Without attempting to enter into any discussion of its question, why the march of enlightenment has yet failed to banish these floating motes of misty divination from the vision of the credulous, it may prove no uninteresting prelude to examine the pretensions of a few of those who have acquired some extended notoriety for their supposed powers in this art and mystery of withdrawing the veil from futurity. There are few who have not heard of one Robert Nixon, the "Cheshire Prophet" as he has been called, and whose ruddy face in the picture title-page of the old storybooks must be fresh in the recollection of those who hare numbered him among the marvels of their childhood. Let us see, for instance, what materials for our purpose can be gleaned from the scanty records his biographers liavc furnished.
A volume just printed for private circulation, and entitled "Palatine Anthology," supplies some curious particulars respecting Nixon. Prom this it appears that John, or Jonathan, the father of the presumed prophet, was a husbandman, who had the lease of a farm of the abbey of Vale Royal, to this day known by the name of Bark or Bridge-house, in tho parish of Over, near Newchurch, and not far from Vale Royal, on the forest of Delamere. The house is still kept up and venerated by the natives of Cheshire, for the avowed reason of perpetuating the place of the prophet's birth, which took place on Whitsunday, in the year 1467, about the seventh year of Edward IV. He was christened by the name of Robert, and from his infancy was remarkable for a natural stupidity and invincible ignorance, so that it was with great difficulty his parents could instruct him to drive the team or tend the cattle. He was chiefly distinguished for his simplicity; he seldom spoke, and when ho did he had so rough and unpleasant a voice that it was painful to hear him. He was remarkably satirical, and what he said had generally some prophetic application. Having displeased a monk of Vale Royal, he added, in an angry tone --
Soon a raven's nest will be.
At another time he told them that Norton and Vale Royal Abbeys should meet on Acton-bridge, a thing at that time looked upon as improbable; but those two abbeys being pulled down, the stones were used for repairing the bridge, and thus realised the prediction. He is also reputed to have said that a small thorn growing in the abbey yard would become its door; actually fulfilled long afterwards -- at the time of the Reformation -- by the thorn being cut down and cast in the doorway to prevent the cattle that grazed in the court from entering. The advent of the Reformation is, however, declared in still plainer terms. Nixon says --
Shall nave no churches, or houses,
And places where images stood;
Litied letters shall be good.
English books through churches are spread --
There shall be no holy bread.
Those who live near Delamere forest point triumphantly to the following triplet, which has been repeated among the oldest inhabitants from a time beyond the memory of man: --
Ridely pool shall be sown and mown,
And Darnel-park shall be hacked and hewn.
In a few days the messenger passed through the town, and demanded a guide to find Nixon; and then, to the amazement of the people who had before scoffed at his idiotic appearance and odd sayings, the Cheshire prophet was hurried to court, where his lamentations still became more pitiable that he was going to be starved. To prevent this being the case, Henry VII, after a few satisfactory trials of his supposed powers of prediction, provided the royal kitchen for his dwelling-place, and appointed an officer to see that he was neither misused nor affronted, nor at a loss for any necessary of life. Thus situated, one would have thought that want could never have reached him; yet one day as the king was going to his hunting-seat, Nixon ran to him crying, and begged in the most plaintive terms that he might not be left; for that if he were, his majesty would never see him again alive, and that he should be starved. The king, intent upon his expected diversion, only replied that it was impossible, and recommended him more emphatically to the officer's care. Scarcely, however, was the king gone, than the servants mocked and teased Nixon to such a degree, that the officer locked him up in a closet, and suffered no one but himself to attend him. It so happened that a message of importance from the king was received by this very official; and, forgetting his involuntary prisoner in his anxiety to obey the royal command, he set forth, and though but three days absent, when he
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remembered the poor fellow, he found him on his return starved to death, and thus literally fulfilled his own prediction....
That the present day is quite as prolific as the past in furnishing these small prophets, we need not go very far to discover. Even as we write, there are scattered about the walls of the metropolis, announcements of a series of lectures purporting to be a popular explanation of the "truths and beauties" to be found in the religion professed by the Mormons, or "latter-day saints," and for the support of which there seems to be no lack of dupes and impostors. Many might imagine the sect had been long since dispersed, but this symptom of re-action is strong evidence to the contrary.
The real history of the supposed oracle of the Mormonites, or Latter-day Saints, and known as the "Book of Mormon," is rather curious, and deserves to be related, the more so that we believe it to be very little known. It appears that Joseph Smith, the original leader of the "saints," was a money-digger or treasure hunter, and that he pretended to make his discoveries by means of spells and incantations, the mode and practice of which he communicated, "for a consideration," to others. The success with which he continued this imposition pointed him out as a fit associate to Stephen [sic] Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery, who had by accident become possessed of the manuscripts of Solomon Spaulding, afterwards to figure so conspicuously as an alleged divine revelation. This Solomon Spaulding was a clergyman who left the ministry, and entered into business in Cherry Vale, New York, where he failed in 1809. The discovery of the antiquities of the mounds occurred about the same time, and when he removed after his failure into the state of Ohio, he found much curiosity excited by these relics of extinct civilisation. Long previously it had been a popular theory with certain speculative writers that the aboriginal Americans were the descendants of the Ten Tribes, and, indeed, the theory is not even now without its advocates in the United States. By combining this notion with the recent discoveries, Spaulding hoped to produce a novel, the sale of which would enable him to pay his debts. He resolved to call it "The Manuscript Found," and to present it to the world as an historical record of the first inhabitants of America. As he was a vain man, he frequently read portions of the work to his friends and neighbours, pointing out to them several passages for their especial notice; and his brother, his partner, his wife, and six of his friends have testified "that they well remember many of the names and incidents in Spaulding'a manuscript, and that they know them to
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be the same as those found in the 'Book of Mormon.'" The manuscript was prepared for press, and in 1812 Spaulding took it to a printer named Lamdin, residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; but before any arrangement could be concluded the author died, and as the manuscript was of great extent Lamdin was unwilling to risk his money on the speculation. The manuscript was lent to Sidney Rigdon, who, on the death of Lamdin in 1826, joined with Smith in palming it on the world as a new revelation. The worthy associates then re-wrote and altered the work, making clumsy additions to it to suit their own purposes; and amongst which will be found the promise that the New Jerusalem should be founded in America, the command that the "saints" should have a community of goods, and the rule that all admitted into the body should receive baptism by total immersion. How in August, 1831, the Mormonites commenced their settlement in Missouri; how, being thence expelled for a series of brutal murders, they migrated in vast numbers to Illinois; how they there founded three towns, the chief of which they called Nauvoo, and how this has been since converted to far better purposes, are incidents that would form an extraordinary chapter in the amazing annals of imposture.
The pseudo-prophecies of Brothers, Joanna Southcote and many others, would well bear enumeration, if only to show how easily and how successfully the imagination of the credulous may be worked upon; but so startling an illustration of the extent to which the love of the marvellous prevails, even in these matter-of-fact days, is to be so constantly found in the advertising columns of the metropolitan journals, that we need not adduce instances more remote. The enormous gullibility of that large-throated monster, the public, was never more forcibly shown than in the success that has attended these manifold traders in the craft of fortunetelling. In return for red showers of postage-stamps, and silver cataracts of sparkling shillings, poured into their laps daily by myriads of dupes, every possible species of divination -- by locks of hair, handwriting, assumed clairvoyance, and astrological chicanery -- is set in operation to satisfy anxious claimants, or to secure fresh victims. There is in addition to all this no abatement in the demand for astrological books; and almanacs professing to map out the events to occur over Europe each successive year, are published annually, and find purchasers.
At the risk of being charged with the commission of a breach of confidence, we may mention, for the especial edification of nativity-hunters, that during an interview we once had with a celebrated astrologer, who had to answer some hundred letters daily upon questions relating to the stellar influences, he then honestly confessed to us a singular facility in guessing; and thus with tolerable accuracy suiting his answers to the character of his correspondents, enabled him alone to get through the immense pressure of epistolary business. And should a parallel case be wanted, we might cite that of the late eminent meteorologist, whose "new system" of predicting the weather for the succeeding year simply consisted in adroitly converting a small coin into a weather-guage, and as he flipped it into the atmosphere from the apex of his thumb, drawing his inquiries of foul or fair from the corresponding indices of heads or tails.
But we are, after all, merely striking a familiar chord in the reader's memory. Everybody knows how prone the mind of the unlearned is to the supernatural. We first learn to listen to, and then believe in, the prophet's self arrogated mission, and watch with breathless interest those vague outpourings that, blown into a soap-bubble existence from the lips of a heated enthusiasm, float over the country as objects of popular apprehension; until, in the process of time, they explode, and mingle with the shadows of the past. The soul of man, strongly imbued with the hope of immortality, pants for an acquaintance with the future; and it is in connexion with this feeling that the human mind is predisposed to receive, forsooth, all the idle predictions that fraud or fancy may originate. In minor matters, although the falsehood may be perceived, it is not the less liked on that account; and the humblest experimentalist in graphiology, or the more ardent votaries of the romantic and the necromantic, may be ranked in the same category with the jealous Moor of Venice, and feel that they, like him, are inclined to
Doubt, yet dote -- suspect, yet strongly love. E. L. B.
Vol. XVII. Richmond, March, 1851. No. 3.
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In the present condition of Christendom an attempt to establish a new religion by a prophet, claiming for himself a divine commission and the power of performing miracles, and sustaining his authority by the production of a Revelation, miraculously preserved and disclosed, at the first glance might be considered an absurdity, the result of knavery and credulity, that at most would be confined to a few dupes, soon to pass away among the forgotten and unimportant events of the day. But a different fate appears to await the Mormous, or as they call themselves the Latter-day Saints. The sects that are perpetually branching off from the different christian churches, profess only modifications of the same creed, and while they assert no visible supernatural interposition in their own exclusive behalf, acknowledge in all essentials the leading principles of the Christian dispensation, and adore the same holy author of a common religion. Their secessions owe their origin either to questions of church government, which are of expedience, and concerning which views may be taken widely different, yet equally correct, or to subtle doctrinal refinements, that are generally of such a nature as to elude the distinct apprehension of the understanding, and may be termed the metaphysics of religion; and however hostile these sects may be towards each other, they all concur in extending the light and blessing of the Gospel and doing the will of their muster. But the Mormons are isolated. Separated from every other class of christians, (for they acknowledge the Saviour,) they have their own prophet and martyrs, their miracles, and the Holy Book sent from Heaven, to dictate their faith and to prescribe their duties. Nor have they been wanting in persecutions, so necessary to support the pretensions of a new faith to a divine origin.
It is not our purpose to enter into an examination of their tenets or claims to sanctity, but to call the attention of our readers to the highly interesting pamphlet whose title is at the head of our article.
The celebrated Mormon temple at Nauvoo, was, and though shorn of its splendor, still is, the admiration of all who navigate the beautiful waters of the Upper Mississippi. Seated on an eminence whose base is washed by the clear broad river, its white columns shine, as if of Parian marble, and the elegance of its form and proportions, give it, at a little distance, the appearance of an edifice raised by Grecian art in its happiest days. Here they had hoped to found the seat of that Empire which was to extend over the vast and fertile regions of which it is the centre, a true faith and social institutions, more as they fancied in accordance with equal rights and conducive to the perfectibility of man than had ever before been conceived. But these dreams were soon dispelled. They found it impossible to live in harmony with the rough population that surrounded them. Faults, there probably were on both sides, and it is vain to inquire who were the aggressors. Opposed in habits, manners, modes of life and religion, it is no wonder
1851.] The Mormons. 171
that violent animosities soon existed between them. In that unsettled state of society where the arm of the law is always feeble, a kind of border warfare was kept up, accompanied by robberies and murders, which would have led to the complete subjugation or extermination of the weaker party. The Mormons being outnumbered and pursued with unrelenting ferocity, their prophet Joseph, better known as Joe Smith, was placed by the civil authorities, for protection, as the version is, in the jail of Carthage, in Hancock County, where on the 27th June, 1847, he and his brother were murdered by a brutal mob. A truce was made with their persecutors and a reasonable time was to he allowed them for choosing a resting-place in the distant West, and for disposing of their property before they migrated to their new domicil. The greater part had proceeded on their journey in the spring of 1846, leaving a few to close their concerns at Nauvoo on, when the people of Illinois became impatient of delay and doubtful if the Mormons were sincere in their intention to remove. Excited by renewed acts of violence on both sides, an organized mob made a regular attack on them with artillery, and after killing numbers, forever expelled the survivors from their holy seat. These acts of slaughter and oppression had just been perpetrated when the writer of the address, in September, 1846, first visited the scene which he describes in the following passage:
"I was descending the last hillside upon my journey, when a landscape in delightful contrast broke upon my view. Half encircled by a bend of the river a beautiful city lay glittering in the fresh morning sun; its bright new dwellings, set in cool green gardens, ranging up around a stately dome-shaped hill, which was crowned by a noble marble edifice, whose high tapering spire was radiant with white and gold. The city appeared to cover several miles; and beyond it, in the back ground, there rolled on a fair country, chequered by the careful lines of fruitful husbandry. The unmistakable marks of industry, enterprise and educated wealth, everywhere, made the scene one of singular and most striking beauty.
172 The Mormons. [March,
defence, they said, had been obstinate, but gave way on the third day's bombardment. They boasted greatly of their prowess, especially in this Battle, as they called it; but I discovered they were not of one mind as to certain of the exploits that had distinguished it; one of which, as I remember, was, that they had slain a father and his son, a boy of fifteen, not long residents of the fated city, whom they admitted to have borne a character without reproach."He enters the temple and among other objects of their veneration is shown "a large and deeply chiselled marble vase or basin supported upon twelve oxen, also of marble and of the size of life, of which they told various romantic stories." After viewing the wonders of the place, he ascends the river a short distance and there discovers, in a state of extreme wretchedness and destitution, with disease and death for their companions, the starving Mormons who had just been driven from their city. They numbered a little more than six hundred, the remains of twenty thousand that were at Nauvoo and its dependencies the previous year. Of that host the greater part had journeyed westward and those who lingered behind were giving proofs of their enthusiastic devotion to the soil and building of which they knew they must soon be dispossessed.
"Strange to say, the chief part of this respite was devoted to completing the structure of their quaintly devised but beautiful Temple. Since the dispersion of Jewry, probably, history affords us no parallel to the attachment of the Mormons for this edifice. Every architectural element, every most fantastic emblem it embodied, was associated, for them, with some cherished feature of their religion. Its erection had been enjoined upon them as a most sacred duty: they were proud of the honor it conferred upon their city, when it grew up in its splendour to become the chief object of the admiration of strangers upon the Upper Mississippi. Besides, they had built it as a labor of love; they could count up to half a million the value of their tithings and free-will offerings laid upou it. Hardly a Morman woman had not given up to it some trinket or pin-money: the poorest Mormon man had at least served the tenth part of his year on its walls; and the coarsest artisan could turn to it with something of the ennobling attachment of an artist for his fair creation. Therefore, though their enemies drove on them ruthlessly, they succeeded in parrying the last sword thrust, till they had completed even the gilding of the angel and trumpet on the summit of its lofty spire. As a closing work, they placed on the entablature of the front, like a baptismal mark on the forehead,Their Exodus is described by the author, an eye witness of what he relates, et quorum pars magna fuit, in terms that make the deepest impression, and enchain the attention of the reader. His account of the sufferings and privations they endured is often too painful to dwell on, but whatever they were subjected to -- whether the visitation of pestilence or want, cold or heat or hunger -- patience, active benevolence, and cheerfulness of temper never deserted them. They moved with order and discipline; and though the loss of life was great, it was diminished by the admirable regulations under which their march was conducted. They often remained, to recover from the lassitude of travel, for several weeks at the same encampment. The following is a description of one of their stations and of the occupations of the sojourners:
"I select at random, for my purpose, a large camp upon the delta between the Nebraska and Missouri, in the territory disputed between the Omaha, and Otto and Missouria Indians. It remained pitched here for nearly two months, during which period I resided in it.
1851.] The Mormons. 173
hundreds of famishing poor, also devolved upon them. They had good men they called Bishops, whose special office it was to look up the cases of extremist suffering: and their relief parties were out night and day to scour over every trail."Amusement, frolic and fun, often succeeded misery, and the monotony of a journey over the plains was, on one occasion, relieved by this adventure, at the crossing of the Missouri. They had come with their cattle, amounting to thirty thousand head, to the banks, when they found the river swollen by rains. The people were to pass over in boats; not so their herds.
"They were gathered in little troops upon the shore, and driven forward till they lost their footing. As they turned their heads to return, they encountered the combined opposition of a clamorous crowd of bystanders, vying with each other in the pungent administration of inhospitable affront. Then rose their hubbub; their geeing and woing and hawing, their yelling and yelping and screaming, their hooting and hissing and pelting. The rearmost steers would hesitate to brave such a rebuff; halting they would impede the return of the outermost; they all would waver; wavering for a moment, the current would sweep them together downward. At this juncture, a fearless youngster, climbing upon some brave bull in the front rank, would urge him boldly forth into the stream: the rest then surely followed; a few moments saw them struggling in raid current; a few more, and they were safely landed on the opposite shore. The driver's was the sought after post of honor here; and sometimes, when repeated failures have urged them to emulation, I have seen the youths, in stepping from back to back of the struggling monsters, or swimming in among their battling hoofs, display feats of address and hardihood, that would have made Franconi's or the Madrid bull-ring vibrate with bravos of applause. But in the hours after hours that I have watched this sport at the ferry side, I never heard an oath or the language of quarrel, or knew it provoke the least sign of ill feeling."The author had his full share of suffering. Attacked by the congestive fever, he was weeks almost in a state of unconsciousness, and paid dearly for his love of adventure, by the pains of sickness and the consequent evil of an impaired constitution.
In the course of the year 1848, they had nearly all assembled at their great settlement in the basin of the Salt Lake. This country had been explored by Fremont four years earlier. He described it as forming almost a complete circle 500 miles in diameter and four or five thousand feet above the level of the sea, shut in by mountains and having no outlet to either ocean. From its great features of lofty mountains and narrow valleys, it seems destined to be a pastoral country. The shores of the lake are incrusted, and its waters, in which no living thing exists, are saturated with salt. All the streams, and some of them are considerable rivers, converge to the Lake. Whether the surplus waters pass off by evaporation, or by subterranean channels, has not been ascertained. Late reports state that great whirlpools have been discovered, which are supposed to be connected with hidden drains. Here the Mormons have a fair field for testing their institutions. Too powerful to be molested by any intruders, divided from California by the barrier of the Sierra Nivada, and from the eastern settlements, by the chain of the Rocky Mountains and a wide desert, they have advanced in the improvement of their country with a rapidity hardly equaled by any of our early western population. Prosperity has crowned their labors, and that prosperity has fallen on worthy heads. Every arrival from the plains brings information of some new act of their benevolence, and every votary of Mammon, whose wanderings have led him to their abodes, invokes blessings on the Mormons. While we are writing, our eyes fall on an extract from the Deseret News, containing the part of a letter from Capt. Stansbury, who was engaged in a topographical survey of the great basin. It was said he had been opposed by the Mormons in his expedition, which he positively denies, and after expressing his gratitude for the courtesy with which he had been treated by the President and citizens, he uses the following language:
"Every facility has been studiously afforded us for the prosecution of our duties; instruments of science frankly and gratuitously loaned, and the able and faithful assistance obtained, from their commencement here, of a gentleman, well known as a fearless advocate of your doctrines, and a prominent and influential member of your community. I have deemed it not improper to say thus much, to counteract an erroneous impression against a people, already burthened with too much undeserved reproach."The same intelligence informs us, that a tax of fifty per cent had been imposed on the sale of spirituous liquors. Buildings they were erecting with unremitting labor; their crops were abundant; their harvest of wheat commenced the 1st of July; and in the enjoyment of plenty, they were pleased to minister to the wants of the needy emigrants. The following is from an address
174 The Mormons. [March,from their President, in the true spirit of philanthropy and Christian charity --
"We have been driven here; we have made two crops, and there are hundreds of emigrants now coming here destitute. I say to you, Latter-day Saints, let no man go hungry from your doors; divide with them and trust in God for more; and those who have a manly spirit will give us their blessings. I say, treat every man kindly, and especially if there is any prospect of helping them on their journey. Emigrants don't let your spirits be worn down; and shame be to the door where a man has to go away hungry."By conforming to such principles they have turned the current of public opinion in their favor. They have completely lived down the calumnies with which they were assailed. Acting the part of the Good Samaritan, they have proved that whatever illusions may deceive their imaginations, their faith, or what is better, their practice, so far as charity is concerned, is all right.
With extended cultivation, and the added comforts of life from successful toil, their numbers are increasing, and have been augmented during the present year by a large immigration from abroad, chiefly from England and Wales. In a land where four or five years ago the foot of the adventurous trapper had seldom made its print, there is now a thriving community with all the arts and elegancies of a polished society. The census, of which the returns are soon to be laid before the public, will show their people more numerous than the inhabitants of some of the States. Their trials seem now at an end, and they are pursuing their course with prosperous gales. The late Act of Congress has enabled them to give to their regulations the sanction of law. The readiness with which they furnished a brigade for the Mexican war, attested their patriotism; and the President of the United States has wisely conferred on the Mormon chief, Brigham Young, the commission of Governor of Utah.
What is to be their destiny, is concealed under the clouds of the future, which even conjecture cannot penetrate. The railroad to the Pacific will probably ascend the valley of the Nebraska, cross the Rocky Mountains at the South pass, and then divide, one branch going to the waters of the Columbia, and the other reaching the Sierra Nivada, after traversing the Great Basin. This vast national undertaking, which is loudly called for by the popular voice, must soon be commenced, and the Mormons will be among the chief laborers and contractors. Whether after a larger intercourse with mankind they will abandon their notions, and suffer them to become as antiquated superstitions, imitating the descendants of the early settlers of the city of brotherly love, in casting off the garb of a peculiar sect, or like the Spartans under the laws of Lycurgus, continue for ages a separate people, it is impossible to predict.
Little is said by Mr. Kane concerning the Mormon creed. The absurdity of the charges of communism and polygamy are refuted by an appeal to their Book of Doctrine. Of the vile and obscene libels that seem borrowed from the history of the Anabaptists at Munster, in the 16th century, he expresses his abhorrence and explains the motives of the libellers. He closes his address in these words:
"I said I would give you the opinion I formed of the Mormons: you may deduce it for yourselves from these facts. But I will add that I have not yet heard the single charge against them as a Community, against their habitual purity of life, their integrity of dealing, their toleration of religious differences in opinion, their regard for the laws, or their devotion to the constitutional government under which we live, that I do not from my own observation, or the testimony of others, know to be unfounded."It is now too late in the day to consider the Mormons the contemptible slaves of a degrading superstition. They are to take their seats with our legislators in the national councils. Be their hallucinations what they may, let them have our indulgence, and be full credit given to their virtues. In this practical, utilitarian age of ours, let us remember that phrenology, mesmerism. Barnum and Jenny Lind are flourishing among us, and the follies of the wisest claim toleration. Judge of the tree by its fruit, and reflect if the most odious vice can produce results that, in the ordinary routine of life, spring only from unwearied industry and perpetual self-denial.
Every one who wishes to possess an enlarged knowledge of the state of his country, must desire to learn the truth concerning the much-slandered Mormons, and every lover of justice will be pleased to see false accusations repelled. To such we commend Mr. Kane's address. We had selected more passages for quotation, but all who take an interest in the subject should get the pamphlet. The general reader will be carried along by the incidents of the narrative, and the animation of the style; the curious will be gratified by an account of the manners of a singular people; and the honest man will rejoice that the public mind is disabused, and his calumniated fellow-citizens relieved from the load of obloquy by which they have been oppressed.
Eliza Cook's Journal
(London: Vol. II. Nos. 55 & 56)
"The Mormons (1)"
"The Mormons (2)"
An interesting article from a
poetic British journal.
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Joe Smith, the founder of the sect, was horn in 1805, at Sharon, in the New England State of Vermont. About ten years after, his parents removed to the neighborhood of Palmyra, in the State of New York, where they lived for several years. Joe grew up with the tastes and habits of a "loafer;" he was an idle lounger at drinking-shops; ignorant, uneducated, coarse, and vicious. He did no work, unless it was an occasional stroke at "money-digging," searching for hidden treasure, the favourite pursuit of vagabonds in every age. What had first turned his attention to the project of founding a religious sect is not known; but, in the story of himself, which he afterwards gave to the world, he averred that the Spirit of the Lord found him at Palmyra, at the age of fourteen or fifteen, and awakened him to religious thoughts by a miraculous vision. A subsequent revelation, in 1823, disclosed to him that he was "chosen of God" as the instrument of a new dispensation—a dispensation which should fulfil and complete those heretofore vouchsafed in the Old and New Testaments. He was informed that the American Indians were a remnant of Israel, a branch of the tribe of Joseph: that they had been conducted to this country a civilized people, possessed of the true religion, and favoured of the Almighty: that they walked not in the ways of the Lord, but fell into all manner of wicked courses, and massacred one another in endless wars: that, at last, they were almost exterminated in a great battle, at a hill called "Cumorah," 200 miles west of Albany, in the State of New York, and not far from Joe's residence in Palmyra: and that the survivors degenerated into the savage tribes, whom the Europeans found in possession of the country. It was further "revealed,' to him, that the ancient records of this people, which had been kept from time to time by their Seers and Prophets, were saved by Divine Providence, and "hid up" in the hill Cumorah, A.D. 420, by Moroni, the son of Mormon: that, in due time, these records should be entrusted to him, and he should be enabled, by inspiration, to translate and publish them to the world: and that, through his agency, the kingdom of "The Latter Day Saints" should be established, the New Jerusalem built up, and the whole earth prepared for the final coming of Christ.
After many alleged premonitory visions, the sacred plates were at last committed to this Moses of the Latter Day Covenant. With them he received a pair of spectacles, by the aid of which he was to interpret the records -- these spectacles Joe designated "Urim and Thummim." The sacred plates were said to be of gold, seven or eight inches square, scarcely so thick as common tin, I hound together like a hook, and secured by three rings running through one side or edge of the plates; the book being six inches thick. The plates were covered with Egyptian characters. After his establishment at Nauvoo (of which hereafter) Joe procured some Egyptian mummies, and caused several sheets of papyrus, carved with hieroglyphics, to be framed with glass, like pictures. His mother, then in her dotage, kept these as an exhibition, and explained to visitors, -- who always paid a gratuity -- the history of "King Pharaoh, his wife, and daughter" (being the mummies there present), and their connection with the children of Israel and the Latter Day Saints; her accounts of the Egyptian characters, would certainly have astounded the learned historians of Europe and Asia!
To return: Joe commenced the work of translation of the plates, which, after considerable delay, was at length accomplished, and an edition of 1,200 copies of the "Book of Mormon," was published at Palmyra, New York, in 1830. Such is the date of this new bible of the Mormon prophet. Another edition was afterwards published in England, at Liverpool, under the auspices of three of the Brethren there. This Mormon bible contains the 1st and 2nd hooks of Nephi, the hooks of Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni, the words of Mormon, and the hooks of Mosiah, Zeniff, Alma, Helaman, Nephi (the second), Mormon, Ether, and Moroni. The whole is a prosy and awkward imitation of the Old Testament in subject, matter, and style; abounding in had grammar, verbose trifling, puerile conceits, stolen incidents, and palpable anachronisms.
There is every reason to believe that Joe Smith got the idea and most of the materials of his hook, from a manuscript composed by the Rev. Solomon Spalding, some time a Congregational minister at Mason [sic], Massachusetts, and also the head of an academy at that place, but who afterwards removed to New Salem, in Ohio, in 1812. While there, he regarded with much curiosity the antiquities found in that State, and indulged in speculations about their origin. At length he conceived the idea of writing a scriptural romance; taking up the lost tribes of Israel, removing them to America, and deducing for them an imaginary history. The Book of Mormon was the result; and, while composing it, he often read portions of it to his wife and friends. At Pittsburg, Philadelphia, to which he afterwards removed, the manuscript was for some time in the hands of a Mr. Patterson, the editor of a paper there; and, by him, was shown about, without
any reserve. Among others, Sydney Rigdon, a compositor, read, and had abundant opportunities of copying the manuscript, which was afterwards returned to Mr. Spalding, who died in 1816.
Many years after, in the year 1828, Rigdon was working at his trade in Palmyra, when the public began to hear rumours of Joe Smith's golden plates, and Rigdon shortly after joined him, when he assisted in "the translation "until the date of its publication, and continued one of the most zealous coadjutors of "the Prophet" until near his death. The people of New Salem, however, in the year 1834, were in no small degree surprised to hear certain passages read from the Book of Mormon by a female preacher, which they at once recognised as parts of the deceased Mr. Spalding's manuscript. His own brother was one of the audience. A public meeting was held, and a committee appointed to visit Mrs. Spalding (now Mrs. Davison) and compare the new revelations with the old romance. It was done accordingly, and the identity of the two fully established. Mrs. Davison published, in 1839, a narrative of the whole history of her husband’s manuscript; and its truth is attested by many credible witnesses. The only unaccountable thing about it is, that a minister of the gospel should have written such an amount of trash, and found people patient enough to listen to its reading. The names of Mormon and Moroni have been sometimes referred to in confirmation of this story. The first is a Greek work, meaning a frightful mask, or, as children call it, a "false-face," or "scareface." The latter is supposed to be an anomalous formation from the Greek, moros, signifying a fool.
Joe Smith, however, succeeded in getting his Book published, and his scheme fairly launched. He obtained converts, the earliest of no greater reputation than himself; but, by degrees, others of higher standing joined him, -- some from hopes of profit, others of influence. Missionaries were set to work, who found a ready audience. Novelty, curiosity, love of change, discontent, and the love of the marvellous, attracted many. The scriptural phraseology of the new religion excited anew the slumbering spirit of fanaticism in New England; prophecies were hazarded, miracles were promised, the gift of tongues was preached, the power of casting out devils was vouchsafed, and a divine protection was offered against the poison of serpents and the assaults of wild beasts; while all other existing teachers of religion were denounced as impostors and false guides. Such doctrines, preached with zeal, will not fail to attract a large number of ignorant persons in any community; and, accordingly, the doctrines of Joe Smith prospered.
"The rebuilding of Zion" was one of his grand dreams; but the Prophet made many mistakes as to its site. Palmyra was its first location, next Kirtland in Ohio, then in Missouri, afterwards at Nauvoo in Illinois, and from thence the Mormonites have wandered into the Californian wilds, but still growing in numbers at every stage of their wanderings. As yet, all the prophecies have failed; yet, still the faithful have hope. "The church "is full of zeal, and the missionaries are eager. It was observed that, wherever Joe and his followers pitched their camp, as being the spot on which Zion was to be rebuilt, there the land was rich, and the prospects of increase great. They never, by any accident, alighted on a barren spot, but selected fertile lands, great "water privileges," and a location abounding in wealthy settlers, enabling the Saints to "milk the Gentiles," as the process of sucking them was facetiously termed in the revelations of Joe. In Kirtland, they established a hank, the Prophet being president, and Sidney Rigdon cashier. It was established in obedience to one of Joe Smith's "Revelations given in Zion, July, 1831," wherein Sidney Gilbert was divinely "appointed to receive monies," Edward Partridge "to divide the Saints their inheritance;" the aforesaid Sidney Gilbert furthermore to "establish a store," "that he may obtain money to buy lands for the good of the Saints," and with that view, to "obtain a license, that he may send goods also unto the people;" and, finally, it appointed, in Verse 5, as follows: -- And, again, verily I say unto you, let my servant, William W. Phelps, be planted in this place, and be established as a printer unto the church," &c. These revelations of the Prophet were generally a strong exposition to the Saints "to mind the main chance;" which they were not slow to lay to heart. But the Kirtland Bank fared no better than the Heathen Banks around it; the country was flooded with its paper, while the hank vaults were innocent of specie. The holders of the notes never got a farthing; and The Saints, after "milking the Gentiles," decamped to Missouri to build another Zion. Meanwhile, their "church" had been licked into shape, and there was The Prophet, the Patriarch, the Melchisedec, and the Aaronic Priesthood, High Priests, and Presidents, the Twelve Apostles, the Quorum of Seventy, Bishops, Elders, Priests, Deacons, and Teachers, whose respective powers and duties were prescribed to them through the medium of frequent divine revelations to Joe, and occasionally to other men high in office. By order of these so-called revelations, special provision was made for the support of these persons, and, as may easily be anticipated, the Prophet and his family were not forgotten.
Removed, or "absquatulated," to Missouri in 1831, the Mormons established the towns of Far-west and Adam-ondiahman. Dissensions here sprang up between the Saints and the Gentiles, which continued to increase in frequency and violence during their residence in the Western States. The Gentiles refused to be "milked" patiently, and were very indignant to see the laws of their State, for the check and punishment of dishonesty and knavery, set at defiance. At length the Mormons positively refused obedience to the officers and processes of the law; they fortified their towns, and prepared to defend themselves by force. The militia of the State were called out under General Doniphon, who has since so distinguished himself in Mexico, and, after some warlike demonstrations, Joe Smith surrendered himself a prisoner to answer the various charges of felony of which he was accused, and his people dispersed to seek a refuge beyond the limits of Missouri. They wandered into the adjoining State of Illinois, and began to arrive in Quincy and its vicinity during the winter of 1838-9. They were very poor, ill-clad, and almost destitute of food. Describing their wrongs and sufferings in the most moving terms, and exhibiting a deportment of the greatest humility, the inhabitants of the district were filled with compassion, and large contributions in money and necessaries were made for their support. They were employed on farms, in workshops, in private families, and everybody thought they would ere long be absorbed in the general population of the country. At this juncture, early in the spring of 1839, Joe Smith escaped from prison in Missouri, and fled into Illinois. Here he held a great gathering of his followers a few miles from Quincy, at an old camp-meeting ground, and he addressed them, as well as the "sucked," in an oily speech. It was not free from impudence, and even blasphemy. Referring to one of his followers, who had professed to have "revelations" during his imprisonment, and seemed to be ambitious of acting as successor to Joe, he said, "I don't know anything about his revelations. God can give revelations, if He pleases; this may be true or it may be false. I don't know anything about it. I can't be everywhere at once. God Almighty must attend to some of those things himself!"
Again was a new site for the Holy City chosen, and now Nauvoo was the favoured spot. This is said to be a Hebrew word, signifying "The Beautiful." Certainly
the situation of Nauvoo is very beautiful. Those who have witnessed the Panorama of the Mississippi, recently exhibited in London, will remember the commanding situation of the Temple, on a high bluff, near the hanks of the river, eloping gradually down into a level bottom, and surrounded by a bend in the Mississippi about five or six miles long. The view from the Temple, in every direction, is most lovely. On the opposite shore is Fort des Moines (now Montrose) in Iowa, situated in a prairie bottom, stretching several miles to the west, and shut in by an amphitheatre of hills. Eastward, a belt of timber almost two miles wide circles it about, and beyond it lies an open prairie, some eighteen miles across, and extending almost indefinitely to the north and south. In three or four years there sprung up on this site a Mormon city, as if by magic. Houses of brick, and wood, and stone, were scattered over a surface of about three miles square, inhabited in 1844 by not fewer than 15,000 souls. The Temple itself was an imposing and costly structure of white marble, surmounted by a cupola, and a magnificent portico of Corinthian columns. The "Nauvoo House" was projected also on a splendid scale, in which Joe Smith and his family were, by special revelation, to possess a suite of rooms in perpetuity.
(To be concluded in our next.)
During the first year or two of the Mormon settlement at Nauvoo, matters went on smoothly enough. The Mormons were conciliatory, and by their treatment of strangers induced many, who were not Mormons, to settle among them. There was also a continual influx of new converts from a distance, bringing with them money, which Joe Smith "sucked" from them in the shape of loans, contributions, &c. As, however, the numbers and wealth of the Mormons increased, their confidence grew. There were adventurers without the body, who were not slow to turn their growing power to account. A person of this description, who had been appointed Quartermaster General of the State of Illinois, suddenly joined the Mormons, as they were about to raise their Nauvoo Legion. All the State arms of every description, cannon, small arms, swords, and pistols, were distributed by him among the militia of Nauvoo, so that, for a long period, the State was without weapons for the volunteers and militia of the other counties. The numbers and union of the Mormons, together with their monopoly of the State arms, and the large additions reported to have been made to them from their own resources, made the sect a formidable enemy to the scattered and unarmed population of the surrounding country.
The Mormons now proceeded to usurp and exercise a series of powers, in the teeth of the law and established authorities of the State. The Corporation of Nauvoo assumed imperial jurisdiction in their own city; they set the writ of habeas corpus at defiance; arrested visitors to the city, and subjected them to inquisitorial examinations; they issued marriage licenses, contrary to the State laws; they established a Recorder's office for the record of deeds, independent of that provided by the laws of every State; they passed an ordinance to punish with fine and imprisonment all persons guilty of disrespectful words concerning Joe Smith; they passed another ordinance, prohibiting, under penalty of fine and imprisonment, the service of any process whatever, unless countersigned by the Mayor of Nauvoo; and these penalties they forbade the Governor of the State to remit by his pardon! At the same time, in the height of their confidence, the Mormons began and carried on an alarming system of plunder. Horses, cattle, farming utensils, domestic poultry, clothes on the line, honey, everything in short, which contributes to the wealth and comfort of the farmer, were carried off by these marauders. Stores in the little towns were broken open and rifled of their contents. A manufacture of counterfeit money, both in coin and paper, was got up and superintended by the heads of the Church, and large quantities were put in circulation among the unsuspecting country people. The injured Gentiles had no redress, for the Mormons had beforehand packed the courts of justice with their creatures; and to appeal to them was to appeal from the thief to the receiver of the stolen goods.
The Gentiles, however, though patient, would not stand this bare-faced system of "sucking;" and they began to cry out against the continued existence of Nauvoo as the head-quarters of a gang of hold, artful, and desperate rogues. But the Mormons were very numerous; they commanded many votes, and no public man in office cared about appearing openly against them. Many also were governed by considerations of interest or fear; and hesitated to act against a united body of fanatics so powerful, so well armed, and so unscrupulous. Thus the country, in the immediate vicinity of the Mormons, became divided into three parties: the Mormons, the Anti-Mormons or "old citizens," and the Jack Mormons or waiters on. The Anti-Mormons at length became sensible that there was no other way of bringing hack peace to the district but by rooting out the Mormon
nest, and they eagerly sought some favourable opportunity for undertaking this work. Broils, excesses, and violence took place, in which both parties were to blame, "the Anti-Mormons took a hold step in attempting to establish a newspaper in the city of Nauvoo itself, for the exposure of the hypocrisy, licentiousness, extortion, and other crimes of their opponents. The conductors of the paper were seceders from the body, and had been deep in the secrets of the supreme councils. Joe Smith at once called together the ever-ready city council to his aid, when they declared, by ordinance, that the paper was a public nuisance, and issued a warrant to the city marshal to abate it forthwith. The paper was at once "abated" by the mayor and council, at the head of a strong posse of adherents breaking into the office, destroying the press, and throwing the types into the street. At the instance of the proprietor, a warrant was issued by the county circuit clerk against the authors of, and actors in this riot. The warrant was served on Joe Smith and the other leading men concerned; and what did Joe do? He caused writs to be issued from the city court, had themselves tried by themselves, and they unanimously acquitted each other, the City Marshal sending off the constable with the assurance that they would never be taken out of the city by his writ!
The Constable called out the posse of the county to support him, and, in view of the military organization of the Mormons, he required them to be armed and equipped for hostilities. The volunteer companies turned out promptly. Nor were the Mormons idle. They called the brethren, from the scattered settlements around and at a distance, into Nauvoo, paraded and drilled their troops every day, stationed guards about the city to keep out all strangers; formed magazines for their support and defence; and enforced all the regulations of martial law. The Governor of the State took the command of the Anti-Mormons, but he was a man of weak character, and not fitted for the post. He demanded the surrender of the leaders; when, the Smiths becoming alarmed, crossed the river to Iowa, but at last were induced to return and deliver themselves up to a company of dragoons, who were sent to Nauvoo to demand the public arms. They were brought to Carthage, and gave hail upon the writs first issued out against them. But, by this time, other affidavits were filed, accusing them of treason, in levying war against the authority of the State. The Smiths were committed to gaol to wait their trial; and, in the meantime, to gratify the public curiosity, the Governor made an exhibition of them, placing the guard in the unenviable position of a guard of honour over the men whom they detested. They were very indignant, and marched off the ground. The Governor ordered the refractory company to be arrested and disarmed; but they stood on their self-defence, hacked by their comrades. The Governor countersigned the offensive order, but shortly after, on the occasion of an assembly of the county forces at Golden's Point, near Nauvoo, he suddenly ordered the troops to be disbanded, with the exception of 200 men. The order to disband met the militia from Warsaw, on their way to the rendezvous. They were surprised and indignant, and the rumour spread among them that the Governor was a conniver at the delinquencies of the Mormons, and intended to let them escape. Seventy or eighty men marched hastily on the gaol, overpowered the detachment on guard, and, after a brief resistance on the part of the prisoners, in which some of the assailants were wounded, they killed the two Smiths, and wounded several others of the prisoners.
The murder of the Smiths was an event deeply deplored by all right-thinking men throughout the State, who, notwithstanding the exasperation naturally felt by men who had been victimized by the Mormon emissaries, could offer no sufficient plea of excuse for such a bloody deed. The authors of the murder were sought for; five persons were indicted and tried, but the evidence was insufficient to convict them; and the murderers, whoever they were, escaped. For twelve months after this event, the country remained comparatively quiet; although partial disturbances and collisions were of frequent occurrence. At length, in August 1845, the Anti-Mormonites, outraged by some alleged act of the Mormons, took the offensive, and resolved to drive the Mormons out of the district. The Sheriff of the County, Backenstos, who had been selected by the Mormons and was in their interest, collected a body of 400 of them on horseback, and, under pretext of doing his duty, scoured the country in pursuit of the leading Anti-Mormons. His myrmidons entered houses by force, ransacked, and often pillaged, the property of the inmates, and, with threats and demonstrations of force, terrified the most orderly and inoffensive, no less than the turbulent. The latter, indeed, for the most part, sought safety in flight. A Reign of Terror prevailed throughout the county: in the course of which, several lives were lost, some of them by the most unprovoked and cold-blooded assassinations. An active system of plunder was carried on, and reprisals were made on both sides.
At length the governor was induced, after repeated applications, to interfere actively. General Hardin was sent into the district with a body of militia from distant places. He at once ordered Backenstos to disband his posse, which, after some demur, was complied with. Steps were then taken for a final determination of the contest. A convention of delegates from the surrounding counties was held, which declared that the Mormons must, and should remove from the state, and the meeting pledged themselves to support each other by force in effecting their expulsion. The leaders of the Mormons expressed their willingness to go, provided time were allowed to make preparations, and sell their property. A treaty was made on these conditions, and they were to leave in the following spring. About three fourths of them took up the line of march for California, in the beginning of 1846; but, still a formidable number were left, who declared they could not go because they could not sell their property. It afterwards turned out, however, that these were left as a kind of "nest-egg;" one of the trustees of the church admitting, on their final expulsion, that they had not abandoned the hope of retaining a foot-hold in Nauvoo, which they designed as a sort of resting-place, or depot for emigrating parties, prior to their departure for the Far West. This policy did not escape the penetration of the Anti-Mormons, who saw with alarm large numbers of Mormon emigrants continuing to flock into Nauvoo, from the other states, as well as from England and the Old World.
In the month of August, the forcible rescue of a Mormon in Nauvoo, from the hands of a constable, was the signal for another rising of the population against the Mormon disturbers of the peace. They assembled in arms, and formed a camp in the neighbourhood of Nauvoo, under the leadership of Thomas Brockman. Great numbers flocked to their standard. The general determination was, to expel the Mormons, or to leave the state if they failed. Men of every profession and calling left their business to t.ke part in the struggle. The Mormons, whose numbers by this time were greatly increased, prepared vigorously to defend themselves. Brockman, with his army, advanced towards Nauvoo, skirmishing as he went, until he got within a mile and a half of the temple, when he entrenched himself. With a body of one thousand men, he advanced to an attack on the city, the Mormons fighting behind the walls and the houses, contested their advance. The Anti-Mormons had several six pounder field-pieces, from which they fired round shot and grape with considerable accuracy. The whole fight was at long distances, and hence few were killed or
wounded on either side. But the Mormons were driven, step by step, into the city itself, until the cannon shot were exhausted: when Brockman, satisfied with his success retreated slowly, and in good order, to his camp.
Two or three days of inaction followed; during which, the Anti-Mormons were busily engaged in collecting ammunition and provisions, and were constantly reinforced. The Mormons, though fewer in numbers, and without the prospect of succour, seemed determined to dispute the ground, inch by inch. The streets were mined in the vicinity of the temple, where the last stand was to be made. The besieged had arms and ammunition in abundance; and everything betokened an obstinate and bloody struggle.
At this juncture, a public meeting was held by the citizens of Quincy, to consider the state of affairs in the adjoining county. Quincy is about sixty miles below Nauvoo on the same river. It was resolved to send a committee of one hundred Anti-Mormons, unarmed -- and in the character of mediators, with instructions to propose a compromise. The basis of the compromise was to be -- 1. The surrender of the City of Nauvoo. 2. The immediate removal of the Mormons. 3. Permission to a fixed number of them to remain as trustees, for the settlement of business; and 4. That the rights of persons and property should be respected by the Anti-Mormons. The terms, it must be admitted, were hard and severe; but it was well known that none better would be granted by the successful party; and the only alternative would be, a fight, without quarter, from street to street, and from house to house.
With considerable difficulty, a deputation of the Committee succeeded in effecting a surrender on the basis proposed, and a treaty was drawn up and signed by the leaders of both parties. The city was then delivered up; the Mormons withdrew after their brethren to California; and the county has ever since remained perfectly tranquil. Large subscriptions in money, clothing, and provisions were made in the neighbourhood, to enable the Mormons to emigrate; notwithstanding which, they encountered great privations and suffering on their long and arduous march. Disasters fell in succession upon their caravans and encampments. They were decimated by famine and sickness; yet, their purpose of concentration, and their fanatical devotion to their faith, remained as fixed and unchanged as ever. Their desperate devotion reminds one of the early Mahomedans; indeed, the definition of Mormonism, as "the Mahomedanism of the New World," is highly appropriate. For two years they persisted in an irregular nomadic life, more like that of the wandering Arab, or the American Indian, than as men reared in u civilized society. At last, they settled down into localities, chiefly in upper California; and the favoured spot at length fixed upon for the New Zion was in the neighbourhood of The Great Salt Lake, where they founded their city. The surrounding country is rich, abounding in minerals and mineral springs of all kinds, with abundance of fertile land far and near. There flocks of emigrants, many from England, have poured in upon them; and their numbers have now increased to such an extent, that they are about to be formed into an Independent State of the Union, under the name of Deseret. "Their future fate," says the Editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, a Virginia periodical, "is a matter of conjecture only. But, if they thrive and prosper in their new possessions -- if they adhere to their fundamental maxim, 'that the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof, and His saints shall inherit it,' -- if they seek to accomplish this destiny, as they have heretofore done, whenever they believed their strength adequate to the work -- then the colonists of the Pacific shores may expect to realize, in that remote country, what their fellow-citizens have experienced in the great valley of the Mississippi. The emigrants may encounter, on the broad prairies of the west, a banditti more formidable than the daring Comanches: the weak settlements will be exposed to excursions, not less harassing than those of the Seminoles of Florida; and, if the Mormons should establish themselves in strength upon the seacoast, the commerce of that region may find in them enemies, as active and relentless as the piratical Malays of the other continent."
The Eclectic Magazine
(NYC: Edward O. Jenkins)
"Origin of the Mormonites"
An important and lengthy article from the
British journal: The English Review
FOREIGN LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART
ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONITES
THERE are few persons, probably, who have not, at one time or another, heard of the existence of a sect called the "Mormonites," or "Latter Day Saints," and of the crowds of deluded fanatics, who, under those names, have, from time to time, quitted the shores of this country, on their way to a new land of promise in the Far West. But among those under whose notice this one among the many
religious phenomena of the present day has occasignally fallen, there are few, we apprehend, who have ever troubled themeslves to inquire into the origin or peculiar tenets of the new sect,-few who have any conception
of its numerical extent, -- still fewer who have viewed it in its more important aspect as one of the "signs of the times." It is hard to say, how long this indifference of the more enlightened portion of the Christian public to the proceedings of the followers of Mormon might have continued, but for an attempt recently macie to constrain a clergyman of our Church to desecrate the Burial Service at the grave of one of the members of the sect. While it appeared simply as one of the extravagant phases of American religionism, it was not likely to excite any very lively interest in this country; but the case is altogether different when we find that the pestilence is spreading extensively in our parishes, as we fear it is, especially in the manufacturing districts; and that the spirit of ribaldry towards the Church, by which it has been characterized from thee first, is changed into a:spirit of persecution, endeavoring to expose her sacred offices to irreverent, and, if the profanation were acquiesced in, not altogether unmerited scorn.
1850] ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS 401
402 ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS [Nov.,
1850] ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS 403
404 ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS [Nov.,
1850] ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS 405
406 ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS [Nov.,
1850] ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS 407
ORIGIN OF THE "BOOK OF MORMON," OR
"As this book has excited much attention and has been put by a certain
new sect, in the place of the sacred Scriptures, I deem it a duty which I owe to
the public, to state what I know touching its origin. That its claims to a Divine origin are wholly unfounded, needs no proof to a mind unperverted by the grossest delusions. That any sane person should rank it higher than any other merely human composition, is a matter of the greatest astonishment; yet it is received as divine by some who dwell in enlightened New England, and even by those who have sustained the character of devoted Christians. Learning recently, that Mormonism had found its way into a church in Massachusetts, and has impregnated some of its members with its gross delusions, so that excommunication has become necessary, I am determined to delay no longer doing what I can to strip the mask from this monster of sin, and to lay open this pit of abominations.
408 ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS [Nov.,
MATILDA DAVISON."Rev. Solomon Spaulding was the first husband of the narrator of the above history. Since his decease, she has been married to a second husband by the name of Davison. She is now residing in this place; is a woman of irreproachable character and an humble Christian, and her testimony is worthy of implicit confidence.
"A. ELY, D. D.
The story told Mrs. Davison has since been the subject of careful investigation by
other parties interested in unmasking the Mormonite imposture, and has not only been found correct, but has been confirmed by many circumstantial details which those of our readers who may feel curious on the subject, will find briefly recorded in the second chapter of Mr. Caswell's "Prophet of the Nineteenth Century." For our present purpose it suffices to have authenticated the quarter from which Joseph Smith derived the materials of a work, which he was by no
means qualified by his education to compose. Nor can there be much doubt left as to the medium through which the book found its way out of the printing-office at Pittsburgh into the hands of Joseph Smith. There is a name mentioned in Mrs. Davison's narrative, which figures conspicuously, as we shall presently see, in the history of Mormonism; and the fact that the party in question, Sidney
Rigdon, did not himself advance the forgery, but employed for this purpose Joseph Smith, a loose vagabond, whom his habits and occupation
1850] ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS 409
410 ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS [Nov.,
1850] ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS 411
412 ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS [Nov.,
1850] ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS 413
414 ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS [Nov.,
1850] ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS 415
416 ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS [Nov.,
1850] ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS 417
418 ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS [Nov.,
1850] ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE MORMONS 419
American Whig Review
(NYC: Wiley & Putnam)
"The Yankee Mahomet"
First article of a 6-part series. Part 2 was never
published, but 4 more parts appeared in 1852:
Part 1: Mar. 1852
Part 2: Apr. 1852
Part 3: Jun. 1852
Part 4: Nov. 1852
FOR JUNE, 1851.
THE YANKEE MAHOMET.
To the Editor of the American Review:
1851 The Yankee Mahomet. 555
556 The Yankee Mahomet. June
1851 The Yankee Mahomet. 557
558 The Yankee Mahomet. June
1851 The Yankee Mahomet. 559
560 The Yankee Mahomet. June
1851 The Yankee Mahomet. 561
562 The Yankee Mahomet. June
1851 The Yankee Mahomet. 563
564 The Yankee Mahomet. June
Vol XV. No. III New Series
FOR MARCH, 1852.
MORMONISM IN ILLINOIS.
222 Mormonism in Illinois March
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 223
224 Mormonism in Illinois March
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 225
226 Mormonism in Illinois March
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 227
Vol XV. No. IV New Series
FOR APRIL, 1852.
MORMONISM IN ILLINOIS.
328 Mormonism in Illinois April
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 329
330 Mormonism in Illinois April
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 331
332 Mormonism in Illinois April
Vol XV. No. VI New Series
FOR JUNE, 1852.
MORMONISM IN ILLINOIS.
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 525
526 Mormonism in Illinois June
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 527
528 Mormonism in Illinois June
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 529
530 Mormonism in Illinois June
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 531
532 Mormonism in Illinois June
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 533
534 Mormonism in Illinois June
Vol XVI. No. V New Series
FOR NOVEMBER, 1852.
MORMONISM IN ILLINOIS.
512 Mormonism in Illinois November
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 513
514 Mormonism in Illinois November
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 515
516 Mormonism in Illinois November
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 517
518 Mormonism in Illinois November
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 519
520 Mormonism in Illinois November
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 521
522 Mormonism in Illinois November
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 523
524 Mormonism in Illinois November
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 525
526 Mormonism in Illinois November
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 527
528 Mormonism in Illinois November
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 529
530 Mormonism in Illinois November
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 531
532 Mormonism in Illinois November
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 533
534 Mormonism in Illinois November
1852 Mormonism in Illinois 535
536 Mormonism in Illinois November
(New York City: Geo. P. Putnam)
"In the Name of the Prophet Smith"
A harsh assessment of 1850s Mormonism:
"It exhibits fanaticism in its newest garb..."
A WEEKLY JOURNAL.
CONDUCTED BY CHARLES DICKENS.
Vol. III. NEW YORK CITY, 1851. No. 69.
IN THE NAME OF THE PROPHET SMITH.
In 1805 there was born in Sharon, Windsor county, Vermont, United States, a boy to the house of one Smith there. He was named Joseph. His parents -- poor, industrious people -- moved shortly afterward to Palmyra, New-York. Joseph was brought up as a farmer. Joseph, a vigorous, wild, uncultivated boy, seems to have been used to working from the beginning. His lot turned to the homely side of affairs in general. What he saw of daily life was the necessity of digging and clearing; what he heard of religious matters was through the medium of a squabbling, violent, fanatical sectarianism. Joe's career was the product of these two influences: his "religion" presents, accordingly, two marked phenomena: immense practical industry, and pitiable superstitious delusion. What the Mormons do, seems to be excellent; what they say, is mostly nonsense.
At the very outset of the story, we are met by the marvellous. Joseph Smith, the ignorant rustic, sees visions, lays claim to inspiration, and pretends to commune with angels and with the Divinity himself. He is a ploughboy, and aspires to be a prophet; he is at first what they call "wild," but repents; in his rude, coarse life, and narrow way, he really has a genuine interest in the Bible. In this disturbed variety of feelings the young Yankee grows up; he is, as you see pretty clearly, naturally shrewd, yet credulous. The neighbors are puzzled what to make of Joseph; he complains that "persecution" was his lot very early. The neighboring ministers did not listen very favorably to Joe's visions. The time for all that, they told him, was gone by; nobody had visions now-a-days! But Joseph struggled on; for he felt some power in himself; felt that he was, in his way, a shining light; but, like many other shining lights, set in a desperately thick horn lantern! The fact was, Joseph, naturally gifted, was wretchedly brought up. Perhaps it would be fair to say that he hoped to be able to do some good in his time; so he rushed into his career with strategic disguises to help him on. The world would not listen to plain Joe Smith, junior, prophet, unaided. Joe Smith must have something to help him. In the nineteenth century you must "rig" your spiritual market, Joe thought, as well as any other. So, to make things pleasant, he set about cooking up his own accounts of his own prophecies with a tale of the marvellous. Accordingly, in 1827, a rumor spread about among persons interested in these matters, that Joseph Smith, Junior, had made a discovery of importance. Inspired by a vision, he had searched in a certain spot of ground, and there had discovered some records, written on "plates, apparently of gold," which contained, in Egyptian characters, an additional Bible! This was, indeed, the "Book of Mormon," from which the sect derive their name. The book professed to be a sacred and inspired narrative, reserved for the new prophet to usher into the world, and is thus described by one of the Mormon apostles:
"The book of Mormon contains the history of the ancient inhabitants of America, who were a branch of the house of Israel, of the tribe of Joseph; of whom the Indians are still a remnant; but the principal nation of them having fallen in battle, in the fourth or fifth century, one of their prophets, whose name was Mormon, saw fit to make an abridgment of their history, their prophecies, and their doctrine, which he engraved on plates; and afterwards, being slain, the record fell into the hands of his son Moroni, who, being hunted by his enemies, was directed to deposit the record safely in the earth, with a promise from God that it should be preserved, and should be brought to light in the latter days by means of a Gentile nation, who should possess the land. The deposit was made about the year 420, on
a hill then called Cumora, now in Ontario county, where it was preserved in safety until it was brought to light by no less than the ministry of angels, and translated by inspiration. And the great Jehovah bore record of the same to chosen witnesses, who declared it to the world."
This book is extant (in its printed English form, of course) in the British Museum, and resembles the Scriptures about as much as a paraphrase of the Pentateuch by Moses & Son's poet! It appears from all the evidence, in fact, that this book of Mormon was founded on an historical romance, written by an American author some years before Prophet Smith's time, which fell, while still in MS., into the hands of a friend of the prophet, and which was sublimated into an "inspired" state by the prophet and a personal acquaintance. It was followed by a book of doctrines and covenants.
Not long after their publication, the success of these works was so great, that Joseph's faith in his own fabrications appears to have become wonderfully strengthened; and he began, poor fellow, to believe in himself, and to take up prophecy as a trade. He had occasional "revelations" to suit each new phase in his career. He professed also to work miracles, and to cast devils out of the bodies of brother Tomkins and brother Gibbs, whenever those worthy men were troubled with them.
The sect increased with great rapidity. It gained converts everywhere in the States. The disciples took the name of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." They held that these present days are the "latter" ones, preparatory to the Millennium. A material, eminently Jonathonian form of Christianity organized itself gradually; Joseph had apostles and disciples; once more the world saw a man believed in by his fellow-men, and reverenced as sacred.
It sounds strange to hear of a church having a "location." But a "location" was the term they applied to their place of settlement. Their first one was in Jackson county, Missouri. Here was to be the "New-Jerusalem." Picture to yourselves loaded wagons travelling westward; canal boats swimming low and deep down the rivers; the tall, brawny prophet with dark eyes; the Church is on its way! One likes to see a love of the beautiful in Joe. Joe looks round the landscape, and sees "the great rolling prairies like a sea of meadows." Here was Zion at last, and Joseph had a "revelation" on the subject. His revelations are the oddest compositions -- scriptural phrase and sturdy business details blended. "Verily I say unto you, let my servant Sidney Gilbert plant himself in this place and establish a store!" This is an odd weaving together of velvet and fustian; like using Raphael's "Madonna" for a public-house sign.
Prophets, we all know, are persecuted in all ages. Joe was no exception. But unhappily Joseph was ludicrously persecuted. He was a martyr; but a martyr to practical jokes. The brawny man was dragged from his bed one night by a horde of Methodists, Baptists, Campbellites, and other burning zealots. Wild cries are heard through the night air; the prophet is hauled along, furious orthodoxy buffeting him right and left. Where is the tar-bucket?
The fatal bucket -- black and calm as a pool of Erebus -- is brought. Joe is ferociously anointed with pitch; the thick dark fluid sticks all over him, and causes the plumage mercilessly coated over his sacred person to adhere as tightly as if he had been really blessed with wings. A saint tarred and feathered is, indeed, a new chapter in the Book of Martyrs. The faith that could survive so tremendous a bathos was impregnable, and showed the unbounded power of the prophet over his followers. It took the whole night for the "inspired" friends of the prophet to cleanse his revered and canonized skin! Yet, scared and bleared as he was -- raw as some goose plucked alive -- Joe preached the next day to his own egregious multitude.
The agitation in Jackson county, Missouri, by degrees grew furious; there were Mormon newspapers and anti-Mormon newspapers; and when the pen and the leading article had done their worst, the sword, (the States' name for which is "bowie-knife,") the bludgeon and the revolver were brought into play. Judge Lynch, who never is to be bothered with juries, and decides in a second on his own responsibility, was continually invoked; end there were perpetual scenes of bloodshed. In the end, the war waxed too hot even for the dauntless Joseph. When he found that active valor was of no avail against his enemies, he betook himself to the courage of discretion, the passive and the better part of valor. He went away. In May, 1834, the entire community packed up its "notions" and effected a successful exode.
We find that after their expulsion from Missouri, they migrated to Illinois, and mustered fifteen thousand souls. Here they established a city, which they called "Nauvoo," or the "Beautiful," and by the consent of everybody, worked right well. Joe was mayor, president, prophet; spiritual and temporal head of the settlement. They now began to send out missionaries, and to build a temple of polished white limestone. It was one hundred and thirty-eight feet in length, and eighty-eight in breadth, surmounted by a pyramidal tower; and was so elevated on a rising ground that it stood in the sight of the whole population. The Mormons spent a million of dollars on this edifice.
We now view Joe at the summit of his career. Joe has military rank, and reviews his troops as Lieutenant-General. Drums beat, and flags are waved. He rides abroad a King. His Work is now nearly done. The city grows around him daily; houses with
gardens spring up; the hum of the mill is constantly heard. Every visitor to Nauvoo describes the prosperity of the place as marvellous. The solid element of the religion invented by Joseph Smith is, that it inculcates work; hard, useful, wealth-creating labor. The Prophet also incorporated into his creed a thorough appreciation of relaxation. That all work and no play makes a dull boy of Jack, nobody knew better than Joe. One does not like to speak with levity of a prophet; but, perhaps, the exact adjective for Joe's religion is -- jolly! An air of jollity attends the faith. It is a jovial heresy; a heresy that "don't go home till morning!" Thus, after some squabbling, a small fight or two, (not more intestine dissension than falls to the lot of most new communities,) the two grand desiderata of this life were realized -- prosperity and ease. It was soon spread abroad that one of the first things realized in this good, substantial town of Nauvoo, was plenty to eat and drink. In consequence, Joe's disciples increased by the thousand. All sorts of pleasant fellows who loved an easy life flocked thitherward.
There was, travellers say, a healthy, happy look about the place. Life rolled along there in a clear, vigorous way, like the flood of the Mississippi hard by. Joe himself is described as a "cheerful, social companion." So very social in his tastes, that there got about a rumor that he had a tendency to make Nauvoo into a kind of New World Oriental Paradise. One of his apostles, Sidney Rigdon, broached a doctrine concerning " spiritual wives" which excited great scandal.
We have read one or two of Joe's published letters; they show a shrewd, hard-headed fellow. He writes to one man -- "facts, like diamonds, not only cut glass, but they are the most precious diamonds on earth." There is a sturdy self-assertion about him; and that self-assertion is perpetuated; for the Mormons seem to differ from other sects chiefly in believing the continued inspiration of their prophets. Their faith, with its materialism; its rude hopes; its belief in the superiority of their best teachers; its heartiness in physical labor, is indeed a piece of genuine transatlantic life, likely to hold together long. Their belief in their "Book of Mormon" implies a rugged, ignorant belief in Holy Writ, too. To speak seriously of our prophet, Joe Smith, we should say that the sturdy, illiterate, shrewd Yankee conceived power in him to do a work; brooding over the Bible in his youth, and seeing it through the hazy eyes of his rude ignorance, such a man, with a warm heart, might fancy many strange things. Orthodoxy should consider whose fault it is that Joe Smithism could erect itself into a sect; orthodoxy should look at the three hundred thousand souls, and reflect on them. The ruling powers of the world should stoop to learn lessons of these things. Balaam learned something very important from the speaking of his poor ass. The ass saw the angel when respectable Balaam could not. In Roman history, when anything terrible was happening to the republic, we find -- los locutus est! Things are bad indeed when the very ox has to have his say!
We now come to the close of Joe's earthly career. The peace and prosperity of Nauvoo were soon interrupted. The prophet's old Missourian enemies kept harassing him with litigation; and some bad sheep in his own flock gave him great trouble. "At this time he appears to have been quite as convinced of the divinity of his mission as the most credulous of his disciples," says his latest historian. No such thing; what good he was destined to do, he had now done; and for the bad he was about to pay. There were dissenters from Joe's Church; heretics to his heterodoxy, who looked on the prophet as a humbug. These were not genuine believers; but wretched, cunning impostors, who were never "deluded;" being far too bad for any such innocent exercise of faith. These committed acts of licentiousness, (such as cannot be proved against Joe,) and he had to excommunicate some of them. They started a newspaper called the "Nauvoo Expositor." In this they calumniated Joseph so vilely that his supporters rose; two hundred men attacked the office of the journal, armed with muskets, swords, pistols, and axes, and reduced it to ashes.
The proprietors, editors, reporters, compositors, and pressmen of the journal fled to the town of Carthage, and applied for a warrant against Joseph, his brother Hiram, and sixteen others. The warrant was served on Joseph as Mayor, and he refused to acknowledge its validity. Illinois instantly made preparations for civil war. Mormons gathered from all parts, and Anti-Mormons likewise. Governor Ford took the field; Nauvoo was fortified. Everywhere resounded the note of preparation for war.
Governor Ford issued a proclamation calling on Joseph Smith and his brother to surrender, pledging his word that they should be protected. They agreed, accordingly, to stand their trial; Joe, however, observing, with a sad, calm heart, "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer's morning!" (The tranquil, life-enjoying prophet!) "I shall die innocent."
We now are to picture the brothers in prison. Their assailants prowl uneasily round the walls; there is a desperate hungry uneasiness about the mob; they are afraid Joe will escape. One can fancy their murmuring reaching the prophet's ears -- the low, murderous humming, every now and then.
The evening of the 27th of June, 1844, came; it had been a warm summer day in the Western country. The brothers were standing chatting with two friends in an upstairs room of their house of detention.
There was a rattle of musketry. They sprang forward against the door -- a bullet went through it. They sprang backwards. Open flew the door, and an armed mob with blackened faces came in. A flash and a roar, and down went Hiram Smith, shot. Joe's revolver snapped three times, missing fire. He made a bound to the window. Two balls struck him from the door; one struck him from the window. There was one wild cry from his heart, "O Lord, my God!" and down he fell out of the window on the ground. They propped him against a wall there, and shot at him again, as his bleeding body drooped forward from it. Four bullets were found in his body; and will, peradventure, be carried to the credit-side of his life-account.
After his death, the Mormons had a time of and tribulations: a time of troubles from within and without. It is easy to see that sectarian ferocity was at the bottom of the persecution they met with. Governor Ford issued a proclamation denying for himself any belief in their having committed certain crimes attributed to them; and some time before, the celebrated Henry Clay had expressed his "lively interest" in their progress, and his "sympathy with their sufferings." But the neighbors could not be pacified; the Mormons had to go away west once more; and the town they had built was reduced to ashes. They crossed the Mississippi, and set out for the "Great Salt Lake Valley," away beyond the Rocky Mountains.
Their passage is one of the most marvellous things on record. Colonel Kane, of the United States, who travelled with them, has left an extremely interesting account of it. We hear of wagons crossing the Mississippi on the ice; of weary journeys across wild prairies; long chill nights of dead cold; sickness and death; graves dotting all the line of march; seed sown here and there, with thoughtful benevolence, that after voyagers might find a crop growing for them. Then there were halts, when "tabernacle camps" were pitched, and hymns were chanted. The prairies heard -- "By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept," sung there. Their depth of faith through that dreary journey was wonderful; it seems to have warmed them like actual fire.
They established themselves in the State of Deseret, and some of their body were the first who discovered the gold of California. But it seems that the colony did not send many there; they esteemed it their proper office to "raise grain, and to build cities." They claim, too, the distinction of living in better and higher relation to the Indian tribes than any settlers have yet done.
We have scattered up and down such remarks as we thought would illustrate Joe Smith's career. Let us say a word of the Mormon organization.
The Mormons are governed by elders, priests, teachers, exhorters, and deacons. An apostle is an elder, and baptizes and ordains. The priest teaches, expounds, and administers sacraments. The teacher watches over the church, and sees that there is no iniquity; he exercises, in fact, a kind of censorship. The elders meet in conference every three months; and the presiding elder or president is ordained by the direction of a high council or general conference.
By the latest accounts, the Great Salt Lake City prospers very well. It is the capital of the State of "Deseret," with boundaries of immense extent. They stretch from thirty-three degrees northern latitude, to a point where they intersect the one hundred and eighth degree of western longitude. Thence they run to the south-west, to rejoin the northern frontier of Mexico, and follow to the west, even to its mouth, the bed of the river Gila, which separates the State of Deseret from the Mexican frontiers. The line of separation further runs along the frontier of Low California to the Pacific Ocean. It remounts the side towards the north-west, as far as one hundred and eight degrees thirty minutes of west longitude, while it trends towards the north, to the point where this line meets the principal crest of Sierra Nevada. These boundaries stretch still northward along this chain, till it meets with that which separates the waters of the Columbia and those waters which are lost in the great basin. They then double towards the east, to follow this last chain, which separates the waters of the Gulf of Mexico from those of the Gulf of California, at the point of departure. Such are the boundaries as described on a map published by order of the Senate of the United States.
Accessions to the Mormon community are being fast made from this country; a fact we learn from a well drawn-up volume of the "National Illustrated Library," entitled, "The Mormons, or Latter-Day Saints; a Contemporary History," Another authority avers that from Liverpool alone, fifteen thousand emigrants have turned their faces to the new Mormon Mecca in Deseret, with the view of making it their future home. "Under the name of Latter-Day Saints," says one of Mr. Johnston's "Notes of North America," "the delusions of the system are hidden from the masses by the emissaries who have been despatched into various countries to recruit their numbers among the ignorant and devoutly inclined lovers of novelty. Who can tell what two centuries may do in the way of giving an historical position to this rising heresy?"
Nauvoo was a neglected ruin, when M. Cabet, the spirited speculator in "Icarie," thought the site more salubrious than Texas, and resolved to establish his French colony there. His party arrived at the spot in 1849. We see from a letter of M. Cabot's that the
system he has established is "a commonalty, founded on fraternity and equality, on education and work."
The American journals also afford a favorable account of the progress of Nauvoo. It will be a matter of philosophical interest to see how a colony founded on social impulses will advance in comparison with another founded on religious ones.
Vol. VII. London, U. K., January, 1852. No. 1.
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MISCELLANY OF EXTRACTS AND CORRESPONDENCE.
The Mormons are of comparatively modern
30 MISCELLANY OF EXTRACTS AND CORRESPONDENCE. .
date. Their "prophet, seer, revelator, and leader," did not attempt to palm his delusions upon the people, until between the years 25 and 30 of the present century. Joseph Smith, the inspired individual who started the new sect, was born in the town of Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont, United Status, on the 23d of December, 1805. When fifteen years old, his religious eccentricities began to develop themselves. He retired into a grove near his father's house to pray. A light shone upon him, before which he trembled, and in the midst of which two angels appeared, to inform him that he was appointed to give to the world a new dispensation. Shortly after this he prayed again, and a flood of light filled the room in which he was. An angel appeared, in stature beyond the size of an ordinary man, and informed him of some brass plates which were buried in a place to which he would be directed, "if found faithful." He was instructed to disinter them, and he would be taught the meaning of their mysterious hieroglyphics. They were said to be records of the history of the "remnant of Israel," and contained the elements of a new and sublime faith. In due time the plates were dug up, and the "Prophet" Joseph commenced a translation in good earnest; the result of which was the remarkable "Book of Mormon," containing the "ordinances and commandments" observed by the sect of "Latter-day Saints." After this, the "Prophet" had given to him "the keys of the Aaronic priesthood," and his communications with angels and "mysterious personages" were of daily occurrence.
But the reader must not suppose that Mr. Smith had no difficulties to contend with in connexion with the aforesaid brass plates. A Mrs. Spaulding was in existence, who had her eye on this religious excitement, and especially the book. The reader's attention is invited to the following history of that document, from "The Book of Mormon," a work by the author of the "London Poor." "In the year 1809, a man of the name of Solomon Spaulding, who had formerly been a Clergyman, failed in business at a place called Cherry Vale, in the State of New-York. Being a person of literary tastes, and his attention having been directed to the notion which at that time excited some interest and discussion, namely, that the North-American Indians were the descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel, it struck him that the idea afforded a good groundwork for a religious tale, history, or novel. For three years he laboured upon this work, which he entitled 'The Manuscript found.' 'Mormon' and his son 'Moroni,' who act so large a part in Joseph Smith's 'Book of Mormon,' were two of the principal characters in it. In 1812, the manuscript was presented to a printer or bookseller named Patterson, residing at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a view to its publication. Before any satisfactory arrangement could be made, the author died, and the manuscript remained in the possession of Mr. Patterson, apparently unnoticed and uncared for. The printer also died in 1826, having previously lent the manuscript to one Sidney Rigdon, a compositor in his employ, who was at the time a Preacher in connexion with some Christian sect, of which the proper designation is not very clearly stated. This Rigdon afterwards became, next to Joseph Smith himself, the principal leader of the Mormons. How Joseph Smith and this person became connected is not known, and which of the two originated the idea of making a new Bible out of Solomon Spaulding's novel is equally uncertain. The wife, the partner, several friends, and the brother of Solomon Spaulding, affirmed, however, the identity of the principal portions of the 'Book of Mormon' with the novel of 'The Manuscript found,' which the author had, from time to time, and in separate portions, read over to them." From this statement, which is well authenticated, an argument might be constructed which would be rather damaging to Mr. Smith's veracity, and the inspiration to which he pretended.
Whatever may have been Mr. Smith's private impressions about his having been called to be a Prophet, we lament the dreadful hypocrisy by which he circumvented the simple people whom he victimised, by his hollow pretensions to supernatural power. His "revelations," many of which are exceedingly impious, could not have been forged by an ordinary impostor or madman. When the book was translated, and he had numbered some thirty followers, he commenced operations on a large and important scale. His "revelations" at this period were conceived with the most consummate tact, and might have been taken as the earnest of some very skilful generalship on the part of the "Prophet." The friends of the movement, though few in number, found persecution so rife, that they began to colonise, hoping by union to consolidate an organisation which would resist any opposition that might arise. They settled down as a community in the State of Missouri. While the first steps were taken by Smith's coadjutors to form a colony, Joseph was on a preaching tour in the United States. When he came to a village called Hiram, "he was dragged out of bed at midnight from the side of his wife," and received a smart application of Lynch law, in the shape of tar and feathers. This warned him that it would not do to be away from his disciples: so he at once started for the home of the "saints;" and most joyous and enthusiastic was the reception they gave him. While in the States preaching, he had sent to his followers
MISCELLANY OF EXTRACTS AND CORRESPONDENCE. 31
many "revelations," which they had faithfully observed. A printing establishment had been called into existence. "The Evening and Morning Star," and "The Upper Missouri Advertiser," newspapers, "were exclusively devoted to the interests of Mormonism." His disciples were now in number between two and three thousand souls. Such was the success which attended the efforts of this infant colony, and so many were the proselytes made, that the Missourians began seriously to contemplate their extermination. Hence the settlement of the Mormonites was the scene of many riots, and much bloodshed and destruction of property. At last the State took summary measures for despatching them; and, of all the records of persecution which have been handed down to us on the page of history, we know of few characterized by more cold-blooded cruelty than that which was suffered by this handful of fanatics in that powerful State. Joseph, his brother Hyrum, and some Elders of the Mormon Church, were imprisoned. After twice trying to escape from confinement, they succeeded, and joined their persecuted brethren in Illinois, who had increased to fifteen thousand, including men, women, and children. Here they were allowed peaceably to settle down. In the course of a year and a half, they erected two thousand houses, besides schools and other public buildings, and called the place the "Holy City." Joseph Smith was appointed Mayor. His word was law. He was both the spiritual and temporal head of his people, and enjoyed the titles of "Prophet," "President," and " Mayor;" besides the military title of "General Smith," in right of his command over a body of militia, which he organised under the name of the "Nauvoo Legion."
In 1844, Elder Lorenzo Snow, who was then on a mission to England, forwarded, by desire of the "Prophet," a copy of the "Book of Mormon" to Queen Victoria, and another to His Royal Highness Prince Albert. This caused the following lines to be written by a Mormon poet in celebration of the event: --
The influence of royalty --
Messiah's kingdom to extend,
And Zion's nursing mother be;
"Then, with the glory of her name
Inscribed on Zion's lofty spire,
She'd win a wreath of endless fame,
To last when other wreaths expire."
"Let all my saints come from afar, and send ye swift messengers, yea, chosen messengers, and say unto them, 'Come ye, with all your gold and your antiquities, and your silver, and your precious stones, and with all who have knowledge of antiquities, that will come, may come; and bring the box-tree, and the fir-tree, and the pine-tree, together with all the precious trees of the earth, and with iron, and with copper, and with brass, and with zinc, and with all your precious things of the earth, and build a house to my name for the Most High to dwell therein.'"The "saints" were also commanded to build a "boarding-house" for receiving strangers; and "my servant Joseph" was by no means omitted in that connexion. The paragraph runs thus: "Let the boarding-house be built in my name, and let my name be named upon it, and let my servant Joseph Smith and his house have place therein from generation to generation; and let the name of the house be called the Nauvoo House, and let it be a delightful habitation for man, and a resting-place for the weary traveller, that he may contemplate the glory of Zion, and the glory of this, the corner-stone thereof."
Nearly a million of dollars was spent in building the temple alone, the foundation-stone of which was laid with much pomp.
In 1844, so much had the Mormons gained, in a temporal point of view, and in toe augmentation of numbers, that the "Prophet" was put forward as a candidate for the Presidentship of the United States, and his faithful friend and coadjutor Sidney Rigdon as a candidate for the Vice-Presidentship. The "Prophet" issued an address to the American people, stating his views on the great political questions then under discussion throughout the States; and though his manifesto is not so elaborate and profound as those of some of his opponents, yet, taking into consideration his education and general training, it evinced an amount of ability and perspicacity which did him infinite credit.
But the community at Nauvoo, much as unity was preserved in it, could not prevent the admission within its precincts of other knaves, who put on the mask of Mormonism, merely to add to their own importance and self-aggrandisement, and whose real object was to undermine the characters of their leading men, and aim for the envied supremacy in their own persons. An excommunicated member started in Nauvoo a publication called the "Expositor," its professed aim being to expose the evils and dangers of Mormonism. The authorities, of course, would not permit it to be continued, and its proprietor was ejected from
32 MISCELLANY OF EXTRACTS AND CORRESPONDENCE. .
that society in which he had caused so much mischief and dissension; his office was razed to the ground by a number of exasperated Mormons; and his presses and types were passed through the ordeal of a public bonfire. The State was appealed to by the editor of the defunct "Expositor." The militia were called out, and, to save the great effusion of blood which must have resulted from an open contest, Joseph and Hyrum Smith surrendered themselves as prisoners to the Missourian army, until their differences could be adjusted to the satisfaction of both parties. They were lodged in the prison at Carthage, where they hoped to be secure from the fury of their assailants, and to be eventually restored to their people, having satisfied their enemies that their movements were peaceable and patriotic. Shortly after they reached the prison, a mob, consisting of two hundred men, thirsting for the blood of the Mormonites, rushed upon the guard stationed at the prison-door, and overpowered them. They succeeded in effecting an entrance into the room in which the Smiths were confined, and, without giving its defenceless inhabitants breathing space, they shot them both down like beasts of the forest, with fiendish delight. An eye-witness describes the fury of the mob as having been of the most awful description; for not only did they kill them outright, but, when they were dead, they indulged their demon-like ferocity in perforating their dead bodies with untold bullets.
After their death, Brigham Young, one of the most able and skilful of the Mormon Generals, succeeded to the Presidency. Under his auspices, the temple was finished, and the people prospered beyond any parallel in their previous history. But they had to suffer another persecution; which having endured, they quitted the "Holy City" and "temple" for a home beyond the Rocky Mountains, where they might worship "God and His Prophet" without molestation or suffering.
The Great Salt-Lake Valley was ultimately fixed upon as the dwelling-place and future home of the sect; and the first company of one thousand six hundred men crossed the Mississippi for their final destination on the 3d of February, 1846. Other companies followed, until Nauvoo had not within its walls one solitary Mormon inhabitant. During their journey, the privations they endured are horrible to recount; but, by a perseverance which seems to have risen to the necessities of any emergency, they overcame every obstacle, and in a few years established a colony and founded a state which in a little time will have a large influence over the government of the country.
Vol. XVIII.   Boston, Mass., September, 1852.   No. 2. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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ART. III. -- THE ORIGIN AND FATE OF MORMONISM.
202 The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. [Sept.
printed reports of his doings in the newspapers drew hither hundreds of dupes. It is certain that Mormonism has always attracted more attention abroad than it has received in our immediate community. In our neighborhood it has been regarded either as too shallow a cheat, or too monstrous a delusion, to deserve a deliberate treatment. The beautifully illustrated volume before us is a compilation made by one who never came hither to visit the scenes, or to study the actual living fruits, of Mormon folly. We should regard the volume as, on the whole, well suited to convey just impressions, and as aiming successfully to give a fair view of its subject. Though we have not been indebted to it for any of the facts which we are about to lay before our readers, we readily adopt it as an introduction to what we have to say. As we have never presented this subject at any length in our pages, we have no apology to offer for inviting attention now to a brief rehearsal of the origin and the present fortunes of by no means the least memorable of the frauds which have been practised in the name of religion. Nor are we dealing with a defunct superstition.
Joseph Smith, the author of the Mormon imposture, is first heard of at Palmyra, New York. There he came to manhood some thirty years ago. His father was a farmer, but was much given to incantations, divinations, mysteries, enchantments, wild imaginations, money-digging by night, delusions, deceits, and lies. Joseph seems to have been a favored child. He inherited his father's whole character, and greatly augmented the store of the above precious gifts; adding thereto a permanent and extensive real property of laziness. His practice seems to have been in the most extravagant and silly lies, for the purpose of trying to what extent his subjects might be duped.
We will first introduce Smith senior to our readers. In the testimony under oath of Mr. Peter Ingersoll, taken in 1833, it is stated that the deponent
"was a neighbor of Smith from 1822 to 1830. The general employment of the family was digging for money. Smith senior once asked me to go with him to see whether a mineral rod would work in my hand, saying he was confident it would. As my oxen were eating, and being myself at leisure, I went with him. When we arrived near the place where he thought there
1852.] The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. 203
was money, he cut a small witch-hazel, and gave me direction how to hold it. He then went off some rods, telling me to say to the rod, 'Work to the money,' which I did, in an audible voice. He rebuked me for speaking it loud, saying it must be spoken in a whisper. While the old man was standing off some rods, throwing himself into various shapes, I told him the rod did not work. He seemed much surprised, and said he thought he saw it move. It was now time for me to return to my labor. On my return I picked up a small stone, and was carelessly tossing it from one hand to the other. Said he (looking very earnestly), 'What are you going to do with that stone? 'Throw it at the birds,' I replied. 'No,' said the old man, 'it is of great worth.' I gave it to him. 'Now,' says he, 'if you only knew the value there is back of my house! ' and pointing to a place near. 'There,' said he, 'is one chest of gold and another of silver.' He then put the stone which I had given him into his hat, and, stooping forward, he bowed and made sundry manoeuvres, quite similar to those of a stool pigeon. At length he took down his hat, and, being very much exhausted, said in a faint voice, 'If you knew what I had seen, you would believe.' His son, Alvin, went through the same performance, which was equally disgusting.
"Another time the said Joseph senior told me that the best time for digging money was in the heat of summer, when the heat of the sun caused the chests of money to rise near the top of the ground. 'You notice,' said he, 'the large stones on the top of the ground; -- we call them rocks, and they truly appear so, but they are, in fact, most of them, chests of money raised by the heat of the sun.'"
The good character and veracity of this deponent are established by the testimony of several witnesses, and the like account of Smith's family is given by Rev. John A. Clark and others. Mr. Clark says: --
"Joe Smith, who has since been the Mormon Prophet, belonged to a very shiftless family near Palmyra. They lived a sort of vagrant life, and were principally known as money-diggers. Joe, from a boy, appeared dull and destitute of genius, but his father claimed for him a sort of second-sight, a power to look into the depths of the earth, and discover where its precious treasures were hid. In their excursions for money-digging Joe was usually the guide, putting into his hat a peculiar stone, through which he looked, to decide where they should begin to dig."
Mr. E. D. Howe, in his book called "Mormonism Unveiled," quoted by Bennett, says: "If the eleven witnesses"
204 The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. [Sept.
(who testified to the finding of the Golden Bible) "are considered, from what has already been said, unimpeached, we will offer the depositions of some of the most respectable citizens of our country, who solemnly declare upon their oaths, that no credit can be given to any one member of the Smith family." Such is the general tenor of the testimony in relation to the family.
These estimable traits of the head of the family were crowned with the graces of idleness and drunkenness. They were all centred in the person of Joseph Smith, Jr., and developed in him with greater fulness. They became in him, not a dead faith without works, but practical virtues, which he studied to make profitable by applying them to persons of simple and credulous minds, in such a way as to work for his advantage.
Such details as are above given of the character of Smith senior, and his acts and language, cannot be very interesting to readers; but as it is only by acts and language that a man's character can be authentically presented, while any general statements in regard to him, given as deductions merely, are liable to the imputation of being prejudiced, the same mode of showing the character of the younger Smith will be pursued, by extracts from the depositions of eye and ear witnesses.
William Stafford "first became acquainted with Joseph Sen. and his family in 1820. They lived in Palmyra, about one mile and a half from my residence. A great part of their time was devoted to digging for money: especially in the night-time; when they said the money could be most easily obtained. I have heard them tell marvellous tales of the discoveries they had made in their money-digging. They would say, for instance, that in such a place, on such a hill, on a certain man's farm, there were deposited kegs, barrels, and hogsheads of coined silver and gold, bars of gold, golden images, brass kettles filled with gold and silver, gold candlesticks, &c. They would say, also, that nearly all the hills in this part of New York were thrown up by human hands, and in them were large caves which Joseph Jr. could see, by placing a stone of singular appearance in his hat in such a manner as to exclude all light; -- at which lime they pretended he could see all things within and under the earth; that he could see within the caves large gold bars and silver plates; that he could also discover the spirits, in whose charge these treasures were, clothed in ancient dress. At certain times these treasures could be obtained very easily; at others, the obtaining of them was
1852.] The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. 205
very difficult. The facility of obtaining them depended in a great measure on the state of the moon. New moon and Good Friday, I believe, were regarded as the most favorable times for obtaining these treasures * * *
"Joseph Smith Sen. came to me one night, and told me that Joseph Jr. had been looking in his glass, and had seen, not many rods from his house, two or three kegs of gold and silver, some feet under the surface of the earth; and that none others but the elder Joseph and myself could get them. I consented to go, and early in the evening repaired to the place of deposit. Joseph Sen. first made a circle twelve or fourteen feet in diameter. This circle, said he, contains the treasure. He then stuck in the ground a row of witch-hazel sticks, around the circle, for the purpose of keeping off the evil spirits. Within this circle he made another, of about eight or ten feet in diameter. He walked around three times on the periphery of the last circle, muttering to himself something, which I could not understand. He next stuck a steel rod in the centre of the circles, and then enjoined profound silence upon us, lest we should arouse the evil spirit who had the charge of these treasures. After we had dug a trench about five feet in depth around the rod, the old man, by signs and motions, asked leave of absence, and went to the house to inquire of young Joseph the cause of our disappointment. He soon returned, and said that Joseph had remained all this time in the house, looking in the stone and watching the motions of the evil spirit; that he saw the spirit come up to the ring, and as soon as it beheld the cone which we had formed around the rod, it caused the money to sink. We then went into the house, and the old man observed that we made a mistake in the commencement of the operation. If it had not been for that, said he, we should have got the money.
"At another time they devised a scheme by which they might satiate their hunger with the mutton of one of my sheep. They had seen in my flock of sheep a large, fat, black wether. Old Joseph and one of the boys came to me one day, and said that Joseph Jr. had discovered some very remarkable and valuable treasures, which could be procured only in one way. That way was as follows: -- that a black sheep should be taken on to the ground where the treasures were concealed; that, after cutting its throat, it should be led around a circle while bleeding. This being done, the wrath of the evil spirit would be appeased; the treasures could then be obtained, and my share of them was to be fourfold. To gratify my curiosity, I let them have a large, fat sheep. They afterwards informed me that the sheep was killed pursuant to commandment; but as there was some mistake in the process, it did not have the desired effect. This, I
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believe, is the only time they ever made money-digging a profitable business. They, however, had around them constantly a worthless gang, whose employment it was to dig money nights, and who daytimes had more to do with mutton than money.
"When they found that the people of this vicinity would no longer put faith in their schemes for digging money, they then pretended to find a Gold Bible, of which they said the Book of Mormon was only an introduction."
Such is the testimony of Messrs. Ingersoll and Stafford, under oath. Many other deponents testify to the same effect, with the additional relation of the drunkenness of both Joseph senior and junior. Barton Stafford says, that
"Joseph Smith senior was a noted drunkard, and most of the family followed his example, and Joseph Jr. especially, who was very much addicted to intemperance. In short, not one of the family had the least claims to respectability. Even since he professed to be inspired of the Lord to translate the Book of Mormon, he one day, while at work in my father's field, got quite drunk on a composition of cider, molasses, and water. Finding his legs to refuse their office, he leaned upon the fence, and hung for some time: at length, recovering again, he fell to scuffling with one of the workmen, who tore his shirt nearly off from him. His wife, who was at our house on a visit, appeared very much grieved at his conduct, and to protect his back from the rays of the sun, and conceal his nakedness, threw her shawl over his shoulders, and in that plight escorted the prophet home."
Fifty citizens of Palmyra certify that "Joseph Smith Sen. and his son Joseph were, in particular, considered entirely destitute of moral character, and addicted to vicious habits." And eleven citizens of Manchester certify that the family of Joseph Smith Sen. "were not only a lazy, indolent set of men, but also intemperate, and that their word was not to be depended on, and that we are truly glad to dispense with their society."These extracts from the depositions given in New York, some eighteen or twenty years since, in the beginning of the Mormon imposture, exhibit a vivid picture of the character of Joe Smith. Some of the touches are done with a rough brush, but they are evidently after life, and not the creations of fancy. We have therefore thought necessary to copy them to this extent; -- that
1852.] The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. 207
our readers may be made acquainted with the character of Smith better than by any attempt on our part to delineate him anew. Such an attempt, though it might present an accurate general likeness, would be apt to fail in some of the important features. The most prominent traits of his character were a disposition to deal in the marvellous, to see what was invisible, -- spirits, hidden treasure, and the like, -- to pretend to extraordinary powers, to delude and impose upon the neighbors, swindling, lying, and drunkenness. He seemed to have the natural endowments for making dupes, in a larger measure than the rest of the family, and to have been selected as the Coryphaeus of the fascinating circle. He could see better and farther into the earth, by the aid of the miraculous eye-stone, than any of the others; could discern the evil' spirits, keeping watch over the hidden treasures; could readily describe the wonders he had seen; and had in perfection that high gift, of so great value in all knavery, the power of which is acknowledged in the saying, "A lie well told is as good as the truth." The facile impudence of his lies seems to have been such as to gain ready credit in shallow minds, and to make them easy dupes to his art. His own account of the finding of the Golden Bible is a good illustration of this accomplishment; -- though it is not introduced in this place for that purpose, so much as on account of the probably correct statement which it gives of that great era in the life of Smith and in the Mormon Church, -- the discovery of that precious wonder. The story is related in the deposition of Peter Ingersoll, from which extracts have been already given. The deponent says: --
"One day he came and greeted me with a joyful countenance. Upon asking the cause of his unusual happiness, he replied in the following language: -- 'As I was passing yesterday across the woods, after a heavy shower of rain, I found in a hollow some beautiful while sand, that had been washed up by the water. I took off my frock, and tied up several quarts of it, and then went home. On my entering the house, I found the family at table, eating dinner. They were all anxious to know the contents of my frock. At that moment I happened to think of what I had heard about a history found in Canada, called the Golden Bible: so I very gravely told them it was the Golden Bible. To my surprise they were credulous enough to believe what I said.
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Accordingly, I told them I had received a commandment to let no one see it: for, said I, no one can see it with the naked eye and live. However, I offered to take out the book and show it to them, but they refused to see it, and left the room * * *' Notwithstanding he told me he had no such book, and believed there never was any such, yet he told me that he actually went to Willard Chase, to get him to make a chest, in which he might deposit his Golden Bible. But as Chase would not do it, he made a box himself of clapboards, and put it into a pillow-case, and allowed people only to lift it, and feel of it through the case."
That he went to Mr. Chase, as he related, appears from the testimony of Chase.
There were other stories related about the attempts made by Smith to find the Bible, which appear to have occurred at the time of finding the sand. The stories are told by Smith and his father. They differ each from the other, and it is needless to say that they both differ from the above, related by Joe to Ingersoll.
As this pretended discovery of the Golden Bible is the grand event from which Mormonism, with all its beautiful efflorescence, has sprung, the various versions of that occurrence by the prophet cannot well be omitted. In September, 1827, he requested Mr. Willard Chase to make a chest, stating that he expected soon to get his Golden Bible, and he wanted a chest to lock it up. This was no doubt the occasion of which he spake, when he informed Mr. Ingersoll, as related on a previous page, that he had gone to Chase for that purpose: though it seems he did not tell him, as he had told Ingersoll, that he had found it, but only that he expected to find it. A few weeks after, Mr. Chase says, he came to his house and related the following story. That on the 22d of September he arose early in the morning, and, together with his wife, repaired to the hill which contained the book. He left his wife in the wagon by the road, and went alone to the hill, a distance of thirty or forty rods from the road. He said he then took the book out of the ground and hid it in a tree-top, and returned home.
1852.] The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. 209
The old man, Smith Sen., had another tale, highly embellished with the marvellous, according to his usual manner, about the precious discovery. In the summer of the same year, 1827, according to Chase's testimony, he related to him that, some years previous, a spirit had appeared to his son Joseph, in a vision, and informed him that in a certain place there was a record on plates of gold, and that he was the person that must obtain them; and this he must do in the following manner. On the 22d of September he must repair to the place, dressed in black clothes, and riding a black horse with a switch tail, and demand the book in a certain name; and after obtaining it he must go directly away, and neither lay it down nor look behind him. They accordingly fitted out Joseph with a suit of black clothes (no doubt the especial object of the vision) and borrowed a black horse. He repaired to the place of deposit, and demanded the book, which was in a stone box, unsealed, and so near the top of the ground that he could see one end of it, and, raising it up, took out the book of gold; but fearing some one might discover where he got it, he laid it down to place back the top stone, as he found it; and turning round, to his surprise there was no book in sight. (Joseph should have been more obedient to the directions of the spirit.) He again opened the box, and in it saw the book, and attempted to take it out, but was hindered. He saw in the box something like a toad, which soon assumed the appearance of a man, and struck him on the side of his head. Not being discouraged at trifles, he again stooped down and strove to take the book, when the spirit struck him again, and knocked him three or four rods, and hurt him prodigiously. (Hard-fisted for a spirit. He was commanded by the spirit to come again in a year. He did so, and again received the like command. He went again the third time, and saw the book and a pair of spectacles, with which he afterward translated the Book of Mormon. At this interesting point of the romance the particularity of the old man's story gives out, and it is not distinctly stated whether he obtained the book or not; but as it seems that he has since had the spectacles as well as the book, we are to suppose that both were obtained together at this third attempt, toad and hard-fist notwithstanding.
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Smith thus became possessed of a sacerdotal capital, marvellous in its nature, marvellous in the pretended mode of acquiring it, and, combined with his marvellous courage in obtaining it, most marvellously adapted to work upon the credulity of the simple and superstitious. He accordingly, when he found there were fools to believe him, which was quite beyond his expectation, commenced a career of lying on a more extended scale than he had hitherto practised. He held communications with God, who revealed to him what he should do: which was always the thing that he would himself have proposed, and was specially effective for his individual advantage. He began his translation of the Golden Bible, or Book of Mormon. The origin of the book is a matter of undoubted proof, and will be explained in a few words. The mode in which Smith became possessed of it is also pretty well substantiated.
Solomon Spalding, who was a graduate of Dartmouth College, and had been a regularly ordained clergyman, after a short term of years passed in preaching, relinquished the ministry, and removed first to Cherry Valley, New York, and subsequently, in 1809, to Conneaut, in Ohio, and engaged in mercantile business. While in this place he occupied his hours of leisure from business in writing a fabulous account of the origin of the former inhabitants of this country; -- on which work he labored for several years. As he intended that the origin of his work should appear fictitious, as well as the narrative, he determined to introduce it to the public as a volume found in a cave, and, to give it the appearance of antiquity, he wrote in the style which is used in the common translation of the Scriptures. He completed the volume about 1812 or 1813, at about which period it was announced in the papers of the day, as a discovery, then recently made, of the Book of Mormon, containing a history of the lost tribes. From some cause the publication of the volume was delayed, and some fifteen years after, Smith, who got possession of the book by a fortunate accident, pretended to have found the Book of Mormon on plates of gold, in the manner above related, and to be engaged in translating it from the unknown tongue in which it was written. It appears that he retained the book in the form in which it had been prepared
1852.] The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. 211
by Mr. Spalding, altering the text only or chiefly by the interpolation of certain matters which purport to be revelations from God to Smith, in which he is represented as a prophet, clothed with all sacerdotal power, and implicit faith and obedience in and to him are enjoined upon the saints. With this capital and his unequalled impudence he imposed himself on a credulous few as a prophet of God. In the State of New York there is a class of persons not educated to the knowledge of law, and who do not appear in the courts as counsel or attorney, but, having attained some acquaintance with the statute law, and the forms of judicial proceeding, with a voluble style of speaking, make a business of managing causes, if it be correct so to say, before justices of the peace. They are called, not by way of contempt, but of designation, pettifoggers. If we have correct information, Sidney Rigdon was of this profession. With him and Martin Harris, a neighbor of some property, Smith associated himself in the beginning, and thus secured to his aid talents, such as they were, (certainly superior to his own,) and pecuniary means. These were all-important to his success; -- and having persuaded them that money was to be made out of Mormonism, the principal object of himself and Harris at least, if not of Rigdon, they went heartily into the job of publishing the Book of Mormon, and of building up the Church. With these men and Cowdry, who appears to have acted as scribe in writing the interpolations in the Book of Mormon, or, in Smith's language, translating it, and who was the first cabinet minister or vizier to the prophet, and the addition of two or three of his brothers and old associates, he constituted a Church to the number of six, and commenced his career as a prophet, at Fayette, in the western part of New-York, in 1830. His first efforts in the line of prophesying met with some success; -- and after he had increased his Church by the addition of a number of proselytes, he concluded to remove to Kirtland, Ohio. He accordingly promulgated a revelation to that effect; -- and the members of the Church removed to that place, which became honored as the ecclesiastical seat and the residence of the prophet, as it continued to be till 1838, though many of the brethren had removed some years earlier to
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Missouri. The acts of Smith in this place may be taken as fair exponents of his general purposes. In 1831, soon after their removal to Kirtland, a revelation was promulgated that they should consecrate all their property to God (of necessity to be handled and managed by his prophet). A mercantile house was established by Smith and others, probably aided by the funds that had been thus consecrated. He had no other means. Some of the leading men were sent to Missouri, and settled themselves at Independence; a branch of the Kirtland trading-house being also established there. Smith had now met with success quite beyond his most sanguine expectations. Numbers were added to the Church, and in 1833 he promulgated a revelation to his followers to build a temple. For this purpose all were directed to borrow as much money as possible. This plan of raising money by loans, however, was not so successful as he desired; -- and four years later the Bank of Kirtland was put in operation, on authority of and by charter from Smith, without incorporation by the State, and proved a happy expedient to replenish the prophet's treasury, at a time when the ecclesiastical properties and revenues from other sources were about at zero, and to swindle those who were persuaded to take its worthless promises. The institution exploded in a few months, and Smith and most of the saints removed to Far West, in the State of Missouri.
So great had been the increase of the society during the residence at Kirtland, that the settlements at Far West and Independence now included some thousand male members, or thereabout, beside those remaining at Kirtland and at other places.
The origin of the Book of Mormon as given above is authenticated by the depositions of eight witnesses, to whom the book had been at different times read. Mr. Spalding died in 1816. His widow confirmed the testimony of the other witnesses in relation to the existence of the work, and said that it had been left at the office of Patterson and Lambdin, printers in Pittsburg, where her husband had resided two years between the completion of the book and his death. Dr. Bennett, who was at one time in the most important offices at Nauvoo, and in the fullest confidence of the other highest functionaries
1852.] The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. 213
of the Mormons, says that he was informed by them, that the book was taken from that office by a distinguished Mormon divine, understood to be Rigdon, and remodelled by adding the religious (?) portion, placed in Smith's possession, and by him published to the world. An incident is related concerning the manuscript while it was in the hands of the printer, by J. N. T. Tucker. Mr. Tucker was, at the time of its publication, a printer in the office of Patterson and Lambdin [sic - E. B. Grandin], and he relates the story as follows: --
"We had heard much said by Martin Harris, the man who paid for the printing, and the only one in the concern worth any property, about the wonderful wisdom of the translators of the mysterious plates, and resolved to test their wisdom. Accordingly, after putting one sheet in type, we laid it aside, and told Harris it was lost, and there would be a serious defect in the book in consequence, unless another sheet like the original could be produced. The announcement threw the old gentleman into quite an excitement. But after a few moments' reflection, he said he would try to obtain another. After two or three weeks another sheet was produced, but no more like the original than any other sheet of paper would have been, written over by a common school-boy, after having read as they did the manuscripts preceding and succeeding the lost sheet."
It would seem from the above story, that the Translator had not a very clear idea of what had been revealed. Another incident which happened many years later in Missouri is of similar import, It is related by General J. C. Bennett on the authority of George Robinson, as follows: --
"One day Joe the prophet was gravely dictating to him a revelation which he had just received from the Lord. Robinson, according to custom, wrote down the very words the Lord spoke to Joe, and in the exact order in which the latter heard them. He had written for some considerable time, when Smith's inspiration began to flag, and, to gain breath, he requested Robinson to read over what he had written. He did so until he came to a particular passage, when Smith interrupted him, and desired to have that read again. Robinson complied, and Smith, shaking his head, knitting his brows, and looking very much perplexed, said,' That will never do, you must alter that, George.' "
The Mormon Bible, as their writings are called, consists of several volumes. The Book of Mormon was
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printed at the outset of Smith's career as a prophet. An account of the origin of this book has been given. Probably the interpolations which were made by Smith in Spalding's work were not very voluminous; as it cannot be supposed that Smith had formed any definite plans at this time. His designs were at first shadowy and limited. They were developed and became distinct by success. When he first reported in his father's family the story of his having found the Golden Bible, he appears to have had no purpose but to amuse himself at the expense of their credulity. Finding his tale was given to ears of faith, his design extended to raising a little money. Here again success attended him; -- and he found the purse of his neighbor, Martin Harris, at his disposal. But Harris's object was moneymaking, as well as Smith's, and it became necessary to enlarge the plan and extend the sphere of action, in order that both the inventor and the capitalist should make the largest profit from the business. The services of Rigdon were accordingly enlisted. The Book of Mormon was printed, additions made revealing the will of God; -- in which Smith was declared to be his prophet with all power, and entitled to all obedience. In a revelation made about the same time, April 6, 1830, the same day that the Church of six members was gathered at Fayette, Smith is styled "Seer, Translator, Prophet, Apostle of Jesus Christ, and Eider of the Church." He is declared also to be "inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation of the Church, and build it up in the most holy faith." Further it is said, "The Church shall give heed to all his words and commandments, which he shall give unto you, for his word shall ye receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith." He is to preside over the whole Church, and be like unto Moses, to be a Seer, Revelator, Translator, Prophet, having all the gifts which God bestows upon the Head of the Church. In a subsequent revelation, given February, 1831, his divinity confers on him the exclusive right to receive and give forth commandments from the Lord, and also power to appoint his successor; and the Church are commanded to uphold him, to appoint him, to provide him food and raiment, and whatsoever things he needeth, to accomplish his work, with threats for disobedience. In a revelation,
1852.] The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. 215
[of] September, 1831, all Smith's dignities and titles are conferred on him for life. And at about the same time it is declared by revelation, that Smith had no strength to work; therefore the Church is commanded to support him.
In 1833, the Book of Commandments was published, constituting the second book of the Mormon writings: or more truly it may be said to be the first; its predecessor having been written by other hands, with a different design, and having been published, with a few interpolations, before the establishment of the six confederates as a Church, and before the designs of the prophet had assumed any regularity of shape. The Book of Commandments, like the Book of Mormon, contained very imperfect developments of the will of the prophet. Smith's was a growing will. He was a man of progress, and it became necessary to have frequent revelations and new volumes to keep even pace with the new demands of his will. In 1835, a new edition of the Book of Commandments was published. In the first edition of this work, God had commanded Smith to pretend to no other gift than to translate, according to Professor Turner in his "Mormonism in all Ages," and expressly declares "that he will grant him no other gift." The second edition adds, "until my purpose is fulfilled in this. For I will grant you no other gift until it is finished." Oddly enough, the prophet seems to have overlooked some of his great commissions and powers, or we must suppose that he had resigned them, or that God had revoked them. For it will be remembered that in 1830, at the period of establishing the Church at Fayette, God had constituted him "Seer, Prophet, Apostle of Jesus Christ, and Elder of the Church, and Revelator," in addition to the office of Translator; -- and in a revelation of the next year, February, 1831, it is explained that his divinity confers on him the power of receiving and giving forth commandments, and also of appointing his successor. In September, 1831, all his dignities and titles are conferred on him for life. A defect of memory seems to be universal with liars. Smith had manifested the same weakness at other times; and probably the limitation of his power in the Book of Commandments was owing to forgetfulness. He evidently also forgot
216 The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. [Sept.
another office, which he frequently exercised, that of Alterator, by which revelations were from time to time altered by him. At about the time of the second edition of the Book of Commandments, or in 1835, the Book of Doctrines and Covenants received the approbation of the Mormon General Assembly. This was about the time when the prophet's organ of acquisitiveness was receiving a remarkable development. He had become possessor of a large treasure in virtue of his office of President of the Church, the members of which had been commanded to give all their substance to the Lord. He was about building the temple at Kirtland, and had by revelation commanded the saints to borrow all the moneys possible. In this last volume another method of acquisition was revealed, which out of the Mormon Church is commonly called theft: -- "Behold it is said in my laws it is forbidden to get in debt to thine enemies" (or those out of the Church); "but, behold, it is not said, at any time, that the Lord should not take when he pleases, and pay as seemeth him good. Wherefore, as ye are agents, and ye are on the Lord's errand, and whatsoever ye do according to the will of the Lord is the Lord's business, and he hath sent you to provide for his saints," &c. (Doc. and Cov., p. 147.)
The revelation before mentioned, enjoining the members to borrow all the moneys they could, and this last, which was a happier afterthought, for taking in the name of the Lord, were two of the means for raising the Church revenue, which was mostly appropriated in two modes; -- the first and most important use was to furnish sustenance to the President of the Church, the second to build the Temple. A third means to aid him in obtaining the necessary funds was the establishment of the Bank of Kirtland, and the trading-house before mentioned. The bank was established, without charter, except that derived from the will of the prophet, in 1837. Both bank and shop, however, broke in the year 1838, and the vicinage of Kirtland not being a profitable vineyard for gathering, in the spiritual manner directed in the last revelation, and the takings in the Lord's name not being sufficient, the prophet and a large number of the Church removed in this year, 1838, to Far West in Missouri. To the period of this migration, the eight
1852.] The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. 217
years of prophesying had been a period of unanticipated success. As a business it had proved decidedly superior to gold-digging in the hills of Palmyra, and had supplied the worldly wants of the prophet, which were not measured by a very narrow scale, and acquired for him no little ecclesiastical fame and success. He was, consequently, every day looking to larger things, extending his vision over a broader field, and, pari passu, revealing new powers, immunities, and privileges conferred upon himself by the Lord; -- which seemed to be, indeed, the special object of all the revelations. The sojourn in Missouri was of short duration. The saints continued there about a year; but, having committed some robberies and violence, paying a more willing obedience to the command to "take in the Lord's name " than the Missourians considered for their advantage, they were driven out by an armed mob, and compelled for safety to fly the State. They migrated to Illinois in the spring of 1839, and settled at Nauvoo, so named by them, where they were speedily joined by great numbers, mostly from England, and in three years numbered, it is said, ten thousand, of those gathered at that place.
At the settlement of Nauvoo a large tract of land was purchased, comprising some hundreds of acres. This, of course, was purchased by Smith, who, in addition to his other offices, was treasurer of the society. The thousand or two who came from Missouri were entitled to lots. The eight or ten thousand who came afterward, mostly from England, were also entitled to lots, but subject to the condition on which all were placed, that they should impart of their substance to the Lord. "If thou lovest me, thou shalt keep my commandments, and thou shalt consecrate all thy properties unto me, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken." This revelation was made at Kirtland in the first or second year of the Church, and published in the Book of Commandments, and subsequently in the Book of Doctrines and Covenants, adopted by the body in 1835. "It is wisdom in me that my servant Martin Harris should be an example unto the Church in laying his moneys before the bishop of the Church. And also this is a law unto every man that cometh unto this land to receive an inheritance: and he shall do with his moneys according as the law directs."
218 The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. [Sept.
A very large amount was paid into the treasury, the whole of which was under Smith's control, and mostly devoted to his expenses, by virtue of the revelation before mentioned, that he had not strength to work, and must be supported. The revelations to this effect were more frequent than any others, and of course a faithful Mormon must consider it as the most sacred of his duties. "Provide for him" (Smith) "food and raiment, and whatsoever he needeth." (Doc. and Cov., p. 126.) "Let the bishop appoint a storehouse unto this Church, and let all things, both in money and in meat, which is more than is needful for the wants of this people, be kept in the hands of the bishop" (Smith). "And let him also reserve unto himself for the wants of his family, as he shall be employed in doing this business." (Book of Cov.) "It is meet that my servant, Joseph Smith, Jr., should have a house built, in which to live and translate." (Doc. and Cov., p. 189.) " And now I say unto you, as pertaining to my boarding-house, which I command you to build for the boarding of strangers, let it be built unto to my name, and let my name be named upon it, and let my servant Joseph and his house have places therein from generation to generation." This last revelation was after the removal to Nauvoo; and it was added, "Let the name of that house be called the Nauvoo House." The house was built, and, according to common reputation in that part of the country, the prophet and revelator kept as good a tavern therein as the average of public houses in those parts. It proved a profitable business, and was, therefore, a valuable accessory to prophesying, as that and all of Smith's offices and employments had a special eye to the main chance.
Perhaps some readers are disposed to inquire, What are the religious tenets of the Mormons? That is a question much more easily asked than satisfactorily answered. Neither Smith, the founder of the Church, if it is not sacrilege to call this community a church, nor any one of the five who composed, with him, its members, at the original gathering at Fayette, had an idea of any definite religious faith, or a capacity to explain it, if any had been formed, with the exception, probably, of Rigdon. It was not by any means a leading object with them to hold any faith or make any profession. Smith was a
1852.] The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. 219
veiled prophet. He was careful to conceal the sight of his Golden Bible, under penalty of immediate death to those who should look upon it. It may be supposed that the peculiar doctrines and articles of faith held by the prophet were affected with the same fatal effulgence as the Golden Bible. For we believe it is a fact, that to the present time both are nearly alike unknown to mortal sight and sense. What few propositions are stated for the belief and guidance of the Church are contained in the revelations delivered from time to time by Smith, as suited his purposes for the moment. He had no fixed design or established platform of faith. The revelations were mostly directory, and had special relation to the rise. The Church were directed to give their moneys to the Lord; to take, in the Lord's name, from the Gentiles, -- which the prophet, in his significant and refined phrase, termed "milking the Gentiles"; and to support Smith. These and kindred injunctions constituted, in great part, the burden of the revelations. Other revelations go to affirm the inspiration of the books, and the holy character of Smith, to whom in all things they were to be obedient, as the revelator of the will of God. Inspiration and miraculous powers were also conferred upon the saints. Thus the following revelation: --
"And as I said unto mine apostles, even so I say unto you, for ye are mine apostles; therefore, as I said unto mine apostles, I say unto you again, that every soul who believeth on your word, and is baptized with water for the remission of sins, shall receive the Holy Ghost, and these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name they shall cast out devils, heal the sick, open the eyes of the blind, unstop the ears of the deaf; and if any man shall administer poison unto them, it shall not hurt them." -- Doc. and Cov., p. 92.
There was a series of revelations, also, in relation to the future political power of the Mormon Church. In this class are the following: --
"Verily I say unto you, that in time ye shall have no king nor ruler. For I will be your king, and watch over you; and you shall be a free people, and ye shall have no laws but my laws, when I come." -- Doc. and Cov., p. 119.
"Assemble yourselves together, to rejoice upon the land of Missouri, which is the land of your inheritance, which is now in the hands of your enemies." -- Ibid. p. 194.
220 The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. [Sept.
"Therefore get ye straightway into my land; break down the walls of mine enemies, throw down their tower, and scatter their watchmen, avenge me of mine enemies, that by and by 1 may come and possess the land." -- Ibid. p. 238.
Smith's work was not only wholly without plan, design, and shape, like chaos before the creation, but it was full of darkness also; it was utter confusion. Thus when his great powers were promulgated to the Church of six, at Fayette, on the day of forming that Church, April 6, 1830, he is styled, among other official titles, "Apostle of Jesus Christ, &c, through the will of God the Father, and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ"; implying clearly a belief in Christ, and, of course, in his revelations of the will of God.
Yet the following revelation, published some years subsequently, must be understood as repudiating Christ and his doctrines, and setting up the Book of Mormon instead: --
"And this condemnation resteth on the children of Zion, even all ; and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent, and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon." And "Behold, I say unto you, that all old covenants have been done away in this thing, and this is a new and an everlasting covenant." -- Book of Covenants, pp. 91, 178.
Yet notwithstanding this announcement that all old covenants were done away, the preachers continued to draw their texts from the Old and New Testaments, and to make their discourses in supposed conformity thereto, like other sects. There is a similar inconsistency and confusion on other points.
The body of Mormon doctrine and faith, of divinity and morality, is summed up in this; -- what may be delivered from time to time, by revelation.
The Book of Covenants, which contains the basis of their faith, includes only a small part of the revelations given to Smith. There is a large volume of unpublished revelations, which it would be indiscreet to expose until the proper time. The few points of faith which can be distinctly named are, first, as to the nature of faith itself, which is largely discussed in the first part of the Book of Covenants, and affirmed to rest on human testimony. Next, as to the nature of God. They believe
1852.] The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. 221
in the Trinity. And in the last chapter on faith, it is laid down, that men know their acceptance with God only through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things. In this last point there is a most perfect and exact consistency and harmony throughout . All the revelations concur in directing them to give their moneys to the Lord. It is the great point of faith, without which there is no acceptance.
A large portion of the converts of the Mormon Church have been drawn from England, and principally from the poorer of the laboring class. Those who have been acquainted with the English laborer know that the mental condition of this class is one of the most woful darkness. They seem to surpass in stolid ignorance the poorest specimens of their kindred from the Emerald Isle. Others of the English converts are, however, of good education, as well as many of the American members of the Church. In the matter of property, the article of faith last named, that they know of their acceptance with God only through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, sufficiently explains their condition. It was Smith's purpose, not only to "milk the Gentiles," but the saints also. Those, therefore, who had any means, on coming into the fold usually surrendered it to the shepherd. And what property might be afterward acquired would be likely to have the same destination. They avoided the payment of a tithe of their income to swell the church revenues, when they emigrated from England to the holy city. But those of them who had money or other property were obliged to sacrifice the whole to the Lord.
While in Missouri, during the twelvemonth sojourn in that State, the members of the society, under Smith's inducements of revelations and menaces, were organized as a band for general pillage of the Gentiles. They were called by the name of Danites, and consisted, according to the testimony of one of their number under oath, of eight or ten hundred men. The deposition states that they were building block-houses, and their purpose was, if the produce raised was not sufficient for their support, to take it from the other citizens. The band took an oath to support Smith against the State authorities, and to cowhide any person who should say a word against
222 The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. [Sept.
him. They had a small band also, called the Destroying Angels, whose duty was said by Bennett to be to assassinate those who came under the displeasure of the Church or the chief. This band, as stated in the above deposition, made a visit to the Indians, to induce them to join Smith against the people of Missouri. This deposition was given in September, 1838; and in the following month the counties of Caldwell and Davies were overrun by their forces, the inhabitants mostly driven out into the neighboring counties, their houses, farms, and stores pillaged, and some buildings burned. Several of Smith's church-members were also compelled to leave the society and the county, in consequence of their dissent from these proceedings. Among them were Cowdry and the two Whitmers, who had been three of the original certifiers to the genuineness of the Book of Mormon, and the first a professed scribe and translator, an early and eager participant in Smith's imposture, who went two or three hundred miles to see him, and was the means of inducing the removal of the Church from Fayette to his own place of residence, Kirtland. It is stated in the testimony of another of the dissenters, who had been President of the Twelve Apostles and President of the Church at Far West, that a company was sent out to bring in fat hogs, cattle, and honey, and at the same time another, composed of eighty men, under command of a captain, marched to Gallatin, and by their own report had run off twenty or thirty men, and burnt Gallatin. They also robbed the postmaster, and pillaged the neighborhood. The same deponent says: "The plan of said Smith the Prophet is to take this State" (Missouri), "and he professes to his people to intend taking the United States, and ultimately the whole world." This deposition was confirmed by Orson Hyde, one of the twelve apostles, who left the Church from a conviction of their immorality and impiety. He says: "The most of the statements in the foregoing disclosure I know to be true. The remainder I believe to be true." Hyde is not a very good witness. He has since gone back to the Mormons. But the statements in the deposition have other confirmation. The last, relating to their possessing and ruling the country, is plainly foretold in the revelations, and, extravagant as it may appear, the design
1852.] The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. 223
to fulfil this prophecy is testified to by other witnesses.
In consequence of this course of rapine and pillage, the citizens assembled in great numbers, and drove the robbers from the State. They went to Illinois and formed the settlement at Nauvoo, as before stated.
The era of the migration from Missouri to Illinois may be marked as a period of great progress in the prophet's affairs. For it seems to be at about this time that he began more systematically to carry out his designs of setting up a political power, in addition to his pontificate; and also greatly to enlarge the bounds of privilege pertaining to the priestly office, especially in the holy institution of spiritual polygamy. From this period till his death, a little more than three years, was the most prosperous day of the short and sunny span of Smith's life. Commanding by a nod some two thousand votes, and, if occasion called, as many bayonets for open war and bowie-knives for secret service, the politician courted his influence, and the city and the field felt and feared his power. Having promulgated the revelation he had received from God, commanding polygamy as a Christian duty, it became the prophet to set a good example in obeying the command, and Mahomet himself could not boast more holiness, if it should be measured by the number of his favorites, than Smith.
His progress from the beginning of his manhood to this time reminds one of a banker who starts in the world by selling a half-penny-worth of apples and cakes at a stall on a gala-day, and ends by loaning monarchs a hundred millions to uphold their thrones. Smith began with nothing more than the small wares of a common liar: and he gradually extended his dealings, as his capital increased and his credit enlarged, till he had made himself the prophet whose word, blasphemous and filthy as it was, was gospel truth and law to ten thousand trusting souls, and the political master and sovereign by whom the worldly and social affairs of his people were dispensed and governed, and the people themselves ruled, by an absolute and supreme dominion. He had neither foreseen nor designed the great things that were to come out of his brazen artificery of lies. Taken up for the sport or the gain of the moment, for freak or fancy,
224 The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. [Sept.
they became of unexpected value and importance by the credulity of those who received them; -- and the money-digger found such a ready and profitable market for the sale of his marvels, that he was instigated to go into the trade more at large, until by constant increase he found himself the possessor of the souls, bodies, and fortunes of his ten thousand dupes, -- of supreme ecclesiastical power, great political influence, and large wealth.
The Book of Covenants had put an end to the authority of the Bible, and set up instead the revelations made through Smith. " Behold, I say unto you, that all old covenants have been done away in this thing, and this is a new and an everlasting covenant." (Book of Cov., p. 178.) And having thus set aside the Gospel, it Was the next design to set aside all law also, except what came from Smith. "Verily I say unto you, that in time ye" (the Mormons) "shall have no king nor ruler. For I will be your king, and watch over you; and you shall be a free people, and ye shall have no laws but my laws, when I come." (Doc. and Cov., p. 119.) There are other passages looking to a complete temporal as well as spiritual dominion of the Mormon President. Thus we have shown the blossoming of this Mormon plant. The period of the Church after the migration to Illinois was high summer: the fruit was coming fast to maturity, and the prophet himself, while doing a good business in the "Nauvoo House," and creating a great political influence, and holding the aspiring demagogues in the hollow of his left hand, as he held his Mormons in his right, employed his more politic thoughts and serious moments in establishing a military power, of which himself was the head, as of all the other matters; -- and in promulgating new revelations for the increase of the priestly privilege, especially in the multiplication of wives; -- and in the aggrandizement of the Church, by the building of the great temple.
Soon after the settlement at Nauvoo, Smith obtained from the State authorities the commission of Lieutenant-General of the Nauvoo Legion, and organized a military force of two or three thousand men, which he had put under a very good state of discipline, and was evidently preparing to fulfil that prophecy according to which he
1852.] The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. 225
was to rule the earth. The command "to take in the name of the Lord," was obeyed here with more reserve and caution than in Missouri, it is true. The lesson given them in that State had taught them to be more private in this part of their religious duty. Still it was performed to such an extent as to be very onerous upon the stores and crops of the neighboring Gentiles, and aroused a spirit of hostility among the dwellers round about the holy city. Some of those who were injured, having become possessed of information tending to criminate Smith in the attempted assassination of Governor Boggs of Missouri, communicated it to the civil authorities of that State, and a requisition was made on those of Illinois to deliver him up as a fugitive from justice, to be tried for that offence. Smith concealed himself, but being found by an excited mob who went to seek him, consisting of citizens of the county of Hancock, he, with his brother Hiram, was instantly killed. For a time after this event quiet prevailed, but the fire was only smothered, not quenched. After a year or two, new troubles arose. There was a set battle between the Mormon forces and the militia of the State, and the former were driven out. Some went to the western border of Iowa, and formed a settlement on the Missouri River. A large body went to Salt Lake, in the valley between the Nevada and Rocky Mountains. Others soon after followed, and accessions from time to time have been made to them.
The United States government having constituted this district a Territory, with a political organization, officers were appointed in accordance thereto. Most unfortunately, the President appointed Brigham Young, an English [sic] Mormon but a few years resident in this country, and whose merits are chiefly an inheritance of the dignities and spiritual offices of Smith, whose mantle he wears, as the supreme executive of the Territory. Several other of the most important offices were given to the Mormons. The policy of thus investing with the highest offices men who had been concerned in the worst crimes cannot be questionable. Its result could not be good. Two of the Judges, and the Secretary, not being of the Mormon Church, have been virtually displaced by Young and his confederates, and compelled to return.
226 The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. [Sept.
They report that Young assumed all the government, violently seized on the moneys, declared that no law should be administered but through him, and that no authority should prevail in the Territory but that of the Church. This is only carrying out the command of the revelations given by Smith, and formerly attempted in Missouri and Illinois; -- and, being in accordance with the religious duty of the faithful, is no more than was to have been expected.
They report also some instances of violent dealing similar to that practised in Missouri on those who were obnoxious to them; and a very faithful obedience to the revelation enjoining polygamy.
Perhaps few readers have had the patience to read so long a story on so disagreeable a subject. But this discussion of the Mormon history ought not to terminate without allusion to a miracle, which is related by Mr. Tucker, the same who gave the incident connected with the printing of the Book of Mormon. It is thus told in the volume, published by Dr. Bennett.
"Towards the close of a fine summer's day, a farmer, in one of the States, found a respectable-looking man at his gate, who requested permission to pass the night under his roof. The hospitable farmer readily complied: the stranger was invited into the house, and a warm and substantial supper set before him.
"After he had eaten, the farmer, who appeared to be a jovial, warm-hearted, humorous, and withal shrewd old man, passed several hours in pleasant conversation with his guest, who seemed to be very ill at ease, both in body and mind, yet, as if desirous of pleasing his entertainer, replied courteously and agreeably to whatever was said to him. Finally, he pleaded fatigue and illness as an excuse for retiring to rest, and was conducted by the farmer to an upper chamber, where he went to bed.
"About the middle of the night, the farmer and his family were awakened by the most dreadful groans, which, they soon ascertained, proceeded from the chamber of the traveller. On going to investigate the matter, they found that the stranger was dreadfully ill, suffering the most acute pains, and uttering the most doleful cries, apparently without any consciousness of what was passing around him. Every thing that kindness and experience could suggest was done to relieve the sick man; but all efforts were in vain, and, to the consternation of the farmer and his family, their guest expired in the course of a few hours.
"In the midst of their trouble and anxiety, at an early hour in
1852.] The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. 227
the morning, two travellers came to the gate, and requested entertainment. The farmer told them that he would willingly offer them hospitality, but that just now his household was in the greatest confusion, on account of the death of the stranger, the particulars of which he proceeded to relate to them. They appeared to be much surprised and grieved at the poor man's calamity, and politely requested permission to see the corpse. This, of course, the farmer readily granted, and conducted them to the chamber in which lay the dead body. They looked at it for a few minutes in silence, and then the oldest of the pair gravely told the farmer that they were elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and were empowered by God to perform miracles, even to the extent of raising the dead; and that they felt quite assured they could bring to life the dead man before them.
"The farmer was, of course, considerably astonished by the quality and powers of the persons who addressed him, and rather incredulously asked if they were quite sure that they could perform all they professed to.
"'O, certainly! not a doubt of it. The Lord has commissioned us expressly to work miracles, in order to prove the truth of the prophet, Joseph Smith, and the inspiration of the books and doctrines revealed to him. Send for all your neighbors, that in the presence of a multitude we may bring the dead man to life, and that the Lord and his Church may be glorified to all men!'
"The farmer, after a little consideration, agreed to let the miracle-workers proceed, and, as they desired, sent his children to his neighbors, who, attracted by the expectation of a miracle, flocked to the house in considerable numbers.
"The Mormon elders commenced their task by kneeling and praying before the body with uplifted hands and eyes, and with most stentorian lungs. Before they had proceeded far with their prayer, a sudden idea struck the farmer, who quietly quitted the house for a few minutes, and then returned, and waited patiently by the bedside until the prayer was finished, and the elders ready to perform their miracle. Before they began, he respectfully said to them, that, with their permission, he wished to ask them a few questions upon the subject of their miracle. They replied that they had no objection. The farmer then asked, 'You are quite certain that you can bring this man to life again?' 'We are.' 'How do you know that you can?' 'We have just received a revelation from the Lord, informing us that we can.' 'Are you quite sure that the revelation was from the Lord?' 'Yes, we cannot be mistaken about it.' 'Does your power to raise this man to life again depend upon the particular nature of his disease, or could you now bring any dead man to life?'
228 The Origin and Fate of Mormonism. [Sept.
'It makes no difference to us, we could bring any corpse to life.' 'Well, if this man had been killed, and one of his arms cut off, could you bring him to life, and also restore to him his arm?' 'Certainly, there is no limit to the power given us by the Lord. It would make no difference, even if both his arms and his legs were cut off.' 'Could you restore him if his head had been cut off?' 'Certainly we could.' 'Well,' said the farmer, with a quiet smile upon his features, 'I do not doubt the truth of what such holy men assert, but I am desirous that my neighbors here should be fully converted, by having the miracle performed in the completest manner possible. So by your leave, if it makes no difference whatever, I will proceed to cut off the head of this corpse.' Accordingly, he produced a huge and well-sharpened broad-axe from beneath his coat, which he swung above his head, and was apparently about to bring it down upon the neck of the corpse, when lo, and behold! to the amazement of all present, the dead man started up in great agitation, and swore he would not have his head cut off for any consideration whatever.
"The company immediately seized the Mormons, and soon made them confess that the pretended dead man was also a Mormon elder, and that they had sent him to the farmer's house, with directions to die there at a particular hour, when they would drop in, as if by accident, and perform a miracle that would astonish every body. The farmer, after giving the impostors a severe chastisement, let them depart, to practise their humbuggery in some other quarter."
It is certainly to be hoped, that some wisdom and some warning will be gathered by the world from the exposure of the successive frauds which have been practised upon popular credulity, so that they may be fewer in number and at longer intervals of recurrence in years to come.
W. J. A. B.
(Philadelphia: George Graham Co.)
"Mormonism and the Mormons"
An article published at about the time readers
were first becoming aware of Mormon polygamy
Vol. XLII. PHILADELPHIA, MAY, 1853. No. 5.
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. *
Since the introduction of Christianity, the world has seen two great religious impostures -- remarkable for the
absurdity of their pretensions, not less than for their astonishing success. The first was Mohamedanism. For twelve
centuries this false religion has been the faith of millions; and though no more threatening to overrun the world,
though no longer even increasing its votaries, it cannot be yet said to be sensibly declining. The second is Mormonism.
Thirty years scarcely have elapsed since this imposture began; but already it has made converts of three hundred
thousand souls -- has founded a commonwealth -- has sent forth missionaries to Moscow, to Rangoon, to the Isles of the
Pacific. There are other points of resemblance between these two false faiths. Both recognize the books of Moses and
the teachings of Christ. Both maintain that a new revelation had become necessary, and that their respective founders
were prophets of God. Both appeal, with great art, to that love of the marvelous inherent in human nature; and to even
worse qualities -- to gross sensuality, to spiritual pride. But here the likeness ceases. Mohamedanism arose in a Pagan
country, among a barbarous people, in a comparatively remote age of the world. Its tenets, though less pure than those
of Christianity, were purer than the gross idolatry of Arabia. It was propagated chiefly by the sword. But Mormonism
has sprung up in an age the most civilized and intellectual mankind has ever seen: in an age of railroads, magnetic
telegraphs, ocean steamers, Bible societies, common schools. It has made no accessions by war. But, in spite of the
vices of its founder, in spite of positive proof of its being an imposture, it has not only steadily increased, but
increased faster than any Christian sect in the same period of time. The rise, the progress, the character, the
probable destiny of such a development of human folly, is a study instructive to all men, but indispensible to
532 GRAHAM'S MAGAZINE.
already in his possession, and would soon be laid before the world. Nothing is more conclusive of the deception than
the pretended origin of the volume; because the story is marked by all that is characteristic and ignorant in Smith.
he gave out that the Holy Books had been buried for fourteen hundred years -- that they were composed on plates of gold,
and that the character they were written in was the old Egyptian. But, by virtue of his prophetic office and the aid
of the Urim and Thummim, he professed to be able to translate the volumes. The Urim and Thummim was an instrument like
a bow, with two transparent stones set in the two rims -- a rude conjuror's weapon, such as low jugglers mystify gaping
crowds with at a show. It is almost incredible how any but the simplest of fools could have become victims of this
imposture. If a new revelation was necessary in consequence of the vices of modern times, it was fatal to the claims of
Smith that his pretended revelation, instead of being contemporary, dated back fourteen hundred years. The blunder of
selecting the old Egyptian character as that in which to say the new Bible was written, was not less preposterous.
Smith had yet to learn that the hieroglyphics can be decyphered without the aid of inspiration -- without even the farce
of a Urim and Thummim.
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. 533
534 GRAHAM'S MAGAZINE.
cultivation. The city itself grew rapidly. New converts poured in continually from every quarter of the Union, from
Great Britain, and even from countries more remote. The prophet organized this increasing population, and developed
their resources, with an ability which amazed those who had known him in earlier years. Nauvoo soon became a thriving
city. On the brow of a bluff overlooking the lower town, a site was chosen for a temple, which was destined to surpass,
it was declared, any edifice erected in honor of Jehovah, since the great temple of Solomon. The traveler, as he beheld
the crowded quay at Nauvoo, the broad avenues, and the neat dwellings, where, but a year before, he had seen a
comparative waste, acknowledged to himself that the Mormons were a wonderful people, in many respects at least. But
when he passed beyond the town, and observed the settlements springing up in every direction; when he looked, as far as
the eye could range, over fields of grain and hills dotted with cattle; when every farm-house he passed and every face
he met bore evidence of thrift, contentment and plenty; and when, returning to the town, the shining walls of a great
temple rose before him, on its elevated site, the first object to catch the believer's eye at sunrise, the last to
reflect the beams of departing day, he could not but confess that the Mormons were not merely a wonderful people, but
one to admire also. If their doctrines were strange, and often repulsive even, they were themselves practically meek and
laborious. Transient visitors almost invariably returned from Nauvoo enthusiastic in the belief that the Mormons were
misunderstood, if not purposely belied.
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. 535
536 GRAHAM'S MAGAZINE.
attended these amusements. When the first stars of night began to twinkle in the frosty sky, the music, the laughter,
and the loud talking ceased; the various groups broke up; the hymn was sung; and then "the thousand-voiced murmur of
prayer," to use the metaphor of one who, not of their faith, accompanied them, "was heard like bubbling water falling
down the hills." At last the long winter came to an end. In April the people were again organized for their journey. A
pioneer party of one hundred and forty-three men was sent ahead to locate a home for the colony. The rest followed more
at leisure, divided into parties of tens, of fifties, and of hundreds, so as to maintain discipline, and guard against
the thievish savages who hovered continually on their flank. On the 21st [sic - 24th?] of July, 1837, a day only less
memorable in Mormon annals than that on which the prophet was murdered, the advanced guard reached the valley of the
Great Salt lake, and here, midway between the frontier settlements and the Pacific, a thousand miles from the then
utmost verge of civilization, it was determined to establish the colony.
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. 537
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in it we live, and move, and have our social being; without it, every one of the great social communities, which form
together the federal nation, would perish as quickly as human life under the exhausted receiver of an air-pump. It is
the subtle influence which holds the atoms of the federal republic together, invisible, indeed, intangible, but not the
less potentially there. The solar system, which moves so melodiously through space, each planet keeping its appointed
order, would, we are told, break into pieces, and each fragment rush wildly into chaos, if attraction should ever
cease. Banish the common bond in morality, social life, and traditional ideas, which Americans derive from the common law,
and the confederation will lose its cohesive power, though the constitutional forms of the different states may remain
unaltered. With the common law, considered as we have regarded it, the alliance may be made perpetual; without any such
common bond, disruption would be inevitable. Finally, any bond but that would involve us inextricably with all the social,
political, and religious problems of the age, and so eventually lead to disunion as certainly as no bond at all.
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. 539.
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of the most devout. No Mormon, for example, would consider that he sinned by confining himself to one wife. In parallel
cases, men continually refrain from doing what they hold they have a right to do, out of respect to the laws, to a
different social code, or even to popular prejudices. A Protestant thinks it no evil to eat meat on Friday. But a
Protestant may fast on that day without the least peril to his soul, and at a Catholic table would do it as a matter of
course. If a Mormon commonwealth desires to become a member of the great American family, it should expect to abandon a
habit so repugnant to the majority. There is another aspect of the question, even more fatal to the Mormon claim. By
asking for admission into the Union with the leprosy of polygamy upon them, the Mormons actually demand that the other
states shall violate their consciences by consorting with what they abhor as unclean. Yet, for the Mormons to give up
polygamy is not to violate their consciences, but simply to deny themselves a gratification. Again -- if the Mormons are
admitted, every American not a Mormon will, by the act of admission, wink at what he believes a sin. If the Mormons
surrender polygamy in order to be admitted, the most fanatical cannot accuse himself of guilt. In a word, the conscience
of the Mormons runs no danger of being outraged: it is the conscience of the great body of the American people that is
threatened with assault. It is not two hundred thousand who are in peril of persecution; but it is twenty-five millions,
whom an inconsiderable minority desires to wrong. As water and oil will not mix, so neither can the American people and
the Mormons live together in that brotherly concord which should reign over confederated states, unless polygamy is
abolished by the latter. It was the "spiritual wife" system which, more than all else, exasperated the people of Missouri
and Illinois. Against the continuance of this system -- policy, justice, and the common law, combine to protest.
Vol. II.   New York, February, 1858. No. 2. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[ 112 ]
"GLYPHS," OR ABORIGINAL REMAINS EXHUMED FROM
INDIAN MOUNDS IN AMERICA.
THE EARLY HISTORY, RISE AND PROGRESS
A great deal has been written about the Mormons, and different works, none of which have ever been adopted as specific authority, have appeared, in all of which can be found more or less truth regarding the singular people who have adopted this strange delusion. A few years ago it made but little national difference whether we were informed of the peculiarities of the Mormons, but now that they have grown into what may termed a powerful people, and have raised the standard of rebellion against the government, it becomes the duty of every citizen to be thoroughly informed, that a correct public opinion, which is the supreme law of the land, may be brought effectively to correct the evils which now fester as a sore upon our social system, and as a canker is eating into our political organization.
The federal government is no doubt to be justly blamed for much of the evil which will grow out of this Mormon difficulty. The appointment of Brigham Young, the chief of the "Latter Day Saints," to the office of United States Territorial Governor, was an unpardonable error, for the office is naturally paternal in its character, possessed of vast power, and in the hands of a man like Young, could easily be used, as it has been, to foster the outrages of a licentious code, give the sanction of law to a system that is a disgrace to the intelligence of the nineteenth century, and made the free, enlightened and Christianized people of the United States responsible for abuses, social and moral, such as have never found parallel elsewhere in all the history of mankind.
Mormonism is of such recent date, that its origin is not involved in any secrecy; A short sketch of its rise, though often given, may not be uninteresting. In the year 1809, a man by the name of Solomon Spaulding, a graduate of Dartmouth CoIlege, a dreamy enthusiast, at one time a preacher and at another time a dealer in dry goods, moved from Cherry Valley in the State of New York, to the romantic county known as Ashtabula county, Ohio, Here he found himself surrounded with some of the most interesting Indian remains that are to be found in the valley of the Mississippi. Imaginative, and of considerable acquired information, he soon, from his early religious education and natural sympathies, adopted the theory that has been
THE EARLY HISTORY, RISE AND PROGRESS OF MORMONISM. 113
vigorously if not ably supported by many writers, that our aborigines were the lost tribes of Israel, and once conceiving this notion, it was a source of gratification to him to people the mounds he saw with the original inhabitants, and, among other things, he conceived the idea, which he eventually carried out, of writing a fictitious history of "the ancient race." Having settled upon his plan, he styled his work the "Manuscript Found," and represented that it was discovered by him while hunting among the Indian remains in the neighborhood, and that in its translation he had endeavored to imitate the style in which it was written, which was evidently formed by his biblical studies. In this work he describes the departure of a family of Jews -- the father Lehi, and four sons, Laman, Lemuel, Sam and Nephi, with their wives -- from Jerusalem into the wilderness, in the reign of Zedekiah, and after various wanderings, their voyage to the Western Continent, under the leadership of Nephi, one of the brothers. On their journey and voyage they became distracted by dissensions, which in America. resulted in their division into hostile tribes, which branched out and populated the country, built up large cities, engaged in fierce wars, and underwent various changes and revolutions. Laman appears to have been the focus of disaffection in this imaginary family, and his descendants became a very powerful nation or tribe, under the name of Lamanites, engaging frequently in wars, and destroying the country and cities of the more peaceable Nephites. The frequency of these wars eventually broke up and destroyed the regular avocations of peace; the people became barbarized and split up into predatory bands, plundering and murdering each other, until, in fine, they degenerated, into the vagabond Indians of the American Continent. Beside the designations already mentioned, the names of Mormon, Moroni, Mosiah, Heleman, and others, frequently occur in the
114 FRANK LESLIE'S NEW, FAMILY MAGAZINE.
book, and represent the heroes, prophets, and great men who figured in this drama. As Spaulding progressed with his work, he was in the habit of amusing himself and sundry of his neighbors by reading them his manuscript, and he evidently took advantage of their observations in making alterations and additions. He labored upon it for about three years, at the end which time he removed, in the year 1812, to Pittsburgh, Pa., where he became intimate with a printer by the name of Patterson, in whose hands he placed the work with the design having it published. Probably a want of faith in its being paying speculation delayed its publication, and it became, as is often the case with an author's labors, a familiar roll of paper in the printing office. Among the journeymen, was Sidney Rigdon, a man of great natural ability, a kind of religious Ishmaelite not uncommon on the frontiers; sometimes he was a "Campbellite preacher," sometimes a printer, and at all times fond of technical disputations in theology. In his leisure he used to read Spaulding's manuscript, and finally became so thoroughly imbued with its spirit, and so charmed with its ideas, that, as he has frequently stated, he copied it entire that he might have its contents in his possession.
No satisfactory contract appears ever to have been made to bring out Spaulding's work; at least it was delayed for some reason or another until the author was obliged to move, when he settled in Washington county, New York [sic], in 1816. What became of the original manuscript does not appear, as both Spaulding and Patterson died in 1826. According to a statement of Mrs. Spaulding, made in 1839, it was taken from Pittsburg by her husband, and after his death remained with other papers in her possession. This lady subsequently married again, and the papers were left in Otsego county, but on search being made for them in the year 1839, by some persons interested in exposing the pretensions of Joe Smith, who was then beginning in localities to attract attention, the document could not be found.
In the year 1815, the father of Joseph Smith, Jr., came with his family of boys from the county of Windsor, Vermont, to Palmyra, New York, from which he subsequently removed to Manchester , in the county of Ontario, remaining in both places about eleven years. He was a laboring man, and professed to be a farmer, but he manufactured and peddled baskets and wooden bowls, and, withal, his employments appears to have been of a miscellaneous character, not very consistent with regular industry. The members of the family were held in light estimation of their neighbors, some of whom subsequently described them as "notorious for breach of contracts and the repudiation of their honest debts. "
Joseph, was ten years old when the family first settled in Palmyra, and, as represented by those hostile to his subsequent pretensions, he grew up among bad associates, totally averse to anything in the shape of regular industry, and a ready adept in the art of "living by one's wits." His physiognomy indicates sensuality and cunning, in which latter trait his mind was unusually versatile, He reflected great mystery in his movements; pretended to the gift of discovering hidden treasures, and the possession of seer-stones by which they could be found; traveled about the country, appearing and disappearing in a mysterious manner; possessed a plausible and wordy jargon, by which many minds are easily captivated; and, in various ways, cheated and robbed sundry simpletons, who were persuaded to credit his pretensions. Nor did he confine his attention to any single branch of the business of deception, but allowed himself to be drawn in to the work of pseudo-religious revival, and became quite wordy in the vocabulary of hypocritical cant. On the other hand, his subsequent followers allege, that though of very humble origin, and of extremely limited education, he was of retired habits and religiously disposed; that as early as fifteen years of age, he began seriously to reflect upon the necessity of being prepared for a future state of existence, spending much of his time in prayer and acts of devotion."
During Smith's searching operations for the discovery of hidden treasure, it is probable that he exhumed some of the curious glyphs which now figure so widely in the list of American antiquities. These consist of metallic plates covered with hieroglyphical characters. A number of similar remains were found in 1848, in Pike county, Illinois, and described as "six plates of brass of a bell or pear shape, each having a hole near the smaller end, and a ring through all, to which was fastened two clasps. The ring and clasps appeared to be iron, very much oxydated. The plates first appeared to be copper, and had the appearance of being covered with characters. A subsequent cleansing by sulphuric acid brought out the engraving distinctly." It seems to be strongly confirmed that Smith discovered one of these singular specimens of American antiquity, in the fact, that soon after the alleged discovery of the Golden Bible, he sent Martin Harris to Professor Anthon with characters which, according to the professor's description, are identical with those which appear upon them.
In the course of his wanderings Smith met with and formed the acquaintance of Sidney Rigdon. According to that view of the case which proceeds upon the hypothesis that he was an impostor, it would not be unreasonable to believe that these two men together conceived the idea of starting a system of religious imposture upon a scale commensurate with the popular credulity. Conjointly they possessed, in mercantile phrase, the requisite capital for such an adventure, Smith; had cunning, plausible volubility, seer stones, mysterious antiquities, and withal, the prestige of success; Sidney was versed in the lights and shadows" of religious verbiage, had some literary pretensions, was a printer, and, above all, had a copy of Spaulding's book. Which started the idea of the Golden Bible is not known, though in all likelihood the credit is due to Smith, as he ever after maintained the ascendency in the new hierarchy. After the plan had assumed a definite form and shape in the minds of the originators, it was easy for Joseph, in his perambulations, to trace out and secure the original manuscript of Spaulding to guard the intended scheme from exposure, and the lapse of time and the death of many of the parties who knew about the original manuscript made it safe to dispense with any important alterations in the new Bible.
To Smith was reserved the honor of making the first open demonstration, because success in deception had rendered him bold and skilful. Rigdon, it was agreed, was not to come in until afterward, and then as a convert. The time was favorable, a large number of persons had been looking for the last days; the seeds of Millerism had been planted, and when a prophet appeared who professed to have discovered a Golden Bible; proclaiming the destruction of all things, a power of attorney for the creation of a new priesthood, the gathering of the saints, the display of miraculous power, what could, be devised for a more popular superstition?
But those who regarded the new dispensation with faith in its Divine origin, argued that in 1823 Smith had a vision in which an angel appeared and announced to him that he was to be the chosen instrument in introducing a new dispensation; that the American Indians were a remnant of the Israel, who after emigrating to this country, had their prophets and inspired writings; that such of those writings as had not been destroyed were safely deposited in an appointed place; that they contained revelation of the latter days, and that if Smith remained faithful, he was to be the chosen instrument to translate their contents to the world. The next day an angel appeared, informed him where the plates were, and told him to go and possess them, accordingly, Smith went to a hill about four miles from Palmyra, State of New York, on the west side of which he dug down and came upon a stone box, so firmly cemented that the moisture could not enter. In this box the records were found deposited. On being exposed to view, the angel, of course, appeared, and there was a wonderful display of celestial pyrotechnics, and the prophet was permitted to see the devil, "surrounded by his innumerable train of associates."
By the kindness of H. K. Heydon, Esq. living at Newark, Wayne co., New York, we are able to present to our readers a daguerreotype view of the spot where the plates were buried, and subsequently exhumed. Mr. Heydon says that the view was taken by him in the fall of 1853, The hill is on the plank road leading from Palmyra to Canandaigua, and just four miles from the first named place, The view is of the north side, which is the highest and steepest part, as the hill running south gradually descends until it is lost in the plains. Joe Smith dug in the earth, but says he found the plates while ploughing. The hole, at the time the daguerreotype was taken, was still visible (it can be just seen in our engraving, on the right of the house, as you ascend the hill; though almost
THE EARLY HISTORY, RISE AND PROGRESS OF MORMONISM. 115
filled up, there was a little knoll and a slight depression still apparent in the sod. The authenticity of the picture makes it deservedly interesting. Strange to say, although Joe Smith, according to his own statement, had seen the plates, he was not permitted to obtain possession of them until the 22d of September, 1827, and then, not until after a great deal of negotiation between him and the angel, were they placed in his possession. The following is a description of these important documents, by Orson Pratt, one of the Mormon champions: "These records were engraved on plates which had the appearance of gold. Each plate was not far from seven by eight inches in width and length, being not quite as thick as common tin. They were filled on both sides with engravings in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, and fastened at one edge with three rings running through the whole. The volume was near six inches in thickness, a part of which were sealed. The characters or letters upon the unsealed part were small and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, as well as much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument, called by the ancients the Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones, clear as crystal, set in the two rims of a bow. This was in use in ancient times by persons called seers. It was an instrument by the use of which they received revelation of things distant, or of things past or future.'"
It is now necessary to notice that the "Manuscript Found," fell under the notice of Rigdon somewhere between the years 1812 and 1826, in which latter year Spaulding died. Between this and 1827 there was ample time not only to trace out and gain possession of the original manuscript, but to add to the matter such things as were necessary to carry out the contemplated fraud, the whole of which, with the exception of liberal extracts from the Bible, as a literary performance is beneath criticism. Patterson died in 1826 [sic], and the new Bible could consequently be published to the world without risk of exposure from the only person who could at that time identify and make plain the fraud.
Everything having been completed, Smith boldly exhibited the external form of the Bible, which, however, no unsanctified hands were allowed to touch. The wonderful discovery, as might have been expected, soon raised a popular commotion. The news of the finding of the golden plates spread throughout the rural neighborhoods. False reports, misrepresentations, and loose slanders flew in every direction, as if on the wings of the wind. Joe Smith's house was beset by mobs, several times he was shot at, and very narrowly escaped with his life. Every device was used by outside parties to get possession of the plates, and finally becoming alarmed, he determined to remove to Pennsylvania. Accordingly he packed up his goods, hid the plates in a barrel of beans, and started on his journey. Very soon Smith was arrested by an officer with a search warrant, but the official failed to find the "sacred revelation," and after various adventures he reached the settlement on the Susquehanna river, where his father-in-law and Sidney Rigdon resided.
Joseph being thus quietly housed, and, thanks to the beans, the plates safe in his hands, he proceeded to the work of translation; but, being a poor penman, he soon provided himself with a scribe in the person of Oliver Cowdry, who subsequently became one of the witnesses to the verity of the book. He stationed himself behind a. screen, with the "Urim and Thummim" in his hat, and read off sentence after sentence, which Cowdry wrote down as an amanuensis. This process occupied a number of years. During the work of translation, and on the 15th of May, 1830, John the Baptist appeared and laid hands on Smith and Cowdry, ordaining them into the Aaronic priesthood, and commanded them to baptize each other, which they accordingly did; at the same time, he informed them that he was sent by Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Melchisedech priesthood, which was to be conferred in due time; Smith to be first, and Cowdry second elder. The thing began now to assume more form and shape. The family of the prophet's father were specially converteud; and, out of this family circle, a man of some property , by the name of Martin Harris, who had been a Quaker, Methodist, Baptist, and finally Presbyterian, was so much captivated with the scheme, that he advanced some money to aid in the publication of the book. Harris had a strong desire to see the wonderful plates. The prophet, however, put him off, on the representation that the ground on which they stood was not holy enough, but gave him the transcript of some of the characters on a piece of paper, which the admiring disciple submitted to the inspection of Professor Anthon, of New York, who upon examination of the documents, pronounced the whole thing transparent humbug.
"This paper in question," says the learned professor, "was, in fact, a singular scroll. It consisted of all kinds of curious characters, disposed in columns, and held evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets, Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes; Roman letters inverted, or placed sideways were arranged and placed in perpendicular columns; and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle, divided into various compartments, arched with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican calendar, given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived. I am thus particular as to the contents of the paper, inasmuch as I have frequently conversed with my friends on the subject since the Mormon excitement began, and well remember that the paper contained anything else but Egyptian hieroglyphics."
The friends of Smith dwelt much upon the fact that an illiterate young man could fluently dictate in a connected series a voluminous work, but all cause of astonishment is removed when we regard him as reading from Spaulding's manuscript; but to those who will not admit this assistance, that the prophet's power partakes of the miraculous, this seeming wonder has been one of the strongest proof, of his mission. In the conventional sense of the term, Joe Smith was an uneducated man, his knowledge acquired from books was very limited. "How could I," he would say, "an illiterate impostor, attempt to impose upon the intelligence of the nineteenth century." But in this very confession be exhibited his intuitive wisdom the weak traits of humanity; in which, in fact, he had more available learning than all the closet men put together. His own autobiography shows him well studied at an early period in the nice shades and differences of modern sectarian creeds, and subsequent developments proved him well read in the history of Mahommed and other religious impostors. He would undoubtedly have excelled in such other pursuits as were suited to his disposition and tastes. As a gambler, he would have exhibited unrivalled dexterity; as a trader, he would have been skilful sharper; as a military man, a master of strategy; as politician, an adroit whipper-in; and as a policeman, a Vidoeq in the discovery of stolen goods and the entrapping of thieves.
The book of Mormon was given to the world in the year 1830, with the following notice attached , written by one "the Apostles." "The Book of Mormon contains the history of the ancient inhabitants of America, who were a branch of the house of Israel, of the tribe of Joseph, of whom the Indians are still a remnant; but the principal nation of them having fallen in battle in the fourth or fifth century, one of their prophets, whose name was Mormon saw fit to make an abridgment of their history, their prophecies, and their doctrines, which he engraved on plates, and afterward being slain, the records fell into the hands of his son Moroni, who being hunted by his enemies, was directed to deposit the records safely in the earth, with a promise from God that it could be preserved, and should be brought to light in the latter days by means of a Gentile nation who should possess the land. The deposit was made about the year 420, on a hill called the Cumora, now in Ontario county, where it was preserved in safety until it was brought to light by no less than the ministry of angels, and translated by inspiration; and the great Jehovah bore record of the same to chosen witnesses, who declare it to the world."
From time to time Joe Smith commenced the career of a prophet, and at once established a visible church. A melancholy picture of human degradation is suggested as you follow him and his deluded victims through their first struggles, and watch them rising from the obscurity of the country village to assume an importance, which in a quarter of a century has rendered the rise and progress of the Mormons the most extraordinary phenomenon of the nineteenth century. The plan of our article
116 FRANK LESLIE'S NEW, FAMILY MAGAZINE.
Will not permit us to go into full details of the beginning of this moral leprosy. Soon After the appearance of the Mormon Bible, Joe Smith organized a church in Ontario, New York. His character and that of his followers being well known, in the following year he removed to Kirtland, Ohio, where he made a temporary abiding-place, until the "Great West" could be explored and a locality selected which would justify an establishment equal to the increasing demand. Independence, in the State of Missouri, was selected, and the prophet, who had now commenced receiving messages direct from heaven, had a vision in which he was instructed to build a temple on the site of this new Zion. In a short time the saints numbered twelve hundred persons, the settlement rapidly increased, and the spirit of arrogance began to display itself, which has since ripened into open rebellion against the federal government. Among other things the Mormon paper at the at time published contained a series of incendiary articles regarding the colored population, which aroused the jealousy of the slave-holders, and they held a meeting and resolved on the expulsion of the Mormons. No compromise was permitted, the multitude assembled, leveled the printing-office to the ground, and tarred and feathered two of the principal saints.
This persecution gave exactly the kind of aid needed for a rapid accumulation of numbers. New converts flocked in and sympathizers were found in all the surrounding country. The temporary home which was afforded the saints in Clay county, soon became so overstocked with disciples that the respectable "Gentiles" became alarmed. The people found that they had in their midst an ignorant, clannish population, combined together by religious fanaticism, arrogant and overbearing in their pretensions, and completely under control of a single will. The result was that the Mormons were finally driven from the State of Missouri. It was at this time that Smith established the formidable band of ruffians, bound
THE EARLY HISTORY, RISE AND PROGRESS OF MORMONISM. 117
together to commit any, violence, however horrible, if by command of the prophet, whose business it was to inflict vengeance upon the Gentiles. This band was termed The Danites or Brothers of Gideon -- men who have since been prominent Utah, in the murder of Americans and others who have fallen by the hands of the Mormons. In the legal suits instituted this time before the Mormon courts, accumulated evidence furnished that the prophet had, even at that early day, infused into the hearts of his followers a fanatical belief in the pretensions of the saints, and extravagant notions of their future greatness, which has ripened and brought forth the present rebellion against the authorities of the United States.
The Illinoisans received the saints with undisguised favor; persecution brought converts, old and new, from all quarters. Nauvoo was founded, and in about one year from their involuntary exile from Missouri, fifteen thousand saints had settled in and about the city. The prophet now got a revelation to build a temple, in which was to be a fount especially appropriated to the new doctrine of the "baptism of the dead:" Everything prospered, the city received from the Legislature of Illinois a charter of great privileges, among which was the right of raising a military force, to be armed by the State, and to be commanded by the prophet as lieutenant-general.
Reviews were held from time to time, and Joseph began to appear with a splendid staff, surrounded by all the pomp and circumstance of a high military commander. The Mormon community at this period presented a spectacle of much apparent prosperity; increasing number, great industry among the masses, an efficient military organization the protection and favor of a powerful State, and its chief a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. It was a strange combination of incongruous materials; a festering mass of ignorance, discontent, hypocrisy, chicanery, licentiousness, and crime.
The Gentiles were held up daily to ridicule, and in all preaching to speedy destruction, and of no more intrinsic value than the felon already condemned to execution. Under such circumstances was it very strange a saint occasionally anticipated events and made free with property not his own? Accordingly there rose complaints against the saints from the surrounding Gentiles, which included almost every crime known to the criminal calendar. But the most fruitful element of internal commotion and which led immediately to the prophet's death, was the introduction of polygamy as one of the numerous privileges of the saints. This extraordinary addition to the collection of Mormon doctrines and practices, grew legitimately out of the character of Joseph himself, who was constitutionally a combination of cunning and sensuality.
The prophet was aware that he was entering upon a ticklish experiment even with his own disciples, to say nothing of the Gentiles; and he prefaced its reception by pretending to be in great trouble. He told some of his most influential followers; that if they knew what a hard and unpalatable revelation he had had, they would drive him from the city. The heavenly powers, however, were not to be trifled with, and a day was appointed when the important mandate was to be submitted to a convocation of the authorities of the church. The time arrived; the priests and elders convened; but Joseph, in virtuous desperation, concluded rather to flee the city than be the medium of communicating a matter so repugnant to his mind. He mounted his horse and galloped from the town, but was met by an angel with a drawn sword and threatened with instant destruction unless he immediately went back and fulfilled his mission. He returned, accordingly, in submissive despair, and made the important communication to the assembled notables. This revelation, of course, legalized Joseph's numerous left-hand marriages already contracted, and gave a general license for future matrimonial enjoyments. Brigham Young was the first who followed Smith's example, H. C. Kimball the second. Hyrum Smith, it is said, utterly refused to give the doctrine his sanction, and remained faithful and devoted until death to his first and only wife.
In the meantime it became essential to prepare the saints generally, and after them the Gentiles, for the reception of this
118 FRANK LESLIE'S NEW, FAMILY MAGAZINE.
diabolical revelation. This was the origin of what has been called the spiritual wife doctrine. A man could have a dozen spiritual wives, but it was found inconvenient to allow a woman to have the same number of spiritual husbands. Collisions growing out of this kind of license became bitter animosities; and accordingly we find them very soon accusing one another of the most scandalous practices.
A trial for slander before the municipal court of Nauvoo, exposed the scandalous practices of the people, and developed the fact that Joe Smith had attempted to ruin the wife of Dr. Foster, who, with the assistance of another person, established a paper and attempted to prove, in this public manner, the charge against the prophet. Joseph was too absolute in his own dominions quietly to submit to such an insult. As mayor of Nauvoo, he assembled the city authorities and caused this audacious press to be pronounced a nuisance, and ordered it to be abated; and in obedience to the mandate; the marshal with a posse, leveled the establishment to the ground. Foster and his coadjutors fled, and in revenge for these summary injuries; procured a warrant for the arrest of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and some others. The prophet refused to acknowledge the validity of the Gentile document, and the officer who was in charge was unceremoniously expelled from the city. The militia of the county were thereupon ordered out to support the officer in the execution of his process, and the Mormons in Nauvoo and its vicinity prepared to defend the prophet. The excitement rapidly spread, the militia of the adjacent counties were summoned, the governor repaired to the scene of disturbance, and then commenced the second great collision between Mormonism and the established laws of the land.
The result was as might be expected, the Governor of Illinois triumphed. Joe Smith was finally persuaded, to avoid bloodshed, to surrender to the constituted authorities, which he did, and he with Hyrum Smith and other saints were lodged in jail. About six o' clock on the evening of the 27th of June, 1844, the guard of the jail was surprised by an armed party of some two hundred men disguised with paint, who forced the prison and assassinated the prophet and Hyrum Smith. Thus perished the chief founder of Mormonism. Stripped of his disgusting associations, it must be admitted that he possessed some extraordinary traits of character; which would seem to be established by the success attending the strange hierarchy originated by him. In 1827, he announced the discovery of the Golden Book, when only twenty-two years of age; and at the time of his death in 1844, his followers must have numbered over one hundred thousand. To operate on so many minds, even though upon a low plane and easily affected by the marvelous, bring them under a distinct organization, a.nd sway them at will, in the very midst of hostile influences, prove that he had some mental powers, which we are compelled to respect, however much we may condemn the motives by which he was influenced.
The news of the violent death of the prophet; introduced the wildest state of grief, apprehension and indignation among the saints of Nauvoo. Total disorganization was apprehended. Brigham Young, since so notorious as chief in Utah, was now left in a most influential position, and he with others successfully quieted the exasperation. Under wise councils the Mormons were advised to remain quiet; if they had acted otherwise they would have been swept from the land. Brigham Young after overcoming all opposition, was elected president of the church on the 7th of October, 1844, and peace was apparently restored. The great temple was erected from white limestone; wrought in a superior style; was one hundred and twenty-eight by eighty-eight feet square; nearly sixty feet high; two stories in the clear, and two half stories in the recesses over the arches; form tiers of windows -- two Gothic and two round. The two great stories each had two pulpits, one at each end, to accommodate the Melchisedek and Aaronic priesthoods, graded into four rising seats; the first for the president of the elders and his two counselors; the second, for the president of the high priesthood and his two counselors; the third for the Melchisedek president and his two counselors; and the fourth for the president over the whole church (the first president) and his two counselors. This highest seat is where the Scribes and Pharisees used to crowd in "to Moses' seat." The Aaronic pulpit at the other end the same. The steeple or dome was between one and two hundred feet high. The fount in the basement story was for the baptism of the living, for health, for remission of sin and for the salvation of the dead, as was Solomon's temple, and all temples which God commands to be built. Although the saints were quiet, not so with the surrounding people of Illinois. It was believed among them that the Mormons had not only resisted the administration of the laws, but that they had made their capitol the depository of stolen goods, and that the people within its walls were guilty of every conceivable crime. It was in vain that the Mormons protested their innocence; matters were now approaching a crisis. Brigham Young was first to perceive that the constitution of his church could never sustain itself peaceably under the laws of the land. He accordingly made diligent efforts to prepare the minds of the saints for removal beyond the jurisdiction of the United States.
This was no difficult task The Mormons had become in some degree a nomadic race, they had broken the ties of kindred and home to gather around their fancied Zion; many of them had left one part of Missouri for another, and then had removed to Nauvoo; some had wandered from beyond the broad Atlantic; and could not, within a few years form very strong local attachments. Superadded to all this was an intense hatred to the United States, some of whose citizens had inflicted upon them the sufferings, losses and persecutions of which they complained, and whose government had failed to afford them redress. So intense was this feeling, that they looked exultingly forward to the fulfillment of prophecy, which remorselessly consigned the country to one vast and common ruin, under the visitations of earthquakes, fires, famine, pestilence and civil wars, from the offended majesty of heaven. In the meantime Brigham Young commenced making preparations for the entire removal of the Mormons to some good valley in the neighborhood of the Rocky Mountains. Much ability was displayed in the arrangements’. The saints were divided into different companies, to move at different times. Places were selected in the Indian country, among the Omahas and Potawatomies, as recruiting points and resting places. The first band, consisting of two thousand persons, crossed the Mississippi on the ice in February, 1846. The pioneer band encountered much severe weather and suffering. Other detachments followed from time to time during the season. Great Salt Lake Valley was ultimately fixed upon as the new Mormon Zion, and an advance colony of four thousand souls arrived there in July, 1847, and went to work diligently to irrigate the land and plant crops.
Those who still remained at Nauvoo continued the work upon the temple, deeming the completion of that edifice necessary to the fulfillment of prophecy. This excited the jealousy of the surrounding people, and a thousand rumors followed that the Mormons did not intend to leave the State. But little was wanting to fan the flame fiercer than ever. One form of violence succeeded to another still more and more flagrant, and finally the luckless saints who yet lingered within the walls of Nauvoo were regularly besieged in September, 1846, and, after fighting two or three days, were driven from the place. They made their way in the best manner they could, under circumstances of much difficulty and suffering, to the temporary settlements west of the Missouri.
Once more, then, we find these strange people fugitives from their homes, and now seeking an abiding-place deep in the recesses of savage life. The question naturally occurs, Were they really persecuted on account of their religion, or were their habits and practices such as made them intolerable in any civilized community? They had essayed to establish themselves in different States of the Union, and the result would seem to prove that, for some reason, they cannot exist in contact with republican institutions -- that they present a combination of the elements of popular superstition and fanaticism, which, in its constitution find government, must necessarily interfere with the rights of the citizen and come into collision with the laws of the land. It was, in fact, the strange anomaly of an independent power within the bosom of the State, which, like a camp of soldiers, believed itself entitled to live at free quarters upon the surrounding population.
Early in the spring of 1847, a pioneer band of one hundred and forty-three men, with seventy wagons, started on their
THE EARLY HISTORY, RISE AND PROGRESS OF MORMONISM. 119
westward journey, with all the means and appliances for forming a settlement. They reached the valley of Great Salt Lake in July, laid the foundation of their present capital, and put in extensive crops for the future necessities of the incoming Saints. Others followed at short intervals, and some four thousand people became the inhabitants of the valley during that year. In 1848, nearly all that remained made their way to the new land of promise. Fortunately, the land cost them nothing, and all the money and goods saved from the wreck of their property at Nauvoo they were able to devote to other uses than acquiring a property in the soil.
After the pioneer company reached Salt Lake; Young addressed the saints "throughout the world." In it the saints were required not only to assemble at a common centre, but to come provided for all possible emergencies. Among other things it said: ... "Come immediately, and prepare to go West, bringing with you all kinds of choice seeds of grain, vegetables, fruits, shrubbery, trees, and vines -- everything that will please the eye, gladden the heart, or cheer the soul of man, that grows upon the face of the whole earth; also, the best stock of beast, bird, and fowl of every kind; also, the best tools of every description, and machinery for spinning or weaving, and dressing cotton, wool, flax, and silk, &c., &c., or models and descriptions of the same, by which they can construct them; and the same in relation to all kinds of farming utensils and husbandry, such as corn-shellers, grain-thrashers and cleaners, smut-machines, mills, and every implement and article within their knowledge that shall tend to promote the comfort, health, happiness, or prosperity of any people."
It is owing to the comprehensive views of this address being measurably carried out that we find so many of the conveniences and appliances of civilized life in the great Basin. The saints meantime went on gathering as fast as distance and other circumstances would permit. But many were poor, and, especially in Great Britain, were unable to defray the expenses of so great a journey without material aid. This want gave rise to the establishment of a vast project, the successful accomplishment of which deservedly calls forth the most profound admiration; for the manner the Mormons have conducted their emigration from Europe to Salt Lake city, displays sagacity and foresight that has never been equaled in the removal of large numbers of people. The strictest economy has ever been observed, and the object to be accomplished has been brought about by the most direct means. The time selected for the departure from Liverpool has always been so arranged that the emigrants have arrived on the frontiers between April and June, sufficiently early to cross the plain and the mountains before the winter sets in. When a sufficient number of applications have been received by the agent, the passengers; are notified by printed circulars, embracing instructions to them how to proceed.
In contracting for a vessel, it is agreed that tthe passengers shall go on board on the day of their arrival in Liverpool, which protects them from robbers and sharpers. When the passengers are on board, the agent , who is always a president of the church, proceeds to organize a committee of men who have been to Salt Lake and have been to sea. These men are received by the emigrants with implicit confidence. The committee then proceed to divide the ship into wards, over which an elder or priest is placed, While at sea, the presidents of the various wards see that the passengers rise at five or six o'clock, cleanse the specified portions of the snip, and throw all rubbish over board. This attended to, prayers are then offered, breakfast partaken of, and this constant discipline is carried out in the incidents of the entire day. People of experience amuse the passengers by histories of their travels, lectures on various subjects are delivered, the Sabbath is spent in worship. "There is one thing which in the opinion of the emigration committee of the House of Commons, they the (L. D. Saints) can do, viz. teach Christian ship-owners how to send poor people decently, cheaply and healthfully across the Atlantic."
On arriving at New Orleans, the emigrants are received by an agent of the church, who procures suitable steamboats for them to proceed on their way without unnecessary detention. From St. Louis they are forwarded to Keokuk, in Iowa, or Independence, in Missouri, where they find teams, which have already been prepared, waiting to receive their luggage. Ten individuals are allotted to one wagon and one tent. The cattle are purchased of cattle-dealers in the western settlements; a full team consists of two yoke of oxen and two cows. Each wagon is supplied with one thousand pounds of flour, fifty pounds of sugar, fifty pounds of rice, thirty pounds of beans, twenty pounds dried apples and peaches, five pounds of tea, one gallon of vinegar, ten bars of soap, and twenty-five pounds of salt. These articles, and the milk from the cows, game caught on the plains, and the pure water from the streams, furnish to hundreds better diet, and more of it, than they enjoyed in their native lands, while toiling from ten to eighteen hours per day for their living. Other emigrants, who have means , of course, purchase what they please, such as dried herrings, pickles, molasses, and more dried fruit and sugar, all of which are very useful; and there is every facility for obtaining them from New Orleans to the edge of the plains. As soon as a sufficient number of wagons can be got ready, and all things are prepared, the company of companies move off under their respective captains. The agent remains on the frontiers until all the companies are started, and then he goes forward himself, passing the companies one by one, and arrives in the Valley first to receive them there, and conduct them into Great Salt Lake City. We shall not detail further under this head as we shall have occasion to do it upon the route.
From the review we have taken of the modus operandi of the emigration, although we have merely glanced at the framework, it will be readily seen that it is of no ordinary magnitude, but brings into requisition, directly and indirectly, the labor of hundreds of individuals, besides the emigrants themselves, and at the present time involves an outlay of not less than $160,000 to $250,000 each year, an amount nevertheless small, when the number of emigrants and the distance are considered. It is only by the most careful, prudent, and economical arrangements that such a number of persons could be transported from their various British and European homes across the Atlantic Ocean, and three thousand miles into the interior of America with such a sum of money.
The road across the plains to Salt Lake Valley is diversified by many, remarkable natural curiosities; they are perhaps unequalled by any similar exhibitions on our continent . One of the most remarkable is Chimney Rock, situated on the south side of the Platte river: This irregular conformation must have at one time been a part of the main chain of bluffs bounding the valley of the Platte, and has been separated by the action of water. It consists of a conical elevation of about one hundred feet high, from the apex rises a nearly circular and perpendicular shaft of clay, now from thirty-five to forty feet high. At one time it was visible forty miles distance, but the lightning, or some other cause, broke down the shaft and left only a portion of its original height standing. On the right of the rock the wagons of an emigrant train are technically, in corall, which is the order observed while camping . When danger is suddenly apprehended from Indians, the cattle are driven inside the corall, but the slightest noise from a dog or a wolf, or any unaccountable circumstance, often causes a stampede, in which the cattle, break down the wagons and rush madly from the camp, endangering the lives of the emigrants, and frequently never stop their career until they are lost to their owners, or fall dead. The stampede is one of the most serious misfortunes encountered by the emigrants across the plains.
Laramie's Peak is remarkable elevation, the top of which is generally covered with snow; it is often seen across the plains at the distance of a hundred miles. Fort Laramie formerly belonged to the North American Fur Trade Company, but was purchased in the year 1849 by the United States, and now has a barracks capable of accommodating one hundred troops. Rock Independence is an immense mass of granite, standing in bold relief on the plains, famous as being connected with Col. Fremont's expeditions. Four miles beyond is the "Devil's Gate," where the Sweet Water river forces its way through a narrow gorge not more than forty feet wide, with perpendicular granite walls on either side of nearly four hundred feet. Through this narrow pass the river brawls and frets over broken masses of rock, that obstruct its passage, Affording one of the most lovely, cool and refreshing retreats from the eternal sunshine without, that the imagination could desire.
120 FRANK LESLIE'S NEW, FAMILY MAGAZINE.
It is difficult to account for the river having forced its passage through the rocks at this point, as the hills, a very short distance to the south, are much lower, and according to present appearance, present by no means such serious obstacles as had been here encountered. It is probable that when the canyon was formed, stratified rocks obstructed it in that direction, and that these rocks have since disappeared by slow disintegration.
Bridger's Fort is a small trading post belonging to Major James Bridger, one of the oldest mountaineers in the region. The fort is built in the usual form, with pickets, the lodging apartments opening into the interior. A high fence incloses the yard, into which the animals of the establishment are driven for protection both from wild beasts and Indians. This place has become familiar to the people of the country from the fact that here the Mormons found a large quantity of food, which at the commencement of their rebellion they destroyed, for fear it would fall into the possession of the United States troops.
The fastnesses and gorges of the Rocky, Wahsatch, Humboldt, Sierra Nevada, and other mountains, reveal scenes, as they are explored, equal in interest to any that have yet been discovered by civilized eyes. The gorges, or canyons, some of which have perpendicular walls from SL.""( hundred to fifteen hundred feet high, present pictures of the utmost wildness. They are in some instances nearly half a mile wide, and in others only a few rods, which would, if necessary; enable a handful of resolute men to defend them against a host. We give a sketch of Parley's Canyon, one of the most familiar entrances or passes into the Great Salt Lake valley. Of all the objects of interest, however, the Great Salt Lake and its scenery may be considered the most extraordinary, when we consider the saltness of its waters, the circumstance of its having no outlet, and that it is fed by numerous fresh water lakes; these facts regarding it afford abundant materials for reflection. There is also Pyramid Lake, embosomed In the Sierra Nevada mountains, with its singular pyramidal mount rising from its transparent waters to the height of six hundred feet, and walled in by precipices three thousand feet high!
The Indian tribes which roam over the country may be divided into two heads, the Utahs, and the Soshonees or Snake Diggers. These tribes are in perpetual hostility to each other. The different tribes of the Utahs are united by a common language and affinities, and numerous intermarriages. They are a superstitious race, and have, for American Indians, many cruel customs. When we remember the fact, that the Mormon religion acknowledges the Indians as part of the lost tribes of Israel, and that Mormon and all their fathers were aborigines, that the golden plates purport to have been buried by a person of the Indian tribes, it is somewhat singular that the Utahs have in great vividness traditions of all the most prominent events in the history of the world, such as the creation, the flood, Elijah being fed by ravens, and the death and resurrection of Christ. They are also great believers in dreams, and in the efficacy of the laying on of hands. These facts have not only had their effect upon the ignorant Mormons, but upon the Indians themselves, and it is therefore they have been so easily brought into sympathy with Brigham Young's plans and pretensions. The extent of the evil of the thing we have, we fear, yet to realize. Among the chiefs who were first in amity with Young on his arrival at Salt Lake valley were Joseph Walker and Arapeen, head chiefs the Utahs; the portraits of these men which illustrate our article were taken from life.
There cannot be a doubt but that the Utah valley is one of the choicest spots for the home of human beings that exists in the world. The land is fertile, the climate salubrious, the landscape is made up of mountain grandeur, extensive and beautiful valleys, carpeted with luxuriant herbage, whose ample green skirts reach out to the broad bases of the towering mountains, or terminating amid their curvatures and canyons. Small portions of their wide sweeping plains are studded with gentle undulations and a few rocky cliffs, thrown up by some great convulsion of nature, presenting on their rugged brows and gently sloping bases, the black vertical stratus of the magnetic iron ore, which, when manufactured, will be the staple production of the locality. To the south you again behold the valley stretching itself, like an arm of the mighty deep, amid the mountains, bearing majestically upon its proud
THE EARLY HISTORY, RISE AND PROGRESS OF MORMONISM. 121
bosom all the inviting inducements that possibly could be offered to encourage and gladden the heart of the settler -- a rich, luxuriant pasturage, abundance of timber, short and mild winters, mountains of ore, extensive strata of stonecoal, a healthy and pure atmosphere, not to say anything of the gold and silver, the copper, the zinc, which are only some of the things hidden these ancient mountains -- in these lasting hills. The valleys are encircled with a broken chain of beautiful mountains; on the south and east they are lofty, and romantic, and grand, presenting on their sloping sides up to their towering summits variety of vivid colors -- the scarlet, the orange and the green. They are densely covered from the base to a considerable distance up the acclivity with trees of cedar and pine, which are beautiful evergreens. To the west they recede in the distance as they appropriate to the extremity of the great California basin. To the north you again behold them as far as the eye can penetrate, towering above their fellows, shooting into the aerial regions their pyramidical forms, crowned with the eternal snows -- crowns, too, which bid defiance to the melting influences of the effulgent beams of the regal sun. On the east, at a distance of from three to six miles, the mountains are cleft asunder into beautiful canyons, the storehouses of immense quantities of timber, and the great reservoirs of those cooling and crystal rivulets which are poured forth in rapid torrents on the plains below. Such is the country peopled by the Mormons, and desecrated by their doctrines and practices.
Vol. II.   Boston, May, 1858. No. 3. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[ 421 ]
Between the long-established possessions of the United States and those which lie on the coast of the Pacific extends a vast wilderness, where, till within a few years, the foot of civilized man has rarely penetrated, and where, even yet, travel is difficult, dangerous, and confined to a few roads, worn by the steps of that multitude who have been led westward by the attractions of the Land of Gold. Far in that wilderness is a valley, singular in its geographical character, and peopled by singular inhabitants. Lofty mountain ranges gird it in, their highest points covered with perpetual
422 The Mormons. [May,
snow. Sharp peaks arise, in various fantastic forms. As the traveller reaches an eminence towered over by these heights, and itself eight thousand feet above the level of the sea, he sees before him, beyond the dark fringe of pines, a silver lake expanding in ocean-like magnificence. Suddenly, his companions fall on their knees; the air resounds with the mingled noise of joyful shouts, and prayer, and weeping; as when, in the East, a company of devout pilgrims greet for the first time the blended minarets and domes of Jerusalem. The scene is Oriental in many of its circumstances. That gleaming lake is like the Dead Sea of old Palestine, of bitter waters wherein no living thing is found. Those devotees approach a city, holy in their view as Jerusalem to the tribes of Israel; for there presides one whom they reverence as a prophet of the Lord. But to one who is with them, but not of them, the thought occurs of another city which stood by the Dead Sea in old time, and he recognizes in the city of the Western Salt Lake not a new Jerusalem, but a second Sodom.
Pass on beyond the dark pine barrier, and descend the shelving ranges, -- the successive boundaries from age to age of the vast inland sea, which has gradually contracted to its present dimensions. Pass on, here by springs of salt, there by fountains of boiling water, and enter the city. It is of vast extent, but thinly peopled; surrounded by fortifications which might resist an attack of predatory Indians, but which, commanded by the surrounding eminences, would be slight protection against a civilized assailant. As you proceed, the signs of Oriental and of Western life are strangely mingled. Here are stores and warehouses and workshops, bearing on their fronts the familiar names that meet us in our New England streets; there rises slowly the wall of a temple, destined apparently to rival Solomon's in magnificence, yet not in ancient Jewish proportions, but resembling rather some European cathedral. And there again, sight of shame and sign of approaching doom, appear the buildings of a harem, where some man, who has enjoyed from youth the light of civilization and of the Gospel, keeps his numerous wives. Over the portico of the lordliest mansion frowns a bronze lion. That, known as the Lion House, is tenanted
1858.] The Mormons. 423
by seventeen or eighteen of the wives of him who reigns in this strange community with the blended authority of Moses and Solomon, -- Brigham Young, "the Lion of the Lord."
In order to understand this singular commonwealth, it will be necessary for us to go back some years, to trace the course of him who gave the first impulse which resulted in what we now behold.
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church and State, was born in Sharon, Vt., December 23d, 1805. During his childhood, his parents removed to Palmyra, New York. His education was very limited, his occupation that of a farmer. The account given by himself of the manner in which he received the system which he taught, is briefly the following. At the age of fourteen or fifteen, he was affected with religious feelings, and much disturbed in mind on account of the diversity among the sects of Christians. Fearful that, in making a choice from among them, he might be led into error, he withdrew into the woods for the purpose of prayer. Here a horror of great darkness fell upon him, and he fancied himself on the verge of destruction through the malice of some infernal enemy. He exerted all his powers to implore deliverance, and suddenly he saw a pillar of light above his head, brighter than the sun, which gradually descended till it rested on him. He now saw two personages, who proved to be no other than the Eternal Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
Not to continue the details of this strange and to us revolting narrative, Smith, according to his own account, was informed that the American Indians were a remnant of ancient Israel, but a degenerate remnant, -- the relics of a once mighty branch of that sacred stock, which had filled this continent with populous cities, flourishing in arts and arms, until the greater part of them were, for their unworthiness, destroyed; but that the records of their former greatness had been safely deposited in the earth. He was directed to the spot where these treasures were preserved; and after several visits there, the Book of Mormon, written upon plates of gold in characters which Smith styled "reformed Egyptian," was taken from its long repose, and delivered to the new prophet by angel hands.
424 The Mormons. [May,
There is a strange mixture of the burlesque with this bold blasphemy. With the plates inscribed in this unknown language was found a singular instrument, through which alone they could be interpreted. This was the Urim and Thummim, mentioned in Holy Writ as the means whereby communications were made from the Divine Guide of the people in ancient times. Much have commentators been bewildered to know in what these Urim and Thummim, "lights and perfections" as the words mean, consisted. Smith solved the mystery in a way which no commentator probably had imagined before. They were a pair of spectacles, "two transparent stones, set in the two rims of a bow." This wonderful instrument enabled him who wore it to understand the meaning of the otherwise unknown language before him.
The gold plates found by Smith have not been often seen by other eyes than his. Certificates however are produced from a few persons, mostly members of Smith's own family, and of another by the name of Whitmer, who profess to have seen and handled them. One of these persons, Martin Harris, brought to Professor Anthon of New York a copy made by Smith of some of the mysterious writing. That eminent scholar used his best endeavors to convince farmer Harris of the fraud which was practised upon him, but without success. His account of the paper is as follows: --
"This paper, in question, was in fact a singular scroll. It consisted of all kinds of crooked characters, disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets, Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes; Roman letters, inverted or placed sideways, were arranged and placed in perpendicular columns; and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle, divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican calendar, given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived."
From his gold plates translated, or from some other source, Smith produced a volume in the English language, -- the Book of Mormon, or Mormon Bible. This work, had it
1858.] The Mormons. 425
been his own composition, would have given him a claim to be regarded as not only the most daring of religious impostors, but as possessing powers of fictitious composition, which, considering his scanty opportunities of education, would border on the miraculous. We know indeed how the boy Chatterton wrought out from a few old mercantile accounts and other worthless waifs from a distant age the splendid creations of the imaginary Rowley, -- poems which command the wonder of the world for their genius, and its pity for their young, misguided, and unhappy author. But Chatterton wrote on themes long familiar to him; he had mused for hours in the old muniment-room of Redcliffe church, and his imagination was at home in the language and the ideas of the age whose style he imitated; -- while Smith was an ignorant country-boy, unskilled in the art of authorship, except from the impulse of ambition and the inspiration of genius. Genius he certainly possessed; but it did not make him the author or the translator of the Book of Mormon. That strange production was from another source; and little did its real author imagine the evil use to which his composition would be applied.
The true origin of the Book of Mormon is sufficiently established. In the year 1809, the Rev. Solomon Spalding, a clergyman in the State of New York, who had left his profession from feeble health, failed in that business to which he had afterwards given his attention. He now removed to New Salem in Ohio, and sought to occupy himself by writing, choosing as the object of his undertaking a fictitious tale founded on the Scripture history, and on the theory, which was not original even with him, that the Indians of North America were descended from the Israelites of old. The idea of this tale was suggested to him by the numerous mounds and forts in the neighborhood of his new residence, the relics of a former race. He entitled his work, "The Manuscript Found." Mormon and his son Moroni were among his leading characters, as in the publication which Smith professed to have translated from the golden plates. In 1812, the manuscript of this work was deposited with a bookseller named Patterson, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania;
426 The Mormons. [May,
but before any arrangement was made for its publication, the author died, and the manuscript remained unclaimed in Patterson's possession. The printer lent the manuscript to Sidney Rigdon, a compositor in his office, and at the same time a preacher in the "Christian Connection." Rigdon afterwards became associated with Smith as one Of the principal leaders among the Mormons.
In 1839, the widow of Spalding, then residing in Monson, Massachusetts, stated these facts in one of the newspapers of Boston. She further declared, that a Mormon female preacher, having appointed a meeting at New Salem, where her husband had resided, read and repeated copious extracts from their sacred book. These extracts were immediately recognized by some of those present, as part of the work of Mr. Spalding, which they had read or heard in manuscript. Mr. John Spalding, the brother of the author, was present at the meeting. Recognizing his brother's work, and amazed and afflicted at its perversion to the vile purpose of a religious imposture, he rose, and with tears declared the true origin of the passages which they had heard. He afterwards stated the same on oath; particularizing that his brother's work gave an account of the journey of a portion of the Israelites from Jerusalem by land and sea, until they arrived in America under the command of Nephi and Lehi, and that it also mentioned the Lamanites. This account of the contents of Mr. Spalding's book identifies it with the Book of Mormon.
This journey of the Israelites, we may remark in passing, is a romance which reflects no little credit on the imagination of its author. We condense it, as far as possible, in the following abstract.
In the first year of Zedekiah, king of Judah, when the destiny of the nation was darkening towards the calamity of the captivity in Babylon, a devout man, named Lehi, was moved by the warnings of Jeremiah and other prophets, to flee from Jerusalem. He took with him his four sons and their wives, and travelled till they came to the great ocean. Here Nephi, the youngest of the sons, by Divine direction, built a vessel, in which the whole company embark. On the voyage, the elder brothers mutiny, and bind Nephi; but as
1858.] The Mormons. 427
he alone has been instructed from Heaven how to manage the vessel, they are obliged to reinstate him in the command. At length they reach land, -- this Western continent, near two thousand years before its discovery by Columbus. After their arrival, Laman and Lemuel, the elder brothers, again revolt; and this division between the members of the family becomes perpetuated in their descendants, under the names of Lamanites and Nephites, -- the Nephites being generally obedient and virtuous, the Lamanites rebellious and unbelieving. Cities arise, kings reign, and prophets exhort. These prophets are represented as predicting the coming of the Saviour, and in clearer language than that of the prophets of the Old Testament. At length the Saviour himself appears, after his ascension as recorded in the New Testament. His teaching is described in language copied from the genuine Scriptures. He ascends to heaven, and his Gospel is preached among the Nephites, and to some extent among the Lamanites. But at length the Nephites "dwindle in unbelief"; the infidels gain the ascendency; the true believers become extinct, and their last prophet, Mormon, consigns to the earth the plates that contain the record of the nation, "to be brought forth in due time by the hand of the Gentile."
While the testimony of the Spalding family explains the origin of this strange romance, the testimony of Smith's early associates sheds light upon those habits of thought and action which induced him to employ this manuscript for purposes of deception. Smith, it appears, was engaged in youth with a set of men who devoted themselves to the business of digging for hidden treasure; the places where treasure was buried he pretended he could find by means of a stone placed in his hat. It is possible that, in some of his digging adventures, he may have lighted on some relics of the past, sufficient to suggest to his own mind, and to pass off upon the minds of others, the fraud which proved so successful. This supposition is confirmed by the actual discovery, in an ancient mound at Kinderhook, New York, of some brass plates inscribed with unknown characters, -- the work undoubtedly of that former race, more civilized than the Indians, the traces of whose greatness exist in various parts of the continent, but chiefly in Mexico and Central America.
428 The Mormons. [May,
The 22d of September, 1827, is named by Smith as the date when he received the plates of gold from the Lord. On the 5th of May, 1829, Smith and Cowdery were ordained priests, as is asserted, by direction of no less a person than John the Baptist. They alternately baptized and ordained each other. About a year after (April 6th, 1830) the Mormon church was organized, at Manchester, New York, consisting of six persons, -- two only not being members of the Smith family. This scanty beginning reminds us of the time, twelve hundred years before, when, at Mecca in Arabia, Mahomet first declared, in an assembly of his relatives and friends, his claim to a divine commission, -- when others wondered and laughed, as he inquired who would take the office of his vizier, but the enthusiastic boy Ali fearlessly responded; and a spiritual empire was organized, which, in less than a hundred years, ruled from Persia to the Straits of Gibraltar.
On the 1st of June, 1830, the first conference of the Mormon sect was held, at Fayette; the number of believers being about thirty. Some opposition was encountered even thus early; a dam which Smith had ordered to be constructed across a stream, for the purpose of baptizing his disciples, was broken down, and himself threatened with violence, and accused of robbery and swindling. With equal courage and good judgment, he neutralized reproach, by confessing that he had once led an immoral life; but, unworthy as he was, "the Lord had chosen him, had forgiven him all his sins, and intended, in His own inscrutable purposes, to make him -- weak and erring as he might have been -- the instrument of His glory."
The church thus organized, they received through their prophet a command to remove to Kirtland, Ohio, where Rigdon had a body of converts. Thence, August 3d, 1831, a removal was determined upon, to Independence, Missouri, which was fixed on as the seat of the earthly Zion.
The removal to Missouri did not, however, take place till April, 1832; and would perhaps have been longer delayed, but for the events of the 22d of the preceding month, when Smith and Rigdon were brutally abused by a mob at Kirtland, --
1858.] The Mormons. 429
the cause, real or pretended, being their "dishonorable dealing." Shortly after this affair, Smith and some of his friends left for Missouri.
Hostility followed them. The conduct of the settlers in Missouri did not make friends among the rough citizens of that border State. Among other misdemeanors, they were accused of having a community of wives. Probably the imprudent language of some among them, who talked of their determination to possess the whole State, and suffer none to live near them who were not of their church, created more hostility than any immoralities practised among themselves. Nor was the least of their offences that of "exercising a corrupting influence over the slaves," -- the ground for which charge was an article which appeared in their newspaper, on "Free People of Color." In April, 1833, a meeting was held at Independence, at which resolutions were passed requiring the Mormons to leave the country, and referring them contemptuously to their prophets to foretell what would be the result should they refuse compliance. This action was followed by the destruction of their printing-offices and the tarring and feathering of two among their leaders. The Lieutenant-Governor, Lilburn W. Boggs, was in the neighborhood, but refused to interfere to prevent this outrage. On the re-assembling of the mob in July, the Mormons entered into an agreement that half of them would leave the State by the 1st of January, and the remainder by the following April. Smith, who was at Kirtland at the time, had more courage than to yield so easily. He appealed for protection to the Governor of Missouri (Mr. Dunklin), and that magistrate advised the Mormons to remain where they were, and apply to the courts for redress. But the Governor's confidence in the law-abiding character of his constituents was not well founded. The mob re-assembled, houses were demolished, a battle ensued, and two of the assailants were killed by the Mormons in defending their property.. This action, justified though it was by the circumstances, raised to its extreme the excitement against them. The militia were called out; but they were anti-Mormon to a man. In fear and haste and misery, the ill-used victims of Smith's deception fled from the
430 The Mormons. [May,
spot they had expected to make their Zion. They did not, however, at once abandon the State. Driven from Jackson County, they were received with hospitality in Clay. "They never," says one writer, "returned to their Zion, but remained for upwards of four years in Clay County. It was mostly uncleared land where they settled or squatted; but being a most industrious and persevering people, they laid out farms, erected mills and stores, and carried on their business successfully. They also laid the foundations of the towns of Far West and Adam-On-Diahman; but their fanaticism here, as well as in their former location, soon proved the cause of their expulsion from the whole State of Missouri. The slavery question, the calumny about their open adulteries and community of wives, their loud vaunts of their supreme holiness, their continually repeated declarations that Missouri was to be theirs by Divine command, and the quarrels constantly resulting therefrom, led to the same ill-feeling in Clay County as had been exhibited elsewhere.
In this enumeration of the causes of their unpopularity, the charge of immoral conduct is called a calumny. The subsequent history of the sect gives too much reason to believe that it was well founded. On the other hand, if they then deserved the hostility of the Missourians by antislavery sentiments, they subsequently became as faithful believers in the patriarchal institution as any Missourian can desire. The African race, according to them, is twice doomed; bearing the mark of Cain and the curse of Ham, united in them through the marriage of Ham with a descendant of the first murderer. But whatever the charges against the Mormons, they were sufficient to arouse the popular rage. One of their hymns says: --
Like a whirlwind in its fury,
And without a judge or jury,
Drove the saints and spilled their blood."
1858.] The Mormons. 431
the ancient mounds. Smith caused some of the earth to be removed, and, uncovering a skeleton, told his wondering auditors who the man had been, his name, Zelph, his character, as a Lamanite more virtuous than his kinsmen, and how "he was killed in battle in the last great struggle between the Lamanites and Nephites." Many will remember the remarkable meteoric shower of November 13, 1833. This, as a sign from Heaven, answered good purpose in the cunning management of Smith.
We have not time nor disposition to enter at length into the sad history of their final expulsion from Missouri. After much confusion, in which the Mormons appear to have been "more sinned against than sinning," the Governor, the same Lilburn W. Boggs who had refused to interfere for their rescue from outrage on a former occasion, gave orders that they should be "exterminated or expelled." The officer who had received this order, Captain Nehemiah Comstock, who had himself only the day before promised them protection, began to put the atrocious command in execution by surprising and massacring the people of a whole settlement, -- Haun's Mill. The messenger who brought the tidings declared that himself, with a few others, fled into the thickets, which preserved them from the massacre, and on the following morning they returned and collected the dead bodies of the people and cast them into a well. There were upwards of twenty who were dead or mortally wounded. The Mormons say, in a document published soon after: "Men were shot down like wild beasts, or had their brains dashed; women were treated with insult, until they died in the hands of their destroyers; children were killed while pleading for their lives. All entreaties were vain and fruitless; men, women, and children alike fell victims to the violence and cruelty of these ruffians."
From Missouri, the Mormons took refuge in Illinois. Here they built a town, to which they gave the name of Nauvoo, from the Hebrew ~~, or The Beautiful; and increasing continually, notwithstanding, or perhaps rather in consequence of their persecutions, they established here, under the personal direction of their prophet, a flourishing community, and built
432 The Mormons. [May,
a magnificent temple. Smith, exalted to the height to which his ambition had long aspired, united with the titles of Prophet, President, and Mayor that of General of the Nauvoo Legion, a body of troops which were enrolled as a portion of the State militia. His vanity even allowed the idle compliment of his name being brought forward as the candidate of his people for the office of President of the United States.
But the end was near. Truly or falsely, assertions were made that the prophet and his chief confederates were. guilty of conduct in private which in public they disowned; that acts of gross impurity were committed by them, the victims being deluded by pretended revelations from above. A newspaper was commenced in Nauvoo itself, under the name of the Expositor, in opposition to the Mormons. In its first number were printed the affidavits of sixteen women, fixing the charge of such crimes on Smith, Rigdon, and others. The Prophet, in his capacity of Mayor, and by consent of the City Council, destroyed the office and presses of the Expositor, and burnt the papers and furniture. This bold proceeding aroused the country. Smith refused to submit to a warrant for his arrest. Illinois was in arms, and the Governor took the field in person. His Excellency called on the two Smiths, Joseph and his brother Hiram, to surrender peaceably, pledging his word and the honor of the State for their protection. They obeyed; the prophet saying as he surrendered: "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer's morning; I have a conscience void of offence, and shall die innocent." His anticipations were verified. On the 26th of June, 1844, the Governor visited the prisoners at Carthage, and pledged his word to protect them against the violence with which they were threatened by the excited populace. But that evening a band of nearly two hundred men, with blackened faces, overpowered the small guard of the jail, and murdered the prisoners. The assailants completed their own dishonor by brutally insulting the body of their victim.
Thus died Joseph Smith, the Mahomet of the nineteenth century, -- if the application of that name to him is not a wrong to the Arabian, prophet. For the faith of Mahomet, with whatever of conscious imposture he may have proclaimed
1858.] The Mormons. 433
it, was at least a great advance upon the idolatry which previously, existed among his countrymen; while the doctrine of the Western deceiver rejects what is highest and purest in the prevalent religion, and degrades its followers to a grovelling materialism and a worse than Asiatic sensuality. It is in our power to speak personally of the founder of Mormonism. In a visit to the city of Washington he held an audience interested through a long discourse, defending his tenets, and complaining of the oppressions suffered by his people in Missouri. He was a man of powerful frame, a commanding voice, and a ready flow of language. He said little of his own claims as a prophet, except to deny the charge of having derived the Book of Mormon from Spalding's manuscript, but labored chiefly to conciliate favor to his sect, as a harmless and industrious people, whose religion differed little from that of other Christians, and who had been subjected to gross and cruel persecution.
Our historical sketch must be rapidly brought to its conclusion. Dismayed by the fall of their leader, and the excitement in the public mind against themselves, the Mormons were not without internal difficulty from the question of succession to the chieftainship of their sect. But all competitors at length gave way to Brigham Young, a man possessing much of the courage and prudence of Smith.
This leader saw the necessity of yielding to the storm which had been aroused against the sect in Illinois, and determined on a retreat to the regions of the remoter West. There, it seemed probable the Mormon church and state might remain undisturbed, on ground where none could complain of them as intruders. But while their arrangements were in progress, events took place which converted their chosen home in the desert into the central point of an emigration far more extensive than their own. The Mexican war took place; and in it some of the Mormons were offered and accepted military employment under the United States. The results of that war, in the annexation of a part of Mexico to this country, and the discovery of gold in the annexed territory, turned westward a tide of emigration of which no Mormon prophet had ever dreamed. That tide necessarily passes the Valley of the
434 The Mormons. [May,
Great Salt Lake, and thus the forms of social life from which the Mormons fled pursue them to their desert, and threaten them with the repetition of their former sufferings. On the shore of that lake of salt, the Mormons have exhibited the better traits of their character in the industry which has converted that lonely desert into a populous and flourishing territory, and their darker features in the full development of that systematic licentiousness which the vicinity of civilization had hitherto kept in check. With a policy suggested by the remoteness of their position, and by a desire to do justice to a suffering people, but which has proved unfortunate, the national administration conferred the office of Governor of the Territory on the Mormon chief. Young accepted it; but has ruled his people far more by the title derived from the prophetical character which he claims, and from the commanding power of his own mind. His sway is constantly extending, through the influence of numerous missionaries, and the arrival from various countries of bands of emigrants, converted by their labors. All went on peaceably, till the attempt was made to establish in the now populous territory the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States. Then it quickly appeared that neither Young nor his people would endure an authority independent of his own. The United States officials returned from a territory where their functions could not be discharged. The present executive appointed a successor to Young in the office of Governor, and commissioned a military force to accompany him to the scene of his duties, and sustain him there. To this action, Young and his people oppose a bold resistance. The issue still rests among the secret counsels of Divine Providence.
Rumors reach us, of various and contradictory character, as to the purpose of the Mormons. Now we are told they are preparing to resist, -- now it is rumored they intend to emigrate; now, that Young is embarrassed by a party who advocate submission, and anon, that he can hardly restrain the ardor of those who are for instant hostilities. Our own impression is, that, after letting winter do their fighting for a while, as it has already done to good purpose, destroying the beasts of burden of the national army and disheartening the
1858.] The Mormons. 435
troops by a long period of suffering and inglorious inactivity, in the spring they will ply with vigor the weapons of diplomacy, bribery, and intrigue, and meantime guard the mountain passes, and prepare themselves for the last extremity. We will not, however, discuss these contingencies without saying a few words more of the religious belief of this singular body.
The Book of Mormon, it will be seen, is founded on the Old Testament. It is essentially Jewish. It records the imagined history of Hebrew kings and prophets, who continued to a Hebrew race on this continent the same institutions which David and Solomon, Elijah and Isaiah, administered in ancient Palestine. True, the book makes mention of the coming of the Saviour, both as having been foretold, and as actually occurring; but the admission of this great fact as a theological truth, does not materially alter the Jewish aspect of the system. It is impossible to examine the Book of Mormon without seeing its resemblance to that modern Jewish literature, of which, in another place, we have spoken. There is the strongest similarity between the modes of thought of the real descendants of Abraham, and those of the class who claim so strangely, considering some of their practices, the name of "Latter Day Saints."
We are far, indeed, from charging on the modern Jews, who faithfully adhere to the religion of their ancestors, those gross corruptions, which, developing continually with more and more offensiveness, have now made the Mormon faith synonymous with impiety and impurity. Yet is the resemblance in the Jewish and Mormon explanations of Scripture extremely striking. Those prophecies of the Old Testament which Christians apply in a spiritual manner to the establishment of the kingdom of God in the hearts of men, the Jews interpret literally, to the building up of a real, substantial kingdom, a Jerusalem of actual wood and stone. The Mormons interpret the passages in the same way, only with this difference, that their Zion is to be somewhere in this Western world, while the real Jews expect their royal city to be rebuilt in its pristine glory on the same spot where David reigned, and Solomon consecrated the temple. Such is the spirit of
436 The Mormons. [May,
the Mormon system. It sees in the glorious promises of the Bible assurances of earthly grandeur; it narrows down every noble figure of the old inspiration to a mere literal rendering.
A few specimens of their statements of doctrine will illustrate what has been said.
"We believe," says one of their forms of confession, "in the literal gathering of Israel, and in the restoration of the ten tribes, that Zion will be established on the Western continent, that Christ will reign personally upon the earth a thousand years, and that the earth will be renewed, and receive its paradisiacal glory."
"O ye saints," exclaims Orson Pratt, one of their leaders, in a sermon, " O ye saints, when you sleep in the grave, don't be afraid that your agricultural pursuits are for ever at an end; don't be fearful that you will never more get any landed property; but if yon are saints, be of good cheer, for when you come up in the morning of the resurrection, behold there is a new earth."
The Mormon faith teaches that the Almighty Being exists in human form, interpreting literally every passage of the Bible which ascribes to him human members or human passions. And this error, which might at first appear, however unworthy of the Deity, to be comparatively harmless, is unhesitatingly carried out to results with the record of which we will not insult the reverential feelings of our readers, nor defile our own pages. Suffice it to say, that in Mormonism, as now developed, the eternity and unchangeableness of the Most High are utterly denied. He is represented as a Being who began to have existence, and will have an end; and their representations fulfil the words of Scripture, "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself."
The following is a characteristic specimen of the Mormon hymns: -- *
He has no parts nor body, and cannot hear nor see;
But I've a God that lives above,
A God of power and of love, --
A God of Revelation, -- O that's the God for me!
O that's the God for me! O that's the God for me!
1858.] The Mormons. 437
It's like a ship dismasted, afloat upon the sea;
But I've a church that's always led
By the twelve stars round its head;
A church with good foundations, -- O that's the church for me.
"A church without a prophet is not the church for me;
It has no head to lead it, in it I would not be;
But I've a church not built by man,
Cut from the mountain without hands;
A church with gifts and blessings, -- O, etc.
"The hope the Gentiles cherish is not the hope for me;
It has no hope for knowledge, far from it I would be;
But I've a hope that will not fail,
That reaches safe within the veil;
Which hope is like an anchor, -- O, etc.
"The heaven of sectarians is not the heaven for me;
So doubtful its location, neither on land nor sea;
But I've a heaven on the earth,
The land and home that gave me birth;
A heaven of light and knowledge, -- O, etc.
"A church without a gathering is not the church for me;
The Saviour would not order it, whatever it might be;
But I've a church that's called out
From false traditions, fear, and doubt;
A gathering dispensation, -- O, etc.
The allowance of polygamy, the most offensive peculiarity of Mormonism, was not generally proclaimed until after the death of its founder. But Smith cannot be acquitted of sanctioning this evil practice. The charge of such immorality was indignantly protested against; but that very protest, coupled with the subsequent open avowal of the practice, shows that it was a legitimate and not remote consequence of the earlier acknowledged principles of the sect. Years ago Martha Brotherton testified to the fact that Smith endeavored to induce her to marry Brigham Young, he having one wife then living, -- that he justified the practice, and told her that he would take the responsibility in the sight of Heaven. This testimony might be passed over as a slander on the prophet, were it not that it coincides so entirely with the subsequent
1858.] The Mormons. 439
be, or it is in vain. Persecution that does not kill root and branch, has ever been found to foster, rather than impair, the cause it seeks to destroy. Steady, relentless, deadly, taking for its patron saint Dominic, the founder of the Inquisition, and for its pattern ruler the stern Philip II., -- such is the only persecution that succeeds in its object. And from this our feelings as men, our consciences as Christians, alike revolt. No. The principle ought to be laid down at once, and proclaimed distinctly and strongly, that with the religious opinions of the Mormons the government of the United States has nothing to do.
But what shall we say with regard to the disgusting polygamy of the Mormons? Is this to be punished as a crime, or tolerated as a religious peculiarity? This question might give us much embarrassment, if the community in question existed within territory where laws forbidding polygamy were in existence. But this is not the case. However inconsistent it may be with the laws of God, the practice of having many wives is not a crime by the laws of Utah. And, according to our institutions, it cannot be such a crime until the opponents of polygamy in that Territory shall outnumber and outvote its supporters; or at least until the superior authority of Congress forbid the custom. If, then, we would remove this stain from our land, the proper means is not a religious crusade, but the opening of Utah Territory to the natural influence of general emigration, the due execution of the existing laws, and the enacting of such others as may be thought advisable and just. Leave it then to organized emigration, the great lever of civilization, to do the rest. If the army which is now freezing on the mountains were quartered in Salt Lake City, not a Mormon could be punished for polygamy without previous legislation on the subject. This institution then, vile as it is, does not form at present any portion of the question to be settled between the Mormon community and the government of the United States.
But the government of the United States is bound to maintain its authority. While it claims not to interfere with religious belief, or to punish crimes which are not recognized as such by existing laws, it cannot allow the inhabitants of
440 The Mormons. [May,
any portion of its territory to withhold obedience to the legitimate action of its appointed magistrates. If the Mormons are in rebellion, that rebellion must be quelled. We say "if they are in rebellion," for there seems some doubt upon the point. The ground is taken by some, that rebellion is not existing, but threatened. If honorable means can be found to avert the evil of civil war, let no such means be neglected; but if all such fail, the government must do its duty, painful as the necessity must be. In such a contest, there is little which we can have any satisfaction in anticipating. The lingering duration of our late Seminole war, where the only opponents were a few miserable savages, shows us what it is to carry on hostilities against the disadvantages of an unknown country and a wily foe; and the swamps of Florida are not more difficult to penetrate, than the great American Desert and the mountain barriers of Utah may be found. Heaven avert the contest, or, if it must come, give speedy victory to the side of Law and Right; and grant that our civil rulers and our military commanders may alike remember, in the hour of conquest, the claims of mercy, -- mercy, that sits
By Valor's armed and awful side,
Gentlest of sky-born forms, and best adored;
Who oft, with songs divine to hear,
Wins from his fatal grasp the spear,
And hides in wreaths of flowers his bloodless sword."