Ep 28 – Battle for Zion
On this episode, we wrap up 1832 with an early dictation of Joe's history that was recounted to empower Joe's divinity claim above that of Rigdon's. It works, and 1833 transitions pretty smoothly with the formation of the School of the Prophets. Doctor Philastus Hurlbut enters the timeline and is excommunicated twice, and goes on a mad crusade to expose the Mormon church. The Word of Wisdom is introduced, and a battle ensues in Jackson County, Missouri.
Outro music Jason Comeau http://aloststateofmind.com/
Joseph Smith translation bible
John Goebbels Whitmer's history
Philo Dibble Dabble Autobiography
Welcome to Episode 28 of the Naked Mormonism Podcast, the serial history podcast. Today is February 18th , my name is Bryce Blankenagel, and thank you for joining me.
Correction on last week's episode.
Last historical episode marked a very large occurence in Mormon history. At the time it happened, it was probably nothing special, but in April of 1832 Brigham Young joined the church with his brothers soon to follow. We spent half of the episode just reading amazing Brigham Young quotes, and quite frankly, he came across as a crazed sociopathic pedophile, with a maniacally narcissistic god complex, you know, kinda like Joe, only Brigham went full tilt with the supervillian. I've been waiting quite some time for this man to enter into the timeline, and now that he's here, we can really watch some church politics and backbiting happen. Strap in kids, this ride is getting more looney every episode.
Of course, before we talked about Brigham Young and some of his quotes, we had to advance the timeline a little bit. We talked about Philo Dibble-Dabble financing a couple of mission trips, as well as providing the money necessary to purchase the printing press in New York. The press was purchased by Father Newel K. Whitney, and Algernon Sidney, or Asid Gilbert, and moved to Independence Missouri, where William Wines, Double-Dub, Phelps would oversee printing of a few different publications. One of these was the Evening and Morning star, which was the church distributed newspaper wherein current events and new revelations were provided. Another of these publications was the Mormon only hymn book, for which Joe commissioned his wife Emma to select her favorite hymns to include. The final of the publications that was to be printed was the Book of Commandments, which was the accumulation of a large percentage of the revelations that Joe, Ollie, and Hingepin Rigdon had given up to this point.
Joe went on a personal mission to acquire the paper needed for all of these works to go into print, and ran into a little snag. Turns out paper was expensive, and they didn't have much money. Initially it was planned that 10,000 copies of the Book of Commandments would be published. That number was changed to 3,000, and the physical size of the book was shrunk to pocket size in order to save paper.
Before that, we met a very special person to Joe, Mary Elizabeth Rollins. She was one of the first women that Joe met that would later become one of his wives. She entered our timeline by receiving a Book of Mormon from a wealthy local landowner, Isaac Morley, whom we named Yelrom Morley after the commune he would later found. After that, Mary converted to Mormonism. She was working with Peter Whitmer, who was working as a tailor for the newly inaugurated Lt. Gov. Lilburn Boggs, who tried to deconvert Mary, and eventually signed the Mormon extermination order.
The main thing, other than Brigham Young, that we focused on in last episode was the United Order. Finances have been one point of Mormon history that we can't seem to break away from. There always seemed to be a problem with money, or simple lack therof, and it required divine revelations to remedy the problems. Joe had dipped so far into the gracious pockets of the new Mormons by taking their donations, but it simply wasn't sustainable. He had to set up the law of tithing, requiring gifts of money from the parishoners, and establish the United Order to hopefully organize and budget that money somehow. All of this would eventually fail, and the Kirtland Safety Society would be established soon after, but for now the United Order was the financial glue that held Kirtland, and the church as a whole, together.
Alright, that was enough roundup, let's get into the meat of today's episode. Once the printing store was set up in Independence and Joe ordered the 3000 copies of the Book of Commandments and hymn book to be published, Joe, Rigdon, and Father Whitney make their way back to Kirtland. Joe would return to his wife who was still living in the Johnson home in Hiram, Ohio, Rigdon would return to Kirtland, and Father Whitney would continue working at the Whitney store in Kirtland, which had been absorbed by the church, and was under the control of Bishop Eddy Party-Boy Partridge. During the return trip from Independence back to Kirtland, Father Whitney broke his leg in a wagon accident. This probably isn't important, but it's worth including, if nothing else, for the humanity of Whitney's experience.
In the summer of 1832, publications started to come out of the printing press and reach the followers of Mormonism. They covered everything from revelations, to politics, to foreign affairs, to calls to action by the church leadership, and everything in between.
This is an excerpt from the Star's foreign news section:
"It is a day of strange appearances. Everything indicates something more than meets the eye. Every nation is opening events which astonish mankind. Even the heart of man begins to melt at the prospect before him. The unquenchable thirst for news; the continuity of emigration, the wars and rumors of wars, with many other signs of the distress of nations, from the old world – as the land is called across the ocean – whisper so loud to the understanding, that he who runs may read the label on the eastern sky – The end is nigh."
As you can tell, the star was good for some real, non-biased, fact based reporting that really gets down to brass tax, and doesn't discuss anything ambiguously for the sake of christianizing it.
Let's get another excerpt from the same publication. I'm not sure if this was actually the first publication of the Evening and Morning Star, but it's the first one that appears in the History of the Church after the printing press was established, so I assume it is.
This desolating sickness is spreading steadily over the United States. The account of its ravages in many places we cannot give. The whole number of cases in New York, to July 31st is 3,731. Deaths, 1,520."
Cholera is something that will become more and more pervasive throughout the history of the church. This Cholera epidemic was really getting started in the 1830's, but by the 1840's in Nauvoo, a large percentage of the Mormons were infected, and it was taking a very heavy toll on the church and its people.
The next few lines from that same excerpt are really telling when trying to understand the mindset and perspective of an early 19th century outbreak, and trying to explain it.
"No man can stop the work of the Lord, for God rules the pestilence, and the pestilence rules men. Forts, sentinels, and oceans may hinder men, or money may bribe, but when the pestilence rides on the wings of the wind, the sentinel has no power; the fort is no obstacle, the ocean is no barrier, and money has no value, the destroying angel goes waving the banner of death over all; and who shall escape his pointed arrow? Not he that could brave death at the cannon's mouth, but shrinks at the sound of the cholera; not he that worship[p]ed his God in some stately chapel, every Sabbath till the cholera comes, and then flees for his life; no, none but he that trusts in God, shall be able to Stand when a thousand shall fall at his side, and ten thousand at his right hand by the noisome pestilence."
I like to see little passages like this. I like to use historical empathy when it comes to studying history. If I can jump into these people's shoes, it really helps to insert the human element. It helps us understand not only the situations and occurences, but the people that experienced said situations and occurences. Put yourself there, and imagine watching friends and members of your family contracting cholera, with no reasonable explanation, and, statistically speaking, watching almost half of them die off from it.
This was long before the Soho, London Cholera outbreak of 1854 where John Snow really kicked off the science of epidemiology. This was a time when babies were dying constantly because doctors wouldn't wash their hands when they went from performing autopsies, to delivering babies. This was a time when the vast majority of people had no idea what germs or bacteria were, nor did they understand how any of it was transmitted. What else would they use to expalin it other than God controlling pestilence, and selecting who lives and dies according to their righteousness? It's always worth keeping in mind, this is the world and mindset the Book of Mormon was born out of.
On September 22, 1832, a very odd trip happens, and I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it. I can find almost nothing in the books about this trip, which is quite odd. Usually when Joe goes somewhere, he had somebody follow him that wrote down what he was doing. In the case of his trip to Independence, we can track when he left, what his main objective was (buying paper), and see when he arrived, as well as when he returned. For this trip that we're about to discuss, this is the only thing that is recorded, and it's taken from the History of the Church.
"I continued the translation of the Bible and ministering to the Church, through the fall, excepting a hurried journey to Albany, New York and Boston, in company with Bishop Whitney, from which I returned on the 6th of November, immediately after the birth of my son Joseph Smith, the third."
And that's it. With all of his other trips that last almost a month and a half, there is usually a stated purpose, and some details like departure and arrival dates, but all we have from the entire month of October 1832, is one love letter that Joe wrote to Emma. The purpose of the trip, and what happened are completely absent from the record. Let me be clear, this happens occasionally throughout Joe's timeline, so it's not extremely out of the ordinary, the main point I'm focusing on is how little of a mention it receives, and why it was "hurried".
With a bit of cursory searching, I was hard pressed to find anything on this trip from my usual sources. Even branching out into some other publications by BYU, this trip is largely ignored, even though it was very peculiar, and came at a very busy time in Joe's life. Anything I find online about it just links back to this passage in the History of the Church.
I really don't like it when I venture into waters where there isn't much writing on the subject, because then I open myself up to be completely and absurdly wrong, and I don't have a source to fall back on as a safety net. Oh well, here goes, follow me through this hypothetical, work with me for a minute here.
In writing a couple of chapters of the forthcoming book, I've been studying a lot about the Spalding authorship theory. If you're listening to this and don't know what I'm referring to, go back and listen to some older episodes, because it's a massive body of evidence that takes too long to cover here. In order to try and explain this journey, I'm going to assume, for argument's sake, that the Spalding authorship theory is true and Rigdon was responsible for a large portion of the Book of Mormon. Given the available evidence, it's not even a little bit hard to think this is the case, and grant truth to the evidence, even if it's just for argument's sake.
In mid February of 1832 Orson Hyde and Samuel Smith preached the Book of Mormon in Conneaut, Ohio. This was only a few months after the first newspaper article had linked Rigdon as being the author of the Book of Mormon. When the missionaries preached from it, the people claimed that it was written by an older man named Solomon Spalding. If Rigdon had taken Spalding's "Manuscript Found," he would have known about this chink in the armor of the Book of Mormon, and he would know that Spalding's widow and daughter would be the one place where the Book of Mormon could be demonstrably proven wrong, that is, if somebody were to ask them for Spalding's writings. Matilda Davison may have had a copy of Manuscript Found, and there is evidence to suggest that Hurlbut may have attained a copy of it along with Manuscript Story – Conneaut Creek.
We know that the shit hit the fan when the theory was widely popularized with Eber Howe's book, but Rigdon would have known it to be a loose end that would destroy the church's credibility. At this time, Jerome Clark had most of Spalding's old writings in Harwick NY, but Matilda Davison, Spalding's wife, was living with her daughter, Matilda McKinstry, in Boston. If there were an older copy of Manuscript Found in existence, the only reasonable place to assume it would be, is in the possession of Spalding's widow.
Joe and Father Whitney made a "hurried" journey to Boston, and Albany, a round-trip journey of well over 1,200 miles, a couple week's journey each direction. It's hard to believe that was just a spur of the moment thing, but consider the timeline, this was a mere 6 months after Orson Hyde and Samuel Smith returned from their mission in Conneaut. That 6 month period was specifically a busy one for Joe, so if he had to make this more than a month long journey to Boston, he had to plan things out. Also consider that in the History of the Church, it just said that Joe returned right after his son Joseph Smith III was born. Why would an expecting father take off for that long, right before his baby was born, only a month and a half after he'd returned from a 2 month long trip to Zion to set up the printing press? This trip is just so far out of the ordinary, and seems like it was so haphazardly thrown together. Joe was so busy with so many things that were happening, how could something take more precidence over his own child's birth, and yet only receive an ambiguous sentence or two in the history?
In October and November of the following year, 1833, Hurlbut would be making that same exact journey to try and ascertain Manuscript Found.
I would argue, that if the existence of Manuscript Found held an existential threat to the church, I can understand how it would be pressing enough to leave his 8 month pregnant wife behind, knowing Joe might not return in time to be there for the birth of Joseph Smith III.
Maybe, just maybe, and this is where I start to travel into really unknown waters, but maybe Joe and Father Whitney made the trip out to Boston to try and get the original manuscript of Manuscript Found. The printer's manuscript is what is theorized as being taken from the printing press by Rigdon for the Spalding theory to work, but Spalding didn't just start writing the printer's manuscript. Just like Joe, and almost all authors, Spalding probably had a rough draft or original manuscript of Manuscript Found, and had left the printers manuscript at the Patterson printing press.
The problem of leaving a printers manuscript at a printer, is the possibility of having somebody come along and steal or plageirize the work was pervasive in those times, as it is now. Even Joe himself was the victim to this when a guy named Abner Cole read the first part of the printers manuscript of the Book of Mormon, and printed it along with his own satirical version called the Book of Pukei, in which he called Joseph Smith, Joe the Ignoramus. People had their work stolen all the time, and Spalding was possibly victim of the same problem, only it was after his death, so he couldn't care.
This is how I see it, and this is where I really creep out onto the skinny part of the branch without any safety net to fall into.
I believe that Spalding had a rough draft called "Manuscript Story – Conneaut Creek". He also had an original manuscript of "Manuscript Found," and was in the process of putting the last touches on the printer's manuscript of it before publishing, that is, until he became ill and died.
After that, in February of 1832 Orson Hyde and Samuel Smith were preaching in Conneaut, where Spalding was living while working on his stories, and heard the complaints of the people that claimed the Book of Mormon was taken from Spalding's work.
They returned from their mission and informed Joe of the concerns raised in Conneaut, and Joe told Rigdon that the shit storm was a brewin'. Rigdon wanting to contain the problem, sent Joe on an emergency trip to find that original manuscript, and save the church from plageirism charges that would obliterate Rigdon and Joe's Mormonite commune. Father Whitney, having enough coin to get them to Boston and back with minimal amounts of walking and camping on the side of the road, was sent to accompany Joe, and possibly provide a decoy.
Upon arriving to Boston, where Spalding's widow and daughter live, Joe and Father Whitney knock on their door, and say they are old friends of Solomon. They are invited in for coffee to discuss old times about Spalding, and during the visit, they acquire the knowledge that the trunk with Spalding's writings is in Hartwick, New York with Jerome Clark. The men thank Matilda Davison and Matilda McKinstry for their hospitality, and immediately head for Hartwick, a very small town that's not far from Albany.
They go to the home of Jerome Clark, to try and get ahold of the manuscript, and for whatever reason they are unable to do so. Maybe Clark wasn't home, maybe Father Whitney wasn't enough of a distraction for Joe to be able to break away and look through the chest and find it, maybe they didn't even find Jerome Clark. Who knows, Joe had a bad habit for things not working out in his favor, and this probably was no different.
On the flipside, maybe Joe was able to break away from the conversation for long enough to rummage through the chest and grab the original manuscript of "Manuscript Found," and slip it under his frock coat and burn it later. Regardless, when Hurlbut came looking over a year later, there wouldn't be a copy of "Manuscript Found" for him to take, so he grabbed "Manuscript Story – Conneaut Creek" and split. Or, if Joe didn't get ahold of it, maybe Hurlbut did have a copy, which is a whole other rabbit hole that we'll dive down when we get to the lawsuit that Joe filed against Hurlbut for threatening to murder him and destroy Mormonism.
According to this nutty theory that I'm positing, Joe was most likely unsuccessful, and chose to record the trip as a mere blip on the radar of Mormon history. He would return to tell Rigdon that he'd failed in his mission to get ahold of Spaldings work, and they would cross their fingers in hopes that this would be the last of it.
Like I said, I crept way out on that limb without any scholarship that I could find to be a safety net, but it makes sense in my mind. It serves to explain why Joe went on this urgent trip to the places Hurlbut went to, in order to find the exact manuscript that Hurlbut would try to find in late 1833. It explains why Joe didn't record any specifics about the trip, and why he didn't provide any revelations during it, or visit any believers or give any sermons while out in that area. Joe had never been to Boston before, what was in it for him to travel there now, at the busiest time in his life. It could also be said that Joe and Father Whitney needed supplies, or needed to visit some other people in that area, and those are both understandable explanations, so I'm positing a single motive beyond that.
This point of the conspiracy that I'm pointing at, serves to explain a fair amount of evidence, and is perfectly within the scope of reality, if the Spalding authorship theory is true. It's understandable that Joe and Rigdon would go to extreme lengths to silence such damning accusations.
In thinking about it, had somebody come along and talked with Matilda Davison, and Matilda McKinstry, about their husband and father, that might be something that they would mention in meeting with Hurlbut, and you can be damn sure that Hurlbut would have reported Joe being there a year before him to cover his own messy tracks, if Davison or McKinstry had said anything about it.
Like I said, there is no scholarly backing for the claim that Joe investigated the whereabouts of Manuscript Found 10 months before Hurlbut did. There is an understandable excuse that he was buying supplies or something, but that doesn't explain why it was so "hurried" and seemingly hasty. It's my own little theory about this trip, and I look forward to retracting it once somebody emails in and calls me a wack-o conspiracy theorist, and provides a different explanation.
Let's get back to reality. Once Joe arrived back in Kirtland after his trip to Boston and Albany, or Hartwick if you buy what I just claimed, Joseph Smith III had already been born. This was the first of Joe's children that would survive longer than a few hours, and live long after Joe's gunfight death.
Joe's timeline had been a mess up to this point. I'm not just talking for us to try and recount today, but even back then. Much like today, most of the people that were members of Joe's church knew very little about him, and the origin of the Book of Mormon. They'd heard that an angel appeared to Joe and Ollie and gave them the priesthood, and they'd heard how he'd valiantly rescued the plates from the ground, and translated them with the help of Ollie and others. They had probably even heard about NSSM losing the 116 pages, but they probably didn't know about the first vision story. The reason I bring this up is to talk about Joe's first, first vision scenario.
This was recorded in the handwriting of Joseph Smith personally and Freddy G Willey. The testimony actually alternates between their handwriting for certain parts, which seems strange to me, but I'm sure there is some legitimate reason for it. This was also recorded at a time when Hingepin Rigdon had been essentially kicked out of the church for...... you guessed it..... calling Joe a false prophet. At the sunday meeting on July 8, 1832, Joe demanded that Rigdon surrender his priesthood license because Rigdon had once again claimed that the keys of the kingdom were lost, and that he alone retained them. Rigdon pulled this same trick back in early 1832, before the mob came and tried to castrate Joe, and beat Rigdon senseless when they tarred and feathered them both.
During the first insurrection, Rigdon had claimed that the keys were taken from the earth, and I posited the claim that Joe beat the living fuck out of him for trying to scare the parishoners away from him. The history recounted it as "an unseen force tossed him around the room" (paraphrasing of course) but I think the force was seen by Rigdon when it was happening, and it was probably Joe just being a loose cannon like always.
Well, this lead to another insurrection a mere 6 months later, wherein Rigdon told everybody that Joe had again lost the keys to the kingdom, yet Rigdon had retained them. We've seen this happen a couple of times to Joe, and this wouldn't be the last time by far. Apparently, three weeks after this little tissy fit, Rigdon was reinstated into the church presidency, without a horrible beating as a rite of passage, like had been the case in late 1831.
This explains why Joe would record his own personal history at this time. Joe was facing another obstacle that could turn the parishoners of the church against him, so he came up with this divine conversion story, typical of born again christianity, and no, it's not much more than that, to set him apart from Rigdon, and hope that everybody would continue to follow him. This was also just before the whole thing was set to unravel with the problems giving wind to Spalding rumors in Conneaut. Things were quickly unravelling for Joe, so he recorded his history once and for all, for all to examine, question, and validate the truth of Joe's claims of being a prophet.
Joe's first version of the first vision is as follows, taken from church run josephsmithpapers.org:
"I was born in the town of Charon [Sharon] in the <State> of Vermont North America on the twenty third day of December AD 1805 of goodly Parents4 who spared no pains to instruct<ing> me in <the> christian religion[.] at the age of about ten years my Father Joseph Smith Seignior moved to Palmyra Ontario County5 in the State of New York and being in indigent circumstances were obliged to labour hard for the support of a large Family having nine chilldren6 and as it require d their exertions of all that were able to render any assistance for the support of the Family therefore we were deprived of the bennifit of an education suffice it to say I was mearly instruct tid in reading and writing and the ground <rules> of Arithmatic which const[it]uted my whole lite rary acquirements.7 At about the age of twelve years my mind become seriously imprest with regard to the all importent concerns of for the well fare of my immortal Soul which led me to search ing the scriptures believeing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of differant denominations led me to marvel excedingly for I discovered that <they did not adorn> instead of adorning their profession by a holy walk and God ly conversation8 agreeable to what I found contain ed in that sacred depository this was a grief to my Soul thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the sittuation of the world of mankind the contentions and divi[si]ons the wicke[d]ness and abominations and the darkness which pervaded the of the minds of mankind[.] my mind become excedingly distressed for I become convicted of my sins and by searching the scriptures I found that mand <mankind> did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament9 and I felt to mourn for my own sins and for the sins of the world10 for I learned in the scriptures that God was the same yesterday to day and forever11 that he was no respecter to persons12 for he was God for I looked upon the sun the glorious luminary of the earth and also the moon rolling in their magesty through the heavens and also the stars shining in their courses and the earth also upon whic h I stood and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in magesty and in the strength of beauty whose power and intiligence in governing the things which are so exceding great and marvilous even in the likeness of him who created him <them> and when I considered upon these things my heart exclai med well hath the wise man said the <it is a> fool <that> saith in his heart there is no God13 my heart exclaimed all all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotant and omnipreasant power a being who makith Laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds14 who filleth Eternity who was and is and will be from all Eternity to Eternity and when <I> considered all these things and that <that> being seeketh such to worshep him as wors hip him in spirit and in truth15 therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and to obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderne ss and while in <the> attitude of calling upon the Lord <in the 16th year of my age> a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the <Lord> opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord16 and he spake unto me saying Joseph <my son> thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy <way> walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life <behold> the world lieth in sin and at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside from the gospel and keep not <my> commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to thir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which <hath> been spoken by the mouth of the prophe ts and Ap[o]stles17 behold and lo I come quickly as it [is?] wr itten of me in the cloud <clothed> in the glory of my Father18 and my soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great Joy and the Lord was with me but could find none that would believe the hevnly vision nevertheless I pondered these things in my heart[.] <freddy willey> I fell into transgressions and sinned in many things which brought a wound upon my soul and there were many things which transpired that cannot be writen and my Fathers family have suffered many persicutions and afflictions and it came to pass when I was seventeen years of age I called again upon the Lord and he shewed unto me a heavenly vision for behold an angel of the Lord21 came and stood before me and it was by night and he called me by name and he said the Lord had forgiven me my sins and he revealed unto me that in the Town of Manchester Ontario County N.Y. there was plates of gold upon which there was engravings which was engraven by Maroni & his fathers the servants of the living God in ancient days and deposited by th[e] commandments of God and kept by the power thereof and that I should go and get them and he revealed unto me many things concerning the inhabitents of of the earth which since have been revealed in com mandments & revelations and it was on the 22d day of Sept. AD 1◊82 1822 and thus he appeared unto me three times in one night and once on the next day and then I immediately went to the place and found where the plates was deposited as the angel of the Lord had commanded me and straightway made three attempts to get them and then being excedingly frightened I supposed it had been a dreem of Vision but when I considred I knew that it was not therefore I cried unto the Lord in the agony of my soul why can I not obtain them23 behold the angel appeared unto me again and said unto me you have not kept the commandments of the Lord which I gave unto you therefore you cannot now obtain them for the time is not yet fulfilled therefore thou wast left unto temptation that thou mightest be made accquainted of with the power of the advisary therefore repent and call on the Lord thou shalt be forgiven and in his own due time thou shalt obtain them[.]"
There were a few small but significant differences in that recounting of his first vision account. If you look at it in parallel to the first vision account dictated in 1838, included in the history of the church and the Book of Mormon, it's easy to see where the narrative has been changed, or slightly modified in some way. It leads me to a couple of questions. Why change the details in the first place? Why omit details that other people had recounted prior to this, e.g., the toad man spirit guardian, the three appearances of Maroni, change from 1822 to 1823, Jesus and God being separate beings, etc. Why change what God said when he did appear to Joe? Why did God and Jesus separately descend over Joe's head in 1820 in the latest accounts, but in this earliest account the heavens merely opened up and Joe heard God say his sins are forgiven in 1822? Why omit the part about all the other churches are abominations, and their professors are corrupt?
There are tons of differences here to parse out between this first account in 1832, versus the 1838 version that is taught today, and I've mentioned most of them. The main question is just why? In a court of law, it's seen as a problem if a witness statement becomes more and more epic and detailed with each telling, that implies embellishment, false remembering, or at worst, outright lying.
For a much better deconstruction of the four different first vision accounts, I would recommend "An Insider's View of Mormon Origins" by Grant Palmer. In his chapter on the first vision, he puts the different versions side by side and illustrates some very striking differences in the stories. He shows a definite progression of the stories, as they became more agrandized and epic with each telling from 1832 to 1838.
Pay attention to what was happening in the storyline here. Let's put this all into context and see if we can see a recurring theme. The recurring theme I'm referring to centers around authority claims. The first authority claim Joe made was the sole ability to baptize by Him and Ollie Cowdung. When Ollie probably initiated the first insurrection in mid 1830, pulling the Whitmers and others away from the church, the story of the Aaronic priesthood was popularized, and Ollie was called the second Elder of the church, while Joe claimed to be the first Elder.
The next one we point to is Rigdon's insurrection early in 1832, when Joe possibly beat the hell out of him. Once Rigdon tried to cut off Joe again in July of 1832, Joe knew that a beating would be suspicious, so he invented the vision of divinity in 1822, and made the story of Maroni sound even better in this 1832 account we just read.
Extending beyond that, I don't know much about the context of the 1835 and 1836 accounts that Joe gave, but I know that his dictated history of the church in 1838 was due to the church nearly imploding due to the fall of the Kirtland Safety Society, when people left the church in droves. Of course, the 1838 version of Joe's history is what's detailed in the History of the church vol. 1, and it's by far the most epic version, in comparison to his earlier accounts. Most historians understand the 1838 JSH to be the least reliable, and most inflated of all the histories of Joe, and for that reason usually argue about the veracity of the 1832 account we just read.
Did you see the recurring theme throughout the recounted histories? They all seem to be the love child of a power struggle between Joe and somebody. Think about it, in 1830, Joe was threatened by Ollie who may have been trying to take over the church, so he claimed higher authority than Ollie had. In 1832, Rigdon tried to cut off the anthropromorphic tumor, Joe, and Joe reacted first with physical violence, then by inventing an authority claim that superceded Rigdon's authority.
In 1838, the church had a truly existential threat, and hemorraged people, and Joe came up with God and Jesus appearing to him separately in the sacred grove in 1820 at the age of 14. Of course, this was long before Rigdon was even a preacher, Ollie was even a thought in people's minds, and long before Joe was convicted for glass looking in 1826, so this authority claim was the best thing Joe could latch onto, without bending the truth noticably out of proportion. Maybe this is a ridiculous question, but does that sound like something that fits the description of the one true prophet of God, or does it sound a little more like a con-man.
I actually got in an email that I was planning on talking about in the listener mail section of this episode, but it's pertinent right now. This is the from Anna:
Listening to the top of ep 27, it seems obvious that Joe was conning Rigdon's wife into thinking that he (Rigdon) was out of his mind rather than being justifiably angry.
Rigdon knows that Joe's womanizing (girlizing?) caused the mob attack that almost got him killed. He's furious and calls for his razor to kill Joe. He's probably not spelling out what Joe did, but his anger makes Mrs. R suspicious of Joe's behavior. But then after Mrs. R leaves the room, Joe pulls her aside and says "Oh, he's out of his mind! He just now wanted the razor to kill you!" No doubt in my mind Joe just made that up on the spot. Con men gotta con, 24/7.
Anyway, love the show!"
That's what I wanted to convey, but Anna did a much better job of it. Joe was a con-man, and the instant that his cons didn't overlap, or there was a chink in the armor, it posed a crisis to Joe's alter ego of the one true prophet, and may have caused people to question him. In reaction to these multiple crises, Joe just made up bigger and better stories about how he was called of God, and nobody could unseat him from his throne. No wonder he got fuckin shot, people were sick of his god complex and couldn't deal with this ravenous villian that was operating outside the boundaries of any rules. Nothing was sacred to this man, and he only looked out for number 1. If there's one takeaway from this show, Joe was a master con artist, and con men gotta con 24/7.
Given everything we just talked about, is it really all that crazy to imagine that Joe had made the trip to Boston and Hartwick to find "Manuscript Found" and effectively cover his own ass? I know that was a while ago, but it all ties in together, and all of these stories are bright red flags, and markers of a typical con-man.
It's finally time in our historical narrative to sow up 1832, and move the timeline into 1833. The church had recorded 538 members in an early December meeting, and it was only going to grow from there. Some very exciting things happened in 1832, but 1833 is sure to promise much more excitement. 1833 is the year in which the Book of Commandments is produced in very limited numbers before the Independence printing press was destroyed. It's the year Doctor Philastus Hurlbut joins the church, and is excommunicated twice, the United Order dissolves, multiple apostasies and breakoff factions start, money problems begin to become a real threat, people talk in tongues, Dick Zyban Peterson leaves the church, or rather the church leaves him when it's driven out of Missouri, the Spalding theory really starts to ramp up and pull a lot of people away from the church, and Hurlbut threatens Joe's life and is arrested for it. Let's see how far into these shenanigans we can get before this episode becomes too long to deal with and we have to shut it down.
First thing to focus on is what's recorded for January 23rd of 1833 in the History of the church.
"About the 8th of November I received a visit from Elders Joseph Young, Brigham Young, and Heber C. Kimball of Mendon, Monroe county, New York. They spent four or five days at Kirtland, during which we had many interesting moments. At one of our interviews, Brother Birgham Young and John P. Greene spoke in tongues, which was the first time I had heard this gift among the brethren, others also spoke, and I received the gift myself. . .
On the 23rd of January, we again assembled in conference; when after much speaking, singing praying, and praising God, all in tongues, we proceeded to the washing of feet. . . as commanded of the Lord. Each Elder washed his own feet first, after which I girded myself with a towel and washed the feet of all of them, wiping them with the towel with which I was girded."
Those were a couple of passages that were separated by a few pages in the History of the church, but I included them together to add some context of what that speaking in tongues means.
Mormons today think that the gift of tongues is basically what missionaries get when they're learning a new language, or a gift that believers get in extreme situations where God needs to speak through them. This is a very nuanced, and frankly inaccurate version of what Joe talked about when he recorded speaking in tongues in these passages. This is the kind of speaking in tongues that pentacostles are known for now.
(Speaking in tongues clip)
See what I mean? That's nothing like what believing Mormons consider speaking in tongues. Although, it is odd, because Mormons do believe that some people are gifted with speaking in the adamic language, or the perfect language before the tower of babel. If I'm not mistaken, it's claimed that the plates were written in the perfect language, that was actually called reformed egyptian when under critical scrutiny. I could be having a false memory, but I think that's one of the claims about the Gold plates. Well, Joe, Brigham, and apparently many others were tongue savants, and I'm not talking sexually, although given the number of women most of these guys had, that could also be a possiblity.
What I'm talking about is the gift of being able to randomly blabble preposterously nonsensical ramblings, and people think it's some kind of lost language that God speaks. I know this is absurd, and not part of Mormon teachings nowadays, but back in Joe's day, it happened plenty, and was considered a gift from God.
These early accounts of November 1832, and January 1833 are the earliest time we hear talk of Joe speaking in tongues the way we see pentacostles today. This was all part of a bigger plan that Joe was working on to teach people his doctrine. This plan included the School of the Prophets, which was basically The Hitler Youth, Joe edition, and it leads us into a discussion about the Doctrine and Covenants.
The Doctrine and covenants that are available online today, or at an LDS retailer near you, are a bastard child of what the original included. Initially it started out as the Book of Commandments which went to print in late 1832, and had limited production in 1833. This was a collection of Joe's greatest hit revelations up to this point, and ended at chapter 65. Soon after it went to print, Joe and company realized that there were going to be a lot more revelations that would need to be included for the church to function with this book as part of its religious canon.
They would also need to include some lessons, so there would be more in the book than just boring revelations commanding people to do stuffs. This lead to the 1835 compilation of the Doctrine and Covenants.
The D&C included a lot more revelations than the Book of Commandments, and were considered the Covenants part of the book, but the beginning had the Lectures on Faith. That was the Doctrine part of the Doctrine and Covenants. That's why it was called the D&C. First part was the Lectures on Faith, the Doctrine part, and the second part was Covenants, or the most important revelations given up to 1835.
The Lectures on Faith were the primary thing taught in the School of the Prophets that Joe started on January 23, 1833. I'm not too informed on them, so I won't dive too deep into them now, but basically they were bunch of lectures or question/answer articles that inform the student or reader on some basic tenants of Mormonism. I look forward to reading them on My Book of Mormon with David because I have a feeling that they are going push his show over the edge into psychoville with Joe as King bat-shit crazyface. I'm really REALLY excited to get to those, and I find it an absolute shame that they have been removed from the current version.
The Doctrine part of Doctrine and Covenants has been removed from the book. I mean, how are we to know the doctrine, if it was taken out of the book called the Doctrine and Covenants? Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with the context of when they were taken out, but I do know that the 1921 edition of the D&C didn't have the Doctrine portion intact. I wouldn't be surprised if some people could go to D.I., or some yard sales in Utah and find some pre-1921 D&C with the Lectures on Faith still intact as the Doctrine part.
This is a call to action, everybody that now knows about this distinction should cease calling the D&C the full D&C, it should just be called the Book of Covenants, which is what I plan on calling it from now on. I mean, it's not the D&C, because the D is missing, that just leaves the C. Thus any D&C published after 1921 will forever be known to me as just the book of Covenants.
From the little of them that I've read, these Lectures on Faith are quite fascinating. It really is a bit like the Hitler Youth training program where Joe tried to teach people, especially younger boys, about the doctrine of the church for the purposes of indoctrination. I mean, definitionally, it is indoctrination, and that's the best word to describe it. We'll get into the details of the Lectures on Faith when My Book of Mormon gets there, but it doesn't mean we can't talk about them conceptually, as well as their impact on early Mormons.
To be clear, the first School of the Prophets, also referred to as School of the Elders, was initially organized as a meeting place for the Elders of the church, in which youth were not generally present. However, the Kirtland chapter that was established in January of 1833, would dissolve in April of that same year, and soon after that, P-cubed, Parley Parker Pratt, established one in Independence that had an attendance of roughly 60 people, some of which were children or young men there to learn the doctrine, or be indoctrinated.
That school would dissolve when the Mormons were chased out of Independence, but have no fear, because Bloody Fucking Brigham would open up a shitload of them, two of which were in Provo, and eastern Salt Lake City. No, the Provo one didn't eventually become BYU Provo, but, and maybe this is a surprise to some, the Salt Lake City one was opened in connection to the University of Deseret, which later became the University of Utah.
Even later, John Taylor would open up a couple of them in 1883, that would last less than a year. Reportedly, no other attempts have been made at starting a School of the Prophets, unless there's one that exists today in the basement of the church office building where super secret Mormon stuff is talked about.
Joe opened up this School of the Prophets, and things went well for a little while. It was a safe place where elders could meet and have open discussion about the church and it's doctrines, without the pressure of it being a sermon in front of a crowd of parishoners.
After organizing this School of the Prophets, and recording what they discussed that would later become the Doctrine in the 1835 D&C, Joe and Rigdon basically finished their translation of the New Testament. While they had work to do elsewhere in the Bible, the inspired translation of the New Testament including Revelation was done. The Joseph Smith Bible was never was printed by Joe and the church until after his death. The RLDS church has the most complete manuscripts of it, which they have published, however the SLC LDS church has some other manuscripts that made the trek with Brigham Young, so Joe's work in expanding on the Bible is considered altogether incomplete. To be clear, the Mormon church today tries to distance itself from the JST as much as possible, and they only use the KJV in their canon. You can find a full pdf copy of the JST online with a quick google search, or following the link in the show notes.
I have to say, I absolutely love how this was done. It was written in an almost seance like way. Joe and Rigdon were in a room together, and they would ask God what was meant by a passage in the Bible, and then through divine revelation, the passage was clarified, or properly dictated to a scribe, usually Rigdon, and then they would move on to the next passage that was challenging. It was basically a Joe and Rigdon Bible study on mushrooms. This is from the History of the Church vol. 1, and it's their discernment of the book of Revelation in question answer format.
"Q. What are we to understand by the four beasts, spoken of in the same verse?
A. They are figurative expressions, used by the Revelator, John, in describing heaven, the paradise of God, the happiness of man, and of beasts, and of creeping things and of the fowls of the air; that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created.
Q. What are we to understand by the eyes and wings, which the beasts had?
A. Their eyes are a representation of light and knowledge, that is, they are full of knowledge; and their wings are a representation of power, to move, to act, etc.
Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?
A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.
Q. What are we to understand by sealing the one hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel – twelve thousand out of every tribe?
A. We are to understand that those who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn.
Q. What are we to understand by the little book which was eaten by John, as mentioned in the 10th chapter of Revelation?
A. We are to understand that it was a mission, and an ordinance, for him to gather the tribes of Israel; behold, this is Elias, who, as it is written, must come and restore all things.
Q. Are the four beasts limited to individual beasts, or do they represent classes or orders?
A. They are limited to four individual beasts, which were shown to John, to represent the glory of the classes of beings in their destined order or sphere of creation, in the enjoyment of their eternal felicity."
That was a large portion of them, but not all. Oddly enough, the scripture study stopped at chapter 10 of Revelation. The last half is when a lot of really insane stuff happens, why would they just stop there? I wish I could see them trying to figure out the fire-breathing zombie Jews, God killing everyone with an earthquake, lightning shooting arc of the covenant, a naked eagle-woman giving birth on the moon, and seven-headed ten-horned dragon and that's just chapter 11 and 12! How would god answer the question of "What are we to understand by the eagle-woman clothed in sunlight giving birth on the moon, only to be chased by the seven-headed dragon satan that makes a river flood to catch the eagle-woman to try and eat her baby?" How would God answer that?!
This is probably why the translation was never actually completed. Imagine being Joe and Rigdon sitting down and having a seance writing session every day, grinding through the bible, chapter after chapter, book after book. It must have been a taxing and arduous task to embark upon, and it was all happening during a time that they were busy with lots of other important business in the church. I can't imagine trying to take the time to do this while setting up a printing press, dealing with missionaries, squashing various insurrections, borrowing money to keep the bankrupt church afloat, and all the while, being beat and persecuted by people that didn't like something the Mormons were doing. I commend them for their effort, but I just think that if God did indeed call upon Joe and Rigdon to perform a task such as translating the bible, he would make it possible for them to do so, or at least hold them to completing their task once they started it.
Of course, translating the bible wasn't the only thing that the Joe/Rigdon team was good for. They loved to pump out new revelations that would be included in the D&C, and the next one in our timeline that came along, was the Word of Wisdom.
I've mentioned the Word of Wisdom before, but I don't think I've actually deconstructed it. Well, it's pertinent to our timeline now, so let's see what the Word of Wisdom says, and really parse out the important details. Check out my guest spot on Country Fried Freethought podcast to hear a discussion about the word of wisdom, a bit of which will be parroted here.
Doctrine and Covenants 1835 edition section 80 is as follows:
"A word of wisdom for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and church; and also, the saints in Zion; to be sent greeting; not by commandment, or constraint; but by revelation and the word of wisdom; showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days. Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak, and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints."
That was just the heading. It should be noted that this didn't just come out of thin air. A lot of people at this time were coming up with ideas on diet restrictions, cleanliness, and overall good living. Sanitariums were just now starting to trend in the burned over district and elsewhere, and Ellen G White, Alexander Campbell, William Miller, and a lot of other people pushing good living, or diet restriction that were just on the verge of becoming popular. Dietary advice was a common topic of discussion in the time the Word of Wisdom was born out of, but there was also another pressure. Emma.
This is taken from the Journal of Discourses vol. 12, quoting Bloody Brigham.
"When they assembled together in this room after breakfast, the first they did was to light their pipes, and, while smoking, talk about the great things of the kingdom, and spit all over the room, and as soon as the pipe was out of their mouths a large chew of tobacco would then be taken. Often when the Prophet entered the room to give the school instructions he would find himself in a cloud of tobacco smoke. This, and the complaints of his wife at having to clean so filthy a floor, made the prophet think upon the matter, and he inquired of the Lord relating to the conduct of the Elders in using tobacco, and the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom was the result of his inquiry."
A lot of believing Mormons will tout this story, and say that Joe was in touch with God, and God merely waited for Joe to ask about tobacco, in order to give him a full revelation on the dietary and health restrictions that the church would embrace. They will even say that this set the Mormon church apart from every other church out there, because science hadn't told people that bad food and tobacco were actually bad things yet, making Joe a visionary in giving this revelation. That is blatantly false, and obviously born out of an ignorance of history. A lot of religions and scientists alike were investigating the positive effects of a good diet and the ill effects of tobacco and alcohol during Joe's time. He was merely taking what people were talking about, putting it in one place, and calling it divine revelation from God, just like everything else Joe ever did ever EVER!
I also find it fascinating that Emma was getting pissed at Joe because she had to clean up the floor of the School of the Prophet that was covered in nasty ol' tobacco spit, reaking of spitoons and pipe smoke. It took the wisdom and persistence of a woman to make Joe ask God about how bad tobacco is for you. How can this be considered divinely inspired? Anyway, let's get back to the actual meat of the Word of Wisdom, and see if we can't figure out just how wise it really is.
"Behold, verily thus saith the Lord unto you, in consequence of evils and designs which do, and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation, that inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together, to offer up your sacraments before him. And behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make. And again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies. And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly; and is not good for man; but is an herb for bruises, and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill. And again, hot drinks are not for the body, or belly.
And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man. -- Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof. All these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving. Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I the Lord hath ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving. Nevertheless, they are to be used sparingly; and it is pleasing unto me, that they should not be used only in times of winter or of cold, or famine. All grain is ordained for the use of man, and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for the man, but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth; and these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine, and excess of hunger.
All grain is good for the food of man, as also the fruit of the vine, that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground. Nevertheless wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls, and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks; as also other grain. And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel, and marrow to their bones and shall find wisdom, and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint; and I the Lord give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen."
That's a nice little death threat at the end there, isn't it? That's the implication isn't it? If you follow this word of wisdom, the destroying angel will pass you by, but if you don't, he'll stop at your house and slay the firstborn of your family, just like the children of Israel. Isn't that sweet? If this was indeed a life and death revelation as implied at the end, why would God wait until three years into the church to tell Joe about it? For that matter, why wouldn't this entire passage be in the bible somewhere, because it's obviously an important tenant of the one true church?
My point is, this so-called "revelation" given to Joe by divine authority wasn't unique, didn't come out of the blue, skipped important things, and included non-important dietary restraints, and altogether was nothing more than a 19th century progressive perspective of health in general. The Word of Wisdom didn't set the Mormon church apart from other churches in the slightest. It's arguable that today it's rather antiquated, with some conclusions about hot drinks and whatnot being completely inaccurate.
The thing is, that was the original Word of Wisdom. That revelation has very little to do with Mormonism today. Today, they forbid hot coffee, but not hot cocoa. They forbid beer even though the WoW has an exception for mild barley drinks. They forbid wine, even though it's expressly allowed, and commanded for use in sacrament. They recommend herbs, fruits, and grains to be consumed in their season, but with factory farming, nobody does that anymore, and they don't smoke weed. It commands meat to be used sparingly, but go into the majority of Mormon households on sunday afternoon and you're bound to find huge portions of steak, roast, chicken, or fish taking over the majority of plate real estate. The church used to forbid caffeinated drinks, but currently owns stock in Coca-Cola so that's out the fuckin window.
Given the current church's stance on the Word of Wisdom, it's a lot like their perspective of a lot of other revelations in the book of Covenants. If it gets in the way, just forget about it, and come up with your own bullshit that will pass, and command it from the pulpit. No big deal. In that case, what the fuck does the book of Covenants even mean? David and I have figured out that nobody reads the damn thing from beginning to end, because they just couldn't and stay sane, so why even keep the little bastard of a holy book around? It just doesn't even matter anymore does it? If your founding prophet comes up with hundreds of revelations, and you just end up ignoring the vast vast majority of them anyway, why even pretend?
I come into conflict with these questions every time I put an episode together. It seems like there is so much in the church that is obfuscated or just weird somehow. They have this rich beautiful history that fascinates anybody willing to give it some time and open inquiry, yet it doesn't seem to matter one damn bit to the church.
One of the questions in the temple recommend interview is do you keep the Word of Wisdom? If you answer this question with anything other than "yes," you run the risk of being denied your temple recommend, meaning you can't go to Mormon super awesome, world-overlord heaven. Well, I would merely ask what they mean by that. If they're talking about their own version of the Word of Wisdom, it's so debased and corrupted from what's in the Book of Covenants that you're forced to ignorantly bark back yes without thinking, because you don't drink coffee, or smoke cigarettes, and that's all that matters to them. If they're talking about the original Word of Wisdom, no believing Mormon follows it anymore, so you can't answer that with an honest yes.
I have a solution to this problem. I petition any believer in the audience to drink beer, smoke some wholesome herbs, never eat tomatoes in the spring, and bring your own flask of homebrew wine to drink during sacrament service, and if anybody asks you if you're following the word of wisdom, you can rest assured that you are following Joseph Smith's Word of Wisdom much closer than they are.
Let's advance the timeline a little further into 1833. In February, Illinois outlawed polygamy. Polygamy was actually the main thing that kept the Utah territory from becoming a sanctioned state in the 1890's, because it was seen as one of the twins of barbarism, the other of which is slavery. This outlawing would prove to be a big problem for Joe and the church, and played into the reasoning behind Joe burning down the printing press that released the Mormon Expositor in 1844, ultimately leading to his death in Carthage.
I feel like I've made my own position on this very clear, but I can agree with the reasons behind passing such a law. They were trying to protect the people in a polygamous relationship that were powerless. I can get behind passing laws that protect women and children that are subservient to an abusive patriarchal family structure that seems to necessarily rise from polygyny.
What I'm trying to say is it's a good thing that the law was passed, even though I don't think government should have any hand in the marriage business. I'm also a little butthurt that this law sort of played a hand in getting Joe shot, and I really want to see where the church would have gone if he didn't die in 1844, but regardless, it's still a good thing the law was passed.
In May of 1833, Doctor Philastus Hurlbut returned from his mission to Conneaut where he learned of the connections between Solomon Spalding's "Manuscript Found," and the Book of Mormon. On June 3rd he was excommunicated, the reasoning for which was "unchristian-like conduct with females". We don't know what really happened, but promiscuity was often cited when the church kicked out somebody that needed to go. Hurlbut had also be kicked out of 4 other congregations for similar charges, so there was probably some merit to the reason of "unchristian-like conduct with females". The weird thing about this is, his excommunication was appealed, and he was reinstated on June 21st. He was then, reexcommunicated on June 23rd, only to embark on a campaign against the church, the likes of which Joe and Rigdon had never seen. Hurlbut will be the focus of our next historical timeline episode, so we'll leave him alone for now and attend to other important things, while he makes his trips back to Conneaut, then to Boston, and Hartwick, just like Joe might have done 7 months ealier.
On June 25th, we bid Dick Zyban Peterson farewell forever. He exits our timeline, having very little impact on the story as a whole. He would later become a sheriff of a town in California that would come to be known as "Hangtown," because he hanged so many people there, but that's it for him in our story.
One very important thing does happen on Jul 20th, 1833. The cornerstone for the Kirtland temple was laid. This marked the first big development of the spreading of the church. They finally had the resources necessary to create, not only a church, but an entire temple, for the sole purpose of conducting ceremonies. The dedication of this temple is known as quite the epic story in Mormon history. People claim that there were angels flying around, and Joe and Ollie saw Moses and Elijah, and there were babies that stood on chairs and swung handkerchiefs over their head in celebration, and people were falling all over the place and babbling in tongues, and all kinds of wackadoo goofy antics. We'll get to that when it happens in 1836, but for now, just keep in mind the construction on the temple beginning on Jul 20th, 1833, when the cornerstone was laid.
July to August is about the timeframe when the Book of Commandments was first published. This scared a lot of people, because it seemed to somehow legitimize the church. The citizens of Independence had come to an agreement with the Mormons that they would be out in one year's time. The Mormons had promised to leave by August of 1834, which only forced them to ramp up production of the Book of Commandments and other proprietary church publications, one might call propaganda. This also effectively created an influx of missionary work. If they could convert enough people to Mormonism in Missouri, they might not be forced to leave. This made them desperate to hold on to Zion, nearly by any means necessary.
This is understandable though. The revelation Joe gave, calling Independence the new Zion, had a few alterior effects that the church had to deal with. For the followers of Mormonism, it put a target on Zion as the place Jesus would return to. This engendered a renewed effort to proselyte and purchase land in Zion so the believers would have their place in heaven secure once rapture time came along. But that made the non-Mormons a little antsy, making the flipside a little less pleasant for Mormons.
The massive influx of Mormons to Missouri scared a lot of people, especially people that didn't like them in the first place. A lot of people viewed them as just another cult, no different from the dozens of others that were cropping up. Additionally, a lot of people in Missouri didn't like the abolitionist ideals that a lot of Mormons held, and even more people simply thought they were of the devil and wanted nothing to do with the Mormons. Well, it's hard to simply ignore them when they are moving in by the dozens, and claiming the land as their new Zion where the Mormon empire would be constructed before the second coming of Jesus.
This is an extract from the Book of John Goebbels Whitmer. It's a letter from the people of Missouri, representing a formal complaint against the Mormons. It really captures the feeling that the local Missourians had towards the influx of new Mormons.
"In a late No. Of the Star printed in Independence, by the leaders of the sect, there is an article inviting free negroes and mulatoes from other States to become Mormons, and move and settle among us. This exhibits them in still more odious colours. It manafests a desire on the part of their society, to inflict on our society, an injury that they know would be to us entirely unsuportable, and one of the surest means, of driving us from the country, for it would require none of the supernatural gifts that they pretend to, to see, that the introduction of such a caste among us, would corrupt our black and instigate them to blood-shed.
They openly blaspheme the most high God and cast contempt on his holy religion, by pretending to receive revelations direct from heaven by pretending to speak in unkown tongues, by direct inspiration, and by divine pretentions derogatory of God and religion, and to the utter subversion of human reason."
Missouri was a contentious slave state. When it was acquired during the Louisiana Purchase, the people argued if it should be considered a free state or slave state. The decision came down and locked Missouri in as a slave state, and set it as the northernmost boundary for state that would be incorporated after it. Any state north of the southern border of Missouri would be a free state, and any state south of it would be a slave state. It seems like it was a vocal minority that was able to pass slave state legislature there, and this same vocal minority saw the Mormons that were trying to invite slaves to join the church, and read the Book of Mormon, and it posed a threat. The Evening and Morning Star had published the newspaper article inviting all "free negroes and mulatoes" to join the church, and the slave owners, or slavery sympathizers saw this as a turd in the punch bowl, and the first step towards Missouri becoming a free state, which threatened everything they loved so much about their lives.
You see, slavery and racism has plagued Missouri for a long time. If I'm not mistaken it's also where the Dredd Scott decision was made, but that could be my own brain conflating stuff. The point is, the Missourians didn't like the Mormons that were trying to teach slaves how to read, and invite freed slaves to join their church. If the African Americans were going to rise up against their slaveowners, the Missourian thought the start of it could be the damn Mormons teaching them how to read.
They also thought the Mormons were preaching a false god, which is an even bigger problem when it comes to Christianity. Most non-Mormons thought that ol' Joe Smith was possessed by the devil and leading people away from the one true word of god, or they just didn't like those kooky Mormons, or they were completely indifferent. Regardless, there were very few non-Mormons that sympathized with the Mormons, and would come to their defense. In Kirtland that wasn't so much the case, but in Missouri, where the Mormons were quickly infecting the population, the locals were really opposed to the crazy Mormonites.
That letter we read, lead to a formal complaint against the Mormons, giving rise to illegal persecution, and legal prosecution. By the end of that letter, the Missourians decided to hold a town meeting, during which they vote to destroy the Mormon's printing press. I'll let John Goebbels walk us through what happened next.
"A committe was appointed at the foregoing meeting and waited on us Edward Partridge [Party-Boy], John Corril, Phelps [Double-Dub], Cowdery [Ollie Cowdung], &c. . . To answer them this question will you leav this county or not? Allowing us only fifteen minutes to answer the question. We did not make any reply at that time.
The committee further required of us to shut up our printing office, store, mechanical shops &c. immediately and leave the County. . .
When they found that we were unwilling to comply with their requests, they returned to the courthous and voted to erase the printing [office] to th[e] ground, which they immediattly did, and at the same time took Edward Partridge and Charles Allen and tarred and feathered them threatening to kill us if we did not leav the county immediately.
They were also determined to demolish the store A.S. Gilbert [Asid] prevailed on them to let it stand until tuesday next and have time to pack his goods himself.
Tuesday arrived and death and destruction stared us in the face. The whole county turned out and surrounded us came to W W Phelps, and my hous and took us upon the publick square as also Partridge, Corril, Morly [Yelrom Morley], and Gilbert and wer[e] determined to massacre us unless we agreed to leav th[e] county immediately. Finally we agreed to leave upon the following condition."
Basically, Jackson County wasn't having any more of the Mormons, and took quite extreme illegal measures to get them out. The mob first held a town meeting trying to get the Mormons to agree to leave. When the Mormons didn't give them any definite answer, they took to the streets, and burned the printing press down, and tried to destroy Asid Gilbert's goods store. After that all happened, they held another meeting trying to chase the Mormons out again, and the Mormons signed an agreement to be out by January 1834. The agreement had a few clauses that restricted any Mormon growth in the interrum period. They couldn't publish anything else, nor could they set up a replacement printing press to attempt to print anything new. Whatever copies remained from the initial printing of the hymn book, Book of Commandments, and the Evening and Morning Star were the only publications that would come out of Missouri from then on. Asid also couldn't import anything new into his store, but was allowed to sell the remainder of his goods. The Mormons couldn't acquire any new housing, nor could any new Mormons move to Missouri to live with those that already residing there. It should be noted that one of the few people living in Jackson that was sympathetic to the Mormons was Lt. Gov Lilburn Boggs, who was housing a few of the Mormons that were being shut out of Missouri during this period in the summer of 1833.
The agreements the Missourians agreed to that persuaded the Mormons to sign this gtfo order, were asylum, and ease of passage. The people of Jackson County agreed to allow the Mormons to peacefully disband, leave, and come and go as necessary to wrap up business, as long as most of the Mormons were gone by January, and the rest by April of 1834.
Altogether, this was more symbolic than actually functional. Legally speaking, the Mormons were on high ground. The Missourians had destroyed their printing press, which is an act of tyranny or censorship, making it a constitutional violation, and the mob also destroyed a fair amount of the Mormon's property. During this initial mob, a lot of people fled to Clay County, or even back to Kirtland, taking only the clothes on their back, or what few possessions they could carry for the voyage. Don't forget, this was a violent mob with guns, torches and pitchforks. They wanted Mormon blood, and they eventually got it.
The next passage in John Goebbels history is amazing. Everything we've discussed today is on page 40-45 of his own personal history, and there will be a link to that in the show notes. I recommend checking it out just to get a feel for how he recounted his history.
"The Battle was fought on the evening of the 3 November, and only <one> of the brethren was killed and two of the mob. David Whitmer headed the disciples[.]"
And that's it... The line before was the signatories of the agreement we just discussed, and the next line after it on the next page is a new entry. This is a shame, because it leaves so much out, and doesn't enlighten us at all to the general feeling in Jackson County during this time. I mean, don't get me wrong, the account sounded quite unpleasant, but it doesn't really capture what it was like. For a more detailed version of the events of late October to early November of 1833, let's dabble into Philo Dibble-Dabble's autobiography, which will be linked in the show notes. This is a little longer, but it's much better to gain a proper understanding of the situation. This will take us to the end of the historical portion of today's episode. I read the first part of this, but stopped myself, I want us all to experience the totality of this for the first time together.
"In the fall of 1833, a sectarian preacher by the name of [Isaac] M'Coy [McCoy] came to the Whitmer settlement where I was living to buy up all the guns he could, representing that he wanted them for the Indians. We suspected no trouble, and quite a number of us sold our guns to him. The sequel of his action was, however, soon apparent to us, for rumors soon reached us of mobs assembling and threats being made to drive us from the county.
When the mob first began to gather and threaten us, I was selected to go to another county and buy powder and lead. The brethren gave me the privilege of choosing a man to go with me. I took with me a man by the name of John Poorman. We thought we were good for four of the mob. We went to the town of Liberty, Clay County, and purchased the ammunition, and returned safely.
Soon after I returned [31 October 1833], a mob of about one hundred and fifty came upon us in the dead hour of night, tore down a number of our houses and whipped and abused several of our brethren. I was aroused from my sleep by the noise caused by the falling houses, and had barely time to escape to the woods with my wife and two children when they reached my house and proceeded to break in the door and tear the roof off. I was some distance away from where the whipping occurred, but I heard the blows of heavy ox goads upon the backs of my brethren distinctly. The mob also swore they would tear down our grist mill, which was situated at the Colesville Branch, about three miles from the settlement, and lest they should really do so and as it was the only means we had of getting our grain ground, we were counseled to gather there and defend it. We accordingly proceeded there the next morning. The following night two men came into our camp, pretending they wanted to hire some men to work for them. Brother Parley [Pratt] ordered them to be taken prisoners, when one of them struck him a glancing blow on the head with his gun, inflicting a severe wound. We then disarmed them and kept them as prisoners until morn-ing when we gave them back their arms and let them go.
The next day we heard firing down in the Whitmer settlement, and seventeen of our brethren volunteered to go down and see what it meant. Brother George Beebe was one of these volunteers and also one of the men who was whipped the night previous. (Brother Beebe carried the marks of this whipping to his grave, as the brethren who laid him out at the time of his death, in December, 1881, at Provo, Utah County, can testify.) When these seventeen men arrived at the Whitmer settlement, the mob came against them and took some prisoners. Brother David Whitmer brought us the news of this and said: "Every man go, and every man take a man!"
[Battle near the Blue River, 4 November 1833] We all responded and met the mob in battle, in which I was wounded with an ounce ball and two buck shot, all entering my body just at the right side of my navel. The mob were finally routed, and the brethren chased them a mile away. Several others of the brethren were also shot, and one, named [Andrew] Barber, was mortally wounded. After the battle was over, some of the brethren went to administer to him, but he objected to their praying that he might live, and asked them if they could not see the angels present. He said the room was full of them, and his greatest anxiety was for his friends to see what he saw, until he breathed his last, which occurred at three o'clock in the morning.
A young lawyer named Bazill [Hugh L. Brazeale], who came into Independence and wanted to make himself conspicuous, joined the mob, and swore he would wade in blood up to his chin.
He was shot with two balls through his head, and never spoke. There was another man, whose name I fail to remember, that lived on the Big Blue, who made a similar boast. He was also taken at his word. His chin was shot off, or so badly fractured by a ball that he was forced to have it amputated, but lived and recovered, though he was a horrible sight afterwards.
After the battle I took my gun and powder horn and started for home. When I got about half way I became faint and thirsty. I wanted to stop at Brother Whitmer's to lay down. The house, however, was full of women and children, and they were so frightened that they objected to my entering, as the mob had threatened that wherever they found a wounded man they would kill men, women and children.
I continued on and arrived home, or rather at a house in the field that the mob had not torn down, which was near my own home. There I found my wife and two children and a number of other women who had assembled. I told them I was shot and wanted to lay down.
They got me on the bed, but on thinking of what the mob had said, became frightened and assisted me upstairs. I told them, however, that I could not stay there, my pain was so great. They then got me downstairs again, and my wife went out to see if she could find any of the brethren. In searching for them she got lost in the woods and was gone two hours but learned that all the brethren had gone to the Colesville Branch, three miles distant, taking all the wounded with them save myself.
The next morning I was taken farther off from the road that I might be concealed from the mob. I bled inwardly until my body was filled with blood, and remained in this condition until the next day at five p. m. I was then examined by a surgeon who was in the Black Hawk War, and who said that he had seen a great many men wounded, but never saw one wounded as I was that ever lived. He pronounced me a dead man.
David Whitmer, however, sent me word that I should live and not die, but I could see no possible chance to recover. After the surgeon had left me, Brother Newel Knight came to see me, and sat down on the side of my bed. He laid his right hand on my head, but never spoke. I felt the Spirit resting upon me at the crown of my head before his hand touched me, and I knew immediately that I was going to be healed. It seemed to form like a ring under the skin, and followed down my body. When the ring came to the wound, another ring formed around the first bullet hole, also the second and third. Then a ring formed on each shoulder and on each hip, and followed down to the ends of my fingers and toes and left me. I immediately arose and discharged three quarts of blood or more, with some pieces of my clothes that had been driven into my body by the bullets. I then dressed myself and went outdoors and saw the falling of the stars, which so encouraged the Saints and frightened their enemies. It was one of the grandest sights I ever beheld. From that time not a drop of blood came from me and I never afterwards felt the slightest pain or inconvenience from my wounds, except that I was somewhat weak from the loss of blood.
The next day I walked around the field, and the day following I mounted a horse and rode eight miles, and went three miles on foot.
The night of the battle many of the women and children ran into the woods. One sister, not being able to take all of her children with her, left her little boy four years old in a corn shock, where he remained until morning. Some went out on the burnt prairie. The mob gathered and swore they would go and massacre them. When they got ready to go, the heavens were lit up with the falling of stars. This brought to us a perfect redemption at that time.
The night of the battle, the mob took all my household furniture, and after my recovery I crossed the river to Clay County, leaving behind me a drove of hogs, three cows and all of my crop, which I never recovered."
John Goebbels Whitmer let us down in his recounting of the battle. None of those details are present, which is exactly why John Goebbels got the name he did. He was responsible for propagandizing the history of the church, and arguably was the first one to do this on a massive scale. Today this is a systematic problem, and I harp on that all the time, but I just find it so fascinating that whitewashing the history was happening this early on, and it still continues rampantly today.
Luckily for us, Mormon history is young, and very accessible. If we find one account of history that is lacking in some way, we can access a different source with a couple of google searches, and we are no longer forced to rely on that one account that skips some important details. With enough searching, we could probably even find a journal entry from somebody that was part of the mob. I didn't go to that much work because I'm quite satisfied with Dibble-Dabble's account, but I bet something like that exists out there.
This is one reason that I enjoy researching recent history so much, there is always another account to look at, where a completely different perspective can be understood. I love looking at situations through the eyes of different people.
I would cover this in the listener mail segment, but it's pertinent right now. I recently posted up a couple of pilot episodes of the new show for anybody that subscribes to patreon. I'm currently reading the Late War Between the United States and Great Britain, which teaches a very America-centric version of the war of 1812. I'm learning so much about a war that I know almost nothing about, and the recounting is quite baised, which colors what I'm gleaning from the book. Well, I've come to some conclusions about the war of 1812 that seem to satisfy the shallow depth of my knowledge about the war.
Last week I received an email from my good friend Hal, and attached was a 30 minute lecture on the war. I thought I understood some of the pressures that lead up to the war, but this lecture enlightened me on quite a few details that I was unaware, and it helped to shift my understanding of the war. I should mention that it helped me with the pronunciation of some of the weirder names, as well. Don't get me wrong, there wasn't any information in the lecture that forced me to have a paradoxical shift of understanding about the war, but there were quite a few things that I wasn't aware of that I feel like I understand more now.
After listening to this lecture, I went on youtube and looked up a couple of other lectures and videos about the war, and it looks like historians differ on some details of the war, much like every other historical topic, and I think that boils down to the sources those historians have been exposed to. It doesn't matter how much we think we know about a certain topic in history, because there will probably always exist a point of view, or a recounting about that topic, that comes directly in conflict with our current understanding.
This is made abundantly clear with the differing accounts of John Goebbels Whitmer, and Philo Dibble-Dabble. The battle of November 3 1833 between the Mormons and Missourians was only mentioned by John Goebbels, even though it was a first-hand account. Dibble-Dabble was also a first-hand witness, but enlightened us with so many more details including blood, gore, and violence for all to read and enjoy. He really captured what the atmosphere was like for the Mormons living in Missouri before being driven out at gunpoint. Can you even imagine how horrible it would be, to be ripped out of your home, and driven from your property and everything you own, all because a mob of people didn't like your religion, or your stance on owning people as property? How mind boggling is that?
Religious persecution in America today is really nothing like it used to be. Today people cry persecution when somebody doesn't wish them Merry Christmas, or when legislative action is taken to get the unconstitutional "In God we trust" off of money, or removed from the pledge of allegiance. I would love to see how some of these wolf cryers would hold up to some proper religious persecution like the Mormons in Missouri felt. Let's see how a milk toast softie Christian is about being wished Merry Christmas, while they're being beaten with a bull-whip and their house is being torn down with their wives and children screaming and running for their lives.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not holding the Mormons blameless here, because they clearly took aggressive steps that facilitated this persecution, but still. It all boils down to one human treating another like less-than human, or a mortal enemy human, and both sides were guilty of it in this situation.
In looking back, I've made light of Mormon persecution quite a few times. That hasn't been unfounded in most circumstances, but there are a few times in history where Mormons just got the living hell kicked out of them for seemingly no other reason than belief in their religion. Where I need to draw that distinction is when it comes to the masters, versus the parishoners. The parishoners dealt with a lot of persecution, as did the masters and leaders of the church, but who was really responsible for such violent action?
When we boil it all down, Joe and his incessant fuck-ups were at the heart of most of the persecution. He therefore bears responsibility for the deaths and beatings of every single one of these people. Whenever Joe was beat, I'm relatively certain that it was justified in some way, but countless other people were beat, whipped, tarred and feathered, and altoghether shit on just because they followed a crazy cult. Just because these Mormons were part of the "them's," the "us's" couldn't help but act like fucking apes towards them, and violently remove them from their homes, and beat them repeatedly.
All of that to say, let's be nice. I know that's an excercise in futility, and sounds so goddamn naive, but still, why can't people just treat each other like people. We are all united in homo sapien, and these meaningless distinctions that we fight over, only serve to drag everybody down. These stupid lines between rich and poor, black and white, muslim and christian, Mormon and protestant, mean exactly dick at the end of the day. I'm a proponent of humanism, but that word can mean so many things, and the term "secular humanist" is nearly synonymous with devil worshipping satanist in some circles, so fuck humanism, how about equalism. That's what a lot of Mormons were pushing and they had their asses handed to them for it. We are all equals, so let's treat each other like we're equal, and push for equalism in our everyday life. There's simply no way of getting rid of all the "them's," until we make them all "us's".
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