1994 Barney Fuller's comments (excerpts)
Fuller, Barney: The Burning of a Strange Fire LA, 1996.
The entire contents of this book copyright © 1996 by Huntington House Publishers, P.O. Box 53788, Lafayette,
LA, 70505. Because of copyright law restrictions, only limited "fair use" excerpts are presented here.
See also: Dale R. Broadhurst's comments.
Forty Years in Mormonism
by BARNEY R. FULLER
HUNTINGTON HOUSE PUBLISHERS
Because of copyright law restrictions,
only limited "fair use" excerpts are presented here.
[ 67 ]
of a Manuscript
The Book of Mormon had barely left the printer before a cry went up in northeast Ohio that the Mormons had plagiarized a manuscript of one Solomon Spaulding. These voices were loudly proclaiming that the Book of Mormon had not descended from the hand of an angel, but rather from the hand of one of their local residents. These voices came from Solomon Spaulding's immediate family and his close friends. They came from those who were the closest to him. There were thirteen witnesses in all which would agree that the contents of the Book of Mormon were strangely similar to what they had often heard fall from the lips of Solomon Spaulding as he had shared his writilg with them, on many occasions.
Their affidavits remain to this day crying for justice against the offenders. The Mormons have debated that the manuscript Spaulding wrote carried no likeness whatsoever to the Book of Mormon, and they have strongly advocated that the controversy was without reliable base. Yet, today, there are many historians and churchmen throughout western New York, northeast Ohio, and western Pennsylvania who remain convinced that there existed a second manuscript of Solomon Spaulding altogether different, which he fiad titled Manuscript Found.
68 Barney R. Fuller
The Spaulding writing which the Mormons used to try and prove their case was called Manuscript Story, a manuscript which Spaulding never finished. The original of this manuscript is in the possession of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.
Solomon Spaulding left Conneaut, Ohro, in 1812 and moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter, he would place the writing of his Manuscript Found into the hands of the Patterson Printing Office in hopes of them publishing it. Some months later the manuscript disappeared from the printing office.
There is substantial testimony which agrees that the Manuscript Found of Solomon Spaulding was taken from the Patterson Printing Office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is believed by many that the person who removed the manuscript from the print shop was Sidney Rigdon, who would later join the Disciples of Christ, and then Mormonism. He was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the time the Spaulding manuscript came up missing. According to the witnesses, even Solomon Spaulding himself believed that Rigdon stole his manuscript.
Mrs. Eichbaum, a Pittsburgh resident, gives an eye witness testimony of Rigdon's Pittsburgh days:
My father, John Johnson, was postmaster at Pittsburgh for about eighteen years, from 1804 to 1822. My husband, William Eichbaum, succeeded him, and was postmaster for about eleven years, from 1822 to 1838. I was born August 25, 1792, and when I became old enough, I assisted my father in attending to the post office, and became familiar with his duties. From 1811 to 1816, I was the regular clerk in the office; asserting, making up, dispatching, opening, and distributing the mails. Pittsburgh was then a small town, and I was well acquainted with all the stated visitors at the office who called regularly for their mails. So meager at that time were the mails that I could generally tell without looking whether or not there was anything for such persons, though I would usually look in order to satisfy them. I was married in 1815, and the next year my connection with the office ceased except during the absences of my
The Stealing of a Manuscript 69
husband. I knew and dirtinctly remember Robert and Joseph Patterson, J. Harrison Lambdin (printer in Patterson's shop) Silas Engles, and Sidney Rigdon. I remember Rev. Mr. Spaulding, but simply as one who occasionally called to inquire for letters.
I remember there was an evident intimacy between Lambdin and Rigdon. They very often came to the office together. I particularly remember that they would thus come during the hour on Sabbath afternoon when the office was required to be open, and I remember feeling sure that Rev. Mr. Patterson knew nothing of this, or he would have put a stop to it. I do not know what position, if any, Rigdon filled in Patterson's store or printing office, but am well assured he was frequently, if not constantly, there for a large part of the time when I was clerk in the post office. I recall Mr, Engles saying that "Rigdon was always hanging around the printing office." He was connected with the tannery before he became al preacher, though he may have continued the business whilst preaching. (Charles A. Shook, The True Origin of the Book of Mormon, p. 117-118)
Pittsburgh during the early 1800s was a small town and had a small post office. This postal clerk would have known everyone for miles around. It wasn't too many years ago when it was considered a professional responsibility for the postal clerks to personally know those whom they serviced. It is believed that the Spaulding manuscript came up missing sometime after the year 1815. Mrs. Eichbaum stated that when she was old enough that she helped her father operate the post office in Pittsburgh. She was sixteen-years old in the year 1808, and by 1811 she became a regular postal clerk. Spaulding did not arrive until the year 1812, and his manuscript was not taken until approximately three years later. By the year 1814 Mrs. Eichbaum was twenty-two years of age and certainly old enough to have obtained a very good knowledge of the inhabitants of a small town. For her to have had a distinct knowledge of Solomon Spaulding and Sidney Rigdon would have been only normal. But we also read of her cognizance of Rigdon spending considerable time in the very printing office where Solomon
70 Barney R. Fuller
Spaulding's Manuscript Found was awaiting to be published. She further implied that Rigdon's presence around the premise was suspicious, to say the least.
Two people in later years would testify that Sidney Rigdon had at one time a manuscript in his possession, long before the Book of Mormon was published. To one of these witnesses Rigdon stated that Spaulding had written it. The Mormons have gone to great lengths to try and merge the thinking concerning the Manuscript Found to another work of Spaulding called Manzcscript Story. This work of sabotage was done in hopes that it would be believed by the masses that the Manuscript Story was in essence the stolen Manuscript Found. The Mormons desired for the public to believe that there was only one manuscript and that it had been given two separate titles. Today, the original Manuscript Story is in the archives of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.
When the Mormons reprinted Manuscript Story several years ago, they added to the title page in smaller print the words Manuscript Found, and also added the same words at the top of each succeeding page of the manuscript. But Mr. Baumann, archivist at Oberlin College, stated that the words Manuscript Found do not appear on the original Manuscript Story in his possession.
I sent Mr. Baumann a copy of the title page of Manuscript Story which contained the added words of Manuscript Found and his reply is as follows:
Oberlin College Archives
Dear Mr. Fuller:
420 Mudd Center
Oberlin, Ohio 44074-1532
October 14, 1992
Thank you for the fax of the Solomon Spaulding item.
My response is as follows. The text may have been printed verbatim; yet it is likely that the publishers created a fresh and interesting title for the manuscript in order to foster sales. This is often done, especially in those cases where a
The Stealing of a Manuscript 71
title to a manuscript did not exist. Please note that "Manuscript Found" is in quotes, which often means that words were supplied.
I do not think the title page is missing. This statement Is made without a check of the secondary literature bearing on the subject.
Enclosed for your use is a statement on the Spaulding Manuscript prepared by the College.
Roland M. Baumann, Archivist
This library possesses a manuscript which apparently is in the handwriting of Solomon Spaulding, since it seems to agree with fragments of account books which I have seen, and its genuineness is certified by a number of people who apparently examined it about the year 1839. It. is not, however, the manuscript that was said by witnesses to resemble the Book of Mormon, since that manuscript was always spoken of as having been written in the style of the sacred scriptures, whereas this is a plain narrative containing accounts of the wars between the Kentucks and the Sciotos-Indian tribes ascribed to this country.
The manuscript which we have was apparently obtained from Spaulding's effects at West Amity, Pennsylvania, at some time after the publication of the Book of Mormon, and seems to have been found as a result of a search to find whatever remained of Spaulding's writings in order to throw light on the question of whether he was the author of the Book of Mormon, or not. The manuscript which we have was copied under our supervision and typewritten copy furnished to the Shepherd Book Company of Salt Lake City, Utah and also to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, then located at Lamoni, Iowa. It was printed and sold by both branches of the Mormon Church, who gave it the title "Manuscript Found" -- a title which does not appear in any way on the manuscript, which simply has pencilled upon the
72 Barney R. Fuller
paper in which it was wrapped, "Manuscript Story, Conneaut Creek."
From the above statement from Oberlin College the reader can observe first hand how the Mormons altered the works
of Solomon Spaulding so as to deceive the masses. This is evidence that the plagiarizing of the works of Spaulding
by the Mormons did not stop with Smith and Rigdon.
There were several witnesses who gave convicting evidence that Rigdon and Smith made extensive use of Spaulding's
work in the creation of the Book of Mormon.
1. Alexander Campbell, founder of the Disciples for Christ, said that Rigdon told him in 1827 "that the plates dug
up in New York was an account, not only of the aborigines of this country, but also it was stated that the Christian
religion had been preached in this country during the First Century, just as we were preaching it on the Western Reserve"
(Millennial Harbinger, 1844). How would Rigdon have known what the plates contained; for the Mormon History
declares that he didn't know Mormonism existed until November 1830. Who was providing Rigdon with such information, two
years before the Book of Mormon was published?
2. A second witness to that same information was Rev. Adamson Bentley, Rigdon's wife's brother-in-law, who stated,
"I know that Sidney Rigdon told me there was a book coming out (the manuscript which had been found on gold plates)
as much as two years before the Mormon book made its appearance in this country or had been heard of by me."
These two extremely close associates of Sidney Rigdon go on record that Rigdon knew of the "plates" and of special
book to be published from them. How did Rigdon obtain such information to pass on to Bentley and Campbell? Campbell,
Rigdon, and Bentley were the main leaders of the "Disciples of Christ Church" at that time in the Ohio and Pennsylvania
region. There can be no other conclusion, except that Rigdon knew the source from which the Book of Mormon would spring,
and would very soon be placing Spaulding's manuscript into Smith's hands.
3. Rev. John Winter, M.D., a member of Rigdon's own church and a school teacher states: "In 1822 or 1823 Rigdon
took out of his desk in his study a large manuscript stating
Because of copyright law restrictions,
only limited "fair use" excerpts are presented here.
Pages 73 and 74 have not been transcribed.
[ 75 ]
What Vermont's Green
Mountains Can't Tell
Solomon Spaulding's good friend, Ethan Smith, published a book in 1823 called View of the Hebrews. This book attempted to show that the American Indian was a descendant of the lost tribes of the House of Israel. A substantial part of this book appears in varying ways in the Book of Mormon. We show some of these likenesses in a later chapter. But in the following chapters, information will be presented that will throw light upon the relationships of Ethan and Solomon, as well as upon the Spauldings and the First Mormon founders. The Mormons have been aqsolutely silent on these old acquaintances between the Solomon Spaulding, the Joseph Smith, and the Oliver Cowdery families.
Solomon Spaulding, author of Manuscript Found, was born in Ashford, Connecticut, in 1761 and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1785, but remained in the area and received his license of ordination in 1787 as a Congregational Minister (Rev. George T. Chapman, Sketches Of The Alumni ofDartmouth College). Solomon continued his studies after graduation, and it was during this time, according to Ethan's grandson, that he and Ethan Smith became close friends. They could have shared some courses together there at Dartmouth. Solomon would remain in the northeast preaching,
76 Barney R. Fuller
etc., until some time after 1894 [sic] according to Dartmouth records. This was four years after Ethan Smith's graduation from Dartmouth.
Since both were Congregational ministers and shared the same professors, it is very certain that Ethan Smith and Solomon Spaulding knew each other very well. One of the grandsons of Ethan Smith wrote that Solomon Spaulding and Ethan were very close friends and continued to be over the years, and that there was a definite perusing of Ethan's works by Spaulding (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 24 April 1887). This would certainly have given many opportunities for Spaulding and Ethan Smith to share their theories and beliefs relative to the origin of the American Indians. Both men probably were an inspiration one to another. But their common interest in the history of the origin of the American Indians would have been a strone motivation to keep their friendship fresh for a number of years.
I would venture to say that because of sharing their views together that many similarities would have existed between the View of the Hebrews, written by Ethan Smith, and Spaulding's work, Manuscript Found.
During the years that Solomon's health was failing, as well as his business, his friend Ethan may have shared his thoughts and writings very extensively with Solomon, so as to help him. Solomon stated himself that he needed to get the Manuscript Found published for monetary reasons. Since the Book of Mormon has interwined throughout its pages ideas, concepts, and partial quotations which are indeed very harmonious to Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews, it carries good reason that Spaulding did receive help with his work, Manuscript Found from his dear friend.
For several years in and around Poultney, Vermont, the home of Ethan Smith, there lived many relatives of Solomon Spaulding. Orrin Spaulding, son of Nathaniel, moved into Danby in 1794 and then into the Poultney-Middletown, Vermont, area. He apparently was in the group with Joseph, Asahel, Julius, George, and Reuben [Spalding], who previously had lived in Plainfield, Connecticut, the original home of Solomon's father. Reuben Spaulding,Jr. was most likely the son of Reuben Spaulding, Solomon Spalding's uncle.
What Vermont's Green Mountains Can't Tell 77
Solomon had an older brother named Reuben, who was no doubt named after his uncle. This brother was born in Plainfield, Connecticut, along with his sister Priscilla Solomon and the rest of his brothers and sisters were born in Ashford, Connecticut, where his father, Josiah, moved the family in 1760.
Joseph Spaulding helped start the Congregational Church of Middletown, Vermont This was just a few miles from Poultney where Ethan Smith would later pastor the Congregational Church. Azel Spaulding, Solomon's first cousin, was probably the Asahel Spaulding mentioned in the History of Middletown, Vemumt.
There are some very interesting marriage connections which were created in Vermont, which could provide information that could easily travel from the doorstep of Solomon Spaulding to the doorstep of Joseph and Lucy Smith.
One example is Reuben Spaulding, Solomon Spaulding's uncle, who married Mary Pierce in 1747. She died in Sharon, Vermont (Joseph Smith's hometown), in 1826, having lived there for many years. Her daughter Mary married Ebenezer Parkhurst, resident of Sharon, Vermont. They had nine children and were neighbors of the Joseph Smith family. Here we have the Smiths living for several years alongside Solomon's first cousin, Mary Parkhurst. Back in the days when families took pride in family members being educated, Solomon would certainly have been a subject of pride to Mary. Also, the Smiths came from a "congregational" background, of which Spaulding was an ordained minister.
The Smiths once lived in Tunbridge, Vermont (near Sharon), a little town about ten miles south of Chelsea. In the year 1787 Solomon Spaulding's brother, Elisha Spaulding, settled in Chelsea. All eight of his children were born there. He named one of his sons Solomon, in honor of his brother. These Spauldings continued to reside in Chelsea until 1823 when they moved to Ohio. The possibility of Spaulding's brother, Elisha, meeting the Smiths is great indeed, considering he also had a first cousin, Reuben, living in the town of Sharon, Vermont.
This Reuben Spaulding was also Solomon Spaulding's first cousin. He raised his entire family in Sharon, Vermont.
78 Barney R. Fuller
They moved into Sharon ten to twelve years before Joseph, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. Jerusha Spaulding (Reuben's wife) raised twelve children and had several children equal in ages to the Smith children. Their son Levi was born in September 1805, approximately three-and-a-half months before Joseph Smith, Jr., was born, Lucy being approximately six months pregnant with Joseph when Levi was born.
Sharon is a very tiny town; my wife and I were there recently. In the town there were two shops, one restaurant, one gas station, and a small post office. The Smiths and the Spauldings spent several years together in such a small community. Back in those days people would want to know where you came from, and all about you. Lucy Smith and Jerusha Spaulding had plenty to talk about of such things, since both of their families were from Connecticut, and both were expecting an 1805 child.
I would suspect that before Solomon made his way west that he probably paid his relatives a visit there in Sharon and Chelsea. The Smiths may have even had the privilege of meeting Solomon Spaulding. But if they did not, it would be a definite forgone assumption that the name of Solomon was brought up in conversation on many occasions over the years. The Solomon name would have attracted Lucy Smith's attention since that was the name of her father.
Solomon would have been living in Conneaut, Ohio, in the year 1805, the year of Joseph and Levi's birth, probably would have been working on his manuscript at that time. Perhaps Solomon was motivated to name the first leading character of his manuscript Levi in thought of his nephew Levi. One relative wrote in her book that Solomon had used the name Levi in his manuscript, instead of Lehi.
Since the Smiths did not leave the Sharon area until the year of Solomon's death in 1816, they could have easity learned of Solomon's movements to Pittsburgh and his intent to publish his "works," Mantlscript Found. They also could have learned that it had been stolen and that one Sidney Rigdon was suspect in the loss.
Joseph would have been only an interested ten-year-old at this time, but his parents certainly could have taken notice to these things. Levi and his brothers would have been friends
What Vermont's Green Mountains Can't Tell 79
and schoolmates of Joseph and could have spent many afternoons in play together. The name Spaulding would have certainly stuck in Joseph's memory forever. Yet, neither Joseph, Jr., or Lucy Mack Smith, his mother, in writing of his childhood ever mention the name Spaulding; But no doubt that day when Rigdon told him that he had the manuscript written by Spaulding, memories of those years began to flood his mind. Particularly that day in 1816 when they departed the Sharon-Norwich his friends good-bye, little Levi Spaulding would probably be the one whom he would miss the most. I wonder what went through Joseph's mind a few years later as he was plagiarizing the manuscript of one of the relatives of his little friend Levi.
There was also aJacob Smith, who was in Ethan Smith's graduating class of 1790 from Dartmouth, having a law practice in Royalton, Vermont, from 1800 to 1812. The Smiths actually lived closer to Royalton than they did Sharon, and at one time lived in Royalton during the years that Jacob Smitfi had his practice there.
In the town of Poultney, Vermont, some of the Spauldings were members of the Congregational Church and were probably good friends with the Congregational pastor, Ethan Smith, author of The View of the Hebrews. The relatives of Solomon could offer Ethan many opportunities to have discussed the life and the problems of Solomon. Being a nephew to Solomon could have caused Reuben Spaulding, Jr., to take considerable interest in Ethan Smith. He could have been one close means of conveying the work of Solomon to both Ethan and the Cowderys.
During those times there lived in Wells and Poultney, Vermont, the Spauldings, Pratts, Cowderys, Pullers, Spragues, Lewises, Hales, with the Brigham Young family not far away. This same list can be repeated for the Sharon, Royalton, and Tunbridge, Vermont areas. What one might conclude is that what happened in Wells, Middletown, or Poultney was known in Sharon and Royalton; and then what was occurring in Royalton and Sharon would soon be known in Poultney, Wells, and Middletown. We might as well add Hartford, New York, the home of the Pratts (Parley and Orson), which was
80 Barney R. Fuller
just ten miles from Wells, Vermont. John Pratt (Parley's relative) was living in Wells, having moved over from Hartford,
New York. Also the news went on to Jeremiah Pratt who at that time lived near the Smith family at Sharon, Vermont.
This John Pratt was probably the Pratt listed in the History of Wells who was involved in the "Woods' Religious
Movement," which William Cowdery, Jr., and Joseph Smith, Sr., were very prominent in.
What is truly interesting is that both Joseph Smith, Jr., and Oliver Cowdery, as well as Parley Pratt, were raised with
close relatives of Solomon Spaulding, and probably were classmates with many of them.
What we do know for certain is that both Ethan Smith and Solomon Spaulding graduated from Dartmouth College. Both were
Congregational ministers. Both had great interest in the origin of the American Indians. Both were good friends, according
to Ethan Smith's grandson. Both are considered as having contributed substantively to the Book of Mormon.
Perhaps, Ethan Smith was aware that his good friend Solomon Spaulding had died in 1816 failing to have published his
works. He probably felt that the work they had done need not go unpublished. Therefore, in 1823 in Poultney, Vermont,
Ethan Smith published his first edition of the View of the Hebrews. In 1825 he published his second edition.
Oliver Cowdery was living in Poultney, Vermont, at this time and some of his sisters had previously been baptized
into the Congregational Church. This was also the church of his step-mother. This may be enough to assume that Oliver
gave attendance to the church from time to time. Ethan Smith was pastor of the Congregational Church in Poultney from
21 November 1821 to December 1826 (Alumni Records, Dartmouth College, 1790).
It is very possible that Oliver knew Reverend Smith personally, and when he left Poultney for Palmyra in 1825 he
had a copy of the View of the Hebrews in his possession. It is very possible that Ethan shared with Oliver
What Vermont's Green Mountains Can't Tell 81
friend, Solomon Spaulding, or Cowdery may have learned about them from the Spaulding's relatives that he had grown up with.
It is not beyond possibility that before Ethan died that he had heard of Sidney Rigdon and the vanishing of Solomon's
Manuscript Found. He could have learned of Rigdon's. theft by Solomon himself, or by one of Spaulding's close
relatives. Before Cowdery left Poultney in 1825 Ethan could have mentioned Rigdon's name to him. Oliver Cowdery, having
lived so long among the Spauldings, could have easily passed on some interesting information to his cousin, Joseph Smith,
upon his relocation to New York in 1825. During his trip to Kirtland in 1826, Oliver, upon hearing that Sidney Rigdon
was nearby, could with great intrigue desired to meet such an infamous character.
Although Oliver Cowdery was to play a prominent part in the Book of Mormon conspiracy, of which later he lived to regret,
it becomes obvious that his dreams of a special place in the Mormon Kingdom, for which he diligently labored, would come
to a frustrating end, only ten years after it all began. Among the Mormons of his day he would always be remembered as the
"sheep who went astray."
Because of copyright law restrictions,
only limited "fair use" excerpts are presented here.
Pages 80 through 154 have not been transcribed.
[ 155 ]
The Riddle of the
"Lost" 116 Pages
This chapter may interest Mormons more than any other chapter of the book. It will require a great deal of concentration -- if your concentration breaks down there is a summary at the end of the chapter to help bring it back into perspective.
Here we will delve into the "unknown mystery" of the "lost" 116 pages of the Book of Mormon. This chapter will show that Smith did not lose the source material from which he created the first 116 pages, but that he would place portions of this original material elsewhere in the Book of Mormon. The blunders he made in the rewriting of these "lost" pages places an irrefutable mark of human origin upon the Book of Mormon.
Martin Harris was scribing for Joseph Smith in the spring of 1828 when he asked Joseph to allow him to take the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon, which they had just completed writing, back home with him to Palmyra. While in Palmyra, Martin seemed to be finding great satisfaction in showing and reading these pages to any who desired to see or hear them. But one day the pages strangely came up missing from his home while in Palmyra. The story has it that his wife "torched" them. Therefore this portion of the Book of Mormon has become known as the "lost" 116 pages.
156 Barney R. Fuller
Since 1830 their disappearance has caused much speculation among the Mormons as to what may have been written upon them. The mystery of these 116 pages has a great deal of light shed upon them by Joseph's excessive infatuation with the "secret societies." Further light is shed in blunders he made regarding his special divining instruments called "interpreters," as well as a vast number of parallels which exist between two suspect portions within the Book of Mormon.
During the late 1820s there was a wave of anti-Masonry which swept through western New York, including Smith's hornetown. The cause was over the murder of an ex-Mason named Morgan.* The Masons were referred to in his local papers as "secret combinations." I am of the opinion that the "lost 116 pages had within its text extensive exegesis on Masonry with warning of their works of darkness and their destructive "secret combinations." Since Joseph claimed in the Book of Mormon that both the Nephites and Jaredites were destroyed by these "secret combinations," it is very probable that Joseph was showing in the "lost" 116 pages how Jerusalem would be destroyed by them, and he was warning the Nephites and present America of he coming destruction at the hands of these "secret societies." I believe Joseph chose to insert this anti-Masonic material with the purpose in mind of not only showing how prophetic his book was but also to create a favorable acceptance of it.
The purpose of "interpreters" (seer stones), according to the Book of Mormon, was for discovering the "secret works of darkness" and for interpreting unknown languages. The problem with Smith's "interpreters" was that he wound up with two separate sets of them in the Book of Mormon, with no explanation of how the God of Heaven provided for one of the sets. Only God could make "interpreters," you see!
In the original manuscript before it was lost, Smith had
* Mrs. Morgan would later become one of Joseph Smith's polygamous wives in Nauvoo, Illinois. Smith was a powerful Mason at the time of this marriage.
The Riddle of the "Lost" 116 Pages 157
to have Lehi, the first prophet, possess a set of the "interpreters," in order for the following Book of Mormon history to be accurate: "King Mosiah (a descendant of Lehi)... took the plates of Brass... all the records and also the Interpreters, and conferred them upon him, (Alma)* and that he should also hand "them down from one generation to another, even as they had been handed down from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem" (B.M., Mosiah 28:20).
So we see from the book of Mosiah that the interpreters were supposed to be in Lehi's possession rtround the time he left Jerusalem. But in I Nephi no mention is made of the interpreters in the section which replaced the "lost" 116 pages. The interpreters were not among the records (etc.) that Nephi took from the Treasury of Jerusalem in 600 B.C. They certainly would have recorded a special visitation from God if He had given them a set. One of the main uses of the special stones, besides interpreting unknown languages, was "discovering" the "secret works of darkness," the "secret combinations" among the people. It is very probable in the original manuscript of the "lost" 116 pages that Smith had Lehi utilizing the interpreters to discover the "secret works of darkness" going on in his hometown of Jerusalem. He then took the knowledge he received through this means to warn the inhabitants of their destruction.
This strange mystery created by Joseph Smith can only be accounted for in the episode of the "lost" 116 pages in that he relocated portions of it near the end of his book and titled it the book of Ether, For we find in the Book of Ether both the interpreters and the "secret combinations." Since Joseph only used a portion of the "lost" 116 pages to compose the book of Ether, it is probably the reason why we read in the first verse of this book these words, "Behold, I give not the full account, but a part of the account I give" (Book of Mormon, Ether 1:5). So Joseph only gave a part of the account which he had written on the 116 pages that was lost.
In western New York in the 1820s you were called a "seer" if you were a "glass looker," or one who possessed certain "stones" through which you could receive revelations or see treasures beneath the earth. In the outset of the Book
158 Barney R. Fuller
of Mormon the "Mormon Seer" exalts this occult ritual of his into a high and lofty divine procedure and portrays it as being instituted by God. In the book of Ether we read of God talking to his prophet, "And behold, these two stones will I give thee, and ye shall seal them up also with the things ye shall write... In my own due time these stones shall magnify to the eyes of men, these things which ye shall write" (B.M., Ether 3:23-24). This all occurred around 2200 B.C. in the Book of Mormon.
(The Book of Ether contains a brief history of a group of people called the Jaredites, who migrated to America from the Tower of Babel in 2200 B.C.)
Some 2,000 years later in the time of a King Mosiah around 200 B.C. we learn that a certain group of Nephites had found a large stone. The account reads, "...In the days:of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him, with engravings on it; and he did interpret the gravings, by the gift and power of God" (B.M., Omni 1:20). What did this Mosiah use in order to interpret the stone? The answer is found seventy-five or eighty years later when we read of his grandson, King Mosiah, where another finding has been made; this time it is a set of twenty-four gold plates. The people who had found them were inquiring from a stranger named Ammon (sent by King Mosiah) who had come into their midst if he knew anyone who could interpret the plates. His reply was, "... can assurerily tell thee, O King, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is agift from God. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he be ought not, and he should perish. And who-so-ever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer" (B.M., Mosiah 5:73-74).
For King Mosiah to possess a set of interpreters, he I would have to have inherited them through the kings, back to the time of Lehi. But Joseph loses track and leaves the interpreters in the material he uses to create the Book of Ether. So the Brother of Jared runs off with Lehi's instruments of divination and takes it back in time some 1,600 years.
The Riddle of the "Lost" 116 Pages 159
A. Smith got the kings confused in the Book of Ether, when he had his last historian of the Book of Mormon write that it was King Benjamin who received the twenty-four plates and interpreters, when it should have been his son, King Mosiah. This mistake resulted when Smith was attempting to reconstruct the "lost" 116 pages into the Book of Ether and then tie the Ancient Jaredites of Ether back into the Nephite History,
B. Smith stated in the Book of Ether that King Benjamin (Mosiah?) was to keep the twenty-four gold plates and interpreters and was not to allow them to come into the world. It reads: "For this cause did King Benjamin keep them that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should show himself unto his people. And after Christ ... shewed himself... he commanded that they (twenty-four plates and interpreters) should not be made manifest" (B.M., Ether 1:95-96). According to Smith then, in the Book of Ether, the interpreters and the twenty-four plates were "forbidden" to be shown to anybody,
C. But Smith errs and has King Mosiah, not Benjamin, get these "forbidden" twenty-four gold plates and translates them. "Forbidden" -- "ought not to be translated" -- yet, the seer did not "perish" for translating things he ought not (B.M.,Jacob 2:41~7). The reason given as to why King Mosiah translated the twenty-four gold plates was because of the great anxiety of his people, for they were desirous beyond measure to know concerning those people (Jaredites) who had been destroyed (B.M., Mosiah 12:16-18). When Mosiah made the translation, he translated the whole record, he made no mention of translating just a part of it, and Smith wrote no stipulations about it either. King Mosiah had full liberty. Smith failed to have God warn King Mosiah of the "forbidden" condition! (B.M,, Mosiah 12:22),
D. This was a great blunder indeed by Joseph Smith to allow King Mosiah to translate the "forbidden" revelations of the brother of Jared from the twenty-four gold plates of the history of the Jaredites, and read it unto the people 125 years before God's command said that it could be done.
E. The second blunder was that the twenty-four gold plates contained the "myteries" and the "works of darkness,"
160 Barney R. Fuller
and their "secret words," or the "secret works" of those people, who had been destroyed (the Jaredites); a similar warning existed,"... that you retain them from the people, and they know them not" (B.M., Alma 117:52-59). Yet Smith allows this occult perverted information to be translated and read to the Nephite people by King Mosiah.
Again these two unimaginable blunders were: one, he allows the seer, King Mosiah, to read the "sealed" revelation, which was not to be read until 125 years later when the Lord was to ppear. The second was to allow the "forbidden knowledge" of the "secret works of darkness" to be read unto the people.
The reason Smith had this occult knowledg given back to the Nephites was so that his original plot could be carried out. The original plot was that these."secret societies" of the Nephites would eventually bring about the destruction of the Nephite people. But when the "secret combinations" appeared in the Nephite society there is not one word that indicates the "secret society" was formed from the knowledge that was on the twenty-four plates.
The only answer that appeals to reason as to why King Mosiah, the "Nephite Seer," did not understand these vital details is that Mosiah was a robot character of Smith and company, and Mosiah could only play out what Smith scripted him to do. When Smith relocated, as well as reworked, the "secret combination" section ("lost" 116 pages) in forming the Book of Ether he could not keep track of all the specific details, even though he was supposed to be translating all of it by the "Power" of God.
According to Smith's last historian, Moroni, there were only twenty-four Jaredite plates. Moroni writes, "and I take mine account from the twenty and four plates which were found by the people of Limhi, which is called the Book of Ether" (B.M., Ether 1:2).
A Possible Sequence
1. Joseph Smith had the first 116 pages of his new work stolen.
2. Knowing at some point and time in his book that he would introduce another set of people more ancient than
Dale R. Broadhurst's Comments
In writing his book, Mr. Fuller follows the standard Spalding authorship claims and arguments. For the most part his acceptance and use of old sources in support of these claims in an uncritical one. For example, on page 73 of his book, Fuller reproduces a claim for a suspect statement allegedly written by Solomon Spalding's physician in Amity. That particular "statement" rests upon an uncited assertion made by Charles B. Shook in 1914 -- an assertion in which Shook was almost certainly wrong. This problematic matter is discussed in some depth in the 2000 CD-ROM book, The Spalding Enigma.
Fuller's uncritical use of past writers sepaking out in support of the Spalding claims is also illustrated in his reprocucing their various mistakes and faulty allegations. On page 68 Fuller speaks of a "Patterson Printing Office" in Pittsburgh, when such an office never existed -- or, if one did, it was that of "Patterson & Hopkins," a firm that was nolonger in business by the time Spalding was submitting his writings to the Patterson brothers for their perusal. The Pattersons were stationery supplies sellers, book sellers, and occasional publishers who did not own or manage a "printing office."
Also on page 68 Fuller gives considerable attention to the statement of Mrs. Rebecca Johnston Eichbaum, in which she links Jonathan Harrison Lambdin and Sidney Rigdon as being visitors to the Pittsbrugh post office in its early days. Here Fuller's application of Spalding claims "evidence" probably rests upon firmer ground. A contemporary copy of Eichbaum's statement may be consulted among the Theodore Schroeder Papers at the University of Wisconson at Madison. Eichbaum's assertions regarding Sidney Rigdon paying visits to the Pittsburgh post office during this time period may be verified by consulting 1816-17 issues of the Pittsburgh Commonwaelth and Statesman newspapers.
On page 72 Fuller cites Alexander Campbell's claims regarding pre-1830 intimations from Sidney Rigdon regarding the forthcoming Book of Mormon. Campbell's allegations on this matter are weakened by his earlier having publicly attributed the entire Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith, Jr. LDS historian B. H. Roberrts argued this point rather effectively in his literary debate with Theodore Schroeder. Fuller also errs in saying that "Campbell, Rigdon, and Bentley were the main leaders of the 'Disciples of Christ Church' at that time..." Prior to late 1830 there was no such denomination as the "Disciples of Christ." The term was occasionally used as a self-identifer by these preachers, but they were actually Baptists (or "Reformed" Baptists) at the time when Campbell, Bentley and Rigdon were all cooperating together. Fuller also leaves out the name of the man who was perhaps the leading light among the "Campbellite" Baptists in the late 1820's, Rev. Walter Scott. In response to Campbell's 1839 statement on Rigdon's probable pre-1830 acquaintance with the Book of Mormon, Scott had this to say: "That Rigdon was ever connected with the printing office of Mr. Patterson, or that this gentleman ever possessed a printing office in Pittsburgh, in unknown to me, although I lived there, and also know Mr. Patterson very well, who is a bookseller. But Rigdon was a Baptist minister in Pittsburgh, and I knew him to be perfectly known by Mr. Robert Patterson..." Evangelist of the True Gospel, VII;7 (July 1, 1839) pp. 160-161.
Fuller's allegation, on page 75, of Solomon Spalding's having "remained in the area" following his 1785 graduation from Dartmouth College, at Hanover, NH, is not well supported. David Persuitte makes a similar claim on page 277 of his Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon (2nd ed). where he says that Spalding "remained in the Hanover area at least until December of 1785." Persuitte bases his assertion upon the content of Spalding's December 6, 1785 letter to Elijah Parish, Jr., which was written at "Plainfield." The letter was written at the Plainfield home of Parish's father, but it is uncertain as to whether that location was Plainfield, NH or Plainfield, CT. The former is in Spalding's home county of Windsor, CT; the latter is some 15 miles south of Dartmouth College. Where Elijah Parish, Sr. was living in 1785 is unknown, but as late as 1768 he was in Plainfield, CT, where Elijah Jr.'s sister, Philomela Parish, was born that December. Spalding's 1785 letter was most likely written from Plainfield, CT and not from the neighborhood of Dartmouth College.
This, of course, does not mean that Solomon Spalding did not return to Dartmouth after 1785. He probably received his Master's degree either directly from that school or had his graduate studies elsewhere certified there c. 1787. Solomon Spalding's relationship with Ethan Smith may have indeed begun in the region around Hanover, NH shortly after 1785, but that supposition has yet to be documented.
Beginning on page 76 Mr. Fuller devotes considerable space to listing Solomon Spalding's various relatives who lived near the William Cowdery, Jr. family and the Joseph Smith, Sr. family in central Vermont. Some of the relatives Fuller mentions were rather distant cousins of Solomon Spalding, but others were from his extended family and doubtless they all knew each other. Arthur B. Deming believed that Solomon Spalding was once a preacher in the Middletown, VT area. In the 1870s a Solomon Spalding manuscript novel also apparently surfaced in Middletown -- only a few miles east of Ethan Smith's one-time home in Poultney. Mr. Fuller has done his readers a service in providing this information: all of his alleged family connections deserve to be checked and cross-checked carefully. The occurrence of the common name of "Pratt" in the Middletown region is not unexpected. It remains to be seen how closely related Parley P. Pratt was to those Pratts associated with the Middletown "Wood Scrape" at the beginning of the 19th century.
Mr. Fuller's discussion, in Chapter 16, of Kings Benjamin and Mosiah, the "interpreters," etc. is a fascinating one. Critical scholars of the Book of Mormon have long known that there are some textual and chronological problems associated with the story of these two kings. Fuller's explanation of those discrepancies may be as good an answer to the questions therein raised, as anyone has yet supplied. Still, his equation of the Book of Ether with the missing 116 pages of the "Book of Lehi" is not a particularly convincing solution. Certainly there are many interesting interconnections between Ether and Mosiah, etc. Sidney Rigdon's biographer, Dr. William H. Whitsitt, attempted to account for these textual oddities by claiming that most of Ether was an early, discarded Solomon Spalding story which that author later incorporated into his main manuscript as a sort of appendix. It remains to be seen whether Fuller, Whitsitt, or traditional Mormon apologetics best account for these matters.
All in all, Fuller's book is a readable (though non-scholarly) attempt at explaining early Mormonism and its primary holy book. His imaginative delving into the subject matter appears to provide at least a few possible explanations for what some see as being "problems" in early Mormon history. However, the unseasoned reader should approach this book with a good deal of caution -- it probably contains as many errors as it does "facts."
Dale R. Broadhurst
November 10, 2000
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