Mormonism: Islam of America
(NYC: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1912)
Issued under the direction of the Council of
Women for Home Missions
The Islam of America
BRUCE KINNEY, D. D.
Formerly Superintendent of Baptist Missions in Utah
NEW YORK CHICAGO TORONTO.
Fleming H. Revell Company
LONDON AND EDINBURGH
[ 16 ]
"The people of the United States are more sensible of the disgrace of Mormonism than of its dangers.... The Mormon Church is probably the most complete organization in the world... and so highly centralized is the power, that all these threads of authority are gathered into one hand, that of the president." -- Josiah Strong.
[ 17 ]
JOSEPH SMITH, JR., the founder of the Mormon Church, was born December 23, 1805, at Sharon, Vermont. He was the fourth of nine children. His parents and relatives were all poor, never-do-well visionaries, guided by dreams, seeking hidden treasures and often in conflict with the officers of the law. Joseph was regarded by his neighbours as the worst of the lot. -- Orson Pratt, his Mormon biographer, says that Smith could write with difficulty and was absolutely ignorant of the branches taught in common schools at that tirne. As Joseph grew older he developed craftiness and assumed an air of mystery. About 1825 he bought a "seeing stone," by which he claimed to locate hidden treasures for which others dug but which they always failed to find. In 1827 he found Emma Hale, whom he persuaded to elope with him because her parents objected to their marriage. He claimed, also, to have found in the same year the Golden Bible. April 6, 1830, he organized the church at Fayette, N. Y., which now bears the official name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
18 Mormonism, The Islam of America
Almost from the very first the infant church became involved in various troubles with its neighbours.
It was a time of religious frenzy over "Millerism" and other cults, and the preachers of this new religion floated into popularity on the tide of this enthusiasm. In 1831 the Mormons moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where they built their first temple. Here considerable numbers accepted the new faith.
Smith soon received a revelation in which the Lord was reported as saying, "I will consecrate the riches of the Gentiles unto My people" (DC 42). It is said that this was so liberally interpreted by his people that they were soon in disrepute among their neighbours, and in 1832 Smith and his associate, Rigdon, were tarred and feathered by a mob. It may as well be stated at once that all of the "persecutions" suffered by the Mormons were in reality prosecutions which arose not because of their religious views but because they outraged human decency, violated personal and property rights and considered it their privilege to "spoil the Gentiles."
Internal dissensions and financial troubles arose and multiplied; prophecies failed of fruition, promised miracles were not realized, alleged translations by Smith were proven fraudulent and many apostatized. Men within the inner circle hurled the most serious charges of dishonesty
History of the Mormons 19
and immorality at each other; fights occurred in the temple in which knives and pistols had their part. In 1837 it was falsely reported that Smith and Rigdon were to be arrested, and they fled one night, "when no man pursued," to Mormon colonies in Missouri. The Kirtland bubble burst, hundreds losing all they had, and that city ceased to be an important Mormon centre. The old temple is now owned by the Reorganized Church, which has a few followers in that vicinity.
The Missouri colonies had been established in 1831 and had been visited previously by Smith. They had already won the cordial hatred of their neighbours by "consecrating the riches of the Gentiles" to their own uses. A non-Mormon mass meeting had declared, "It is a duty we owe to ourselves, to our wives and children, to the cause of public morals, to remove them from among us." The Mormons were ordered out, their newspaper office was destroyed "with the utmost order," and some of the bishops were tarred and feathered. Finally they agreed to leave but gave no evidence that they meant to keep their promise. After they had agreed to go Smith had a revelation that "Zion could not be moved out of her place" (DC 97). He ordered the Missouri Mormons to build their second temple at Independence and threatened fire and sword upon all who refused to obey. This
20 Mormonism, The Islam of America
aroused the mob spirit and the Mormons were driven from Jackson County into Clay County.
Smith started from Kirtland with an "Army of Zion" which was soon ignominiously broken up by disease which Smith's promised miraculous power failed to cure. Peace lasted for about three years after this removal, but the Mormons kept intimating and then claiming that the land was theirs by inheritance from God, and that their "enemies" would be driven out. Charges of thieving, murder and polygamy were made against the Mormons and mob violence again prevailed. At last the legislature created a new county with Far West as the county seat. As there were none but Mormons in this county, there was peace for a time.
It was at this juncture, January, 1838, that Smith and Rigdon, having fled from Ohio, came to abide in Missouri. The Missouri Mormons had lived in harmony among themselves up to the coming of Smith whose dictatorial policy soon created troubles they had not hitherto known. Many of their prominent leaders were either cut off by Smith or apostatized. Financial difficulties now arose and tithing (from which Smith and Rigdon were exempt) was introduced. The third temple was begun at Far West and at the laying of the corner-stone Rigdon preached an inflammatory sermon declaring that a "war of extermination" would follow any interference
History of the Mormons 21
with their plans. This again created intense excitement and mob law prevailed until the militia came. Smith and others were put into jail on the charge of treason but soon regained their freedom through bribery and fled to Illinois. The Mormons who remained were soon forced to follow. That the Gentiles were not wholly at fault is seen from the statement of the Mormon Star which said, "Our people fare very well and when they are discreet little or no persecution is felt." General Clark, who commanded the militia and who made the final report upon this misfortunate affair, said that the Mormons had as their final object:
Dominion, the ultimate subjection of the state and the Union to the laws of a few men called the presidency.... These people have banded themselves together in societies, the object of which was first to drive from their society such as refused to join them in their unholy purposes, and then to plunder the surrounding country, and ultimately subject the state to their rule.
That this is not an unjust representation appears from the sworn testimony of T. B. Marsh, a president of the Twelve Apostles, in October, 1838
The plan of Smith, the prophet, is to take the state; and he professes to his people to intend taking the whole United States and ultimately
22 Mormonism, The Islam of America
the whole world. The prophet inculcates the notion, and it is believed by every true Mormon, that Smith's prophecies are superior to the law of the land. I have heard the prophet say that he would yet tread down his enemies and walk over their dead bodies; that if he was not let alone he would be a second Mohammed to this generation
Volumes of similar evidence could be cited to show that this was, and is, the spirit of the Mormon Church. It is not at all strange, then, that the Gentiles of Missouri adopted somewhat drastic measures to rid themselves of such a dangerous crowd.
In 1830 Hancock County, Illinois, had only 483 people. The Mormons colonized here and as it was in a desperate financial condition they were welcomed as settlers. They took possession at Nauvoo and things fairly boomed. All sorts of real estate schemes were launched and public buildings were erected on a grand scale. As all political parties desired the increasing Mormon vote, an extraordinary charter was granted the city of Nauvoo. The mayor was a member of the city council and also of the municipal court which could issue writs of habeas corpus nullifying the actions of all other courts, and its military force was entirely free from state control. Here for the first time the Mormons realized their ambition of a government within a government,
History of the Mormons 23
In 1841 the corner-stone of the Nauvoo Temple was laid with great pomp. The Nauvoo Legion was out in full panoply of war with Smith -- who had fled there from Missouri -- at their head. He was arrayed in the uniform of a lieutenant-general, assuming a rank held by no one since Washington. This temple, said to have cost $1,000,000, was destroyed in 1848 by a fire supposed to be of incendiary origin.
All these things entailed large expense for a new community of poor people, but Smith ruled with a high hand and allowed no interference with his plans. Soon the same troubles arose that had appeared everywhere else. Some of the best Mormons openly charged that Smith was trying to persuade their wives and daughters to become his "spiritual " wives.
With brazen effrontery Smith announced himself as candidate for the presidency of the United States, and wrote abusive letters to Clay and Calhoun. Dr. Bennett, candidate with Smith for the vice-presidency, afterwards said that Smith sent over 2,000 missionaries into various parts of the country in behalf of his candidacy.
The people of Illinois now began to realize what they had on their hands and wished they had granted the repeated demands of Missouri for the extradition of Smith as a fugitive from the law. Open rebellion arose within the church. Smith issued a proclamation warning the lawless
24 Mormonism, The Islam of America
"not to be precipitate in any interference in our affairs, for as sure as there is a God in Israel we shall ride triumphant over all oppression."
In an address he said:
Before I will bear this unhallowed persecution any longer, before I will be dragged away again among my enemies for trial, I will spill the last drop of blood in my veins and will see all my enemies in hell.... I will fight with gun, sword, cannon, whirlwind, thunder, until they are used up like Kilkenny cats.
This bombastic language is strangely inconsistent with his flights from Ohio and Missouri, and with the fact that he and some of his companions soon after started to fly to the Rocky Mountains, but were detected by Mormon officials and compelled to remain.
Smith's language did not have a soothing effect but it caused many public meetings to be held. At one in Warsaw, the following was adopted:
Resolved, That the time has arrived when the adherents of Smith should be driven into Nauvoo; that the prophet and his miscreant adherents should then be demanded at their hands, and, if not surrendered, a war of extermination should be waged, to the entire destruction... of his adherents.
Military companies were organized on both
History of the Mormons 25
sides and the governor was obliged to take a hand. Smith was arrested for declaring war against the state and he and fourteen others were lodged in Carthage jail and guarded by the Carthage Grays. An order was issued to march on Nauvoo but it was countermanded two hundred of the disbanded Warsaw regiment went to Carthage and attacked the jail, being fired on by the guard with blank cartridges, apparently by prearrangement. The mob rushed the guard, entered the jail and began firing as soon as they saw their victims. Smith's brother, Hyrum, fell at the first fire. Joseph tried to defend himself with a six-barrelled pistol which some one had smuggled to him. Finding it of little avail he rushed for the window, but was shot from within and without the jail, dying instantly, June 27, 1844. While this was murder, pure and simple, it must be borne in mind that Smith was responsible for inflaming public opinion and for his defiance of the authority of the state. The manner of his death gave to it the colour of martyrdom and this idea has been made the most of ever since.
Rigdon wanted to be president, while Smith's family claimed that the mantle of the prophet should fall upon his son and namesake. But there was another man to be reckoned with, Brigham Young. Young was a man of no education but of strong mental traits, shrewd and
26 Mormonism, The Islam of America
ambitious but, withal, wise. He had been willing to bide his time and had never quarrelled with Smith. As President of the Twelve he quickly succeeded in deposing Rigdon and became chief in authority. His modesty now vanished but he was cautious, for he advised delay in the filling of the vacancies in the First Presidency and he never issued but one written prophecy. He was elected president after reaching Utah.
Smith's death did not bring peace. In January, 1845, the infamous Nauvoo charter was repealed and this made the Mormons defiant. Upon the advice of the governor, Young issued a proclamation the following September announcing that they would remove to some remote place. This movement was begun in February of the next year, being hastened by the finding of grand jury indictments against several of the Mormon apostles for counterfeiting, and they were soon out of the jurisdiction of the Illinois courts. By the following September not less than 12,000 Mormons had left Illinois, most of them spending the winter at winter quarters, near Omaha.
In April, 1847, Young, with one hundred and forty-three men and three women, started West, arriving at what is now Salt Lake City the 24th of the following July. To this day "Pioneer Day" is celebrated with much more enthusiasm
History of the Mormons 27
by the Mormons than is the national holiday twenty days earlier. The next year Young brought all of the Mormons to Utah. It must be remembered that this was then Mexican territory, with the seat of government two thousand miles away, no settlements near and no transportation facilities.
Proselyting in the countries of northern and western Europe was now pushed with vigour. It is said that in fourteen years 50,000 persons were baptized by the Mormons in Europe. Many of these people had their expenses paid to Utah but each was obliged to sign a bond as follows:
We do severally and jointly promise and bind ourselves to continue with and obey the instructions of the agent appointed to superintend our passage thither. And that, on our arrival in Utah, we will hold ourselves, our time and our labour subject to the appropriation of the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company until the full cost of our emigration is paid, with interest if required.
The "agent" (elder) received a commission from the steamship companies for all tickets sold. Similar methods are employed to this day.
In 1848 Utah became part of the territory of the United States but for many years the Mormons controlled everything except a few federal appointments. But even with these they often so managed that Brigham Young, or some one
28 Mormonism, The Islam of America
who was truculent and servile to their demands, was appointed governor. The local offices were filled ex-officio by ecclesiastics. The church granted deeds, gathered taxes and performed all the functions of civil government. There was unquestioned union of church and state. Brigham Young fought the government and the coming of Gentiles with varying success. But the discovery of gold in California caused thousands to pass through Utah and the discovery of gold in Utah made it impossible to keep the Gentiles out.
Young's family multiplied until he had, according to Linn, twenty-five wives and forty-four children. This account is vouched for by his eldest son and seven of his wives. But no one thinks this list is complete for in almost every town in Utah he had women "sealed" to him and no one knows how many children he had.
Young died August 29, 1877. Without doubt he was a master of men but there was a lot of bluff in his make-up, and nothing of the martyr. He was brainy but brutal. The useless cruelty of his dictatorial sway has scarcely been equalled in the history of the world. His achievements have been overestimated. His Cottonwood Canal with its mouth ten feet higher than its source, his beet sugar factory, his Colorado Transportation Company, as well as every distant colony he planted, were absolute failures. His
History of the Mormons 29
audacious defiance of the government came to naught when federal officers with some backbone were found. Had not gold been discovered in California, causing the building of the Pacific Railroad, it is doubtful if his settlements could have lasted. Beadle says that "Young never made a success of anything but managing the Mormons."
When his alleged exploits are carefully studied it is found that the halo of religious hero-worship has coloured the reports of his credulous followers. Note some of his failures: In 1856, in order to cut down expenses, he devised a way to have the emigrants push their belongings in carts across the continent from Iowa City. Five companies attempted the trip in this way with varying degrees of failure. One, under Chislett, started out five hundred strong but only about four hundred left Florence, Nebraska, and on the way their carts gave out, buffalo stampeded their oxen, supplies were not found as promised, the cold weather caught them, and before they reached Utah sixty-seven had died and others were maimed for life. According to his own letters, still extant, Young was directly responsible for this tragedy, but he sought to lay the responsibility on others. The death losses of this overland "trek" were much larger than during similar emigrations to Oregon and California.
Young will long be remembered for his brutalities,
30 Mormonism, The Islam of America
but his greatest crime was the Mountain Meadow Massacre. In 1857 a party of people from Arkansas started for California by way of Utah. Every unbiased source of testimony says that they conducted themselves with propriety, yet on September 11th of that year they were all treacherously massacred with the exception of a few children. The real reasons were, first, to give force to Young's edict forbidding persons to pass through Utah; second, to take revenge for the killing of Parley P. Pratt by an Arkansan whose wife Pratt had stolen to make his ninth wife; and, third, to secure plunder valued at about $70,000. All the way through Utah the Arkansas people had been harassed by the refusal of the Mormons to sell them food. With their stock almost exhausted, they camped at the Meadows -- a valley about five miles long by one wide and with only one outlet, located about three hundred miles southwest of Salt Lake City.
On September 7th the party was surprised at being attacked by Indians. They defended themselves with such vigour that assault after assault was repulsed. The evident plan of the Mormons was to have the whole thing done by the Indians, but the vigour of the defense made a change of programme necessary On the morning of the 11th a Mormon came to the besieged with a flag of truce. This was the only white man they had seen, and he was hailed with
History of the Mormons 31
delight. He offered them safe conduct to Cedar City. They hesitated but, being nearly out of ammunition, accepted. John D. Lee then carried out the rest of the plot. He told them to put the wounded and small children in wagons, that the women and older children must go on ahead, and that the men must surrender their arms to show their peaceable intent to the Indians. An armed Mormon marched by the side of each Arkansas man to "protect" him. When the women, in the advance, were in the midst of an Indian ambush the agreed-upon signal was given and each Mormon shot his Arkansas companion. The Indians and Mormons then fell upon the women and children and amid unmentionable scenes killed all but seventeen of the smaller children. About a year afterwards these children were hunted up by the government and returned to Arkansas.
The Mormons held a meeting of prayer and thanksgiving because their enemies had been delivered into their hands, swore each other to secrecy, and divided the plunder. No Indians ever committed a more treacherous and indefensible crime accompanied by more cruel and revolting details than this. The Mormon press made no mention of it. Young, though Superintendent of Indian Affairs, forgot (?) to speak of it in his reports. After seventeen years of spineless conduct on the part of the United
32 Mormonism, The Islam of America
States government officials, the crime was finally traced to its source and Young -- coward that he was -- surrendered John D. Lee as a scapegoat for himself and others. Lee was executed March 23, i877, and all indictments against others were dismissed by the government, apparently by previous agreement.
Young came to Utah with no money; in spite of the cost of maintaining such an immense family he left them an estate of $3,000,000. He had no productive business but the tithes he wrung from his people. The fact that after the probating of his will the church sued for and recovered about one million dollars that he had willed to his family shows how creditable (?) some of his transactions were.
Young was succeeded in the presidency by John Taylor, and he in turn successively by Lorenzo D. Snow, Wilford Woodruff and Joseph F. Smith.
We can pass over this period with mere mention. It was not until the Gentiles became numerous that there was much political trouble. But so high-handed did the political methods of the Mormons become that in the eighties the Gentiles organized the Liberal Party to offset the Mormon People's Party. In the year 1890 the Mormons were defeated at their own political game in Salt Lake City which went into the control of the Liberal Party. They realized that
History of the Mormons 33
they must change their tactics. They held conferences with the political leaders and said: "Some of us are naturally Republicans and some just as naturally Democrats. We all want statehood. We can never have it so long as national party lines are obliterated. Let us live in harmony and divide along national party lines and work together." This was done, and until the American Party won the city a few years later, the Mormons controlled everything as effectively as before the coming of the Gentiles. A Mormon never votes the Republican or the Democratic ticket -- he votes the Mormon ticket. He votes with the party and for the men from whom the church can get the most. For several years the Republican party in Utah and Idaho has been controlled absolutely by the Mormon Church.
After the granting of statehood, Brigham H. Roberts, a Democrat, wanted to run for Congress but was forbidden by his church. After being disciplined he was permitted to run and was elected, but by vote of the national House of Representatives was not allowed to take his seat. Moses Thatcher was an apostle and desired to run for the United States Senate. He was "counselled " not to do so. He insisted that he would do as he pleased. The church defeated him and deposed him from his apostleship and, until his death, he was one of the few leading
34 Mormonism, The Islam of America
men in the church who held no ecclesiastical office. October, 1896, the church adopted a rule in this case, in part as follows:
Our position is that a man, having accepted the honour and obligations of ecclesiastical office in the church, cannot properly, of his own volition, make these honours subordinate to or even coordinate with new ones of entirely different character.
Against the secret protest of Gentile Republicans, Reed Smoot, an apostle, was foisted upon the Republican party of Utah as its candidate for the national Senate. No one would have thought of him as a senator had not the church thrust him forward. He received his certificate of election in January, 1903. An official protest was signed by nineteen representative citizens of Salt Lake City and backed by thousands of the best citizens of the state, of all churches and parties which were not under the domination of the Mormons. The official 't Protest of Citizens," a pamphlet of sixty-two written pages, elaborates and proves from Mormon sources the following points:
I. The Mormon priesthood... is vested with supreme authority in all things temporal and spiritual.
II. The First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles are supreme in the exercise and transmission and mandates of this authority.
History of the Mormons 35
III. This body has not abandoned... political dictation nor belief in polygamy and polygamous cohabitation,
IV. That this is their attitude ever since the Manifesto of 1890 is evidenced by their teachings since then.
V. These officials, of whom Reed Smoot is one, encourage and practice polygamy and sought to pass a law nullifying enactments against polygamous cohabitation.
VI. The supreme authorities, of whom Reed Smoot is one, protect and honour these violators of the law all of which is contrary:
2. To express pledges given to secure amnesty.
3. To conditions upon which escheated property was returned,
4. To the pledges given by church officials in their plea for statehood.
5. To pledges required by Enabling Act and given in State Constitution.
6. To the following portion of the Constitution:
36 Mormonism, The Islam of America
Washington. In spite of a majority report unfavourable to Smoot from the Committee on Privileges and Elections, he was seated by a vote of forty two to twenty-eight, eighteen senators being paired Smoot admitted going through the Endowment House of which scores have testified that every one is required to take an oath like the following:
You and each of you covenant and agree that you will pray and never cease to pray Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets on this nation, and that you will teach the same to your children and your children's children unto the third and fourth generation.
One of Smoot's own witnesses, Dougal by name, testified that such was the case.
It was admitted by President Joseph F. Smith, and by Smoot, that the latter could not become a candidate for the Senate without the consent of the Apostolate. If a man cannot be a candidate for an office contrary to the approval of the apostolic body, how can he act in that office contrary to that body ?
The Tribune of Salt Lake has repeatedly made the following charge which has never been replied to by any person or paper:
No bill has ever been passed by the Utah Legislature which has been opposed by the chief hierarchs; no bill has ever failed of passage in
History of the Mormons 37
the Utah Legislature when the chief hierarchs urged its passage; no act has ever been signed which was opposed by the chief hierarchs; no act has ever been vetoed by a governor of Utah whose approval was demanded by the chief hierarchs of the Mormon Church.
We have seen the attitude of the Mormons towards the laws of their own state which they helped to formulate. We will now consider their attitude towards the national government
A Mormon band sailed around the Horn, arriving at San Francisco in 1846. When their leader, Brannan, saw Old Glory floating over the city he exclaimed: "There is that d____ flag again."
Utah came into the control of the United States one year after the Mormons reached the Salt Lake Valley. Without authority from Congress they established the state of Deseret. They applied for its admission to the Union but so patent were their intentions that their application was not taken seriously. Utah was made a territory in 1851 but that did not prevent the Mormons from passing laws to suit themselves. Young in one of his official orders said: "This order does not come from the governor but from the President of the church."
For some years the Mormons issued paper money, coined gold, and placed the bills of the defunct Kirtland Bank on a par with gold. An
38 Mormonism, The Islam of America
other prophecy fulfilled! They levied duties and taxes upon all persons and goods passing through Utah to the coast.
We now come to the period when the "Danites" flourished and church-inspired murders were common. The Danites, an order of the church, were under the absolute control of President Young, and the awful crimes of which they were guilty defy adequate description. The Borgias and the Inquisition furnish no worse examples of awful cruelty than the punishments meted out to those who offended the church. A military posse was needed to support a marshal when papers were served on one of these men. Judge Cradlebaugh, after several years of judicial experience in Utah, told Congress:
"I am justified in charging that the Mormons are guilty and that the Mormon Church is guilty of the crimes of murder and robbery as taught in their books of faith."
When federal offficials began to be sent to Utah, Young and his followers abused them most shamefully if not subservient to his wishes. When Colonel Steptoe was appointed governor to succeed him,Young declared in the tabernacle, February 18, 1855:
"For a man to come here (as governor) and infringe upon my individual rights and privileges, and upon those of my brethren, will never meet with my sanction and I will scourge such an one
History of the Mormons 39
until he leaves.... Come on with your knives, and your swords, and your fagots of fire and destroy the whole of us rather than we will forsake our religion "
David H. Burr, appointed Surveyor General of Utah in 1855, reported:
"The fact is, these people repudiate the authority of the United States in this country and are in open rebellion against the general government."
When the news reached Young that President Buchanan was sending a military expedition into Utah under Col. Albert Sydney Johnson, he declared to a large gathering:
"You might as well tell me that you could make hell into a powder house as to tell me that they intend to keep an army here and have peace."
On September 15, 1857, Young issued a proclamation forbidding "all armed forces coming into this territory under any pretense whatever." The Nauvoo Legion had been kept up in Utah and Young sent orders to the commander, D. H. Wells, to find the United States troops and proceed "at once to annoy them in every possible way. Stampede their animals, set fire to their trains.... Watch for opportunities to set fire to the grass on their windward, so as, if possible, to envelop their trains.... God bless you and give you success. Your brother in Christ."
40 Mormonism, The Islam of America
When Colonel Alexander was marching towards Utah, Young wrote him of his great loyalty and advised him to return to the East. When he saw that Alexander could not be bluffed he made no effort to conceal his rage and wrote him:
If you persist in your attempt to locate an army in this territory... with a view to aid the administration in their unhallowed efforts to palm off their corrupt officials upon us and to protect them and the blacklegs...and murderers, you will have to meet a mode of warfare against which your tactics furnish you no information.
Months of parleying followed, at the end of which time Young abjectly surrendered and consented to the coming of the United States troops.
During Lincoln's administration the government was having its troubles and the Mormons, wishing for the downfall of the Union, became more outspoken. Young said on one occasion: "Shame, shame on the rulers of this nation. I feel myself disgraced to hail such men as my countrymen." Fine words to use of Lincoln! In May, 1862, Col. P. E. Connor was sent to Utah to hold their treason in check. All sorts of threats were made against him, but in battle array he marched his few troops through the main streets of the city to the residence of Governor Harding. The governor made an address in which he referred to the situation in
History of the Mormons 41
unmistakable language. The Mormons sent a committee to bulldoze Connor but he said to them:
"Go back to Brigham Young, your master, that embodiment of sin and shame and disgust, and tell him that I neither fear him nor love him nor hate him -- that I utterly despise him."
Brigham Young prayed in the tabernacle that both the North and the South might be destroyed. Dakota with 4,000 population in 1860, and Nevada with less than 7,000, sent troops to the defense of our government under their own state banners (Army Register VII and VIII). Utah had over 40,000 population but not a man in general government service. Young said in 1862:
Let the present administration ask us for a thousand men, or even five hundred, and I would see them damned first and then they could not have them. (Cries of "Good, good" from all over the house.)
But when it became evident that the Union would triumph the Mormons speedily began to make friends with the federal government. No one was deceived and a sturdier class of government officials was sent, and the government finally began to assert itself. The story is too long to be told in full, but in 1874 the Poland Bill against polygamy was the first step in the right direction
42 Mormonism, The Islam of America
and this did not increase the love of the Mormons for the government. Then came the Edmunds and the Edmunds-Tucker laws and then the Mormons made incendiary speeches to the applause of great multitudes. United States flags were placed at half mast and on one occasion, as late as 1879, publicly trailed in the dust.
In 1877, Wilford Woodruff, afterwards president of the church, in the dedicatory prayer of the St. George Temple used this language:
And we pray Thee, our Father in heaven, in the name of Jesus Christ,... that Thy servant, Brigham, may stand in the flesh to behold the nation which now occupies the land, upon which Thou, Lord, has said that Zion shouldst stand in the latter days; that nation which shed the blood of the prophets and saints; which cry unto God day and night for vengeance; that nation which is making war against God and His Christ; that nation whose sins and wickedness and abominations are ascending up before God and the heavenly host.... Yea, O Lord, that he may live to see that nation, if it will not repent, broken in pieces, like the potter's vessel, and swept from off the face of the earth as with the besom of destruction.
In brief the Mormon Church murdered federal officials, tried others for alleged offenses against Mormons in the East, burned government supplies, robbed the mails, intercepted official communications, and an illegal legislature met and
History of the Mormons 43
did business for ten years after the territorial government had been established by the national government.
Just after statehood had been secured on solemn promises, 1 all of which have been broken, President Smith said at the dedication of a meeting-house in Payson, "Take care of your polygamous wives; we don't care for Uncle Sam now."
This same man when confronted at the Smoot trial with his duplicity and lawlessness said:
I choose, rather than to abandon my children and their mothers, to take the risk before the law. I want to say, too, that it is the law of my state, and the courts of my state have competent jurisdiction to deal with me in my offenses against the law, and the Congress of the United States has no business with my private conduct.
Much credit is justly given to the Utah Battery for its record in the Philippines. It was sometimes called the "Mormon Battery" but this name was resented because there were only 119 professed Mormons to 225 non-Mormons. In one town where the Mormons have ninety-five per cent. of the population eleven men were enlisted, not one a Mormon -- every one of the eleven was educated in a home mission school. Loyal Mormons did not enlist; only the nominal ones, as a rule, were found in that battery.
1 See page 145.
44 Mormonism, The Islam of America
In the Salt Lake Tabernacle, on Sunday, April 24, 1898, Apostle Brigham said:
It is wrong for us to think of sending our young men to Cuba.... The fact that they would go from these lofty mountains into the malarial swamps of the South would make them much more liable to catch fevers and perish than volunteers from almost any other part of the country.
In the Smoot investigation witnesses testified that the church had always appointed a steering committee to tell the legislators what to do.
Shortly after the church had compelled the Republican party to send Smoot to the Senate there was organized the American Party of Utah. This party does not fight Mormonism as a religion but the domination of the state by the church. Some Mormons in good standing supported this party and even became its candidates. They were defeated in the first municipal campaign. Soon after that the Republican state convention voted down a resolution condemning the domination of the state by any church. This gave the American Party new impetus and at the next election they won practically every office in Salt Lake City and remained in power until the election of November, 1911, when other issues became involved and the commission form of government was adopted.
THE SACRED BOOKS OF THE
[ 46 ]
Of a manuscript discovered in Honolulu and now in Oberlin College, President Fairchild writing to the New York Observer, February 5, 1885, said:
[ 47 ]
THE Mormons claim that Joseph Smith received revelations at the early age of fifteen. For this reason he is often called the "Boy Prophet." They also claim that these revelations continued at frequent intervals up to the time of his death. Smith often admitted his own youthful sinfulness even after the time when he claims to have communed with God. Scores of his neighbours in every state in which he ever lived have made sworn testimony that immorality and criminality prevailed in his make-up. As a boy they considered him the worst of a worthless family. In his after years he carried his shifty trickery into his real estate and all his other business dealings. His Kirtland Bank, established by revelation, went to the wall after eight months, leaving nothing but $150,000 of liabilities and hundreds of ruined creditors. It was established without authority and it ran in violation of the law all the time it did business.
Mormons who were closest to Smith were open in their charges of his immoralities with a young girl who lived in his home in Kirtland. He was often under indictment and for various crimes,
48 Mormonism, The Islam of America
Sometimes he was freed by the perjury of Mormon witnesses or Mormon jurors. He left Kirtland under cover of night to escape punishment for his crimes, he fled from Missouri under indictment for treason, and when he was killed the same charge lay against him in Illinois. In fact from the time he left Kirtland until his death he was a fugitive from outraged law and justice.
It is hard to find that Smith ever earned an honest dollar, yet at his death he was the richest man in Nauvoo. God may reveal Himself to any man, woman or child, but that He would choose such a man as we know Smith was all his life to be His "vicegerent on earth" we cannot for a moment: believe.
Smith was not a willing martyr. He died with a six-shooter in his hand, firing at his assailants until his weapon was useless. Yet this is the man whom the Mormons believe to have discovered and translated the "Golden Bible." In view of all that is known of his ancestry, natural bent and character it is not at all strange that he claimed to have discovered this or anything else that his fancy might dictate.
The accounts of how it all occurred differ widely. The stories told to various people by Joseph himself differ on essential points. The account given by Smith's mother differs so widely from his own that the Mormon Church has tried to secure and destroy all copies of it. The account
The Sacred Books of the Mormons 49
that Smith finally prepared -- eleven years after the alleged discovery -- differs most radically from all the rest. This version, that the Mormons wish to have accepted, declares that Smith went into the woods to pray, was overcome by some mighty power, and saw a pillar of light and two persons of ineffable glory who told him that all churches were wrong. Some years after this, they say, in 1823, a person, "having a countenance truly like lightning," came into the room where he was praying and told him of the plates and two stones, Urim and Thummim, by which the plates could be translated. He then went to "Mormon Hill," near Manchester, Ontario County, New York, where he found the things mentioned by the angel under a large stone and in a stone box. He was forbidden to take them at this time but finally secured them in 1827. His mother said that he showed her all the plates; Joseph asserted that he spoke to his mother about them but did not: show them to her. He tried to impress a man named Hussey and showed him the plates wrapped in canvas but told him that if any one looked upon the plates it would mean instant death to him. Hussey took the risk, suddenly knocked off the canvas and disclosed a brick -- not even a gold one. Smith, with ready wit, told Hussey that he was "just fooling" him.
Probably Joseph Smith did not intend at first
50 Mormonism, The Islam of America
to found a new religion, but to prop up the waning faith in his peep-stone and its value. In fact Peter Ingersol, one of Smith's closest: friends, made affidavit in 1833 that Smith said to him soon after his alleged finding of the plates that it was all a fraud and "I have the ____ fools fixed and will carry out the fun." Smith's brother- in-law bore similar testimony. "However, the easy credulity of his mother encouraged him. She had said to friends in Vermont, long before, that she would be the mother of a prophet.
The first outside the family to give credence to Smith's claims was one Martin Harris. He was a versatile religious enthusiast, having been successively a Quaker, a Universalist, a Baptist and a Presbyterian. He claimed to talk with Jesus Christ, ghosts and the devil, and to have made one trip to the moon which he described in detailed and lurid terms. His neighbours said that he was a brute to his wife, the dupe of Smith, and a conceited hypocrite. Smith took Harris into partnership -- for a consideration--the latter having hope of financial returns.
On Harris' money Smith moved to Harmony, Pennsylvania, where the work of translation began, Harris for a time acting as amanuensis for Smith who was separated from the former by a screen. Harris wanted to see the plates and Smith gave him a copy of some of the writing on a paper which he showed to famous linguists all
The Sacred Books of the Mormons 51
of whom declared that it was a palpable and aggravated fraud.
Smith was now living near his wife's family but he never won their regard, and Isaac Hale, his father-in-law, declared that the whole Book of Mormon was "a silly fabrication of falsehood and wickedness got up for speculation and with a design to dupe the credulous and unwary."
Harris declared that he would put no more money into the enterprise unless he could show his wife the translation. Right here the Lord seems to have made a mistake, for Smith says that he received a special revelation directing him to satisfy the curiosity of Mrs. Harris who, failing to convince her husband of his folly, stole the papers and they were never seen again. When Smith heard of this he exclaimed, " Oh, my God! all is lost." He had kept no copy and knew that he could not produce another identical "translation" and feared that Mrs. Harris would produce the original should he try it. This incident caused a break between Smith and Harris and a "revelation" (DC 3) declared Harris a "wicked man."
For months the translation languished and then a "mysterious stranger" appeared at the Smith home on various occasions. This was Sydney Rigdon. Rigdon had been reared in western Pennsylvania and had become a Baptist preacher. In 1821 he became pastor of the First
52 Mormonism, The Islam of America
Baptist Church of Pittsburgh where he was soon expelled for doctrinal error. Soon after he became associated with Campbell and Scott in the organization of the Disciple Church.
Some facts about Rigdon may well be noted here showing that he was fundamentally dishonest. In 1822-23 he showed Rev. John Winter a "Romance of the Bible," and told him that a minister named Spaulding had written if. In 1839 he declared in writing that there was no printer in Pittsburgh by the name of Patterson while he lived there. But Spaulding left his manuscript with a printer named Patterson, and it can be proved that Rigdon knew him intimately. Alexander Campbell charged that Rigdon had advanced information about the Book of Mormon and manuscript in his possession which corresponded to the Book of Mormon as afterwards published. A niece of Mrs. Rigdon declared that she had seen and read a manuscript of similar import that was in Rigdon's possession. For months before Rigdon was "converted" to Mormonism he preached doctrines that were afterwards recognized as being peculiar to that religion. In 1830 he said to Dr. S. Rosa, of Painesville, Ohio, that a new religion would soon be springing up.
When the real work of getting out the Book of Mormon began both Spaulding and his printers were dead. On his death-bed he charged Rigdon
The Sacred Books of the Mormons 53
with having stolen his manuscript. When the Mormon elders first came to his place in Ohio, Rigdon invited them into his pulpit. After making a great pretense at defending his own doctrines he was miraculously converted one night and baptized and ordained the next day! So much for Rigdon!
The prophet's wife now acted as scribe in the work of translation until Oliver Cowdry, blacksmith and school-teacher, came to Smith's help. The accounts of the method of translation vary as much as the accounts of the finding of the golden plates. Smith said at one time that he used his peep-stone. At another time he said that: he used the Urim and Thummim. The work was at last completed and a publisher sought. After many had declined to publish the book Egbert B. Grandin, of Palmyra, N. Y., agreed to print and bind 5,000 copies for $3,000. Harris' farm seems to have restored him to favour in spite of his wickedness, and this was mortgaged to guarantee payment.
In spite of Smith's oft-repeated declaration that "the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used," the printers refused to set it according to copy, so poor were the spelling and grammar. Finally Smith was obliged to agree to many changes.
In 1830 the book was offered to the public
54 Mormonism, The Islam of America
and Harris held exclusive rights of sale on condition that he would never sell it for less than one dollar and twenty-five cents per copy; but no one wanted it at any price. The mortgage on Harris' farm was finally foreclosed to satisfy the debt.
Solomon Spaulding graduated from the Dartmouth School of Theology in 1787. Failing to succeed as a preacher he moved to what is now Conneaut, Ohio, became an infidel and turned his attention to writing, with the special intention of discrediting the Holy Scriptures. His first story pretended that a manuscript found in a stone box in a cove gave an account of the aborigines of America who, he claimed, were descended from the lost Ten Tribes of Israel.
In 1833 when a Mormon elder went to Conneaut and in a public meeting read copious extracts from the Book of Mormon, Solomon Spaulding's brother John was in the audience. This good man, being "eminently pious," was much grieved that the writings of his dead brother should be thus prostituted for the purposes of religious deception, and he publicly protested. He declared that he recognized manufactured proper names, peculiar idioms, historical ideas and data which he remembered as having seen in his brother's story. A dozen other Conneaut people who knew Solomon Spaulding and his story made affidavit to the same effect.
The Sacred Books of the Mormons 55
The Spaulding manuscript which is now in Oberlin College 1 was the first rough draft: of the story which was afterwards written over with Scriptural terminology. Members of the Spaulding family testify to this. It was the latter version that was stolen from the printers by Rigdon and which became the basis for the Book of Mormon.
The title "Manuscript Found" is not on the Oberlin copy, which has been published by the Mormons to refute any possible connection between Spaulding and the Book of Mormon. However, that title was on the manuscript taken by Spaulding's widow to the home of her brother, W. H. Sabine, at Onondaga Valley, N. Y. If there was no relation between the Spaulding story and the Book of Mormon the reasonable query is, how did the modern Mormons hit upon that title when they published the manuscript ?
What was the underlying motive for all this manifest deception? Rigdon was undoubtedly piqued at bring expelled by the Baptists, and angered at being set aside by Campbell in the Disciples' organization. For him and for the others, in addition to the thirst for prominence, there was the absorbing desire for money. All of their unlawful schemes speak the same word. Even their revelations from God declare that all money must be given into the hands of the priesthood (DC 119), yet Smith, a man of magnificent
1 See page 46.
56 Mormonism, The Islam of America
physique, was not to labour but was to be supported.
Greed of power and greed of pelf were reigning motives in the life of Smith. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than on the title page of the Book of Mormon where he claims to be "Author and Proprietor." To believe that the whole scheme was a conscious fraud is not out of harmony with the known facts in the private and public careers of the originators of Mormonism both before and after the publication of the Book of Mormon. But the church asserts:
We consider the Bible, the Book of Mormon, book of Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and the Sayings of Joseph, the Seer, our guides in faith and doctrine. The first four have been adopted as such by the Saints in General Conference (Pref. to Comp.).
In every edition of the Book of Mormon the testimony of the "Three Witnesses" and also of the "Eight Witnesses" is published. The "Three" were Cowdry, David Whitmer and Martin Harris. Four of the "Eight" were Whitmers, the others being Hiram Page, their brother-in-law, and three members of Smith's own family. Smith repeatedly said that no one but himself could look on the plates and live. But he afterwards declared that they "teased" him so that he finally had a revelation (DC 5) in which the
The Sacred Books of the Mormons 57
Lord said that he might show the plates to three of his servants -- "And to none else will I grant; this power to receive this testimony among this generation," Smith then tells that he took the "Three" into the woods, left Harris by himself and went further into the woods with Cowdry and Whitmer and, in answer to prayer, the angel of the Lord came and showed them the plates. Smith says that he then went to where Harris was engaged in prayer and told him of their success and in response to further prayer "the same vision was opened to our view, at least it was to me again," and Harris rejoiced with the others.
The "Eight" in their testimony say:
We have seen the plates which contain this record, and we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown to us by the power of God... an angel came down from heaven and he brought and laid before our eyes and it is by the grace of God that we beheld and saw the plates.
Is it not justifiable to inquire right here as to whether the Lord had forgotten that He said, when He showed the plates to the "Three," that no one else in that generation should see them? The general reputation of these eleven witnesses was bad even the Mormons. In 1838 Cowdry and two of the Whitmers were driven
58 Mormonism, The Islam of America
out of Far West by the Danites, and Smith and Rigdon had the most serious charges made against: them by their own brother Mormons. Many of the eleven apostatized and died out of the faith of Mormonism. Cowdry said upon one occasion that he was willing to expose Mormonism and that when he signed that testimony he "was not one of the best of men." In the revelation granting permission to see the plates it was said, "It is by faith you shall see them." David Whitmer, afterwards denied that he had actually seen the plates and said: "Suppose you had a friend whose character was such that you knew it was impossible for him to lie; then if he described a city to you which you had never seen, could you not, by the eye of faith, see the city just as he described it?"
Harris afterwards told a lawyer of Palmyra that he did not actually see the plates "as I do that pencil case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith.... though at the time they were covered up with a cloth." He evidently had forgotten that the Lord had warned him to say nothing about this experience except to insist that he had seen the plates.
The Book of Mormon claims to be the record of three colonies of people who came from the old world in ancient times, and lived on this continent for 2,500 years. The first party, consisting of about twenty-five people under Jared, left
The Sacred Books of the Mormons 59
Asia soon after the flood and after floating three hundred and forty-four days, landed on these shores. They prospered and multiplied and finally divided into two rival nations which exterminated each other with the exception of one man, Coriantur.
About this time, 600 B. C., another party under Lehi left: Jerusalem and after drifting across the Pacific Ocean, landed upon the shores of South America. As they multiplied, the descendants of two brothers, Nephi and Laman, became two nations. In about nine years, a third party left Jerusalem headed by one of the sons of King Zedekiah and settled somewhere in South America. About: four hundred years later they were discovered by the Nephites and absorbed into their own nation.
The Lamanites (Indians) multiplied and populated all of South America, and the Nephites spread all through North America, where they enjoyed a highly-developed Christian civilization. It is claimed that Jesus, after His ascension as recorded in the Bible, visited this continent and repeated His wonderful life and works. Very soon all of the Lamanites and Nephites were converted and two hundred years of peace, prosperity and purity followed, only to be disturbed by a terrible apostasy on the part of the Lamanites who finally destroyed all of the Nephites about the year 384 A. B., and were left in undisturbed
60 Mormonism, The Islam of America
possession of the Western hemisphere until the coming of Columbus. A man named Mormon was commander-in-chief of the Nephites. Before their total destruction he gathered all their sacred writings together and made a careful condensation of the same which he committed to his son Moroni who, in turn, hid them in the hill where Smith alleges that he found them.
The effect: of the whole book is disappointing for, outside of the passages quoted, or, rather, plagiarized from the Bible, there is absolutely nothing uplifting or inspiring. One looks in vain for a Twenty-third Psalm or a fourteenth chapter of John. Everything is stilted, complicated, diffuse, meaningless or even brutal. Many passages might be quoted which would be more easily understood if only about one-third as many words had been used. Even Jesus, whose simple, direct, incisive language is the admiration of the world, is represented as using one sentence which is so repetitious as to be all but meaningless (Nephi 21:2-7. Originally one sentence).
Whoever was the author of this book had various pet words and expressions which are used over and over again in spite of the absurdity. The words "more" and "more part" are thus repeated; for example: "For a more part history are written upon nine other plates" (Nephi 4: 14) Similarly absurd uses of this
The Sacred Books of the Mormons 61
expression are frequent. 1 It should be explained that the reader may never find some of these expressions in the present editions of the Book of Mormon. The Mormons are constantly making changes in the wording and grammar of the book. In 1898 Lamoni Call, of Bountiful, Utah, printed a pamphlet giving more than two thousand changes that had been made in the Book of Mormon up to that time. Some of the changes entirely alter the meaning as well as the wording. Inspiration is claimed for the translation as well as the original of the Book: of Mormon. Smith often repeated the statement that "the Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth." Martin Harris said:
There were no delays over obscure passages, no difficulties over the choice of words, no stoppages from the ignorance of the translator; no time was wasted in investigation or argument over the value, intent or meaning of certain characters.... The translation of the characters appeared on the Urim and Thummim sentence by sentence, and as soon as one was correctly transcribed the next would appear.... But if not: correctly written it remained until corrected ("Myth of Mormonism," p. 91).
Until the writing was correct in every particular the words last given would remain before the
1 See Book of Mormon, fourth Chicago edition, 1908, pp. 18, 447, 448, 487, 494, 495, 546, etc. Other pages given refer to same edition,
62 Mormonism, The Islam of America
eyes of the translator and not disappear (Whitney's "Brief History," p. 28. Mormon authority).
The accounts of alleged miracles given in the Book of Mormon are puerile in the extreme. Passing by the absurdities of making fire, the brass ball with its spindles and pointers and the strange compass (pp. 36, 38, 40, 46), we notice the curse of the Lamanites which was a dark skin given to them (who had been fair) that they might not be so enticing to the Nephites (p. 72). But five hundred years afterwards, on their becoming Nephites, their skin became fair again (p. 480). One of their greatest absurdities is the story of Jared's barges. They were built "according to the instruction of the Lord " (p. 473) and the bottom, sides, ends and doors were "tight like a dish," and "the length thereof was the length of a tree" (p. 576). These ships were so tight that the people could not breathe, so Jared cried to the Lord for relief and was instructed to make holes in the top and in the bottom. Even then there was no light and the people cried out against the darkness. The Lord was obliged to ask the brother of Jared what to do and he readily solved the difficulty for he went forth into the mountain and "did moulten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear even as transparent
The Sacred Books of the Mormons 63
glass." These upon being touched by the finger of the Lord became luminous and were placed in the vessels and gave light.
The impossible statements regarding the geography of the world, the increase of people, the feats achieved, are too numerous to mention.
There is a long prophecy (pp. 65-67) in reference to Joseph Smith, in which it is said that he was to be a descendant in direct line of the elder Joseph through Lehi. Now the account: further says that all the Nephites were destroyed and only Lamanites (Indians) were left upon this hemisphere. Therefore Smith must have been an Indian, but his mother tells us that he was descended from one Robert Smith who lived in England three hundred years ago. It will not do to say that he was of the "spiritual" seed of Lehi for in the prophecy the expression "fruit of thy loins" is used too often in referring to Joseph.
Towards the end of the career of the Nephites, while pressed upon every side by the Lamanites, the Nephite leader, Mormon, writes to the commander of the Lamanites that if he will meet him at the hill Cumorah he will give battle. This hill was 5,000 miles from the home of the Lamanites and 3,000 miles from the nearest cities of the Nephites (p. 559).
These Lamanites were a peculiar people. In one place they are represented as naked, ferocious savages who do not know enough to make
64 Mormonism, The Islam of America
helmets and other weapons of defense. Yet it is also said that they possessed great cities, sanctuaries, dwelling houses, temples, flocks and herds, and contended for universal salvation (pp. 240, 284, 297, 298, 361 to 366).
There are various anachronisms in the book. In many places expressions are used that were particularly familiar in the days when the book was put upon the market. We find "arms of his love" (p. 59), "chains of hell," "redeeming love," "change of heart" and "the song of redeeming love" (pp. 246-247).
The circulation of the blood was not known until 1619 A. D., yet King Benjamin (126 B. C.) thus speaks of Christ:
And lo, He shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst and fatigue, and even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore (p. 167).
It was many centuries after this that science knew anything about pores. On pages 324 and 463, writers before the time of Christ describe in a modern way the movements of the sun and earth.
Hundreds of years before they were recorded by John in Revelation xxii. 11, Nephi is represented as quoting the words there spoken by our Lord (p. 80). Again this same man quotes the Apostle Paul in the past tense, anticipating by hundreds
The Sacred Books of the Mormons 65
of years the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. Other similar "breaks" might be mentioned.
It is alleged that this book was compiled by Mormon 1500 years ago, from the records of the Nephites made more than a thousand years before that; yet more than one-fourth of the entire book is made up of quotations, or garbled quotations, from the King James Version of the Bible. If the pretended dates of the Book of Mormon are true, Jesus was a plagiarist quoting parrot-like the sayings that Mormon sages had uttered centuries before He lived. There are scores of cases where modern words, expressions and idioms, wholly unknown two centuries ago, are put into the mouths of crude savages of 2,500 years ago.
This book claims that the people mentioned in it lived on this hemisphere from before the time of Christ until the white man came from Europe. There are well preserved ruins and other remains in abundance throughout Mexico, Central and South America where their great cities are supposed to have been. We have a fairly good idea of the life, civilization, religion, habits, laws and customs which these people had, yet they correspond in no respect to the representation made in the Book of Mormon. The Mormons would have us believe that there was one universal language on this continent and they show specimens of it. The fact is that, during the very
66 Mormonism, The Islam of America
period of which their book tells us, there were unnumbered scores of different languages and peoples. Their writings remain until this day, but not one of them is in any respect similar to that which they claim alone existed and which appeared on the golden plates.
The authentic cities of the ancient: world, or their ruins, exist: to-day, and in most instances they have the same names. But not one of the cities of the Book of Mormon has come down to us nor is it known where their ruins are. According to the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were originally all Jews, with certain well defined physical characteristics that remain the world over and through the centuries. But the skulls and human bones that have been preserved from that period until this day bear no resemblance to the Hebrew contour, and give us every reason for believing that no white race ever lived on this continent until the coming of the Spaniard. The whole alleged civilization of the Book of Mormon is a myth. The writer incorporated into the life of its people conditions and ideas identical with those held in 1825 with reference to the mound builders of the Ohio Valley.
There is not the slightest evidence that the aborigines of this continent anywhere knew anything about the practical use of iron, steel and brass. However, we read:
The Sacred Books of the Mormons 67
And I did teach my people to build buildings; and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance (pp. 7, 153, 186).
We have abundant evidence as to the fauna of this country but there is not the slightest evidence for believing that previous to the coming of the Europeans there existed here any of our present domestic animals or even others at all similar. The Book of Mormon says:
And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals which were for the use of men (pp. 47, 151, 295, etc.).
This book also represents that there was a complicated system of gold and silver coinage among its people (p. 265). Greek and Roman coins have come down to us from before the time of Christ. Various articles have been found in the ruins of this continent where they were left before the time these Jews are alleged to have, come, but there is no evidence that a gold or silver coin was ever used here before the advent of the Europeans.
We have devoted most of this chapter to the
68 Mormonism, The Islam of America
Book of Mormon for the prophet himself said, "It is the keystone of our religion." It is upon the credibility of this book that the Mormon religion stands or falls. The evidence that has been given in the preceding pages by no means exhausts the material of a similar kind that may be found in it.
The Book of Doctrine and Covenants is composed of seven lectures on faith and one hundred and thirty-six alleged revelations from God said to have been received by Smith, Cowdry, Rigdon, Partridge and John Whitmer. It must be said, however, that most of the revelations were given through Joseph to some one or else given to that other person in the presence of Joseph. It would seem that the Lord could not be trusted to give a revelation to any one unless Joseph was around to see that everything was all right. Space is lacking to mention here the discrepancies between the different chapters of the book and between this book and other sacred writings of the Mormons. An application of the following statement, given in reference to one specific case, may explain them all:
"These discrepancies can best be accounted for by the explanation of different accounts of an event that never happened, and told to conceal one that did happen."
The Pearl of Great Price is composed of the books of Moses and Abraham, an inspired (?)
The Sacred Books of the Mormons 69
translation of a small part of the book of Matthew, a portion of Smith's autobiography and the Articles of Faith of the Mormon Church. A large part of the Book of Moses and of the Book of Abraham is made up of direct quotations from the King James Version of the Bible. All told there are only one hundred and three small pages of coarse print.
The Latter Day Saints
(London: Williams & Norgate, 1912)
[ 1 ]
On the morning of the 22nd of September 1827 the Angel of the Lord delivered to Joseph Smith a series of records of the aboriginal inhabitants of North America. These records, graven on plates that had the appearance of gold, declared that the American Indians were the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, and from these records and the accompanying instructions of the Angel, Smith received orders for the founding of his faith and prophecies concerning the future of things in general. In accordance with the instructions thus received, Smith organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now commonly called the Mormon Church, on the 6th of April 1830, the formal organization being effected near the scene of the
2 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
Angel's visit, in the town of Manchester, Wayne County (then Ontario County), state of New York, U.S.A. 1
So much is relatively simple. To understand, however, how it became possible for a Church to be founded upon the mere statement of Joseph Smith that he had received these records, and that previous to their receipt he had been visited by many celestial visions, one must briefly consider both the economic and religious conditions of the United States of America between the years 1790 and 1830 between, in other words, the moment of the earliest rush of pioneers westward from the thicker settlements of the thirteen original states and the beginning of the "Reign of Jackson," so-called.
The states were then but loosely bound together. They were so loosely bound that threats of secession were constant, and not until 1830, when Jackson summarily informed South Carolina that her proposal to secede from the Union would be met with armed resistance, did the various commonwealths feel the grip of solidarity. Except that they were ready to unite against a common enemy, that they had a national legislative body devised to make laws for concerns of the Union only, and a purely executive president elected for one or two terms of four years, they were to all intents and purposes so many separate countries. The interests of Massachusetts and Virginia were as different as those of France and Russia, and their laws and customs differed accordingly.
There were, to be sure, large tracts of public lands held by the central government, but even these would eventually divide themselves into various self-governing
1 History of the Latter Day Saints, by Joseph Smith.
THE FORERUNNERS OF MORMONISM 3
and self-legislating states. Much of these tracts was, moreover, uninhabited save for scattered and nomad tribes of Indians; and the pioneers, venturing into that wilderness, where, with their own hands, they were compelled to build their own houses, provide their own food and clothing, found themselves cut off from contact with the towns and from direct communication with each other. Merchandise travelled by lumbering vans over trails that were for months impassable; newspapers were almost unknown; the post was infrequent and unreliable. Each family shifted for itself; each family struggled for itself and fought its own war with the forest. In the United States life was then in that halcyon day so loved of the modern reactionary when the family was indeed the unit of society. As a natural consequence, the pioneer was not disposed to concern himself overmuch with written rules from Washington.
West of the narrow eastern strip of civilization there was, therefore, little chance for culture. The world worked hard to keep alive. Children were necessarily brought up in comparative ignorance, and the few existing free schools were hopelessly inadequate, frequented only during the mid-winter months when they were governed by school- masters whose sole qualifications consisted, usually, of no more than "The Three R's: readin', 'ritin', an' 'rithmetic." The parents presented the picture of peasants, but peasants of only one generation: they were bound to no tradition; they were free to explore mentally and morally as well as physically. It was a time and place of chaotic communities and individual restlessness. The reaching out for new lands to conquer, the ceaseless necessity of satisfying new requirements by new agricultural
4 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
appliances, by better methods of travel, by the natural desire for comradeship and, as the years at last eased them, by more comfortable conditions, as well as the slowly increasing mingling of people whose religious opinions were dissimilar, caused a general readiness for what was novel in theology as well as for what was novel in the other departments of life. The pioneer reached for something new to suit his religious cravings just as he reached for new land and new methods to suit his material desires.
In the cities along the Atlantic Coast, this time was also a time of stress. It was the period of the decline of commerce and the rise of manufacture, which has found its ablest expositor in Mr A. M. Simons, and the transition from commerce to manufacture, especially in the introduction of the factory system, was made with far greater speed than characterised the same process in England. In the elder country, industry progressed toward the factory "from the 'household' stage, in which each family produced for its own consumption, to the 'domestic' stage, when the family was still the productive unit and the home the only factory, but where production was for the market"; whereas, in the newer land, the progress " was almost direct from the 'household' to the factory system." 1 In England, again, in the cotton trade, for example, while machines did the spinning, the weaving was still done in the cottage, whereas in the United States Francis C. Lowell set up an establishment, the first of its kind, for the entire manufacture of cotton-cloth at Waltham, Massachusetts, as early as 1814. 2 The
1 See A. M. Simons's admirable Social Forces in American History, to which we are indebted for much of the data immediately following.
2 Industrial Evolution in the United States, by C. D. Wright.
THE FORERUNNERS OF MORMONISM 5
almost immediate result was a full-blown factory system in those northern cities that were to be a part of Smith's recruiting-ground.
It was, as Simons ably demonstrates, a system "based upon the existence of a body of propertyless wage-workers" not only in the cotton trade, but in most other industries. Though less known, the sufferings of the American proletariat in this period of social evolution correspond closely to those of their English brothers. In the new country as in the old, "the cradle and the home were robbed to secure victims for the natal sacrifice of newborn capitalism." On the floor of Congress in 1816, only two years after the building of Lowell's mill, it was declared that, thanks to Arkwright's invention, the manufacture of cotton was so revolutionized that "five or six men are sufficient for ... a factory of 2000 spindles," the other hands being mere children. 1 In the same year a Government report estimated that nine-tenths of the 100,000 workers in the cloth-mills were women, boys, and girls. Wages were at their lowest ebb, and work in some cases began at 4.30 a.m. and continued until night had fallen. President Monroe officially rejoiced in this " fall in the price of labour, apparently so favourable to the success of domestic manufactures." 1
Nor was that all. Direct voting scarcely existed. The state legislatures, not the people, commonly elected the state governors; the presidential candidates, themselves chosen not by the people, but by Congressional caucuses, were elected by presidential electors also fixed upon by the state legislatures; and a property qualification determined the voters for candidates to the legislature.
1 Benton's Abridgments of the Debates of Congress.
6 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
Thus practically unrepresented among the law-makers, the labourer was indeed lost. He had no lien on his product, and was therefore often robbed of such small wages as were promised him. His creditors, for no matter how small a debt, could strip him of everything, and, if that everything did not satisfy the indebtedness, could, and often did, send him to prisons where the State furnished no fuel, food, or clothing; where the debtor could earn no money, yet where he must remain until the debt was paid. Frequently he remained for years, sometimes for life. In 1829 the Prison Discipline Society reported that 75,000 persons were annually imprisoned for debt in the United States and that in more than half the cases the debt was under four pounds.
The Government supplied more prisons than schools. According to Simons, who quotes from the best authorities, 1 "the educational facilities of the United States were at their very lowest ebb in the years from 1814 to 1828. The old social order had lost its strength; the new one had not had time to develop educational expression. The most efficient schools were the private academies of New England. The public schools, the only ones accessible to the wageworkers, were less efficient than at any period before or since. The management of the schools had been subdivided in response to the individualistic, competitive, separatist spirit of early capitalism until the little school districts were almost autonomous. Religious education had declined with the overthrow of the theocracy, and the multitude of seceding sects had not yet built up educational
1 History of Education in the United States, by Frank T. Carlton ; and the same author's Economic Influences upon Educational Progress in the United States, the latter a Bulletin of the University of Wisconsin.
THE FORERUNNERS OF MORMONISM 7
institutions. Massachusetts, then, as throughout American history, at the head in educational matters, was expending but two dollars and seventy-five cents per pupil annually in education."
Finally, says Simons, "the religious reflex of the decline of commerce and the rise of manufacture was so like the religious movement that accompanied the rise of capitalism in Europe that it has been designated as 'The New England Reformation.' The orthodox clergy that had so long actively participated in the rulership of society were disturbed by the rise of new sects. In the very stronghold of Puritanism the old orthodoxy was attacked and overthrown by the most liberal of creeds Unitarianism. The Congregational clergy, long a part of the ruling hierarchy, was split into warring sects.... By the time the lines were clearly drawn it was discovered that the new religious forces had captured Harvard College. There was also a division of a similar character in the ranks of the Quakers, and numerous peculiar and separatist sects rose throughout the West." 1
Especially was this true of those agricultural regions that were familiar enough with the hand of man not to present the same difficulties that were presented by their near neighbours to the pioneer, yet were still outlying districts with no broad interests and no close connection with the cities of the sea-coast. Here books were luxuries. The Bible was the only volume to be found in most households, and that, as a consequence, was thoroughly read. Many a man that could not read was at least able to quote more or less accurately whole chapters of Scripture, his teachers, people of a narrow
1 See also The Development of American Literature from 1815 to 1833, by W. B. Cairns, to which Simons refers.
8 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
faith, not having scrupled to sacrifice his educational to his spiritual welfare. Thus, with the world of politics shut from them, without literature, with their economic interests simple and few, these people, living in an atmosphere impregnated by a calm acceptance of the charms and sorceries of the Old Testament, occupied not a little of their leisure with inquiries into the, health of their own souls and unriddling of whatever was not immediately clear to their simple intelligences in the book that they considered the Word of God. Spme of them became religious hypochondriacs, and many tortured the text of the King James Version into amazing meanings. The necessarily suppressed emotions of these people were in part met and in part stimulated by those religious sects, especially the Presbyterians and Methodists, which at this time started waves of evangelistic meetings called "revivals" and of open-air "camp-meetings" held in the smallest villages and hamlets throughout the entire country. Many thousands of persons were greatly affected by these meetings, so much so that they yielded their spirits everywhere to conversion; and, as converts, they would often again alter their views at the breaking of the next wave of meetings over their town, changing their beliefs within a few years, or even a few months. Their form of worship was as variable as are some men's politics.; there was not one tide, but many, in the faiths of men.
From 1800 until 1835 new sects were plentiful in the United States. There were the Zoarites, a secession from the Lutheran Church. There were the "Come-outers," a term applied to a large body that had seceded from various denominations in the northern and eastern parts of the country, men that disagreed, rather than agreed, in common, but united in their denunciation of
THE FORERUNNERS OF MORMONISM 9
chattel-slavery and of all forms of war. Then, too, was organized by John Winebrenner, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a sect that still endures; that then joined with the "Come-outers" in the declaration against chattel-slavery; that ascribed to their Church the attributes of Visibility, Unity, Sanctity, Universality, and Perpetuity; and that chose and retained the modest title of The Church of God.
The Bible Christians were another significant expression of their times. They rested on the faith that whenever there is wrong, God will send a servant to right it. Abuses in the Church brought their own reformer. Noah, they said, Abraham, and Jesus were sent; when the Christian Church was ill a Luther, a Calvin, or a Melanchthon appeared to cure it. 1 Founded in England by the Rev. William Cowherd, formerly a clergyman of the Established Church, and once attached to Christ Church, Salfordj this sect taught abstinence from animal flesh and alcoholic liquors, and in 1817 sent a large number of its members to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Some went farther west to preach their doctrines; others remained in Philadelphia, where they finally purchased a building and advertised in the newspapers that "the members of the Bible-Christian Church assembled every Sabbath Day, giving such Exposition of the revealed Word of God as they might be graciously vouchsafed by the goodness of God." They would begin their work in a city by commenting on the first chapter of Genesis in the morning and the first chapter of St. Matthew in the evening, and thus, by a sort of stubborn dead-reckoning, work their expository course through the entire Scriptures.
The German element among the immigrants in the
1 History of the Bible Christians, by Rev. William Metcalfe.
10 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
United States supplied, as was to be expected, its full share to this confusion of spiritual tongues which explains the beginnings of Mormonism. The Teutonic division of the list is long, but our present purpose will be served by two examples: the Separatists, and the German Baptists, or River Brethren.
The former received their name in Germany, where they originated early in the eighteenth century. 1 George Rapp, their founder, came to the United States in 1803, and about a hundred and twenty-five families of his disciples followed him. They built their church upon the rock provided by the thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth verses of the fourth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles:
"Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
"And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need."
In a word, the Separatists were Primitive Communists, but they carried the principles of primitive communism to such a point that they denied private property even in the matter of one's own body. They built the town of Economy in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, and went at last the way that must inevitably be gone by a small body of passive-resistance communists completely surrounded by competitive capitalism.
The German Baptists were one of the divisions of the Baptist Church that was, at just this time, torn by bitter contentions. They were distinguished from their religious cousins by their manner of administering baptism, for, in the most convenient stream, they placed the candidate in a kneeling posture and then pushed
1 Handworterbuch von Ehrenfried, article " Separatisten."
THE FORERUNNERS OF MORMONISM 11
him, head first, under the water a custom that gained them, from their adversaries, the derisive title of "tunkers" or "tumblers." Besides these River Brethren there was the Free Will Baptists, who organized an independent General Conference in 1827; and the Seventh Day Baptists, who adopted the Jewish Sabbath, and some of whom emigrated, as early as 1824, from New Jersey and Virginia, to Ohio. When they had gone, they left to quarrel on the Atlantic Coast the Baptists pure and simple, the Six-Principle or General Baptists, the Free Communion Baptists, and the Old School Baptists.
In this mere glance at the more or less peculiar sects that made smooth the way for Mormonism in the public mind, it would be interesting to include many denominations, some of which still linger, but most of which have long since passed away. It would be interesting to tell at length of the Albrights, later known as the Evangelical Association, organized in the United States about the first year of the nineteenth century, and of the Universal Restorationists, who began their universal labours in the town of Mendon, Massachusetts, in the year 1831. But to show the length to which popular credulity would in those days go, it is necessary here to add only the Millerites and the Wilkinsonians.
The same decade that produced Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church produced also William Miller and his followers, who called themselves Adventists and whom the profane called Millerites. 1 Miller was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1781. He was poorly educated, but, at an early age, began to study the Bible through the medium of his own unassisted intelligence. His study brought him to a conclusion not unlike that
1 History of the Adventists, by Josiah Litch.
12 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
held in times past by men of considerably more scholarship, and not unlike that held in general by the Early Christians themselves. He compared the various prophecies; he studied the conditions surrounding the fulfilment of such prophecies as had already been fulfilled, and he decided, from what he thus observed, that the second coming of Christ was an imminent event. He said that this coming was pre-millennial, and he fixed its date at about 1843. He preached his faith for years, and his words produced a tremendous effect. It was indeed the voice of one crying in the wilderness, but the wilderness gave startled ear and began to prepare the way of the Lord. He bade his people make ready, even to the clothes they wore, and many a family slept at night with their "resurrection-robes" ready for donning. His followers came to believe "the coming of the Lord to be at the door," and hundreds, on the dates when He was expected, placed themselves on housetops to wait. The files of some of the English newspapers of that period gave descriptions of these preparations which are not so much exaggerated as are, unhappily, some of the more recent pictures of American life presented by a certain portion of the British press. Several wrong guesses on Miller's part did not materially weaken the faith of his followers. Land was sold for a song, and personal property given to the poor. In 1843 there were said to be 50,000 persons converted to Miller's views, and only the slow passage of uneventful time disillusioned them.
The Wilkinsonians are equally to the present point. They lived, for the most part, not more than twenty- five miles from Manchester, New York, the town in which Mormonism was first preached; and, small as their numbers were in comparison with the Adventists,
THE FORERUNNERS OF MORMONISM 13
they very likely influenced the surrounding countryside and assuredly serve well to indicate the character of its people.
Jemima Wilkinson, the founder of this sect, 1 was known throughout that portion of New York. In October 1776, recovering from an illness, during which she had "fallen into a syncope, so that she was apparently dead," she declared that she had, in truth, been raised from the dead and had been divinely appointed to teach mankind. With many followers she at last sought "a new land" where she might lay the corner-stone of her earthly kingdom, selecting for that purpose a place in Yates County not far from the line of the county in which Manchester was situated. She called her town New Jerusalem, and there she taught her followers poverty, it is said. As for herself, she lived on the fatness of the land, and owned most of the property, which she had the forethought to purchase in another's name.
One of her declarations was that commonest to all founders of religions : she could perform miracles. Should the people wish to test her, she had, she averred, such faith that she could walk on water. In fact, all the necessary preparations, at least all the apparently necessary preparations, for her doing this were made at Lake Seneca. A multitude gathered. Wilkinson drove up in her carriage, descended, and announced to the crowd that she was about to walk across the lake and upon its surface. On a path of white handkerchiefs strewn for her by her followers, she walked to the water's very edge. Then she paused and turned to her spectators. She inquired of the
1 History of all the Religious Denominations in the United States, edited by John Winebrenner.
14 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
crowd if they had faith that she could reach the other shore, for if they did not share her faith the feat could not be accomplished. The crowd gave loud assurance that it possessed the requisite credulity, whereupon Wilkinson returned to her carriage, since it was self-evident that if the crowd really believed in her power, the demonstration would be merely supererogatory. It was a decision of logic equalled only by the Moslem conqueror's declaration concerning the Alexandrine Library, yet it had no worse effect upon the Wilkinsonians' belief in Jemima's powers to cure physical ills, to foretell the future, and to work miracles, than the destruction of the library had upon the faith in the Koran. It is plain, then, that the economic conditions of the day were ready for Joseph Smith, that the economic conditions of the day, indeed, produced him. "The enormous credulity of the Mormonites in their capacity of followers," said an English writer, 1 "is all a trait of human nature as old as the hills.... Sensuality in connection with religion, presumption, the prophetic element, the pseudo Old Testament, the expectation of an earthly paradise or millennium all separately old and well-known manifestations had only to combine and adopt in addition, and as the crowning trait, the modern and nineteenth-century impulse for emigration, and we have the whole of Mormonism before us." Southey was also among the prophets: 2 "Were there another Mahommed to arise, there is no part of the world where he would find more scope or fairer opportunity than in that part of the Anglo-American union into which the elder states continually discharge the restless part of their population."
1 In the London Times of 5th January 1858.
2 Colloquy X., part ii.
[ 15 ]
On his father's side, Joseph Smith was descended from a family in which the wander-lust seems always to have been strong and into which a love of the occult made its way long before the appearance of the founder of Mormonism. That the information is confusing and that various authorities provide various ancestors is not, perhaps, surprising, since the early days of America were not days in which vital statistics were always well kept, and since, at any rate, a certain genealogical confusion is not uncommon in the traditions surrounding the originators of most religions. What is surprising, because it is generally so rare, is the manner in which, in the case of Joseph Smith, even the accounts of the faithful show their first prophet to have been a logical product of his sires.
Of these the first in America was Robert Smith, who left England for the New World either in 1638 or 1640. From what part of England he came, nobody appears to know; but he settled in the village of Rowley, near Newberryport, in Massachussetts. His son Samuel is said to have been the father of Robert Smith, a soldier in the American Revolution, whom some historians name as the grandfather of the first Mormon, while others declare that the grandfather was named Asael
16 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
Smith and assert that Asael's house was, until recently, standing in the town of Topsfield, Mass. In either case, Joseph Smith, senior, the father of the founder, was born in Royalston, Vermont, whither his parents had then removed.
The elder Joseph was by inclination a wanderer and by trade a seeker of buried treasure. For the greater part of his life he followed both inclination and trade, though the latter seems to have been the less successful. Nevertheless, it was a not unusual occupation. In those days many a superstitious man would go about the country with his "divining-rod," partly believing that, held loosely in his hands, it would miraculously bend when it passed above soil that concealed golden deposit, and partly accepted by the rural population, who conceded to the rod the same power for the discovery of hidden water and employed the diviner to discover needed springs. The practice still survives in certain portions of America and is still to be found, under the name of "dowsing," in odd corners of England. By such means the father of the prophet earned a more or less irregular livelihood, which, since neither he nor his wife possessed a reputation for over-scrupulousness, and since both owned what were described as babbling tongues, was from time to time relieved by a long series of petty law-suits. The trade, the wander-lust, or the law-suits at last drove the family into the state of New York, where, for some years, they lived much as they had lived in New England.
For Joseph the elder had married. While, by some chance, the owner of a farm on the Merrimack River in New Hampshire, 1 he had married Lucy Mack, who, in
1 History of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase, Turner.
spite of her neurasthenic temperament, seems to have been of sturdier stuff than her husband.
According to her own account, 1 written for the most part before the prophet's death and under his personal supervision, her father was Solomon Mack, born in New London County, Connecticut, in 1735. Because his father, Ebenezer Mack, had fallen upon evil days and lost property of considerable value, Solomon was brought up by a neighbour's family, which he left to enlist as a soldier at the age of twenty-one. That was the beginning of a life of adventure in which his wife, Lydia Gates, a school-mistress of East Haddon, Connecticut, and their four children played many parts. They never prospered, and, when it finally occurred to them that ill-doing was sometimes the cause of ill-luck, they proceeded to pursue religion as devoutly as they had formerly pursued the rainbow. Even the children -- there were three girls and a boy well named Jason -- were taught to read and study and puzzle over the Bible, and when a daughter suddenly recovered from a desperate illness and declared her healing due to a miracle, her word was accepted by the surrounding country-folk, and she began to have visions.
Lucy Mack, the mother of Joseph Smith, was born in New Hampshire in July 1776. She was never a healthy child, and at one time was convinced that life was not worth the living. At length, however, she made up her mind to have a "change of heart." Studiously she set herself to reading the Bible and to praying, and the more she read and prayed the more bewildered she became by the differences between the denominations that waged spiritual war in the town about her. She tells us that her difficulty was to find
1 History of Joseph Smith, Junior, by Mrs. Lucy Smith.
18 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
in any of these sects a resemblance to the "Church of Christ" as the early Christians knew it, and she adds that she had no taste for what seemed to her the tortured misinterpretations that the existing Churches dragged from the Scriptures. 1 She was still in this mental mist when she met and married the elder Joseph Smith.
There are few stronger forces than a familiar type of indecision. Mrs Smith's indecision was so strong that it appears at once to have impressed itself upon the weak will of her husband, who began to worry about his own soul. As is usually the case in such unions, the joint efforts of the pair effected not a cure, but an intensification. They probed and argued. They experimented with the Universalist faith, and, finding no soul-satisfaction therein, joined the Methodist. In this sort of religious coquetry they passed six years.
During these six years Lucy's two sisters, including the one formerly cured by a miracle, had died of tuberculosis of the lungs. Her husband, at the end of that time, let his farm and invested all his money in a cross-roads " store," where odds and ends, from vinegar and molasses to tobacco, hardware and clothing, were to be bought, and where, of evenings, the village gossips would gather, discussing the affairs of the neighbourhood and those metaphysical problems that, as we have seen, occupied so much of the minds of their class.
Then Mrs Smith became ill. She sought physicians, one of whom told her husband that she was suffering from the same disease that had slain her sisters and that she too must die. The elder Joseph indiscreetly communicated this diagnosis to his wife, who, greatly agitated, passed a night in prayer. She was, according
1 History of Joseph Smith, Junior, by Mrs. Lucy Smith.
to her own written words, immediately " healed of her sickness." 1
But though her health was fixed, her religious sentiments remained unsettled. She must, she tells us, be instructed in the way of salvation, and no one could help her. Nowhere on earth, she concluded, was there an adequate denomination. For several more years she studied the Bible until many of its words were as familiar to her as were her neighbours' daily words of greeting; and then, forced to some definite action, she had herself baptized at a spiritual venture, thus, as she reasoned, saving her soul and at the same time leaving herself free to choose a sect at her leisure.
Meantime, her husband had material worries to add to his worries spiritual. His store did not pay him the profits that he had expected. He therefore invested all his money in ginseng root, in the belief that the root, when crystallized, was a panacea and especially efficacious in the treatment of ills then rampant in the village. Perhaps from his wife's dead sister he had contracted an interest in the cure of disease.
So, no doubt, had Mrs Smith's brother, Jason Mack. He now reappeared, after several years' unaccounted absence, and went about performing miracles, not hesitating, he confessed, to raise the dead. He was having a wonderful success and everywhere held "revivals" crowded by followers.
It was but natural that the Smiths should be sensibly affected by the gospel of Jason. It is not recorded that he attempted any of his powers for resurrection upon his dead sisters; but there was plenty of ocular evidence on his part that occultism was a better investment
1 History of Joseph Smith, Junior, by Mrs. Lucy Smith.
20 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
than shop-keeping or ginseng-crystallization. At any rate, Mrs Smith's visions, acute until now, straightway became chronic. She was restless in her sleep and dreamed always. These dreams of the night she would ponder by day and then endeavour to interpret. Even Joseph senior was not exempt. He contracted the contagion, and began to have visions of his own. Still unable conscientiously to adhere to any of the existing sects, he urged his wife forward in her search for a religion with none of the present complexities, a religion that would comply literally with the interpretation of the Scriptures. He even achieved a point whereat he declared that those who professed the accepted religions were as ignorant of superhuman matters as those who did not.
The benefits of vision are uncertain. At first nothing came of Smith's save that business decline which is inevitably experienced by the man who, serving God and Mammon, does not devote himself entirely to his faith. Smith lost money. He slipped back into his old trade of money-finder, but found little. Then, one night in 1811, having again changed his place of residence, he awoke, we are told, 1 "clapping his hands together for joy." The cause of his rapture we are not informed of, but concerning its effect we are left in no perplexity: for some years thereafter the family prospered, and the children were sent to school.
Misfortune, however, had not yet done with the parents of the prophet. It was necessary that they should be driven to that portion of the country where The Book of Mormon was lying in the earth, awaiting its predestined discoverer. Hardly, therefore, had prosperity substantially obtained than there came an
1 History of Joseph Smith, Junior, by Mrs. Lucy Smith.
epidemic of typhus fever against which both medicine and charms were for a time powerless. The children fell ill, and, when they had recovered, financial disaster again overtook their father, who then gathered together his few belongings and went to the state of New York.
Arriving destitute at Manchester, N.Y., the family secured in Stafford Street, near the Palmyra line, a small clearing enclosed in underbrush. Here they built themselves a rude house of logs, and here, scorned by the more successful inhabitants of the two nearest towns, they lived for four years, when they again moved, this time to a similar place, six miles away, near Manchester.
There were now a number of children in the Smith establishment. Joseph, the second son, the prophet-to-be, had been born in the town of Sharon, Vermont, on the 23rd of December 1805; 1 but his appearance was not, as one might have expected, heralded by any mystic portents, and his earlier childhood was, even in his mother's eyes, in no wise remarkable. Indeed, Mrs. Smith had never expressed the opinion that her son "Joe," as he was called, would be the founder of the faith of which she dreamed. Her visions had brought her to no such conclusion. They had, nevertheless, impelled her to the belief that a new prophet should appear, and, assuming a more or less personal application for her revelations, after the manner of seers, she gave out hints that Alvah, her eldest son, was the divinely-appointed. But Alvah [sic], according to unkind gossip, was a greedy boy, and, one day eating
1 This according to Joseph himself. Richard F. Burton, in his City of the Saints, differs. He gives Whittingham, Vermont, as Joseph Smith's birthplace, and 1st June 1801 as the date of his arrival there. It is possible that Burton has confused Joseph with his brother Alvah [sic].
22 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
too many green turnips, died. Thus did the mantle descend upon Joseph.
Perhaps the first definitely noticeable inclination of Providence in the direction of Joseph occurred during the typhus fever epidemic before referred to. The disease left the lad, then about ten years old, suffering from abscesses. One leg was especially troublesome, so much so that a surgeon decided to amputate; but the mother, declaring -- later -- that she had been providentially inspired, begged the surgeon once more to try the remedy that had until then failed, and the leg was made well.
In Manchester the dreams and visions continued, mostly to Mrs Smith, until the children came to regard them as an everyday matter. They were all prepared to receive similar visitations, and, while their minds were thus made fertile, they were living in the midst of general religious excitement. All the evangelical denominations about them were floating upon a high tide of "revivalism." In Palmyra and Manchester, after the advent of camp-meetings in the woods on the Vienna road and animated congregational services in the towns proper, contentions arose among the sects, and the rural brain was plunged into a fog of metaphysical discussion in which it wandered hopelessly mazed. The younger Smiths were at an age when the effect of all this was a foregone conclusion. Joseph was "converted," and "held forth," although but a boy, both in debates in the school-house, where he had found a friend in the young school-master, Oliver Cowdery, and in other meetings, until as an extemporaneous speaker he had acquired ease of manner and power of voice.
Mrs. Smith was moved. She prayed. She asked
God to direct her toward the sect that was right. She was told, she says, to join no sect that then existed: none represented the will of God.
While the family continued its shiftless existence, Joseph the younger reached the age of fifteen. He is described 1 as being at this time an awkward, unpopular lad, who would go, too often for his own good, among the gossips that gathered at the nearest grocery-shop. A well-known figure, he was even then six feet tall, lank, and often to be seen laden with "jags of wood," which he bore from the paternal cabin to the town, there to exchange them for other commodities. Except that he could exhort well and was of a sociable disposition, he was not liked. The young people of the town considered him not quite full-witted and, with the cruelty of youth, made him the butt for their practical jokes.
The boy gauged correctly the esteem in which he was held. He could not well fail to do so. The jests were not of the kindest, and the inking of his face when he visited the printing-office to secure the weekly newspaper was not conducive to his contentment with surrounding conditions. It is, then, not to be wondered at if, derided, he should wish to make himself respected; if, joked, he should want to retaliate by a joke upon the community that joked him; if, in short, he should begin as a mere hoax, or a mere vain bid for decent treatment in a rough and ignorant community, what -- if it was so begun and was not the partial self-delusion of an ill-balanced lad in an environment of superstition was at any rate to have consequences that even a visionary could scarcely foresee.
Stooping a little as he walked, with high shoulders, a narrow forehead and scanty brows over calm eyes,
1 Turner's History of Philip [sic] and Gorham's Purchase.
24 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
Joseph went his way about the countryside. He seems to have had small opportunity for social intercourse, and he certainly must not have been liked by the neighbourhood girls; yet, at just about the time of his great discovery, he successfully courted one of them. He married Emma Hale.
And now the time for the discovery had come. In Joseph Smith's own words, this is the story of the formation of the Mormon Church: -- 1
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was founded upon direct revelation, as the true Church of God has ever been, according to the Scriptures (Amos iii. 7, and Acts i. 2). 2 And through the will and blessings of God, I have been an instrument in his hands, thus far, to move forward the cause of Zion....
"My father was a farmer, and taught me the art of husbandry. When about fourteen years of age, I began to reflect upon the importance of being prepared for a future state; and upon inquiring the place of salvation, I found that there was a great clash in religious sentiment; if I went to one society they referred me to one place, and another to another; each one pointing to his own particular creed as the summum bonum of perfection. Considering that all could not be right, and that God could not be the author of so much confusion, I determined to investigate the subject more fully,
1 History of the Latter Day Saints, by Joseph Smith, published in 1848, by John Winebrenner, Harrisburg, Pennyslvania, in a History of all the Religions Denominations in the United States.
2 "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets " (Amos iii. 7).
"Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen " (Acts i. 2).
believing that if God had a Church, it would not be split up into factions, and that if he taught one society to worship one way, and administer in one set of ordinances, he would not teach another principles which were diametrically opposed. Believing the word of God, I had confidence in the declaration of James, 'If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.'
"I retired to a secret place in a grove, and began to call upon the Lord. While fervently engaged in supplication, my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enrapt in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in features and likeness, surrounded with a brilliant light, which eclipsed the sun at noonday. They told me that all the religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines, 1 and that none of them was acknowledged of God as his Church and Kingdom. And I was expressly commanded to 'go not after them,' at the same time receiving a promise that the fulness of the gospel should at some future time be made known to me.
"On the evening of the 21st September, A.D. 1823, while I was praying unto God and endeavouring to exercise faith in the precious promises of Scripture, on a sudden a light like that of day, only of a far purer and more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room; indeed, the first sight was as though the house was filled with consuming fire. The appearance produced a shock that affected the whole body. In a moment a personage stood before me
1 Compare his mother's visions, both those received about the same time and those received before.
26 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
surrounded with a glory yet greater than that with which I was already surrounded. This messenger proclaimed himself to be an angel of God, sent to bring the joyful tidings that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel was at hand to be fulfilled; that the preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah was speedily to commence ; that the time was at hand for the gospel in all 'its fulness to be preached in power, unto all nations, that a people might be prepared for the millennial reign.
"I was informed that I was chosen to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring about some of his purposes in this glorious dispensation.
"I was informed also concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, and shown who they were, and from whence they came ; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people, was made known unto me. I was also told where there were deposited some plates, on which was engraven an abridgment of the records of the ancient prophets that had existed on this continent. The angel appeared to me three times the same night and unfolded the same things. After having received many visits from the angels of God, unfolding the majesty and glory of the events that should transpire in the last days, on the morning of the 22nd September, A.D. 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into my hands.
"These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold ; each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long, and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a
volume, as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, and much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument which the ancients called 'Urim and Thummim,' 1 which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim on a bow fastened to a breastplate.
"Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record, by the gift and power of God.
"In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages, to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era.
"We are informed by these records that America, in ancient times, has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before
1 Urim and Thummim: according to the Hebrews, the literal significance of these words is (Exodus xxviii. 30) light and perfection, or the shining and the perfect ; according to St Jerome, doctrine and judgment; at all events, they seem to refer to the stones in the breastplate of the high priest. " It may suffice us to know that this was a singular piece of divine workmanship, which the high priest was obliged to wear on solemn occasions, as one of the conditions upon which God engaged to give him answers" (Cruden's Concordance).
"And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart when he goeth in before the Lord " (Exodus xxviii. 30).
It is interesting to note that Alfred Henry Lewis, the apologist of Diaz, calls the Urim and Thummim angels.
28 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
Christ. They were principally Israelities, of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. This book also tells us that our Saviour made his appearance upon this continent after his resurrection; that he planted the gospel here in all its fulness, and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists; the ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessing, as was enjoyed on the eastern continent; that the people were cut off in consequence of their transgressions; that the last of their prophets who existed among them were com-manded to write an abridgment of their prophecies, history, etc., etc., and to hide it up in the earth, and that it should come forth and be united with the Bible, for the accomplishment of the purposes of God, in the last days. For a more particular account, I would refer to The Book of Mormon, which can be purchased at Nauvoo, or from any of our travelling elders.
"As soon as the news of this discovery was made known, false reports, misrepresentation, and slander flew as on the wings of the wind, in every direction; my house was frequently beset by mobs, and evil-designing persons; several times I was shot at, and very narrowly escaped, and every device was made use of to get the plates away from me; but the power and blessing of God attended me, and several began to believe my testimony.
"On the 6th April 1830 the 'Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' was first organized...."
That is Smith's own story. When comparing its
earlier portion with the known facts of Smith's younger days, as already set forth in these pages, the reader may notice certain discrepancies, certain glossings-over. How far the concluding portion is to be judged by these discrepancies may be left to the discretion of their discoverer. There remains another story to tell -- another story of the finding of The Book of Mormon.
Solomon Spalding 1 was a retired minister in New England, a Presbyterian by latest avowal and practice. He had not succeeded in the ministry, and finally abandoned that vocation for a trade. Then, his manual ability not sufficiently compensating him for his efforts, he decided to write a book. This was in 1809, eighteen years before Joseph Smith met the Angel of the Lord on Cumorrah Hill. Afterwards, Mrs. Spalding, pathetically explained that her husband "thought he had a literary taste, and thought to redeem his fortunes by the composition of an historical romance."
The resulting volume was entitled The Manuscript Found, and, in five thousand [sic] dull octavo pages of fine print and bad grammar, fancifully accounted for the American Indians. Spalding used anew the already old idea that these Indians were the descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, traced the fates of the wanderers for the space of a thousand years, from the time of the reign of that king of Judah whose name
1 Expose of Mormonism, by John Bennett. The case of Spalding, or Spaulding, is well known in the United States, though there are not lacking non-Mormon critics who declare that the similarity between Spalding's book and Smith's does not justify the accusations of plagiarism. Thus David Utter: "No one who ever carefully read The Book of Mormon could fail to see that it never in any part was written for a romance.... Now, at last, the Spalding manuscript has been found, and it rests secure in the library of Oberlin College."
30 THE LATTER DAY SAINTS
was changed to Zedekiah, who did "that which was evil in the sight of the Lord," to the fifth century A.D. The son of one Nephi, Mormon, the fictitious final compiler of the thousand years' records, was credited with having buried the entire manuscript before his death.
The book was painstakingly completed in 1812, fifteen years before Smith's discovery, and a copy then given for publication to a printer or bookseller in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, a man named Patterson. Here the story created no favourable impression, but was allowed to gather dust for several years. The author died without seeing his romance in print, and Patterson, on an occasion, lent the manuscript to a compositor in his employ, Sidney Rigdon, who was also a preacher of chameleon faith. Then. in 1825, Patterson died. Rigdon next came into view as the right-hand man of Joseph Smith at the start of the Mormon Church.
In 1839 the widow of Spalding published a statement in a Boston, Massachusetts, newspaper, which led to a public meeting. At this meeting the manuscripts of The Manuscript Found and The Book of Mormon were compared, and it was established beyond question that the similarity of the two could not be disregarded. The names of the different characters were exactly the same, and whole pages were word for word alike. Moreover, since Spalding had not been an educated man, traces of illiteracy were observable in his work, and these errors were repeated in The Book of Mormon. The only rebuttal offered at the time was that issued by Rigdon, whose reply was not worthy of the name of argument, and whose coarseness did small good to the Mormon cause.
(remainder of text not yet transcribed)