“Mormonism—Its History.” Philadelphia Mirror (22 August 1836).
A very interesting article has lately come from the pen of a correspondent of Col. Stone; by which it appears, that the origin of Mormonism was from an individual named Solomon Spalding, who wrote what is called the Mormon Bible. Spalding was a native of Ashford, (Con.) and was early distinguished above his school fellows. He received a liberal education—was educated for the ministry, ordained and preached for three years, but for some cause unknown, abandoned the ministry, and finally settled at Cherry Valley, New York. Failing in trade, he removed to Canneaut, Ohio, built a forge, again failed, was reduced to great poverty, and finally endeavored to turn his education to account, by writing a historical novel, which is the “Manuscript Found,” and upon which Mormonism has built its established faith in a new revelation.
The history of the marvellous work commenced with one Lehi, who “lived in the reign of Zedekiah, King of Judea, six hundred years before the Christian era. Lehi, being warned by God of the dreadful calamities that were impending over Jerusalem, abandoned his possessions and fled with his family to the wilderness. After wandering about the desert for a considerable time, they arrived upon the border of the Red Sea and embarked on board a vessel. In this they floated about a long time on the Ocean, but at last reached America and landed upon the shores of Darien. From the different branches of this family were made to spring the various aboriginal nations of this continent. From time to time they rose to high degrees of civilization; but desolating wars arose in turn, by which nations were overthrown and reduced again to barbarism.
In this way the condition of the Indians, at the time of Columbus’s discovery, was accounted for; and the ancient mounds, fortifications, temples, and other vestiges of former civilization, found in North and South America, were explained. The governments of these nations were represented to be theocratic, like that of the Jews from whom they descended, and their national transactions were consequently regulated by the prophets and priests, who received their commands directly from the deity. In order, therefore, that the style of the romance might be suited to the subject, and to the popular notions of the people, the author of The Manuscript Found, adopted that of the Bible—the old English style of James the First.”
When Spalding got his work ready for the press his pecuniary matters would not allow him to publish it. After his death it fell into the haads of one Sidney Rigdon, who was the first preacher of the Mormon faith. It is believed that Rigdon made Joseph Smith, the present high priest of Mormonism, acquainted with these manuscripts, and he published it in 1830, containing 6000 pages, appending thereto the testimony of four witnesses to prove it was of divine origin. It was pretended that Smith had a revelation from the heavens, which told him where the golden plates where deposited, and that he went to the spot and made the great discovery. Certain individuals had been prepared for this great humbug by the marvellous stories of Smith, and the unaccountable fact that an ignoramus like him, who could neither read nor write, should have produced so connected a work as the pretended Mormon Bible. Thus commenced this great and astonishing humbug.