stretch of human credulity than the combined sense and nonsense of all other creeds. Men may prattle about unbelief, but, after all, they believe something, and that something which infidels and skeptics do actually believe, be it more or less, will be found, on examination, to be more absurd than the combined dogmas of all other fanatics. Atheism is necessary the greatest of all credulity. It is the same perversion of a man's religious nature which constitutes the basis of all other fanaticisms. Disbelief of what is rational, is real or pretended belief in what is absurd. The greatest fanaticism of any age is the fanaticism of the atheist. Probably most of the impostors of other names have themselves been at heart athiests, or at least skeptics.

    Other fanaticisms are more or less selfish and malignant. The fanaticism of atheism is, inherently, all selfishness and all malice. Other fanatics attempt to relieve a portion of mankind of their instinctive fear of a final retribution, by inculcating the belief of some particular absurdity. The fanatical atheist attempts to relieve at once the whole human race from the same salutary fear by inculcating belief in dogmas which render the globe a riddle, and man the greatest of all


                              PARTICULAR  FANATICISMS.                          97

    absurdities in and of himself. To relieve their followers from fear, other fanatics sometimes reason absurdly; but the atheist does the business at once, by making all reason, and the universe itself a riddle and an absurdity.

    In France, however, they compromised the matter somewhat, at last, and after proclaiming that there was no God, no virtue, no crime, no heaven, and no hell, they established the worship of the goddess of reason, to satisfy the unquenchable instincts of the human soul, insread of the worship of Joanna Southcote, or Jemima Wilkinson, or Joe Smith, as other fanatics have done. The result of this experiment, and the number of their dupes in this country and Europe, are too well known to need further comment here.

    These are all the religious fanaticisms of note which clustered around the political revolutions of the last part of the past century, unless we include the fanaticism of what is called the Kentucky revival, in the year 1800, which will be advertised to in another place.

    After these tumults, the world again had some rest, until about the year 1830, when another crop of fanaticisms seems, from some cause, to have been produced, particularly in the United States.

    In this shoal we find Miss Campbell, of Scotland. Irving and Mad Thom, of England, Dilks, of Ohio, Davison and Mrs. Thompson, of Vermont, Matthias and Joe Smith, of New-York.

    Miss Campbell appeared, in good old Scotland, about the year 1828. She pretended that she had come back from the dead, and had the gift of tongues. Several ministers of the church of Scotland are said to have believed on her, as well as some distinguished members of the bar. The mad rhapsodies of Irving


    98                               PARTICULAR  FANATICISMS.                          

    are too well known to need further notice. The particular history of Mad Thom is not at hand; that of Matthias has recently appeared in most of the journals of the day. Like him, Dilks, the impostor of Ohio, pretended to be Almighty God himself. Davidson, his disciple, appeared in the vicinity of Bakersfield, in Vermont, in 1829. He pretended that Jesus Christ was a woman, and inferior to Dilks, who was God himself. A female, by the name of Thompson, accordingly appeared as Jesus Christ, the son of Dilks. The millennium was to take place in 1832. Dilks and his followers were to assemble at Philadelphia, as their Mount Zion, where they were to reign forever, while the rest of mankind were to be swept from the earth. They made preparations, as Jemima Wilkinson had done before them, to raise the dead; but the woman selected for the purpose got tired of lying in the coffin and came forth of her own accord, before they were ready to pray her into life. They got about thirty disciples in the vicinity of Bakersfield, where they assembled on the Sabbath, and rolled nacked on the floor, men and women together, as part of their worship, and committed other sins too revolting to mention. Still they found plenty of followers. *

    Another fanatic appeared in Connecticut, about the year 1833, who pretended that he was Jesus Christ, and, in a public meeting in _______, professed to show the prints of the nails of his crucifixion in his hands. The people, finding that he was working upon the credulity of the simple, wrongfully imprinted more needful and obvious marks upon his back, and he suddenly

    * See Burlington Sentinel, June, 1831, and Millenial Harbinger, Vol II, page 357.


                        GENERAL  IGNORANCE  OF  FACTS.                    99

    disappeared, as Davidson and his followers did on the application of tar and feathers in Vermont. We must protest, hiwever, against these things, even in the most extreme cases. Instruct the people and not abuse fanatics. That is the way to kill fanaticism and rid the world of impostors.

    The history of Smith, who marches triumphantly in the front of this last escort of fanatics, has been already given.

    I have been thus tedious and particular in giving a brief summary of all the recorded fanaticisms of these later times, because a simple statement of facts will tend to wither up that lamentable credulity of the human mind, which lies at once at the foundation both of all fanaticism and all infidelity, more effectually than all the logic and argument in the universe.

    "Let but the people know these things," and they would act with more enchanting power upon their minds than the will of Caesar could upon the Romans.

    The people generally have homilies, doctrines, and dogmas enough ever at hand; but they are starved for want of facts. The well-informed, because they themselves know all these and similar facts, are too apt to take it for granted that everybody else knows them too; and that some bare allusion to them will awaken the same ideas in other minds which it does in their own. This is a great mistake, and one which we have endeavored to remedy, not for the benefit of those who have been tolerably instructed in matters of faith, but for the good of the ignorant and uninformed. Others may pass this tedious and disgusting detail, or read and pardon it, as they choose.

    In view of these facts, however, some few remarks


    100                         REFLECTIONS  ON  FANATICISMS.                        

    will perhaps be useful to all: at least they will cinduce more directly to the specific end in view.

    1. During the dark ages, amid the total dereliction of all reason in matters of faith, and the consequent persecutions, massacres, famines, and plagues that at once ravaged and terrified the globe, the prime causes of the most eccentric human credulity and fanaticisms, ignorance and terror, were ever present and ever active.

    By examining the dates, it will be perceived that the most hideous fanaticisms, since that period, have all either clustered about similar epoches of general terror, or have followed, as a sort of after-clap, some more dignified, if not more rational outbreak of religious enthusiasm.

    1. The first was the German crop, of about the year 1530, which attended the agitation and turmoil of the Reformation. It embraces the various adherents of the Anabaptists and followers of David George.

    2. Next came the English crop of Quakers, Seekers, Muggeltonians, &c., about 1650, in the days of the English Revolution.

    3. Then came the great French crop, during the terrible persecutions that attended the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and the horrid hangings, starvings, smokings, drownings, and roastings of that infernal era, including the French Prophets, the Quietists, and Tremblers of Cevennes, followed by the Convulsions of St. Menard.

    4. The English-American crop, escorted by the French infidels, appeared at the close of the last century, during the French and American revolutions, and immediately after the great revivals in this country


                                  CROPS  OF  FANATICS.                              101

    and in England. It embraces the Jumpers, in Wales, the Buchanites of Scotland, and the followers of Ann Lee, Jemima Wilkinson, and Joanna Southcote, and, if you please, the Kentucky Revivalists.

    The crop on hand, viz., Miss Campbell, Mr. Irving, Mad Thom, Mrs. Thompson, Dilks, Matthias, Joe Smith, Abner Kneeland, Fanny Wright, &c., were produced neither by famine, war, nor terror, but by folly. It would seem, in this case, as if all antecedent causes were reversed, and that now, in an age of profound peace and universal ease and plenty, men turned maniacs, and ran after fools from sheer ennui, because they had nothing else to do.

    The Illuminati of France and Spain, and Antoinette Bourignon, appeared immediately after the Massacre of St. Bartholomews, in 1572.

    Sabbati Levi appeared in 1666, immediately after the terrible massacre of the Jews in Persia.

    The Glassites, in Scotland, arose soon after the Scotch rebellion in 1715. The Salem witchcraft followed the terrors of the dreadful Indian war and other calamities.

    These are the most noted instances of human credulity, in respect to religion, since the revival of letters, except Emanuel Swedenborg, and a few similar cases, which stand either sacred or sui generis. I have merely located these events; others may philosophize upon them as they choose. So will I. It is sufficient for my present purpose to remark, what must be apparant to all, that both persecution and terror, of all sorts, tend to increase the general credulity and fanaticism of mankind. Where these are wanting, an enthusiasic


    102                     GENERAL  AGREEMENT  OF  FANATICS.                      

    This page not yet transcribed.


                          GENERAL  RELIGIOUS  LUNACY.                      103

    This page not yet transcribed.


    104                                 HUMAN  CREDULITY.                                

    This page not yet transcribed.


                              THE  BOTTLE  CONJURER.                          105

    This page not yet transcribed.


    106                           LOVE  OF  EXCITING  MARVELS.                            

    This page not yet transcribed.


                                RULES  FOR  FANATICS.                            107

    This page not yet transcribed.


    108                                 GROUND  OF  HOPE.                                

    This page not yet transcribed.


                                      GROUND  OF  HOPE.                                  109

    single arm for a single age. It is pleasant to reflect that even the absurdities of Mormonism are in many ways, though unwittingly, hastening on this great day of the final triumph of truth. Even here, it may be noticed with gratitude, that the Lord is bringing good out of evil.

    Continue reading on:
    page 110


    on Jonathan B. Turner's Mormonism in all Ages.

    Prof. Jonathan B. Turner

    Jonathan Baldwin Turner, a pioneer of agricultural education in Illinois and the United States, epitomized the spirit and intent of the scholarships bearing his name. A noted farmer and lecturer associated with Illinois College during the mid-1800s, Turner envisioned a nationwide system of educational institutions providing a "liberal and practical education" for citizens in the areas of agriculture and the mechanical arts.

    Turner's dedication and leadership were influential in the passage of the Morrill Act, signed by President Lincoln in 1862. This law established a framework for the land-grant system of agricultural institutions throughout the United States. A further outgrowth of Turner's efforts was the Illinois Industrial University, later to become the internationally recognized University of Illinois.

    The above information was gleaned from these web-documents: (1) Jonathan Baldwin Turner Slide Show, (2) Jonathan Baldwin Turner Reading Room, and (3) J. B. Turner scholarships.

    Turner's 1842 Book on Mormonism

    Living as he did, relatively close to Nauvoo, at the same time Joseph Smith had his headquarters in that place, Professor Jonathan B. Turner of Illinois College in Jacksonville, had a unique opportunity to research and report the "rise, progress, and causes of Mormonism," as he promises on the title page of his 1842 book. Along with Henry Caswall's books on the Mormons (published the following year) Turner's Mormonism in all Ages was practically the first scholarly reporting ever offered on the advent and rise of the Latter Day Saints. As the title suggests, it was Turner's conclusion that Mormonism was a reemergence of the same kind of periodic religious fanaticism that had given the Christian world the likes of "prophets" Richard Brothers and Joanna Southcote in the previous generation. Turner also makes a brief reference the "Glassites," Christian primitivists and the reformer precursors to Thomas and Alexander Campbell (the one time mentors of Sidney Rigdon): "In 1728, soon after the rebellion in Scotland, John Glass arose in that country, founded the sect of Glassites, and taught, among other dogmas, the Mormon doctrines of weekly administration of the Lord's supper, washing each other's feet; literal interpretation of the Scriptures, and community of goods; so far as needed for the poor and the service of the church. Turner does not follow through with any detailed explanation of how Glassite religious "restorationism" might have been transmitted to the earliest Mormons, however.

    Although the author makes some attempt to document his source material, his sparse use of footnotes makes it difficult for the modern reader to discern from whence he derived many of his special assertions and conclusions regarding the Mormons and their top leaders. No doubt Turner took most of his material from early newspaper accounts, as well as from word-of-mouth sources available to him in Illinois. The Mormon/anti-Mormon tensions of mid 1842 were just beginning to be reported in the Illinois popular press when Turner released his book. Had he waited another couple of months, he might have incorporated some of the information then being disclosed by the former Mormon chieftain, John C. Bennett and the deponents Bennett solicited in publicizing the secret polygamy at Nauvoo, along with related matters embarrassing to the Latter Day Saints. Turner was no more sympathetic to the Illinois Mormons than was Bennett, but Turner's measured prose might have summarized Bennett's inflamatory (often wildly inflamatory) announcements in a more trustworthy manner.

    Turner's book was announced as forthcoming as early as 1841 (in the Oct. 16, 1841 Illinoian) and was greeted upon its June 1842 publication by the editor of the New York Journal of Commerce. Turner's book was occasionally mentioned in the newspapers of his day (see the July 9, 1842 Alton Telegraph and the Peoples' Miscellany of Aug. 3, 1842), but no critical review of the volume is known -- and no relevant comments from Turner himself can be found in the pages of those early papers. It appears that John C. Bennett's highly touted 1842 volume simply rendered the previous work of Turner obsolete in the minds of most contemporary readers. Probably Turner's greatest contribution to reconstructing the history of Mormonism is that he wrote a very readable book on the topic which caught the attention of subsequent authors, and which reproduced important material gleaned from earlier obscure sources, such as Eber D. Howe's 1834 book.

    The Roles of Smith and Rigdon in Mormon Origins

    Like most of the writers on Mormonism during that time, Professor Turner accepted and broadcast the idea that Sidney Rigdon was at least partly the originator of Mormonism. Turner was a bit more cautious than some writers of his day in pinning "the blame" for Mormon origins on the secretive Rigdon -- perhaps because the conclusive evidence was lacking -- but, in the end, he concluded that Sidney Rigdon and Parley P. Pratt had a hand in bringing the new religion into the world. Notwithstanding the weight of this portentous factor, Professor Turner was reluctant to credit the authorship of the Book of Mormon to Sidney Rigdon's reported revamping of Spalding's historical fiction.

    Turner lived close enough to Rigdon in Illinois during the early 1840s to form a personal estimation of the Mormon leader, and, in his own words, said he could not "imagine that a man of Rigdon's talent, power of language, and knowledge of the Bible, ever could have jumbled together such a bundle of absurdities as the Book of Mormon is." According to Turner, "Whoever got the Spaulding manuscript, Joe Smith, and Joe alone, is sole "author and proprietor" of its offspring, the Book of Mormon. There is not, probably, another man on the globe that could write such a book, except Joe Smith; and he would not have done it, had not some materials been furnished to his hand to suggest the outline of his story."

    Having summarily eliminated the Rev. Sidney Rigdon from the role of Book of Mormon writer, Professor Turner nevertheless allowed him a possible place in the clandestine founding of Mormonism. He says: "Whether Rigdon helped him [Smith] to the manuscript, or aided him in the work, we cannot tell. It is certain that, from 1822, he was out of business, and professed to be in Pittsburg studying the Scriptures for three years, while Smith was away from home, no one knows precisely where, except that a part of the time he was in Harmony, East Pennsylvania. During the three years in which Smith was translating his bible, it is also certain that Rigdon was as actively engaged as he could be in building up a church for him in Ohio; whether by intrigue or accident, we will not pretend to say."

    J. B. Turner's Version of the Spalding Claims

    Like the other writers of his time who studied Mormonism, Professor J. B. Turner (pp. 206-210) takes up the matter of the Solomon Spalding claims for Book of Mormon authorship. Already, in earlier pages of his volume, Turner had expressed his conviction that Sidney Rigdon was the real founder of the Mormon doctrinal system, and that Rigdon, in fact, been preparing his flock in Ohio for the advent of Mormonism since 1827. However, as previously mentioned, even given his well stated reasons for believing that Rigdon was working behind the scenes with Smith, prior to 1830, Turner fails to make any firm connection between Rigdon and the text of the Book of Mormon. Instead, Professor Turner chose to deduce his own version of the Spalding claims, from a selective examination of the "evidence" at hand.

    In his book (p. 210), Turner summarizes the story of Solomon Spalding by saying: "Mr. Spaulding wrote a manuscript, while living in Ohio, in the years 1810, '11, and '12, which he called the "Manuscript Found." It was an historical romance of the first settlers of America, endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the lost tribes, the descendants of the Jews..." Turner gives no source for this information. Perhaps he derived it directly from his reading of Eber D. Howe's Mormonism Unvailed, since he elsewhere quotes directly out of Howe to elucidate the Spalding claims.

    There is a second possibility here, however. It is entirely possible that J. B. Turner solicited information either directly or indirectly from Spalding's widow, Mrs. Matilda Davison, who was still living in Massachusetts at the time Turner was writing his book. Turner could have supplemented the few bits and pieces of the widow's reported testimony given in Howe's book by consulting Matilda Davison's statement as published (in April 1839) in the Boston Recorder.

    Turner may have also obtained some of his information and ideas directly from Spalding's widow. An undated fragment of the widow's testimony, (published in 1851) reads as follows:

    In 1817, the year subsequent to my husband's death, I removed to Onondaga county, in New-York, and from thence to Hartwick, Otsego county, in the same State, having with me a trunk containing his writings. At the latter place I married again; and soon after went to Massachusetts. From 1817 to 1820 the trunk remained at Onondaga Hollow. After my marriage in 1820, it was removed to Hartwick, where it remained until 1832. A man of the name of Smith was, between 1823 and 1827, frequently seen prowling round the house without any ostensible object, so suspicious were his maneuvers, that he was once or twice arrested as a common vagabond, and only escaped the penalties of the law by running away.

    Compare the vert similar content (underlined here for reading ease) of the Widow's reported recollections in the above excerpt -- as published in 1851 -- with Turner's own speculation and deductive analysis below -- as published in 1842:

    During a part of the time, from 1817 to 1820, she [the Widow] left the said trunk at her brother's house, Mr. Harvey [sic] Sabine, at Onondaga Hollow, not very far from the Smiths, as may be seen on the map. After her marriage, in 1820, the trunk was taken to Hartwick, where she left it, in 1832, with Mr. Jerome Clark. Hartwick is not far from the residence of the famous Stowell, in whose employ Smith dug for money, as he says, in l823. To this place also he was passing and repassing, for four years afterwards, as we have seen, without ostensible object of business, except, as it, appears from the testimony of the people of Bainbridge, he was once or twice arrested as a common vagabond, and finally ran away, to escape the sentence of the law. The trunk and manuscripts were, then, in this vicinity from 1820 to 1832, and of course during the four years of Smith's life, on which he is so silent, as it regards himself. He was, in reality, loitering about these regions, as we learn from other sources.

    Although it is maginally possible that the 1851 text is an abridgement of Turner's account, it seems more likely that the reverse is true: that is, Turner either expanded his own account from an unknown, pre-1842, printing of the text, or from information supplied him by the Widow herself. Assuming that Turner's account is his expansion upon an earlier text from the Widow herself, it can be seen that Turner has here converted the generic "man of the name of Smith" into one special Smith: Joseph Smith, Jr. Turner deduces that Joseph Smith, Jr. was the person who stole away nearly all of the Solomon Spalding documents from the Widow's "trunk full of manuscripts" in Otsego Co., New York. Here is Turner's rationalization for this rather bizzare assertion:

    ... who took them [Spalding's manuscripts] all away but one? Why was Smith prowling about there for four years? During that time, both he and his family were telling strange stories about a book or manuscript that, was to be found, as we shall see in the sequel. Why did he go to Harmony, Penn., to translate his book? If he really succeeded in getting the manuscript from Mrs. Spaulding's trunk, or if some one did it for him, this accounts for its disappearance, and for all other known facts in the case. That all the writings are missing, and cannot be found, with the exception of this one small romance of the later origin, is a known fact. That Mr. Spaulding wrote another and larger edition of the work, similar in all its leading features to the "more history parts" of the inspired translation of the Book of Mormon, is also certain. That it might have been taken from Pittsburg is possible; but that it was taken from the trunk in Otsego county, and finally fell into the hands of Smith, while in connection with Stowell, is far more probable. That it is gone, and that Smith had both seen and read it before his prophetic mission, is as certain as it is that the Book of Mormon exists.

    Although Turner's conclusion is an ingenious one, it is almost certainly wrong. There is substantial testimony to demonstrate that the particular Spalding manuscript which allegedly resembled the Book of Mormon was safely stored away at the Jerome Clark home in Hartwick, New York until after the latter book was published in 1830. It seems quite unlikely that the then very young Joseph Smith, Jr. would have stumbled upon Spalding's writings either while they were in Onondaga Hollow or at Hartwick. And, even if he did know of such literary artifacts, he appears to have no motive or opportunity to have absconded with them.

    Whatever the historical facts may have been, the publication of Professor Turner's book in 1842 marked the first notable popularization of the notion that the young Joseph Smith had purloined the writings of Solomon Spalding. This sub-theory of the Spalding authorship claims survived down into the late 20th century and was given credence by Vernal Holley in his 1983 book, Book of Mormon Authorship. Reproduced below is a map from the 1989 edition of Holley's book, in which he, like Turner before him, attempts to show the proximity of Smith's whereabouts during the 1820s and the village of Hartwick, in western New York:

    Vernal Holley's 1983 Map


    Joel King Noble's 1842 Letter
    to Professor Jonathan B. Turner

    Image courtesy of Illinois Historical Society

    When Jonathan B. Turner was researching his book on Mormonism he sent out letters to various early witnesses of the phenomenon, soliciting their input. One of the responses he received came from Judge Joel King Noble, a prominent early citizen of Bainbridge, Chenango Co., New York. Unfortnately Judge Noble's letter arrived too late for Turner to include the information it contained into the first (and only) edition of his 1842 book.

    Had Turner received this letter earlier, he might have excluded the name of Sidney Rigdon altogether from his discussion of Mormon origins. At least Judge Noble claims to have firsthand knowledge of who compiled the Book of Mormon and he does not include Rigdon's name on his short list of two originators (or initial promoters) of Mormonism. On page 1 of his letter Noble says:

    ...You may then enquire ask me Behold what Jo. has Don[e]
    I [s]ay Jo. Is the cats paw the Lion is behind the curtain You
    then en[quire] who Is the Lion I say Mr. Rigdon was not the
    Lion until after the Book of Mormon was Printed
    he may be the Lion now You Yet en[quire] who the Lion (first)
    was I say 2 individuals names of 2 I keep for present - I am well
    aware that it went the round in many [P.] papers that
    the B. of M. was w[ritten] first for amusement and received a Dressing
    by Some individual Said by Some to [be] Mr. Rigdon
    Sir this is incorrect I can prove (absolute) Mr. Rigdon
    Did not 2 individuals Did ...
    It is impossible to know how seriously to take Noble's profession in this letter. Numerous investigators of Smith's early years have come away from their study of this enigmatic individual with the impression that he did not act entirely on his own in founding the Mormon religion. Some students of the man even postulate that he was the kind of "cats paw" Noble speak of in his letter -- that Smith moved from ritual magic and treasure-locating to claims for a "new revelation" via the direction and help of individual(s) "behind the curtain," as Judge Noble puts it. The context in which Noble places his allegation appears to remove the names of Parley P. Pratt and Oliver Cowdery from the list of possible "lions" behind that secret curtain, as they were well known early Mormons and occasionally guessed to be Smith's secret accomplices at the birth of the new sect. Had these been the names Noble had in mind, he might have divulged them or hinted at them, but he does not. More likely Noble had two other names he was holding back from Turner "for present." There is no indication any where that Noble ever communicated these names, however.

    Judge Noble's claim to firsthand knowledge in this case, his elimination of Rigdon as the original "lion behind the curtain," and his reluctance to disclose the identity of that "lion," are all points reminiscent of the early testimony of another contemporary of Joseph Smith. Jr. in New York. This second deponent was William Buell Fairchild, a near neighbor of the Smith family in Ontario County when young Joseph was growing up there. In an 1845 account, Fairchild says: "Let us first notice the 'Golden Bible'... No one, at that time, who knew Joe Smith, had the most distant idea that he was the author, or was in any way connected with the 'getting up' of the book... Others had the credit, there, for all this -- and among them figured conspicuously Sidney Rigdon, and a gentleman of Palmyra, New York, whose name we shall now withhold, from regard for his connections... These two were then supposed to be the authors of the work... the actors 'behind the scene' would furnish all other things necessary. Such a character, Rigdon's accomplice knew he would have in Joe Smith, one of a family of three or four who then lived in Farmington, near Palmyra..." Noble's allegations and those of Fairchild may overlap at some point in historical fact. If so, the identity of the "lion" they both place "behind the scene" remains undiscovered. For Fairchild he was an unnamed resident of the Palmyra area who acted as Sidney Rigdon's interlocutor in transmitting a reworked Spalding manuscript to Joseph Smith, Jr. For Judge Noble he was a person who used Smith as a "cats paw" until Rigdon became the "lion" at a later date. Whether or not these shadowy personages are one in the same is impossible to determine at this late date

    There is another oddity in Noble's 1842 letter worthy of mention here. He decribes "a triangle" for young Joseph's operations in New York State, with one corner in the Palmyra area, another corner in the Colesville area, and the third corner -- where?

    his [Smith's} haunt [during the late 1820s] was
    Palmyra and Harmony (Penn.) Bainbridge (in the Dark) making
    a triangle - here for 2 Y. and more Jos. mind kept Same
    tract (only more Hellish) Stimulated by 2 individuals (above)
    and perhaps by Supposing himself to be considered -- the
    Author of a Bible

    Perhaps Noble means the third corner to be Bainbridge, but that is a location very close to Colesville and lines connecting Palmyra, Harmony and Bainbridge on the map hardly form "a triangle" of any note. A more likely third vertex for Noble's geographic figure would be some where on the upper reaches of the Susquehanna River, in the direction of Oneonta. Oddly enough this is the same region in which the village of Hartwick lies, in Otsego County. Whether or not this is what Noble means to say is unclear. Vernal Holley took up the idea of Hartwick being the third corner of the triangle and depicted this configuration on his 1983 map (see above). It was Mr. Holley's contention that Smith's employer, Josiah Stowell, had a near relative (a brother or cousin) to resided next to Jerome Clark in that same village. Land records do show a Mr. Stowell (Stoal) there in the 1820s, but Holley failed to make any firm connection between this man and Josiah.

    Transcript of Noble's Letter
    (Based upon typescript of Wesley P. Walters in his 1977 article,
    "From Occult to Cult With Joseph Smith, Jr."

    Joel K. Noble Letter, page 1
    Chenango County - Bainbridge  March 8 - 1842
    Sir I write to you under peculiar circumstances
    having been confined to my room for 5 weeks and now
    sit up but a few houers at a time   Your letter came to me
    in  [the] winter by chance  I under stood no answer had been
    Given   I volunteer to answer  being at present not a
    Civil Officer  what I state as fact I am responsible for
    hearsay mark so ~~   Jo. Smith Senior Lived in Vermont
    connected with a band of counterfeiters - ran - came to
    Mohawk river - eloped (Seduced a marr[i]ed woman to Can[ady]
    came to Palmyra in [this] State  I firmly believe proof affidavit
    may be had to identify - Like father Like Son  
    Jo. Smith (Morman) came here when about
    17 - 18 Y. of age in the capacity of Glass Looker or fortune
    teler    at that time his physiognomy indicated almost
    any thing rather than native Good common Sound Sense
    Sir I do think I am not mistaken in the above -----
    You may then enquire   ask me  Behold what Jo. has Don[e]
    I [s]ay Jo. Is the cats paw   the Lion is behind the curtain  You
    then en[quire] who Is the Lion   I say Mr. Rigdon was not the
    Lion until after the Book of Mormon was Printed
    he may be the Lion now   You Yet en[quire] who the Lion (first)
    was   I say 2 individuals   names of 2 I keep for present - I am well
    aware that it went the round in many [P.] papers that
    the B. of M. was w[ritten] first for amusement and received a Dressing 
    by Some individual  Said by Some to [be] Mr. Rigdon
    Sir this is incorrect  I can prove (absolute)  Mr. Rigdon 
    Did not    2 individuals Did (not bostingly) - Pleas - to --
    (I have Retired a few hours  Commence again)  Jo. engaged the
    attention of a few indiv[iduals] Given to the marvelous   Duge for
    money  Salt  Iron Oar  Golden Oar  Silver Oar and almost any thing
    every thing until Civil authority brought up Jo. standing (as
    the Boys say)  under the Vagrant act  Jo. was condemned
    whisper came to Jo.   off  off -  took Leg Bail ( or gave [Leg_Bail])
    all things straight:  Jo. was not seen in our town for
    ---- 2 years or more (except in Dark corners)   his haunt was
    Palmyra and Harmony (Penn.) Bainbridge  (in the Dark)  making
    a triangle - here for 2 Y. and more Jos.  mind kept Same
    tract (only more Hellish)  Stimulated by 2 individuals (above)
    Joel K. Noble Letter, page 2
    and perhaps by Supposing himself to be considered -- the
    Author of a Bible  ---- ---- ----- -----
    After 2 years from the time of Jos. first trial he appeared
    in our place bold as a Lion again   Jo. was arrested  examination 
    had  Jo. plead in bar Statute of Limitations
    Jo was no Sooner Set on terifirma than arrested again
    brought before me in an adjoining County only 6
    miles Distant   trial protracted  23 hours   the proscuti[on] was
    Cond[ucted] by a Gent[leman] well Skiled in [the] Science of Law  proof
    manifested by I think 43 Witnesses  Proof Jo. a Vagrant
    Idler  Lazy  (not Drunkard)  but now and then Drunk   Liar
    Deceiver   Jo. a nuiscance to Good Society  Jo. was asked by witness
    if he could see or tel more than others   Jo. said he could not
    and says any thing for a living   I now and then Get a 
    Shilling    the [testimony?]  You see made Jo   anything 
    but a Good man  --  yours for to Day --
    An [anecdote]  Jo. and others   were Diging for
    a Chest of money in night  could not obtain--- It
    they Procured  one thing and an other together with
    [a] black Bitch  the Bitch was offered a - Sac[rifise]
    [blo]od Sprinkled   prayer made at the time (no money obtained)
    the above Sworn to on trial -- Sir a Small volume 
    at least might might be filed Similar to the above 
    Sir I had intended to Give you the [caracter]
    of the mormons who went from here - here you see -was-
    momanism was gendered   pilgrims first started for holy
    Land   I would  say  Some were infidel Universalists  Some had
    been Baptists  2 Presbyterians  Several Methodists   all I think
    with 2 exceptions were rejected  Some abandoned Drunkards
    our place Sir well clensed  -- Mr. Stowers  a plane hones[t] man
    of Property say $5 or 6000 Given to the marvelous followed
    Jo. to Ohio  -  Soon returned and now here or not far from this
    place - Sir Some of the mormans were good neigbors
    Jo. Did not have connection with individuals in Otsego Co. to my
    knowledge   Sir I am fatigued  I close  I write to you in confidense
    You will without  Doubt Show this to confidential friends  If a fact
    you wish to make use of Do do  please manifest as much patience
    In  ---- as I have in  ---- Respec[tfully]  Yours  ---Joel K. Noble
    Sir Jo condemned in a Justice trials Bar S of [Quinnstown?]
    [ ? ]at Jo cost one reprimand
    Joel K. Noble Letter, page 3
    P.S.  Sir  I Give you no advice ----- but were I to write on Mo[rmo]ns
    I would begin at Least where Jo. began to Dig for money  I would follow
    J.  Step by Step with the eye of an eagle by affidavit and certificate   I would 
    identify facts  but perhaps Your Book may be in press  -- and new Editi[on] 
    may be issued   then it might be of use  You enquire who could
    collect facts  You Sir might if here  Individuals here could  You enquire
    could You   I say I could and I think have it near right  a common
    Blessing attending  (circumstances )  I have 8 children  7 of which Look to 
    me for Support    this Depends principally on my Duly Exerting ([excuse])
    Sir p[l]ease on the Re[ceipt] - of this Send me Your adress - soon  Please Send if 
    convenient now and then a Mormon Paper (old Same thing) or paper 
    from Your place  --  Direct J. K. Noble  Broome Co.  Colesville  Ninevey
    P. O.     I Live one Mile from O[ffice].   5 from Bainbridge O[ffice].    J.K.N.
    Again P. S.  anicdote (hellish)  a Mormon Swore In open court
    Jo. Smith cast a Devil out of him (M[ormo]n and said
    how D[evi]l Look'd    Said Devil was a body of Light and
    Gave a Relation of [the] whole Process  ~~ now the man
    was P----d man (or some may say Deceived)  Jo. present
    and Silent - (Silence Gives Consent) - follow the argum[ent]
    Sir I think I have written plenty - You may think So (Patience)
    Sir the same M[ormo]n (above! said an angel of Light or
    some holy being Direct from heaven  told him (M[ormo]n)
    ~ a certain fact - the whole Process above has been Proofed
    to be a falsh[oo]d    affidavit is now in my Possession
    Sir  I think I now will be Silent - Sir I have a Great
    anxiety fore the success of Your undertaking  Sir be Determi[ned]-
    onward march &c  -------- -------- ---------- ----------  J.K.N.  --------
    -------- -------- ---------- ------------------ -------- ---------- ----------
     P.S. Sir if you want any information of me Please let me know  be [familiar] 
    --- now I Say  -- hold on   J.K.N. ---------  -------    J.K.N. ---------       

    Back to top of this page

    History Vault   |   Bookshelf   |   Spalding Library   |   Mormon Classics   |   Newspapers

    last updated: Aug. 6, 2006