Monday, December 16, 2013

E. D. Howe unveiling Mormonism (Part 2)

Howe then turns to how Pratt introduced Smith to Sidney Rigdon (p.100), who as a preacher had the skill and eloquence to spread the Mormon faith, in Howe's mind.

Howe indicates how with the revelations (p.101f), which no longer require peep or seer stones but are performed with the eyes shut, Cowdery and Ms Smith are subdued and the prophet is established as the court of last appeal.

Howe points out that the move to Kirtland, Ohio (pp.110-112), where Rigdon originally resided, did not crystallize until Rigdon joined and worked with Smith over a period of two months. Howe also insinuates that many of Rigdon's "sheep" were wealthy and that their support of the prophet was the actual motif behind the efforts.

Howe then describes the spread of the Mormon movement from Kirtland:
Many, even in the New England States, after hearing the frantic story of some of these "elders," would forthwith place their all into a waggon [sic!], and wend their way to the "promised land," .... (p.115)
In Howe's reconstruction, Smith Jr was unsympathetic to the unorganized happenings in Kirtland and got a prophecy to stop them.
On the arrival of Smith in Kirtland, he appeared astonished at the wild enthusiasm and scalping performances, of his proselytes there, as heretofore related. He told them that he had enquired of the Lord concerning the matter, and had been informed that it was all the work of the Devil. (p.116)
Howe then begins citing a long letter by Thomas Campbell to take up Rigdon's challenge on debating anyone on the new bible (p.116). The letter is in the wordy eloquent style of the 19th century, and some of its contents has to do with the modalities of the debate--but the specific direction of Campbell's attack is the sufficiency of the Biblical revelations as received in AT and NT, requiring none of long list of "isms" (p.120) to achieve human salvation. Conversely, Campbell is ready to disprove the dispensation of the Mormon Church (pp.120ff).

Campbell's argument in the end boils down to the problem of prophetics:
The obvious conclusion of this sixth argument is evident, that if the Mormonite prophets and teachers can show no better authority for their pretended mission and revelations than these impostors [i.e. the Shakers, the French Prophets, etc. RCK] have done, we have no better authority to believe them than we have to believe their predecessors in imposition. But the dilemma is, we can't believe all, for each was exclusively right in his day, and those of them that remain, are still exclusively right to this day; and if the Shakers be right, the whole world, the Mormonites themselves not excepted, are in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity -- quite as far from salvation as you yourself have pronounced all the sectarians on earth to be, namely, in a state of absolute damnation. (p.122)
Howe (p.124) then turns to the apocalyptic expectations of the Mormon community that they would not taste death, and that they should rely in the medical treatments not on physicians of the present world, but on prayer, Mormon elders and roots. However, when Emma Smith encountered obstetrical complications, Smith Jr got external doctors anyway--a breach of protocol that required smoothing over. A young man named Dota, however, was not so lucky (p.124), could not be healed by the prophet, and expired, renouncing Mormonism on his deathbed (p.125).

Howe now describes the problems that the early Mormon converts encountered coming to Kirtland (p.125), specifically that the majority of arrivals were poor and that holding things in common primarily meant that the prophet and select relations of his were supported by the Church. The lack of means required purchasing cheap land in the wilderness, and such socio-economic depravations shook many converts' faith, either causing them to leave or to enquire of the prophet with very high frequency.

Howe claims (p.126) that the positive accounts of Independence, Ms, where the Indian missionaries surrounding Oliver Cowdery had wintered as day laborers, caused the Mormons to consider moving there, under the assumption of cheap land, and in a June 1st meeting, a long revelation prepared the effort (pp.126f). Cowdery and Rigdon purchased land and lay the foundation stone for the new Zion (p.127), for which the Mormons had high hopes of splendor that expressed themselves in visions. Once Smith, Rigdon and Cowdery had returned to Kirtland, the local Mormon community began selling off their property, often at loss, to migrate to Missouri--supported by specific prophecies (p.128). Howe then cites D&C 42 (p.129f), which describes the structure of the commonly held property while allowing for individual stewardship. Howe notes, however, that the following year (p.130), the Mormon hierarchy still remaining in Kirtland began to purchase additional land in Ohio.
The next year commenced with something like a change of operations. Instead of selling their possessions in Ohio, they [i.e. the prophet and his head men, RCK] again began to buy up improved land, mills and water privileges. It would seem that the Missouri country began to look rather dreary to the prophet and his head men, supposing that they could not enjoy their power there as well as in Ohio. (p.130)
Howe then reports on the Bible revisions (p.130) taking place during 1832, on which Joseph Smith Jr was working. Howe is intrigued how the corrections and modifications will compare to the large parts of the Old Testament cited in the Book of Mormon, esp. Isaiah (p.131).

Howe also reports limitations in the prophecies of Smith Jr during that time, specifically the failure for the predicted forceful return of the Cholera epidemic in New York (p.132). Howe also reports another outbreak of "speaking in tongues", this time supported by the hierarchy, about which a pamphlet of one and a report of another ex-Mormon has come down, which Howe cites (pp.132-135) and paraphrases (p.135-137). But Howe then turns to the philosophical problem of tongue speaking.
[One has to ask, RCK] whether it be possible, that the great and intelligent Ruler of the Universe, can be thus miraculously engaged in bestowing all sorts of language upon a few people merely for their own amusement? -- languages that can neither benefit themselves, or any one else, because no one can understand them. (p.137)
For the gift of speaking in tongues as reported in Acts is designed to assist the missionaries of the early Church in working across the world, not as a parlor trick (p.137). And just as the Apostles in Act had been enabled to speak understandable languages, it would be more helpful for the Spirit to let the Mormons speak in existing languages before audiences of native speakers (p.138).

By 1833, the situation in Missouri, under Bishop Edward Partridge from Ohio (p.139) was heading for a disaster.
Their numbers [i.e. of poor pioneers coming from all over the US, Canada and even Europe, RCK], men, women and children, were now about 1200 in Jackson county [, Missouri, RCK]. Besides the printing apparatus, they had also a mercantile establishment, (denominated the "Lord's Store House,") and some mechanic shops in Independence. (p.139)
 Representational democracy was the issue at hand.
Under these circumstances, the people of Jackson Co., became somewhat excited and alarmed for their civil rights. (p.139)
The apocalyptic predictions and missionary efforts did not ease the situation (p.140)
[The committee of concerned citizens claimed in their statement that, RCK] the citizens were daily told that they were to be cut off, and their lands appropriated to the Mormons for inheritances -- that they sometimes said this was to be accomplished either by the destroying angel, or by their own power, under the direction of God ... (p.140).
The Committee felt that they would not be ruled properly by people with an apocalyptic set of mind--as indubitably they would, if the Mormon numbers kept increasing. The meeting of the Committee resulted in an ultimatum, requiring (p.141) a stop to all further Mormon arrival; the departure of the present Mormons; and an end to their businesses such as the newspaper.

Howe then relates that (p.142) twelve influential civilian and military leaders were elected to help implement the resolution by talking with the Mormon leaders. However, these wished to confer back with Joseph Smith Jr in Kirtland, Ohio, whereupon the assembly took immediate action and shut down the printing store. Howe reports that the Committee and the Mormons have diverging opinions on the level of violence with which this takes place and what the agreed upon forms of reparations were.

Three days later, on July 22nd 1833, seventeen influential leaders negotiated a contract with the Mormon Elders that Howe cites (pp.142ff), that gave all Mormons until April 1834 to leave, required half of them to be gone by January 1834, stipulated the wind down procedure for the businesses, and kept the newspaper shut down, in return for orderly proceedings (p.143). When the Mormons attempted to obtain redress first through the Governor and then through the courts, the citizens of Jackson County inferred that the Mormons were not interested in sticking to the contract and vigilante justice broke out, leaving in the end several people killed and the Mormon community fleeing across the Missouri river into Clay County.

Lest anyone be confused, Howe now gives his opinion about these matters, rejecting all frontier justice.
These proceedings, on the part of the people of Jackson county, were in total disregard of all law, and must be condemned by all. They were wholly at war with every principle of right, and the genius of our institutions. Outrages can never be justified upon any ground, although the reasons which induced them, ought to be stated. (p.144)
Howe re-iterates that the apocalyptic stance, the prediction of doom for the non-believers, and the expectation of a rise of the Indians contributed to this atmosphere (p.145-146).

Howe reports then how the loss of the "eternal inheritance" is in Joseph Smith Jr's revelation--D&C 101--blamed on internal dissension among the Mormons (p.147-155). The published revelation inspired a feeling of crusading against their enemies in the Mormons (p.155).
About the first of May the grand army of fanitics [sic!], commenced its march, in small detachments, from the different places of concentration. On the 3d, the Prophet, with a life guard, of about 80 men, the elite of his army, left his quarters in Kirtland, with a few baggage wagons, containing their arms, am[m]unition, stores, &c. (p.156)
In the spring of the same year, the Mormon elders had found out that there would be no court prosecutions in Independence of the expulsion, since all of the members of the Grand Jury had been involved (p.157).

Howe relates how the Mormon army approached and prepared for the battle.
During their stay here, the troops were kept under a constant drill of manual exercise with guns and swords, and their arms put in a state of repair -- the Prophet became very expert with a sword, and felt himself equal to his prototype Coriantumr. He had the best sword in the army (probably a true model of Laban's, if not the identical one itself,) an elegant brace of pistols, which were purchased on a credit of six months, a rifle, and four horses. (p.159)
Just before reaching Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, the Mormon army was intercepted by the concerned citizens of another county, which dissuaded them from continuing. A suitable revelation was found (though Howe gives insufficient detail to identify it) and the army honorably discharged in Liberty, Missouri (p.162). Howe points out that the collected money of the army, which Joseph Smith Jr was the treasurer of, allowed the Prophet and his head men to travel like gentlemen, while the remainder had to beg their way back to Kirtland (p.162).

Thus, when the Prophet returned to Kirtland, a veritable revolution was on, leading to a trial in which Smith Jr regained control of the flock by being judge, jury, and witness in one person (p.163). Order was restored by the expulsion of several church members.
It would seem that the Prophet anticipated trouble, on his return, as he secured a deed of a valuable farm, just before starting, by the contributions of his followers. He also took a deed of the ground on which stands a huge stone temple, sixty by eighty feet; and which is now nearly completed. Possessing himself, personally, of this edifice, gave such dissatisfaction, that the deed was finally altered, so as run to him and his successor. (p.163)
Howe next relates how the threatened approach of the Mormon army had led the people of Jackson County to propose a buy-out scheme to the Mormon elders in Clay County (pp.164-166). During the approach Smith Jr. and his head man had issued a position paper of sorts, signed by themselves, on the problem of Jackson County (pp.167-169). But as the local newspapers show, the fact that the army hailed from Ohio and none of the signers held any land in Jackson County, according to the land records, (p.171) suggested some sort of deception to the locals.

Howe cites the newspaper post discussion of the Mormon Proclamation as follows (written by Samuel C. Owens, of the Jackson County Committee, cf. (p.172)):
What abuse, we ask, did the Prophet Jo. Smith, Jr., receive in this county last Fall, and he not in the State? None, indeed to his person. Again, they say that they never intended to get possession of Zion, (that is Jackson,) by the shedding of blood! But, in Revelation No. 54, given in Kirtland, Ohio, August, 1831, near three years since, which we find in a Book of Revelations, printed by the Mormons, we discover the following in the thirteenth verse, to wit: 'Wherefore, the land of Zion shall be obtained but by PURCHASE or by BLOOD, otherwise there is no inheritance for you,' Thus it would seem, that either the Revelation is false, or the statement made by Jo. Smith and others to the people of Clay county is false. (p.171)
The separation of lands was not to be
We have already offered them two prices for their lands; they will not sell -- neither will they buy ours on the same terms. (p.171)
 Howe then cites a letter from June 1834 written by the Governor Daniel Dunklin
A more clear and indisputable right does not exist, than that of the Mormon people, who were expelled from their homes in Jackson county, to return and live on their lands, and if they cannot be persuaded as a matter of policy, to give up that right, or to qualify it, my course, as chief Executive officer of the State, is a plain one. (p.173)
Indeed, there is nothing so absurd or ridiculous, that | (p.174)  they have not a right to adopt as their religion, so that in its exercise, they do not interfere with the right of others. (p173f)
Howe thus ends the description of the Mormon war (p.176).

End of Part 2 -- See Part 3 for the continuation


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