Thursday, January 2, 2014

E. D. Howing unveiling Mormonism (Part 4)

Howe now wishes to use some of Joseph Smith Jr's revelations to show in his mind how Smith Jr manipulates his followers (p.221), choosing one that is Smith Jr's reply to the contentions of the first Missouri visit, for which the Booth letters had provided the particulars. Howe quotes D&C 58 (p.221-226), and explains (p.226) this indirectly with the fact that the revelations were not available in the 1830s to non-members of the church.

Howe then observes that the finances of his congregation, and esp. those of Martin Harris, were always in focus for the Prophet (p.226). Martin Harris is specifically mentioned in the revelation (v.35) (p.224) as an example for laying his money in front of the Bishop; and such an exemplar (p.226) assisted in getting the other parish members to contribute to the purchase of Zion, in Howe's mind. Howe points out how the position in the top echelon (p.227) translated via revelations to 142 acres of land surrounding the Kirtland Temple for Joseph Smith Jr and his heirs; land worth $550 for Sidney Rigdon; and a plot of land for Cowdery, with the money presumed to come from the congregation.

Howe next cites D&C 89 (p.227-229), which concerns itself with prescriptions about consumables. Howe has no problem with the restriction of the drink, though he questions the abolition (p.229). Howe is less convinced about the tabacco being suited for the cattle, esp. without an indication of the amount. The praise for herbal remedies sounds to Howe too much like Dr F.G. Williams, of Kirtland of all places, (p.230).  Howe agrees with D&C 89 on the types of grains for the various farm animals.

Howe now (p.231) turns to testimony from the environs of Palmyra and upstate New York where the Mormon movement took its beginning. Howe treats this part as if there was a legal battle in court going on, evaluating the witnesses to the veracity of the foundations of the Book of Mormon as if they were witnesses of either party. For Howe (p.232), the contradictions in the stories of the witnesses show that they are unreliable.

The first witnessed statement is that of Peter Ingersoll taken at Palmyra (p.232-237), who tells of the treasure hunting in the family; the golden Bible from Canada as the pattern for the Book of Mormon; how he helped Joseph and Emma Smith move to Manchester; etc. 
The second witnessed statement is that of William Stafford taken at Manchester (p.237-240), also about money digging and about seeing the plates for the Book of Mormon. 
The third witnessed statement is that of Willard Chase taken at Manchester (p.240-248), who describes the chicaneries by which Joseph Smith Jr obtained his seer stone, his wife, help in moving, a box to store the plates in, and sundry other tales of unreliability of the Smith family and Martin Harris. 
The fourth witnessed statement is by Parley Chase taken at Manchester (p.248), who briefly tells of the reputation of the men of the Smith family as ruffians and liars. 
This is followed by several character witness statements, all taken at Palmyra, which state that they consider the previously enumerated statement providers to be men of good character (p.248). 

Then follows the fifth witnessed statement, by David Stafford taken at Manchester (p.249-250), whose testimony includes a scuffle with Joseph Smith Jr (in a context of drunkeness), odd behavior by the father Smith, disgust with Oliver Cowdery and the ruffish nature of William Smith (p.250). 
The sixth witnessed statement is by Barton Stafford, son of David Stafford, taken at Manchester (p.250-251), tells of a drunken Smith Jr incident where Emma had to cover his shirtless body. 
The seventh witnessed statement is by Henry Harris, witnessed in Ohio, (p.251-252), who reports on the bad reputation Joseph Smith Jr had, the tale about the gold plates, and how different revelations asked for different prices (from 14 to 10 shillings) for the Book of Mormon (p.252). 
The next statement is by Abigail Harris taken at Palmyra (p.252-254) who hosted the Smith Seniors and the Harris' and tells of the conversations about the Gold Bible Business in this context, how the Smiths were expecting to make money with the plates but still trying to loan money from Mrs Abigail Harris, for Joseph to come visit them (which in Abigail's mind his seer stone could have told him); and how Mrs Harris was pressuring Mr Martin Harris to turn a profit with the Mormon book. 
The next statement is by Mrs Martin Harris, called Lucy, taken at Palmyra (p.254-257), who describes the marital indignities she suffered from her husband since he became associated with the Smiths and Mormonism, including beating her; and about his apparent affair with a Mrs Haggard. 
The next statement is by Roswell Nichols taken at Manchester (p.257-258), who reports on the low character of the Smith family and their pendant for digging and searching for treasures.
The next statement is by Joshua Stafford taken at Manchester (p.258), who reports on the low socio-economic status and the treasure digging schemes. Stafford loaned a horse to Smith Jr on the collateral of Smith's life, for the purpose of selling fist-sized watches in the east, where he expected to make a bigger profit.
The next statement is by Joseph Capron taken at Manchester (p.258-260), who describes treasure digging and sees the Smith's as interested in making money without work (p.260), were harassed by creditors, and started the Golden plate Bible as a book to improve the status of their family above the average enjoyed by mankind. 
The next statement is by G.W. Stodard taken at Palmyra (p.260-261), who knew Martin Harris for a long time, who he describes as industrious a farmer with a worth of 8,000 to 10,000 dollars, who was personally peevish and quarrelsome with neighbors and family. As Stodard put it
Yet he [i.e. Martin Harris] was a public professor of some religion. He was first an orthadox Quaker, then a Universalist, next a Restorationer, then a Baptist, next a Presbyterian, and then a Mormon. (p.261)
The next statement by Richard Ford (possibly also from Palmyra)  merely concurs with Stodard's (p.261).
The next statement is a description (p.261-262) of the Smith family and Harris, signed by 51(!) of their neighbors from Palmyra (p.261), which describes the vicious and treasure hunting character of the Smiths and the discrepancy between Harris' trustworthiness as a business man and as a man interested in religion.
The next statement is a description (p.262) of the Smith family, signed by 11 of their neighbors from Manchester, which remembers the Smiths as lazy and intemperate and expressively consider themselves happy to be rid of them.
The next statement by Isaac Hale, Emma's father and Joseph Smith Jr's father-in-law, taken at Harmony (p.262-266) describes Hale's disappointment with his daughter's choice and the way that Joseph Smith Jr failed to switch from treasure hunting to working hard for supporting his family, but did plate translations instead.
The next statement by Elder Nathaniel J. Lewis, of unreported location, (p.266-267) describes the deceitful way in which Smith Jr promised to show the plates and then would not, leading to a generally low assessment of his veracity.
The list of statements concludes with a summarized statement of members of the M'Kune family, the Lewis family, and Smith Jr's brother-in-law Alva Hale (p.267-269), of the same location as Elder Lewis' statement (p.267), most likely Harmony. Joshua M'Kune attests to Smith Jr's claim to finding of the plates, and the hope of having them translated by his boy at 3; unfortunately (p.268) the boy died in his infancy.  Hezekiah M'Kune reports that Smith Jr considered himself the greatest prophet ever. Alva Hale reports the vacillation of Smith Jr between using peep stones and giving it up, as well as between showing the plates or not doing so. Levi Lewis reports that Harris and Smith Jr felt adultery to be permissible and that Smith Jr had attempted to seduce Eliza Winters; also that Smith Jr compared himself to Christ. Sarah Lewis reports that Smith Jr expected his first-born son to translate the plates, but that the child was a deformed still-birth (p.269).

Howe now turns to the problem of the engravings of "Reformed Egyptian" on the found plates (p.269), a claim that was supposedly corroborated by Professor Anthon of New York. Howe (p.270) decided to call in this claim and obtain a written statement from Professor Anthon. In his reply, Anthon sketches the decypherment process (p.270-271), but focuses on the spectacles rather than the help of God as the mode of interpretation. The farmer [presumably Martin Harris, RCK] who brought the copied graphs to Professor Anthon was literally in the process of betting the farm on the publication of these graphs (p.271). Professor Anthon warned him about this being a scheme to swindle the farmer of his money, but refused to give any assessment of the characters in writing. 

Professor Anthon described the paper in question as follows
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 in perpendicular col- [p.271] | umns, 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 Calender given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived. (p.271f)
Anthon had given that description and discussed the appearance numerous times in the past with friends, before Howe had contacted him (p.272), and saw no Egyptian Hieroglyphics. 
Anthon also claims to have received a second visit from the farmer, apparently having brought the book along in a box, but was not interested in buying it though interested in looking upon it (p.272). This did not take place however.

Howe then cites a letter from William Phelps (p.273), an eminent person among the early Mormons, whose reconstruction of early Mormon events Howe had solicited and whose reply indicate the important role that Professor Anthon's testimony held among the Mormons. 
When the plates were said to have been found, a copy of one or two lines of the characters, were taken by Mr. Harris to Utica, Albany and New York; at New York, they were shown to Dr. Mitchell, and he referred to professor Anthon who translated and declared them to be the ancient shorthand Egyptian.  (p.273)
Phelps makes much of the lack of "common learning" (p.273) in both Joseph Smith Jr and his family.

Howe then contextualizes Phelps as someone who as a politician and newspaper editor aspired to the role of Lieutenant Governor of New York, but failing that set his marks on the Gold Bible affaire. However, Joseph Smith Jr suffered no rivals and had a revelation, in Howe's reconstruction, to push Phelps back to his place in the hierarchy (p.274). Phelps then (p.275) became a printer for the Mormons in Missouri, but was reduced to farmer when the printing business moved back to Kirtland, Ohio and came under Oliver Cowdery's supervision. Howe notes that the dating of the letter must be disingenuous, due to the delays of transportation, and sees that as a fitting footnote to the man's character (among various business and debt stories).

Howe returns to the issue of the finding and the hiding of the plates and the contradictory narratives that circulate about these events even within the Smith family (p.276). Howe then turns to the court sworn testimony of former Mormonite Lemon Copley, who relates the anecdote about Smith Jr meeting an old man in the woods, who wants five cents to see a monkey, which then turns out to be the prophet Moroni who wanted to give Smith Jr the plates again (p.277).

Howe now turns to his own theory, that the Book of Mormon is based to a significant degree on the work of Solomon Spalding of Conneaut, Ohio (p.278), and he brings witnesses for that purposes. First Howe cites Spalding's brother John Spalding, of Crawford Co, Pennsylvania, who claims that Solomon Spalding was ordained minister after studying at Dartmouth College. After several failed ventures Solomon retired to Ohio and wrote a romance about a lost manuscript concerning the first Americans being the lost tribes of Israel, who were led to the Americas by Nephi and Lehi, who split upon quarreling into the Nephites and the Lamanites. John claims to have recently reviewed the Book of Mormon (p.279f) and being struck by the similarity. Similar testimony is provided by John's wife Martha Spalding (p.280f).

Lest someone find it odd that there are so many testimonies, Howe points to the fact that Spalding's vanity with regards to his writings led him to constantly share them with his friends and neighbors (p.281). Howe then provides the testimony of business parter of Spalding, Henry Lake (p.281f) and their former employee John N. Miller (p.282f); the neighbors in Conneaut, Aaron Wright (p.284), Oliver Smith (p.284f) and Nahum Howard (p.285f); or the statement of Artemas Cunningham (p.286f).

[Note, from the contents of the neighbors' statements from Conneaut, Spalding did not only read the book to his friends, but also to his creditors--which were sometimes the same folks--in order to get reprieve from them until the book was published. RCK]

Howe now turns to the question of what happened to the manuscript and tells of getting in contact with the widow of Spalding, who had since remarried; she informed him that the manuscript was now gone but had been submitted to the printers Patterson & Lambdin in Pittsburgh (p.287). The only remaining document is a romance translated from the Latin from scrolls found at Conneaut Creek, but claimed by the witnesses not to correspond with the Manuscript Found they knew (p.288).

Howe now takes his inquiries to the printing office of Patterson & Lambdin, and these suggest that Sidney Rigdon was friendly with Lambdin (who was then running the day to day business) and residing in Pittsburgh around 1823 or 1824 (p.289). Howe puts Lambdin and Rigdon at the center of the original plot to publish the book, embellished by three years of Bible study on Rigdon's part, to save the failed publishing venture; that Lambdin's death left the manuscript in Rigdon's hands (p.290); and that Rigdon somehow got a hold of Joseph Smith Jr to publish the matter---Howe has no suggestion as to how---but points to the prepared community of Rigdon in Ohio and the rapid conversion of Rigdon upon receiving the book from Cowdery and Rigdon's rise to a key position within the Mormon hierarchy as substituting sufficiently for this missing link (p.290).

End of Part 4


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