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THE MORMON ORIGIN

A State Of Civil War
After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
Even More On The History Of Mormonism
Even More On The Religious Puzzle
Facility Of Human Belief
First Announcement Of The Golden Bible
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
History Of Mormonism
How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Introductory Remarks
Last Days At Kirtland
More On Mormonism Social Puzzle
More On The History Of Mormonism
More On The Religious Puzzle
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Mormonism The Political Puzzle
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Notes On The History Of Mormonism
Organization Of The Church
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Renewed Trouble For The Mormons - The Burnings
Rivalries Over The Succession
Sidney Rigdon
Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States
Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Social Conditions In Nauvoo
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Building Up Of The City - Foreign Proselyting
The Camps On The Missouri
The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Evacuation Of Nauvoo - The Last Mormon War
The Everlasting Gospel
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Expulsion Of The Mormons
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The Final Expulsion From The State
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Institution Of Polygamy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Bible
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons In Politics - Missouri Requisitions For Smith
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character
The Nauvoo City Government - Temple And Other Buildings
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Political Puzzle
The Political Puzzle Continued
The Reception Of The Mormons
The Reformation
The Religious Puzzle
The Religious Puzzle Notes
The Settlement Of Nauvoo
The Smith Family
The Social And Society Puzzle
The Social Puzzle
The Social Puzzle Notes
The Spaulding Manuscript
The Suppression Of The Expositor
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
The Witnesses To The Plates
Translation And Publication Of The Bible
Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts


The Story Of The Mormons

A State Of Civil War
After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Last Days At Kirtland
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Renewed Trouble For The Mormons - The Burnings
Rivalries Over The Succession
Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States
Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Social Conditions In Nauvoo
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Building Up Of The City - Foreign Proselyting
The Camps On The Missouri
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Evacuation Of Nauvoo - The Last Mormon War
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Expulsion Of The Mormons
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The Final Expulsion From The State
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Institution Of Polygamy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons In Politics - Missouri Requisitions For Smith
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character
The Nauvoo City Government - Temple And Other Buildings
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Reception Of The Mormons
The Reformation
The Settlement Of Nauvoo
The Suppression Of The Expositor
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts



Facility Of Human Belief








Summing up his observations of the Mormons as he found them in
Utah while secretary of the territory, five years after their
removal to the Great Salt Lake valley, B. G. Ferris wrote, "The
real miracle [of their success] consists in so large a body of
men and women, in a civilized land, and in the nineteenth
century, being brought under, governed, and controlled by such
gross religious imposture. "This statement presents, in concise
form, the general view of the surprising features of the success
of the Mormon leaders, in forming, augmenting, and keeping
together their flock; but it is a mistaken view. To accept it
would be to concede that, in a highly civilized nation like ours,
and in so late a century, the acceptance of religious beliefs
which, to the nonbelievers, seem gross superstitions, is so
unusual that it may be classed with the miraculous. Investigation
easily disproves this.

It is true that the effrontery which has characterized Mormonism
from the start has been most daring. Its founder, a lad of low
birth, very limited education, and uncertain morals; its
beginnings so near burlesque that they drew down upon its
originators the scoff of their neighbors,--the organization
increased its membership as it was driven from one state to
another, building up at last in an untried wilderness a
population that has steadily augmented its wealth and numbers;
doggedly defending its right to practise its peculiar beliefs and
obey only the officers of the church, even when its course in
this respect has brought it in conflict with the government of
the United States. Professing only a desire to be let alone, it
promulgated in polygamy a doctrine that was in conflict with the
moral sentiment of the Christian world, making its practice not
only a privilege, but a part of the religious duty of its
members. When, in recent years, Congress legislated against this
practice, the church fought for its peculiar institution to the
last, its leading members accepting exile and imprisonment; and
only the certainty of continued exclusion from the rights of
citizenship, and the hopelessness of securing the long-desired
prize of statehood for Utah, finally induced the church to bow to
the inevitable, and to announce a form of release for its members
from the duty of marrying more wives than one. Aside from this
concession, the Mormon church is to-day as autocratic in its hold
on its members, as aggressive in its proselyting, and as earnest
in maintaining its individual religious and political power, as
it has been in any previous time in its history.

In its material aspects we must concede to the Mormon church
organization a remarkable success; to Joseph Smith, Jr., a
leadership which would brook no rival; to Brigham Young the
maintenance of an autocratic authority which enabled him to hold
together and enlarge his church far beyond the limits that would
have been deemed possible when they set out across the plains
with all their possessions in their wagons. But it is no more
surprising that the Mormons succeeded in establishing their
church in the United States than it would have been if they had
been equally successful in South America; no more surprising that
this success should have been won in the nineteenth century than
it would have been to record it in the twelfth.

In studying questions of this kind, we are, in the first place,
entirely too apt to ignore the fact that man, while comparatively
a "superior being," is in simple fact one species of the animals
that are found upon the earth; and that, as a species, he has
traits which distinguish him characteristically just as certain
well-known traits characterize those animals that we designate as
"lower." If a traveller from the Sun should print his
observations of the inhabitants of the different planets, he
would have to say of those of the Earth something like this: "One
of Man's leading traits is what is known as belief. He is a
credulous creature, and is especially susceptible to appeals to
his credulity in regard to matters affecting his existence after
death." Whatever explanation we may accept of the origin of the
conception by this animal of his soul-existence, and of the
evolution of shadowy beliefs into religious systems, we must
concede that Man is possessed of a tendency to worship something,
--a recognition, at least, of a higher power with which it
behooves him to be on friendly terms,--and so long as the
absolute correctness of any one belief or doctrine cannot be
actually proved to him, he is constantly ready to inquire into,
and perhaps give credence to, new doctrines that are presented
for his consideration. The acceptance by Man of novelties in the
way of religions is a characteristic that has marked his species
ever since its record has been preserved. According to Max
Matter, "every religion began simply as a matter of reason, and
from this drifted into a superstition"; that is, into what
non-believers in the new doctrine characterize as a superstition.
Whenever one of these driftings has found a lodgement, there has
been planted a new sect. There has never been a year in the
Christian era when there have not been believers ready to accept
any doctrine offered to them in the name of religion. As
Shakespeare expresses it, in the words of Bassanio:--

"In religion, What damned error but some sober brow Will bless
it, and approve it with a text, Hiding the grossness with fair
ornament?"

In glancing at the cause of this unchanged susceptibility to
religious credulity--unchanged while the world has been making
such strides in the acquisition of exact information--we may find
a summing up of the situation in Macaulay's blunt declaration
that "natural theology is not a progressive science; a Christian
of the fifth century with a Bible is on a par with a Christian of
the nineteenth century with a Bible. The "orthodox" believer in
that Bible can only seek a better understanding of it by studying
it himself and accepting the deductions of other students.
Nothing, as the centuries have passed, has been added to his
definite knowledge of his God or his own future existence. When,
therefore, some one, like a Swedenborg or a Joseph Smith, appears
with an announcement of an addition to the information on this
subject, obtained by direct revelation from on high, he supplies
one of the greatest desiderata that man is conscious of, and we
ought, perhaps, to wonder that his followers are not so numerous,
but so few. Progress in medical science would no longer permit
any body like the College of the Physicians of London to
recognize curative value in the skull of a person who had met
with a violent death, as it did in the seventeenth century; but
the physician of the seventeenth century with a pharmacopoeia was
not "on a par with" a physician of the nineteenth century with a
pharmacopoeia.

Nor has man changed in his mental susceptibilities as the
centuries have advanced. It is a failure to recognize this fact
which leads observers like Ferris to find it so marvellous that a
belief like Mormonism should succeed in the nineteenth century.
Draper's studies of man's intellectual development led him to
declare that "man has ever been the same in his modes of thought
and motives of action, "and to assert his purpose to" judge past
occurrences in the same way as those of our own time."* So
Macaulay refused to accept the doctrine that "the world is
constantly becoming more and more enlightened, "asserting that
"the human mind, instead of marching, merely marks time. "Nothing
offers stronger confirmation of the correctness of these views
than the history of religious beliefs, and the teachings
connected therewith since the death of Christ.

* "Intellectual Development of Europe," Vol. II, Chap. 3.


The chain of these beliefs and teachings--including in the list
only those which offer the boldest challenge to a sane man's
credulity--is uninterrupted down to our own day. A few of them
may be mentioned by way of illustration. In one century we find
Spanish priests demanding the suppression of the opera on the
ground that this form of entertainment caused a drought, and a
Pope issuing a bull against men and women having sexual
intercourse with fiends. In another, we find an English tailor,
unsuccessfully, allotting endless torments to all who would not
accept his declaration that God was only six feet in height, at
the same time that George Fox, who was successful in establishing
the Quaker sect, denounced as unchristian adoration of Janus and
Woden, any mention of a month as January or a day as Wednesday.
Luther, the Protestant pioneer, believed that he had personal
conferences with the devil; Wesley, the founder of Methodism,
declared that "the giving up of (belief) in witchcraft is, in
effect, giving up the Bible. "Education and mental training have
had no influence in shaping the declarations of the leaders of
new religious sects.* The learned scientist, Swedenborg, told of
seeing the Virgin Mary dressed in blue satin, and of spirits
wearing hats, just as confidently as the ignorant Joseph Smith,
Jr., described his angel as "a tall, slim, well-built, handsome
man, with a bright pillar upon his head."

* "The splendid gifts which make a seer are usually found among
those whom society calls 'common or unclean.' These brutish
beings are the chosen vessels in whom God has poured the elixirs
which amaze humanity. Such beings have furnished the prophets,
the St. Peters, the hermits of history." BALZAC, in "Cousin
Pons."


The readiness with which even believers so strictly taught as are
the Jews can be led astray by the announcement of a new teacher
divinely inspired, is illustrated in the stories of their many
false Messiahs. One illustration of this--from the pen of
Zangwill --may be given:--

"From all the lands of the Exile, crowds of the devout came to do
him homage and tender allegiance--Turkish Jews with red fez or
saffron-yellow turban; Jerusalem Jews in striped cotton gowns and
soft felt hats; Polish Jews with foxskin caps and long caftans;
sallow German Jews, gigantic Russian Jews, highbred Spanish Jews;
and with them often their wives and daughters-- Jerusalem
Jewesses with blue shirts and head-veils, Egyptian Jewesses with
sweeping robes and black head-shawls, Jewesses from Ashdod and
Gaza, with white visors fringed with gold coins; Polish Jewesses
with glossy wigs; Syrian Jewesses with eyelashes black as though
lined with kohl; fat Jewesses from Tunis, with clinging breeches
interwoven with gold and silver."

This homage to a man who turned Turk, and became a doorkeeper of
the Sultan, to save himself from torture and death!

Savagery and civilization meet on this plane of religious
credulity. The Indians of Canada believed not more implicitly in
the demons who howled all over the Isles of Demons, than did the
early French sailors and the priests whose protection the latter
asked. The Jesuit priests of the seventeenth century accepted,
and impressed upon their white followers in New France, belief in
miracles which made a greater demand on credulity than did any of
the exactions of the Indian medicine man. That the head of a
white man, which the Iroquois carried to their village, spoke to
them and scolded them for their perfidy, "found believers among
the most intelligent men of the colony, "just as did the story of
the conversion of a sick Huguenot immigrant, with whose gruel a
Mother secretly mixed a little of the powdered bone of a Jesuit
martyr.* And French Canada is to-day as "orthodox" in its belief
in miracles as was the Canada of the seventeenth century. The
church of St. Anne de Beaupre, below Quebec, attracts thousands
annually, and is piled with the crutches which the miraculously
cured have cast aside. Masses were said in 1899 in the church of
Notre Dame de Bonsecours at Montreal, at the expense of a pilots'
association, to ward off wrecks in the treacherous St. Lawrence;
and in the near-by provinces there were religious processions to
check the attacks of caterpillars in the orchards.

* Parkman's "Old Regime in Canada."


Nor need we go to Catholic Quebec for modern illustrations of
this kind of faith. "Bareheaded people stood out upon the corner
in East 113th Street yesterday afternoon, "said a New York City
newspaper of December 18, 1898, "because they were unable to get
into the church of Our Lady Queen of Angels, where a relic of St.
Anthony of Padua was exposed for veneration. "Describing a
service in the church of St. Jean Baptiste in East 77th Street,
New York, where a relic alleged to be a piece of a bone of the
mother of the Virgin was exposed, a newspaper of that city, on
July 24th, 1901, said: "There were five hundred persons, by
actual count, in and around the crypt chapel of St. Anne when
afternoon service stopped the rush of the sick and crippled at
4.30 o'clock yesterday. There were many more at the 8 o'clock
evening Mass. What did these people seek at the shrine? Only the
favor of St. Anne and a kiss and touch of the casket that, by
church authority, contains bone of her body. "France has to-day
its Grotto of Lourdes, Wales its St. Winefride's Well, Mexico its
"wonder-working doll" that makes the sick well and the childless
mothers, and Moscow its "wonder-working picture of the Mother of
God," before which the Czar prostrates himself.

Not in recent years has the appetite for some novelty on which to
fasten belief been more manifest in the United States than it was
at the close of the nineteenth century. Old beliefs found new
teachers, and promulgators of new ideas found followers.
Instructors in Brahminism attracted considerable attention. A
"Chapter of the College of Divine Sciences and Realization"
instituted a revival of Druid sun-adoration on the shores of Lake
Michigan. An organization has been formed of believers in the
One-Over-At-Acre, a Persian who claimed to be the forerunner of
the Millennium, and in whom, as Christ, it is said that more than
three thousand persons in this country believe. We have among us
also Jaorelites, who believe in the near date of the end of the
world, and that they must make their ascent to heaven from a
mountain in Scotland. The hold which the form of belief called
Christian Science has obtained upon people of education and
culture needs only be referred to. Along with this have come the
"divine healers," gaining patients in circles where it would be
thought impossible for them to obtain even consideration, and one
of them securing a clientage in a Western city which has enabled
him to establish there a church of his own.

In fact, instead of finding in enlightened countries like the
United States and England a poor field for the dissemination of
new beliefs, the whole school of revealers find there their best
opportunities. Discussing this susceptibility, Aliene Gorren, in
her "Anglo-Saxons and Others," reaches this conclusion: "Nowhere
are so many persons of sound intelligence in all practical
affairs so easily led to follow after crazy seers and seeresses
as in England and the United States. The truth is that the mind
of man refuses to be shut out absolutely from the world of the
higher abstractions, and that, if it may not make its way thither
under proper guidance, it will set off even at the tail of the
first ragged street procession that passes."

The "real miracle" in Mormonism, then,--the wonderful feature of
its success,--is to be sought, not in the fact that it has been
able to attract believers in a new prophet, and to find them at
this date and in this country, but in its success in establishing
and keeping together in a republic like ours a membership who
acknowledge its supreme authority in politics as well as in
religion, and who form a distinct organization which does not
conceal its purpose to rule over the whole nation. Had Mormonism
confined itself to its religious teachings, and been preached
only to those who sought its instruction, instead of beating up
the world for recruits and conveying them to its home, the Mormon
church would probably to-day be attracting as little attention as
do the Harmonists of Pennsylvania.





Next: The Smith Family




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