VIEW THE MOBILE VERSION of www.mormonism.ca Informational Site Network Informational
Privacy
    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



The Witnesses To The Plates








In his accounts to his neighbors of the revelation to him of the
golden plates on which the "record" was written, Smith always
declared that no person but him could look on those plates and
live. But when the printed book came out, it, like all subsequent
editions to this day, was preceded by the following
"testimonies":--


"THE TESTIMONY OF THREE WITNESSES

"Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people unto
whom this work shall come, that we through the grace of God the
Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which
contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi,
and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also the people of
Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken; and we
also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of
God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of
a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have
seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been
shewn unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare
with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from
heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld
and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that
it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ,
that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and it
is marvellous in our eyes, nevertheless the voice of the Lord
commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be
obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these
things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall
rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless
before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him
eternally in the heavens. And the honour be to the Father, and to
the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

"OLIVER COWDERY,DAVID WHITMER, MARTIN HARRIS.

"AND ALSO THE TESTIMONY OF THE EIGHT WITNESSES

"Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people unto
whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jun., the
translator of this work, has shewn unto us the plates of which
hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many
of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with
our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which
has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship.
And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said
Smith has shewn unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of
a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have
spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the
world that which we have seen; and we lie not, God bearing
witness of it.

"CHRISTIAN WHITMER, HIRAM PAGE, JACOB WHITMER, JOSEPH SMITH,
SEN., PETER WHITMER, JUN., HYRUM SMITH, JOHN WHITMER, SAMUEL H.
SMITH."

In judging of the value of this testimony, we may first inquire,
what the prophet has to say about it, and may then look into the
character and qualification of the witnesses.

We find a sufficiently full explanation of Testimony No. 1 in
Smith's autobiography and in his "revelations." Nothing could be
more natural than that such men as the prophet was dealing with
should demand a sight of any plates from which he might be
translating. Others besides Harris made such a demand, and Smith
repeated the warning that to look on them was death. This might
satisfy members of his own family, but it did not quiet his
scribes, and he tells us that Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Harris
"teased me so much" (these are his own words) that he gave out a
"revelation" in March, 1829 (Sec. 5, "Doctrine and Covenants"),
in which the Lord was represented as saying that the prophet had
no power over the plates except as He granted it, but that to his
testimony would be added "the testimony of three of my servants,
whom I shall call and ordain, unto whom I will show these things,
"adding," and to none else will I grant this power, to receive
this same testimony among this generation. "The Lord was
distrustful of Harris, and commanded him not to be talkative on
the subject, but to say nothing about it except, "I have seen
them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God."

Smith's own account of the showing of the plates to these three
witnesses is so luminous that it may be quoted. After going out
into the woods, they had to stand Harris off by himself because
of his evil influence. Then:--

"We knelt down again, and had not been many minutes engaged in
prayer when presently we beheld a light above us in the air of
exceeding brightness; and behold an angel stood before us. In his
hands he held the plates which we had been praying for these to
have a view of; he turned over the leaves one by one, so that we
could see them and discover the engravings thereon distinctly. He
then addressed himself to David Whitmer and said, 'David, blessed
is the Lord and he that keeps his commandments'; when immediately
afterward we heard a voice from out of the bright light above us
saying, 'These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and
they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of
them is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now
see and hear.'

"I now left David and Oliver, and went into pursuit of Martin
Harris, whom I found at a considerable distance, fervently
engaged in prayer. He soon told me, however, that he had not yet
prevailed with the Lord, and earnestly requested me to join him
in prayer, that he might also realize the same blessings which we
had just received. We accordingly joined in prayer, and
immediately obtained our desires; for before we had yet finished,
the same vision was opened to our view, AT LEAST IT WAS AGAIN TO
ME [Joe thus refuses to vouch for Harris's declaration on the
subject]; and I once more beheld and heard the same things;
whilst, at the same moment, Martin Harris cried out, apparently
in ecstasy of joy, 'Tis enough, mine eyes hath beheld,' and,
jumping up, he shouted 'Hosannah,' blessing God, and otherwise
rejoiced exceedingly."*

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, Supt., p. 19.


If this story taxes the credulity of the reader, his doubts about
the value of this "testimony" will increase when he traces the
history of the three witnesses. Surely, if any three men in the
church should remain steadfast, mighty pillars of support for the
prophet in his future troubles, it should be these chosen
witnesses to the actual existence of the golden plates. Yet every
one of them became an apostate, and every one of them was loaded
with all the opprobrium that the church could pile upon him.

Cowdery's reputation was locally bad at the time. "I was
personally acquainted with Oliver Cowdery," said Danforth Booth,
an old resident of Palmyra, in 1880. "He was a pettifogger; their
(the Smiths') cat-paw to do their dirty work."* Smith's trouble
with him, which began during the work of translating, continued,
and Smith found it necessary to say openly in a "revelation"
given out in Ohio in 1831 (Sec. 69), when preparations were
making for a trip of some of the brethren to Missouri, "It is not
wisdom in me that he should be intrusted with the commandments
and the monies which he shall carry unto the land of Zion, except
one go with him who will be true and faithful."

* Among affidavits on file in the county clerk's office at
Canandaigua, New York.


By the time Smith took his final departure to Missouri, Cowdery
and David and John Whitmer had lost caste entirely, and in June,
1838, they fled to escape the Danites at Far West. The letter of
warning addressed to them and signed by more than eighty Mormons,
giving them three days in which to depart, contained the
following accusations:--

"After Oliver Cowdery had been taken by a state warrant for
stealing, and the stolen property found in the house of William
W. Phelps; in which nefarious transaction John Whitmer had also
participated. Oliver Cowdery stole the property, conveyed it to
John Whitmer, and John Whitmer to William W. Phelps; and then the
officers of law found it. While in the hands of an officer, and
under an arrest for this vile transaction, and, if possible, to
hide your shame from the world like criminals (which, indeed, you
were), you appealed to our beloved brethren, President Joseph
Smith Jr. and Sidney Rigdon, men whose characters you had
endeavored to destroy by every artifice you could invent, not
even the basest lying excepted....

"The Saints in Kirtland having elected Oliver Cowdery to a
justice of the peace, he used the power of that office to take
their most sacred rights from them, and that contrary to law. He
supported a parcel of blacklegs, and in disturbing the worship of
the Saints; and when the men whom the church had chosen to
preside over their meetings endeavored to put the house to order,
he helped (and by the authority of his justice's office too)
these wretches to continue their confusion; and threatened the
church with a prosecution for trying to put them out of the
house; and issued writs against the Saints for endeavoring to
sustain their rights; and bound themselves under heavy bonds to
appear before his honor; and required bonds which were both
inhuman and unlawful; and one of these was the venerable father,
who had been appointed by the church to preside--a man of upwards
of seventy years of age, and notorious for his peaceable habits.

"Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Lyman E. Johnson, united with
a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars and blacklegs of the
deepest dye, to deceive, cheat and defraud the Saints out of
their property, by every art and stratagem which wickedness could
invent; using the influence of the vilest persecutions to bring
vexatious lawsuits, villainous prosecutions, and even stealing
not excepted.... During the full career of Oliver Cowdery and
David Whitmer's bogus money business, it got abroad into the
world that they were engaged in it, and several gentlemen were
preparing to commence a prosecution against Cowdery; he finding
it out, took with him Lyman E. Johnson, and fled to Far West with
their families; Cowdery stealing property and bringing it with
him, which has been, within a few weeks past, obtained by the
owner by means of a search warrant, and he was saved from the
penitentiary by the influence of two influential men of the
place. He also brought notes with him upon which he had received
pay, and made an attempt to sell them to Mr. Arthur of Clay
County."*

* "Documents in Relation to the Disturbances with the Mormons,"
Missouri Legislature (1841), p. 103.


Rigdon, who was the author of this arraignment, realizing that
the enemies of the church would not fail to make use of this
aspersion of the character of the witnesses, attempted to "hedge"
by saying, in the same document, "We wish to remind you that
Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer were among the principal of
those who were the means of gathering us to this place by their
testimony which they gave concerning the plates of the Book of
Mormon, that they were shown to them by an angel; which testimony
we believe now as much as before you had so scandalously
disgraced it." Could affrontery go to greater lengths?

Cowdery and David Whitmer fled to Richmond, Missouri, where
Whitmer lived until his death in January, 1888. Cowdery went to
Tiffin, Ohio, where, after failing to obtain a position as an
editor because of his Mormon reputation, he practised law. While
living there he renounced his Mormon views, joined the Methodist
church, and became superintendent of a Sunday-school. Later he
moved to Wisconsin, but, after being defeated for the legislature
there, he recanted his Methodist belief, and rejoined the Saints
while they were at Council Bluffs, in October, 1848, after the
main body had left for Salt Lake Valley. He addressed a meeting
there by invitation, testifying to the truth of the Book of
Mormon, and the mission of Smith as a prophet, and saying that he
wanted to be rebaptized into the church, not as a leader, but
simply as a member.* He did not, however, go to Utah with the
Saints, but returned to his old friend Whitmer in Missouri, and
died there in 1850. It has been stated that he offered to give a
full renunciation of the Mormon faith when he united with the
Methodists at Tiffin, if required, but asked to be excused from
doing so on the ground that it would invite criticism and bring
him into contempt.** One of his Tiffin acquaintances afterward
testified that Cowdery confessed to him that, when he signed the
"testimony," he "was not one of the best men in the world," using
his own expression.*** The Mormons were always grateful to him
for his silence under their persecutions, and the Millennial
Star, in a notice of his death, expressed satisfaction that in
the days of his apostasy "he never, in a single instance, cast
the least doubt on his former testimony," adding, "May he rest in
peace, to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection
into eternal life, is the earnest desire of all Saints."

* Millennial Star, Vol. XI, p.14.

** "Naked Truths about Mormonism," A. B. Demming, Oakland,
California, 1888.

*** "Gregg's History of Hancock County, Illinois," p. 257.


The Whitmers were a Dutch family, known among their neighbors as
believers in witches and in the miraculous generally, as has been
shown in Mother Smith's account of their sending for Joseph. A
"revelation" to the three witnesses which first promised them a
view of the plates (Sec. 17) told them, "It is BY YOUR FAITH you
shall obtain a view of them," and directed them to testify
concerning the plates, "that my servant Joseph Smith, Jr., may
not be destroyed." One of the converts who joined the Mormons at
Kirtland, Ohio, testified in later years that David Whitmer
confessed to her that he never actually saw the plates,
explaining his testimony thus: "Suppose that you had a friend
whose character was such that you knew it impossible that he
could lie; then, if he described a city to you which you had
never seen, could you not, by the eye of faith, see the city just
as he described it?"*

* Mrs. Dickenson's "New Light on Mormonism."


The Mormons have found consolation in the fact that Whitmer
continued to affirm his belief in the authenticity of the Mormon
Bible to the day of his death. He declared, however, that Smith
and Young had led the flock astray, and, after the open
announcement of polygamy in Utah, he announced a church of his
own, called "The Church of Christ," refusing to affiliate even
with the Reorganized Church because of the latter's adherence to
Smith. In his "Address to Believers in the Book of Mormon, "a
pamphlet issued in his eighty-second year, he said, "Now, in 1849
the Lord saw fit to manifest unto John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery
and myself nearly all the remaining errors of doctrine into which
we had been led by the heads of the church." The reader from all
this can form an estimate of the trustworthiness of the second
witness on such a subject.

We have already learned a great deal about Martin Harris's mental
equipment. A lawyer of standing in Palmyra told Dr. Clark that,
after Harris had signed the "testimony," he pressed him with the
question: "Did you see the plates with your natural eyes, just as
you see this pencil case in my hand? Now say yes or no." Harris
replied (in corroboration of Joe's misgiving at the time): "Why,
I did not see them as I do that pencil case, yet I saw them with
the eye of faith. I saw them just as distinctly as I see anything
around me--though at the time they were covered over with a
cloth."*

* "Gleanings by the Way."


Harris followed Smith to Ohio and then to Missouri, but was ever
a trouble to him, although Smith always found his money useful.
In 1831, in Missouri, it required a "revelation" (Sec. 58) to
spur him to "lay his monies before the Bishop." As his money grew
scarcer, he received less and less recognition from the Mormon
leaders, and was finally expelled from the church. Smith thus
referred to him in the Elders' Journal, July, 1837, one of his
publications in Ohio: "There are negroes who wear white skins as
well as black ones, granny Parish, and others who acted as
lackeys, such as Martin Harris."

Harris did not appear on the scene during the stay of the Mormons
in Illinois, having joined the Shakers and lived with them a year
or two. When Strang claimed the leadership of the church after
Smith's death, Harris gave him his support, and was sent by him
with others to England in 1846 to do missionary work. His arrival
there was made the occasion of an attack on him by the Millennial
Star, which, among other things, said:--

"We do not feel to warn the Saints against him, for his own
unbridled tongue will soon show out specimens of folly enough to
give any person a true index to the character of the man; but if
the Saints wish to know what the Lord hath said of him, they may
turn to the 178th page of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and
the person there called a WICKED MAN is no other than Martin
Harris, and he owned to it then, but probably might not now. It
is not the first time the Lord chose a wicked man as a witness.
Also on page 193, read the whole revelation given to him, and ask
yourselves if the Lord ever talked in that way to a good man.
Every one can see that he must have been a wicked man."*

*Vol. VIII, p. 123.


Harris visited Palmyra in 1858. He then said that his property
was all gone, that he had declined a restoration to the Mormon
church, but that he continued to believe in Mormonism. He thought
better of his declination, however, and sought a reunion with the
church in Utah in 1870. His backslidings had carried him so far
that the church authorities told him it would be necessary for
him to be rebaptized. This he consented to with some reluctance,
after, as he said, "he had seen his father seeking his aid. He
saw his father at the foot of a ladder, striving to get up to
him, and he went down to him, taking him by the hand, and helped
him up."* He settled in Cache County, Utah, where he died on July
10, 1875, in his ninety-third year. "He bore his testimony to the
truth and divinity of the Book of Mormon a short time before he
departed," wrote his son to an inquirer, "and the last words he
uttered, when he could not speak the sentence, were 'Book,'
'Book,' 'Book.'"

* For an account of Harris's Utah experience, see Millennial
Star, Vol. XLVIII, pp.357-389.


The precarious character of Smith's original partners in the
Bible business is further illustrated by his statement that, in
the summer of 1830, Cowdery sent him word that he had discovered
an error in one of Smith's "revelations,"* and that the Whitmer
family agreed with him on the subject. Smith was as determined in
opposing this questioning of his divine authority as he always
was in stemming any opposition to his leadership, and he made
them all acknowledge their error. Again, when Smith returned to
Fayette from Harmony, in August, 1830 (more than a year after the
plates were shown to the witnesses), he found that "Satan had
been lying in wait," and that Hiram Page, of the second list of
witnesses, had been obtaining revelations through a "peek-stone"
of his own, and that, what was more serious, Cowdery and the
Whitmer family believed in them. The result of this was an
immediate "revelation" (Sec. 28) directing Cowdery to go and
preach the Gospel to the Lamanites (Indians) on the western
border, and to take along with him Hiram Page, and tell him that
the things he had written by means of the "peek-stone" were not
of the Lord.

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, p. 36.


Neither Smith's autobiography nor the "Book of Doctrine and
Covenants" contains any explanation of the second "testimony."
The list of persons who signed it, however, leaves little doubt
that the prophet yielded to their "teasing" as he did to that of
the original three. The first four signers were members of the
Whitmer family. Hiram Page was a root-doctor by calling, and a
son-in-law of Peter Whitmer, Sr. The three Smiths were the
prophet's father and two of his brothers.*

* Christian Whitmer died in Clay County, Missouri, November 27,
1835; Jacob died in Richmond County, April 21, 1866; Peter died
in Clay County, September 22, 1836; Hiram Page died on a farm in
Ray County, August 12, 1852.


The favorite Mormon reply to any question as to the value of
these "testimonies" is the challenge, "Is there a person on the
earth who can prove that these eleven witnesses did not see the
plates?" Curiously, the prophet himself can be cited to prove
this, in the words of the revelation granting a sight of the
plates to the first three, which said, "And to none else will I
grant this power, to receive this same testimony among this
generation." A footnote to this declaration in the "Doctrine and
Covenants" offers, as an explanation of Testimony No. 2; the
statement that others "may receive a knowledge by other
manifestations." This is well meant but transparent.

Mother Smith in later years added herself to these witnesses. She
said to the Rev. Henry Caswall, in Nauvoo, in 1842, "I have
myself seen and handled the golden plates." Mr. Caswall adds:--

"While the old woman was thus delivering herself, I fixed my eyes
steadily upon her. She faltered and seemed unwilling to meet my
glances, but gradually recovered her self-possession. The
melancholy thought entered my mind that this poor old creature
was not simply a dupe of her son's knavery, but that she had
taken an active part in the deception."

Two matters have been cited by Mormon authorities to show that
there was nothing so very unusual in the discovery of buried
plates containing engraved letters. Announcement was made in 1843
of the discovery near Kinderhook, Illinois, of six plates similar
to those described by Smith. The story, as published in the Times
and Seasons, with a certificate signed by nine local residents,
set forth that a merchant of the place, named Robert Wiley, while
digging in a mound, after finding ashes and human bones, came to
"a bundle that consisted of six plates of brass, of a bell shape,
each having a hole near the small end, and a ring through them
all"; and that, when cleared of rust, they were found to be
"completely covered with characters that none as yet have been
able to read." Hyde, accepting this story, printed a facsimile of
one of these plates on the cover of his book, and seems to rest
on Wiley's statement his belief that "Smith did have plates of
some kind." Stenhouse,* who believed that Smith and his witnesses
did not perpetrate in the new Bible an intentional fraud, but
thought they had visions and "revelations," referring to the
Kinderhook plates, says that they were "actually and
unquestionably discovered by one Mr. R. Wiley." Smith himself,
after no one else could read the writing on them, declared that
he had translated them, and found them to be a history of a
descendant of Ham.**

* T. B. H. Stenhouse, a Scotchman, was converted to the Mormon
belief in 1846, performed diligent missionary work in Europe, and
was for three years president of the Swiss and Italian missions.
Joining the brethren in Utah with his wife, he was persuaded to
take a second wife. Not long afterward he joined in the protest
against Young's dictatorial course which was known as the "New
Movement," and was expelled from the church. His "Rocky Mountain
Saints" (1873) contains so much valuable information connected
with the history of the church that it has been largely drawn on
by E. W. Tullidge in his "History of Salt Lake City and Its
Founders," which is accepted by the church.

**Millennial Star, January 15, 1859, where cuts of the plates
(here produced) are given.


But the true story of the Kinderhook plates was disclosed by an
affidavit made by W. Fulgate of Mound Station, Brown County,
Illinois, before Jay Brown, Justice of the Peace, on June 30,
1879. In this he stated that the plates were "a humbug, gotten up
by Robert Wiley, Bridge Whitton, and myself. Whitton (who was a
blacksmith) cut the plates out of some pieces of copper Wiley and
I made the hieroglyphics by making impressions on beeswax and
filling them with acid, and putting it on the plates. When they
were finished, we put them together with rust made of nitric
acid, old iron and lead, and bound them with a piece of hoop
iron, covering them completely with the rust." He describes the
burial of the plates and their digging up, among the spectators
of the latter being two Mormon elders, Marsh and Sharp. Sharp
declared that the Lord had directed them to witness the digging.
The plates were borrowed and shown to Smith, and were finally
given to one "Professor" McDowell of St. Louis, for his museum.*

* Wyl's "Mormon Portraits," p. 207. The secretary of the Missouri
Historical Society writes me that McDowell's museum disappeared
some years ago, most of its contents being lost or stolen, and
the fate of the Kinderhook plates cannot be ascertained.


In attacking Professor Anthon's statement concerning the alleged
hieroglyphics shown to him by Harris, Orson Pratt, in his "Divine
Authenticity of the Book of Mormon," thought that he found
substantial support for Smith's hieroglyphics in the fact that
"Two years after the Book of Mormon appeared in print, Professor
Rafinesque, in his Atlantic journal for 1832, gave to the public
a facsimile of American glyphs,* found in Mexico. They are
arranged in columns.... By an inspection of the facsimile of
these forty-six elementary glyphs, we find all the particulars
which Professor Anthon ascribes to the characters which he says
'a plain-looking countryman' presented to him. "These" elementary
glyphs "of Rafinesque are some of the characters found on the
famous "Tablet of the Cross" in the ruins of Palenque, Mexico,
since so fully described by Stevens. A facsimile of the entire
Tablet may be found on page 355, Vol. IV, Bancroft's "Native
Races of the Pacific States." Rafinesque selected these
characters from the Tablet, and arranged them in columns
alongside of other ancient writings, in order to sustain his
argument that they resembled an old Libyan alphabet. Rafinesque
was a voluminous writer both on archaeological and botanical
subjects, but wholly untrustworthy. Of his Atlantic Journal (of
which only eight numbers appeared) his biographer, R. E. Call,
says that it had "absolutely no scientific value." Professor Asa
Gray, in a review of his botanical writings in Silliman's
Journal, Vol. XL, No. 2, 1841, said, "He assumes thirty to one
hundred years as the average time required for the production of
a new species, and five hundred to one thousand for a new genus."
Professor Gray refers to a paper which Rafinesque sent to the
editor of a scientific journal describing twelve new species of
thunder and lightning. He was very fond of inventing names, and
his designation of Palenque as Otolum was only an illustration of
this. So much for the "elementary glyphs."

* "Glyph: A pictograph or word carved in a compact distinct
figure."--"Standard Dictionary.





Next: The Mormon Bible

Previous: The Everlasting Gospel



Add to del.icio.us Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Del.icio.us Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network
Report
Privacy
SHAREADD TO EBOOK


Viewed 1271