Fawn McKay Brodie
(1915-1981)

No Man Knows My History (1945)

1945 Title-page   1976 Title-page
Preface excerpt
Contents
Chapter 5 excerpt
Appendix B excerpt

Transcriber's comments


Brodie's Refutation of the Spalding Claims   |   Dale Morgan Review

 
No Man Knows My History, copyright 1945
by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Because of copyright restrictions, only limited "fair use"
excerpts are presented here.




No  man
knows my history



The Life of JOSEPH SMITH


THE  MORMON  PROPHET




by  FAWN  M.  BRODIE




NEW YORK   Alfred A. Knopf   1945




 

No Man Knows My History, copyright 1945
by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Revised second edition,
copyright 1971 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Because of copyright restrictions, only limited "fair use"
excerpts are presented here.







No  man
knows  my  history


The Life of JOSEPH SMITH


THE MORMON PROPHET


Second Edition, Rivised and Enlarged



by FAWN M. BRODIE





New York   Alfred A. Knopf   1976

 
Because of copyright restrictions, only limited "fair use"excerpts are presented here.


[ vii ]






Preface

IT was in a funeral sermon that the Mormon prophet flung a challenge to his future biographers. To an audience of ten thousand in his bewitching city of Nauvoo Joseph Smith said on April 7, 1844: "You don't know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it; I shall never undertake it. I don't blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I could not have believed it myself."

Since that moment of candor at least three-score writers have taken up the gauntlet. xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxxx x xxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xx xxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xx xxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxxx x

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viii]                                                               Preface


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Preface                                                              [ix


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Because of copyright restrictions, only limited "fair use"excerpts are presented here.


[ xiii ]




Contents


001
016
034
050
067
083
098
114
130
143
159
168
181
194
208
225
241
256
275
284
297
309
323
334
348
367
380
396
I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII
VIII
IX
X
XI
XII
XIII
XIV
XV
XVI
XVII
XVIII
XIX
XX
XXI
XXII
XXIII
XXIV
XXV
XXVI
XXVII
 
The Gods Are Among the People
reasures in the Earth
Red Sons of Israel
A Marvelous Work and a Wonder
Witness for God
The Prophet of Palmyra
The Perfect Society and the Promised Land
Temple-Builder
Expulsion from Eden
The Army of the Lord
Patronage and Punishment
Master of Languages
My Kingdom Is of This World
Disaster in Kirtland
The Valley of God
The Alcoran or the Sword
Ordeal in Liberty Jail
Nauvoo
Mysteries of the Kingdom
In the Quiver of the Almighty
If a Man Entice a Maid
The Bennett Explosion
Into Hiding
The Wives of the Prophet
Candidate for President
Prelude to Destruction
Carthage
Epilogue
405     APPENDIX A     Documents on the Early Life of Joseph Smith
419     APPENDIX B     The Spaulding-Rigdon Theory
434     APPENDIX C     The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith
466     BIBLIOGRAPHY
477     INDEX


 
Because of copyright restrictions, only limited "fair use"excerpts are presented here.



[ 1 ]






Chapter I

The Gods Are Among the People

AN old New England gazatteer, singing the charms of Vermont's villages and the glories of her heroes, strikes a discordant note when it comes to Sharon: "This is the birthplace of that infamous impostor, the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, a dubious honor Sharon would relinquish willingly to another town."

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2]                                                                    No Man Knows My History


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Chapt. I The Gods Are among the People                                                    [3


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4]                                                                    No Man Knows My History


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Chapt. I The Gods Are among the People                                                    [5


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6]                                                                    No Man Knows My History


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Chapt. I The Gods Are among the People                                                    [7


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8]                                                                    No Man Knows My History


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Chapt. I The Gods Are among the People                                                    [9


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10]                                                                    No Man Knows My History


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Chapt. I The Gods Are among the People                                                    [11


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12]                                                                    No Man Knows My History


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Carried along in the migration had come the flotsam of the godly. There was Isaac Bullard, wearing nothing but a bearskin girdle and his beard, who gathered a following of "Pilgrims" in 1817 in Woodstock, Vermont, half a dozen hills away from the old [Joseph] Smith farm. Champion of free love and communism, he regarded eashing as a sin and boasted that he had not changed his clothes for seven years. Forsaking Vermont for the promised land, the Pilgrims crossed the mountains into New York, followed the same long road across the state as had Joseph Smith, and drifted down the Ohio into Missouri.

xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xx xx x xxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx
 




Chapt. I The Gods Are among the People                                                    [13


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14]                                                                    No Man Knows My History


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Chapt. I The Gods Are among the People                                                    [15


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The revivals by their very excesses deadened a normal antipathy toward religious eccentricity... Matthias strode about New York brandishing a sword and a seven-foot ruler, shouting that he had come to redeem the world, And down in the south of Ohio, Dylkes, the "Leatherwood God," proclaimed his divinity to a groveling congregation with shouts and snorts that shook the roof of his tabernacle.

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Because of copyright restrictions, only limited "fair use"excerpts are presented here.



[ 16 ]






Chapter II

Treasures in the Earth

THE road that led Joseph Smith into the career of "prophet, seer, and revelator" is overgrown with a tangle of legend and contradiction. xx x xxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx x xxxxxxx x xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xx xxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx x xxxxxxx xx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx

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xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx
 




CHAPT. II Treasures in the Earth                                                                 [17



This chapter has not been further transcribed
due to copyright restrictions on the text.





 
Because of copyright restrictions, only limited "fair use"excerpts are presented here.



[ 34 ]





Chapter III

Red Sons of Israel

WESTERN New York regarded its Indian mounds with acuriosity that made an amateur antiquarian of almost everyone in the area. xx x xxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xx xxx x xxxxxxx x xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xx x xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxx xx xxxx x xxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx

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xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx x xxxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xx xx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx x x xxxxxx xxx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx
 




CHAPT. III Red Sons of Israel                                                                 [35



This chapter has not been further transcribed
due to copyright restrictions on the text.





 
Because of copyright restrictions, only limited "fair use"excerpts are presented here.



[ 50 ]






Chapter IV

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder

MARTIN HARRIS was a round-faced, slightly bearded man whose sad, empty eyes betrayed something of his credulous nature. xx x xxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx x xxxxxxx x xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx

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CHAPT. IV A Marvelous Work and a Wonder                                                 [51



This chapter has not been further transcribed
due to copyright restrictions on the text.





 
Because of copyright restrictions, only limited "fair use"excerpts are presented here.



[ 67 ]






Chapter V

Witnesses for God

THE BOOK OF M ORMON was a mutation in the evolution of American literature, a curious sport, at once sterile and potent. Although it bred no imitators outside Mormonism and was ignored by literary critics, it brought several hundred thousand immigrants to America in the nineteenth century. The twentieth century sees the distribution of 35,000 copies a year. For more than a hundred years missionaries have heralded it throughout the world as religious history second only to the Bible.

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68]                                                                 No Man Knows My History


have been affected, especially by its contribution to opening up one of our great frontiers. *

Unwilling to credit Joseph Smith with either learning or talent, detractors of the Mormons within a few years declared that the Book of Mormon must have been written by someone else, and eventually laid the mantle of authorship upon one of Joseph's converts, Sidney Rigdon, a Campbellite preacher from Ohio. The theory ran as follows: The Book of Mormon was a plagiarism of an old manuscript by one Solomon Spaulding, which Sidney Rigdon had somehow secured from a printing house in Pittsburgh. After adding much religious matter to the story, Rigdon determined to publish it as a newly discovered history of the American Indian. Hearing of the young necromancer Joseph Smith, three hundred miles away in New York State, he visited him secretly and persuaded him to enact a fraudulent representation of its discovery. Then nine months after the book's publication Smith's missionaries went to Ohio and the pastor pretended to be converted to the new church. 

An apostate, Philastus Hurlbut, claimed to have uncovered this deceit in I833 when he heard old neighbors of Spaulding say that parts of the Book of Mormon were the same as the manuscript they had heard read to them twenty years before. But the only Spaulding manuscript Hurlbut could find was a fabulous Indian romance, stuffed with florid sentiment a world away from the simple, monotonous prose and forthright narrative of the Mormon Bible. 

Through the years the "Spaulding theory" collected supporting affidavits as a ship does barnacles, until it became so laden with evidence that the casual reader was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the accumulation. The theory requires a careful analysis because it has been so widely accepted. The documentary evidence on both sides is so burdensome, however, that I have relegated it to an appendix. †

Recent critics who insist that Joseph Smith suffered from delusions have ignored in the Book of Mormon contrary evidence difficult to override. Its very coherence belies their claims. Bernard DeVoto called the book "a yeasty fermentation, formless,

__________
* Address before the New York Times National Book Fair, New York Times, November 5, 1937.
See Appendix B.
 




Witnesses for God                                                                     [69


aimless, and inconceivably absurd -- at once a parody of all American religious thought and something more than a parody, a disintegration. The estrus of a paranoiac projected it into a new Bible." *

Far from being the fruit of an obsession, the Book of Mormon is a useful key to Joseph's complex and frequently baffling character. For it clearly reveals in him what both orthodox Mormon histories and unfriendly testimony deny him: a measure of learning and a fecund imagination. The Mormon Church has exaggerated the ignorance of its prophet, since the more meager his learning, the more divine must be his book. Non-Mormons attempting psychiatric analyses have been content to pin a label upon the youth and have ignored his greatest creative achievement because they found it dull. Dull it is, in truth, but not formless, aimless, or absurd. Its structure shows elaborate design, its narrative is spun coherently, and it demonstrates throughout a unity of purpose. Its matter is drawn directly from the American frontier, from the impassioned revivalist sermons, the popular fallacies about Indian origin, and the current political crusades.  

Any theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon that spotlights the prophet and blacks out the stage on which he performed is certain to be a distortion. For the book can best be explained, not by Joseph's ignorance nor by his delusions, but by his responsiveness to the provincial opinions of his time. He had neither the diligence nor the constancy to master reality. but his mind was open to all intellectual influences, from whatever province they might blow. If his book is monotonous today, it is because the frontier fires are long since dead and the burning questions that the book answered are ashes.  

This is particularly true of the religious matter. In the speeches of the Nephite prophets one may find the religious conflicts that were splitting the churches in the 1820's. Alexander Campbell, founder of the Disciples of Christ, wrote in the first able review of the Book of Mormon: "This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his Book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years. He decided all the great controversies: -- infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration,

__________
* "The Centennial of Mormonism," American Mercury, Vol. XIX (1930), p. 5.
 




70]                                                                 No Man Knows My History



This chapter has not been further transcribed
due to copyright restrictions on the text.





 
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[ 83 ]






Chapter VI

The Prophet of Palmyra

THE BOOK OF M ORMON was the catapult that flung Joseph Smith to a place in the sun. But it could not be responsible for his survival there. The book lives today because of the prophet, not he because of the book. For Joseph, writing was always the means to an end, never the end in itself, and the moment he had felt the brief warm glow of satisfaction at seeing his words in print, he turned to the serious business of organizing his church.

In the beginning the book was clearly the moving power. It was not only a magnet attracting followers, but also a significant force in Joseph's own behavior. What had been originally conceived as a mere money-making history of the Indians had been transformed at some point early in the writing, or possibly even before the book was begun, into a religious saga. The end result was a document of quasi-Biblical authority. It was something that he could offer to his followers as sober proof of the authenticity of his own prophetic mission.

While rival prophets like Isaac Bullard, Jemima Wilkinson, and Joseph Sylks suffered from no compulsion whatever to prove their pretensions, Joseph Smith, whether for lack of self-confidence or the greater reasonableness of his nature, seems to have felt urgently the need for preparation and for confirming testimony. The Book of Mormon itself was not enough; he needed first three, then eight witnesses to its authenticity, and in later years he continued to exploit facts or legends that would tend to support the book's historical accuracy.

An apocryphal story about Jemima Wilkinson relates that one day she led her colony to the shore of Seneca Lake and told them that she was about to walk upon the water. First, however, she tried the surface gingerly, and when her toes broke through she returned back unabashed to shore, saying cooly that her followers' faith was already of such prodigious strength that no miracle was necessary.
 




84]                                                       No Man Knows My History


There is a similar, and equally apocryphal story about Joseph Smith, which holds that he too boasted he would walk upon the water, but that he secretly built a plank bridge underneath the surface of the pond. The public demonstration was a notworthy success until he reached the middle, when, thanks to mischievous boys, instead of planks he trod on water and barely escaped drowning. Baseless though this story may be, it is none the less symbolic.

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CHAPT. VI The Prophet of Palmyra                                                 [85


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86]                                                       No Man Knows My History


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CHAPT. VI The Prophet of Palmyra                                                 [87


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88]                                                         No Man Knows My History


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CHAPT. VI The Prophet of Palmyra                                                 [89


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90]                                                       No Man Knows My History


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CHAPT. VI The Prophet of Palmyra                                                 [91


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92]                                                          No Man Knows My History


xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xx xx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx x xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxxxxx x

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CHAPT. VI The Prophet of Palmyra                                                 [93


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94]                                                          No Man Knows My History


identity. The promise of a white skin to the convert did not seem a genetic absurdity to a people who were being told in sober history books that the pigment of the red man in New England who had adopted the white man's way of life had actually become lighter than that of his savage brothers.*

Three men were appointed to accompany Cowdery on his Indian mission. One was impetuous twenty-three-year-old Parley Pratt, who had been a convert only three weeks. He was a former Campbellite who had come from Ohio to New York State to preach to his relatives and had fallen under the persuasive influence of Hyrum Smith. Impatient now to convert his Campbellite friends, he steered the party to Mentor, Ohio, where lived the preacher who had converted Pratt to Campbellism. 

This was Sidney Rigdon, a dignified and rather handsome man, who welcomed them cordially, examined the Book of Mormon with interest but some suspicion, and promised to read it. Rigdon was a close associate of Alexander Campbell and one of the most famous orators in northern Ohio.

Although Pratt did not know it, his coming could not have been more opportune. For several years past, Rigdon had been the most successful revivalist on the Western Reserve. He was "gifted with very fine powers of mind," wrote a fellow preacher, "an imagination at once fertile, glowing and wild to extravagance, with temperament tinged with sadness and bordering on credulity." He was emotional and humorless, and subject to fits of melancholy and "nervous spasms and swoonings" that he attributed to the Holy Ghost. 

Three months before Pratt's coming he had quarreled with Campbell over the question of re-establishing the ancient communism of the primitive Christian church. Clearly the most fanatical and literal-minded of the Disciples of Christ, Rigdon had so zealously espoused the principle of holding things in common that he had set up a small communistic colony in Kirtland, a thriving town next door to Cleveland. But Campbell had fought Rigdon bitterly on the subject. After an open break in the conference of August I830, Rigdon left "chafed

__________
*See Samuel Williams: "A Dissertation on the Colors of Men, Particularly on That of the Indians of America," Natural and Civil History of Vermont (Burlington, 1809), Vol. I, p. 502.
 




CHAPT. VI The Prophet of Palmyra                                                 [95


and chagrined" and never met with the Disciples in a general meeting afterward.

Rigdon was nursing his grievance when the Mormon missionaries arrived. For years he had believed fervently in the gathering of Israel and the imminence of the millennium, and he saw in the Book of Mormon concrete evidence that the gathering was about to begin, that a new prophet had arisen who was really rebuilding the primitive church of Jesus. Campbell later wrote that Rigdon fasted and prayed for days, until when "one of his fits of swooning and sighing came upon him, he saw an angel and was converted."* 

In less than three weeks after the Mormons arrived not only Rigdon but the whole of his communistic colony in Kirtland had been baptized. Rigdon set forth at once for New York State taking with him the prosperous Kirtland hatter Edward Partridge. Joseph Smith was not quite twenty-five years old Rigdon was thirty-seven. But Joseph quickly took the measure of the older man. To the pious, sweet-tempered Partridge he gave only the brief revelation bestowed like a prayer upon most newcomers, but for Rigdon he prepared a glowing welcome: "Behold verily, verily I say unto my servant Sidney, I have looked upon thee and thy works. I have heard thy prayers, and prepared thee for a greater work. Thou art blessed, for thou shalt do great things...."

"Brother Joseph rejoiced," David Whitmer later wrote "believing that the Lord had sent to him this great and mighty man, Sidney Rigdon, to help him in the work." Joseph apparently was overwhelmed that a learned and influential man had come to him, in faith and without greed. Though conscious of his lack of schooling, and fearful lest his ignorance lose him the man, Joseph made no attempt to hide his small learning and explained in the revelation that the Lord preferred "the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thrash the nations." 

It was inevitable that Rigdon should hear snatches of gossip about the young prophet's colorful past, and Joseph boldly suggested that he go south to interview the magistrates at Colesville

__________
* Millennial Harbinger, Vol. II (1831, p. 100. For a first-hand account of Rigdon's character and his quarrel with Campbell see A. S. Hayden: Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve (1876), pp. 191-2, 209, 299.
 




96]                                                             No Man Knows My History


and South Bainbridge who had recently acquitted him. When Rigdon returned with a transcript from the dockets of the two judges affirming his innocence, Joseph had a new revelation awaiting him.

Some months earlier he had experimented with the idea of "revealing" a lost book of the Bible and had dictated to Cowdery a fragment said to have come from a parchment buried by St. John. Then without benefit of either plates or parchment he had revealed a conversation between God and Moses that, he said, had been omitted from the Old Testament because of the wickedness of the Hebrews. Now he revealed a third lost book, the history of Enoch, whom according to the Bible God had "translated" into heaven without his ever having died.*  

Elaborating upon the brief Biblical reference, Joseph wrote one of the longest and most remarkable revelations of his career. Enoch, he said, had founded Zion, the City of Holiness, which was such a model of civic goodness that the Lord had transported it intact to heaven to be his personal dwelling-place forever. And now in the last days, after the Lord had sent truth forth "out of the earth" (a deft reference to the Book of Mormon), He would gather His elect to build the New Jerusalem, to which the city of Enoch would one day descend from heaven in millennial greeting. 

When Rigdon read the Book of Enoch, the scholar in him fled and the evangelist stepped into the place of second in command of the millennial church. He could not rest until he had persuaded Joseph to accompany him to Ohio, and within a fortnight the prophet announced a new revelation which ordered the uprooting of the whole church: "And again, a commandment I give unto the church, that it is expedient in me that they should assemble together at the Ohio, until the time that my servant Oliver Cowdery shall return unto them." †  

This terse edict roused a storm. Many converts felt that the Ohio preacher was leading their seer around by the nose. David Whitmer wrote that Rigdon "soon worked himself deep into Brother Joseph's affections, and had more influence over him

__________
*The parchment of John at first consisted of only three verses published as Section 6 in the Book of Commandments. It was considerably elaborated in the revised Doctrine and Covenants, as Section 7. The Book of Moses and the Book of Enoch were published separately in 1851 in a pamphlet called The Pearl of Great Price.
Doctrine and Covenants, Section 37.
 




CHAPT. VI The Prophet of Palmyra                                                 [97


than any other man living. He was Brother Joseph's private counsellor and his most intimate friend and brother for some time after they met."

For several weeks Joseph patiently argued with his sixty followers, telling them that Kirtland was the eastern boundary of the promised land, which extended from there to the Pacific Ocean.* Finally, sensing a coming crisis, he gave forth as a revelation a skillful political document: "But the day soon cometh that ye shall see me.... the angels are waiting the great command to reap down the earth, to gather the tares that they may be burned...." There followed an enticing picture of the promised land, "a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh. And I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts." Then, as if in afterthought: "And they that have farms that cannot be sold, let them be left or rented as seemeth them good." † 

John Whitmer wrote that when the revelation was read in a general conference, "the solemnities of eternity rested on the congregation," but added shortly that some fought it, believing "that Joseph had invented it himself to deceive the people that in the end he might get gain." ‡

But once the majority had accepted it, Joseph prepared to move. With him went Emma, tight-lipped and weary, but more hopeful than she had been for many weeks. In four years of marriage she had lived in seven different towns, usually upon the charity of friends. She had buried her first child; she had seen her family estranged and bitter, her father-in-law in jail, and her husband twice on trial.  Now she was pregnant again, and the promise of a ready-made church in Ohio, almost three hundred miles west of the scenes of her sorrows and humiliations, must have seemed to her heaven-sent. In January 1831 they set forth in a sleigh with Rigdon and Edward Partridge, to carry the gospel to the West.

__________
* Letter from Joseph Smith to the Kirtland converts, carried by John Whitmer, and quoted in Howe: Mormonism Unvailed, p. 111.
Doctrine and Covenants, Section 38.
John Whitmer: "History of the Church," MS., Chapter i. The manuscript of this history is in the library of the Reorganized Church. When it was published in the Journal of History, Vol. I, the significant last portion -- part of Chapter xix and all of Chapters xx and xxi -- written after Whitmer had left the church, was omitted.




 
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[ 98 ]





Chapter VII

The Perfect Society and the Promised Land

OHIO had seen prophets before. In 1812 Abel Sargent, who talked with angels and received revelation, toured the state with his twelve women apostles pretending to raise the dead and preaching the odd doctrine that if one were sufficiently holy one could live without food.

Of fresher memory was Joseph Dylks, who announced in Salesville in 1828 that he was the true Messiah come to usher in the millennium in 1832. The whole community went over to him. "I am God," he cried, "and there is none else! In me Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are met. All who put their trust in me shall never taste death!" To which his followers shouted: "We shall never die!" and groveled at his feet crying: "Behold our God!" According to a historian of the time, about thirty of his disciples near Bakerfield "assembled on the Sabbath and rolled naked on the floor, men and women together, as part of their worship, and committed sins too revolting to mention."

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CHAPT. VII The Perfect Society                                                    [99

 
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Then he coined the word "telestial" for a third kingdom, whose glory was that of the stars, to be peopled with those who had refused the law of God.

This trinity of kingdoms comprised a very different resurrection scene from the one he had described in the Book of Mormon, where the "lake of fire and brimstone" figured prominently in the sermons of the Indian prophets. Joseph had taken a long step toward Universalism, for even the "liars, sorcerers, adulterers, and whoremongers" were guaranteed telestial glory, and only a handful of unregenerates called the Sons of Perdition were to be eternally damned.

The Evening and Morning Star published the long revelation describing this vision in December 1833, and added that when the two men emerged from the office "one of the brethren reported that Joseph appeared as strong as a lion but Sidney seemed weak as water; and Joseph, noticing his partner's condition, smiled and said, 'Brother Sidney is not as used to it as I am!'"

Years later, when the prophet was writing his history, he had the revelation of the three glories copied into the record and commented on it with the enthusiasm of an author who has stumbled upon a bit of his early writing and marvels at its brilliance or stylistic beauty: "Every law, every commandment, every promise, every truth... witnesses the fact that that document is a transcript from the records of the eternal world. The sublimity of the ideas; the purity of the language; the scope for action... are so much beyond the narrow-mindedness of men, that every honest man is constrained to exclaim: 'It came from God.'" *

Despite the rich outpouring of revelations during the time Joseph lived with the Johnson family, several of Johnson's sons became disaffected and left the church. Hiram was rapidly becoming an unfriendly town. Symonds Ryder left the church because a special revelation on his behalf misspelled his name. Ezra Booth had been out of the church for some months, disillusioned by what he called Joseph's "habitual proneness to jesting and joking," and convinced by the trip to Missouri that all of Joseph's revelations sprang out of mundane crises rather

__________
* History of the Church, Vol. I, pp. 252-3.
 




CHAPT. VIII Temple-Builder                                                    [119

than from the promptings of the Lord. Booth's letters in the Ohio Star caused widespread indignation against the prophet.

To plague Joseph further, the twin babies he had adopted contracted measles. Their illness in another man's house was not easy to bear. At this point word came from the Missouri colony that a rebellion was brewing, and Joseph realized that only a personal visit to Independence would prevent serious apostasy. When news of his going spread through the town, a gang of Mormon-baiters led by Symonds Ryder determined to hasten his departure in characteristic frontier fashion. Fortified by a barrel of whisky, they smashed their way into the Johnson home on the night of March 24, 1832 and dragged Joseph from the trundle bed where he had fallen asleep while watching one of the twins. They stripped him, scratched and beat him with savage pleasure, and smeared his bleeding body with tar from head to foot. Ripping a pillow into shreds, they plastered him with feathers. It is said that Eli Johnson demanded that the prophet be castrated, for he suspected Joseph of being too intimate with his sister, Nancy Marinda. But the doctor who had been persuaded to join the mob declined the responsibility at the last moment, and Johnson had to be content with seeing the prophet beaten senseless. * Rigdon likewise was beaten and dragged into unconsciousness over the frozen ground.

After a time Joseph sat up and began to tear at the tar which filled his mouth. His lips were bleeding from a glass vial that he had crushed between his teeth when someone tried to force it down his throat. He made his way back to the house stiff with cold and pain. Emma opened the door. In the half light the great blotches of tar on his naked body looked to her like blood and she fainted on the doorstep.

Throughout the night Emma and her friends patiently scraped at the tar. The next day was the Sabbath, and Joseph had been expected to preach. Into the Mormon congregation came several of the assailants, taking their seats with cynical expectancy. To their astonishment the prophet walked into the assembly at the appointed hour, fresh scars and bruises showing

__________
* See Brigham Young's [sic] sermon of November 15, 1864, Journal of Discourses, Vol. XI, pp. 3-4, and Clark Braden: Public Discussion of the Issues between the Reorganized Church... and the Church of Christ, Disciples (St. Louis, 1884), p. 202. Nancy Johnson -- later Mrs. Orson Hyde -- eventually became one of Joseph's plural wives. See Appendix C.
 




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on his face and hands....

 
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CHAPT. IX Expulsion from Eden                                                       [141


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From this moment Joseph began to efface the communistic rubric in his young theology. Since most copies of the Book of Commandments had been burned by this point, it was easy for Joseph to drastically revise the revelation on the United Order when it was republished in the enlarged Doctrine and Covenants in 1835. The Lord no longer demanded total consecration of property, but only that members donate the surplus over and above living expenses. In reprinting the first 12 issues of the Evening and Morning Star, Joseph revised most of the descriptions of the original Order and commanded his missionaries to destroy the notion abroad that the church had ever been a common-stock concern.
 




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Although Rigdon repeatedly urged a restoration, Joseph made only one effort to revive the Order after 1834. This was a greatly revised consecration program that he launched in Missouri in 1838. It collapsed at the end of the year...

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[ 143 ]





Chapter X

The Army of the Lord

THE past that Joseph had hoped to bury in New York now returned to plague him. He had made a vindictive enemy of Philastus Hurlbut, a handsome, ambitious convert whom he had excommunicated in June 1833 for "unchristian conduct with the ladies." In vengeful mood, Hurlbut began an investigation of the beginnings of the Mormon Church.

In Conneaut, about fifty miles east of Kirtland, he heard a rumor that one John Spaulding had seen a resemblance between Joseph's Book of Mormon and an old manuscript written many years earlier by his brother, Solomon Spaulding. Electrified by the idea that the Book of Mormon might be proved a forgery, Hurlbut ransacked Conneaut for evidence. Solomon had died seventeen years before, and his wife had remarried and moved away; but John Spaulding and his wife Martha, together with several neighbors, remembered dimly that Solomon's old historical novel had been about a lost people who were ancestors of the Indians. That it was not a religious history they were all agreed; but under Hurlbut's excited proding they managed to recall an astonishing number of details that coincided exactly with those in the Book of Mormon -- astonishing because it had been twenty years since the single occasion on which they had heard Solomon read his manuscript aloud.

Hurlbut wrote down their affidavits, collected their signatures, and went off triumphantly to Palmyra, where he expected to find additional evidence. Though he discovered there nothing to bolster his theory, he ran headlong into the whole folklore of Joseph's money-digging. He spent to months in Palmyra in the autumn of 1833, assiduously collecting affidavits from more than a hundred of Joseph's acquaintances. The substance of their stories was devastating, and he knew it.

Only one thing remained to complete his case: rediscovery of Solomon Spaulding's manuscript. After finding Spaulding's
 




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widow in Massachusetts, he was directed by her back to eastern New York, where he located the manuscript in a trunk in the attic of an old farmhouse. Now to his bitter chagrin he found that the long chase had been vain; for while the romance did concern the ancestor of the Indians, its resemblance to the Book of Mormon ended there. None of the names found in one could be identified in the other; the many battles which each described showed not the slightest similarity with those of the other, and Spaulding's prose style, which aped the eighteenth-century British sentimental novelists, differed from the style of the Mormon Bible as much as Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded differed from the New Testament. *

Hurlbut knew, however, that he had a keg of powder even without the manuscript. He boldly exhibited his affidavits in Kirtland, lectured in the surrounding towns, and arranged to publish the documents in book form with the assistance of Eber D. Howe. The lectures caused a furor. Orson Hyde wrote to Missouri that they had "fired the minds of the people with much indignation against Joseph and the Churchm" and Heber Kimball reported in his journal that enemies "were raging and threatening destruction upon us, and we had to guard ourselves night after night, and for weeks were not permitted to take off our clothes." †

But what Joseph dreaded more than gentile savagery was the effect of Hurlbut's lectures on his own people. Apprehensive converts were were besieging Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris with questions about the golden plates and Harris was expanding an already Hydra-headed legend. He was indiscreet enough to tell a friend confidentially that the prophet had drunk too much liquor while translating the Book of Mormon. Brought to trial by the High Council for his heresy, he amended the statement to say that the drunkenness had occurred previous to the translation. ‡

Realizing that the unchecked rumor-mongering might destroy him, Joseph began an immediate counter offensive. He

__________
* The manuscript Hurlbut found was published first by the Reorganized Church in Lamoni, Iowa, in 1885 under the title The Manuscript Found, or the Manuscript Story of the late Rev. Solomon Spaulding. For a detailed discussion of the Spaulding theory see Appendix B.
History of the Church, Vol. I, p. 475, and Times and Seasons, Vol. VI, p. 771.
Times and Seasons, Vol. VI, p. 992.
 




CHAPT. X The Army of the Lord                                                       [145


... [Hurlbut] sold his manuscript for five hundred dollars to Howe, who printed the book Mormonism Unvailed under his own name...

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[ 405 1976:427 ]




APPENDIX  A

DOCUMENTS ON THE EARLY LIFE OF JOSEPH SMITH

I


THE EARLIEST and most important account of Joseph Smith's money-digging is in the following court record, first unearthed in southern New York by Daniel S. Tuttle, Eposcopal Bishop of Salt Lake City, and published in the article on "Mormonism" in the New Schaff-Herzog Encylopedia of Religious Knowledge. * The trial was held before a justice of the peace in Bainbridge, Chenango County, New York, March 20, 1826:

People of State of New York vs. Joseph Smith. Warrant issued upon oath of Peter G. Bridgman, who informed that one Joseph Smith of Bainbridge was a disorderly person and an impostor. Prisoner brought into court March 20 (1826). Prisoner examined. Says that he came from town of Palmyra, and had been at the house of Josiah Stowel in Bainbridge most of time since; had small part of time been employed in looking for mines, but the major part had been employed by said Stowel on his farm, and going to school; that he had a certain stone, which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold-mines were a distance under ground, and had looked for Mr. Stowel several times, and informed him where he could find those treasures, and Mr. Stowel had been engaged in digging for them; that at Palmyra he pretended to tell, by looking at this stone, where coined money was buried in Pennsylvania, and while at Palmyra he had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was, of various kinds; that he had occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up on account its injuring his health, especially his eyes -- made them sore; that he did not solicit business of this kind, and had always rather declined having any thing to do with this business."

Josiah Stowel sworn. Says that prisoner had been at his house something like five months. Had been employed by him to work on farm part of time; that he pretended to have skill of telling where hidden treasures in the earth were, by means of looking through a

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* (New York, 1883). Vol. II, p. 1576 [rev. ed. 1910-14]
  




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certain stone; that prisoner had looked for him sometimes, -- once to tell him about money buried on Bend Mountain in Pennsylvania, once for gold on Monument Hill, and once for a salt-spring, -- and that he positively knew that the prisoner could tell, and professed the art of seeing those valuable treasures through the medium of said stone: that he found the digging part at Bend and Monument Hill as prisoner represented it; that prisoner had looked through said stone for Deacon Attelon, for a mine -- did not exactly find it, but got a piece of ore, which resembled gold, he thinks; that prisoner had told by means of this stone where a Mr. Bacon had buried money; that he and prisoner had been in search of it; that prisoner said that it was in a certain root of a stump five feet from surface of the earth, and with it would be found a tail-feather; that said Stowel and prisoner thereupon commenced digging, found a tail-feather, but money was gone; that he supposed that money moved down; that prisoner did offer his services; that he never deceived him; that prisoner looked through stone, and described Josiah Stowel's house and out-houses while at Palmyra, at Simpson Stowel's, correctly; that he had told about a painted tree with a man's hand painted upon it, by means of said stone; that he had been in company with prisoner digging for gold, and had the most implicit faith in prisoner's skill.

Horace Stowel sworn. Says he see prisoner look into hat through stone, pretending to tell where a chest of dollars were buried in Windsor, a number of miles distant; marked out size of chest in leaves on ground.

Arad Stowel sworn. Says that he went to see whether prisoner could convince him that he possessed the skill that he professed to have, upon which prisoner laid a book open upon a white cloth, and proposed looking through another stone which was white and transparent; hold the stone to the candle, turn his back to book, and read. The deception appeared so palpable, that went off disgusted.

McMaster sworn. Says he went with Arad Stowel to be convinced of prisoner's skill, and likewise came away disgusted, finding the deception so palpable. Prisoner pretended to him that he could discern objects at a distance by holding this white stone to the sun or candle; that prisoner rather declined looking into a hat at his dark-colored stone, as he said that it hurt his eyes.

Jonathan Thompson says that prisoner was requested to look Yeomans for chest of money; did look, and pretended to know where it was, and that prisoner, Thompson, and Yeomans went in search of it; that Smith arrived at spot first (was in night); that Smith looked in hat while there, and when very dark, and told how the chest was situated. After digging several feet, struck upon something sounding
 




Appendix A                                                                   [407 1976:429


like a board or plank. Prisoner would not look again, pretending that he was alarmed the last time that he looked, on account of the circumstances relating to the trunk being buried came all fresh to his mind; that the last time that he looked, he discovered distinctly the two Indians who buried the trunk; that a quarrel ensued between them, and that one of said Indians was killed by the other, and thrown into the hole beside of the trunk, to guard it, as he supposed. Thompson says that he believes in the prisoner's professed skill; that the board which he struck his spade upon was probably the chest, but, on account of an enchantment, the trunk kept settling away from under them while digging; that, notwithstanding they continued constantly removing the dirt, yet the trunk kept about the same distance from them. Says prisoner said that it appeared to him that salt might be found at Bainbridge; and that he is certain that prisoner can divine things by means of said stone and hat; that, as evidence of fact, prisoner looked into his hat to tell him about some money witness lost sixteen years ago, and that he described the man that witness supposed had taken it, and disposition of money."


And thereupon the Court finds the defendant guilty.

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[ 419 1976:442 ]




APPENDIX  B

THE SPAULDING-RIGDON THEORY


THE SPAULDING-RIGDON theory of the authorship of the Book of Mormon is based on a heterogeneous assortment of letters and affidavits collected between 1833 and 1900. When heaped together without regard to chronology, as in Charles A. Shook's True Origin of the Book of Mormon, and without any consideration of the character of either Joseph Smith or Sidney Rigdon, they seem impressive. But the theory is based first of all on the untenable assumption that Joseph Smith had neither the wit nor the learning to write the Book of Mormon, and it disregards the fact that the style of the Book of Mormon is identical with that of the Mormon prophet's later writings, such as the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, but is completely alien to the turgid rhetoric of Rigdon's sermons. 

Protagonists of the theory do not explain why, if Rigdon wrote the Book of Mormon, he was content to let Joseph Smith found the Mormon Church and hold absolute dominion over it throughout the years, so secure in his position that he several times threatened Rigdon with excommunication when Rigdon opposed his policies. But most important, there is no good evidence to show that Rigdon and Smith ever met before Rigdon's conversion late in 1830. There is, on the contrary, abundant proof that between September 1827 and June 1829, when the Book of Mormon was being written, Rigdon was a successful Campbellite preacher in northern Ohio, who if conniving secretly with Joseph Smith, three hundred miles east, was so accomplished a deceiver that none of his intimate friends ever entertained the slightest suspicion of it. 

The Spaulding theory was not born until 1833, four years after the Book of Mormon was completed. In June 1833 Philastus Hurlbut was excommunicated from the Mormon Church in Kirtland, Ohio. Shortly afterward he learned that some citizens of Conneaut, Ohio, had detected in the Book of Mormon a resemblance to an old manuscript written more than twenty years earlier by Solomon Spaulding, a Dartmouth College graduate
  




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and ex-preacher, who had hoped to publish it and solve his financial embarrassments. Hurlbut interviewed these people in August and September 1833. They told him that Spaulding, now deceased, had lived in Conneaut from 1809 to 1812, and that he had written a historical novel about the American aborigines from which he had occasionally read them extracts. Spaulding had moved to Pennsylvania, where he died in 1816.  

From Solomon Spaulding's brother, John, Hurlbut obtained an affidavit, of which the significant portion read as follows:

I made him a visit (in 1813)... and found that he had failed, and was considerably involved in debt. He told me that he had been writing a book, which he intended to have printed, the avails of which he thought would enable him to pay all his debts. The book was entitled the "Manuscript Pound," of which he read to me many passages. It was an historical romance of the first settlers of America, endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the descendants of the Jews, or the lost tribes. It gave a detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till they arrived in America, under the command of NEPHI and LEHI. They afterwards had quarrels and contentions, and separated into two distinct nations, one of which he denominated Nephites and the other Lamanites. Cruel and bloody wars ensued, in which great multitudes were slain. They buried their dead in large heaps, which caused the mounds so common in this country. Their arts, sciences and civilization were brought 'into view, in order to account for all the curious antiquities, found various parts of North and South America. I have recently read the Book of Mormon, and to my great surprise I find nearly the same historical matter, names, etc. as they were in my brother's writings. I well remember that he wrote in the old style, and commenced about every other sentence with "and it came to pass" or "now it came to pass;' the same as in the Book of Mormon, and according to the best of my recollection and belief, it is the same as my brother Solomon wrote, with the exception of the religious matter. By what means it has fallen into the hands of Joseph Smith, Jr. I am unable to determine.

                                JOHN SPAULDING  


Martha, wife of John Spaulding, corroborated her husband's account:

I was personally acquainted with Solomon Spaulding, about twenty years ago. It was at his house a short time before he left Conneaut; he was then writing a historical novel founded upon the first settlers of
   




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America. He represented them as an enlightened and warlike people. He had for many years contended that the aborigines of America were the descendants of some of the lost tribes of Israel, and this idea he carried out in the book in question. The lapse of time which has intervened, prevents my recollecting but few of the leading incidents of his writings; but the names of Nephi, and Lehi are yet fresh in my memory, as being the principal heroes of his tale. They were officers of the company which first came off from Jerusalem. He gave a particular account of their journey by land and sea, till they arrived in America, after which, disputes arose between the chiefs, which caused them to separate into different bands, one of which was called Lamanites and the other Nephites. Between these were recounted tremendous battles, which frequently covered the ground with the slain; and their being buried in large heaps was the cause of the numerous mounds in the country. Some of these people he represented as being very large. I have read the Book of Mormon, which has brought fresh to my recollection the writings of Solomon Spaulding; and I have no manner of doubt that the historical part of it, is the same that I read and heard read, more than twenty years ago. The old obsolete style, and the phrases of "and it came to pass," etc., are the same.   

                  MARTHA SPAULDING

Six of Spaulding's neighbors made additional statements, of which the most important extracts are given below:

I formed a co-partnership with Solomon Spaulding for the purpose of rebuilding a forge.... He very frequently read to me from a manuscript which he was writing, which was entitled the "Manuscript Found."... This book represented the American Indians as the descendants of the lost tribes, gave an account of their leaving Jerusalem, their contentions and wars, which were many and great.   One time, when he was reading to me the tragic account of Laban, I pointed out to him what I considered an inconsistency, which he promised to correct; but by referring to the Book of Mormon, I find to my surprise that it stands there just as he read it to me then. Some months ago I borrowed the Golden Bible.... I was astonished to find the same passages in it that Spaulding had read to me more than twenty years before, from his "Manuscript Found." Since that time, I have more fully examined the said Golden Bible, and have no hesitation in saying that the historical part of it is principally, if not wholly taken from the "Manuscript Found." I well recollect telling Mr. Spaulding that the so frequent use of the words "And it came to pass," "Now it came to pass," rendered it ridiculous.

                  HENRY LAKE

  




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I boarded and lodged in the family of said Spaulding for several months. I was soon introduced to the manuscripts of Spaulding, and perused them as often as I had leisure. He had written two or three books or pamphlets, on different subjects; but that which more particularly drew my attention, was one which he called the "Manuscript Found." From this he would frequently read some humorous passages to the company present. It purported to be the history of the first settlement of America, before discovered by Columbus. He brought them off from Jerusalem, under their leaders, detailing their travels by land and water, their manners, customs, laws, wars, etc. He said that he designed it as an historical novel....   I have recently examined the Book of Mormon, and find in it the writings of Solomon Spaulding, from beginning to end, but mixed up with Scripture and other religious matter, which I did not meet with in the "Manuscript Found." Many of the passages in the Mormon book are verbatim from Spaulding, and others in part. The names of Nephi, Lehi, Moroni, and in fact all the principal names are brought fresh to my recollection by the Gold Bible. When Spaulding divested his history of its fabulous names, by a verbal explanation, he landed his people near the Straits of Darien, which I am very confident he called Zarahemla. They were marched about the country for a length of time, in which great wars and great bloodshed ensued, he brought them across North America in a northeast direction.  

                  JOHN N. MILLER


I first became acquainted with Solomon Spaulding in 1809 or 10, when he commenced building a forge on Conneaut Creek. When at his house, one day, he showed and read to me a history he was writing of the lost tribes of Israel, purporting that they were the first settlers of America, and that the Indians were their descendants. Upon this subject we had frequent conversations. He traced their journey from Jerusalem to America, as it is given in the Book of Mormon, excepting the religious matter. The historical part of the Book of Mormon, I know to be the same as I read and heard read from the writings of Spaulding, more than twenty years ago; the names more especially are the same without any alteration....   Spaulding had many other manuscripts, which I expect to see when Smith translates his other plate. In conclusion, I will observe, that the names of, and most of the historical part of the Book of Mormon, were as familiar to me before I read it as most modern history.

                  AARON WRIGHT


All his leisure hours were occupied in writing a historical novel, founded upon the first settlers of this country. He said he intended to
   




Appendix B                                                                   [423 1976:446


trace their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till their arrival in America, give an account of their arts, sciences, civilization, wars and contentions. In this way, he would give a satisfactory account of all of the old mounds, so common to this country. During the time he was at my house, I read and heard read one hundred pages or more. Nephi and Lehi were by him represented as leading characters, when they first started for America. Their main object was to escape the judgments which they supposed were coming upon the old world. But no religious matter was introduced as I now recollect... When I heard the historical part of it [the Book of Mormon] related, I at once said it was the writings of old Solomon Spaulding. Soon after, I obtained the book, and on reading it, found much of it the same as Spaulding had written, more than twenty years before.  

                  OLIVER SMITH


I have lately read the Book of Mormon, and believe it to be the same as Spaulding wrote, except the religious part. He told me that he intended to get his writings published in Pittsburgh....

                  NAHUM HOWARD


   The following is from the unsigned statement of Artemus Cunningham:

Before showing me his manuscripts, he went into a verbal relation of its outlines, saying that it was a fabulous or romantic history of the first settlement of this country, and as it purported to have been a record found buried in the earth, or in a cave, he had adopted the ancient or scripture style of writing. He then presented his manuscripts, when we sat down and spent a good share of the night in reading them, and conversing upon them. I well remember the name of Nephi, which appeared to be the principal hero of the story.   The frequent repetition of the phrase, "I Nephi," I recollect as distinctly as though it was hut yesterday, although the general features of the story have passed from my memory, through the lapse of 22 years. He attempted to account for the numerous antiquities which are found upon this continent, and remarked that, after this generation had passed away, his account of the first inhabitants of America would be considered as authentic as any other history. The Mormon Bible I have partially examined, and am fully of the opinion that Solomon Spaulding had written its outlines before he left Conneaut. *  


It can clearly be seen that the affidavits were written by Hurlbut, since the style is the same throughout. It may be noted also

________
* All these affidavits were published in Howe's Mormonism Unvailed, pp. 278-287.
  




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that although five out of the eight had heard Spaulding's story only once, there was a surprising uniformity in the details they remembered after twenty-two years. Six recalled the names Nephi, Lamanite, etc.; six held that the manuscript described the Indians as descendants of the lost ten tribes; four mentioned that the great wars caused the erection of the Indian mounds; and four noted the ancient scriptural style. The very tightness with which Hurlbut here was implementing his theory rouses an immediate suspicion that he did a little judicious prompting. 

However, the affidavits were arresting, and Hurlbut knew it. He visited Spaulding's widow in Massachusetts and offered her half the profits for permission to publish the manuscript. She told him that "Spaulding had a great variety of manuscripts" and recollected that one was entitled the "Manuscript Found," but of its contents she "had no distinct knowledge." During the two years she had lived in Pittsburgh, Spaulding had taken the manuscript to the office of Patterson and Lambdin, she said but whether or not it had been returned was uncertain.* 

She gave Hurlbut permission to examine Spaulding's papers in the attic of a farmhouse in Otsego County, New York; but he found there only one manuscript, which was clearly not the source for the Book of Mormon. This was a romance supposedly translated from twenty-four rolls of parchment covered with Latin, found in a cave on the banks of Conneaut Creek. It was written in modern English and was about 45,000 words long, one sixth the length of the Book of Mormon. It was an adventure story of some Romans sailing to Britain before the Christian era, who had been blown to America during a violent storm. 

Hurlbut showed this manuscript to Spaulding's neighbors, who, he said, recognized it as Spaulding's, but stated that it was not the "Manuscript Found." Spaulding "had altered his first plan of writing, by going farther back with dates and writing in the Old Scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient." This surmise may have been true, though there was no signed statement swearing to it. But it seems more likely that these witnesses had so come to identify the Book of Mormon with the Spaulding manuscript that they could not concede

__________
* Mormonism Unvailed, p. 287.
   




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having made an error without admitting to a case of memory substitution which they did not themselves recognize.

Hurlbut, at least, was certain that Spaulding had written a second manuscript. Eber D. Howe, Hurlbut's collaborator, now wrote to Robert Patterson, the Pittsburgh printer mentioned by Spaulding's widow. He replied "that he had no recollection of any manuscript being brought there for publication, neither would he have been likely to have seen it, as the business of printing was conducted wholly by Lambdin at that time."* The partnership of Patterson and Lambdin had not in fact been formed until January 1, 1818, two years after Spaulding's death. †   

Disappointed in this source, and unable to get any confirming evidence from Joseph's neighbors in western New York, Hurlbut had to be content with insinuating that Sidney Rigdon, who had once lived in Pittsburgh, was somehow responsible for getting the Spaulding manuscript into Joseph Smith's hands.

Howe now purchased Hurlbut's affidavits for five hundred dollars and published them in his Mormonism Unvailed. At once the Mormons challenged Howe to produce the Spaulding manuscript, but he did not even produce the one Hurlbut had uncovered, which shortly disappeared. Some writers insinuated that Hurlbut had sold it to the Mormons for a fabulous sum; actually it lay buried in Howe's files, which were later inherited by L. L. Rice, who followed Howe as editor of the Painesville Telegraph. Rice eventually went to Honolulu and there discovered the manuscript among his papers.   He forwarded it to Joseph H. Fairchild, president of Oberlin College, who placed it in the college library. The manuscript contained a certificate of its identity signed by Hurlbut, Wright, Miller, and others, and bore the penciled inscription "Manuscript Story" on the outside. Its discovery was jubilantly hailed by the Mormons, who held that the Spaulding theory was now proved groundless. The manuscript was first published by the Reorganized Church in Lamoni, Iowa, in 1885.

Many writers, however still believed that a second Spaulding

__________
* Mormonism Unvailed, p. 289.
Robert Patterson, Jr.: Who Wrote the Book of Mormon? (Philadelphia, 1882) p. 7.
  




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manuscript was the true source of the Book of Mormon, and labored indefatigably to prove it. Before examining their evidence, it should be noted that if, as seems most likely, there was only one Spaulding manuscript, there were certain similarities between it and the Book of Mormon which, though not sufficient to justify the thesis of common authorship, might have given rise to the conviction of Spaulding's neighbors that one was a plagiarism of the other. Both were said to have come from out of the earth; both were stories of colonists sailing from the Old World to the New; both explained the earthworks and mounds common to western New York and Ohio as the result of savage wars. John Miller had spoken of "humorous passages" in Spaulding's work, which would certainly apply to the "Manuscript Story," but not to the utterly humorless Book of Mormon. 

Other features, like the scriptural style, the expression "it came to pass," and the proper names, seem too definite to be questioned. But it should be remembered, as President Fairchild pointed out in his analysis of the problem, that "the Book of Mormon was fresh in their minds, and their recollections of the 'Manuscript Found' were very remote and dim. That under the pressure and suggestion of Hurlbut and Howe, they should put the ideas at hand in place of those remote and forgotten, and imagine that they remembered what they had recently read, would be only an ordinary example of the frailty of memory.*  

It is significant that five of Hurlbut's witnesses were careful to except the "religious" matter of the Book of Mormon as not contained in the Spaulding manuscript, and the others stated that "the historical parts" were derived from the Spaulding story. The narrative Hurlbut found had no religious matter whatever, but the Book of Mormon was permeated with religious ideas. It was first and foremost a religious book. The theology could not have been wrought by interpolation, since practically every historical event was motivated either by Satan or the Lord. 

If, on the other hand, Hurlbut was right and there were actually two Spaulding manuscripts, one might reasonably expect

__________
* Joseph [sic. - James?] H. Fairchild: "Solomon Spaulding and the Book of Mormon," Western Reserve Historical Society Tract No. 77, Vol. III (March 23, 1886), pp. 197-8.
   




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stylistic similarities between the Book of Mormon and the extant manuscript, since the latter was full of unmistakable literary mannerisms of the kind that are more easily acquired than shed. Spaulding was heir to all the florid sentiment and grandiose rhetoric of the English Gothic romance. He used all the stereotyped patterns - villainy versus innocent maidenhood, thwarted love, and heroic valor - thickly encrusted with the tradition of the noble savage. The Book of Mormon had but one scant reference to a love affair, and its rhythmical, monotonous style bore no resemblance to the cheap cliches' and purple metaphors abounding in the Spaulding story.  

After the publication of Howe's book, affidavits popped up here and there, usually solicited by preachers anxious to discredit Joseph Smith. The Mormons replied with books and pamphlets of their own, such as Parley P. Pratt's Mormonism Unveiled in 1838 and Benjamin Winchester's The Origin of the Spaulding Story in 1840. Winchester quoted another of Spaulding's neighbors, one Jackson, who had read Spaulding's manuscript and maintained "that there was no agreement between them; for, said he, Mr. Spaulding's manuscript was a very small work, in the form of a novel, saying not one word about the children of Israel, but professed to give an account of a race of people who originated from the Romans, which Mr. Spaulding said he had translated from a Latin parchment that he had found."   

Spaulding's widow was visited again in 1839, when she was seventy years old, by a preacher named D. R. Austin, who published her signed statement in the Boston Recorder on April 19 of that year. She showed an astonishing enlargement of memory over her previous statement to Hurlbut, relating that the historical romance written by her husband had been given to his "acquaintance and friend" Robert Patterson, who was "very much pleased with it" and promised to print it. She stated also that Sidney Rigdon was connected with the press at this time and had every opportunity to copy the manuscript.   

Rigdon's angry denial was published in the Boston Recorder on May 27, 1839: "If I were to say that I ever heard of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding and his hopeful wife, until Dr. P. Hurlbut wrote his lie about me, I should be a liar like unto themselves. Why was not the testimony of Mr. Patterson obtained to give
  




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force to this shameful tale of lies? The only reason is, that he was not a fit tool for them to work with...

Two Mormons, Jesse and John Haven, now interviewed Spaulding's widow, who denied having written the letter and stated that Austin had merely asked her a few questions, taken notes, and apparently written the letter himself.* Both Spaulding's widow and daughter admitted in this interview that the manuscript they knew was an "idolatrous" not a religious story.  

When Spaulding's daughter was seventy-four years old, she was interviewed, and stated that she remembered vividly hearing her father read his manuscript aloud, although she was only six years old at the time. "Some of the names that he mentioned while reading to these people I have never forgotten. They are as fresh to me as though I heard them yesterday. They were 'Mormon,' 'Maroni,' 'Lamenite,' 'Nephi.'" One is led to doubt the reliability of this memory, however, by another statement in this interview: "In that city (Pittsburgh) my father had an intimate friend named Patterson, and I frequently visited Mr. Patterson's library with him, and heard my father talk about books with him." Patterson, it will be remembered, denied knowing Spaulding at all.  

Spaulding's daughter remembered seeing the manuscript in her father's trunk after his death, and stated that she had handled it and seen the names she had heard read to her at the age of six. She admitted, however, that she had not read it. †

If the evidence pointing to the existence of a second Spaulding manuscript is dubious, the affidavits trying to prove that Rigdon stole it, or copied it, are all unconvincing and frequently preposterous.  

First there is no evidence that Rigdon ever lived in Pittsburgh until 1822, when he became pastor of the First Baptist Church. Robert Patterson, Jr., son of the Pittsburgh printer, conducted an exhaustive research among the old settlers of the vicinity to try to establish the truth of the Spaulding theory. This was in 1882, sixty-six years after Spaulding's death. Many

__________
* This interview was published in the Quincy (Illinois) Whig, and later in George Reynolds: The Myth of the Manuscript Found (Salt Lake, 1883), pp. 21-22.
See statement of Mrs. M. S. McKinstry (Matilda Spaulding) in Ellen E. Dickinson" "The Book of Mormon," Scribner's Monthly, August 1880.
   




Appendix B                                                                   [429 1976:452


were familiar with the theory and believed it, he said, but few could give first-hand information. Rigdon's brother-in-law, not a Mormon, and Isaac King, an old neighbor, swore to him that Rigdon did not go to Pittsburgh before 1822. Mrs. Lambdin, widow of Patterson's partner, denied any knowledge of Rigdon, as did Robert P. DuBois, who had worked in the printing shop between 1818 and 1820. 

One woman, who had worked as mail clerk in Patterson's office between 1811 and 1816, stated that she knew Rigdon and that he was an intimate friend of Lambdin's, but that this was clearly untrue is evidenced by the statement of Lambdin's widow that she had never heard of Rigdon. Another old settler claimed that Spaulding told him the manuscript had been spirited away and that Rigdon was suspect, but this statement is in conflict not only with the facts of Rigdon's life, but also with the accounts of Spaulding's wife and daughter, who made no mention of a lost manuscript and held that the "Manuscript Found" had been carefully preserved in the trunk.* 

Patterson senior never left any statement that incriminated Rigdon, although the two men knew each other casually in Pittsburgh after 1822. In the 1870's and 1880's, when anti-Mormonism was most bitter in the United States, there was a great outcropping of affidavits such as those solicited by the younger Patterson. All were from citizens who vaguely remembered meeting Spaulding or Rigdon some fifty, sixty, or seventy years earlier. All are suspect because they corroborate only the details of the first handful of documents collected by Hurlbut and frequently use the very same language. Some are outright perjury.  

James Jeffries [sic. - Jeffery?] wrote on January 20, 1884: "Forty years ago I was in business in St. Louis.... I knew Sidney Rigdon. He told me several times that there was in the office with which he was connected, in Ohio, a manuscript of the Reverend Spaulding, tracing the origin of the Indians from the lost tribes of Israel. The manuscript was in the office several years. He was familiar with it. Spaulding wanted it published, but had not the means to pay for the printing. He (Rigdon) said Joe (Joseph) Smith used to look over the manuscript and read it

__________
* For texts of all these statements see Robert Patterson: Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?
  




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on Sundays. Rigdon said Smith took the manuscript and said, 'I'll print it,' and went off to Palmyra, New York." * Forty years previous to 1884 would have been the year of Smith's assassination. Rigdon never lived in St. Louis, nor did Joseph Smith ever visit Ohio before 1831.

The tenuous chain of evidence accumulated to support the Spaulding-Rigdon theory breaks altogether when it tries to prove that Rigdon met Joseph Smith before 1830. There are ambiguous references to a "mysterious stranger" said to have visited the Smiths between 1827 and 1830. But only two men ever claimed that this was actually Rigdon.   Abel Chase on May 2, 1879 (fifty-two years after the event) stated that in 1827  -- "as near as I can recollect" -- when he was a boy of twelve or thirteen, he saw a stranger at the Smith home who was said to be Rigdon. † And Lorenzo Saunders on January 28, 1885 (fifty-eight years after the event) stated that he had seen him in the spring of 1827 and again in the summer of 1828. ‡ Yet Saunders himself admitted his recollection came only after thirty years of puzzling over the matter and hunting for evidence. § And it is highly probable that both men were actually remembering Rigdon's first appearance in Palmyra in late 1830. No other of Joseph's neighbors ever made any effort to connect the Ohio preacher with the Book of Mormon events. And an early historian of western New York, writing in 1851, said: "It is believed by all those best acquainted with the Smith family and most conversant with all the Gold Bible movements, that there is no foundation for the statement that the original manuscript was written by a Mr. Spaulding of Ohio." ¶   

Rigdon's life between 1826 and 1829 has been carefully documented from non-Mormon sources. It is clear from the following chronology that he was a busy and successful preacher and one of the leading figures in the Campbellite movement in Ohio. Until August 1830, when he broke with Alexander Campbell over the question of introducing communism into the

__________
* Wyl: Mormon Portraits, p. 241 [sic. p. 231].
Ibid, p. 230.
Shook: True Origin of the Book of Mormon, p. 132.
§ See his unpublished affidavit in the library of the Reorganized Church.
Turner: History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase, p. 214.
   




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Campbellite Church, he was one of the four key men of that church. It cannot be held that Rigdon rewrote the Spaulding manuscript before 1827, since the anti-Masonry permeating the book clearly stemmed from the Morgan excitement beginning late in 1826.
ACTIVITIES OF RIGDON, NOVEMBER 2, 1826-
NOVEMBER 14,1830


1826 November 2
 
December 13
Marriage of Smith and Giles
    (performed by Rigdon)
Above marriage recorded.
1827 January
February
March
April
 
June 5
June 7
June 15
July 3
July 12
August 10
August 23
 
October 9
October 20
November
December 6
December 12
December 13
Held meeting at Mantua, Ohio.
Funeral of Hannah Tanner, Chester, Ohio.
Held meeting at Mentor, Ohio.
Held meeting at Mentor, Ohio.
    (gap of possibly one month and half)
Marriage of Freeman and Waterman.
Above marriage recorded
baptized Thomas Clapp at Mentor, Ohio.
Marriage of Gray and Kerr
Above marriage recorded
Above marriage recorded.
Met with Mahoning Association, New Lisbon, Ohio.
    (gap of possibly one month and half)
Marriage of Sherman and Methews.
At Ministerial Council, Warren, Ohio.
Held meeting at New Lisbon, Ohio.
Marriage of Wait and Gunn
Above marriage recorded.
Marriage of Cottrell and Olds.
1828 January 8
February 14
March 31
March
March
April
May
June
 
Above marriage recorded
Marriage of Herrington and Corning.
Above marriage recorded.
Instructed theological class, Mentor, Ohio.
Visited Walter Scott at Warren, Ohio.
Conducted revival at Kirtland, Ohio.
Met Campbell at Shalersville, Ohio.
Baptized H. H. Clapp, Mentor, Ohio.
    (gap of possibly two months)

  




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[1828] August
September 7
September 18
October 13
At Association, Warren, Ohio
Marriage of Dille and Kent
Above marriages recorded.
    (gap of possibly two months and half)
1829 January 1
February 1
February 12
March
April 12
May
 
July 1
August
August 7
August 13
September 14
September 14
September
October 1
October 7
October
November
December 31
Marriage of Churchill and Fosdick.
Marriage of Root and Tuttle.
Above marriages recorded.
Meeting at Mentor, Ohio.
Meeting at Kirtland, Ohio.
Baptized Lyman Wight.
    (gap of possibly one month and a half)
Organized church at Perry, Ohio.
Baptized Mrs. Lyman Wight.
Met with church in Perry, Ohio.
Marriage of Strong and More.
Above marriage recorded.
Marriage of Atwater and Clapp.
Held meeting at Mentor, Ohio.
Marriage of Roberts and Bates.
Last two marriages recorded.
At Perry, Ohio.
Held Meeting at Waite Hill, Ohio.
Marriage of Chandler and Johnson.
1830 January 12
 
March
 
June
July
August
 
November 4
November 11
November 14
Above marriage recorded.
    (gap of possible two months)
At Mentor, Ohio.
    (gap of two months)
At Mentor, Ohio.
Held meeting at Pleasant Valley, Ohio.
Met Campbell at Austintown, Ohio.
    (gap of two and one half months)
Marriage of Wood and Cleveland.
Above marriage recorded.
Rigdon baptized by Oliver Cowdery.*


Alexander Campbell, who knew Rigdon intimately, described his conversion to Mormonism with great regret in the Millennial Harbinger, attributing it to his nervous spasms and swoonings and to his passionate belief in the imminent gathering

__________
* The above chronology is a rearrangement of one compiled by the Reorganized Church and appearing in the Journal of History, Vol. III, pp. 16-20, with additional information from Hayden: Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve.
   




Appendix B                                                                   [433 1976:456


of Israel. But of the authorship of the Book of Mormon he wrote bluntly: "It is as certainly Smith's fabrication as Satan is the father of lies or darkness is the offspring of night."*

Rigdon denied the Spaulding story throughout his life. When his son John questioned him shortly before his death, he replied: "My son, I can swear before high heaven that what I have told you about the origin of that book is true. Your mother and sister, Mrs. Athalia Robinson, were present when that book was handed to me in Mentor, Ohio, and all I ever knew about the origin of that book was that Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith and the witnesses who claimed they saw the plates have told me, and in all my intimacy with Joseph Smith he never told me but one story, and that was that he found it engraved upon gold plates in a hill near Palmyra, New York, and that an angel had appeared to him and directed him where to find it...." †  

__________
* Vol. II (1831), pp. 95, 100.
"Life of Sidney Rigdon" by his son John W. Rigdon, MS, as quoted in B. H. Roberts: Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol. I, pp. 234-5.




    

Appendix C, the Bibliography and the Index have not been transcribed
due to copyright restrictions on the text.




 



Document:
Dale Lowell Morgan
(1914-1971)
"A Prophet and His Legend"
Saturday Review of Literature
(NYC: November 24, 1945)


Article excerpt


Transcriber's comments



 
Copyright 1945
by Saturday Review of Literature
Because of copyright restrictions, only limited "fair use"
excerpts are presented here.



[ 7 ]



A Prophet and His Legend

NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY:
The Life if Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet,
By Fawn M. Brodie. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
(1945)
476 pp. and index.  $4.

Reviewed by DALE L. MORGAN

AS with his contemporary, Abraham Lincoln, and to even more marked degree, there is about the life of Joseph Smith extraordinary difficulty in getting at the man himself inside the encrustation of Legend. Apotheosis has been the lot of each man, but in the case of the Mormon prophet something exactly akin to deification has been at work. Vilification of him has largely disappeared with his generation, while among his followers faith and the will to believe have worked upon his memory, expurgating the history of the grotesque, the absurd, or the merely inconvenient, softening his faults, and investing his character with a sweet serenity and an infinite love -- a being who withstood the devil and all his archangels and died a martyr.

Nor is the task of searching out the man inside this temple of belief the only difficulty confronting a biographer. The life of Joseph Smith was an outrageous melodrama any playwright would tremble at placing on a stage, yet at the heart of this melodrama was a character infinitely complex and [steadily] enigmatic. Joseph Smith was a man who wrote largely about himself, yet revealed himself almost in nothing, and a man, moreover, abundantly contradictory interests, motivations, and ambitions. He became the most celebrated of modern prophets, and revised his history accordingly; his followers have gone on revising it to suit their needs and tastes, and his enemies have contributed their full quota of obfuscation. Between the suppression and the manufacture of fact, it is not strange that it has required a hundred years for the vetting of a definitive biography.

In her "No Man Knows My History," Fawn M. Brodie has taken up the challenge Joseph Smith laid down in a sermon to his people two months before his death: "You don't know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell itl I shall never undertake it. I don't blame anyone for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I could not have believed it myself." Mrs. Brodie has pursued that history through quiet country towns in Vermont, New York, and Pennsylvania, through religious revivals, land booms, and loanics, through [-------vars] and "mobbings and drivings" across the breadth of the Mississippi Valley, and through temples, court-rooms, bedrooms, and jails to its violent end in a little town in Illinois.

Joseph Smith's story is all he says of it -- so fundamentally incredible that notwithstanding the million present-day Mormons and the stupendous literature about him, one is sometimes persuaded that no such person ever existed. But in Mrs. Brodie's book an eminently human and entirely understandable being stares into peepstones, communes with God, kicks the tax collector the length of his walk, rebukes the powers of his time, drinks with the boys, marries some fifty wives, parades with the Nauvoo Legion, and has his people distinctly to understand that a prophet is a prophet only while he is working at the job. The result is the finest job of scholarship yet done in Mormon history and perhaps the outstanding biography in several years -- a book distinguished in the range and originality of its research, the informed and searching objectively of its viewpoint, the richness and suppleness of its prose, and its narrative power.

It is with wit and vigor and learning that Mrs. Brodie has reexamined some of the most cherished and most fundamental conceptions of Mormon history, the first sober application of modern techniques and criteria of research to a history fiercely irreconcilable in its details and overlaid with both passion and duplicity. The story of Joseph;s intercourse with God in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon she pictures as essentially an afterthought on the part of the Prophet, and hers is a fresh point of view which will give pause to scholars in and out of the several Mormon churches. The Book of Mormon that she subjects to a remarkably original analysis of its character, its content, and the sources of its ideas; in her hands it emerges as a work of imaginative creation by a variously gifted young man, a work which negan on a simple speculation and ended as the touchstone of a new religion in which its author had become communicant. Though this theory is not new, her implementation is.

If the Spaulding theory relative to the origin of the Book of Mormon has retained any adherents in the face of forceful criticisms by B. H. Roberts on one side and Bernard DeVoto on the other, the appendix Mrs. Brodie devotes to this subject should lay that theory to rest once and for all. But Mrs. Brodie's demolitions have been carried still further: those who have accepted Mr. DeVoto's persuasive theory that Joseph Smith was a paranoid will find no comfort at all in this book. That theory rests initially upon an acceptance of the historicity of Joseph Smith's own account of his visions, and it will be quite an undertaking for scholars to reestablish the authenticity of those visions in the light of Mrs. Brodie's exploration of the facts; moreover, Mrs. Brodie's skilful integration of Joseph Smith with the turbulent times in which he lived, together with the surgical job she has performed in laying open the quality and character of his personality, does not encourage the thesis that Joseph's was a personality for which death barely intervened upon [complete] disintergration.

Having faced up to the hard fact that Joseph Smith must have been initially a conscious fraud and impostor, Mrs Brodie is not so undiscerning as to leave the question there. Joseph's capacity for fantasy was entirely inadequate to persuade him ultimately of the actuality of his own pretension, though Mrs. Brodie thinks it doubtful if he ever escaped the "memory of the conscious artifice that went into the Book of Mormon," no one can explore his history without reaching the conviction that he came to believe utterly the role to which destiny led him...


The remainder of this article has not been transcribed
due to copyright restrictions on the text.




 

Transcriber's Comments
Fawn M. Brodie's No Man Knows My History



Back of 1945 Brodie Book Dust Jacket


Using the Transcribed 1945 Text

Although the late Mrs. Brodie's "NMKMY" text is copyrighted, it has been frequently quoted in large blocks, both in printed books and in on-line web pages. Given this almost ubiquitous large scale repduction of Brodie's fifty-seven year old text, the Sapalding Studies Site Host has tentatively decided to reprint her entire "Appendix B" without securing special permission from the copyright holder. Also, a few other short excerpts from her 1945 volume have been transcribed and are featured in this web-document. Should this unauthorized reproduction become the cause of any future statutory actions being ditrected against the Site Host and/or this web site's ISP, the posted e-text can and will be scaled back (to include only her most relevant paragraphs regarding the so-called Spalding "theory.").

Given the above precaution and self-imposed restraints, the Site Host has placed on-line only a very small portion of Brodie's book, even though he has already transcribed her entire 1945 published text (for personal consultation in e-text form). In this web-document non-reproduced textual blocks from Mrs. Brodie's book have either been omitted entirely or, in some instances, have been represented by a series of repeating characters, thusly:   xxxxx xx xxxxxx xxxx xx xxxxxxx.

From time to time, when certain citational needs arise, a few additional short excerpts from the first edition of No man Knows My History will probably be added to this file.



Fawn McKay Brodie (1915-1981)



Fawn Brodie -- Not an anti-Mormon

Because Brodie was denounced by the leaders of the LDS Church in the mid-1940s and eventually excommunicated from that religious body, modern readers of her work generally peruse its contents as being representative of some kind of an attack on the Church, carried out by a vengeful writer. A closer investigation of Mrs. Brodie and her researching of the Smith biography, however, does not support the commonly encountered notion that she was an anti-Mormon writing an anti-LDS book. In fact, Mrs. Brodie was an heir to the rationalist revolution that quietly wafted a new wind of change through some of the upper ranks of the LDS Church during the 1920s and 1930s. Although anti-intellectualism was still the order of the day "down on the farm" and "over at the meeting house," a number of educated Saints of her day (especially those from the "better families") were evolving away from unlettered faith in an improbable religion and social system, to a new view of things "in Zion." Those were the days when a University of Chicago graduate degree were not incompatible with the honors and responsibilities of, say, a son of an Apostle or a neice of a President in the Church. Some of the new rationalists drifted away from the camp of Israel, while others lingered on the fringes, the forerunners of contemporary "cultural Mormons." Among this set might be found the likes of a Bernard DeVoto, a Stanley Ivins, or a M. Wilford Poulson. The ones like Dale L. Morgan would find their niches within the crannies of the good ship Restoration -- the ones like Fawn McKay Brodie would pursue their "book learning" right out of the fold of the Church.

Just how much Brodie expected the contents of her book to revolutionize the LDS Church remains debatable. She was not born a revolutionary and her personal evolution, through higher education, scholarly research, and publication of a very problematical book, did not lead her into any secret cabals and samizats, engaged in a twilight struggle to enlighten their fellow Mormons. Still, it is clear that Mrs. Brodie intended on remaining in the LDS Church -- had she not been excommunicated she would have probably eventually drifted back into its circles in some university town somewhere, with enough of the "questioning faithful" to support a semi-unorthodox branch or a "progressive ward." Perhaps she hoped that her book would shake loose a few of the top leaders among the LDS from a mindless adoration of Joseph Smith, Jr. But, more likely, she expected to merely influence a few minds within the next generation and otherwise forget she ever studied the "true" Mormon history. In order for the contemporary reader of "NMKMY" to gain a better understanding of the context in which Mrs. Brodie researched and published her imaginative "psycho-biography" of Joseph Smith, Jr., the investigator is directed to first consult these useful resources:

1. Marvin S. Hill, review in Dialogue 7 (Winter 1972)
2. Marvin S. Hill, review in Church History 43:1 (March 1974)
3. Newell G. Bringhurst "The Renegade..." in John Whitmer Hist. Assoc. Journal, 12 (1992)
4. Newell G. Bringhurst (ed) Reconsidering No Man Knows My History (Logan UT: 1996)
5. Newell G. Bringhurst (ed) Fawn McKay Brodie (Norman: Univ. of Okla. Press, 1999).


The Influence of I. W. Riley upon Fawn Brodie

Brodie's 1945 book has been called a "psychobiographical account of Joseph Smith." The methods, motives, and preconceptions bound up in her investigation into the mental and emotional aspects of Smith's private life were almost certainly heavily dependent upon the previous psychoanalytic reporting of I. Woodbridge Riley. Brodie did not follow psychologist Riley in all his notions regarding the sphinx-like Smith; she replaced Riley's primitive prognosis for the Mormon leader (whom Riley assumed was an epileptic) with more sophisticated Freudian literary-forensic judgments, providing a much more believable word portrait of Smith than her literary predecessor had been able to produce. Still, Brodie followed closely in Riley's tracks in her own early abandonment of the Spalding-Rigdon claims for Book of Mormon origins. While Brodie's acceptance of Riley's trail blazing down this conceptual path opened the way for her exaltation of Joseph Smith to the role of an almost admirable writer of scriptures and founder of religious tenets, that consequential choice on her part also served to relegate other, earlier explanations for Mormon origins to the dustbin of history -- both in the mind of Brodie herself and in the minds of numerous readers of her book.

Prior to the appearance of Brodie's book in 1945, a substantial number of the students of Mormon history still held open possible validity of the traditional explanation for the coming forth of Mormonism -- that the genesis of the movement and its sacred texts owed far more to the clandestine machinations of the Rev. Sidney Rigdon than they did to any possible inception from among the Mormon Smith family and their known associates. Brodie also followed and amplified Riley's views on Book of Mormon origins, when she acknowledged the Rev. Ethan Smith's 1823 book, A View of the Hebrews as having furnished important primary source material to the "Nephite Record." In pursuing this avenue for identifying presumed bookish influences upon Smith, her conjectured literary prodigy, Brodie seems to have leaned heavily upon the prior investigations of Elder B. H. Roberts (as reported in his then unpublished writings on Ethan Smith and the Book of Mormon). Elements of the Ethan Smith theory for Book of Mormon origins ante-dated Roberts' reporting by several decades, but if Brodie relied upon these sorts of obscure sources, she did not cite them -- perhaps, in part, because for her to have done so would have eventually led her back to the old Solomon Spalding claims she was then attempting to discredit.


The Influence of Bernard deVoto upon Fawn Brodie

In 1936, Bernard A. deVoto, the popular novelist and historian, abandoned his previously held opinion that Solomon Spalding's manuscript had served as the basis for the Book of Mormon. Only six years before, in his seminal article, "The Centennial of Mormonism," deVoto had accepted the Spalding claims as part and parcel of any truthful explanation for Book of Mormon authorship. Between 1930 and 1936 (when deVoto expanded and republished his original article) the author may have been influenced by the writing of Harry M. Beardsley to the point that he decided to eliminate the Rev. Sidney Rigdon from any reconstruction of Mormon origins. After having dropped the previously supposed Rigdon-Smith conspiracy from his views, deVoto decided to abandon the Spading-Rigdon "theory" entirely, branding that old explanation for the birth of Mormonism as "untenable." Fawn Brodie was, no doubt aware of deVoto's highly significant change of views. Both writers came from the Mormon town of Ogden Utah. Writer Richard Saunders, in his 1995 article, "The Strange Mixture of Emotion and Intellect: Social History of Dale L. Morgan," has this to say about the intellectual situation of writers like the then youthful Brodie: "In the years following the depression of the 1930s there rose a group of writers known informally in Latter-day Saint history as Mormonism's "Lost Generation." These were a diverse lot of academics and writers with familial roots in Utah but who almost always circulated outside of the state's boundaries." Saunders places both Brodie and deVoto in this particular group of early twentieth century intellectuals. Brodie's biographer, Newell G. Bringhurst, calls deVoto the "leader of Mormondom's 'lost generation.'"

While Fawn M. Brodie followed deVoto's lead in minimizing the role of Sidney Rigdon in early Mormonism -- as well as eliminating the influence of Spalding totally -- her purpose in doing so was somewhat different than deVoto's. He had dismissed the literary value of the Book of Mormon as being little more than a "yeasty" production of Joseph Smith's youthful "paranoia," while Fawn M. Brodie seized upon the same book as being a kind of gold mine of personal information, left behind by the otherwise enigmatic Mormon prophet. Brodie drew upon the book's contents to help her plot out her psycho-biography of Joseph Smith, Jr., something deVoto saw as being a useless task. DeVoto saw Smith as acting under a sort of compulsion, under which he felt the necessity to compile a pseudoscriptural book, the contents of which he drew from diverse sources. DeVoto might have gone so far as to agree that both Solomon Spalding and Joseph Smith had been influenced in forming their ideas regarding the American Indians by writers like Elias Boudinot and Ethan Smith, but he did not take the time to say much about such interesting connections. Brodie, on the other hand, took up the cues provided by I. Woodbridge Riley and had a great deal to say about this kind of literary dependence.

For all practical purposes, Brodie replaced the traditional reliance of non-Mormon writers upon the Solomon Spalding authorship claims with Roberts' and Riley's views relating to Ethan Smith's pre-1827 writings. In making this mental switch, Brodie also replaced the Rev. Sidney Rigdon's previously presumed role in "getting up Mormonism," with the roguish genius of the young Joseph Smith, Jr. himself. This move on her part was not entirely original. Writers all the way back to Henry Caswall and Jonathan B. Turner (in the early 1840s) had occasionally attempted to "ditch" Rigdon and attach a lion's share of the credit for composing the Book of Mormon upon the broad shoulders of Joseph Smith, Jr. In order to effectively make this transition -- away from both Spalding and Rigdon, Brodie seized upon a most unworthy expedient: she simply ignored the contributions of Sidney Rigdon to the development and progress of early Mormonism.

Even her friend and sometimes critic, Dale L. Morgan, warned Brodie that she was taking a bad tack in pursuing this particular course. Even if the student of Mormon history were to concede that Sidney Rigdon played no part in the story until the end of 1830, it is clear that Rigdon exercised a tremendous influence both upon the latter day religion and upon the personal development of Smith himself. By editing Rigdon out of the story, Brodie crafted a lop-sided attempt at biographical writing which is neither faithful history nor an insightful exploration into the psyche and actions of the Mormon Prophet. In producing such a book, Brodie was inadvertently echoing the methods and reults of those writers of her day who produced biographies of Joseph Stalin, minus any meaningful mention of Leon Trotsky and his contribution to Bolshevikism.

In crediting Joseph Smith, Jr. with having written the Book of Mormon, Fawn M. Brodie gave birth to the uncomfortable predicament where both Mormon traditionalists and Spalding claims advocates find themselves bedfellows in the determination that Smith could not possibly have written the book alone. Either he had the "gift and power of God" at his disposal, or he had co-conspirators who furnished him with the materials for his 1830 book. The LDS faithful point to Smith's youthful ignorance and inability to write more than a simple letter as proof of his not authorshing the book. While, at the same time, conspiracy theorists point to Smith's reported shiftless, laziness, and inveterate chicanery as circumstantial proof that he never slaves for hour upon hour at the writing bench with the tomes of Josiah Priest and Ethan Smith stacked beside him.

In his 1945 review of Brodie's book, "insider" Dale Morgan says: "The result is the finest job of scholarship yet done in Mormon history and perhaps the outstanding biography in several years -- a book distinguished in the range and originality of its research, the informed and searching objectively of its viewpoint, the richness and suppleness of its prose, and its narrative power." While many informed persons might (and did) question the truth of Morgan's ovation, few could deny his final words praising her new book: "the richness and suppleness of its prose, and its narrative power." Brodie's book is highly readable. A non-specialist with a high school reading level can generally make his or her way through the book and come away with a mind full of lingering word pictures and an intuitive grasp of the messages Brodie intends to convey. In that very fact, that it is so fully readable and comprehendable, lies the book's insidious power to distort history and conceal the private life of its protagonist. The public persona of Joseph Smith, Jr. comes across rather well in Brodie's book; it is the man behind that mask who remains hidden, all her efforts to expose him notwithstanding.


Fawn Brodie's Strange "Appendix B"

Brodie was not so nonchalant in her conjectures about Joseph Smith, Jr. being the writer of the Book of Mormon so as to simply dismiss the old Spalding-Rigdon thesis out of hand. The Spalding claims had been withering on the vine of the popular press for years before she delivered her celebrated death blow to that old explanation for Book of Mormon origins. Still, the notion lingered in some circles, that Spalding and/or Rigdon were somehow connected to the birth of the Mormon religion and its sacred book. Brodie could not bypass those remnants of an earlier epoch without making some attempt at justifying her Smith-as the-author thesis and refuting at least the main points of the Spalding "theory."

As mentioned previously, her ingenious answer to the Rigdon and Spalding problem is to avoid practically all mention of those persons in the main body of her book. She provids her readers with chapter upon chapter of her "narrative power," constructing her portrait of Smith with all the craftsmanship of a renaissance painter. Only after that portrait is completed and staring the reader full in the face does Brodie tack on to it her lame alibi, supposedly showing that Spalding and Rigdon are names not worthy of the reader's close attention. At the very end of her magnum opus Brodie presents an "appendix" in which Spalding and Rigdon are dealt with in short order. While the main body of her book is thoroughly readable and occasionally includes some commendable examples of scholarship, the entire Appendix B is unsanctionably shoddy and error-ridden. If Brodie is to vindicate the preeminence of her Smith-as the-author thesis, this is the place where her pretensions to unblemished research and insightful analysis should stand in resplendent display. In no way is this the case, however.

In her "appendix" Fawn Brodie betrays again and again the fact that she did not research the life of Sidney Rigdon. She does not know the man well enough to say a single intelligent thing about him. Yet, Brodie throws herself into the task of separating Rigdon from Spalding in the midn of the reader. Further more, she attempts to pry the reputations of both men loose from any attachment to Book of Mormon origins. Her attempt is an utter failure -- she barely scratched the surface of available important source material in her brief glance at the Solomon Spalding claims for Book of Mormon authorship. The tenablity of Brodie's conclusions, as expressed in her book, suffers exceedingly -- both because of her painfully evident sloppy research and because of her equivocating attempts to apply any sort of logic in dismissing even that minimal Spalding claims documentation which she did bother to consult.

How is it then that this utter failure -- Brodie's supposed rebuttal of what she is pleased to call the Spalding "theory" is so frequently cited in otherwise well researched and well written books on the early history of the Mormons? The answer to this mystery lies chiefly in the fact that her readers generally know practically nothing regarding the complexities of the Spalding claims and their supporting documention. Given this widespread ignorance among her readership, Brodie is able to pull off the illusion that she has demolished a pile of unhistorical assertions and palpable "perjury."

The current writer (who is also the Web Host for this series of electronic documents) has begun to place on-line various web-pages featuring the results of his lengthy and detailed examination of Fawn M. Brodie's assumptions, presentations, and conclusions relating to the origin of Mormonism and its first sacred book. Some initial efforts in this direction may be found in the writer's comments attached to the published statements of Rebecca Johnston Eichbaum and Sidney Rigdon. A more comprehensive review of Brodie's problematical opinions may be had in the writer's work-on-progress, "A Closer Look at Fawn M. Brodie's Refutation of the Spalding Authorship Claims" (an unpublished paper by Dale R. Broadhurst) e-text transcription under construction.




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