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    Mormonism.ca - Story Of

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



Sidney Rigdon








The man who had more to do with founding the Mormon church than
Joseph Smith, Jr., even if we exclude any share in the production
of the Mormon Bible, and yet who is unknown even by name to most
persons to whom the names of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are
familiar, was Sidney Rigdon. Elder John Hyde, Jr., was well
within the truth when he wrote: "The compiling genius of
Mormonism was Sidney Rigdon. Smith had boisterous impetuosity but
no foresight. Polygamy was not the result of his policy but of
his passions. Sidney gave point, direction, and apparent
consistency to the Mormon system of theology. He invented its
forms and the manner of its arguments.... Had it not been for the
accession of these two men [Rigdon and Parley P. Pratt] Smith
would have been lost, and his schemes frustrated and abandoned."*

* "Mormonism: Its Leaders and Designs" (1857). Hyde, an
Englishman, joined the Mormons in that country when a lad and
began to preach almost at once. He sailed for this country in
1853 and joined the brethren in Salt Lake City. Brigham Young's
rule upset his faith, and he abandoned the belief in 1854. Even
H. H. Bancroft concedes him to have been "an able and honest man,
sober and sincere."

Rigdon (according to the sketch of him presented in Smith's
autobiography,* which he doubtless wrote) was born in St. Clair
township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on February 19, 1793.
His father was a farmer, and he lived on the farm, receiving only
a limited education, until he was twenty-six years old. He then
connected himself with the Baptist church, and received a license
to preach. Selecting Ohio as his field, he continued his work in
rural districts in that state until 1821, when he accepted a call
to a small Baptist church in Pittsburg.

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, Supt.


Twenty years before the publication of the Mormon Bible, Thomas
and Alexander Campbell, Scotchmen, had founded a congregation in
Washington County, Pennsylvania, out of which grew the religious
denomination known as Disciples of Christ, or Campbellites, whose
communicants in the United States numbered 871,017 in the year
1890. The fundamental principle of their teaching was that every
doctrine of belief, or maxim of duty, must rest upon the
authority of Scripture, expressed or implied, all human creeds
being rejected. The Campbells (who had been first Presbyterians
and then Baptists) were wonderful orators and convincing debaters
out of the pulpit, and they drew to themselves many of the most
eloquent exhorters in what was then the western border of the
United States. Among their allies was another Scotchman, Walter
Scott, a musician and schoolteacher by profession, who assisted
them in their newspaper work and became a noted evangelist in
their denomination. During a visit to Pittsburg in 1823, Scott
made Rigdon's acquaintance, and a little later the flocks to
which each preached were united. In August, 1824, Rigdon
announced his withdrawal from his church. Regarding his
withdrawal the sketch in Smith's autobiography says:--

"After he had been in that place [Pittsburg] some time, his mind
was troubled and much perplexed with the idea that the doctrines
maintained by that society were not altogether in accordance with
the Scriptures. This thing continued to agitate his mind more and
more, and his reflections on these occasions were particularly
trying; for, according to his view of the word of God, no other
church with whom he could associate, or that he was acquainted
with, was right; consequently, if he was to disavow the doctrine
of the church with whom he was then associated, he knew of no
other way of obtaining a living, except by manual labor, and at
that time he had a wife and three children to support."

For two years after he gave up his church connection he worked as
a journeyman tanner. This is all the information obtainable about
this part of his life. We next find him preaching at Bainbridge,
Ohio, as an undenominational exhorter, but following the general
views of the Campbells, advising his hearers to reject their
creeds and rest their belief solely on the Bible.

In June, 1826, Rigdon received a call to a Baptist church at
Mentor, Ohio, whose congregation he had pleased when he preached
the funeral sermon of his predecessor. His labors were not
confined, however, to this congregation. We find him acting as
the "stated" minister of a Disciples' church organized at Mantua,
Ohio, in 1827, preaching with Thomas Campbell at Shalersville,
Ohio, in 1828, and thus extending the influence he had acquired
as early as 1820, when Alexander Campbell called him "the great
orator of the Mahoning Association". In 1828 he visited his old
associate Scott, was further confirmed in his faith in the
Disciples' belief, and, taking his brother-in-law Bentley back
with him, they began revival work at Mentor, which led to the
conversion of more than fifty of their hearers. They held
services at Kirtland, Ohio, with equal success, and the story of
this awakening was the main subject of discussion in all the
neighborhood round about. The sketch of Rigdon in Smith's
autobiography closes with this tribute to his power as a
preacher: "The churches where he preached were no longer large
enough to contain the vast assemblies. No longer did he follow
the old beaten track, ...but dared to enter on new grounds,
...threw new light on the sacred volume, ...proved to a
demonstration the literal fulfilment of prophecy ...and the reign
of Christ with his Saints on the earth in the Millennium."

In tracing Rigdon's connection with Smith's enterprise, attention
must be carefully paid both to Rigdon's personal characteristics,
and to the resemblance between the doctrines he had taught in the
pulpit and those that appear in the Mormon Bible.

Rigdon's mental and religious temperament was just of the
character to be attracted by a novelty in religious belief. He,
with his brother-in-law, Adamson Bentley, visited Alexander
Campbell in 1821, and spent a whole night in religious
discussion. When they parted the next day, Rigdon declared that
"if he had within the last year promulgated one error, he had a
thousand," and Mr. Campbell, in his account of the interview,
remarked, "I found it expedient to caution them not to begin to
pull down anything they had builded until they had reviewed,
again and again, what they had heard; not even then rashly and
without much consideration."*

* Millennial Harbinger, 1848, p. 523.


A leading member of the church at Mantua has written, "Sidney
Rigdon preached for us, and, notwithstanding his extravagantly
wild freaks, he was held in high repute by many."*

* "Early History of the Disciples' Church in the Western
Reserve," by A: S. Hayden (1876), p. 239.


An important church discussion occurred at Warren, Ohio, in 1828.
Following out the idea of the literal interpretation of the
Scriptures taught in the Disciples' church, Rigdon sprung on the
meeting an argument in favor of a community of goods, holding
that the apostles established this system at Jerusalem, and that
the modern church, which rested on their example, must follow
them. Alexander Campbell, who was present, at once controverted
this position, showing that the apostles, as narrated in Acts,
"sold their possessions" instead of combining them for a profit,
and citing Bible texts to prove that no "community system"
existed in the early church. This argument carried the meeting,
and Rigdon left the assemblage, embittered against Campbell
beyond forgiveness. To a brother in Warren, on his way home, he
declared, "I have done as much in this reformation as Campbell or
Scott, and yet they get all the honor of it. "This claim is set
forth specifically in the sketch of Rigdon in Smith's
autobiography. Referring to Rigdon and Alexander Campbell, this
statement is there made:--

"After they had separated from the different churches, these
gentlemen were on terms of the greatest friendship, and
frequently met together to discuss the subject of religion, being
yet undetermined respecting the principles of the doctrine of
Christ or what course to pursue. However, from this connection
sprung up a new church in the world, known by the name of
'Campbellites'; they call themselves 'Disciples.' The reason why
they were called Campbellites was in consequence of Mr.
Campbell's periodical, above mentioned [the Christian Baptist],
and it being the means through which they communicated their
sentiments to the world; other than this, Mr. Campbell was no
more the originator of the sect than Elder Rigdon."

Rigdon's bitterness against the Campbells and his old church more
than once manifested itself in his later writings. For instance,
in an article in the Messenger and Advocate (Kirtland), of June,
1837, he said: "One thing has been done by the coming forth of
the Book of Mormon. It has puked the Campbellites effectually; no
emetic could have done so half as well.... The Book of Mormon has
revealed the secrets of Campbellism and unfolded the end of the
system. "In this jealousy of the Campbells, and the discomfiture
as a leader which he received at their hands, we find a
sufficient object for Rigdon's desertion of his old church
associations and desire to build up something, the discovery of
which he could claim, and the government of which he could
control.

To understand the strength of the argument that the doctrinal
teachings of the Mormon Bible were the work of a Disciples'
preacher rather than of the ne'er-do-well Smith, it is only
necessary to examine the teachings of the Disciples' church in
Ohio at that time. The investigator will be startled by the
resemblance between what was then taught to and believed by
Disciples' congregations and the leading beliefs of the Mormon
Bible. In the following examples of this the illustrations of
Disciples' beliefs and teachings are taken from Hayden's "Early
History of the Disciples' Church in the Western Reserve."

The literal interpretation of the Scriptures, on which the Mormon
defenders of their faith so largely depend,--as for explanations
of modern revelations, miracles, and signs,--was preached to so
extreme a point by Ohio Disciples that Alexander Campbell had to
combat them in his Millennial Harbinger. An outcome of this
literal interpretation was a belief in a speedy millennium,
another fundamental belief of the early Mormon church. "The hope
of the millennial glory," says Hayden, "was based on many
passages of the Holy Scriptures.... Millennial hymns were learned
and sung with a joyful fervor.... It is surprising even now, as
memory returns to gather up these interesting remains of that
mighty work, to recall the thorough and extensive knowledge which
the convert quickly obtained. Nebuchadnezzar's vision... many
portions of the Revelation were so thoroughly studied that they
became the staple of the common talk." Rigdon's old Pittsburg
friend, Scott, in his report as evangelist to the church
association at Warren in 1828, said: "Individuals eminently
skilled in the word of God, the history of the world, and the
progress of human improvements see reasons to expect great
changes, much greater than have yet occurred, and which shall
give to political society and to the church a different, a very
different, complexion from what many anticipate. The
millennium--the millennium described in the Scriptures--will
doubtless be a wonder, a terrible wonder, to all."

Disciples' preachers understood that they spoke directly for God,
just as Smith assumed to do in his "revelations." Referring to
the preaching of Rigdon and Bentley, after a visit to Scott in
March, 1828, Hayden says, "They spoke with authority, for the
word which they delivered was not theirs, but that of Jesus
Christ." The Disciples, like the Mormons, at that time looked for
the return of the Jews to Jerusalem. Scott* was an enthusiastic
preacher of this. "The fourteenth chapter of Zechariah," says
Hayden, "was brought forward in proof--all considered as
literal-- that the most marvellous and stupendous physical and
climatic changes were to be wrought in Palestine; and that Jesus
Christ the Messiah was to reign literally in Jerusalem, and in
Mount Zion, and before his ancients, gloriously."

* "In a letter to Dr. Richardson, written in 1830, he [Scott]
says the book of Elias Smith on the prophecies is the only
sensible work on that subject he had seen. He thinks this and
Crowley on the Apocalypse all the student of the Bible wants. He
strongly commends Smith's book to the doctor. This seems to be
the origin of millennial views among us. Rigdon, who always
caught and proclaimed the last word that fell from the lips of
Scott or Campbell, seized these views (about the millennium and
the Jews) and, with the wildness of his extravagant nature,
heralded them everywhere."--"Early History of the Disciples'
Church in the Western Reserve," p. 186.


Campbell taught that "creeds are but statements, with few
exceptions, of doctrinal opinion or speculators' views of
philosophical or dogmatic subjects, and tended to confusion,
disunion, and weakness." Orson Pratt, in his "Divine Authenticity
of the Book of Mormon," thus stated the early Mormon view on the
same subject: "If any man or council, without the aid of
immediate revelation, shall undertake to decide upon such
subjects, and prescribe 'articles of faith' or 'creeds' to govern
the belief or views of others, there will be thousands of
well-meaning people who will not have confidence in the
productions of these fallible men, and, therefore, frame creeds
of their own.... In this way contentions arise."

Finally, attention may be directed to the emphatic declarations
of the Disciples' doctrine of baptism in the Mormon Bible:--

"Ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye
baptize them.... And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and
come forth again out of the water."--3 Nephi Xi. 23, 26.

"I know that it is solemn mockery before God that ye should
baptize little children.... He that supposeth that little
children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the
bond of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity;
wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go
down to hell. For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God
saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish
because he hath no baptism."--Moroni viii. 9, xc, 15.

There are but three conclusions possible from all this: that the
Mormon Bible was a work of inspiration, and that the agreement of
its doctrines with Disciples' belief only proves the correctness
of the latter; that Smith, in writing his doctrinal views, hit on
the Disciples' tenets by chance (he had had no opportunity
whatever to study them); or, finally, that some Disciple, learned
in the church, supplied these doctrines to him.

Advancing another step in the examination of Rigdon's connection
with the scheme, we find that even the idea of a new Bible was
common belief among the Ohio Disciples who listened to Scott's
teaching. Describing Scott's preaching in the winter of
1827-1828, Hayden says:--

"He contended ably for the restoration of the true, original
apostolic order which would restore to the church the ancient
gospel as preached by the apostles. The interest became an
excitement; ...the air was thick with rumors of a 'new religion,'
a 'new Bible.'"

Next we may cite two witnesses to show that Rigdon had a
knowledge of Smith's Bible in advance of its publication. His
brother-in-law, Bentley, in a letter to Walter Scott dated
January 22, 1841, said, "I know that Sidney Rigdon told me there
was a book coming out, the manuscript of which had been found
engraved on gold plates, as much as two years before the Mormon
book made its appearance or had been heard of by me."*

* Millennial Harbinger, 1844, p. 39. The Rev. Alexander Campbell
testified that this conversation took place in his presence.


One of the elders of the Disciples' church was Darwin Atwater, a
farmer, who afterward occupied the pulpit, and of whom Hayden
says, "The uniformity of his life, his undeviating devotion, his
high and consistent manliness and superiority of judgment, gave
him an undisputed preeminence in the church." In a letter to
Hayden, dated April 26, 1873, Mr. Atwater said of Rigdon: "For a
few months before his professed conversion to Mormonism it was
noticed that his wild extravagant propensities had been more
marked. That he knew before the coming of the Book of Mormon is
to me certain from what he said during the first of his visits at
my father's, some years before. He gave a wonderful description
of the mounds and other antiquities found in some parts of
America, and said that they must have been made by the
aborigines. He said there was a book to be published containing
an account of those things. He spoke of these in his eloquent,
enthusiastic style, as being a thing most extraordinary. Though a
youth then, I took him to task for expending so much enthusiasm
on such a subject instead of things of the Gospel. In all my
intercourse with him afterward he never spoke of antiquities, or
of the wonderful book that should give account of them, till the
Book of Mormon really was published. He must have thought I was
not the man to reveal that to."*

* "Early History of the Disciples' Church in the Western
Reserve," p. 239.


Dr. Storm Rosa, a leading physician of Ohio, in, a letter to the
Rev. John Hall of Ashtabula, written in 1841, said: "In the early
part of the year 1830 I was in company with Sidney Rigdon, and
rode with him on horseback for a few miles.... He remarked to me
that it was time for a new religion to spring up; that mankind
were all right and ready for it."*

* "Gleanings by the Way," p. 315.


Having thus established the identity of the story running through
the Spaulding manuscript and the historical part of the Mormon
Bible, the agreement of the doctrinal part of the latter with
what was taught at the time by Rigdon and his fellow-workers in
Ohio, and Rigdon's previous knowledge of the coming book, we are
brought to the query: How did the Spaulding manuscript become
incorporated in the Mormon Bible?

It could have been so incorporated in two ways: either by coming
into the possession of Rigdon and being by him copied and placed
in Smith's hands for "translation," with the theological parts
added;* or by coming into possession of Smith in his wanderings
around the neighborhood of Hartwick, and being shown by him to
Rigdon. Every aspect of this matter has been discussed by Mormon
and non-Mormon writers, and it can only be said that definite
proof is lacking. Mormon disputants set forth that Spaulding
moved from Pittsburg to Amity in 1814, and that Rigdon's first
visit to Pittsburg occurred in 1822. On the other hand, evidence
is offered that Rigdon was a "hanger around" Patterson's
printing-office, where Spaulding offered his manuscript, before
the year 1816, and the Rev. John Winter, M.D., who taught school
in Pittsburg when Rigdon preached there, and knew him well,
recalled that Rigdon showed him a large manuscript which he said
a Presbyterian minister named Spaulding had brought to the city
for publication. Dr. Winter's daughter wrote to Robert Patterson
on April 5, 1881: "I have frequently heard my father speak of
Rigdon having Spaulding's manuscript, and that he had gotten it
from the printers to read it as a curiosity; as such he showed it
to father, and at that time Rigdon had no intention of making the
use of it that he afterward did." Mrs. Ellen E. Dickenson, in a
report of a talk with General and Mrs. Garfield on the subject at
Mentor, Ohio, in 1880, reports Mrs. Garfield as saying "that her
father told her that Rigdon in his youth lived in that
neighborhood, and made mysterious journeys to Pittsburg."*** She
also quotes a statement by Mrs. Garfield's** father, Z. Rudolph,
"that during the winter previous to the appearance of the Book of
Mormon, Rigdon was in the habit of spending weeks away from his
home, going no one knew where."**** Tucker says that in the
summer of 1827 "a mysterious stranger appears at Smith's
residence, and holds private interviews with the far-famed
money-digger.... It was observed by some of Smith's nearest
neighbors that his visits were frequently repeated." Again, when
the persons interested in the publication of the Bible were so
alarmed by the abstraction of pages of the translation by Mrs.
Harris, "the reappearance of the mysterious stranger at Smith's
was," he says, "the subject of inquiry and conjecture by
observers from whom was withheld all explanation of his identity
or purpose."*****

* "Rigdon has not been in full fellowship with Smith for more
than a year. He has been in his turn cast aside by Joe to make
room for some new dupe or knave who, perhaps, has come with more
money. He has never been deceived by Joe. I have no doubt that
Rigdon was the originator of the system, and, fearing for its
success, put Joe forward as a sort of fool in the play."--Letter
from a resident near Nauvoo, quoted in the postscript to
Caswall's "City of the Mormons". (1843)

** For a collection of evidence on this subject, see Patterson's
"Who Wrote the Mormon Bible?"

**(Scribner's Magazine, October, 1881.

*** "New Light on Mormonism," p. 252.

***** "Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism," pp. 28, 46.


In a historical inquiry of this kind, it is more important to
establish the fact that a certain thing WAS DONE than to prove
just HOW or WHEN it was done. The entire narrative of the steps
leading up to the announcement of a new Bible, including Smith's
first introduction to the use of a "peek-stone" and his original
employment of it, the changes made in the original version of the
announcement to him of buried plates, and the final production of
a book, partly historical and partly theological, shows that
there was behind Smith some directing mind, and the only one of
his associates in the first few years of the church's history who
could have done the work required was Sidney Rigdon.

President Fairchild, in his paper on the Spaulding manuscript
already referred to, while admitting that "it is perhaps
impossible at this day to prove or disprove the Spaulding
theory," finds any argument against the assumption that Rigdon
supplied the doctrinal part of the new Bible, in the view that "a
man as self-reliant and smart as Rigdon, with a superabundant
gift of tongue and every form of utterance, would never have
accepted the servile task of mere interpolation; "there could
have been no motive to it." This only shows that President
Fairchild wrote without knowledge of the whole subject, with
ignorance of the motives which did exist for Rigdon's conduct,
and without means of acquainting himself with Rigdon's history
during his association with Smith. Some of his motives we have
already ascertained: We shall find that, almost from the
beginning of their removal to Ohio, Smith held him in a
subjection which can be explained only on the theory that Rigdon,
the prominent churchman, had placed himself completely in the
power of the unprincipled Smith, and that, instead of exhibiting
self-reliance, he accepted insult after insult until, just before
Smith's death, he was practically without influence in the
church; and when the time came to elect Smith's successor, he was
turned out-of-doors by Brigham Young with the taunting words,
"Brother Sidney says he will tell our secrets, but I would say, `
'O don't, Brother Sidney! Don't tell our secrets--O don't.' But
if he tells our secrets we will tell his. Tit for tat! President
Fairchild's argument that several of the original leaders of the
fanaticism must have been "adequate to the task" of supplying the
doctrinal part of the book, only furnishes additional proof of
his ignorance of early Mormon history, and his further assumption
that "it is difficult--almost impossible--to believe that the
religious sentiments of the Book of Mormon were wrought into
interpolation" brings him into direct conflict, as we shall see,
with Professor Whitsitt,* amuch better equipped student of the
subject.

* Post, pp. 92. 93.


If it should be questioned whether a man of Rigdon's church
connection would deliberately plan such a fraudulent scheme as
the production of the Mormon Bible, the inquiry may be easily
satisfied. One of the first tasks which Smith and Rigdon
undertook, as soon as Rigdon openly joined Smith in New York
State, was the preparation of what they called a new translation
of the Scriptures. This work was undertaken in conformity with a
"revelation" to Smith and Rigdon, dated December, 1830 (Sec. 35,
"Doctrine and Covenants") in which Sidney was told, "And a
commandment I give unto thee, that thou shalt write for him; and
the Scriptures shall be given, even as they are in mine own
bosom, to the salvation of mine own elect. The "translating" was
completed in Ohio, and the manuscript, according to Smith, "was
sealed up, no more to be opened till it arrived in Zion."* This
work was at first kept as a great secret, and Smith and Rigdon
moved to the house of a resident of Hiram township, Portage
County, Ohio, thirty miles from Kirtland, in September, 1831, to
carry it on; but the secret soon got out. The preface to the
edition of the book published at Plano, Illinois, in 1867, under
the title, "The Holy Scriptures translated and corrected by the
Spirit of Revelation, by Joseph Smith, Jr., the Seer," says that
the manuscript remained in the hands of the prophet's widow from
the time of his death until 1866, when it was delivered to a
committee of the Reorganized Mormon conference for publication.
Some of its chapters were known to Mormon readers earlier, since
Corrill gives the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew in his
historical sketch, which was dated 1839.

* Millenial Star, Vol. XIV, p. 361.


The professed object of the translation was to restore the
Scriptures to their original purity and beauty, the Mormon Bible
declaring that "many plain and precious parts" had been taken
from them. The real object, however, was to add to the sacred
writings a prediction of Joseph Smith's coming as a prophet,
which would increase his authority and support the pretensions of
the new Bible. That this was Rigdon's scheme is apparent from the
fact that it was announced as soon as he visited Smith, and was
carried on under his direction, and that the manuscript
translation was all in his handwriting.*

* Wyl's "Mormon Portraits," p.124.


Extended parts of the translation do not differ at all from the
King James version, and many of the changes are verbal and
inconsequential. Rigdon's object appears in the changes made in
the fiftieth chapter of Genesis, and the twenty-ninth chapter of
Isaiah. In the King James version the fiftieth chapter of Genesis
contains twenty-six verses, and ends with the words, "So Joseph
died, being an hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him,
and he was put in a coffin in Eygpt." In the Smith-Rigdon version
this chapter contains thirty-eight verses, the addition
representing Joseph as telling his brethren that a branch of his
people shall be carried into a far country and that a seer shall
be given to them, "and that seer will I bless, and they that seek
to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise I give unto
you; for I will remember you from generation to generation; and
his name shall be called Joseph. And he shall have judgment, and
shall write the word of the Lord."

The twenty-ninth chapter of Isaiah is similarly expanded from
twenty-four short to thirty-two long verses. Verses eleven and
twelve of the King James version read:--

"And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book
that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying,
Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed.

"And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying,
Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned."

The Smith-Rigdon version expands this as follows:-- "11. And it
shall come to pass, that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you
the words of a book; and they shall be the words of them which
have slumbered.

"12. And behold, the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall
be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the
ending thereof.

"13. Wherefore, because of the things which are sealed up, the
things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the
wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore, the book
shall be kept from them.

"14. But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall
deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who
have slumbered in the dust; and he shall deliver these words unto
another, but the words that are sealed he shall not deliver,
neither shall he deliver the book.

"15. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the
revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the
own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for, behold,
they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the
end thereof."

No one will question that a Rigdon who would palm off such a
fraudulent work as this upon the men who looked to him as a
religious teacher would hesitate to suggest to Smith the scheme
for a new Bible. During the work of translation, as we learn from
Smith's autobiography, the translators saw a wonderful vision, in
which they "beheld the glory of the Son on the right hand of the
Father," and holy angels, and the glory of the worlds,
terrestrial and celestial. Soon after this they received an
explanation from heaven of some obscure texts in Revelation.
Thus, the sea of glass (iv. 6) "is the earth in its sanctified,
immortal, and eternal state"; by the little book which was eaten
by John (chapter x) "we are to understand that it was a mission
and an ordinance for him to gather the tribes of Israel."

It may be added that this translation is discarded by the modern
Mormon church in Utah. The Deseret Evening News, the church organ
at Salt Lake City, said on February 21, 1900:--

"The translation of the Bible, referred to by our correspondents,
has not been adopted by this church as authoritative. It is
understood that the Prophet Joseph intended before its
publication to subject the manuscript to an entire examination,
for such revision as might be deemed necessary. Be that as it
may, the work has not been published under the auspices of this
church, and is, therefore, not held out as a guide. For the
present, the version of the scriptures commonly known as King
James's translation is used, and the living oracles are the
expounders of the written word."

We may anticipate the course of our narrative in order to show
how much confirmation of Rigdon's connection with the whole
Mormon scheme is furnished by the circumstances attending the
first open announcement of his acceptance of the Mormon
literature and faith. We are first introduced to Parley P. Pratt,
sometime tin peddler, and a lay preacher to rural congregations
in Ohio when occasion offered. Pratt in his autobiography tells
of the joy with which he heard Rigdon preach, at his home in
Ohio, doctrines of repentance and baptism which were the "ancient
gospel" that he (Pratt) had "discovered years before, but could
find no one to minister in"; of a society for worship which he
and others organized; of his decision, acting under the influence
of the Gospel and prophecies "as they had been opened to him," to
abandon the home he had built up, and to set out on a mission
"for the Gospel's sake"; and of a trip to New York State, where
he was shown the Mormon Bible. "As I read," he says, "the spirit
of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the
book was true."

Pratt was at once commissioned, "by revelation and the laying on
of hands," to preach the new Gospel, and was sent, also by
"revelation" (Sec. 32, "Doctrine and Covenants"), along with
Cowdery, Z. Peterson, and Peter Whitmer, Jr., "into the
wilderness among the Lamanites." Pratt and Cowdery went direct to
Rigdon's house in Mentor, where they stayed a week. Pratt's own
account says: "We called on Mr. Rigdon, my former friend and
instructor in the Reformed Baptist Society. He received us
cordially, and entertained us with hospitality."*

* "Autobiography of P. P. Pratt," p. 49.


In Smith's autobiography it is stated that Rigdon's visitors
presented the Mormon Bible to him as a revelation from God, and
what followed is thus described:--

"This being the first time he had ever heard of or seen the Book
of Mormon, he felt very much prejudiced at the assertion, and
replied that 'he had one Bible which he believed was a revelation
from God, and with which he pretended to have some acquaintance;
but with respect to the book they had presented him, he must say
HE HAD SOME CONSIDERABLE DOUBT' Upon which they expressed a
desire to investigate the subject and argue the matter; but he
replied, 'No, young gentlemen, you must not argue with me on the
subject. But I will read your book, and see what claim it has
upon my faith, and will endeavor to ascertain whether it be a
revelation from God or not'. After some further conversation on
the subject, they expressed a desire to lay the subject before
the people, and requested the privilege of preaching in Elder
Rigdon's church, TO WHICH HE READILY CONSENTED. The appointment
was accordingly published, and a large and respectable
congregation assembled. Oliver Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt
severally addressed the meeting. At the conclusion Elder Rigdon
arose and stated to the congregation that the information they
that evening had received was of an extraordinary character, and
certainly demanded their most serious consideration; and, as the
apostle advised his brethren 'to prove all things and hold fast
that which is good,' so he would exhort his brethren to do
likewise, and give the matter a careful investigation, and NOT
TURN AGAINST IT, WITHOUT BEING FULLY CONVINCED OF ITS BEING AN
IMPOSITION, LEST THEY SHOULD POSSIBLY RESIST THE TRUTH."

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, p. 47.


Accepting this as a correct report of what occurred (and we may
consider it from Rigdon's pen), we find a clergyman who was a
fellow-worker with men like Campbell and Scott expressing only
"considerable doubt" of the inspiration of a book presented to
him as a new Bible, "readily consenting" to the use of his church
by the sponsors for this book, and, at the close of their
arguments, warning his people against rejecting it too readily
"lest they resist the truth"! Unless all these are misstatements,
there seems to be little necessity of further proof that Rigdon
was prepared in advance for the reception of the Mormon Bible.

After this came the announcement of the conversion and baptism by
the Mormon missionaries of a "family" of seventeen persons living
in some sort of a "community" system, between Mentor and
Kirtland. Rigdon, who had merely explained to his neighbors that
his visitors were "on a curious mission," expressed disapproval
of this at first, and took Cowdery to task for asserting that his
own conversion to the new belief was due to a visit from an
angel. But, two days later, Rigdon himself received an angel's
visit, and the next Sunday, with his wife, was baptized into the
new faith.

Rigdon, of course, had to answer many inquiries on his return to
Ohio from a visit to Smith which soon followed his conversion,
but his policy was indignant reticence whenever pressed to any
decisive point. To an old acquaintance who, after talking the
matter over with him at his house, remarked that the Koran of
Mohammed stood on as good evidence as the Bible of Smith, Rigdon
replied: "Sir, you have insulted me in my own house. I command
silence. If people come to see us and cannot treat us civilly,
they can walk out of the door as soon as they please."* Thomas
Campbell sent a long letter to Rigdon under date of February 4,
1831, in which he addressed him as "for many years not only a
courteous and benevolent friend, but a beloved brother and
fellow-laborer in the Gospel--but alas! how changed, how fallen."
Accepting a recent offer of Rigdon in one of his sermons to give
his reasons for his new belief, Mr. Campbell offered to meet him
in public discussion, even outlining the argument he would offer,
under nine headings, that Rigdon might be prepared to refute it,
proposing to take his stand on the sufficiency of the Holy
Scriptures, Smith's bad character, the absurdities of the Mormon
Bible and of the alleged miraculous "gifts," and the objections
to the "common property" plan and the rebaptizing of believers.
Rigdon, after glancing over a few lines of this letter, threw it
into the fire unanswered.**

* "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 112.

** Ibid., p. 116-123.





Next: The Everlasting Gospel

Previous: The Spaulding Manuscript



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