Ep10-Joseph Smith, Palmyra Pariah
On this episode, we follow Joe and the whole Smith clan leading up to Joe and Emma's move to Harmony, PA. Treason, death threats, and the seeds of an empire are planted in the fertile soil of the burned over district, from which rises, the crippled pheonix that becomes the original Book of Mormon manuscript. Joe is forced to hatch a plan under immense pressure, that has dynamic and far-reaching consequences, with the fate of the plates, relying solely on his Joe's clever wit. Will he crack under the weight of the situation, or will he thrive on the stress, and grind against the opposition with the support of those around him?
Outro music used with permission
Hello, and welcome to episode 10 of the Naked Mormonism Podcast, with me Bryce Blankenagel, and thank you for joining me.
Well, this is somewhat of a monumentous occassion, possibly even a milestone, at least right now it sure feels like it is. The podcast has been doing well enough to make it into the double digit episode numbers. I wasn't sure how well everything would turn out, as I was starting to get into the swing of what the show needs to be. I'm feeling really positive about how well it's been received, and I owe it all to Satan!
Don't you hate it when somebody does something well, due to practice and hard work, and they thank god for it? Or even worse, when a movie star or famous singer says, thank god for my gifts and fame and glory, don't you wanna just slap their fuckin faces off? When you look at it, it's like NOOOO!!!! GOOOD did not give you this, you got those things because of working and practicing at whatever it is you're good at. And when people like what you do, they pay attention to you, providing the fame you're currently basking in. God doesn't fit anywhere in that model, and the gratitude is misplaced, when the person throws God's dick into the equation. Why not thank the fans, or the people that have helped them along the way. That' a much better explanation for their success, and it has a foundation that actually makes sense. So I guess I won't thank Satan for this milestone of 10 episodes, that I am considering a success, but I will thank every single listener. I fuckin love you guys and I owe any success the show experiences to you. So thank you for listening, and I hope you continue to join me in this journey of research, wherever it may lead us.
In addition to meeting this personal milestone, the patronage is going pretty well. In fact we have a new NaMo Apostate to thank, Logan P.
Logan has decided that his life is meaningful, and inversely, his eternity is meaningless enough, to become an apostate. No longer will he sit idly by and watch True Believing Mormons wallow in their own ignorance, because Logan cares about his fellow humans enough to give support to a door that offers a path to true knowledge of Mormonism and incidentally apostasy. Logan could only do this because of his superior wisdom and wit, and will forever have a place at the NaMo table, inside the gratitude laden heart of the podcast. Thank you for your support Logan.
That's all I have this week for patronage, no new translation story like Julie got last episode, so I suppose I'll jump right into the history right after mentioning to check out the Naked Mormonism FB and twitter page, or email me directly about your thoughts on the show by going to the website nakedmormonismpodcast.com. I'm also trying to reach a legitimate milestone, and that's 100 FB likes, so if you want to help me attain that goal, check out the page and click the like button. I guess that pretty much wraps up the sales bitch.
Last episode was an examination of Joe getting the plates out of the ground and back to the Smith house. There are a few conflicting accounts of how this happened, but apparently he was attacked by 2 or 3 guys with and without guns, and he knocked them the fuck out, with single god-infused super punches of doom. After being attacked by these three men, while he was holding 50 lb metal plates, Joe suffered an injury fighting off the last guy. He hurt his thumb kind of.
Whether the reported story is accurate or not, it did serve to unite the entire Smith family under the rule of the almighty Joseph Jr. Further persecution regarding the plates only made things worse, and made his family believe in Joe's contrived bullshit even more. We ended last episode with Joe getting home with the plates.
We need to talk about the middle time between when Joe got the plates, and when he moved to Harmony to get set up on a farm, with the help of his father in law Isaac Hale. It was on this farm adjacent to the Hales, that was previously owned by Jesse Hale, that some of the BoM was translated in.
One person that we'll talk about a lot in this episode, is Not-So-Smarty-Marty, Martin Harris. You see, when it comes to building an empire, there are a few key ingredients. Everything must start with the person that has a new idea, or is a visionary. The idea this person has, can be synthesized from multiple other factors around the visionary at the time of his leadership genesis, or the idea can be completely original, cut from whole cloth.
Well when we look at Joseph Smith, it's easy to tell that he pulled his ideas from a lot of surrounding features, and there were a lot of examples of churches cropping up around him in the burned over district while he was growing up, so he was no stranger to seeing how starting a religion was done. There were plenty of religious leaders that were somewhat successful, and may have converted a few minds to their specific brand of Chrisianity. But there were also very successful churches that started in the area around Joe, that were gathered massive followings, behind charismatic and influential people. Well, Joe was a genius when it came to learning from other people's mistakes, and likewise, successes.
During this empire's construction, this visionary with this idea, has to have the right hand man. This person has to handle all the small details that the 'big picture' visionary can't waste his time doing, we established this person to be Oliver Cowdery, or as we know him Cowdung Allover. Cowdung, combined with a man of action, D-Day David Whitmer, and a beginning recruitment of followers, which was the rest of the Whitmer family, Joe had some of the essential pieces for starting a true groundswell movement.
Countless small ground swells, throughout all time have started with these essential parts, and possibly even gained some followers, but they have failed to adapt to the larger scale for one key reason, lack of resources.
When an empire like mormonism is in it's early construction phases, it doesn't require much in regards to resources, or means. But, the more it expands, the more of a resource black hole the empire becomes. Thus the resource demand overcomes the supply, and the initial fire the early movement began with consumes itself with its own intensity and burns itself out. So how can this inevitable vacuum be overcome? By finding a bankroller.
The bankroller is a vital piece of this heirarchy, and the earlier in the incubation period the bankroller comes along, the better. When it comes to getting the funding for the movement, the beginning members have a few choices, both, for finding the guy with money, and, for how to include him, once he does ante up the investment.
The first and most lucky would be somebody with a large inheretence, that doesn't know what to do with their money yet. They would make for an easy target, and it's not too hard to conceal the operations of the empire behind a viel, from people that are unfamiliar with the business world.
The next best person to fund an operation like this, would be a rich, yet credulous man whom could be convinced of the veracity of the product he is financing, and effectively the empire he is building. Usually these people are easily swayed by new trends and can quickly become a problem for the movement instead of being the best fitting solution.
A slightly harder way to finance this empire, is getting the money from a smart business man, who has a self made kingdom of riches, which he guards with his life. These people usually try to verify their investment into the empire, all along the way, for fear of being swindled. Most of these wise investors will pull out at the first red flag with what they've bought into, but, not all investors are capable of cutting their losses and licking their wounds after being convinced they have been swindled. Often times they will fall into a negative feedback loop of thinking the more money they put into the investment, the better it will get, they just have to pass a certain threshold before it starts paying off. This vicious loop has driven countless millions of investors into bankrupcy due to lots of bad decisions, that seem so small when they happen, but quantify into a huge mistake and a financial life lost.
So where did Not-So-Smarty-Marty fall on that scale? Well, he was kind of all three of them to a certain extent. His wealth had initially come from a handsome inheretence, he was a fairly smart business man, but he was very vulnerable to the wheelings and dealings of charlatans, because of his incessant credulity, which put him mainly in the second category described. He was a prime target, and ripe for the hustle Joe was about to throw at him.
I covered NSSM and Joe's interactions and meet-up in episode 3, but I'm going to rehash it, along with other details and interviews on this episode, and go beyond that to the translation. Doing this will set up the storyline for the witnesses of the golden plates, and we'll see how each person plays their role in getting the cash out of Marty, at the most crucial possible moment.
Let's recall what some of the people around Marty thought about him. A biographer wrote that His "imagination was excitable and fecund." For example, Marty once perceived a sputtering candle to be the work of the devil. An acquaintance said that Harris claimed to have seen Jesus in the shape of a deer and walked and talked with him for two or three miles. The local Presbyterian minister called him "a visionary fanatic." A friend, who praised him as being "universally esteemed as an honest man," also declared that Harris's mind "was overbalanced by 'marvellousness'" and that his belief in earthly visitations of angels and ghosts gave him the local reputation of being crazy. Another friend said, "Martin was a man that would do just as he agreed with you. But, he was a great man for seeing spooks."
I wonder why Marty was susceptible to the advances of Joe and the entire Smith family. He knew the reputation of the family. He lived in Palmyra, where the Smith family resided at the time.
When Marty's brother Perserved Harris, was told about the golden bible business, Marty even said "The first time I heard of the matter, my brother Presarved Harris, who had been in the village of Palmyra, asked me if [I] had heard about Joseph Smith, jr., having a golden bible. My thoughts were that the money-diggers had probably dug up an old brass kettle, or something of the kind. I thought no more of it. This was about the first of October" yet, Marty still found it necessary to investigate the matter for himself. I suppose any business man should probably learn as much about his investment before making it, but at this time, it was just a pie in the sky claim, made by the "Money-diggers" that Marty thought to be false. I always wonder why he would continue on associating with Joe, even after he investigated the entire story for himself. And for that matter, why would he buy further into the story that Joe was selling him, even after all the red flags that Joe was setting off? What motivates a bankroller to believe in the product he's funding, no matter how poor of a decision the investment was in retrospect? Hopefully we properly address these questions by the end of the episode.
One person that was a fellow money-digger with Joe, but generally trusted by the Smith family was Alvah Beeman. This guy was pretty clever, and helped the family out of a jam. Right before Marty got involved, and right after Joe got the plates home and safe, the rumors of the golden bible were spreading like wild fire, most sinister of rumors and persecution were coming from Joe's fellow money-diggers. Alvah Beeman was a digger as well, but he was on the inside with the Smith family, which was collectively opposed to the other, more greedy money diggers.
This group, that had been following Joe's seeing powers for the last few years, had shared equally in everything they did up to this point, which basically amounted to running small time scams and rackets for chump change. Well, they were bound and determined to get their fair share of the plates, and they were going to do it by any means necessary. Willard Chase, who we heard from in the last episode, was one of the leaders of this jolly bunch of assholes that wanted to take the plates by force.
Why don't we just put ourselves there to see how things went down.
Alvah Beeman had just arrived from Livonia, NY some 35 miles from Palmyra, to help Joe deal with some of the more crazy money-diggers. I'm not certain if Joe summoned him, or the rest of the Smiths did, or if Alvah just got word that Joe finally had the plates, and he was coming to have a look himself. Regardless, he gets to the Smiths and helps them with an old Ontario glass box, a wooden box used for carrying windows, by cutting off the sides to make a more fitting size box, for the plates. Mary Beeman, Alvah's daughter, concurres Alvah's attendance in the Smith home that night.
"Father (Alvah) became acquainted with Father Joseph Smith, the Father of the prophet, he frequently would go to Palmira to see Father Smiths and his family, during this time brohter Joseph Smith came in possession of the plates which contained the BoM.
As soon as it was noised around that there was a golden Bible found (for that was what it was called at that time) the minds of the people became so excited and it arose at such a pitch that a mob collected together to search the house of Father Smith to find the records. My Father was there at the time and assisted in concealing the plates in a box in a secluded place where no one cold find them" That was from Lucy's book page 392
Joe got a tip that the money-digging mob was coming to storm the Smith house and take the plates by force, and when he arrived at home, he asked his mother, Lucy, if a mob had been there yet that day. Lucy replied that nobody had been there this day and she had been home all day. Joe knew that there was going to be a mob coming for the the treasure any time now, and knew they had to be concealed. Enter Alvah. The family, with Alvah's help, fashioned the box together for the plates. Alvah was even permitted to feel the plates through the pillowcase they were being concealed in at the time, but he never saw them uncovered, much like the eleven witnesses. Joe needed a good hiding place, so they lifted some bricks out of the hearthstone, in order to bury the plates underneath the house to conceal them.
Lucy recounts that they had just finished laying the bricks back in the hearthstone when the armed mob arrived at the Smith property line. The family knows that if they mob gets inside, they will tear the house apart and eventually find the plates and take them. So they need a plan.
Joe gathers all of the men around the front door and begins devising a strategy. On the other side of the door, is a mob of possibly a dozen or more people. This group includes, Willard Chase, Samuel Lawrence, Josiah Stowell (Bossman Joe), and a bunch of other money diggers from the same crew that Joe owed money, or a share of the plates to. They had rifles, and divining rods, and looked like a dangerous group. In every Mormon movie, this group of persecutors, is depicted as a surley, and evil group, when really, they were Joe's best friends only months before this incident. But the problem is, they're fucking crazy, and they really believe the shit Joe is claiming about these ancient gold plates, to be true.
So how does one disperse a mob of drunkard, magic men, hell bent on getting the biggest haul of their lifetime? These men have no honor, no reservations or affinity for one another, as made apparent by Joe's backstabbing practices. And I would even make an argument that by today's standards, most of the people in this crowd, would likely be spending their days inside a padded room with a straight jacket for some of the batshit they did and said. So how does Joe beat them this time?
He out crazies them! The mob is waiting outside with rifles in hand, and yelling at Joseph to bring the plates out and nobody gets hurt. But Joe has a plan of his own devised on the other side of the door.... He gets all the men in the house gathered together at the front door where the mob is sure to enter, and just as they get to the front door, Joe throws it open and commands all of the Smith Men, down to 11 year old Don Carlos, along with Alvah Beeman to charge the frustrated, and now utterly confused mob, with all their fury and might, in much the way a general would command a line of infantryman into the bloody grindhouse range in front of an enemy gun emplacement.
All of the Men run out of the house shouting, and throwing rocks, and making as much noise and confusion as possible throughout the mob. You see, when you're camping or hiking and encounter a bear that decides to fuck with you, there are a few things to do correctly, and incorrectly, and whatever you do, may have an impact on whether you leave the confrontation with your life or not. As it does vary between types of bears, the exact best thing to do will be dictated by the situation and the bear itself, but one thing you do when a bear charges you, is put up your hands, make a fierce looking face, avoid eye contact, and stand your muthafuckin ground! Statistically speaking, the bear will feign on it's charge, and go around you at the last second before actually colliding with you. That's because we are predatory creatures, much like bear, and we don't want to deal with prey that will stand it's ground. We would much rather chase something until we, as the predator, can take an advantage at the back of the prey while it's running away from us. This same trend that happens with bears, occurs in the same way with people. I'm convinced that if the mob would have stood it's ground when the men came charging out of the house, this whole night would have gone down differently.
But Joe's orchestrated bluff charge, landed exactly how he intended, and the mob collapsed and broke apart with this confusing, and ballsy tactic. These money-diggers were a fearful mob, and if they believed for one second that they would be overpowered at all, they gave up their post, and that's what happened when these possibly 8 unarmed men charged a mob that was almost twice their size and armed. If I were a believing man, I would say those men defending Joe had God on their side, and were able to drive the evil opposition from their presence, only thanks to the strength from the lord. But quite frankly, that just adds an extra step. We all know a crazy mutherfucker some time in our life. Somebody that just doesn't give a fuck about anything, whom you would never want to fight, even if you have the upper hand, because you know that crazy beats big or skilled every time.
Joe's heavy dose of crazy was just what the situation needed to come to a close in the Smith family's favor, and after this seemingly fateful charge, the mob was gone, and the Smith family retreated safely inside their household after the charge.
But something still lurks in the battlefield. A destructive torpedo, fired from friendly ranks that slipped under Joe's radar, is officially in the water. And it's bearing down on a defenseless Joe and his vulnerable, golden treasure. Treason in the ranks of a trusted individual near the family, has the potential to bring this all down to it's knees before it ever gets started, by exposing Joe, and his secret false plates, to his entire family, in front of Alvah Beeman and Samuel Lawrence.
We'll get to that in a second, but I need to throw out a little back story on Samuel Lawrence so we can understand exactly what happens here.
I've made reference to that name a couple of times, but we don't know him very well, so let's get a proper introduction right now. Samuel Tyler Lawrence was one of the many people in the money-digger group that Joe and Big Daddy Cheese were in, which Joe later came to be the leader of, before acquiring the plates. But let's back up to 1823 really quickly, 4 years before our current setting. Joe had been visited in his room by the angel Nephi, recounted as Moroni now, and was told he would be getting the plates out of the hill Cumorah on September 22. This is just how it was recounted in the 1838 Joseph Smith dissertation, there are a lot of problems with all of this, but that's not what I'm trying to talk about right now. Our focus is the part Samuel Lawrence has to play regarding the plates.
When Joe tried to get the plates in 1823, he couldn't and the spirit told him to come back in black clothes with a black horse and demand the plates in a certain name along with his older brother Alvin. Alvin died in late 1823, before Joe could get the plates with Alvin in September of 1824. During the 1824 visit, the spirit told Joe to bring a person with him, and he would know who that person would be when he saw them.
In 1825, Samuel Lawrence was revealed as the person Joe needed to bring along, to successfully exhume the plates from their millenia long resting place. When Joe and Sam get to the hilltop on September 22, some pretty amazing stoned sight happens between the two of them.
This is from the affidavit of Willard Chase
"Joseph believed that one Samuel T. Lawrence was the man alluded to by the spirit, and went with him to a singular looking hill, in Manchester, and shewed him where the treasure was. Lawrence asked him if he had ever discovered any thing with the plates of gold; he said no: he then asked him to look in his stone to see if there was anything with them. He looked, and said there was nothing; he told him to look again, and see if there was not a large pair of specks with the plates; he looked and soon saw a pair of spectacles, the same with which Joseph says he translated the BoM.
Lawrence told him it would not be prudent to let these plates be seen for about two years... Not long after this, Joseph altered his mind, and said Lawrence was not the right man, nor had he told him the right place."
So we have Joe failing 2 years in a row, and he thought that he might be able to bring along a treasure seeker buddy to help his chances of doing the plate acquisition ritual right this year. If I followed the conversation right, Joe said that it was just the plates in the hill, and Sam asked Joe if he had ever found anything with the plates. Upon Joe's negative reply, Sam goaded him to look into his seer stone again to see if Joe didn't see a pair of spectacles accompanying the plates this time. When Joe looked into his stone after Sam encouraged him to, he saw the specks, along with the plates.
Now, Joe knew that Sam knew where the plates were supposedly buried, because he just brought Sam in for some consultation, but Sam ended up telling Joe all about how he should treat the plates once they were pulled from the earth, and somehow made Joe see something that he didn't know was in the box with the plates up to this point, the specks. This is the first mention of the urim and thummim being in the box, being called spectacles, as opposed to the U&T.
Soon after this little 1825 interaction, Joe changed his mind about the whole Samuel Lawrence thing, and told all his treasure seeking buddies that Sam was full of shit, and didn't actually know where the plates were buried, that was Joe's job, and calling in life, and nobody was going to take it from him.
Once Sam got the boot as the holy guy that Joe needed to help him get the plates, Joe looked into his stone again to see who the real person would be to help him get the plates from the ground, and Joe saw Emma Hale as the one. This motivated Joe to take her to wife, so he could get sum, and get the plates, along with her help in 1827, which he supposedly did.
Samuel Lawrence has one other claim to fame in this time period before we get to the next scene with the Smith family, Alvah Beeman, and Samuel Lawrence. After Joe pulled the plates from the ground and left them in a log, he was called to Macedon NY, about 5 miles from Palmyra, to do some work on a well. Joe didn't realize that this whole thing was a set up by his money-digger pals, to sneak the plates out from under Joe's nose without his knowledge. When Joe was away from town, the money-diggers needed somebody who had been to the hill with Joe, so they would know where to start looking to find the plates in the log. Enter, once again, Samuel Lawrence. Emma rode a stray horse to Macedon to tell Joe about the impending treachery, and to tell him the plates might be in danger, because she knew who was in that group of seers, as well as their potential for stealing the plates. Joe borrows a horse from his current employer, and rides home with Emma, to get back to the plates, so he can secure them from their log hiding place. He gets them home and the money-diggers get pissed, and here we continue our story.
After the mighty Smith bumrush to scare away the armed mob that wanted the plates from Joe, Alvah Beeman returns to the Smith house a little while later, only this time, Samuel Lawrence, presumably one of the people in the mob from earlier, is accompanying him, and Joe is about to get a nasty 3rd degree from the two of them.
Samuel and Alvah try everything they can possibly think of to strike a deal with Joe and the plates. They offer Joe money, and possessions and all manner of every possible thing they can think of to get Joe to willingly offer the plates to them. But Joe knows that he can't give up the plates, no matter how tempting the offer, or how high the cost. Through an onslaught of bargaining, Joe bracingly stonewalls the 2 money-diggers out of any possible opening, for understandable reasons from today's perspective. He couldn't let the men see the plates uncovered, because that would expose Joe as a fraud to everybody in the house. He couldn't make a deal with them to pacify their interest in the plates, because Sam and Alvah knew how much money there would be in ancient Golden Plates, so they weren't looking to get the run-around from Joe this time. So how did a resolution come about?
Remember that torpedo that's already in the water that I mentioned earlier? Well it's about to make contact with the entire foundation of the family relationship with Alvah Beeman. Alvah, who had helped stash the plates under the house by digging up some hearthstone bricks, pulled out his divining rods in frustration. He lifts them up in the air and commences his usual ritual of treasure seeking with the rods. This may have been a spell that he said over the rods, or a certain mindset he had to get into, but regardless, he put on a show for everybody in the house, including Samuel Lawrence. Holding tightly to his well used divining rods, Alvah brought them down, from over his head and points them straight at the hearthstone, stating that the plates are exactly there.
What happens next is nothing short of amazing, unfortunately, we don't have explicit record of how the confrontation between all these treasure-seeking men went. But, we do know what happened to the plates.
Joe had removed them from under the house, because he feared that the mob would return and tear the house apart looking for the plates. So, presumably, when Sam and Alvah pulled the loose bricks out of the hearth, they found the empty place where Alvah had helped stash the plates, but the plates were nowhere to be found. Joe presumably told them the fuckin ground gnomes moved the plates to safety, so it sucked to be them, and Sam and Alvah, left the Smith household that day, empty handed, and even more frustrated with Joe's sleight of hand, that Joe pulled right in front of them, once again.
But where were the plates? The plates were actually physical at this time and Joe had to deal with the fact that they had to be somewhere at all times. So where did they go to escape the clutches of Sam and Alvah? Luckily, Lucy details this for us.
Joseph soon received another intimation of the approach of a mob and the necessity of removing the record & breasplate again from its hiding place he took it <them> up and carried it <them> out to a cooper shop across the road and took them out of the box and after wrapping them carefully in cloths laid them away in the midst of a quantity of flax which was stowed in the shop lof <loft> he then nailed up the box as before and tore up the floor and put the box under it
That was from Lucy Book which is just an edited memior from Lucy, edited by Lavina Fielding Anderson.
Joe was ready for them to try and steal the plates again, and he wouldn't be outsmarted. So he took the plates out of the glass box, which was just a relatively small, wooden box for carrying windows in, and hid the plates, and presumably the breastplate up in the loft of the Smith cooper shop. After hiding the treasure, Joe hid the empty but sealed, and full looking glass box underneath the floor boards in the same shop.
Lucy continues in her memior
the next morning we found the floor of the cooper shop taken <up> and the wooden box which was put under it Split to peices
and in a few days we learned the cause of this <last> move and why their curiosity led them in this direction a young woman who was sister to willard chase had found an a green glass that<&> by looking thrugh the <it> she could see many wonderful things and among the rest of her discoveries she said she had found out the exact place where Joe Smith kept his gold bible hid so in pursuance to her directions they gathered their forces and laid siege to the cooper shop
The 'Miss Chase' reffered to is Sally, Willard, and Mason's sister, who was also a revered glass looker, much like Joe, and ALL the Smith men for that matter. The Chase and the Smith family had a lot of interactions while they were both living in Palmyra, as the two families often engaged in the same business practices.
So the mob had returned a couple of nights after this little confrontation between Alvah, Sam, and Joseph. But when Joe went out to check on the plates, after the mob came through, he found that the floor boards were ripped up where the box was hidden, and the box was smashed into a thousand pieces. Luckily, the plates, along with the breastplate apparently, were still sitting unharmed in the loft of the shop, which raises a question or two.
If the mob was conducting a thorough search of the shed, thorough enough to rip up some floor boards to look for their prize, how did they not think to look over their heads as well? And if they were under the direction of a true blue seer (Sally Chase), whom directed them to the coopers shop, and helped them find the box the plates were in, how could she not see the plates separated from the box, and placed somewhere else in the shop? Did the mob find the box, smash it open to reveal nothing but air, and just give up on their search?
These questions will haunt us indefinitely because we don't have any documentation telling us what happened with the mob, or the plates that night, we're just told that Joe found the plates safe and sound where he left them in the loft the night before.
The mob was still understandably restless after the fruitless search, and they became more and more of a nuisance to Joe and the entire Smith family, in addition to spreading a lot of factual and infactual rumors about the family. Joe knew that he had to get the plates translated, but he also knew he couldn't do so safely in Palmyra, without the mob of money-diggers constantly breathing down his neck for a share in the plates.
What was Joe to do? He was in dire straits, with no money to move him and his wife to Harmony Pennsylvania, like he had agreed with his father in law, and he owed a substantial amount of money to various people for court rulings, and business deals he fucked people over on. Most of the people that Joe was indebted or owed some piece of the plates to, were the people who made up the mob that tried to take the plates by force. And most of these people didn't have jobs or any sort of livelihood, so they could just sit around the Smith property all day and harrass Joe about his lies, and his valuable gold plates.
Let's not make any excuses for the persecution here. The Smith family was being threatened and harrassed, and Joe himself had his life threatened multiple times, lest he ante up on the plates. But all of this was Joe's fault. He was keeping the company of dishonest treasure-hunters and thieves, and had been telling them for some time now, that he would soon acquire these gold plates. He was even telling various people, that he would offer shares in the profits from the book, if they helped him perform a simple task, or in Willard Chase's case, make a lock-box for the book to be kept in. Everything that the Smith family had to deal with, was completely deserved based on Joe's actions.
Let's propose a simpler and smarter way to go about this whole thing, if everything did indeed happen as Joe reports. Maybe Joe could have gotten the plates in secrecy, translated them in secret with the help of some other Smiths, and took the translation and the plates to a religious, or ancient scholar to publish his work and findings, as a legitimate and authentically ancient sectarian text. Instead, Joe told hundreds of people, for years, that he found Golden Plates stashed in the ground by the ancient inhabitants of the continent, and when it came time to authenticate his finding as real, Joe ducked and dodged every single attempt to verify his claims, and in the case of Martin Harris and Charles Anthon, Joe just blatantly denied, and misrepresented the claims of the one scholar that did see some of the writings in the plates.
My point is, how much farther do we have to go before we can officially conclude, that this whole thing was a farce? Joe was clearly a charlatan, and he exhibited all the traits of a burgeoning cult leader. But people still revere him as a holy prophet of God, just as he claimed, and it perpetuates today within a falsly inflated membership of over 15 Mil people. And I personally believe, that as soon as a person claims divinity for themselves, we can instantly ignore any claim they make from that point on, because an omnipotent and omniscient god, would never work through a human being like that. But, we have seen countless examples throughout history of men claiming divinity, or divine origination, that have fallen into the same category of false holy man as Joe does.
So let's answer the question from earlier, what was Joe to do, in order to relieve all of these pressures that were building? Do what he was most accustomed to do in situations like this, run away, this time to Harmony Pennsylvania some 270+ miles away. But before Joe and Emma could run, Joe had to pay his debts to society like I mentioned before, and here is where NSSM comes in, to play his first big role, as a catalyst for the plates being translated. In episode 3 we talked about how Joe used the whole Smith family to swindle Marty in combination, and it worked like a charm.
Let's hear Marty's retelling of his meeting with Joe, and then we'll jump a little further down in this Tiffany's Monthly interview in 1859, to see how this ended up working out in Joe's favor.
"He told him to go and look in the spectacles, and he would show him the man that would assist him. That he did so, and he saw myself, Martin Harris, standing before him. That struck me with surprise. I told him I wished him to be very careful about these things. ‘Well,’ said he, ‘I saw you standing before me as plainly as I do now.’ I said, if it is the devil’s work I will have nothing to do with it; but if it is the Lord’s, you can have all the money necessary to bring it before the world. He said the angel told him, that the plates must be translated, printed and sent before the world. I said, Joseph, you know the doctrine, that cursed is every one that putteth his trust in man, and maketh flesh his arm; and we know that the devil is to have great power in the latter days to deceive if possible the very elect; and I don’t know that you are one of the elect. Now you must not blame me for not taking your word. If the Lord will show me that it is his work, you can have all the money you want."
Two paragraphs later, Marty continues:
"The excitement in the village upon the subject had become such that some had threatened to mob Joseph, and also to tar and feather him. They said he should never leave until he had shown the plates. It was unsafe for him to remain, so I determined that he must go to his father-in-law’s in Pennsylvania. He wrote to his brother-in-law Alvah Hale, requesting him to come for him. I advised Joseph that he must pay all his debts before starting. I paid them for him, and furnished him money for his journey. I advised him to take time enough to get ready, so that he might start a day or two in advance: for he would be mobbed if it was known when he started. We put the box of plates into a barrel about one-third full of beans and headed it up. I informed Mr. Hale of the matter, and advised them to cut each a good cudgel and put into the wagon with them, which they did. It was understood that they were to start on Monday; but they started on Saturday night and got through safe. This was the last of October, 1827. It might have been the first of November."
Joe was great at getting money out of NSSM, and the $50, plus journey expenses, was only the beginning.
Joe and Emma had agreed with Emma's father Isaac to stay with the family in Harmony Pennsylvania, and the time had finally come that was do, or die with Joe and the plates. So Alva Hale, Emma's brother came to Palmyra with a wagon, and moved Joe and Emma to Pennsylvania with the plates safely concealed in a barrel full of beans, and this is where Mormonism was truly cultivated and birthed. This was the most crucial move of Joe's life, he just had to get the BoM printed by any means necessary, and he would solidify his place through the annals of history.
When the newleyweds arrived at the Hale household, Isaac wanted to see the plates that had stirred so much commotion among the locals in Palmyra, and the money-diggers, but ended up a little disappointed in what was shown. But I don't want to put words in Isaac's mouth, so let's hear what he has to say in his 1834 affidavit, printed in Mormonism unvieled by E.D. Howe.
"I was informed they had brought a wonderful book of plates down with them. I was shown a box in which it is said they were contained, which had, to all appearances, been used as a glass box of the common sized window-glass. I was allowed to feel the weight of the box, and they game me to understand, that the book of plates was then in the box-into which, however, I was not allowed to look."
So Isaac had the same problem as everybody else did when he viewed the plates in their box, he didn't get to see them uncovered. He probably was able to thumb the pages like almost everybody else was, but he didn't even explicitly state that he got that privelege, he only said that he was able to feel the weight of them in the box.
For whatever reason, Isaac accepted Joe and Emma into his home for a short time, and then moved them out to another house that was on the same property that belonged to Jesse Hale, who had recently moved to Illinois, and wasn't using the house. Joe and Emma eventually bought the property from Isaac for $214 on April 6, 1829, even though they had been living in it for some time by that point.
It was a good thing that Marty was there to help the newlyweds get settled into a hospitable environment, during the translation. Joe and Emma had arrived at their new home in late 1827, and Marty, who financed the move and paid Joe's other monetary obligations, arrived in Harmony in spring of 1828, to act as scribe for Joe. For a little while, Emma had been writing what Joe was saying, but she couldn't always take the time to do it, as she had other duties around the house she needed to attend to. Joe was also employed in little odd-jobs around Harmony, to keep a small income for him and his wife, or to at least keep some scraps of food on the table, but Marty changed all of that forever, once he became the bankroller. He came to stay with the young Smith couple in Jesse Hale's house, making a total of four occupants once you include Emmas younger brother that was also living there.
Marty's stay lasted from early Spring to June 14th in 1828, and it involved translating what we know to be the book of Lehi, which resulted in the 116 page transcript, translated at a rate of about 1.5 pages per day.
This transcript was essentially the first book inside the BoM, that it's divided into now, making 15 total books that comprise the BoM. It was supposedly translated from the small plates that constitute the first books inside the BoM starting with 1 and 2 Nephi and ending with Omni. Somewhere in there, assumingly before the first book of 1 Nephi, the book of Lehi, Nephi's father, was what constituted the 116 pages that Joe and Marty translated. This manuscript has never been found, and it's regarded by TBM's as very similar to 1 and 2 Nephi, just written from a different perspective, with a little more back story, because it's written by Nephi's dad.
Regardless, Joe let's Marty take home the transcript after Marty begs Joe and God to let him do so. Joe puts the stipulation upon releasing the manuscript, that Marty can't show it to anyone other than his immediate family. This's why it's believed that Lucy Harris, Marty's wife/first cousin, is the one who took the manuscript, in order to test Joe's ability to reproduce the story he's made up so far.
When all is said and done, Marty comes back to Joe empty handed, having "lost" the 116 pages, and Joe and Marty are chastised for Marty's actions, and lose their ability to translate for a few months. Joe never translates another page with Marty. I personally believe it's because Joe didn't want Marty to hear any of what Joe was going to translate, to replace the 116 pages, even though it was supposedly from a different set of plates, and a different characters perspective, based on similar events.
The more I think back on this story, the more I wonder why NSSM couldn't see the signs of a bad investment, from the beginning. Or at the very least, why didn't he acknowledge the harbingers of deceit as they reared their ugly heads. Marty knew the reputation of the Smith family, as well as personally regarded them as a dishonest family of treasure seekers. He heard the story about Joe and his golden plates, and said that "the money-diggers had probably dug up an old brass kettle, or something of the kind. I thought no more of it".
Marty went to the Smith household, after his wife and daughter had been there an entire day, two days before, to be schmoozed and courted by the Smiths. He asked each Smith family member, individually, to relay the story of the plates, and found the concurring testimonies to be enough evidence, to peak his interest about the book. After meeting with the whole family, Marty meets with Joe himself, to see if his testimony of the happenings surrounding the plates, concurrs with that of all of his family members, and coincidentally it does. Because Joe had made it all up and told his family exactly what to tell Marty, to make the con happen successfully.
When Joe was translating with Emma as his scribe, Marty took the caractors manuscript, which contained some scrawlings from the plates, to a professor of Columbus University, in an effort to verify the authenticity of the ancient language inscribed on the plates. When NSSM met with NSSMSSSPPPCA, Marty was told that he a sitting duck in Joe's con crosshairs, and that Marty should fuckin high tail, and bail asap. Even with this verifiable evidence that Joe was a fraud, Marty still persisted.
Marty helped Joe translate the 116 pages without ever seeing the plates, or translation method with his own eyes. Joe set up his desk in the corner of the room, with the plates and all his props, and then sealed off his little area with a sheet hung from the ceiling and walls. Then Joe proceeded to dictate what he read to Marty sitting on the other side of said sheet. Once these 116 pages were lost, Joe couldn't reproduce what he had translated up to that point, and forbade Marty from ever helping him to translate ever again. Marty continued to fund the whole operation, and living costs of the young couple while they were translating without him, and had no way of knowing what was going on with his investment during this time, but he still persisted, to take this horrible wallet fucking that Joe repeatedly administered to Marty.
All of the signs of a charlatan, proposing a bad investment were there, and Marty didn't give no fucks about a single one of these signs! I have to think that he was reluctant at some point. There is truly no way he felt good and confident about anything that Joe was asking for, but he still ended up losing his farm, and entire financial life, to repay the printers fee for 5,000 Books of Mormon that E.B. Grandin published. Why did he do it? I've been wondering why the entire time I have been researching NSSM, all the signs were there and he still took the dive into shallow bullshit flowing over his inevitable rock bottom, with complete wreckless abandon. I want to say, that people put in Marty's position, that make the decisions that he made, really deserve what happens to them, in the wake of these horrible decisions. The only problem is when these poor decisions affect, not only the bankroller that goes bankrupt, but the followers of the financed movement for generations to come, and that's what happened with Mormonism, the brainchild of a madman, and the benefactor of generations of souls reaped through indoctrination.
That's it for the meat of today's episode. I was also on the video podcast called 'Atheists on Air: Beyond the Trailerpark' on Jan 12th called Mormon Mania, and I had a lot of fun with everybody involved there. It was a Mormon criticizm panel with Cash from AoA and David Michael from the MyBoM podcast, so if you missed it, I recommend you check that show out. It was one of the most entertaining conversations I've ever been involved with, in my entire life. We skimmed over a lot of very crazy Mormon topics, and dove wristwatch deep into plenty of topics as well. The hosts, Deb and Beth did a great job of keeping the show on track, and asked a lot of really engaging questions that brought up some crazy mormon shit. So please, check that show out. It's just over 2 hours, with a panel of 5 people that all hold the same opinion, yet differing knowledge levels, on the LDS church. I should also thank Heretic Woman for reaching out and inviting me to join the panel, it really couldn't have gone any better, and I had a lot of fun, so thank you Heretic, and everybody that joined in.
Next thing I wanted to talk about was listener mail. There wasn't really anything that came up that I needed to explicitly address. I guess I'm not pissing anybody off right now, so I'll keep doing what I'm doing and call that good.
I did want to address iTunes reviews really quick though. So far the show has recieved 10 written reviews totalling in an abundance of 5 star reviews, and I want to thank everybody that has taken the time to review the show lately. It really helps with iTunes getting the show higher up in their ranking system, meaning more people will see the show, which is exactly what the show needs. The best way to support the show is through patreon, but for those who don't want to give up their hard earned dollars as a donation, leaving a positive iTunes review, or written comment is a great way to provide a different kind of support for the show, which I really appreciate. So thank you to everybody who takes time to help support the show, or engages with the community. Seeing how the show affects listeners, motivates me to keep cranking these out.
Just a heads up for this month's 3rd episode which I'm not charging patronage for, I'll be doing something a little different. The episode that comes out around the 30th will be a patreon teaser of a debate/conversation that I had with my crazy smart theist friend. Every time he and I get together, our conversations get pretty deep into theist vs. atheist debating, and any conversations we have will be posted for patrons after I release this episode. But this upcoming episode, will be a teaser, much like D-Day David's 'An Address to All Believers in Christ' was, but February episodes will return back to the historical analysis like usual.
I think that concludes this episode, thanks for tuning in, and I hope to talk at you again, here on the Naked Mormonism Podcast.
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