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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



Translation And Publication Of The Bible








The only one of his New York neighbors who seems to have taken a
practical interest in Joe's alleged discovery was a farmer named
Martin Harris, who lived a little north of Palmyra. Harris was a
religious enthusiast, who had been a Quaker (as his wife was
still), a Universalist, a Baptist, and a Presbyterian, and whose
sanity it would have been difficult to establish in a surrogate's
court. The Rev. Dr. Clark, who knew him intimately, says, "He had
always been a firm believer in dreams, visions, and ghosts."

*Howe describes him as often declaring that he had talked with
Jesus Christ, angels, and the devil, and saying that "Christ was
the handsomest man he ever saw, and the devil looked like a
jackass, with very short, smooth hair similar to that of a mouse.
"Daniel Hendrix relates that as he and Harris were riding to the
village one evening, and he remarked on the beauty of the moon,
Harris replied that if his companion could only see it as he had,
he might well call it beautiful, explaining that he had actually
visited the moon, and adding that it "was only the faithful who
were permitted to visit the celestial regions." Jesse Townsend, a
resident of Palmyra, in a letter written in 1833, describes him
as a visionary fanatic, unhappily married, who "is considered
here to this day a brute in his domestic relations, a fool and a
dupe to Smith in religion, and an unlearned, conceited hypocrite
generally. "His wife, in an affidavit printed in Howe's book (p.
255), says: "He has whipped, kicked, and turned me out of the
house." Harris, like Joe's mother, was a constant reader of and a
literal believer in the Bible. Tucker says that he "could
probably repeat from memory every text from the Bible, giving the
chapter and verse in each case. "This seems to be an
exaggeration.

* "Gleanings by the Way."


Mother Smith's account of Harris's early connection with the
Bible enterprise says that her husband told Harris of the
existence of the plates two or three years before Joe got
possession of them; that when Joe secured them he asked her to go
and tell Harris that he wanted to see him on the subject, an
errand not to her liking, because "Mr. Harris's wife was a very
peculiar woman, "that is, she did not share in her husband's
superstition. Mrs. Smith did not succeed in seeing Harris, but he
soon afterward voluntarily offered Joe fifty dollars "for the
purpose of helping Mr. Smith do the Lord's work. "As Harris was
very "close" in money matters, it is probable that Joe offered
him a partnership in the scheme at the start. Harris seems to
have placed much faith in the selling quality of the new Bible.
He is said to have replied to his wife's early declaration of
disbelief in it: "What if it is a lie. If you will let me alone I
will make money out of it."* The Rev. Ezra Booth said: "Harris
informed me [after his removal to Ohio] that he went to the place
where Joseph resided [in Pennsylvania], and Joseph had given it
[the translation] up on account of the opposition of his wife and
others; and he told Joseph, 'I have not come down here for
nothing, and we will go on with it.'"**

* Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 254.

** Ibid., p. 182.


Just at this time Joe was preparing to move to the neighborhood
of Harmony, Pennsylvania, having made a trip there after his
marriage, during which, Mr. Hale's affidavit says, "Smith stated
to me that he had given up what he called 'glass-looking,' and
that he expected to work hard for a living and was willing to do
so. "Smith's brother-in-law Alva, in accordance with arrangements
then made, went to Palmyra and helped move his effects to a house
near Mr. Hale's. Joe acknowledges that Harris's gift or loan of
fifty dollars enabled him to meet the expenses of moving.

Parley P. Pratt, in a statement published by him in London in
1854, set forth that Smith was driven to Pennsylvania from
Palmyra through fear of his life, and that he took the plates
with him concealed in a barrel of beans, thus eluding the efforts
of persons who tried to secure them by means of a search warrant.
Tucker says that this story rests only on the sending of a
constable after Smith by a man to whom he owed a small debt. The
great interest manifested in the plates in the neighborhood of
Palmyra existed only in Mormon imagination developed in later
years.

According to some accounts, all the work of what was called
"translating" the writing on the plates into what became the
"Book of Mormon" was done at Joe's home in New York State, and
most of it in a cave, but this was not the case. Smith himself
says: "Immediately after my arrival [in Pennsylvania] I commenced
copying the characters off the plates. I copied a considerable
number of them, and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated
some of them, which I did between the time I arrived, at the
house of my wife's father in the month of December (1827) and the
February following.

A clear description of the work of translating as carried on in
Pennsylvania is given in the affidavit made by Smith's
father-in-law, Isaac Hale, in 1834.* He says that soon after
Joe's removal to his neighborhood with his wife, he (Hale) was
shown a box such as is used for the shipment of window glass, and
was told that it contained the "book of plates"; he was allowed
to lift it, but not to look into it. Joe told him that the first
person who would be allowed to see the plates would be a young
child .** The affidavit continues:--

* Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 264.

** Joe's early announcement was that his first-born child was to
have this power, but the child was born dead. This was one of the
earliest of Joe's mistakes in prophesying.


"About this time Martin Harris made his appearance upon the
stage, and Smith began to interpret the characters, or
hieroglyphics, which he said were engraven upon the plates, while
Harris wrote down the interpretation. It was said that Harris
wrote down 116 pages and lost them. Soon after this happened,
Martin Harris informed me that he must have a GREATER WITNESS,
and said that he had talked with Joseph about it. Joseph informed
him that be could not, or durst not, show him the plates, but
that he [Joseph] would go into the woods where the book of plates
was, and that after he came back Harris should follow his track
in the snow, and find the book and examine it for himself. Harris
informed me that he followed Smith's directions, and could not
find the plates and was still dissatisfied.

"The next day after this happened I went to the house where
Joseph Smith, Jr., lived, and where he and Harris were engaged in
their translation of the book. Each of them had a written piece
of paper which they were comparing, and some of the words were, I
my servant seeketh a greater witness, but no greater witness can
be given him.... I inquired whose words they were, and was
informed by Joseph or Emma (I rather think it was the former),
that they were the words of Jesus Christ. I told them that I
considered the whole of it a delusion, and advised them to
abandon it. The manner in which he pretended to read and
interpret was the same as when he looked for the moneydiggers,
with the stone in his hat and his hat over his face, while the
book of plates was at the same time hid in the woods.

"After this, Martin Harris went away, and Oliver Cowdery came and
wrote for Smith, while he interpreted as above described.

"Joseph Smith, Jr., resided near me for some time after this, and
I had a good opportunity of becoming acquainted with him, and
somewhat acquainted with his associates; and I conscientiously
believe, from the facts I have detailed, and from many other
circumstances which I do not deem it necessary to relate, that
the whole Book of Mormon (so-called) is a silly fabrication of
falsehood and wickedness, got up for speculation, and with a
design to dupe the credulous and unwary."

Harris's natural shrewdness in a measure overcame his fanaticism,
and he continued to press Smith for a sight of the plates. Smith
thereupon made one of the first uses of those "revelations" which
played so important a part in his future career, and he announced
one (Section 5, "Doctrine and Covenants"*), in which "I, the
Lord" declared to Smith that the latter had entered into a
covenant with Him not to show the plates to any one except as the
Lord commanded him. Harris finally demanded of Smith at least a
specimen of the writing on the plates for submission to experts
in such subjects. As Harris was the only man of means interested
in this scheme of publication, Joe supplied him with a paper
containing some characters which he said were copied from one of
the plates. This paper increased Harris's belief in the reality
of Joe's discovery, but he sought further advice before opening
his purse. Dr. Clark describes a call Harris made on him early
one morning, greatly excited, requesting a private interview. On
hearing his story, Dr. Clark advised him that the scheme was a
hoax, devised to extort money from him, but Harris showed the
slip of paper containing the mysterious characters, and was not
to be persuaded.

* All references to the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants" refer to
the sections and verses of the Salt Lake city edition of 1890.


Seeking confirmation, however, Harris made a trip to New York
City in order to submit the characters to experts there. Among
others, he called on Professor Charles Anthon. His interview with
Professor Anthon has been a cause of many and conflicting
statements, some Mormons misrepresenting it for their own
purposes and others explaining away the professor's accounts of
it. The following statement was written by Professor Anthon in
reply to an inquiry by E. D. Howe:--

"NEW YORK, February 17, 1834.

"DEAR SIR: I received your favor of the 9th, and lose no time in
making a reply. The whole story about my pronouncing the Mormon
inscription to be 'reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics' is perfectly
false. Some years ago a plain, apparently simple-hearted farmer
called on me with a note from Dr. Mitchell, of our city, now
dead, requesting me to decypher, if possible, the paper which the
farmer would hand me, and which Dr. M. confessed he had been
unable to understand. Upon examining the paper in question, I
soon came to the conclusion that it was all a trick--perhaps a
hoax. When I asked the person who brought it how he obtained the
writing, he gave me, as far as I can recollect, the following
account: A 'gold book' consisting of a number of plates fastened
together in the shape of a book by wires of the same metal, had
been dug up in the northern part of the state of New York, and
along with the book an enormous pair of 'spectacles'! These
spectacles were so large that, if a person attempted to look
through them, his two eyes would have to be turned toward one of
the glasses merely, the spectacles in question being altogether
too large for the breadth of the human face. Whoever examined the
plates through the spectacles, was enabled, not only to read
them, but fully to understand their meaning. All this knowledge,
however, was confined to a young man who had the trunk containing
the book and spectacles in his sole possession. This young man
was placed behind a curtain in the garret of a farmhouse, and
being thus concealed from view, put on the spectacles
occasionally, or rather, looked through one of the glasses,
decyphered the characters in the book, and, having committed some
of them to paper, handed copies from behind the curtain to those
who stood on the outside. Not a word, however, was said about the
plates being decyphered 'by the gift of God.' Everything in this
way was effected by the large pair of spectacles. The farmer
added that he had been requested to contribute a sum of money
toward the publication of the 'golden book,' the contents of
which would, as he had been assured, produce an entire change in
the world, and save it from ruin. So urgent had been these
solicitations, that he intended selling his farm, and handing
over the amount received to those who wished to publish the
plates. As a last precautionary step, however, he had resolved to
come to New York, and obtain the opinion of the learned about the
meaning of the paper which he had brought with him, and which had
been given him as part of the contents of the book, although no
translation had been furnished at the time by the young man with
the spectacles. On hearing this odd story, I changed my opinion
about the paper, and, instead of viewing it any longer as a hoax
upon the learned, I began to regard it as a part of a scheme to
cheat the farmer of his money, and I communicated my suspicions
to him, warning him to beware of rogues. He requested an opinion
from me in writing, which, of course, I declined giving, and he
then took his leave, carrying his paper with him.

"This paper was in fact a singular scrawl. It consisted of all
kinds of crooked characters, disposed in columns, and had
evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the
time a book containing various alphabets. Greek and Hebrew
letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted, or
placed sideways, were arranged and placed in perpendicular
columns; and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle,
divided into various compartments, decked with various strange
marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican Calendar, given by
Humbolt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source
whence it was, derived. I am thus particular as to the contents
of the paper, inasmuch as I have frequently conversed with my
friends on the subject since the Mormonite excitement began, and
well remember that the paper contained anything else but
'Egyptian Hieroglyphics.'

"Some time after, the farmer paid me a second visit. He brought
with him the golden book in print, and offered it to me for sale.
I declined purchasing. He then asked permission to leave the book
with me for examination. I declined receiving it, although his
manner was strangely urgent. I adverted once more to the roguery
which had been, in my opinion, practised upon him, and asked him
what had become of the gold plates. He informed me that they were
in a trunk with the large pair of spectacles. I advised him to go
to a magistrate, and have the trunk examined. He said 'the curse
of God' would come upon him should he do this. On my pressing
him, however, to pursue the course which I had recommended, he
told me he would open the trunk if I would take 'the curse of
God' upon myself. I replied I would do so with the greatest
willingness, and would incur every risk of that nature provided I
could only extricate him from the grasp of the rogues. He then
left me.

"I have thus given you a full statement of all that I know
respecting the origin of Mormonism, and must beg you, as a
personal favor, to publish this letter immediately, should you
find my name mentioned again by these wretched fanatics. Yours
respectfully,

"CHARLES ANTHON."*

* "Mormonism Unveiled," pp. 270-272. A letter from Professor
Anthon to the Rev. Dr. Coit, rector of Trinity Church, New
Rochelle, New York, dated April 3, 1841, containing practically
the same statement, will be found in Clark's" "Gleanings by the
Way," pp. 233-238.


While Mormon speakers quoted Anthon as vouching for the
mysterious writing, their writers were more cautious. P. P.
Pratt, in his "Voice of Warning" (1837), said that Professor
Anthon was unable to decipher the characters, "but he presumed
that if the original records could be brought, he could assist in
translating them. Orson Pratt, in his "Remarkable Visions"
(1848), saw in the Professor's failure only a verification of
Isaiah xxix. 11 and 12:--

"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."

John D. Lee, in his "Mormonism Unveiled," mentions the generally
used excuse of the Mormons for the professor's failure to
translate the writing, namely, that Anthon told Harris that "they
were written in a sealed language, unknown to the present age.
"Smith, in his autobiography, quotes Harris's account of his
interview as follows:--

"I went to New York City and presented the characters which had
been translated, with the translation thereof, to Prof. Anthon, a
man quite celebrated for his literary attainments. Prof. Anthon
stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had
before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those
which were not yet translated, and he said they were Egyptian,
Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic, and he said they were the true
characters."

Harris declared that the professor gave him a certificate to this
effect, but took it back and tore it up when told that an angel
of God had revealed the plates to Joe, saying that "there were no
such things as ministering angels. "This account by Harris of his
interview with Professor Anthon will assist the reader in
estimating the value of Harris's future testimony as to the
existence of the plates.

Harris's trip to New York City was not entirely satisfactory to
him, and, as Smith himself relates, "He began to tease me to give
him liberty to carry the writings home and show them, and desired
of me that I would enquire of the Lord through the Urim and
Thummim if he might not do so. "Smith complied with this request,
but the permission was twice refused; the third time it was
granted, but on condition that Harris would show the manuscript
translation to only five persons, who were named, one of them
being his wife.

In including Mrs. Harris in this list, the Lord made one of the
greatest mistakes into which he ever fell in using Joe as a
mouthpiece. Mrs. Harris's Quaker belief had led her from the
start to protest against the Bible scheme, and to warn her
husband against the Smith family, and she vigorously opposed his
investment of any money in the publication of the book. On the
occasion of his first visit to Joe in Pennsylvania, according to
Mother Smith, Mrs. Harris was determined to accompany him, and he
had to depart without her knowledge; and when he went the second
time, she did accompany him, and she ransacked the house to find
the "record" (as the plates are often called in the Smiths'
writings).

When Harris returned home with the translated pages which Joe
intrusted to him (in July, 1828), he showed them to his family
and to others, who tried in vain to convince him that he was a
dupe. Mrs. Harris decided on a more practical course. Getting
possession of the papers, where Harris had deposited them for
safe keeping, she refused to restore them to him. What eventually
became of them is uncertain, one report being that she afterward
burned them.

This should have caused nothing more serious in the way of delay
than the time required to retranslate these pages; for certainly
a well-equipped Divinity, who was revealing a new Bible to
mankind, and supplying so powerful a means of translation as the
Urim and Thummim, could empower the translator to repeat the
words first written. Indeed, the descriptions of the method of
translation given afterward by Smith's confederates would seem to
prove that there could have been but one version of any
translation of the plates, no matter how many times repeated.
Thus, Harris described the translating as follows:--

"By aid of the seer stone [no mention of the magic spectacles]
sentences would appear and were read by the prophet and written
by Martin, and, when finished, he would say 'written'; and if
correctly written, that sentence would disappear, and another
appear in its place; but if not written correctly, it remained
until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was
engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used."*

* Elder Edward Stevenson in the Deseret News (quoted in Reynold's
"Mystery of the Manuscript Fund," p. 91).

David Whitmer, in an account of this process written in his later
years, said:--

"Joseph would put the seer stone into a hat [more testimony
against the use of the spectacles] and put his face in the hat,
drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in
the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of
something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared
the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it
was the translation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the
English to O. Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it
was written down and repeated to brother Joseph to see if it were
correct, then it would disappear and another character with the
interpretation would appear."*

* "Address to Believers in the Book of Mormon."


But to Joseph the matter of reproducing the lost pages of the
translation did not seem simple. When Harris's return to
Pennsylvania was delayed, Joe became anxious and went to Palmyra
to learn what delayed him, and there he heard of Mrs. Harris's
theft of the pages. His mother reports him as saying in
announcing it, "my God, all is lost! all is lost!" Why the
situation was as serious to a sham translator as it would have
been simple to an honest one is easily understood. Whenever Smith
offered a second translation of the missing pages which differed
from the first, a comparison of them with the latter would
furnish proof positive of the fraudulent character of his
pretensions.

All the partners in the business had to share in the punishment
for what had occurred. The Smiths lost all faith in Harris. Joe
says that Harris broke his pledge about showing the translation
only to five persons, and Mother Smith says that because of this
offence "a dense fog spread itself over his fields and blighted
his wheat. "When Joe returned to Pennsylvania an angel appeared
to him, his mother says, and ordered him to give up the Urim and
Thummim, promising, however, to restore them if he was humble and
penitent, and "if so, it will be on the 22d of September."* Here
may be noted one of those failures of mother and son to agree in
their narratives which was excuse enough for Brigham Young to try
to suppress the mother's book. Joe mentions a "revelation" dated
July, 1828 (Sec. 3, "Doctrine and Covenants"), in which Harris
was called "a wicked man, "and which told Smith that he had lost
his privileges for a season, and he adds, "After I had obtained
the above revelation, both the plates and the Urim and Thummim
were taken from me again, BUT IN A FEW DAYS they were returned to
me."**

* "Biographical Sketches," by Lucy Smith, p. 125.

** Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, p. 8.


For some ten months after this the work of translation was
discontinued, although Mother Smith says that when she and his
father visited the prophet in Pennsylvania two months after his
return, the first thing they saw was "a red morocco trunk lying
on Emma's bureau which, Joseph shortly informed me, contained the
Urim and Thummim and the plates." Mrs. Harris's act had evidently
thrown the whole machinery of translation out of gear, and Joe
had to await instructions from his human adviser before a plan of
procedure could be announced. During this period (in which Joe
says he worked on his father's farm), says Tucker, "the stranger
[supposed to be Rigdon] had again been at Smith's, and the
prophet had been away from home, maybe to repay the former's
visits."*

* "Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism," p. 48.


Two matters were decided on in these consultations, viz., that no
attempt would be made to retranslate the lost pages, and that a
second copy of all the rest of the manuscript should be prepared,
to guard against a similar perplexity in case of the loss of
later pages. The proof of the latter statement I find in the fact
that a second copy did exist. Ebenezer Robinson, who was a
leading man in the church from the time of its establishment in
Ohio until Smith's death, says in his recollections that, when
the people assembled on October 2, 1841, to lay the corner-stone
of Nauvoo House, Smith said he had a document to put into the
corner-stone, and Robinson went with him to his house to procure
it. Robinson's story proceeds as follows:--

"He got a manuscript copy of the Book of Mormon, and brought it
into the room where we were standing, and said, 'I will examine
to see if it is all here'; and as he did so I stood near him, at
his left side, and saw distinctly the writing as he turned up the
pages until he hastily went through the book and satisfied
himself that it was all there, when he said, 'I have had trouble
enough with this thing'; which remark struck me with amazement,
as I looked upon it as a sacred treasure."

Robinson says that the manuscript was written on foolscap paper
and most of it in Oliver Cowdery's handwriting. He explains that
two copies were necessary, "as the printer who printed the first
edition of the book had to have a copy, as they would not put the
original copy into his hands for fear of its being altered. This
accounts for David Whitmer having a copy and Joseph Smith having
one."*

* The Return, Vol- II, p. 314. Ebenezer Robinson, a printer,
joined the Mormons at Kirtland, followed Smith to Missouri, and
went with the flock to Nauvoo, where he and the prophet's
brother, Don Carlos, established the Times and Seasons. When the
doctrine of polygamy was announced to him and his wife, they
rejected it, and he followed Rigdon to Pennsylvania when Rigdon
was turned out by Young. In later years he was engaged in
business enterprises in Iowa, and was a resident of Davis City
when David Whitmer announced the organization of his church in
Missouri, and, not accepting the view of the prophet entertained
by his descendants in the Reorganized Church, Robinson accepted
baptism from Whitmer. The Return was started by him in January,
1889, and continued until his death, in its second year. His
reminiscences of early Mormon experiences, which were a feature
of the publication, are of value.

Major Bideman, who married the prophet's widow, partly completed
and occupied Nauvoo House after the departure of the Mormons for
Utah, and some years later he took out the cornerstone and opened
it, but found the manuscript so ruined by moisture that only a
little was legible.

In regard to the missing pages, it was decided to announce a
revelation, which is dated May, 1829 (Sec. 10, "Doctrine and
Covenants"), stating that the lost pages had got into the hands
of wicked men, that "Satan has put it into their hearts to alter
the words which you have caused to be written, or which you have
translated, "in accordance with a plan of the devil to destroy
Smith's work. He was directed therefore to translate from the
plates of Nephi, which contained a "more particular account" than
the Book of Lehi from which the original translation was made.

When Smith began translating again, Harris was not reemployed,
but Emma, the prophet's wife, acted as his scribe until April 15,
1829, when a new personage appeared upon the scene. This was
Oliver Cowdery.

Cowdery was a blacksmith by trade, but gave up that occupation,
and, while Joe was translating in Pennsylvania, secured the place
of teacher in the district where the Smiths lived, and boarded
with them. They told him of the new Bible, and, according to
Joe's later account, Cowdery for himself received a revelation of
its divine character, went to Pennsylvania, and from that time
was intimately connected with Joe in the translation and
publication of the book.

In explanation of the change of plan necessarily adopted in the
translation, the following preface appeared in the first edition
of the book, but was dropped later:--

"TO THE READER.

"As many false reports have been circulated respecting the
following work, and also many unlawful measures taken by evil
designing persons to destroy me, and also the work, I would
inform you that I translated, by the gift and power of God, and
caused to be written, one hundred and sixteen pages, the which I
took from the book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from
the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon; which said account,
some person or persons have stolen and kept from me,
notwithstanding my utmost efforts to recover it again--and being
commanded of the Lord that I should not translate the same over
again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord
their God, by altering the words; that they did read contrary
from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I
should bring forth the same words again, or, in other words, if I
should translate the same over again, they would publish that
which they had stolen, and Satan would stir up the hearts of this
generation, that they might not receive this work, but behold,
the Lord said unto me, I will not suffer that Satan shall
accomplish his evil design in this thing; therefore thou shalt
translate from the plates of Nephi until ye come to that which ye
have translated, which ye have retained; and behold, ye shall
publish it as the record of Nephi; and thus I will confound those
who have altered my words. I will not suffer that they shall
destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is
greater than the cunning of the Devil. Wherefore, to be obedient
unto the commandments of God, I have, through His grace and
mercy, accomplished that which He hath commanded me respecting
this thing. I would also inform you that the plates of which hath
been spoken, were found in the township of Manchester, Ontario
County, New York. --THE AUTHOR."

In June, 1829, Smith accepted an invitation to change his
residence to the house of Peter Whitmer, who, with his sons,
David, John, and Peter, Jr., lived at Fayette, Seneca County, New
York, the Whitmers promising his board free and their assistance
in the work of translation. There, Smith says, they resided
"until the translation was finished and the copyright secured."

As five of the Whitmers were "witnesses" to the existence of the
plates, and David continued to be a person of influence in Mormon
circles throughout his long life, information about them is of
value. The prophet's mother again comes to our aid, although her
account conflicts with her son's. The prophet says that David
Whitmer brought the invitation to take up quarters at his
father's, and volunteered the offer of free board and assistance.
Mother Smith says that one day, as Joe was translating the
plates, he came, in the midst of the words of the Holy Writ, to a
commandment to write at once to David Whitmer, requesting him to
come immediately and take the prophet and Cowdery to his house,"
as an evildesigning people were seeking to take away his
[Joseph's] life in order to prevent the work of God from going
forth to the world. "When the letter arrived, David's father told
him that, as they had wheat sown that would require two days'
harrowing, and a quantity of plaster to spread, he could not go
"unless he could get a witness from God that it was absolutely
necessary. "In answer to his inquiry of the Lord on the subject,
David was told to go as soon as his wheat was harrowed in.
Setting to work, he found that at the end of the first day the
two days' harrowing had been completed, and, on going out the
next morning to spread the plaster, he found that work done also,
and his sister told him she had seen three unknown men at work in
the field the day before: so that the task had been accomplished
by "an exhibition of supernatural power."*

* "Biographical Sketches," Lucy Smith, p. 135.


The translation being ready for the press, in June, 1829 (I
follow Tucker's account of the printing of the work), Joseph, his
brother Hyrum, Cowdery, and Harris asked Egbert B. Grandin,
publisher of the Wayne Sentinel at Palmyra, to give them an
estimate of the cost of printing an edition of three thousand
copies, with Harris as security for the payment. Grandin told
them he did not want to undertake the job at any price, and he
tried to persuade Harris not to invest his money in the scheme,
assuring him that it was fraudulent. Application was next made to
Thurlow Weed, then the publisher of the Anti-Masonic Inquirer, at
Rochester, New York. "After reading a few chapters," says Mr.
Weed, "it seemed such a jumble of unintelligent absurdities that
we refused the work, advising Harris not to mortgage his farm and
"beggar his family." Finally, Smith and his associates obtained
from Elihu F. Marshall, a Rochester publisher, a definite bid for
the work, and with this they applied again to Grandin, explaining
that it would be much more convenient for them to have the
printing done at home, and pointing out to him that he might as
well take the job, as his refusal would not prevent the
publication of the book. This argument had weight with him, and
he made a definite contract to print and bind five thousand
copies for the sum of $3000, a mortgage on Harris's farm to be
given him as security. Mrs. Harris had persisted in her refusal
to be in any way a party to the scheme, and she and her husband
had finally made a legal separation, with a division of the
property, after she had entered a complaint against Joe, charging
him with getting money from her husband on fraudulent
representation. At the hearing on this complaint, Harris denied
that he had ever contributed a dollar to Joe at the latter's
persuasion.

Tucker, who did much of the proof-reading of the new Bible,
comparing it with the manuscript copy, says that, when the
printing began, Smith and his associates watched the manuscript
with the greatest vigilance, bringing to the office every morning
as much as the printers could set up during the day, and taking
it away in the evening, forbidding also any alteration. The
foreman, John H. Gilbert, found the manuscript so poorly prepared
as regards grammatical construction, spelling, punctuation, etc.,
that he told them that some corrections must be made, and to this
they finally consented.

Daniel Hendrix, in his recollections, says in confirmation of
this:--

"I helped to read proof on many pages of the book, and at odd
times set some type.... The penmanship of the copy furnished was
good, but the grammar, spelling and punctuation were done by John
H. Gilbert, who was chief compositor in the office. I have heard
him swear many a time at the syntax and orthography of Cowdery,
and declare that he would not set another line of the type. There
were no paragraphs, no punctuation and no capitals. All that was
done in the printing office, and what a time there used to be in
straightening sentences out, too. During the printing of the book
I remember that Joe Smith kept in the background."

The following letter is in reply to an inquiry addressed by me to
Albert Chandler, the only survivor, I think, of the men who
helped issue the first edition of Smith's book:--

"COLDWATER, MICH., Dec. 22, 1898.

"My recollections of Joseph Smith, Jr. and of the first steps
taken in regard to his Bible have never been printed. At the time
of the printing of the Mormon Bible by Egbert B. Grandin of the
Sentinel I was an apprentice in the bookbindery connected with
the Sentinel office. I helped to collate and stitch the Gold
Bible, and soon after this was completed, I changed from
book-binding to printing. I learned my trade in the Sentinel
office.

"My recollections of the early history of the Mormon Bible are
vivid to-day. I knew personally Oliver Cowdery, who translated
the Bible, Martin Harris, who mortgaged his farm to procure the
printing, and Joseph Smith Jr., but slightly. What I knew of him
was from hearsay, principally from Martin Harris, who believed
fully in him. Mr. Tucker's 'Origin, Rise, and Progress of
Mormonism' is the fullest account I have ever seen. I doubt if I
can add anything to that history.

"The whole history is shrouded in the deepest mystery. Joseph
Smith Jr., who read through the wonderful spectacles, pretended
to give the scribe the exact reading of the plates, even to
spelling, in which Smith was woefully deficient. Martin Harris
was permitted to be in the room with the scribe, and would try
the knowledge of Smith, as he told me, saying that Smith could
not spell the word February, when his eyes were off the
spectacles through which he pretended to work. This ignorance of
Smith was proof positive to him that Smith was dependent on the
spectacles for the contents of the Bible. Smith and the plates
containing the original of the Mormon Bible were hid from view of
the scribe and Martin Harris by a screen.

"I should think that Martin Harris, after becoming a convert,
gave up his entire time to advertising the Bible to his neighbors
and the public generally in the vicinity of Palmyra. He would
call public meetings and address them himself. He was
enthusiastic, and went so far as to say that God, through the
Latter Day Saints, was to rule the world. I heard him make this
statement, that there would never be another President of the
United States elected; that soon all temporal and spiritual power
would be given over to the prophet Joseph Smith and the Latter
Day Saints. His extravagant statements were the laughing stock of
the people of Palmyra. His stories were hissed at, universally.
To give you an idea of Mr. Harris's superstitions, he told me
that he saw the devil, in all his hideousness, on the road, just
before dark, near his farm, a little north of Palmyra. You can
see that Harris was a fit subject to carry out the scheme of
organizing a new religion.

"The absolute secrecy of the whole inception and publication of
the Mormon Bible stopped positive knowledge. We only knew what
Joseph Smith would permit Martin Harris to publish, in reference
to the whole thing.

"The issuing of the Book of Mormon scarcely made a ripple of
excitement in Palmyra.

ALBERT CHANDLER."*

* Mr. Chandler moved to Michigan in 1835, and has been connected
with several newspapers in that state, editing the Kalamazoo
Gazette, and founding and publishing the Coldwater Sentinel. He
was elected the first mayor of Coldwater, serving several terms.
He was in his eighty-fifth year when the above letter was
written.


The book was published early in 1830. On paper the sale of the
first edition showed a profit of $3250 at $1.25 a volume, that
being the lowest price to be asked on pain of death, according to
a "special revelation" received by Smith. By the original
agreement Harris was to have the exclusive control of the sale of
the book. But it did not sell. The local community took it no
more seriously than they did Joe himself and his family. The
printer demanded his pay as the work progressed, and it became
necessary for Smith to spur Harris on by announcing a revelation
(Sec. 19, "Doctrine and Covenants"), saying, "I command thee that
thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to
the printing of the Book of Mormon. "Harris accordingly disposed
of his share of the farm and paid Grandin.

To make the book "go," Smith now received a revelation which
permitted his father, soon to be elevated to the title of
Patriarch, to sell it on commission, and Smith, Sr., made
expeditions through the country, taking in pay for any copies
sold such farm produce or "store goods" as he could use in his
own family. How much he "cut" the revealed price of the book in
these trades is not known, but in one instance, when arrested in
Palmyra for a debt of $5.63, he, under pledge of secrecy, offered
seven of the Bibles in settlement, and the creditor, knowing that
the old man had no better assets, accepted the offer as a joke.*

* "Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism," Tucker, p. 63.





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Previous: The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible



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