Extraordinary Imposition of the “Latter Day Saints”

1841-07-21

Western Recorder

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“Extraordinary Imposition of the ‘Latter Day Saints’—Mormonism—Matter forthe Consideration of every good citizen—Important Facts—All should feel that theyhave a direct interest in them. From the Saturday Courier.” Western Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) (21 July 1841).

From the Saturday Courier.

Extraordinary Imposition of the “Latter Day Saints”–Mormonism –Matter for the consideration of every good citizen–Important Facts–All should feel that they have a direct interest in them.

The miserable delusion still exists. Its promulgator finds it an easy mode of swindling, and so long as there are fools to be fleeced, there will always be knaves to perform the operation. Of this knavish propensity, there are some evidence which would be highly amusing, if they were not so impious a character. Smith’s aim was to establish, in the outset, some sort of claim to inspiration, in order to enable himself and such ringleaders as might possess sufficient cunning to become his associates, to succeed in a regularly organized system of plunder.—This he accomplished by an artfully devised fable, in which, as our readers are aware, he pretends to have become the depository of certain gold plates, found in some secluded spot, and upon which were engraved the portions of divine revelation which he was commissioned to promulgate. This is the ground work of the imposition. The boldness of the trick took, in spite of its blasphemous nature, with two sorts of persons: the cunning sharper on the one part, who seized the temptation of enriching himself on the promised spoils, caring nothing for the grossness of the fraud, if it but fill his pocket; and on the other, the unsuspecting, weak-minded and credulous dupes, whose love of the marvellous renders him always an easy prey.

Under pretence of raising money for building a temple, and for other pious purposes, gangs of itinerant vagabonds were sent prowling over the country to beg alms and to steal. Wherever opportunity offers, they have not hesitated to rob, plunder and steal, mostly under some sanctimonious pretence—though we have ourselves not the slightest doubt whatever, that most, if not the ringleaders, steal upon every occasion that offers with as much recklessness as would any convict in our state prisons. We state unequivocally our firm belief that this is their true character, because none other than precisely such men would ever be willing to unite in a piece at villainy like Mormonism, of the fraudulent character of which they must be perfectly satisfied, and because we have the sanction of Joe Smith himself, the head of the gang, who having quarrelled with some of his followers about dividing the spoils, finally published a portion of his band as villains of the blackest stamp. Two of these, Cowdery and Whitmer, aided in the outset to establish Smith’s deception, by perjuring themselves to the truth of the book of Mormon, testifying that they had seen the plates, and heard God’s voice declare that they had been translated by His power!!! These very same perjured witnesses to such a piece of blasphemy, Joe Smith publishes as “guilty of perjury, counterfeiting, gambling, lying, stealing, and crimes of the blackest dye.” This is the character given them by their leader himself, and no one doubts for a moment that these vagabonds, so justly denounced might turn round, and with the same truth apply the same description of character to Smith himself, and not only to Smith, but to the most of the leaders.

It is not surprising, therefore, that such characters, acting under the garb of religion, should succeed in swindling the community out of money. In the language of a gentleman of Ohio, who was on the spot, and an eye-witness of the scenes which he so truly describes:—

He writes in his letter that “they scoured the branches in the east for money to enable them to build, and the people gave freely, as they supposed for that purpose, for they supposed they were to be one in the church of Christ, for so Smith had told them by his revelation, and that they must consecrate all for the poor in Zion, & thus many did give until they finished the temple, and in the meantime the building committee built each of them a house, Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Jr. By this time the leaders of the church, Smith, Rigdon, Carter and Caboon, &c., I may say all the heads of the church, got lifted up in pride, and they imagined that God was about to make them rich, and that they were to suck the milk of the Gentiles, as they call those who do not belong to the church, or do not go hand and hand with them, and then they would make the whole church rich. They have a great desire for riches, and to obtain them without earning them; and about this time they said that God had told them, Sidney and Joseph, that they had suffered enough and that they should be rich; and they informed me that God told them to buy goods, and so they did, as they said, to some thirty thousand dollars on a credit of six months, at Cleveland and Buffalo. In the spring of 1836, this firm was, I believe, Smith, Rigdon & Co., (it included the heads of the church.) In the fall, they formed other companies of their brethren and sent to New York as agents for them, Hiram Smith and O. Cowdery, (they being the company,) and they purchased some sixty or seventy thousand dollars worth, all for the church, and most of them not worth a penny, and no financiers. At this time the first debt became due, but they had nothing to pay it with, for they had sold to their poor brethren, who were strutting about the streets in the finest of broadcloth, imagining themselves rich, but could pay nothing, and poverty is the mother of invention. They then fixed upon a plan to pay the debt—that was, to have a bank of their own, as none of the then existing banks would loan to them what they wanted, and the [column 2] most refused them entirely; so they sent to Philadelphia and got the plates made for the Safety Society Bank, and got a large quantity of bills ready for filling and signing, and in the meantime, Smith and others collected what specie they could. The paper came about the first of January, 1837, which they immediately began to issue, and to no small amount; but their creditors refused to take it. Then Smith invented another plan—that was to exchange their notes for other notes than would pay their debts, and for that purpose he sent the Elders out with it to exchange, and not only the elders, but gave them one half to exchange it, as I am informed by those that peddled for him—and thus Smith was instrumental in sending the worthless stuff abroad, and it soon come in again, and as I may say, there was nothing to redeem it with, as Smith had used the greater part of their precious metals; and the inhabitants holding their bills came to inquire into the Safety Society precious metals, and the way that Smith contrived to deceive them was this: he had some one or two hundred boxes made, and gathered all the lead and shot that the village had, of that part of it that he controlled, and filled the boxes with lead, shot, &c., and marked them one thousand dollars each—then, when they went to examine the vault he had one box thousand dollars each—then, when they went to examine the vault he had one box on a table partly filled for them to see, and when they proceeded to the vault, Smith told them that the church had two hundred thousand dollars in specie, and he opened one box and they saw that it was silver, and they raised up a number, and Smith told them that they contained specie, and they were seemingly satisfied and went away for a few days, until the elders were packed off in every direction to pass their paper money off. Among the elders were Brigham Young who went east, with forty thousand dollars; John F. Boynton, with some twenty thousand dollars; Luke Johnson, south and east, with an unknown quantity: and thus they continued to pass and sell the worthless stuff, until they sold it at twelve and a half cents on the dollar, and so eager to put off at that, that they could not attend meeting on the Sabbath—and they signed enough at that price to buy one section of land in Illinois.

(To be concluded in our next.)

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