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William H. Whitsitt

"Sidney Rigdon, The Real Founder of Mormonism"
Unpublished MS., Library of Congress AC1158
(limited excerpts for on-line use only)

  • Written: 1886  --  (final revision: c. 1891)
  • Donation initiated: 1908  --  (received: 1912)
  • Typescript and annotation by Dale R. Broadhurst
  • Checked against 1988 typescript by Byron Marchant
        at BYU Lee Library Spec. Coll.: BX 8670.1 .R44w 1988

  •     This Web-document is still under construction.

    LoC Whitsitt MS, pp. 1-1a

    Title-Page  |   Table of Contents  |   Book I   |   Book II   |   Book III   |   Book  IV   |   Book V


    [ Letter of William H. Whitsitt appended to LOC MS AC1158 ]

    Richmond, Virginia
    August 28, 1908

    Dr. Worthington C. Ford
    Chief of the Manuscripts Division
    Library of Congress
    Washington, D.C.,

    Dear Doctor Ford:

    I am the author of an elaborate work in manuscript, entitled: The Life of Sidney Rigdon, the Real Founder of Mormonism; which is an effort to demonstrate from original documents and history, that Mormon theology and church constitution were conceived and produced by Rigdon and not by Joseph Smith. It was completed in 1885, with the expectation of publishing it immediately. But such a large amount of money was required to produce the work that I was compelled to desist, and it is still retained in manuscript.

    During the year 1891 I wrote an outline of my course of treatment in an article on Mormonism that was published in the Dictionary of Religious Knowledge by Dr. Samuel M. Jackson of New York. A degree of attention was excited by that article; letters were sent to me by many persons in differing portions of the country who had perused it. Moreover, Bishop John F. Hurst in his Short History of the Christian Church, New York, 1893, mentioned it in terms of special favor and anticipation (History, pp. 583-4).

    I suppose it will never be in my power to issue the work in print, but I should be glad to leave it in some library where it could be consulted in manuscript by any who might feel a particular interest in it, and I beg leave to inquire of you whether the Library of Congress would take charge of it and preserve it in manuscript so that it might always be open to inspection. I should be very thankful for any information and advice which it might be in your power to bestow, and I desire to thank you in advance for your kindness.

    Yours very truly,

    William H. Whitsitt [sig.]

    I beg leave to inclose herewith copies of the most recent letters that have reached me in reference to the business.


    S I D N E Y    R I G D O N,

    T H E    R E A L    F O U N D E R    O F    M O R M O N I S M


    William Heth Whitsitt, D.D., LL.D.,

    Professor in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
    at Louisville, Kentucky




    Though the literature of Mormonism is extensive, no author has yet undertaken to investigate the Sacred Books of Mormonism with any degree of patience and system. Laborious and learned students have merely skimmed the surface of the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. This is an omission which I have made it my task to supply in the present volume.

    The Sacred Books of Mormonism speak a plain and unvarnished story: they seem to point to Sidney Rigdon as the real founder of Mormon theology. No other person could have been the author of the religious portions of the Book of Mormon: he supplies the only key to a proper comprehension of the subject.

    The sources whence Mormon belief was borrowed are neither very various nor very far too seek. Mr. Rigdon was a minister of the Disciples of Christ when he performed the two redactions of the Book of Mormon by which it was adjusted to his uses. It copies the tenets of the Disciples with singular fidelity, and shows that Mormonism was devised to promote what he considered the best interests of that body of Christians by carrying their doctrines and practices to a point where he fancied they should be consistent and irresistible. Mormonism was originally designed to be an improvement upon the theology and polity of the Disciples: both in its theology and history, therefore, are insoluble mysteries without constant reference to Mr. Rigdon and to them (the Disciples).

    While these points are set forth and insisted upon, no assault has been intended or performed against the Disciples of Christ. It is no fault of mine that the facts are of such a color: it can surely be no crime to record them just as they exist, especially as without them no adequate explanation of Mormonism is possible.

    Note: The original format of pp. 001b-001n below has been changed to include html links.

    [001b - 001n]

    T A B L E    O F    C O N T E N T S

  • Book the First: Birth and Breeding
  • Chapter I  (0001-0003)   Family of Mr. Rigdon
    Chapter II  (0003-0007)   Birth and Boyhood

  • Book the Second: Baptist Period

  • Section the First:
    Before His Conversion to Disciple (Campbellite) Tenents
    Chapter I  (0007-0007d)   Peter's Creek Church
    Chapter II  (0007d-0009)   Sidney Joins Peter's Creek Church
    Chapter III  (0009-0011)   His Career in the Peter's Creek Church
    Chapter IV  (0012-0013)   Further Movements in Pennsylvania
    Chapter V  (0014-0018)   Rigdon Enters the State of Ohio
    Chapter VI  (0018-0025)   His Conversion From Baptist Views
    ( The following section was removed in 1888 and published separately.
    Page numbers are only approximations for the missing original pagination. )

    Section the Second (Deleted):
    Origin of the Disciples (Campbellites).
    Chapter I  (0026-0030)    The Sandemanians
    Chapter II  (0031-0040)
      "The Ancient Order of Things"
    Chapter III  (0041-0047)
      "The Ancient Gospel"
    Chapter IV  (0048-0057)
      "The Ancient Gospel" Improved
    Chapter V  (0058-0075)
      The Haldaneans
    Chapter VI  (0076-0086)
      Mr. Campbell's Perversion (First Stage)
    Chapter VII  (0087-0099)
      Mr. Campbell's Earliest Success
    Chapter VIII  (0100-0114)
      Mr. Campbell's Perversion (Second Stage)
    Chapter IX  (0115-0124)
      Baptism for the Remission of Sins
    Chapter X  (0125a-0125l)
      Other Items

    Section the Second:
    After Sidney's Conversion to Disciple Tenents:
    Chapter I  (0126-0139)   An Ethusiastic Convert
    Chapter II  (0140-0148)   End of Rigdon's Career as a Baptist

  • Book the Third: Disciple Period

  • Section the First:
    Rigdon's Special Preparation for his Mormon Career
    Chapter I  (0149-0158)    Very Short Commons
    Chapter II  (0159-0173)    Campbell's Evil Influence upon Rigdon

    Section the Second:
    The Spauldings and Their Manuscript Found
    Chapter I  (0174-0189)    Solomon Spaulding
    Chapter II  (0190-0200)    Matilda Sabine Spaulding
    Chapter III  (0201-0204f)    The Honolulu Manuscript
    Chapter IV  (0204g-0204t)    Patterson & Lambdin
    Chapter V  (0204u-0204z)    Rigdon's Patmos

    Section the Third:
    First Redaction of the Book of Mormon
    Chapter I  (0205-0219b)    Sidney's Editorial Handicraft
    Chapter II  (0220-0230)    Several Points of Detail
    Chapter III  (0231-0248)    "John the Baptist"

    Section the Fourth:
    Mr. Joseph Smith, Junior
    Chapter I  (0249-0256)    Birth and Breeding
    Chapter II  (0257-0269)    Joseph Becomes Famous
    Chapter III  (0270-0276)    Additional Fame
    Chapter IV  (0277-0289)    Ways and Means
    Chapter V  (0290-0299)    Persecution, So-Called
    Chapter VI  (0300-0312)    A Young Child
    Chapter VII  (0313-0319)    M. Harris, Ammanuensis
    Chapter VIII  (0320-0325)    An Accident that Made a Prophet
    Chapter IX  (0326-0334)    Joseph Loses his "Gift"
    Chapter X  (0335-0340)    Oliver Cowdery, Ammanuensis
    Chapter XI  (0341-0353)    Several Important Incidents

    Section the Fifth:
    Second Redaction of the Book of Mormon
    Chapter I  (0354-0360)    "John the Baptist" in Pennsylvania
    Chapter II  (0361-0377)    Further Editorial Handicraft
    Chapter III  (0378-0386)    The Book of Moroni
    Chapter IV  (0387-0397)    The Three Witnesses
    Chapter V  (0398-0401)   "Paying the Piper"

    Section the Sixth:
    Doctrinal System of the Book of Mormon
    Chapter I  (0402-0408)    Theology
    Chapter II  (0409-0415)    Christology
    Chapter III  (0416-0419)    Pneumatology
    Chapter IV  (0420-0423)    Anthropology
    Chapter V  (0424-0436)    Soteriology
    Chapter VI  (0437-0444)    Ecclesiology (I)
    Chapter VII  (0444a-0450)    Ecclesiology (II)
    Chapter VIII  (0451-0456)    Ecclesiology (III)
    Chapter IX  (0457-0458a)    Eschatology
    Chapter X  (0459-0465)    Results of the Preceding Investigation
    Chapter XI  (0466-0473)    The Question of Rigdon's Sincerity
    Chapter XII  (0474-0483)    Minor Criticisms of the Book of Mormon

    Section the Seventh:
    Geography and History of the Book of Mormon
    Chapter I  (0484-0492)    Book of Ether
    Chapter II  (0493-0501)    Book of Mormon
    Chapter III  (0502-0513)    Sources of the Geography and History

    Section the Eighth:
    "The Church of Christ"
    Chapter I  (0514-0517j)    Organization of "The Church of Christ"
    Chapter II  (0517k-0524)    First Creed and Constitution of the Church
    Chapter III  (0525-0530)    Further Movements of Joseph
    Chapter IV  (0531-0542)    Perils of the Prophet
    Chapter V  (0543-0555)    Blunders of the Prophet

    Section the Ninth:
    Connection Between the Old and New
    Chapter I  (0556-0566)    Sidney Shows the White Feather
    Chapter II  (0567-0574)    Sidney Makes an Unconditional Surrender

  • Book the Fourth: Mormon Period

  • Section the First:
    The Prophet's Hegira
    Chapter I  (0575-0586)    Sidney Goes to Fetch Joseph
    Chapter II  (0587-0594)    A New Translation of the Bible
    Chapter III  (0595-0605)    Swedenborgiana
    Chapter IV  (0607-0615)    Other Changes, Doctrinal and Practical

    Section the Second:
    The Source of all Mormon Sorrows
    Chapter I  (0615b-0615m)    The Theocracy
    Chapter II  (0615n-0615s)    A New Theocratic Officer
    Chapter III  (0615t-0615y)    A Rival Revelator
    Chapter IV  (0616-0621)    Objections Against the Theocratic "Law"
    Chapter V  (0622-0629)    The Theocratic City
    Chapter VI  (0630-0638)    The Perils of Enthusiasm
    Chapter VII  (0638a-0638f)    Exodus of the Saints From New York State
    Chapter VIII  (0638g-0639)    Other Items of Interest
    Chapter IX  (0640-0654)    Marching Zionward
    Chapter X  (0655-0664)    A Crestfallen Prophet

    Section the Third:
    The First Defeat
    Chapter I  (0665-0681)    Raid on Hiram, Ohio
    Chapter II  (0682-0693)    Changes of the Hiram Period (Constitutional)
    Chapter III  (0694-0707)    Changes of the Hiram Period (Doctrinal)
    Chapter IV  (0708-0718)    Second Journey to Zion

    Section the Fourth:
    Perilous Period
    Chapter I  (0719-0733)    "The Church of Christ" in Peril
    Chapter II  (0734-0745)    Changes of the Perilous Period (Constitutional)
    Chapter III  (0746-0755)    Changes of the Perilous Period (Doctrinal)
    Chapter IV  (0756-0775)    Sidney's Successful Rival

    Section the Fifth:
    First Missouri War
    Chapter I  (0776-0792)    Causes of the War
    Chapter II  (0793-0808)    Progress of the War
    Chapter III  (0809-0834)    Conclusion of the War
    Chapter IV  (0835-0844)    Changes Effected During 1st Missouri War

    Section the Sixth:
    Peace and Progress
    Chapter I  (0845-0850)    "House of the Lord" in Kirtland
    Chapter II  (0860-0881)    Safety Society Bank of Kirtland
    Chapter III  (0882-0907)    Theocracy Challenges War of Extermination
    Chapter IV  (0908-0929)    The Hierarchy Completed
    Chapter V  (0930-0938)    Survey of the Growth of the Hierarchy
    Chapter VI  (0939-0945)    Third Effort to Organize the Heirarchy
    Chapter VII  (0946-0951)    Fourth Effort to Organize the Heirarchy
    Chapter VIII  (0952-0957a)    Fifth Effort to Organize the Heirarchy
    Chapter IX  (0958-0963)    Introduction to the "Lectures on Faith"
    Chapter X  (0964-0973)    Theological Teachings of "Lectures on Faith"

    Section the Seventh:
    Second Missouri War
    Chapter I  (0974-0993)    The Theocracy Opens the War
    Chapter II  (0994-0999)    Campaign in Carroll County
    Chapter III  (1000-1016)    Campaign in Daviess County
    Chapter IV  (1017-1025)    Disaster in Ray County
    Chapter V  (1026-1037)    Massacre at Haun's Mill
    Chapter VI  (1038-1055)    The War Closes at Far West in Caldwell Co.
    Chapter VII  (1056-1072)    Trial of the Prisoners
    Chapter VIII  (1073-1093)    An Embarrassing Situation
    Chapter IX  (1094-1100)    Changes of the 2nd Missouri War (Doctrinal)
    Chapter X  (1101-1119)    Changes of 2nd Missouri War (Constitutional)

    Section the Eighth:
    The Nauvoo Period
    Chapter I  (1120-1133)    Isaac Galiand, M.D.
    Chapter II  (1134-1146)    Illinois Hospitality
    Chapter III  (1147-1153)    Four Bulworks of the Theocracy
    Chapter IV  (1154-1158)    Sidney's Private Fortunes and Misfortunes
    Chapter V  (1159-1170)    Sidney in Apostasy
    Chapter VI  (1171-1186)    John Cooke Bennett, M.D.
    Chapter VII  (1187-1194)    Two Other Bennetts
    Chapter VIII  (1195-1205)    Foreign Missions
    Chapter IX  (1206-1217)    Temple at Nauvoo
    Chapter X  (1218-1222)    O. Hyde's Mission to Jerusalem
    Chapter XI  (1223-1234)    Four Other Bulworks of the Theocracy
    Chapter XII  (1235-1243)    Joseph Improves his Welcome
    Chapter XIII  (1244-1251)    Sidney a Candidate for Vice Presidency
    Chapter XIV  (1252-1256)    A Disasterous Victory
    Chapter XV  (1257-1262)    Sidney's Vain Struggle for the Succession
    Chapter XV  (1263-1265)    Sidney is Expelled from the Church

    Section the Ninth:
    Doctrinal and Practical Changes of the Nauvoo Period
    Chapter I  (1266-1269)    Sixth Effort to Organize the Hierarchy
    Chapter II  (1270-1274)    Baptism for the Dead
    Chapter III  (1275-1280)    Materialism and Plurality of Gods
    Chapter IV  (1281-1285)    Celestial Marriage: D. & C. 132:1-27
    Chapter V  (1286-1290)    Polygamy: D. & C. 132:28-66
    Chapter VI  (1291-1294)    Practical Changes of the Nauvoo Period

  • Book the Fifth: Sidney's Life After his Expulsion from the Church
  • Chapter I  (1295-1302)    Sidney Organizes a Church of his Own
    Chapter II  (1303-1306)    Policy of the Gov't Towards the Mormons

    Transcriber's Note: The e-text representation of Whitsitt's manuscript follows the basic format of the original, with the typed content of each of his file cards (which Whitsitt glued two per sheet of his volume) duplicated on each numbered e-text page. The e-text reproduces certain of Whitsitt's erasures and cross-outs  -- the substance of which provide significant information not otherwise provided in his mansucript. The transcriber's annotations are shown in reduced-size maroon-colored type -- except for a few special topical and bibliographical entries, which are shown in dark blue type.

    Continue reading with:
    Book I, Chapter I (Family of Rigdon)

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    last revised Aug. 29, 2006