St. Louis, Wednesday, July 16, 1884.
Interest has been revived in questions relating to the origin of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and the
authenticity of the manuscript from which the Book of Mormon was printed, and which is now being compared with the
various editions of that book by a commission now sitting at Richmond, Mo. Dispatches to the REPUBLICAN
a week or two since gave an account of the proceedings of the commission, but other dispatches, stating that
the commission was composed of a delegation from Utah, and representing that the work of comparison is being
done from parchment and from the original plates, with other glaring mistakes, is almost too absurd for refutation.
It has been known for many years that the original manuscript, as dictated by Joseph Smith, and from which the first,
or Palmyra (N.Y.) edition of 1830 was printed, has been in possession of David Whitmer of Richmond, who was one of the
original, and only surviving witness of the revelator's work. It is known to many that the church authorities of Salt Lake
have made overtures to Mr. Whitmer to get possession of the manuscript, but without avail, he holding the document as a
A VISIT TO RICHMOND.
To carry out a purpose contemplated for some time, a REPUBLICAN representative took the train at St. Louis, and
arriving in Richmond next morning, he was driven through a portion of that beautiful town, now fully recovered from the devastation
caused by the cyclone of 1878, and set down at the Wasson House. Nearly the first man struck happened to be Mr. David J. Whitmer,
the son of David Whitmer, to whom the purpose of the visit was made known. Mr. Whitmer stated that owing to the advanced age and
feeble condition of his father's health, the family had objected to visitors out of a feeling of curiosity calling on the old
gentleman and interrogating him on these matters. He objected to these visits, and though his memory was unimpaired relating to
bygone events, it was rather unpleasant and did no good. The commissioners were in session at his house, and it was for them to say
whether they desired to be interviewed, but as for seeing the old man it would be better to get Mr. Farris, Gen. Doniphan or Col.
Childs, old friends of his, to be introduced. The Hon. John T. Farris, the well-known and able representative from Ray county in
the legislature, was readily found at his law office, and with him a call was made at the residence of Mr. Whitener. He occupies a
tasty looking frame dwelling, which was nearly destroyed by the great cyclone and has since been rebuilt. The old gentleman was at
work in his garden when the cyclone swept over the town, and was wounded on the head by a flying missile. He is well fixed, with
pleasant surroundings, having been engaged in the livery business, from which he has retired with a competency. The walls of the
lower parlor are ornamented with a few pictures, among which is a portrait taken of Mr. David Whitmer when he was thirty-five years
of age, betokening a more robust health, florid face, and determined energy. The portrait of his wife hangs by the side, a pleasant
beauty, who is still alive and going down the hill-side of life the cheerful companion of her husband.
Word was brought down that Mr. Whitmer was engaged with the commission, and the invitation was extended to call on him there, as
he felt too feeble to walk down stairs. Mr. Whitmer was found in the chamber above, lying on his bed in a room adjoining the commission,
and communicating with it by an open door.
THE WITNESS OF THE REVELATION.
The old gentleman rose from the bed and received his callers very cordially. In person he is above medium height, very lean and
feeble, and, with stooping shoulders, bears the marks of advancing age, being now in his eightieth year. The lips are drawn in, from
the absence of the teeth, and he converses in a tremulous voice. So great is the change that he would hardly be identified from
his picture taken in early manhood, during the glowing vigor of health. He said he was ready to respond to inquiries of his past
history, but intimated that it had all been published, and, as for that portion connected with his sojourn in Missouri, there was
so much of it that he did not wish to go over it again. He preferred that such information as was desired should be obtained from
the gentlemen composing the commission, and thereupon the callers, accompanied by Mr. Whitmer, entered their room.
At one end was a table around which the ministerial conclave was seated, each holding a book, except one of the members, who was
reading from a manuscript. It was a convocation of men whose labors would doubtless he handed down in the church as a memorable
event, that of verifying the various editions of the Book of Mormon from the original manuscript, in the presence of the only
surviving witness of this great revelation to man. As Mr. Farris and the REPUBLICAN representative entered the room
these holy men suspended their work, and rising to their feet, the former were introduced to President Smith and by him were
introduced to the other members of the board. The reception was extremely cordial, and while Father Whitmer, in his feeble state,
extended himself on a bed near the table, the commissioners participated in a running conversation for half an hour. The following
are the members of the commission: Rev. Joseph Smith of Lamoni, Decatur county, Iowa, president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus
Christ, commonly called Latter Day Saints, and editor-in-chief of the Saints' Herald. He is the eldest son ofJoseph Smith
the prophet and inspired translator of the Book of Mormon from the golden plates.
William H. Kelley of Kirtland, Ohio, missionary in charge of Michigan, Northern Ohio, Western New York and Western Ohio mission.
Alexander H. Smith of Independence, Mo., missionary in charge of Pacific Slope mission, comprised of California, Oregon and Nevada.
He is the second son of the prophet, Joseph Smith.
Thomas W. Smith of Independence, Mo., missionary in charge of Australian mission, including Australia and Society islands and other
The three last named are a committee appointed by the general conference of the reorganized church, held at Stewartsville, Missouri,
April 6 to 15, 1884, to compare the Palmyra and the current editions of the Book of Mormon with the original manuscript now in the
hands of David Whitmer of Richmond, Ray county, Mo. The object of the examination is to discover whether there are differences as
alleged by some between the printed edition and the manuscript. They have been engaged in the work for five days up to Monday night,
and expect to spend some three days more, closing Wednesday night.
HOW THEY DO IT.
The Manuscript of the Book of Mormon. -- The manuscript held by "Father Whitmer," as he is designated by the commission, is handed
out in sections, the leaves being firmly held together. It is the original from which the Palmyra or first edition was printed in
1830, and bears very plainly the printer's marks. The manuscript, which was examined by the reporter, is common, rather coarse
foolscap in use fifty years ago, and the penmanship is in a medium hand, plain and perfectly legible. It appears that some five
different persons were engaged in writing the document as Joseph Smith dictated the subject matter. Father Whitmer,
who was present very frequently during the writing of this manuscript, affirms that Joseph Smith had no book or manuscript before him
from which he could have read as is asserted by some that he did, he (Whitmer) having every opportunity to know whether Smith had
Solomon Spaulding's or any other person's romance to read from. The commission have before them various editions of the Book
of Mormon, first and most important the original Palmyra edition of 1830. Then there are the Kirtland edition of 1835 [sic], the
Nauvoo edition of 1843 [sic], the Plano (Ill.) edition, and various editions published by the polygamists of Salt Lake City. There
are also five European editions published in England, Denmark and Sweden, Germany and France. One of the commission said it must be
stated in behalf of the Salt Lake edition that they have made no changes from the original manuscript, except what may be said of
other editions, and these consist merely of changes in verbs and tenses. Whenever an alteration is detected which consists, for
instance, of the substitution of the relatives, who, which and that, and the tenses of the verbs, the person holding the edition in
which such change is detected erases the word and substitutes the original word as it exists in the manuscript, interlining the
correct word in the printed book with a pencil. The intention is probably to print an edition, thus corrected from the manuscript,
which will be recognized as genuine at least by the Reorganized Branch of the saints.
HE WILL NOT GIVE IT UP.
It is well known that some years ago [Orson] Pratt and Joseph F. Smith, the son of Hyrum Smith of the Salt Lake branch, came
to Richmond, and calling on Father Whitmer offered him any sum he would name (the amount being stated at $100,000) if he would
surrender to them the original manuscript. They said they wanted the manuscript solely for the purpose of placing it in the archives
of the church at Utah for preservation. Mr. Whitmer informed them that he would not part with it for any amount of money. He was
its custodian, and it should be preserved as a sacred deposit by himself and heirs.
The latest edition of the Book of Mormon has been verified the same as was done with the Bible, for convenience to the reader.
The manuscript was written from the dictation of Joseph Smith by the following amanuenses: Oliver Cowdery, Emma Smith, wife of Joseph
Smith; Christian Whitmer and Martin Harris, and it is supposed that Alva Hale was also employed as one of the scribes, but Hale only
wrote a small portion.
HOW WHITMER GOT IT.
Oliver Cowdery, the principal witness and scribe of Joseph Smith, became the possessor of the manuscript[s] which he retained and
brought with him to Missouri. Oliver Cowdery was the brother-in-law of Jacob Whitmer, and he died at Richmond in 1850, in the house
adjoining Whitmer's, and the latter naturally came in possession of the document. Oliver Cowdery is buried in the old cemetery, near
Richmond, and his wife and daughter are still living in this state.
For the brief time that the commissioners were disengaged there was a good time for interviewing, but there were too many of them
at once, and, like the fowler distracted by the flocks of pigeons on the trees, in the wheat stubble, with others flying overhead,
shots were rather scattering.
PRESIDENT JOSEPH SMITH.
President Joseph Smith is a gentleman of rather imposing appearance, well built, piercing eyes and dark beard mingled with gray,
flowing down below the chin in patriarchal length. In physical appearance he is quite as striking as the late President Garfield,
whom it is said he resembles, and possesses much of the same magnetism. He is good looking, and Gen. Doniphan informed the reporter
that he takes after his mother, a fine looking lady, whom he knew well. He is withal a stout looking man, weighing 210 pounds and his
height is five feet eight. He stated that he was born in Kirtland, O., and is about fifty-one years of age. He remembers his father
who was kind and indulgent to his family. He studied law in Canton, Ill., with Judge Kellog, but becoming averse to the practice of
law he studied for the ministry, and is now the head of a church numbering some 20,000 members, and known as the Reorganized Church
of the Latter Day Saints. That branch has no affiliation with the Salt Lake Mormons or Brighamites.
"They are the only class," said Mr. Smith, "of ministers who won't meet us in discussion. You can't get one of their churches in
Salt Lake to let one of our men in, but they will let in a Methodist and the preachers of other denominations. In 1869 Brigham
Young refused my brother here, Alex. H. Smith, the use of the Tabernacle because, as they said, we were trying to undo the work
they had done -- that is, tear it down. They don't deny Joseph Smith, my father, but they claim he originated polygamy, in the
church. We challenge the proofs."
The attention of Mr. Smith being called to the widespread belief that his father pirated the Book of Mormon, which was none other
than a romance written by Rev. Solomon Spaulding, he scouted the idea as utterly ridiculous and absurd. Addressing himself to Mr.
Ferris, as a lawyer, gave him a very detailed history of the case, showing by dates and other undeniable facts of history the utter
absurdity of the charge. He was willing to submit these facts to any judge or jury in the country and they would come to the same
conclusion. He showed Sidney Rigdon, who is alleged to have got possession of Spaulding's manuscript in a printing office at Pittsburg,
Pa., was but ten [sic] years of age at the time, and is not likely that a boy would understand the nature of such an acquisition.
While president Smith was wrestling with the charges of fraud and delusion urged against his father, the REPUBLICAN
representative turned to Mr. Whitmer, who was lying on the bed and listening with much apparent interest to the colloquy, occasionally
interposing a word in confirmation of Mr. Smith's statements and made some interrogatories.
"Yes," said Mr. Whitmer, "I have no objection to giving the particulars of my early life. I was born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,
at a small trading post, in 1805. My father moved to York state when I was four years old. We settled in Fayette township, Seneca
county, between Seneca and Cayuga lakes, four miles from Seneca Falls, two miles from Waterloo, seven miles from Seneca. I lived
there till I was twenty-six years old. The first time I saw Joseph Smith was in Harmony, Pennsylvania I joined him before the Book of
Mormon was printed at Palmyra, N.Y. I was there during the time the book was printed. The translation was done in my father's house;
at least two months of the time, was thus taken up with it there. Oliver Cowdery was the principal amanuensis. Cowdery died in
, near my house, in Richmond. I saw the stone which formed the box or receptacle in which the metallic
plates were found, on the hillside, Commarah. Joseph Smith claimed that an angel informed him of the place where the plates
were hidden. I saw the plates; they were bound together with leaves, and held together by rings, two at each corner of the bundle
and one in the centre.
"Joseph Smith dictated every word in the book. The understanding we have about it was that when the book was discovered an angel
was present and pointed the place out. In translating from the plates, Joseph Smith looked through the Urim and Thumminim, consisting
of two transparent pebbles set in the rim of a bow, fastened to a breastplate. He dictated by looking through them to his scribes."
At this stage of the explanation, Mr. Whitmer showed those present a
specimen of the characters copied from the plates. It is on a
piece of strong paper about four by eight inches, and covered with one hundred or more hieroglyphics and figures.
It is the identical specimen which was sent to Prof. Anthon, of New York, and shown by him to Prof. Mitchell, of which the New
York papers made mention at the time. The specimen was
sent to Prof. Anthon by Martin Harris and returned to him. Profs. Anthon and Mitchell both admitted they were ancient characters,
resembling the reformed Egyptian and Hebrew characters. Mr. Whitmer holds these characters, as well as the manuscript of the Book of
Mormon and the records of the church, in great reverence, and would not part with them for any money or allow them to go out of his
house. He says he is utterly opposed to polygamy and remarked that when he was connected with the church in York State, "we
wouldn't," he said, "have fellowship even with any person who was divorced, and Joseph Smith was opposed to it." Mr. Whitmer here
desired his grandson, Mr. George Schweich, to copy for the REPUBLICAN the following extract from the Book of Mormon
as an expression of his views and that of the founders of the church:
EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK OF MORMON.
Book of Jacob, chapter II. -- "Behold David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was
abominable before me, saith the Lord; wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the
land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit
of the loins of Joseph. Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of
old. Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among
you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; for I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity
Mr. Whitmer on being asked if he saw the angel, as stated in some accounts, opened the book and pointing to a section said, "There
is my testimony. Read it; that tells all that is necessary for me to say about it. That contains the solemn testimony of myself
and the other persons named." Mr. Whitmer's response was regarded as closing out any further interrogatory under that head,
and an estoppel was put on such inquiries.
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people unto whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace
of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the
people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower
of which hath been spoken; and we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice
hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety, that the work is true; and we also testify that we have seen
the engravings which are upon the plates and they have been shown unto us by the power of God and not of man. And we
declare with words of soberness that an angel of God came down from heaven and he brought and laid before our eyes,
that we beheld and saw the plates and the engravings thereon, and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father and
our Lord Jesus Christ that we beheld and bear record that these things are true, and it is marvellous in our eyes.
Nevertheless the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore to be obedient unto the
commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things, and we know that if we are faithful in Christ we shall rid our
garments of the blood of all men and be found spotless before the judgment seat of Christ and dwell with Him eternally
in the heavens, and the honor be to the Father and to the Son, and to the
Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
The above is from the Book of Mormon. Now who among the Gentiles and sceptics of a later generation is to gainsay what is
AN ORIGINAL REVELATION.
Revelation to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, June, 1829, given previous to their viewing the plates
containing the Book of Mormon.
1. Behold I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do, with purpose of heart, you shall
have a view of the plates, and also the breastplates, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, which were
given to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face, and the miraculous
directors which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness, on the borders of the Red sea; and it is by
your faith that you shall obtain a view of them, even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old.
2. And after that you have obtained faith, and have seen them with your own eyes, you shall testify of them
by the power of God; and this you shall do that my servant, Joseph Smith, Jr., may not be destroyed, that I
may bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men in this work. And ye shall testify that you have
seen them even as my servant Joseph Smith, Jr., has seen them, and it is because he had faith; and he has
translated the book, even that part which I have commanded him, and as your Lord and your God liveth, it is true.
3. Wherefore you have received the same power, and the same faith, and the same gift like unto him; and if you
do these last commandments of mine which I have given you the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; for
my grace is sufficient for you, and you shall be lifted up at the last day. And Jesus Christ, your Lord and
your God, have spoken it unto you that I might bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men. Amen.
It may be stated here that Mr. Whitmer has in his possession the history written by the appointed historian of the church,
John Whitmer (the brother of David). The history is still in manuscript and has never been published. John died, leaving
the history in David's hands, and for aught known, it has been seen but by very few persons.
It is further known that revelations became so frequent among the Saints from 1829 to 1835 that Joseph Smith received a
revelation shutting down on this superabundance of heavenly oracles. The supply was greater than the demand. Mr. Whitmer,
on being asked about these revelations,
said most any one could get a revelation if he desired. He denounced the Book of Covenants that Smith,
Sidney Rigdon and his associates claimed to have received, and which were published in Kirtland, O., in 1835. Smith,
he said, was generally opposed to these revelations, but being frequently importuned by individuals to reveal to them
their duty, he was compelled to yield, and in this way the original purity of the faith was darkened by novel ideas.
He maintains that the Book of Mormon is much more antagonistic to polygamy and concubinage than the Bible, "and Joseph Smith,"
said he, "never to my knowledge advocated it, though I have heard that he virtually sanctioned it at Nauvoo. However, I
broke loose from him in 1837 and can't state intelligently."
ALEX. H. SMITH.
This gentleman, the second son of Joseph the prophet, is stoutly built. His complexion, with the evidence of good health,
is said to resemble his father more strikingly than any other of the sons. Gen. Doniphan, who knew Joseph Smith confirmed
the statement that Alex bears a striking resemblance to his father. Alexander informed the reporter that he visited Salt
Lake in 1876, staying for three weeks. "I was refused permission to speak in the Tabernacle. They said they got the sanction
of polygamy from my father, who died 1844, and that it was not till August, 185, that it was first presented in a
special conference held at the tabernacle in Salt Lake City by Brigham Young. Orson Pratt gave the first in defense of
polygamy ever uttered in a Mormon church. Illinois killed father as a reformer, the same as she did Lovejoy. Father was not
an educated man, but after we moved to Ohio they had good schools there, and he improved himself so that he became, in
some measure, quite learned. We younger men know only about these things b[y] what we learn from our elders. Father Whitmer
was there, and we accept his statement.
THOMAS W. SMITH.
This gentleman is a cousin of Joseph and Alexander, and in charge of the Australian mission. He is a gentleman of learning
and extensive research in the literature of theology. He gave a running sketch of the Book of Mormon and what it taught.
Mormon was the last of the race. The history told by him covers 600 years before Christ and extends 400 years subsequent to
the beginning of the Christian era. After the departure from Jerusalem the Nephites and the Lamanites became divided and the
Nephites in consequence of the turbulence and fierce wars were finally destroyed, except a portion who united with the deserters
and were identified and absorbed by the Lamanites. This colony came to this continent before Christ, landing as is supposed in
Peru, South America. The description of the country in the Book of Mormon answers to the accounts given by modern explorers,
and shows conclusively that they passed across the Isthmus of Panama. They afterwards scattered all over the country, leaving
mounds, temples, tablets, statuary, inscriptions and other memorials of their occupation. It is a curious and noted fact that
all the explorations made by Squires, Priest, Stephens and Catherwood and others of these remains of an ancient people were
made subsequent to the publication of the Book of Mormon, which is the only book that gives the key to these prehistoric
migrations. The descendants of the colony which came out from Jerusalem discovered a colony that preceded them and which came
out from the tower of Babel. Mr. Smith is about leaving very soon for the Australasian archipelagos, and will revisit New Zealand.
He desired very much to see Mr. Griffin, the American consul to New Zealand, who, he saw from the Republican, was stopping at
the Southern hotel; but as the commission will not complete its work until Wednesday evening of this week, he could not expect
to find Mr. Griffin in St. Louis after that time. Mr. Smith, when asked by the reporter, if in New Zealand he would not be afraid
to encounter the Maoris or missionary eaters, answered in the negative, and said the worst enemies that he expected to meet
would be the Brighamites or polygamists from Salt Lake who had a large following in those islands, and whom they pitched into
wherever met as hostile to the pure teachings of Joseph.
WM. H. KELLEY.
Mr. Kelley is a missionary in charge of the central states with headquarters at Kirtland, Ohio, where he ministers in the
original temple first erected by the saints in this country. The temple was built after a design by Joseph Smith in 1834. The
walls are of unhewn stone, three stories in height, 69 feet in length. The outside and inside is plastered with cement and the
appearance is as fresh as when first built. A peculiarity of the interior is that there are two pulpits, one at the east and
the other at the west end. There are three pulpits or platforms in each of the main pulpits rising one above the other. Mr. Kelley
avers that the church will stand forever as it is approved by the Almighty like the Pentecost. It has withstood the tribulation
of the saints from the mob and from riots, Joseph and Sidney Rigdon having both been tarred and feathered by the people called
the Campbellites. The late President Garfield resided about three miles from Kirtland. He was more liberal in his views and
while officiating as a Campbellite preacher he performed the marriage ceremony of the late Judge Whitmer of Richmond, who was
a nephew of David Whitmer. The church at Kirtland comprises only six members, though the services are crowded by outsiders,
mostly free-thinkers, and those who do not belong to any church. The pulpit of the temple is free to all denominations, and even
Bob Ingersoll would be admitted, as they believe in freedom of conscience to its fullest extent. In February last, the
great Braden-Kelley debate took place in the temple, the
former being a Campbellite.
THE SALT LAKE DELEGATION..
Hon. Jacob T. Childs said: "About six years ago Orson Pratt and Joseph [F.] Smith, the son of Hiram Smith and nephew of Joseph
the Prophet, came to Richmond, from Salt Lake for the purpose of verifying the book of Mormon as published with the manuscript
in the hands of Whitmer. After examining it they pronounced it to be the original manuscript of the book of Mormon. Mr. Smith
said he recognized his aunt's (the wife of the prophet) handwriting as a part of it; also Oliver Cowdery's handwriting. Orson
Pratt stated that the manuscript was very valuable to them and he hoped that Father Whitmer would keep it in a safe place, as
the archives of the church would be incomplete without it, and they would pay anything within reason for it. The family of Mr.
Whitmer feels that a curse would fall on them if they allowed it to go out of their hands, that the Almighty intended that they
should keep it, and fearing that if the Salt Lake people got it they would interpolate it for their own purposes. The Whitmers
hold it as a sacred document not to be parted with on any consideration. It is remarkable with what pertinacity the man's family
believe in it. Every branch of the Whitmer family is firm in the faith. Mr. Whitmer, after describing to me the golden plates,
I asked him what he considered their value.
"That was exactly," he replied, with animation, "what first struck Joseph Smith, and the angel hurled him down the hill,
Commorah, and it was six months before Joseph obtained possession of the stone box that held the plates, and he also reiterates
to me his having seen the angel and having heard the voice distinctly. What he had seen was to be relied on, and that his
testimony in the Book of Mormon is correct in every particular. The way that Smith got into the belief of his
supernatural power was first by putting on the glasses, he saw his entire past history revealed to him." Mr. Whitmer left
the Mormons on account of their devious transactions, and on account of his refusal to handle or have anything to do with the
Kirtland money, for which he denounced them, and, leaving Far West, came to Richmond. The Mormon priesthood held a council at
Far West and John Whitmer, brother of David, was the secretary of it. David was aware that he was being tried as an apostate, and
had an understanding with his brother that, if the council decided favorably, he was to come outside and raise his hat, but if
they decided against him, then he was to wipe his face with a handkerchief. John finally came forth, and, wiping his face with
his handkerchief, David knew that was a signal for him to leave, and, mounting his horse, he made his escape. After that what
is known as the Mormon war took place. The Mormon flagstaff was shivered to splinters by a stroke of lightening, and this was
considered a bad omen and frightened many of the Mormon followers. Father Whitmer during the war drove a wagon containing provisions
for the supply of the Doniphan forces, and when he got to Far West the women came out and said Whitmer had done right in the
course he pursued. The split there occurred, and Whitmer never went to Nauvoo, but remained here with the better class of Mormons.
The Whitmers, the Pages and others regard the Book of Mormon as a continuation of the New Testament.
This subject may be closed with the observation that, whatever the gentiles may believe in regard to the Mormons, the sons of Joseph
Smith and David Whitmer and his sons believe in it with a firm conviction and undoubted faith. The honesty and excellent character
of the Whitmer family are substantiated by the people of Richmond without exception. That David Whitmer, who holds many of the
revelations of the early founders of that church with no higher esteem than outsiders, and the fact that he had a falling-out with
Joe Smith and in a measure separated himself from the saints who went to Nauvoo, and still holds to the genuineness of the Book of
Mormon with an unalterable faith in its truth is certainly a remarkable fact. Whitmer holds the Book of Mormon in the same estimation
that he holds the Bible, believing that the one is a supplement of the other, and that whoever disbelieves in either does it at the
hazard of his eternal salvation. That the supposition The supposition that
the Rev. Solomon Spaulding wrote the Book of Mormon is absurd and "a weak invention of the enemy." A man
who would put forth a book, however meritorious in other respects, as a novel eithout a plot, character or any
of the essentials of a work of fiction, is censurable for his stupidity.
Note: Matthew B. Brown, in his 2003 book, Plates of Gold, quotes on page 152 this excerpt from the 1884 Republican
article: "David Whitmer remarked, 'The way that Smith got into the belief of his supernatural power was first by putting on the
glasses; he saw his entire past history revealed to him.'" This passage does not occur in David Whitmer statements, other than
the 1884 Republican article and LDS historians rarely reference it. Brown does so, in connection with a Joseph Knight
statement, under the heading of "The Interpreters... Function." Brown reports that "Joseph Knight
that when Joseph Smith first received the Nephite relics from the angel Moroni, he 'seemed to think more of the glasses or the
Urim and Thummim than he did of the plates for, [said] he, 'I can see anything; they are marvelous.'" Brown goes on to
quote from Martin Harris: "I never dared to look
into them [the seer-stones]... we could see anything we wished by looking into them." Compare all of that to the
1877 statement from Wm. D. Purple, relating testimony
from Joseph Smith's 1826 hearing before Judge Neeley, at South Bainbridge, New York: "With some labor and exertion he [Joseph Smith,
Jr.] found the stone... placed it in his hat, and discovered that time, place and distance were annihilated; that all intervening
obstacles were removed, and that he possessed one of the attributes of Deity, an All-Seeing-Eye." In the same article, Mr. Purple
says of Smith's stone: "he confirmed his conceded powers as a seer, by means of the stone which he placed in his hat, and
by excluding the light from all other terrestrial things, could see whatever he wished..."