Harry M. Beardsley
Joseph Smith and His Mormon Empire
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1931)
AND HIS MORMON EMPIRE
HARRY M. BEARDSLEY
Boston and New York
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
The Riverside Press, Cambridge
[ 3 ]
Within its depths pictures formed and faded, strange alphabets marshaled themselves into syllables, words, phrases. Pictures of treasure caves and panoramas of golden cities flickered within its facets as on a cinema screen. Mariners piloted quaint armadas across uncharted seas, monstrous beasts and outlandish peoples from unknown lands passed in review.
The boy was fifteen years old, consumed by curiosity and fears, overwhelmed by strange moods -- as all boys are at fifteen. He was in trouble of one sort or another most of the time. The neighbors predicted he would come to no good end. They never called him 'Joe Smith'; always 'that Joe Smith.' Having been given a bad name, Joe sometimes felt obligated
4 JOSEPH SMITH AND HIS MORMON EMPIRE
to maintain his reputation. He attracted attention momentarily thereby; gloried in the bonification of those who called themselves his elders and betters. On other occasions, the words and deeds seemed to be perpetrated by sinister forces beyond his control. Sometimes these forces worried the boy, caused him to lie awake nights. Was it the Devil, he wondered, who inspired him to these iniquities that made his life a perpetual challenge to those in authority?
The Devil was a very real force and personality in this year of our Lord, 1820. At Palmyra, just a few miles away, a great religious revival was under way, Satan and his works were matters of great popular concern.  The boy pondered much about the Devil. Between times, he thought about Captain Kidd and his buried treasure, gossip overheard at the village store, hell-fire and damnation, the new fishing hole he had found. He lay on his back in the shade in the sugar grove behind the family shack and day-dreamed.
He had found that the chunk of crystal and the old felt hat made the day-dreams more vivid, more realistic. Through frequent repetition, some of these phantasmagoria came to be accepted by the boy as actual personal experiences. Sometimes, he related them to the scandalized villagers as real scenes and events in which he had participated, and stubbornly -- tearfully -- defended their reality. For more than a century, his followers have defended them with equal force and feeling.
Whether these experiences possessed any of the attributes of reality or not, this much is certain: from the old felt hat in which Joe Smith buried his face, emerged a yarn more grotesque, more unbelieveable than can be ever babbled around the village store at Palmyra, or preached from backwoods pulpits; pictures more lurid than any his distraught adolescent mind could conceive -- a drama more fantastic than fiction
1 Tullidge, Joseph the Prophet, p. 1.
PICTURES FROM AN OLD HAT 5
At a bend in the Mississippi River, just above the rapids at the confluence of the Des Moines, there stood, in 1844, one of the largest and most prosperous communities of the Middle West, a city twice as big as Chicago, a city of glorious promise and high enterprize. The town was spread out on the lowlands at the bend. Behind it, the mainland rose sharply, culminating in a height which dominated the river and the country for miles around. Atop the hill, the imposing limestone walls of the most pretentious structure west of the Alleghanies were being raised. At the river's edge, one of the finest hostelries in the West was taking form. Along the wide streets were stately residences of limestone or red brick, interspersed with humbler dwellings of frame or logs. There were steamboats at the wharves. Wagons rumbled to and from the grist-mill, the brewery, the steamboat landing, the shops and warehouses.
This metropolis at the bend of the river was Nauvoo, 'The Beautiful Place,' seat of the Mormon theocracy, the Zion toward which thousands of pilgrims, students, and tourists from all parts of the world were making their way. At the head of Nauvoo stood Lieutenant-General Joseph Smith, Jr.: Prophet, Seer, Revelator, spiritual and temporal head of an organization numbering tens of thousands of adherents. He was Mayor of the city, Chief Justice of its courts, commander-in-chief of an efficient army with rank of Lieutenant-General, political boss controlling enough votes to sway the balance of power in Illinois and possessor of a vast fortune in real estate.
Lincoln, Douglas, Governors Ford and Carlin and the other great men of Illinois courted his favor. The ablest attorneys of the State were on his payroll. The State Legislature dared not oppose his wishes nor curb his powers. Hundreds of missionaries rode forth to preach the gospel of The Book of Mormon -- and to campaign for Joe Smith for President. Josiah
6 JOSEPH SMITH AND HIS MORMON EMPIRE
Quincy, visiting Nauvoo with his kinsman, Charles Francis Adams, and marveling at the manifold activities and powers of the Prophet, wrote in his diary: 'Who can say that in future years, Joseph Smith may not be regarded as the foremost man of his time?'
Less than twenty years before, Joseph Smith had been an impoverished, illiterate, disreputable youth, the most notorious member of a shiftless family. His parents and their numerous progeny had squatted on an abandoned farm between Palmyra and Manchester, New York, and had patched up a tumbledown old house. Here they farmed, after a fashion; sold root-beer and gingerbread in town on muster days and holidays; fished, hunted, trapped, and, occasionally, worked at odd jobs. Inherently, however, they preferred a precarious existence entailing a minimum of labor to a more affluent life gained at the sacrifice of leisure. In these efforts to keep the wolf from the door, through strategy rather than through extended physical endeavors, Joe was the head of the family. Mentally superior to his parents and his brother, he was proudly proclaimed by his doting mother to be the 'genius' of the family. By the neighbors he was considered a likely candidate for the gallows.  Such was the lowly status of Joseph Smith, Jr., when, by his own account, an angel of the Lord visited him on September 22, 1823, and revealed the secrets which were to carry him from obscurity to fame; from poverty to affluence; from disrepute to power and glory.  The angel, according to Joe, revealed to him a marvelous historical record engraved on golden plates, along with a pair of magic spectacles through which he could translate the mystic characters engraved thereon. This 'translation became The Book of Mormon and catapulted its producer
1 Tucker, Origin, Rise and Fall [sic] of Mormonism, p. 1.
2 Tullidge, Joseph the Prophet, p. 8.
PICTURES FROM AN OLD HAT 7
into notoriety. Around it, he established a new religion. Ardent apostles flocked to his banner, and induced him to move to Ohio and establish a new 'Zion' where the faithful might await the second coming of Christ amid propitious surroundings
Driven from Ohio to Missouri by opposition to his heterodox teachings, he and his followers encountered even more determined objectors and were forced to flee to Illinois. At Nauvoo he built a great city, founded a miniature empire, and planned a greater one. At Nauvoo he established his `celestial' harem. At Nauvoo he attained the greatest glory that can come to any prophet -- martyrdom! And at Nauvoo he sleeps, still awaiting the day when Christ shall again walk the earth and the graves shall give forth their dead.
In his youth Joe Smith, ragged and barefooted, pushed a rickety handcart, loaded with gingerbread, hard-boiled eggs, and home-brew through the streets of Palmyra, hawking his wares to the holiday crowds. Behold him as he appeared some twenty years later on a holiday, resplendent in the plumed hat and gold braid of a Lieutenant-General -- the first American since Washington to hold that rank, a Mormon historian has pointed out. A gallant figure he was, astride `Old Charley,' his black charger! Behind him, in uniforms only slightly less gorgeous, stood his staff. Before him, the Nauvoo Legion, five thousand strong, passed in review.
The parade ground was crowded with spectators from distant points in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. More than ten thousand of them had ridden most of the previous night in carriages, on horseback, or on steamboats to see the General and his army. Very straight the General sat, astride Old Charley; very stern and military beneath his plumes, his epaulettes, his gold braid and buttons. He was every inch the soldier, the dictator; but not too austere, even in this hour of triumph, to acknowledge, with a salute, the wave of a handkerchief or a smile from a fair visitor. Prophet, Seer, Revelator,
8 JOSEPH SMITH AND HIS MORMON EMPIRE
(remainder of chapter not transcribed - due to copyright restrictions)
[ 20 ]
He was of humble birth; his parents were
Honest, upright, industrious, poor,
And graced the narrow sphere alloted them.
His father was an husbandman, and he
Was called, like old Elisha, from the plough
To be a Prophet of the living God.
ELIZA R. SNOW, the Mormon poetess
Mother Smith's biography of Joseph, his own journals, and all of the works concerning him, are sketchy about his first fifteen years, and the accounts of his activities during the succeeding decade are eloquent, not so much for what they reveal as for what they omit. Yet the boyhood of Joe Smith -- the years between ten and twenty -- were in many respects the most important years of his life.
The Book of Mormon is a product of an adolescent mind. The Mormon faith is the result of the reaction of an adolescent civilization to this work. In the adolescence of Joseph Smith, and the adolescence of the America of his time, lies the explanation of the Mormon phenomenon, the crudities, the incongruities, the jumbled theology of the book, and the religious faith which it produced.
Adolescence is the awkward age -- the period between the advent of puberty and maturity, the period of most rapid growth, and of rapid physiological and psychological change. The bones lengthen and thicken, the voice changes in tone and
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volume. The adolescent finds himself with a new body which he has not learned to control, a new voice which plays embarrassing tricks upon him, new features, new emotions. It is a period of readjustment in which marked characteristics, or eccentricities, may develop, some to disappear in the course of time, others to become permanent.
The adolescent is restless, he develops wanderlust, and is particularly susceptible to religious appeals. There is a higher percentage of 'conversions' between the ages of twelve and twenty than during any other period of the life-span. It is a critical period in the development of the individual's mentality and personality -- a period in which youth needs the patient, sympathetic, intelligent direction and cooperation of its elders.
Joe Smith reached the adolescent age under unfavorable conditions that were to color his entire life. Undernourished, unschooled, he grew up in an atmosphere that tended to accentuate the natural vagaries of the period. His father, an irresponsible vagabond, joined the son on the open road when the wanderlust came. His mother, a religious fanatic, got a vicarious ecstasy out of the religious experience of her son, and encouraged his tendencies toward emotional excess.
'The Smith family,' says Pomeroy Tucker, who read proof on The Book of Mormon, 'was popularly regarded as an illiterate, shiftless, "unreligious" race of people, Joseph being unanimously voted the laziest, and most worthless of the oneration. He is remembered between the ages of twelve and twenty as a dull, flaxen-haired, prevaricating boy, noted only for his indolent and vagabondish character, and habits of exaggeration and untruthfulness. Taciturnity was one of his characteristics, and he seldom spoke, except when spoken to, and then, his word was received with least confidence by those who knew him best. He would utter the most palpable exaggerations with apparent gravity.'
22 JOSEPH SMITH AND HIS MORMON EMPIRE
Others describe him as 'tall, awkward, impudent,' and 'given to swearing and blasphemy, to invention of schemes of low cunning, schemes of mischief and deception, and false and. mysterious pretensions.'
'He was, however, proverbially good-natured,' continues Tucker, 'rarely, if ever, indulging in any combative spirit toward any one, whatever might be the provocation.'
The fact that the Smiths were irregular in their habits and employment, that they made frequent nocturnal treasure-hunting excursions, and were away from home for long periods at a time, made them objects of suspicion in the vicinity. That hen-roosts were ravaged, clothes-lines depleted, and that loose objects, generally, tended to vanish on nights when the Smiths were abroad, are also cited as contributory sources of their disrepute. Joe himself was arrested for vagrancy. 
In December, 1833, just two years after the Smiths and their followers had left New York State for Ohio, sixty-two residents of Palmyra went before a notary public and subscribed to an affidavit in which they affirmed: 'They [the Smiths] were particularly famous for visionary projects.... Joseph, Sr., and his son Joseph, Jr., were, in particular, considered entirely destitute of moral character and addicted to vicious habits.' In the same year, eleven of the leading citizens of Manchester signed an affidavit denouncing the Smiths as `a lazy, indolent set of men, intemperate, and untrustworthy.'
Joe, himself, in his autobiography, admits that in his youth he fell into numerous temptations and errors, and committed acts for which he afterwards repented. Brigham Young conceded: 'The Prophet was of mean birth, was wild, intemperate, even dishonest and tricky, in his youth.'
'He could read without much difficulty, and write a very imperfect hand, and had a very limited understanding of the elementary rules of arithmetic,' says Orson Pratt, another Church dignitary. These were his highest and only attainments,
1 Gunnison, The Mormons, p. 92.
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while the rest of those branches, commonly taught in the public schools throughout the United States, were unknown to him.'
The low esteem in which he and his family were held by their neighbors impressed itself upon the mind of young Joe; and in his heart there was bitterness. To counteract it, he adopted what he conceived to be an attitude of aloof superiority. He withdrew into his shell, hiding his heartaches behind what Tucker calls 'taciturnity.'
The world around him being uncongenial and unappreciative, Joe, in his day-dreams, constructed a world more to his liking, one in which he was a person of importance. In this realm of phantasy, he led treasure-hunting expeditions, unearthed gold and jewels, attained wealth and distinction. He became a pirate -- a veritable scourge of the seas; he became a general; he led tremendous armies into battle, performing marvelous deeds of valor, and utterly annihilating his foes. He lay on his back in the shade of the maple grove and journeyed to far lands. Time and space were obliterated.
Thus, Joe, between the ages of ten and fifteen, was achieving a reputation and a mental background which he was to have difficulty in overcoming. He was obtaining scant formal education; but from the pages of Captain Kidd, The Bible, and The Life of Burroughs, he was acquiring ideas which were to leave their impress upon the minds of thousands.
In point of years, the United States of the period between 1812 and 1830 was a mere infant, but with the conclusion of the War of 1812, the nation entered upon a stage of growth and development comparable to that experienced by the adolescent human. The war was not a great American victory, but it had the effect of one, and peace brought a tremendous quickening of national consciousness and pride, an impetus to Industry and commerce.
24 JOSEPH SMITH AND HIS MORMON EMPIRE
'The naval victories had been won by officers and men from all parts of the Union, and belonged to the nation. The last struggle on land, the battle of New Orleans, was an American victory and obliterated the memory of many defeats.... The national pride was elated by the success of American engineers, American naval architects, American commodores, and volunteer officers.... The return of peace seemed also the return of prosperity.' 
Crop failures abroad made it possible for America to dispose of her surplus at advantageous prices. Agriculture and shipping began to thrive. The war had demonstrated that the nation needed better facilities for communication and manufacturing. The people began to take an interest in commerce, industry, and public improvements. Canals, turnpikes, railroads were planned and promoted; and the country embarked on a period of rapid growth and expansion which became more pronounced, year by year, until the financial structure of the nation crashed in 1837.
While Joe Smith and the nation were growing tall and awkward and suffering the embarrassment of changing voice, forces were gathering momentum, personalities were evolving, which were to exert powerful influence upon the 'genus' of the Smith family. Two of these personalities were Sidney Rigdon and Solomon Spaulding.
Spaulding is one of the rarest of literary phenomena -- an author who has attained a measure of fame because he wrote a book for which he was unable to find a publisher.
While the exact degree of responsibility of Spaulding, or Rigdon, for The Book of Mormon can, probably, never be determined, it may be said with assurance that Rigdon was the directing genius of the Church in its formative period. The story of his decline, from a position among the theological luminaries of the Western Reserve, to that of an abject satellite of the upstart Prophet is one of the astounding phases of
1 Albert Bushnell Hart, Formation of the Union, pp. 220-24.
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Mormonism. To him, quite as much as to Joseph Smith, belongs the credit for the organization of the Mormon Church. He was the one person of distinction and learning affiliated with the Church in its early days; yet, he is virtually forgotten today, even in Mormon circles.
Sidney Rigdon was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, on February 19, 1793. He came from a respectable family, was a bright boy, a good student, and possessed exceptional elocutionary ability, so that it was generally conceded that he was destined for the ministry. When old enough to go to work, however, Sidney exhibited the independence of thought that was to characterize his later life, and apprenticed himself to a printer. Here he acquired an increased familiarity with books, a broadened outlook on life, and the roving habits common to the printers of that era. Of his early history, comparatively little has been recorded, but he appears to have worked in Pittsburgh at various times and to have journeyed as far west as Ohio. It was on these trips that he is supposed to have come in contact with Spaulding.
Solomon Spaulding graduated from Dartmouth College in 1785 and was part owner of a small foundry at Conneaut, Ohio, when the War of 1812 ruined his business. Temporarily without a means of livelihood, he began to write a book with the idea of publishing it and recouping his fortunes. In common with most of the people of his generation, Spaulding was Interested in the Indian mounds found in various parts of the country, and was convinced that they were the burial places of a prehistoric race, far superior to the American Indians who were its descendants. What was the history of this forgotten race and of its descendants, the degraded red men? Solomon Spaulding speculated on the subject and wrote reams of manuscript. He thought that if he could capitalize the popular Interest in the'theme, his fortune would be made.
He wrote his tale in biblical style and called it The Manuscript Found, basing the title on the premise of the tale;
26 JOSEPH SMITH AND HIS MORMON EMPIRE
namely, that it was a translation of an ancient manuscript found in one of these mounds -- a contemporary account of the prehistoric people who had occupied the continent. These people, according to the manuscript, were descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. He did not know that as long ago as 1735 [sic - 1775?], James Adair had developed the same theme in his History of the American Indians.
Spaulding read his story to his friends and neighbors at Conneaut and it is supposed that Rigdon heard of it either from Spaulding or from Spaulding's neighbors. About 1814, Spaulding, having moved to Pittsburgh, attempted to interest the printing firm of Patterson and Lambin in his romance. The manuscript remained in their office for some time. During this period, it is alleged by anti-Mormon writers, Rigdon was in Patterson's employ, had access to the manuscript, and opportunity to copy it, or familiarize himself with its contents. The manuscript appears to have been returned to Spaulding and apparently he took it with him when he moved to Amity, Pennsylvania, where he died in 1816.
This same year, Spaulding's widow and her daughter moved to Onondaga Hollow, New York, to live with her brother, William Sabine. She took her husband's manuscript with her and they remained in the Sabine house until 1819. 'Here is where Joe Smith entered the picture.
From the year 1816, when he had reached the age of eleven, until the publication of The Book of Mormon in 1830, the movements of Joseph Smith, Jr., are involved in mystery and are difficult to reconstruct. He and his father wandered through western New York and northern Pennsylvania, digging wells, hiring out to farmers by the day or month, organizing treasure-hunting expeditions, finding the populace gullible and easily imposed upon. Gradually, they evolved a technique of deception, improved upon it, grew bolder and branched out
UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH 27
into more ambitious endeavors. No matter how bizarre or extravagant Joe's tales or pretensions might be, he found persons willing and eager to believe them.
Late in 1816, or early in 1817, he appeared in Onondaga Hollow, New York, was arrested for vagrancy and got his name on the county records. He took a job at Squire Sabine's farm and worked there for some time. He ate his meals in the kitchen and he heard Mrs. Spaulding tell of her husband's literary work.  Perhaps, when there was company for dinner, she would get the crumpled manuscript out of her trunk and read portions of it for the delectation of the guests.
Young Joseph, sitting out in the kitchen with his supper of mush and milk before him, strained his ears to catch every word. The sonorous language of the Dartmouth graduate fascinated him. The subject-matter was already familiar to him. He and his father had also been interested by the Indian mounds, and had excavated them in hopes of finding treasure, but nothing turned up but stone hatchets and arrowheads. He had heard backwoods preachers expound the theory that the Indians were descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. He had heard the sages of the crossroad-store forums discuss the possibility, pro and con.
There were still many Indians in western New York. Joseph did not know it, but only a few miles away, a man named Cooper was beginning to capitalize the Indian lore of that vicinity. Within a few years he was to weave it into the first fiction of literary merit that the adolescent nation had produced. Another resident of the vicinity, Josiah Priest, was to publish, within the next decade, a work entitled The Wonders of Nature and Providence, stating the very theories that James Adair, the backwoods preachers, and Solomon Spaulding had propounded.
This story of Spaulding's was as fascinating to Joe as Captain Kidd. In his day-dreams, he weighed the respective
1 Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, p. 21.
28 JOSEPH SMITH AND HIS MORMON EMPIRE
merits of the two: Captain Kidd buried golden treasure in the ground; the lost tribes of Israel buried a manuscript containing an historical record. If one could only combine the good points of both yarns, the result would be an historical record buried in the ground and written on plates of gold.
Now there was an idea! A golden book containing the story of the Indians! Joe mulled it over for months. He put himself to sleep with it at night, wove it in all its variations into the fabric of his day-dreams. He imagined himself as the hero of the tale, and he created other characters for his foils. It is significant that one of the heroes of The Book of Mormon is named 'Omandagus,' a name formed by changing three letters of 'Onondaga' and adding an s.
Leaving Onondaga Hollow, Joe and his father appeared in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, in 1818, where they worked in a lumber camp. One of their fellow loggers, Jack Belcher, had a young son who owned a 'magic stone' -- a small brown globule about the size of a hen's egg. The boy, according to local superstitition, could look into the stone and locate lost articles or stolen goods.'
Here was a great improvement over the divining-rod. The sight of it aroused Joe's envy, kindled the spark of new ambitions within him. He would have a 'peekstone' of his own, he resolved. He would become the greatest stone-peeker in the world!
Fulfillment of his first desire was not long denied him. In September, 1822,2 he and his father were digging a well for Willard Chase near Palmyra. Amid the dirt and rocks thrown out in the process was one stone that immediately attracted attention. It was a white, glasslike object, smooth, shiny, and opaque, and shaped somewhat like the foot of a small child.
The Chase children claimed it, but Joe saw in it the realization of his fondest dreams. This was his 'seeing-stone,' deposited
1 Blackman, History of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, p. 477 - [sic - p. 777].
2 Howe, Mormonism Unveiled, p. 240. Tucker gives the date as 1819.
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here by a beneficent Almighty in answer to his hopes. Joe 'borrowed' the stone and it passed forever out of possession of the Chase family.
It was about this time that the revival spirit descended upon Palmyra, catching up the Smiths along with their neighbors, sweeping them along in a veritable whirlwind of religious fervor. Had it not been for this revival, the peekstone might never have been put to other than mundane and materialistic uses.
As it turned out, it was destined to become the corner-stone of a new religious faith.
[ 38 ]
Moroni knew his piece well by this time. He repeated it, without deviation from the three previous renditions, except to reveal the hiding-place of the plates and to add a commandment that Joseph tell his father what had transpired. The elder Smith, deeply impressed, suggested that they go at once and make sure that the plates were safe.
'Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario County, New York, stands a hill of considerable size and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood,' says Joe in his autobiography.  To this he hastened. On the west side of the hill, near the top, he pried loose a large stone, beneath which was a stone box, 'formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement.' In the bottom of the box were two stones laid crosswise, and on these reposed the golden plates, the breastplate, and the 'Urim and Thummim' in their silver bows. Joe reached for them, but found himself deprived of his strength. He tried again, and received a shock which left him helpless. Amazed and frightened, he cried out, 'Why cannot I obtain the book?' 'Because,' said a familiar voice, 'you have not kept the commandments of the Lord.' Joe looked up, and there was Moroni!
'Look!' commanded the messenger, and he caused to pass
1 This is known to Mormons as 'The Hill Cumorah.'
BEHOLD, A GREAT WORK 39
before Joe the Prince of Darkness, surrounded by his court and all their attendants and assistants. This parade was staged, Moroni explained, so that Joe would recognize His Satanic Majesty and all of his minions and never permit himself to have any dealings with them. The time for bringing forth the Golden Book was not yet opportune, Moroni asserted. It would be exactly four years before the plates were ready for delivery. Meanwhile, Joseph was to go to the Hill Cumorah each year on the twenty-second of September. Moroni would meet him there and counsel with him.
Moroni thereupon ascended again like a skyrocket, in a diminuendo of fire, and Joe put the rock back on top of the stone casket, spread the dirt around the edges and went home to await the day.
During this period in which Joe was mulling over the stories he had overheard in the Sabine kitchen, developing his skill with his peekstone, holding communion with the Angel Moroni and being `persecuted by all sects and creeds,' Sidney Rigdon had also got religion, joined the Baptist Church, and entered the ministry. Assigned to a rural circuit, he soon attained distinction as a brilliant preacher. It is, perhaps, a mere coincidence that the large gaps in the recorded biography of Rigdon are coeval with similar gaps in the continuity of the tale of Joseph Smith. There are periods in the lives of each unaccounted for, save by the statement that they were traveling about in the course of their respective business interests: Sidney endeavoring to salvage lost souls; Joe attempting to salvage lost treasure. Their wanderings brought both of them Into northern Pennsylvania.
Did they meet there and find a common interest? Or did they hear of each other from mutual acquaintances? Was Parley Pratt, the wandering peddler, the link between the two, or did they pursue their respective ways in complete
40 JOSEPH SMITH AND HIS MORMON EMPIRE
ignorance of each other's existence? For our purpose, it is sufficient to point out the possibility that they may have met.
By 1821, Sidney had returned to Pittsburgh, not as a printer this time, but as a minister of the Baptist Church. The Baptist creed, however, had begun to pall upon him. He found it unsatisfactory, craved a new creed, a new religion. There were thousands of others, clergy and laity, throughout the country who had the same longing. Alexander Campbell, a Baptist minister, had felt this impulse and sensed the need of the people. He had endeavored to supply it by withdrawing from the Baptist denomination and founding the 'Campbellite,' or Disciples' Church. He provided an American creed and an American ritual, one that appealed to the primitive emotions of the people of the frontier, and he won many converts in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Sidney Rigdon and his brother-in-law, Adamson Bentley, found themselves drawn toward Campbell and his tenets.
'Rigdon was, at that time, the great orator of the Mahoning Association (the Mahoning district of the Baptist Church),' says Campbell, 'though, in authority with the people, always second to Adamson Bentley.'
Unable to subscribe any longer to the Baptist creed, and not finding the Disciples in full accord with his views, Rigdon retired from the ministry and worked for a time as a tanner. As he worked, he reflected on the inadequacies of the various denominations. Sidney required no heavenly messenger to tell him that he should join none of the churches. He had seen, as well as Campbell, that the churches had failed to keep pace with the national evolution, that the frontier folk demanded something more vigorous than the denatured and formalized religions of New England. The time was ripe for a new religion, new teachings, a new leader. Maybe the new leader would be Campbell, he reflected, maybe Bentley -- maybe Rigdon!
BEHOLD, A GREAT WORK 41
In November, 1825, Joe again appeared at Harmony, Pennsylvania, where he boarded at the home of Isaac Hale, a farmer. Hale did not approve of Joe, nor of his methods of getting a livelihood. His daughter, however, appears to have been impressed.
Joe was about twenty years old when he met Emma Hale. He had begun to acquire the facial characteristics, the mannerisms, the air of mystery and romance, that were to make him a fascinating figure in later life. Emma was not unattractive herself. Her memory lingered in Joe's mind after he had returned to Palmyra. At home, his unsavory reputation prevented him from enjoying much feminine society. He yearned to see Emma again, and put his fertile brain to work to evolve a way to make the journey without cost.
Near by were two prosperous farmers whose well-filled coffers were a direct challenge to Joseph's professional pride. One was Martin Harris, the wealthiest man in the neighborhood; the other, named Lawrence, was not so wealthy, but, more susceptible. Joe sought out Lawrence first and informed him that he had discovered a silver mine on the Susquehanna River near Harmony.  The metal could be procured easily, floated down the river to Philadelphia and sold at an enormous profit. If Lawrence would finance a trip to Harmony for the two of them, Joe would show him the mine, and they could work it in partnership.
Lawrence succumbed, and they went to Harmony in the fall of 1826, taking lodgings at Isaac Hale's. Here Joe promptly forgot about silver mines, and embarked on an ardent courtship. He and Emma and Lawrence went for many long walks along the banks of the Susquehanna, but only Joe and Emma found anything precious. Lawrence at last gave up in disgust and went home. Joe stormed the citadel of Emma's heart, as he was to storm many others — with a rush that swept all opposition aside. It was his first love affair, but what he lacked
1 Howe, Mormonism Unveiled, p. 244.
42 JOSEPH SMITH AND HIS MORMON EMPIRE
in experience, he atoned for in native ability. With Emma, as with other women, his ready flow of words fascinated and carried conviction; and his reputation as a man of mystery lent glamour to his words and to his person. Emma's surrender was complete. There were to be many times when she was to realize that his glib tongue was not to be trusted, that he was lazy, tricky, and thoroughly unscrupulous. His posturing and `play-acting' were to drive her to distraction, his philandering arouse her to jealous frenzies, his paradoxical nature to be a constant source of bewilderment. She was never to understand this handsome, romantic creature with whom she strolled hand in hand along the banks of the Susquehanna, but to the end, she was to love him.
For Father Hale, however, Joe's words and actions possessed no romantic glamour. 'Give up this damned stone-peeking and money-digging and settle down to some steady occupation. Then it'll be time enough to think about gettin' married' was his ultimatum. Joe promised, and, as evidence of good faith, went to work for a farmer named Stowell. A few months later, he and Emma eloped and on January 18, 1827, they were married. Joe, considering it inexpedient to return with his bride to her father's home, had already made arrangements for their honeymoon journey.
He had told Stowell of an enormous bar of pure gold which he had discovered in a cave near Palmyra. The bar was so big that Joe could not move it alone; moreover, it seemed to be fastened at one end, but if Stowell would take him and his bride back to New York, they could get tools, pry the bar loose, and then he and Stowell could share the proceeds. 
So Stowell was waiting for them as they left the preacher's house, with a wagon and a span of horses. Emma's trunk was in the back, and they returned to Palmyra in style.
Howe, Mormonism Unveiled, p. 244.
BEHOLD, A GREAT WORK 43
While Joe had been a-courting and developing into an A No. 1 backwoods confidence man, the neighborhood of Palmyra had been supplied with a new sensation to succeed the origin of the Indians, buried treasure, and eternal damnation, as topics for the crossroads' forums. Like the Palmyra revival, this excitement was to spread throughout the country, and during the next decade, it was to becoine a local and national political issue. Joe Smith was not to participate in this movement, but he was to be on the fringe of it; he was to discuss it with family and neighbors and was to be profoundly influenced by it. From among its most prominent agitators, he was later to receive one of his leading apostles -- William Wines Phelps, 'ghost writer' for the Holy Ghost, press agent for the millennial circus.
In the summer of 1826, Captain William Morgan, of Batavia, New York, announced that he was to publish a book revealing the secrets of the Masonic Order and exposing alleged corrupt and criminal practices of its members carried on under the protection of their fraternal oaths. Leading Masons of the State rushed to defend their order in the public press and to take legal steps to prevent the book's publication. Meanwhile, some of the more zealous members of local lodges in the vicinity of Batavia sought the same end by direct action. After some weeks of tension, Morgan mysteriously vanished. About a year later, a body was found in Lake Erie which was partially identified as that of the missing captain.
The disappearance of Morgan caused a tremendous sensation throughout the State. Rewards were offered, grand juries were put to work investigating, and an intense anti-Masonic feeling developed. Anti-Masonic newspapers sprang up, and an anti-Masonic party was formed which later became a national party. Recovery of the supposed body of Morgan further fanned the flames. Thurlow Weed, Smith's neighbor, became one of the leaders in the movement and rode into political eminence on the wave of anti-Masonic sentiment.
44 JOSEPH SMITH AND HIS MORMON EMPIRE
Joe Smith, twenty-one years of age, reveled in the excitement and sensations. Perhaps, he peered long and earnestly into his peekstone in an attempt to locate the missing Morgan and gain the rewards. But, if he did, nothing came of it. In The Book of Mormon, however, and in the organization and activities of the Mormon Church, the; Morgan episode and the anti-Masonic agitation were to leave, their indelible impress.
The year 1826 was also an important year for Sidney Rigdon. He returned to the ministry, becoming pastor of two small churches at Mantua, and Mentor, Ohio. In both communities he gathered about him a devoted following. These adherents and his brother-in-law, Bentley, followed him into the Disciples' fold when he embraced that faith. From the first, he was hailed as one of the leaders in the Campbellite movement, although Campbell found it necessary to curb his zeal from time to time.
Back home with his bride, Joe found time to cultivate further the acquaintance of Martin Harris, the best potential customer which Providence had thus far thrown in his path. He went about it in a scientific manner. He studied Martin's habits and peculiarities, set about to win his confidence. Harris, in addition to being reputed wealthy, had the reputation of squeezing each dollar. These qualities -- his wealth, his industry, and his piety -- were sufficient to elevate him to leadership in the community. That he was tricky and beat his wife were considered circumstances of slight moment. Like the progenitors of Joseph Smith, he was a diligent seeker after the true faith, and had tried most of them, being successively a Quaker, a Universalist, a Restrictionist, a Baptist, and a Presbyterian.
Joe knew Martin to be a firm believer in dreams, ghosts, and visions. He had heard him declare that he had made a trip to
BEHOLD, A GREAT WORK 45
the moon, and he learned that Martin, too, had a speaking acquaintance with God, Jesus Christ, and the Devil, having seen them all in visions. Jesus, according to Harris, was the handsomest man he had ever seen, while the Devil was covered from hoofs to horns with very short hair like a mouse.  Another time, he related that, as he was walking along a country road, Jesus, in the form of a beautiful spotted deer, walked beside him for several miles, talking with him all the way. Being pretty much of a skinflint, Harris prided himself particularly on his reputation for honesty, and Joe was quick to capitalize this foible.
'I had another vision last night,' he told Harris. `The Lord appeared to me in all of His glory and told me that there were but two honest men in the world. It was revealed to me that I was one of them. "And the other," the Lord said, "is Martin Harris."'
Martin, expanding with gratification, demanded further details and Joe supplied them. They exchanged accounts of their visions and revelations like two hypochondriacs exchanging symptoms, and Joe knew that he had found the key to Martin's treasure-chest.
Midnight of September 21, 1827, according to Mother Smith, found Joseph at the Hill Cumorah. He lifted the lid off the stone box, lifted out the golden plates, the 'Urim and Thummim,' and the breastplate, and received his final instructions from Moroni. Having secured the golden book, Joe, for no apparent reason, hid it in a near-by tree-top. Ten days later, he became worried, hastened to the hill, and ran all the way back home with the precious plates under his arm. ('They weighed not less than forty pounds,') Mother Smith relates, 'probably nearer sixty.) On the way home, two men attacked him, but notwithstanding his heavy burden, he knocked
'Howe, Mormonism Unveiled, p. 14.
46 JOSEPH SMITH AND HIS MORMON EMPIRE
(remainder of chapter not transcribed - due to copyright restrictions)
[ 101 ]
ELIZA R. SNOW The dawn of 1831 found the people of the United States astir. There were a few more than 12,866,000 of them. During the previous decade they had pushed the center of population westward thirty-nine miles to Winfield, West Virginia, and week by week, they were pushing it farther to the west and the north. Thousands of them were on the move, or were packing up, drawn westward by the promise of cheap land and the glamour of the frontier. The adolescent nation had succumbed to the wanderlust. In the cities, laborers were working from sunrise to sunset for less than a dollar, and being thrown into prison for debts of less than twenty-five dollars, Why shouldn't they strike out for themselves in the new country, where they had at least a fighting chance to profit by their toil, where there were no property qualifications to deprive them of the right to vote?
The backwoods had fired the imagination and the ambition of the common people. It had America in its grasp. A backwoodsman occupied the White House. For more than two decades the western frontier was to dominate American life and thought; yet, already, there were faint indications of new social forces at work -- faint indications of a new national consciousness. Cooper and Audubon were recording the life of the frontier; Washington Irving was writing of American life. Daniel Webster was warning Robert Y. Hayne, of South
102 JOSEPH SMITH AND HIS MORMON EMPIRE
(pages 102-106 not transcribed - due to copyright restrictions)
HIS MIRACLES TO PERFORM 107
Apostasy began to thin the ranks, but the number of new converts always exceeded that of the apostates.
'It is our privilege to see God face to face,' the Prophet declared in a sermon. 'Yes, I will prophesy unto you, in the name of the Lord, that the day will come when no man will be permitted to preach unless he has seen the Lord. People will ask "Have you seen the face of the Lord?" And if he say "nay" they will say: "Away with this fellow, for we will have a man to teach us that has seen the face of the Lord." The Lord is willing that we should see His glory today,' Joe continued, 'and all that will exercise faith shall see the Lord of Glory.' Joe turned to Sidney Rigdon, seated beside him, and slowly, impressively, he asked, 'Sidney, have you seen the Lord?'
And with equally solemn mien, Sidney replied: 'I saw the image of a Man pass before my face whose locks were white and whose countenance was exceedingly fair, even surpassing all beauty that I ever beheld.' Joe let the congregation absorb the full portent of that testimonial, but lest they should get too favorable an impression of Brother Sidney's manifestation, he felt called upon to comment sourly, 'I knew you had seen a vision, Sidney, but you would have seen more had you greater faith.'
Joe seldom lost an opportunity to put Sidney in his place, but the latter took his punishment and came back for more. To the end, he cherished ambitions to be a real power in the Church. Joe Smith accepted freely of Sidney's offering of talent and energy, accorded him some empty honors, and repeatedly subjected him to public humiliation. Occasionally, there was some flare of spirit, but usually the once fiery rebel humbly submitted the other cheek.
Any one of you,' Joe would assert to his congregation, 'can have the "gift of tongues." Rise and speak, and the Lord will
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put inspired words upon your tongue.' A little exhortation, and one of the brethren would emit a series of unintelligible syllables. Joe would interpret them, or call upon one of the Elders: 'The Lord will give you power, Elder Blank, to interpret the message which the brother has just spoken,' he would say, and the Elder, not wishing to be considered lacking in faith, would arise and utter in interpretation whatever words first popped into his mind.  Prayer meetings were held nearly every night to keep up with the growing demand, for new manifestations.
Smith, at this period of his career, was anxious to develop his technique and his reputation as a miracle-worker, and he essayed the role frequently. Most of his attempts were failures, but there were isolated instances where the results were sufficient to encourage him to continue his efforts.
There is an oft-repeated, but not authenticated, anecdote of the Prophet's announcement that at dusk, on a certain day, he would walk upon the waters of a small lake. Boys of the neighborhood observed several men in a boat at work one night, building a trestle just beneath the surface of the water. The boys removed the boards from the top of the structure. At the appointed time, Joe appeared, accompanied by his followers and a crowd of potential converts. He was rowed out to the center of the lake, stepped gingerly out of the boat, appeared to float for a moment on tiptoe, then sank from view with a splash. Dragged back into the boat, floundering and bedraggled, he denounced the jeering crowd on shore, asserting that he had failed because their faith was not sufficient to sustain him.
There are several attempts reported of his efforts to restore life to departed members of the Kirtland flock. Logical excuses were forthcoming on each attempt when the dead failed to rise. On one occasion, Joe, after trying in vain, suddenly announced that the Lord had revealed that the departed
1 Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism, p. 115.
HIS MIRACLES TO PERFORM 109
brother should not be revived. 'He is old, anyway,' Joe explained, 'and should soon die again of old age, so what is the use!' 
One 'miracle' Joe Smith did perform at Kirtland. It is authenticated by non-Mormon witnesses and was directly responsible for the conversion of two well-known churchmen of the Western Reserve -- Symonds Ryder and Ezra Booth. They were weighing the merits and demerits of the Mormon creed, and attempting to determine the sincerity of the Prophet. Booth proposed that they put Smith's claims to a test. They had a neighbor, a Mrs. Johnson, who had suffered a paralytic stroke and had been unable to use her right arm for more than five years. Accompanied by Mrs. Johnson, her husband, and a local physician, they went to Kirtland to interview the Prophet. Without letting Smith suspect the real intent of their visit, they entered into a discussion of the Mormon creed, and at length, Ryder, seizing an advantageous opening, inquired: 'Is it true that you can perform miracles, Brother Smith?'
'I cannot perform miracles,' Joe replied, `But God, working through me, can.'
'Here is Mrs. Johnson,' said Ryder. 'She has been unable to use her arm for years. Has God given any power to men now upon earth to cure her?'
Joe knew then that he had been trapped. Ryder and Booth were leaders in the community. As allies, they would be invaluable; as enemies, they would be unrelenting. He was in a desperate situation, but he rose to the occasion.
Calmly, with every appearance of complete assurance, he stood and surveyed Mrs. Johnson. He walked backward a few steps, looking into her eyes. Then he moved quickly to her side and took hold of the paralyzed arm. He lifted it above her head, and, solemnly and dramatically, he pronounced the admonition: 'Woman, in the name of Jesus Christ, I command
1 Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism, p. 120-21.
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thee to be whole!' He released his hold upon the arm, turned on his heel and left the room.
If he had perfected the art of making a dramatic entrance, as evidenced by his appearance at the Whitney store, he had also learned the value of a dramatic exit. The exit he made from the presence of Ryder, Booth, and the Johnsons was one of the triumphs of his career. The atrophied hand of Mrs. Johnson remained aloft where the Prophet had placed it. She moved her fingers, she flexed the arm, the dead member was restored! 
B. A. Hinsdale, later president of Hiram College, who was present at the scene, said: `The company was awe-struck at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke.... Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it up with ease and, on her return home the next day, she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain.' The cure remained permanent until her death some fifteen years later.
Joe Smith, at this period, did not know whether he was really a prophet of the Lord, and an inspired agent of the Almighty, or not. He was inclined to believe that he was. There were moments when he believed the voice he heard was the voice of God, but, as he continued to pervert and distort his revelations to suit the exigencies of the moment, he killed whatever faith in the divinity of his inspiration he may have had. By the opening of the Nauvoo period of the Church, his own belief in his divine inspiration was shattered. Egotism had supplanted humility. He regarded himself merely as a favored individual, possessing unusual powers and singled out by the Lord for personal favors because of his ability. The Lord was on his side, and with the Lord as an ally, there was nothing to which he could not aspire.
'God is my right-hand man,' he was to declare at Nauvoo.
1 Howe, Mormonism Unveiled, p. 104.
[ 111 ]
ELIZA R. SNOW Early in the spring of 1831, Joe issued a revelation calling upon practically the entire male membership to go forth, two by two, to preach the gospel and recruit new members for the Church. Meanwhile, Pratt, Cowdery, Peterson, Whitmer, and Frederick G. Williams made their way westward to Independence, Missouri, in accordance with the previous command to spread the Gospel among the Lamanites. The missionaries were impressed by the country around Independence, and one of them returned to Kirtland with the word that here was the ideal spot for the Mormons to settle. There was plenty of cheap land, fertile and well-watered, and, as the country was as yet unsettled, the Mormons could soon dominate it.
So the Lord spoke to Joseph in the formal voice reserved for revelations: 'Behold... I the Lord will make known unto you what I will that ye shall do from this time until the next conference, which shall be held in Missouri, upon the land which I will consecrate unto my people....' Missouri was the new Zion, the Revelator explained, and an advance guard headed by the Prophet should proceed there forthwith, spreading the Gospel en route. Harris, Rigdon, Phelps, Edward Partridge, and Sidney Gilbert were to accompany Joseph, and some twenty-five others were detailed to follow.
What kind of a religion did the Mormon missionaries preach as they traveled, two by two, throughout the country, in response
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to the orders of the Lord? No two of them preached the same, for the creed of the Church was still in a state of flux. Smith, Rigdon, Parley Pratt, and Orson Pratt were all to contribute ideas which Joe was to verify by revelation, and incorporate in The Book of Doctrine and Covenants.
The major premises on which the missionaries united, however, were powerful selling points for the new Church. They made no attempt to reject The Bible. It was correct, in so far as it had been correctly translated, they asserted, but it was incomplete, and the translators had made many mistakes. The Lord had revealed The Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith that he might clear up those points wherein The Bible was vague, or erroneous.
The Mormon Church was the restoration of the Apostolic Church of Christ, and was the only true church that has existed on the earth since apostolic times. All other faiths had departed from primitive Christianity. The Mormon Church had all the virtues and powers of the Apostolic Church. The miracles were restored, the gift of tongues, the visions, revelations, divine manifestations -- no other church had them.
The Lord had restored the Apostolic Church because Christ was soon to return again to earth to reign in all His glory, and it was His wish that the earth and its people be prepared for His coming. They could be prepared and could participate in the glory only through affiliation with Mormonism. These were the principal points stressed by the Elders on their missions, and they were sufficient to start thousands on their way to Kirtland and Missouri.
The steps by which the Mormon theology assumed its form are too complicated to trace here, but bit by bit a well-formulated doctrine emerged from the welter of ideas contributed by the various creeds of the world, and by various church leaders. In this creed, there was much of Campbellism -- Campbellism out of Sidney Rigdon -- a good bit of paganism, a smattering of Buddhism; even before the introduction of
SAINT JOHN DROPS IN FOR BREAKFAST 113
polygamy, there was a strong sex motif running through the theology:
There were four orders of intelligent beings in the universe, the Mormons held; all were of the same species, and made in the same image. These were gods, angels, spirits, and men. God was a perfected man; man was an embryonic, or imperfected god. Nothing, not even the Supreme God, was created, but everything was `begotten.' The Supreme God himself was begotten by 'self-acting, independent intelligences.' The Supreme God begot other gods, all of whom had bodies, parts, and passions like men. The principal work of the gods was to produce souls to inhabit the bodies begotten in this, and other, worlds.
The theory of the preexistence of souls later developed its corollary: there were countless millions of spirits in the eternal worlds awaiting earthly tabernacles, or bodies, into which they might enter and begin the probationary state through which they must pass before they, too, could become gods. To bestow these tabernacles was the highest glory of woman, and her exaltation in eternity would be in proportion to the number she had provided. Hence, the larger her family, the greater her glory.
All the gods had many wives.  A grand council of the gods, with a president directing, constituted the designing and creative Power, but if man were faithful, he could advance by degrees until he, too, became a god and had a world given him to rule over. Every faithful Saint would be so rewarded and his kingdom would consist of his wives and descendants. Joseph Smith gradually assumed the status of one of the gods, standing next to Christ. Christ, in turn, was next to Adam,
1 They go so far as to say that our Saviour had three wives, Mary, and Martha, and the other Mary, all married at the wedding in Cana of Galilee.' (Gunnison: The Mormons, p. 68.)
2 Hyde, Mormonism, Its Leaders and Designs, p. 198.
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who was the Supreme God of this world. Above Adam was Jehovah having jurisdiction over many worlds, and above Jehovah was Eloheim, the Supreme God of all.
Eloheim, according to Joe, lived on the planet Kolob near the center of our planetary system. Kolob revolved on its axis once in a thousand years, 'which are with the Lord, one day.' There were six of these 'days' in the first creation of the world, and six in the great 'preparation' period. This preparation period consisted of two days of a thousand years each, known as the 'Patriachial Dispensation,' two days of the 'Mosaic Dispensation' (a day of rise and a day of decline), two days of the 'Christian Dispensation.' The Christian Dispensation was followed by eighteen hundred years of terrible apostasy. 
The 'latter days' of this period, however, had arrived, the Mormons preached in 1830 -- and in 1930. But, a few more years must elapse before the Gentile world would be destroyed and the Mormons would become Gods. Those of the Gentiles who were saved would become their servants. Zion would be established at Independence, Missouri. The Mormons would inherit the world and the Gentile slaves would be sent to the Rocky Mountains to mine gold for the pavements of Zion.
There were three 'heavens' in Mormon theology, corresponding to first, second, and third-class steamship accommodations: celestial, tellestial, and terrestrial. The first-class, or 'celestial,' heaven was reserved for the Mormons exclusively; the second-class, or 'tellestial,' heaven, for those who had never heard of the true Gospel and so were not to blame for failure to embrace it; while the third, or 'terrestrial,' heaven was for individuals whose earthly works would hardly qualify them for admission, but who had been saved 'by the blood of the lamb... and their own repentance.'
These were among the doctrines taught at Kirtland, and in
1 From the death of Saint John, A.D. 30, to publication of The Book of Mormon, A.D. 1830.
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The controversy as to responsibility for the Mormon difficulties in Missouri has raged for decades, each side charging the other with lawlessness and disregard of human rights. This region was a breeding-place for disorder and lawlessness for years after the Mormons departed. It was to be the scene of operation of the notorious Quantrell guerrillas, and was to give birth to the James boys and other outlaws. On the other hand, the Mormons' record in Illinois and Utah hardly qualifies them to cast any stones.
The storm-clouds that had been gathering over Kirtland during the winter of 1831-32 broke with fury in the spring. The number of apostates increased. It was gossiped about that the Prophet was scheming to get possession of all the property of his followers. The law of consecration and stewardship, which had been promulgated in one of Joe's revelations during 1831, provided that every man should consecrate his property to the Bishop of his diocese without reserve, with a covenant that could not be broken; whereupon he would receive from the Bishop an 'inheritance.' He was given stewardship over his own property, but all property above that required for his actual needs, and all return from that property above his actual needs, was to go to a common fund to be placed in `the Lord's storehouse.' About this time, the revelations began to bristle with the names of new Bishops: 'My servant Enoch,' 'Gazelam,' Baruk Ale,' and numerous other fictitious appellations. All of these were merely pseudonyms for Joseph Smith, Jr.
Ryder and Booth were leaders in the opposition, and on the night of March 25, a mob of some twenty men, broke into the homes of Joe and Sidney and tarred and feathered them. This experience convinced Joe that, barbaric as Missouri might be, it was more attractive than Kirtland at this particular period. Immediately, a revelation was received directing him and
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Sidney to investigate the state of progress of Zion, and they fled.
The Mormons in Missouri had suffered too. Early in the year, some of the Mormon houses had been stoned by non-Mormon neighbors. Joe heard that some of the Elders had taken too much authority upon themselves; that others had been lax in their duties or strayed from the path of righteousness. He remained until they restored harmony, accelerated Phelps in his mission of publishing a Mormon newspaper, established a general store and visited the various settlements, exhorting on the truth of The Book of Mormon, the glories of Zion, and the certainty that the Mormons would, before long, receive the entire State of Missouri as their inheritance.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., another figure, who was to influence profoundly the life of Joseph Smith and his followers, was writing letters and making speeches that carried his name to all parts of the country. John Calhoun had resigned from the Vice Presidency of the United States to get himself elected to the Senate from South Carolina and to lead the fight for States' rights. Under his generalship, South Carolina had nullified the tariff laws of 1828-32, was in rebellion against the United States, and had raised the problem of the relative powers of the state and federal governments. All over the nation, people were asking: What will be the outcome?
On Christmas Day, Joseph Smith, having partaken of a plenteous repast, sat back in his easy-chair and inquired of the Lord concerning the Nullification Question, and the Lord spoke to him, prophesying that the South Carolina affair would terminate in open rebellion between the Northern and Southern States; that a civil war would ensue in which other nations, including Great Britain, would become involved; that the slaves would uprise and fight against their masters.
In the great volume of doleful predictions of earthquakes,
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tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, wars, plagues, and assorted disasters which emanated from the Mormon press in substantiation of their claim that the end of the world was approaching, this forecast was accorded scant recognition. None of the other forecasts came true, but many years later, Mormon historians were to produce this revelation and hail it as proof of the prophetic powers of their leader.
Of course, Joe Smith did not predict the Civil War; he predicted that a civil war would develop, in 1832, out of the South Carolina rebellion.' For his supporters to allege that he had in mind the rebellion of 1861 is to impeach all of his other prophecies and revelations, for, in 1832, Joe preached and professed to believe that the millennium was but a few years away. If he had the power to look ahead thirty years and foresee the Civil War, then he was grossly deceiving his constituents in urging them to hurry and build up Zion before the Judgment Day caught them unprepared.
Joe, in 1832, no more anticipated the Civil War then he anticipated that, twelve years hence, he and John C. Calhoun were to be rivals for the Presidency of the United States.
1 I have assumed that the revelation printed in The Book of Doctrine and Covenants is authentic, although its validity is questionable.
(remainder of text not transcribed - due to copyright restrictions)