Episode 15 Manuscript Found by Sidney Rigdon
On this episode, we take a look at the Spalding theory for the source text for the Book of Mormon. The Spalding theory has been stuck in the margins of Mormon history for quite some time. Well, we try to rip it out of the margins, and into the spotlight for critical examination and a fair trial in the court of historical possibilities. There's a lot of information to cover, and a lot of conjecture to answer to, but the evidence seems to be there, to support the claims of the theory. Does it seem plausible to you?
Outro music used with permission
Spalding's widow and daughter statements http://mormonthink.com/mormonstudiesmatilda.htm
Aron/Aaron Wright quote http://solomonspalding.com/tanrpg/TanrRev1.htm
Abner Jackson quote http://www.truthandgrace.com/1881AbnerStatement.htm
ExMormon Foundation statistical analysis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuNtJJoJ2W0
Book of Mormon Tories http://www.postmormon.org/exp_e/index.php/magazine/pmm_article_full_text/211
Bonus Content: http://www.solomonspalding.com/SSpaper3.htm
Welcome to the 15th episode of the Naked Mormonism Podcast, I'm Bryce Blankenagel, and thank you for joining me.
Last episode was a pretty meaty fucker, with lots of info about Sidney Rigdon. We covered his early life, and his childhood head injury that "seriously affect[ed] his character and in some respects, his conduct. In fact, his brother always considered Sidney a little deranged in his mind by that accident."
Later on in the episode, Sidney's early preaching days really came to life. He was a zealous man, that wanted to spread the good word of Jesus to all the world. He was one of the best around, which landed him the spotlight as pastor of the biggest Baptist church in Pittsburgh. After getting muscled out of his position by a faceless Scottish Baptist Divine, Rigdon worked as a tanner while occassionally preaching at various churches. Regardless of his professional life, he kept his image alive, as the kickass rookie preacher on the block, which really helped him out once he needed asses to fill his pews in the church his congregants built for him, in Mentor, OH in 1826.
Mentor, OH is conveniently located about 4 miles from the notorious Kirltand, OH. Kirtland, was one of the first landing places for Joe's Mormonite doctrine to stick. There is a theory floating around that this wasn't a happy coincidence, but elaborately engineered by Rigdon and Joe. I hope to show enough evidence to support this theory, but I will tell you early on, there are some holes in the history, and we can't reconcile some of the difficulties.
The show ended with an examination of a few witness testimonies, and my challenges to some apologist claims about the pre-1830 Rigdon-Joe connections. If the church can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Sidney and Joe had no contact with each other, and in fact didn't even know each other until late 1830, the entire Solomon Spalding theory is shot to right to shit.
But, if somebody else can prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Sidney was in Palmyra even once before 1830, the theory instantly gains some plausibility. Not necessarily probability, but plausibility. It takes a lot of evidence to get to the point of proving something historical, beyond just being plausible.
Well, I've said this countless times by this point, but I love how recent the history of the LDS Church is. Information is so readily available to us about every possible aspect of Mormon history, one need only a large enough shovel, to get through all the bullshit surrounding it, on both the pro, and the anti-Mormon side.
That being said, I have to admit, the research for this episode kicked my ass pretty hard. Let me try to explain here. When a person is making the case for a conspiracy theory, it takes a lot of moving parts. There are some conspiracy theories out there that remain on the fringe of any real examination, simply because they lack the evidence, or explanatory power. Or the theory in and of itself just requires too many impossibilities to actually be plausible.
Take, for example, the Kennedy assassination. One of the leading theories, as to how JFK was shot, is radically complicated, and requires a true hand of god mistake to be made by secret service. The theory basically goes as such: Lee Harvey Oswald was in the library overlooking the battlefield and fired at JFK hitting nothing but pavement in front of the car. The sound of the shot startled one of the Secret Service agents in the car behind JFK, the guy jostled his rifle the wrong way, and the gun spontaneously fired, hitting Kennedy in the back of the head. The shot from the agents rifle supposedly happened less than a second after Oswald had fired his second shot from his bolt action rifle, which travelled at a downward angle striking JFK in the neck and ripping through Governor Connally's abdomen and imbedding in his left wrist which was resting on his knee. After the three shots, the president's motorcade sped off to Parkland Memorial Hospital, and Kennedy was pronounced dead a few minutes after arriving. The secret service took the body with them back to D.C., before an autopsy could be done at the hospital, which was drastically unlawful, but they're the secret service, so they didn't give no fucks.
The Warren report comes out, leaving a lot of conflicting evidence and coming to an unsatisfactory conclusion. This theory requires cooperation on a lot of fronts, and a lot of nefarious collusion spanning across a lot of people, and government departments. But, it does provide explanatory power for the various circumstances. Regardless of what is contained in it, this theory requires a disturbing amount of conspiring individuals to actually hold water, making it a conspiracy theory. It may be right, it may be completely wrong, but it's still called a conspiracy thoery.
Well, the problem with the phrase 'conspiracy theory', is it's evocation of a defensive mechanism. Most of the time, when you start to hear 911 truthers, or fake moon landing conspiracy nuts talk about their favorite topic, you instantly shut down, because it's bullshit, and you don't want to hear about lizard people from another planet creating the new world order by enciting madness through conspiracies. Besides, what possible motivation would Katy Perry have, to do an Illuminati tribute show for her super bowl half time concert? It's ridiculous is all I'm saying. Well, unfortunately for us all, the phrase 'conspiracy theory', has been tainted with a negative connotation and can make a person instantly defensive, or dismissive about facts that may or may not be explained by the theory.
The thing is, the term conspiracy theory can be very useful as a historical term. We construct a theory to try and summarize all the available data about a certain circumstance. When that circumstance is a small group of people going to great lengths to conspire together for some sort of gain, it becomes a legitimate conspiracy theory. But, like the theory of evolution, or particle theory, there needs to be a lot of evidence, and contributing pieces to make it viable as a legitimate theory. Well, unlike the theory of evolution, we can't observe the science behind a historical narrative that's constructed from witness testimony. So, the way we construct a historical conspiracy theory, is by gathering all the available evidence, and creating a natural model that fits all the available data. If the explanation of the facts supports a high probability of individuals conspiring together for a common goal, we can rule it as a legitimate historical conspiracy theory.
If the Spalding theory is to be placed into the realm of historical inquiry, it needs to qualify under a few criteria. First, does the theory have merit to be claimed in the first place? Second, does it have explanatory power? Third, what credible material evidence do we have to support the claim? Fourth, does it require extraordinary or unbelievable actions by one or more people, or is it considered possible by realistic standards? And fifth, does it have predictive power that falls into line with statistical analyses, or scientific data?
I hope to answer all of these to a satisfactory level by the end of the episode, and I'll leave it to you, the listener, to decide if the Solomon Spalding theory for the authorship of the Book of Mormon is rational or not.
So let's get into it, what exactly does the theory claim? In a nutshell, the Spalding theory claims that a fictional story entitled 'Manuscript Found', authored by a revolutionary war veteran named Solomon Spalding, was the primary source text for the material inside the Book of Mormon. The details of the theory get a little messy, but I'll try to keep them as concise and clear as possible.
The theory claims that Sidney Rigdon and Solomon Spalding knew each other, and were seen spending time, hanging out at the Pittsburgh Printing press or post office together. Spalding, being the destitute old man he was, took to writing stories in hopes of funding his retired years with a little more comfort. Spalding wrote a story called 'Manuscript Found', which was all about a small family of Jews, sailing across great waters, and arriving to an empty American continent, only to die out, soon after their arrival around 2500 B.C.E. Then another family of Jews comes over around 600 B.C.E., which populates the entire fruited plain. I'll cover more details soon.
After Spalding wrote this story, he left it at the Pittsburgh printing press called "R. & J. Patterson's bookstore and publishing firm" for publication. Unfortunately, Rev. Patterson, and J.H. Lambdin, who owned and managed the press respectively, wanted money up front for printing the book, as did most printers in that day. This forced the destitute Spalding to leave the manuscript in finished and edited form at the printers until he could come up with a preface, title page, and the funds to get it printed.
Solomon Spalding accused Rigdon of stealing the manuscript in 1814, a mere 2 years before his bitter death in 1816, and there was no follow up done with the accusations, at least none that historians are aware of. Rigdon took the only copy in existence and safeguarded it while working on it for years.
The printing press closed in 1823, which was merely incidental at this point, but after 1823, and before 1830 is the crucial time that Joe and Rigdon would had to have known each other, for the theory to hold up. During these 7 years before the BoM was published, Rigdon and Joe would've had multiple encounters to get the manuscript right for publishing, but Rigdon, being the smartest of the bunch, did most of the heavy lifting.
Finally, after years of hard work, the manuscript was re-worked enough to send to the printing press as the Book of Mormon, under the puppet authorship of Joseph Smith.
So those are the basic claims made by the Spalding theory, but is there any merit to them? In order to understand this, we need to illustrate how the theory came about in the first place. In Feb of 1832, Orson Hyde, and Sam Smith, Joe's younger brother, were proselyting in Conneaut, OH. This was coincidentally Spaldings hometown until he moved to Pittsburgh in 1812, and later to Amity, PA in 1814 where he died in 1816.
Upon Orson and Sam's arrival to Conneaut, accusations instantly arose of them preaching from old Spalding's writings, we'll get into those in a few minutes. The next person of interest, is a man named Doctor Philastus Hurlbut. No he was not a doctor, his name was just Doctor. He was an early convert to the church in April 1833, and went on a mission to Northeastern Ohio in May, and happened upon the residents of Conneaut. The accusations the citizens levelled against Joe, and the book he was preaching from, convinced Doctor Phil that Joe was a fraud, and he was excommunicated in June, on grounds of immorality, which was probably just a front for silencing a whistleblower.
Have you ever met somebody, and thought they were really cool, or nice, or appealing someway, only to have your opinions of that person questioned when somebody else tells you conflicting information. What did you do in that situation? Did you shrug off the new information and revert back to your earlier glorified opinion of the person in question? Or did you confront the new evidence, and change your opinion and view of that person to better match reality? Only one of those directions protects you from the consequences of reality, but usually it's the less pleasant path to take.
Well, picture yourslef in the shoes of Doctor Phil, when he arrived in Conneaut, and started preaching the Book of Mormon. He was one of the most recent converts to Joseph's Church of Christ. He had instilled his belief and trust in god's newest prophet Joseph Smith. A prophet just like Abraham and Isaiah were in the days of old. This prophet had exhumed ancient records from a hill in N.Y., detailing the religious and military practices of the ancient people that lived in 'Merica, and Doctor Phil believed every word of it.
Once he began preaching the book, the citizens of the town told him that he was preaching from the writings of an old man that lived there 20 years prior. These accusations, and humiliations must have shaken the core of this 24 year old's beliefs in Joe to the point of breaking. He left his mission early, which any current believing or ex-Mormon will tell you is social suicide, to question Joe about the veracity of these damning claims. Less than 3 months after he converted and became a missionary, he was excommunicated as an obvious result of his blasphemous claims. He had given everything he had to the church, including, and especially, his trust in the truthfulness of the BoM, and all of it was crushed and whisked away at the first sign of dissent.
Now tell me, what would you do in a situation like this? Would you simply accept the outcome, and go on your merry way, taking the high road? Or would you react like a normal person and do everything in your power to get retribution for what had happened to you?
Well, Doctor Philastus Hurlbut wasn't willing to go down without inflicting a few bruises on the character of Joseph Smith, and most of the evidences we have today for the Spalding theory, come from the tireless efforts of Doctor Phil. He was the guy that had a Vendetta against the church, that hated Joe and the church enough, to be motivated to collect these heretical witness testimonies, to try and expose Joe as the fraud he was.
After his excommunication, Doctor Phil spent the rest of 1833 travelling, talking with people, and recording what he learned. He first went back to Conneaut, to collect the testimonies from everybody that had something to say about the Spalding and the BoM. Once he collected almost 20 statments that had something to do with Spalding, Rigdon, Manuscript found, or the Book of Mormon, he travelled to Massachusetts to meet with the widow, Matilda Spalding Davison. She had been remarried and divorced again, and was then living with her daughter, Matilda Spalding McKinstry. We don't have record of exactly what was said at this meeting, but there are a few statements and interviews we can look at to try and glean the basic story from. This was a recorded in a letter by a man named John Haven, in reference to an interview by Jesse Haven, John's son, with the widow Matilda Spalding Davison, and her daughter, Matilda Spalding McKinstry in 1839. It's somewhat vague, and some of the questions are leading, but there is clarification to come soon after, so just hang in there a minute.
This is from an article from Mormonthink.com and I'll leave a link to it in the show notes:
"Jesse passed through Monson, where he saw Mrs. Davison, and her daughter, Mrs. M'Kinestry, and also Dr. Ely, and spent several hours with them; during which time he asked them the following questions, viz: Did you, Mrs. Davieson, write a letter to John Storrs, giving an account of the origin of the Book of Mormon? Answer. I did not. Ques. Did you sign your name to it? Ans. I did not; neither did I ever see the letter till I saw it in the Boston Recorder: the letter was never brought to me to sign. Quest. What agency had you in having this letter sent to Mr. Storrs? Ans. D. R. Austin came to my house and asked me some questions; took some minutes on paper, and from these wrote the letter. Ques. Is what is written in the letter true? Ans. In the main it is. Ques. Have you read the Book of Mormon? Ans. I have read some in it. Ques. Does Mr. Spaulding's manuscript and the Book of Mormon agree? Ans. I think some of the names are alike. Ques. Does the manuscript describe an Idolatrous or a religious people? Ans. An Idolatrous people. Ques. Where is the manuscript? Ans. Dr. P. Hulbert came here and took it, and said he would get it printed, and let me have one half of the profits. Ques. Has Dr. P. H. got the manuscript printed? Ans. I received a letter, stating that it did not read as they expected, and they should not print it. Ques. How large is Mr. Spaulding's manuscript? Ans. About one-third as large as the Book of Mormon. Question to Mrs. M'Kinestry. How old were you when your father wrote the manuscript? Ans. About five years of age. Ques. Did you ever read the manuscript? Ans. When I was about twelve years old I used to read it for diversion. Ques. Did the manuscript describe an Idolatrous or a religious people? Ans. An Idolatrous people. Ques. Does the manuscript and the Book of Mormon agree? Ans. I think some of the names agree. Ques. Are you certain that some of the names agree? Ans. I am not. Ques. Have you ever read any in the Book of Mormon? Ans. I have not. Ques. Was your name attached to that letter which was sent to Mr. Storrs by your order? Ans. No. I never meant that my name should be there."
I'll admit, I don't like this interview very well, because it introduces a lot of tangents that end with a common theme. It's a simple fact, that people didn't have much, in the way of literary ethics back then, when it came to breaking Mormonite news items. It's really no different than what the news cycle is today with any story, it is just called editorializing, instead of yellow reporting, like it was called in Joe's time. Well, luckily nuggets of truth frequently lie at the heart of these inflammatory articles. This interview helped us to distinguish between what was false reporting of witness statements, and what was really said by Spaldings wife and daughter. So I guess I do like that about the quote, but it did introduce a lot of extra research that didn't yield anything particularly useful.
The next quote is much more compelling, and sheds a lot of light on what the actual witnesses wanted to have printed originally. It's a legal statement made by Ms. Matilda Spalding McKinstry, Solomon's daughter, and witnessed signed by a notary public. But, there is a slight weakness to the veracity, it's unfortunately printed over 40 years after the other articles had been floating around that were misquoting her and her mother about what they actually knew. It would be nice if it were more recent after the initial fallacious claims were made, because it's been discounted as "The ramblings of an old woman" by Mormon apologists. Well, we just have to take what we can get when it comes to things that happened over 180 years ago. At least this quote I'm about to read, addresses any confusion about what Matilda McKinstry really wanted the world to know about her dad, and the Book of Mormon.
This is also taken from the same Mormonthink.com article, the entirety is included in the appendix.
"Washington, D.C., April 3rd, 1880. [She was 74 at the time]
So much has been published that is erroneous concerning the "Manuscript Found," written by my father, the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, and its supposed connection with the book, called the Mormon Bible, I have willingly consented to make the following statement regarding it, repeating all that I remember personally of this manuscript, and all that is of importance which my mother related to me in connection with it, at the same time affirming that I am in tolerable health and vigor, and that my memory, in common with elderly people, is clearer in regard to the events of my earlier years, rather than those of my maturer life.
During the war of 1812, I was residing with my parents in a little town in Ohio called Conneaut. I was then in my sixth year. My father was in business there, and I remember his iron foundry and the men he had at work, but that he remained at home most of the time and was reading and writing a great deal. He frequently wrote little stories, which he read to me. There were some round mounds of earth near our house which greatly interested him, and he said a tree on the top of one of them was a thousand years old. He set some of his men to work digging into one of these mounds, and I vividly remember how excited he became when he heard that they had exhumed some human bones, portions of gigantic skeletons, and various relics. He talked with my mother of these discoveries in the mound, and was writing every day as the work progressed. Afterward he read the manuscript which I had seen him writing, to the neighbors and to a clergyman, a friend of his, who came to see him. Some of the names that he mentioned while reading to these people I have never forgotten. They are as fresh to me today as though I heard them yesterday. They were Mormon, Maroni, Lamenite, Nephi. We removed from Conneaut to Pittsburgh while I was still very young, but every circumstance of this removal is distinct in my memory. In that city my father had an intimate friend named Patterson, and I frequently visited Mr. Patterson's library with him, and heard my father talk about books with him. In 1816 my father died at Amity, Pennsylvania, and directly after his death my mother and myself went to visit at the residence of my mother's brother William H. Sabine, at Onondaga Valley, Onondaga County, New York. Mr. Sabine was a lawyer of distinction and wealth, and greatly respected. We carried all our personal effects with us, and one of these was an old trunk, in which my mother had placed all my father's writings which had been preserved. I perfectly remember the appearance of this trunk, and of looking at its contents. There were sermons and other papers, and I saw a manuscript, about an inch thick, closely written, tied with some of the stories my father had written for me, one of which he called, "The Frogs of Wyndham." On the outside of this manuscript were written the words, "Manuscript Found." I did not read it, but looked through it and had it in my hands many times, and saw the names I had heard at Conneaut, when my father read it to his friends. I was about eleven years of age at this time.
After we had been at my uncle's for some time, my mother left me there and went to her father's house at Pomfret, Connecticut, but did not take her furniture nor the old trunk of manuscripts with her. In 1820 she married Mr. Davison, of Hartwicks, a village near Cooperstown, New York, and sent for the things she had left at Onondaga Valley, and I remember that the old trunk, with its contents, reached her in safety. In 1828, I was married to Dr. A. McKinstry of Hampden County, Massachusetts, and went there, to reside. Very soon after my mother joined me there, and was with me most of the time until her death in 1844. We heard, not long after she came to live with me - I do not remember just how long - something of Mormonism, and the report that it had been taken from my father's "Manuscript Found"; and then came to us direct an account of the Mormon meeting at Conneaut, Ohio, and that, on one occasion, when the Mormon Bible was read there in public, my father's brother, John Spaulding, Mr. Lake and many other persons who were present, at once recognized its similarity to the "Manuscript Found," which they had heard read years before by my father in the same town. There was a great deal of talk and a great deal published at this time about Mormonism all over the country. I believe it was in 1834 that a man named Hurlburt came to my house at Monson to see my mother, who told us that he had been sent by a committee to procure the "Manuscript Found" written by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, so as to compare it with the Mormon Bible. He presented a letter to my mother from my uncle, Wm. H. Sabine, of Onondaga Valley, in which he requested her to loan this manuscript to Hurlburt, as he (my uncle) was desirous "to uproot (as he expressed it) this Mormon fraud." Hurlburt represented that he had been a convert to Mormonism, but had given it up, and through the "Manuscript Found," wished to expose its wickedness. My mother was careful to have me with her in all the conversations she had with Hurlburt, who spent a day at my house. She did not like his appearance and mistrusted his motives, but having great respect for her brother's wishes and opinions, she reluctantly consented to his request. The old trunk, containing the desired "Manuscript Found," she had placed in the care of Mr. Jerome Clark of Hartwicks, when she came to Monson, intending to send for it. On the repeated promise of Hurlburt to return the manuscript to us, she gave him a letter to Mr. Clark to open the trunk and deliver it to him. We afterwards heard that he had received it from Mr. Clark, at Hartwicks, but from that time we have never had it in our possession, and I have no present knowledge of its existence, Hurlburt never returning it or answering letters requesting him to do so. Two years ago, I heard he was still living in Ohio, and with my consent he was asked for the "Manuscript Found." He made no response although we have evidence that he received the letter containing the request. So far I have stated facts within my own knowledge. My mother mentioned many other circumstances to me in connection with this subject which are interesting, of my father's literary tastes, his fine education and peculiar temperament. She stated to me that she had heard the manuscript alluded to read by my father, was familiar with its contents, and she deeply regretted that her husband, as she believed, had innocently been the means of furnishing matter for a religious delusion. She said that my father loaned this "Manuscript Found" to Mr. Patterson, of Pittsburg, and that when he returned it to my father, he said: "Polish it up, finish it, and you will make money out of it." My mother confirmed my remembrances of my father's fondness for history, and told me of his frequent conversations regarding a theory which he had of a prehistoric race which had inhabited this continent, etc., all showing that his mind dwelt on this subject. The "Manuscript Found," she said, was a romance written in biblical style, and that while she heard it read, she had no special admiration for it more than other romances he wrote and read to her. We never, either of us, ever saw, or in any way communicated with the Mormons, save Hurlburt as above described; and while we have no personal knowledge that the Mormon Bible was taken from the "Manuscript Found," there were many evidences to us that it was and that Hurlburt and the others at the time thought so. A convincing proof to us of this belief was that my uncle, William H. Sabine, had undoubtedly read the manuscript while it was in his house, and his faith that its production would show to the world that the Mormon Bible had been taken from it, or was the same with slight alterations. I have frequently answered questions which have been asked by different persons regarding the "Manuscript Found," but until now have never made a statement at length for publication.
M. S. McKinstry.
Sworn and subscribed to before me this 3rd day of April, A.D. 1880, at the city of Washington, D.C.
Charles Walter, Notary Public."
I hope that the few little connections that she listed between 'Manuscript Found' and the Book of Mormon spiked everybody's interest. I mean come on, "Written in biblical style" "Some of the names that he mentioned while reading to these people I have never forgotten. They are as fresh to me today as though I heard them yesterday. They were Mormon, Maroni, Lamenite, Nephi." This can't be real can it? Let me just continue on quoting other people from Conneaut, OH, when the mission Mormonaries came a knockin' on their doors. Let's see if we can find any other similarities.
This is from a man named Aron/Aaron Wright telling us about his experience with Spalding, and relating Judge Nehemiah King's reaction to the Mormon preachers. I'm reading this from solomonspalding.com and there will be a link to the article in the show notes for it.
"for years before he left this place I was quite intimate with [sd ~~S~~] Spalding we had many private interviews the history he was writing was the topic of his conversation relating his progress and contemplating the avails of the same --- [Manuscript Found]
I also contemplated reading his history but never saw it in print untill I saw the Book of Mormon where I find much of the history and the names verbatim the Book of mormon does not contain all the writings [said] Spaldings I expect to see them if Smith is permitted to go on and as he says get his other plates the first time that Mr Hyde a mormon Preacher from Kirtland preached in the [centre] school house in this place the Hon Nehmiah King attended as soon as Hyde had got through King left the house and said that Hide had preached from the writings of S Spalding
In conclusion I will observe that the names and most of the historical part of the Book of Mormon is as familiar to me as most modern history [if] is not Spaldings writings copied it is the same as he wrote and if Smith was inspired I think it was by the same Spirit that Spalding possessed which he confessed to be the love of money,
Coneaut Dec 31 1833 Ashtabula Co [OH]"
There's plenty more. This is John Spalding, Solomon's brother
"He then told me had he been writing a book, which he intended to have printed, the avails of which he thought would enable him to pay all his debts. The book was entitled the ‘Manuscript Found,’ of which he read to me many passages. It was an historical romance of the first settlers of America, endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the descendants of the Jews, or the lost tribes. It gave a detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till they arrived in America, under the command of NEPHI AND LEHI. They afterwards had quarrels and contentions, and separated into two distinct nations, one of which he denominated Nephites and the other Lamanites. Cruel and bloody wars ensued, in which great multitudes were slain. They buried their dead in large heaps, which cause the mounds so common in this country. Their arts, sciences, and civilizations were brought into view, in order to account for all the curious antiquities, found in various parts of North and South America. I have recently read the Book of Mormon, and to my great surprise I find nearly the same historical matter, names, &c. as they were in my brother’s writings. I well remember that he wrote in the old style, and commenced about every sentence with ‘and it came to pass,’ or ‘now it came to pass,’ the same as in the Book of Mormon, and according to the best of my recollection and belief, it is the same as my brother Solomon wrote, with the exception of the religious matter. By what means it has fallen into the hands of Joseph Smith, Jr. I am unable to determine.”
- John Spalding, brother of Solomon, Affidavit, as quoted in Mormonism Unveiled, by E.D. Howe, pp. 278-280 "
This is from a man named Henry Lake who was a close acquaintance of Spalding.
“This book [‘Manuscript Found’] represented the American Indians as the descendants of the lost tribes, gave an account of their leaving Jerusalem, their contentions and wars, which were many and great. One time, when he was reading to me the tragic account of Laban, I pointed out to him what I considered an inconsistency, which he promised to correct; but by referring to the Book of Mormon, I find to my surprise that it stands there just as he read it to me then.... I was astonished to find the same passages in it that Spaulding had read to me more than twenty years before, from his ‘Manuscript Found.’ Since then, I have more fully examined the said Golden Bible, and have no hesitation in saying that the historical part of it is principally, if not wholly taken from the ‘Manuscript Found.’ I well recollect telling Mr. Spaulding, that the so frequent use of the words ‘And it came to pass,’ ‘Now it came to pass,’ rendered it ridiculous. Spaulding left here in 1812, and I furnished him the means to carry him to Pittsburgh, where he said he would get the book printed, and pay me. But I never heard any more from him or his writings, till I saw them in the Book of Mormon.”
- Henry Lake, co-worker and friend of Solomon Spalding, Affidavit, as quoted in Mormonism Unveiled, by E.D. Howe, pp. 281-282"
This was a very close friend of Spalding's, Oliver Smith.
“All his [Solomon Spaulding’s] leisure hours were occupied in writing a historical novel, founded upon the first settlers of this country. He said he intended to trace their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till their arrival in America, give an account of their arts, sciences, civilization, wars and contentions. In this way, he would give a satisfactory account of all of the old mounds, so common to this country.... Nephi and Lehi were by him represented as leading characters, when they first started for America.... no religious matter was introduced, as I now recollect.... When I heard the historical part of it related, I at once said it was the writings of old Solomon Spaulding. Soon after, I obtained the book, and on reading it, found much of it the same as Spaulding had written, more than twenty years before.”
- Oliver Smith, Affidavit, as quoted in Mormonism Unveiled, by E.D. Howe, pp. 284-285
If you're wondering why I seem to be using the same source for most of these quotes, that because of the business deal between E.D. Howe, and Doctor Philastus Hurlbut. You see, Doctor Phil was in dire straits while doing the research for the Spalding theory. After he had done most of the leg work, and taken most of the testimonies, he sold all his work as an act of desperation to E.D. Howe for $50 and 1,000 copies of Mormonism Unveiled when it was published. He also signed over all the rights, and didn't even get a mention in the book.
This seems like a bit of a tragedy for Doctor Phil, because not only did he get all the testimonies possible in support of the Spalding theory, he also went to Massachusetts and tracked down the Manuscript Story that Spaldings widow thought was Manuscript Found. And then, once he saw that the manuscript he had didn't match the descriptions the witnesses were talking about, Doctor Phil went back to Conneaut, to show this manuscript to the witnesses to see if this was the manuscript they were talking about.
This is quoting Aron/Aaron Wright again after Doctor Phil had returned with the manuscript story from his meeting in Massachusetts.
“Hurlbut is now at my store. I have examined the writings which he has obtained from [said] Spalding’s widowe[.] I recognize them to be the writings handwriting of [said] Spalding but not the Manuscript I had reference to in my statement before alluded to as he informed me he wrote in the first place he wrote for his own amusement and then altered his plan and commenced writing a history of the first Settlement of America the particulars you will find in my testimony dated Sept 18 1833 . . . ” (ref: Aron Wright’s unsigned letter of December 31, 1833)"
This is quoting Spaldings daughter.
“I have read much of the Manuscript Story Conneaut Creek which you sent me. I know that it is not the Manuscript Found which contained the words ‘Nephi, Mormon, Maroni, and Laminites.’ Do the Mormons expect to deceive the public by leaving off the title page—Conneaut Creek and calling it Manuscript Found and Manuscript Story[?]” (ref: McKinstry to Deming, Nov. 2, 1886, Chicago Hist. Soc.)"
This is a great quote from a man named Abner Jackson, a close family friend of the Spalding family living in Conneaut. Abner was a young man at this time.
"Spaulding frequently read his manuscript to the neighbors and amused them as he progressed with his work. He wrote it in Bible style, "And it came to pass" occurred so often that some called him "old come to pass."
So much for Spaulding's Romance; now for the Book of Mormon.
The first account of the Book of Mormon that I saw, was a notice in my father's newspaper, stating that Joseph Smith, Jr., professed having dreamed that an angel had appeared to him and told him to go and search in a place he named in Palmyra, N. Y., and he would find a gold-leaf Bible. Smith was incredulous and did not go until the second or third time he dreamed the same dream. Then he said he went and, to his surprise, he found the golden Bible, according to his dreams. But it was written in a language so ancient that none could be found able either to read it or tell in what language it was written. Sometime after another statement appeared, that an angel had consented to read and interpret it to Joseph Smith, and he should report it to a third person who should write it in plain English, so that all might read the new Bible and understand its import. Some time after, in 1830, the book was published at Palmyra, N. Y., called a "New Revelation: the Book of Mormon." This purports to be a history of the lost tribes of the Children of Israel. It begins with them just where the romance did, and it follows the romance very closely. It is true there are some verbal alterations and additions, enlarging the production somewhat, without changing its main features. The Book of Mormon follows the romance too closely to be a stranger. In both, many persons appear having the same name; as Maroni, Mormon, Nephites, Moroni, Lama[n], Nephe, and others.
Here then we are presented with Romance, second, called the Book of Mormon, telling the same story of the same people, traveling from the same plain, in the same way, having the same difficulties and destination, with the same wars, same battles, and same results, with thousands upon thousands slain. Then see the Mormon account of the last battle, at Cumorah, where all the righteous were slain. They were called the Nephites, the others were called Lamanites (see Moroni's account of the closing scene) "and it came to pass that a great battle was fought at Cumorah. The Lamanites slew all the Nephites" (except Moroni), and he said "I will write and hide up the Recorder [sic] in the earth, and whither I go it mattereth not." Book of Mormon, page 344, third American edition. How much this resembles the closing scene in the "Manuscript Found." The most singular part of the whole matter is, that it follows the Romance so closely, with this difference: the first claims to be a romance; the second claims to be a revelation of God, a new Bible! When it was brought to Conneaut and read there in public, old Esq. Wright heard it, and exclaimed, "'Old come to pass' has come to life again." Here was the place where Spaulding wrote and read his manuscript to the neighbors for their amusement and 'Squire Wright had often heard him read from his Romance. This was in 1832, sixteen years after Spaulding's death. This 'Squire Wright lived on a farm just outside of the little village. I was acquainted with him for twenty-five years. I lived on his farm when I was a boy and attended school in the village. I am particular to notice these things to show that I had an opportunity of knowing what I am writing about.
After I commenced writing this article, I heard that an article in Scribner's Monthly, for August, 1880, on the "Book of Mormon," contained a note and affidavit of Mrs. Matilda S. McKinstry, Solomon Spaulding's only child, stating that she remembered her father's Romance. I sent at once for the Monthly, and on the 613, 614, 615 and 616 pages, found the article and her testimony. Her statement from the commencement, until they moved to Pittsburgh, in all essential particulars I know to be true. She relates those acts as they occurred to my own personal knowledge, though she was then a little girl. She is now about seventy-five years of age.
I stated before that I knew nothing of Spaulding after he moved to Pittsburgh, except by letters and newspapers. He soon moved to Amity, Washington County, Pa., and shortly after this he died and his wife went to her brother's. His daughter's account of the deceitful method by which Hurlburt gained possession of and retained Spaulding's manuscript, is, I think, important and should not be lost sight of. She was no child then. I think she has done her part well in the vindication of the truth by her unvarnished statement of what she remembered of her father's Romance. I have not seen her since she was a little girl, but I have seen both of these productions, heard Spaulding read much of his Romance to my father and explain his views and reasons for writing it. I also have seen and read the Book of Mormon, and it follows Spaulding's romance too closely to be anything else than a borrowed production from the romance. I think that Mrs. McKinstry's statement fills a gap in my account from Spalding's removal to Pittsburgh, to the death of his wife in 1844. I wish, if my statement is published that hers also be published with it, that the truth may be vindicated by the truth beyond any reasonable doubt.
(Signed) ABNER JACKSON.
Canton, Ohio, Dec. 20, 1880."
So what are some of the differences between "Manuscript Story - - Conneaut Creek" and "Manuscript Found"? Well Manuscript Story is a historical fantasy written by Solomon Spalding, about the early Roman empire expanding one branch out to the American continents, written in everyday early 19th century english. It's about 130 pages long, written on normal sized paper, whereas Manuscript Found is said to have been written on much larger 'foolscap paper', and "Manuscript Story" ends abruptly in the middle of the final battle, whereas "Manuscript found" was supposedly completed. There are a few corrections to spelling and punctuation, but Manuscript Story is still nowhere near completed. Most importantly, it bears little, to no resemblence to the Book of Mormon. It was written by Solomon Spalding in his handwriting, and there's no question of that fact. But, it doesn't contain any of the damning connections that the witnesses eluded to in their testimonies. We actually have this original copy, and it's called the Oberlin Manuscript. It's also referred to as the Honolulu manuscript as that's where it was found. A photocopy is available as open source information online and can be examined and studied. This may not seem very useful because it isn't the manuscript found that we are accusing the Book of Mormon as being modelled after, but I'll address that issue in a minute.
First I need to draw the connection between Spalding and Rigdon. If it can be proven that these guys never met each other, or were never living near each other, the theory instantly falls apart, because there is literally no other way that Rigdon and Joe could have gotten ahold of the manuscript to use for the BoM. But, if we can prove some small connection, or at least prove that Rigdon and Spalding were in the same place at the same time, this piece of the Spalding theory becomes plausible. Well, the first connection we can draw is Silas Engles, John Lambdin, and Robert Patterson; the printer, manager, and the owner, respectively, of the R & J Patterson printing press and book store in Pittsburgh. Specifically Lambdin and Engles, were known to be good friends of Rigdon and Spalding.
Spalding even thought that Rigdon was an employee of the printing press because he spent so much time there. This is a quote from a Redick McKee, Esq., an intimate friend of Spaulding's family at Amity, PA says in his letter of April 15, 1879, --
"Mr. Spaulding told me that he had submitted the work to Mr. Patterson for publication, but for some reason it was not printed, and afterwards returned to him. I also understood he was then occasionally re-writing, correcting, and he thought improving some passages descriptive of his supposed battles. In this connection he spoke of the man Rigdon as an employee in the printing or book-binding establishment of Patterson & Lambdin, in Pittsburgh; but about him I made no special inquiries."
Rigdon spent a lot of time there for more reasons than just the books. He also enjoyed the sense of community with like minded folks. It was a bit of a social hub in the middle of town. Rigdon was also going through his apprenticeship as a tanner. One thing that apprentices are really good for, is making deliveries and running errands. We can reasonably assume that when the Patterson printing company ordered leather for the bindings of the books they were printing, the asskicking apprentice tanner (Rigdon) would be the one to make the deliveries, and bolster customer relations. If Spalding saw Rigdon at the printers office often enough to think he was an employee there, it's kind of hard to deny the fact that Spalding and Rigdon were in the same place at the same time at least occassionally.
Coincidentally, this ends up being very beneficial for Rigdon, because in 1814 Spalding's health was rapidly declining. So, he left Manuscript Found at the Patterson Printing office, and moved to Amity, PA., roughly 40 miles from Pittsburgh, and died a mere 2 years later. The story remained completed at the printing office awaiting a preface and title page, never to be completed by their dead author. Then, a lucky string of events happened for Rigdon. We aren't sure what happened to the manuscript during the transition period ahead, but what we do know is there was a lot of confusion when it came to ownership of the press from 1816 to1823.
Joseph Miller, of Amity, Pa.,
"My recollection is that Mr. S. had left a transcript of the manuscript with Mr. Patterson, of Pittsburgh, Pa., for publication, that its publication was delayed until Mr. S. would write a preface, and in the meantime the transcript was spirited away and could not be found. Mr. S. told me that Sidney Rigdon had taken it, or that he was suspicioned for it. [I] Recollect distinctly that Rigdon's name was used in that connection."
What happened next, was nothing short of a miracle for Rigdon, and if things happened any other way, we might not have the Book of Mormon as it sits. Joseph Patterson, the primary owner of the Press/book store, divested and moved to Philadelphia, never to be heard from again. Around the same time, John Lambdin, Rigdon's good friend had invested and became part owner in 1817. He didn't run the show well enough, and the press went bankrupt in 1823, during which all assets were liquidated. This includes manuscripts that were left over or unclaimed by their authors. Well, this was 7 years after Spaldings death, nobody was coming to claim Manuscript Found, so Rigdon allegedly took it. Whether or not Lambdin or Engles were aware of this, becomes completely irrelevant as they both die in 1825 and 1827 respectively, and would never live to see Spaldings words plagerized into a religious text. Rigdon probably knew that no other copy existed of this story, and the only people that would be able to recognize it, wouldn't have any tangible proof of plagerism, making it Rigdon's word against theirs. Taking the Manuscript and using it was almost an iroclad plan, if only the missionaries had never embarked on Conneaut in 1832 to fuck the whole thing up by introducing the same questions we're still asking about Manuscript Found today.
I'm not sure if Rigdon took the manuscript before Spalding died, or after, but what I do know is what other people reported about Rigdon having the manuscript in the late 1820's, after the press dissolved. What's more, we only have one conflicting account of what happened to the manuscript after Solomons death. His wife, Matilda Spalding Davison, claimed that she thought that the manuscript had been returned and placed in the trunk that she gave Hurlbut permission to access in 1833, but she wasn't sure if that was what happened.
Let's just say that what she claimed was accurate, when Doctor Phil was searching the chest for the manuscript with her permission, if he discovered Manuscript Found, why wouldn't he have printed it immediately? It would have been the hingepin piece of evidence for the theory to work out. Instead he just sold everything to Eber Howe to be included in Mormonism Unveiled in 1834. I think the evidence fits with Rigdon taking the only copy from the press, sometime either before Spalding died, or after it closed it's doors in 1823. No other copy existed, unless we happen to uncover a copy in the future that's been hiding this whole time. I doubt this will happen though, and I think the existing evidence is compelling enough.
This is a witness statement talking about Rigdon quoted from SolomonSpalding.com
"Mrs. Rebecca J. Eichbaum, of Pittsburgh, now in her ninetieth year, with a memory marvelously tenacious of even the minutest incidents, with the vivacity of a maiden in her teens, with health, until recently, exceptionally good for one of her years, with a still keen enjoyment of the humorous, a clear mind, a kindly heart, and a Christian hope of a better existence...
We give her reminiscence in full, dated Pittsburgh, Sept. 18, 1879, only remarking that one who could hear her relate the incidents of her youth, and specify her reasons for fixing names and dates with an unusual distinctness, would find it difficult to resist a conviction of the accuracy of her memory. She says, --
"My father, John Johnston, was postmaster of Pittsburgh for about eighteen years, from 1804 to 1822. My husband, William Eichbaum, succeeded him, and was postmaster for about eleven years, from 1822 to 1833. I was born Aug. 23, 1792, and when I became old enough I assisted my father in attending to the post-office, and became familiar with its duties. From 1811 to 1816 I was the regular clerk in the office, assorting, making up, dispatching, opening, and distributing the mails. Pittsburgh was then a small town, and I was well acquainted with all the stated visitors at the office who called regularly for their mails. So meagre at that time were the mails that I could generally tell without looking whether or not there was anything for such persons, though I would usually look in order to satisfy them. I was married in 1815, and the next year my connection with the office ceased, except during the absences of my husband. I knew and distinctly remember Robert and Joseph Patterson, J. Harrison Lambdin, Silas Engles, and Sidney Rigdon. I remember Rev. Mr. Spaulding, but simply as one who occasionally called to inquire for letters. I remember that there was an evident intimacy between Lambdin and Rigdon. They very often came to the office together. I particularly remember that they would thus come during the hour on Sabbath afternoon when the office was required to be open, and I remember feeling sure that Rev. Mr. Patterson knew nothing of this, or he would have put a stop to it. I do not know what position, if any, Rigdon filled in Patterson's store or printing-office, but am well assured he was frequently, if not constantly, there for a large part of the time when I was clerk in the post-office. I recall Mr. Engles saying that 'Rigdon was always hanging around the printing-office.' He was connected with the tannery before he became a preacher, though he may have continued the business whilst preaching."
The connections for all of the involved people exist, and are attested by multiple people. But, if Rigdon had the manuscript, one might expect other people to have seen it in his possession leading up to the book of Mormon being published. Well, multiple witness statements in Pennsylvania have led me to believe that he had the manuscript.
This is a string of quotes taken from an article on Mormonthink.com
"Rev. John Winter claimed to have seen "a large manuscript" which he described as "a romance of the Bible" in Rigdon's study. Winter claimed that Rigdon told him that "a Presbyterian Minister named Spaulding, whose health had failed, brought this to the printer to see if it would pay to publish it." See http://mormonstudies.com/author2.htm
Winter's stepson, Rev. Bonsall, remembered his father's comments:
"Rigdon had shown him (Winter) the Spalding manuscript romance, purporting to be the history of the American Indians, which manuscript he (Rigdon) had received from the printers."
Mrs. Mary W. Irvine, Winter's daughter, confirmed her stepbrother's report, adding that her father frequently repeated his sentiments:
"I have frequently heard my father (Dr. Winter) speak of Rigdon having Spaulding's manuscript, and that he had gotten it from the printers to read it as a curiosity; as such he showed it to my father; and that at that time Rigdon had no intention of making the use of it that he afterwards did; for father always said Rigdon helped Smith in his scheme by revising and making the Mormon Bible out of Rev. Spaulding's manuscript."
A.B. Deming solicited testimony from Mrs. Irvine for his book, Naked Truths about Mormonism, and Mrs. Irvine replied with the following:
"Mr. A. B. Deming -- Sir: Your letter of November 1 received two days since. My father left no papers on the subject, but I distinctly recollect his saying that Sidney Rigdon showed him the Spaulding Manuscript as a literary curiosity left in the office to be published if it was thought it would pay. When father saw the "Book of Mormon" he said it was Rigdon's work, or he had a hand in it; I do not remember his words entirely, so many years have elapsed, but that was the import. Respectfully, Mary W. Irvine (See:http://thedigitalvoice.com/enigma/wrw/1977DavD.htm)"
Mrs. Amos Dunlap, of Warren Ohio reported on a childhood visit to Rigdon's family:
"When I was quite a child I visited Mr. Rigdon's family, He married my aunt. They at that time lived in Bainbridge, Ohio. During my visit Mr. Rigdon went to his bedroom and took from a trunk, which he kept locked, a certain manuscript. He came out into the other room, and seated himself by the fireplace and commenced reading it. His wife at that moment came into the room and exclaimed "What! You're studying that thing again?" or something to that effect. She then added "I mean to burn that paper." He said "No, indeed, you will not. This will be a great thing some day." Whenever he was reading this he was so completely occupied that he seemed entirely unconscious of anything passing around him. (See: http://sidneyrigdon.com/wht/1891WhE2.htm#pg174)"
Like I said, if Rigdon did indeed have the manuscript in his possession, it might be expected that he would show his closest friends what he had. Well, these are multiple first and second hand witness accounts, stating he did exactly that.
This has been a massive abundance of witness testimony holding up the Spalding-Rigdon authorship theory, but it would be nice to have something more. Like verifiable evidence that can be replicated. It would be the final nail in the BoM's coffin if we had "Manuscript Found" to compare to the text of the BoM, but it's simply gone. Ironically, "Manuscript Story – Conneaut Creek" was found, and "Manuscript Found" was lost.
Luckily for us, we can glean a lot of information from Manuscript Story, which I'll talk about in a minute to take us to the end of this episode. First let me bring in one piece of tangible irrefutable, non-testimonial evidence of Solomon Spalding, and Sidney Rigdon being in the same place at the same time. The postal system in 1814 was nothing like it is now. You know how we all have street addresses, and house numbers, and tidy little distinctions between apartments at the same address, and a really nice person drives around in a goofy little van all day, and delivers our mail right to our doorstep? The mail system in the early 1800's consisted of a page in the local newspaper, with a list of names with unclaimed letters being held at the post office. These seemingly meaningless pages provided just the evidence we need to draw a connection between Rigdon and Spalding.
The Pittsburgh Commonwealth was the main newspaper being printed in Pittsburgh, and we have multiple pages from 1813 to 1815 that state Spalding had unclaimed letters in Pittsburgh. Then, in June 1816 for two separate publications of the paper, we have Spaldings and Rigdons names on the same page of unclaimed letters. This would make sense, as Pittsburgh was the only post office servicing the county at the time, meaning anybody living in smaller towns just outside of Pittsburgh would have to travel into town to get their mail. This corroborates Rebecca J. Eichbaum's testimony of seeing Rigdon and Spalding associating with each other while she was a clerk there from 1811-1815. This was only recently included into the pile of evidence supporting the Spalding theory, as nobody was aware that this would even be a place to look for evidence, bolstering the claims.
The next piece of evidence that I think really helps to bolster this theory is truly a damning one for the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith. But let's consider the theory as a whole. There is quite a wealth of witness testimony that Rigdon used a copy of Manuscript Found to help Joe author the Book of Mormon, but the theory can't rely solely on testimony. It needs material evidence, and it needs to provide some level of predictive power, if it is to be accepted as a plausible theory. Well, a pre-1816 connection between Rigdon and Spalding would be expected to be found somewhere, in order for Sidney to even know about this manuscript. We found the newspaper articles proving that connection, after it was hypothesized in accordance with the theory. But what other predictive power can be gleaned from this theory if it is correct?
Well, authors have their own unique style of writing. It almost acts like a fingerprint that can be seen a mile away when authors are compared to each other. It's how we know that Sidney Rigdon is responsible for writing some 60% of the Doctrine and Covenants. It used to take multiple scholars debating for decades about what writing style can be attributed to who, and how to identify fakes, frauds, and partial forgeries. Thanks to the digital age, computers are happy to do this arguing for us in microseconds, and give us statistically accurate models of what the text looks like as a whole on a graph.
If the Spalding theory is indeed true, we should be able to take a large sample of Solomon Spalding's writings, a collection of Sidney Rigdon's writings, and plug them into a program that references them against the Book of Mormon, and see some kind of correlation. Well, this has been done fairly recently, which seems to introduce a bit of new evidence lending some more plausibility to the Spalding theory.
The ExMormon Foundation ran an extremely comprehensive statistical test in mid 2009, and came up with the damning evidence they were expecting to find, if the theory holds true. But please, don't think this was the first analysis of this type done, it was just the most recent one by modern computing standards. The criteria used for the analyzing the Oberlin manuscript, compared to the Book of Mormon were criteria that are commonly used in linguistic study. Nothing was done that was unique to this study, that isn't done on any other comparative text study like this.
They plugged in "Manuscript Story – Conneaut Creek" and told the computer to find common phrases, unique plays on words, common linguistic themes, patterns in names of people or places, and a bunch of other criteria. Then, it took these patterns and pitted them against the original print of the Book of Mormon.
The study found a few false positives, but registered an unmistakable overabundance of connections between the Manuscript Story, and The Book of Mormon, specifically in Mosiah, Alma, and Ether. I wish there was some way I could properly illustrate this to you the listener, but only graphs do the job, so I will leave a link to the ExMormonFoundation youtube videos I used as my source for the connections.
Briefly describing the graphs, the person in the video has a graph wherein the x axis represents the contents of the BoM by verse. For every verse that has a hit compared to Spaldings writing style, a vertical red bar appears. This may seem very basic, but it's a statistically accurate way to plot the authors of the Book of Mormon in a visually reasonable way. Multiple graphs are shown with various points of inquiry. One graph contains common Spalding phrases such as: 'at the head of', 'march towards the land', 'overthrow and destruction', 'band of murderers', 'determined to conquer', 'immense slaughter', 'blood and carnage', to only name a few. Keep in mind these are all recurring in the Oberlin manuscript story that we have a copy of, and can examine today. Some of the themes that recurr throughout Manuscript Story that were examined against the BoM were: 'New world horses and elephants', 'race and skin color', 'division into two groups', 'tenants against intermarriage of races', 'system of judges', 'period of peace following messiah-like figure', 'wars and battles', and plenty more. Once again, the hotspots were overwhelmingly Mosiah, Alma, and Ether.
One major recurring theme that happened in the Manuscript Story, that can't be ignored, is the derivation of names from the roots of other names. The examples of this occuring in the BoM are almost painful, and Joe got the method right from Spalding. To give an some examples from the BoM, we see the name Ammon appear, but later we also see Ammaron, Ammoron, Ammonihah, Ammonihahite. Or we see Gid appear, and soon after, the names of Gideon, GidGidonhi, GidGidonhihah, Giddonah, Gadianton show up. Or we see Mormon pop up, but that's only after Moroni, Moron, Moronihah, and Ammoron come along. Are you sensing a pattern here? Manuscript Story did the same exact thing with it's names, and we can reasonably assume that Manuscript found did the same exact thing being written by the same person, Spalding, only months apart from the Manuscript Story.
Another way Joe copied Spalding, was using the names of places in New England and the great lakes area for places in his book. They both did it: 'Alma', 'Ogath', 'Comnor', 'Ephraim', 'Kishkumen', and the list goes on.
Thomas E. Donofrio performed an amazing analysis of the BoM compared to American revolutionary wartime recordings, by generals or large political figures. The similar verbiage is rife throughout the Book of Mormon. Sometimes a verbatim quote is found and the term 'Americans' gets swapped out for 'Nephites' in Joe's version.
The source material for the Book of Mormon goes on and on when we compare it statistically using modern computing and analysis. The more the Spalding theory is studied, the more credibility it gains. It's slowly eeking it's way back into the realm of Mormon history, but it's been marginalized as the outsider theory for quite some time. I only skimmed the surface when it comes to all the rabbit holes this beast has, and like I said at the beginning of the episode, the research for this one, really kicked my ass. The next historical analysis episode will be examining the 'View of the Hebrews' authorship theory. I know I have my work cut out for me on this one, and I also have a busy couple of weeks coming up. So what I'm going to do for next episode is post a debate I had with a Christian buddy of mine. No, he's not Mormon. For some reason it's hard to get Mormons to accept a good discussion/debate on this show. I would love to have a discussion with a TBM and post it, but none of my lines have tugged signifying an effective hook. Regardless, this was a really good conversation, and I'm going to post it as the next episode. I have to do this for a couple reasons. The view of the Hebrews theory takes a lot of research, I want to bring it fairly to the table, and see if it has more compelling evidence than the Spalding theory. It deserves a fair trial in the court of evidence, and I look forward to learning everything possible about it.
I'm well over my time for this episode, but I'm going to close out with one final thought about the official Church History concerning Spalding-Rigdon-Joseph connections. This was Rigdon's official response in 1839, more than 5 years after the allegations of the Spalding theory started to arise.
"COMMERCE, May 27th, 1839.
MESSRS. BARTLETT & SULLIVAN:
In your paper of the 18th inst. I see a letter signed by somebody, calling herself Matilda Davidson, pretending to give the origin of Mormonism, as she is pleased to call it, by relating a moonshine story about a certain Solomon Spalding, a creature with the knowledge of whose earthly existence, I am entirely indebted to this production; for surely, until Doctor Philastus Hurlburt informed me that such a being lived, at some former period, I had not the most distant knowledge of his existence; and all I now know about his character is, the opinion I form from what is attributed to his wife, in obtruding my name upon the public in the manner in which she is said to have done it, by trying to make the public believe, that I had knowledge of the ignorant, and according to her own testimony, the lying scribblings of her deceased husband; for if her testimony is to be credited, her pious husband, in his life time, wrote a bundle of lies, for the righteous purpose of getting money. How many lies he had told for the same purpose while he was preaching, she has not so kindly informed us; but we are at liberty to draw our own conclusions; for he that would write lies to get money, would also preach lies for the same object. This being the only information which I have, or ever had, of this said Rev. Solomon Spalding, I, of necessity have but a very light opinion of him as a gentleman, a scholar, or a man of piety; for had he been either, he certainly would have taught his pious wife not to lie, nor unite herself with adulterers, liars, and the basest of mankind.
It is only necessary to say, in relation to the whole story about Spalding's writings being in the hands of Mr. Patterson, who was in Pittsburg, and who is said to have kept a printing office, and my saying that I was concerned in said office, &c. &c. is the most base of lies, without even the shadow of truth; there was no man by the name of Patterson during my residence at Pittsburgh who had a printing office; what might have been before I lived there I know not. Mr. Robert Patterson, I was told, had owned a printing office before I lived in that city, but had been unfortunate in business, and failed before my residence there. This Mr. Patterson, who was a Presbyterian preacher, I had a very slight acquaintance with during my residence in Pittsburgh. He was then acting under an agency, in the book and stationery business, and was the owner of no property of any kind, printing office, or any thing else, during the time I resided in the city."
It's hard to believe that Rigdon would try and obscure his history so blatantly, unless he had something to hide. Why else would rigdon deny being in pittsburgh and working at a tanner during critical years for the theory to hold up? Well, Rigdon simply lied and denied, when faced with tough accusations. He attacked the characters of the people accusing him, and deflected the charge. He bold faced lied about living in or near Pittsburgh before 1822, and about his relationship with Patterson that owned the printing press/book store in Pittsburgh.
When we compare the claims of Rigdon, who had everything to gain and everything to lose, against the claims of the 20 plus people that directly contradicted Rigdon on multiple independent accounts, some truths begin to show through. These 20 plus people had nothing to gain, but a clean conscience, by speaking out against Rigdon and the church, and they had nothing to lose. Rigdon was the one who benefitted from the history being recorded in the way he saw fit, and that's what happened. Winston Churchill once said, "History is written by the victor", and that is made abundantly clear in this case. What's more believable? That Rigdon stole the manuscript and turned it into the Book of Mormon with the help of Joe, and then both of them lied about their connections before the book was published, or that all 20 plus people, statistical data, authentic newspaper clippings, and circumstantial evidence are all wrong, and Rigdon and Joe were the only ones telling the truth. What really makes the most sense here?
I'm sorry, but I cut this episode way short of everything that I needed to talk about. If you want episodes that are gauranteed to be 50% longer than previous episodes, go to patreon.com/nakedmormonism to make a per episode donation. You can also help out a bunch by going to iTunes and leaving a 5 star review. Those reviews mean a lot when people are searching for new podcasts to listen to, and this show could really use a boost in that department.
There was one new NaMo Juvenile Delinquint to thank for signing up, Kristin P. Thank you for your support, and thank you even more for your constant correspondence on the Facebook page. It's really fun to have you in the NaMo ranks and contributing to the social medias, and I wish you the best of luck on your journey through the NaMo kingdom.
That's it for this episode I suppose. One more thing I did want to mention, another reason I'm doing a debate episode next time is they take less work and I can still keep to the same timeline, even though I have a crazy couple of weeks ahead of me. Next weekend I'll be in Utah for a friends wedding, and the following week, I'm going to ReAsonCon in North Carolina on April 25th-26th, and I'm really looking forward to meeting a bunch of big name Podcasters there. Scathing Atheist, Cognitive Dissonance, MyBoM, Atheists on Air, not to mention all the speakers in the movement that will be there, David Fitzgerald, David Smalley, Tracie Harris, the list goes on for a while, and I'm pretty excited to go. So if any of you happen to be going, find me and I'll be happy to buy you a drink.
That wraps up Episode 15, I hope to talk at ya again, here on the Naked Mormonism podcast.
As for rebuking the many demons emanating from Howe's 1834 book, the Mormon Brethren had printed, here and there, now and again, a few small items which functioned as semi-refutations to the several accusations made against them and their scriptures. Rigdon certainly had some hand (either in writing or in approving) these snippets of apologetic. But the one example of anti-Howe rhetoric which most closely approximates the invective of his May 27th 1839 missive was an interesting editorial which had appeared only ten months before in the final issue of Joseph Smith's own *Elders' Journal,*published at Far West, Missouri:
This was published to the Mormons as the earliest official refutation, and just a heads up, it's blindingly racist.
"One thing we have learned that there are negroes who wear white skins as well as those who wear black ones.... no sooner were they excluded from the fellowship of the Church and gave loose to all kind of abominations, swearing, lying, cheating, swindling, drinking with every species of debauchery..."
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