Chicago Times, August 7, 1875
THE GOLDEN TABLES
On Which Were Inscribed the Records of the Tribe of Nephi.
Written in "Improved Egyptian" and Translated by Joseph Smith.
How He Came to Find Them and the Mighty Goggles by Which They Were Translated.
And How He Was Pitched Down Hill for Daring to Think He Had Struck a Bonanza.
An Interview with David Whitmer, Who Helped to Make the Translation.
The First Conflict of Arms, and the Pusillanimous Conduct of Gov. Ford.
And Who Now Holds the Original Manuscripts of the Book of Mormon.
Gen. Doniphan Relates Some Reminiscences of the Prophet's Career in Missouri.
Showing How He Was One Delivered Out of the Hands of His Enemies by the Aid of Filthy Lucre.
While everybody knows that Joseph Smith was the founder of the Church of Christ, or, as it is more commonly called, Mormonism, comparatively few know anything more than this of Smith and his greed. To bring out some of the salient points in the life of this wonderful man, to give the true record of the finding of the golden tablets, and the translation of their "reformed Egyptian" hieroglyphics into the book of Mormon, by means of the Urim and Thummim, and to show wherein the Church of Christ of Latter-Day saints differs from the original Church of Christ, as instituted by Joseph Smith, the prophet, are, in brief, the objects of this article.
JOSEPH SMITH WAS BORN
Dec. 23, 1805, at Sharon, Windsor county, Vert., very much as ordinary mortals are brought into the world. There were no "fiery shapes" or "burning crescents" to mark the advent of this, the greatest prophet since the days of Mohammed. His parents belonged to the sub-stratum of society, or what was known as the mud-still element in ante bellum days. In 1815 they moved to a point near Palmyra, Wayne county, New York, and 10 years later crossed the line and settled in the adjoining county of Ontario. Joseph was an illiterate and wayward, but at the same an original youth. Early in life he manifested a strong tendency toward the mysterious, and managed to earn shillings as a water-witch, using the forked hazel stick to designate the exact place where the credulous could sink wells with a certainty of finding an ample supply of water. So. at least, say those who disbelieve in his religion. It was about the year 1827 that Joseph inaugurated, or was the instrument of inaugurating, one of the most novel and successful religious schemes that has startled the world for many centuries, -- one that has attracted the attention of, and made converts from, the old world as well as the new, and has been and is to-day a formidable element in the religious and political affairs of the republic.
THE BASIS OF THE WHOLE FABRIC
was the finding, or the purported finding, by Smith, of certain sacred records which 14 centuries before had been buried by the last remnant of one of the lost tribes of Israel. How Joseph Smith was led to the discovery, and how he utilized it, was told to a TIMES reporter by David Whitmer, of Missouri, who witnessed much of that whereof he speaks, and who today has in his possession the original documents on which the church was founded. His story runs somewhat thus:
One night Joseph Smith awoke from deep sleep to find his humble room ablaze with glorious effulgence. In the midst of this supernatural radiance stood an angelic figure robed in white, who, in seraphic tones, said to him that in a stone casket buried near the summit of the hill Cumorah were the priceless and sacred records of the Nephites, one of the lost tribes. Presently the light and the strange messenger disappeared, and all was dark. Joseph slept, and a second time he awoke to see the same mysterious light and presence, and to hear the same weird directions. He slept again, and a third time the angelic visitant and heavenly light appeared as before. In the morning Joseph arose pale and haggard, meditating upon the events of the night, and his parents, observing his strange appearance, questioned him closely but received only evasive answers. As soon as he could escape observation, he strolled out and away from the house and sought the hill Cumorah, an oval prominence with a base half a mile in diameter, situated near Manchester. He found the exact spot designated by the white-robed visitor, and at once commenced digging in the rock-ribbed soil. At the depth of two and a half or three feet his faith was rewarded by the discovery of
A SQUARE STONE CASKET
Overpowered by the discovery he rested for a few moments, and then visions of worldly emolument flitted through his overwrought brain. He had been singled out as the discoverer of this secret of the infinite! Should he neglect this golden opportunity to amass a fortune? No! He would take a trusty few into his confidence, the better to accomplish his mercenary purpose, and untold wealth and fame would be guaranteed to all. While these worldly thoughts occupied Joseph's mind, the angel of the Lord again suddenly stood before him, told him that he had approached this sacred spot in irreverent mood, that the secrets of the casket could never be his until he sought them in the proper spirit, and then hurled him unceremoneously to the plain below. Joseph arose chagrined, and resolutely ascended the hill, when he was again hurled back with words of awful warning. A third attempt, with like result, sufficed to convince him that he was battling against the Lord, and he desisted and repaired to his father's house, leaving the casket intact. After long weeks of prayerful purification he again visited the hill Cumorah and reverently unearthed the casket. With an unpoetical crowbar he removed the cover, when were revealed to his astonished sight a number of golden plates, and a singular stone. The plates were each about 6x10 inches in size and were held together by a brazen ring [passing] through a hole near the top, so that the entire package could be opened like a book. On these plates were mystic characters that no man could decipher. A learned philologist in New York city was consulted but confessed his utter ignorance of the language embodied in the symbols. But a stone had been found with the plates, shaped like a pair of ordinary spectacles, though much larger, and at least half an inch in thickness, and perfectly opaque save to the prophetic vision of Joseph Smith. On the tabular plates were engraven the records of the lost tribe of Nephites, and the stone was
THE URIM AND THUMMIM
by which the seers of old had deciphered the mysteries of the universe.
Joseph Smith, recognizing the necessity of having confidants and assistants that he might utilize the great gift, shared the secret with a few young men in the neighborhood, among whom were Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris. David Whitmer, living 22 miles away, came to town on business, overheard some conversation with reference to the discovery, became interested, formed Joseph's acquaintance, was shown the plates, as well as some practical tests of the Urim and Thummim, and was overwhelmed with conviction, and became an active disciple and confidant. In 1828 Smith commenced the translation of the inscriptions upon the plates but the excitement in the vicinity of his father's residence was such that he was compelled to leave the country. He took refuge at Harmony, Pennsylvania, whither Cowdery soon followed him, stopping over night en route at the house of David Whitmer's father, when the two young men conversed long and earnestly upon the new revelations. In the spring of 1829, even Harmony became too hot for Joseph, and he sent to New York for succor. David Whitmer started out in a wagon, drove 160 miles to Harmony, took Smith and Cowdery as passengers and conveyed them thence to his father's house, where they remained in retirement until September, completing the translation. During all these months David had free access to their room and was
AN EYE-WITNESS TO THE METHOD OF PROCEDURE
The plates were not before Joseph while he translated, but seem to have been removed by the custodian angel. The method pursued was commonplace but nevertheless effective. Having placed the Urim and Thummim in his hat, Joseph placed the hat over his face, and with prophetic eyes read the invisible symbols syllable by syllable and word by word, while Cowdery or Harris acted as recorder. "So illiterate was Joseph at that time," said Mr. Whitmer, "that he didn't even know that Jerusalem was a walled city, and he was utterly unable to pronounce many of the names which the magic power of the Urim and Thummim revealed, and therefore spelled them out in syllables, and the more erudite scribe put them together. The stone was the same used by the Jaredites at Babel. I have frequently placed it to my eyes but could see nothing through it. I have seen Joseph, however, place it to his eyes and instantly read signs 160 miles distant and tell exactly what was transpiring there. When I went to Harmony after him he told me the name of every hotel at which I had stopped on the road, read the signs, and described various scenes without having ever received any information from me." The unbelievers frequently attempted to confound the faithful few by asking them if they supposed
"THAT FOOL BOY"
could write anything, or that God would select such a wretch as a medium of communicating His will. The ready answer was that God was not very particular as to the instruments used to accomplish certain desired ends, and that devils as well as angels had their places in His economy.
In 1830 the Book of Mormon was first published, and on the 6th of April of that year the Church of Christ was organized at Manchester. Before alluding farther to the progress of the church it may be well to inquire what this famous Book of Mormon is or pretends to be. It is composed of the first and second books of Nephi, the Book Nephi which was the son of Helaman, the books of Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni, Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, Mormon, and Ether, the Words of Mormon, and the Book of Moroni, the son of Mormon. According to the record, 600 years before Christ a Jewish family left Jerusalem warned by God that
DESTRUCTION AND CAPTIVITY WERE AT HAND
and traveled eastward to the sea. There the patriarch died and Nephi, his son succeeded to the patriarchy and priesthood. By direction of the Lord he built a boat, set sail, and eventually landed in Central America. His followers increased rapidly and at length a schism arose and Laman and his followers refused to obey Nephi and were cut off, cursed and condemned "to be a brutish and savage people, having dark skins, compelled to dig in the ground for roots and hunt their meat in forests like beasts of prey." It was foretold that in time a remnant should have the curse removed, and become "a fair and delightsome people," who should blossom as the rose. These, known as the Lamanites, were the Indians. Meanwhile the Nephites multiplied, spread over North and South America, and built the great cities the ruins of which have astonished the world of to-day. They had numerous kings and prophets, with long names, and frequently went out to war against the Lamanites, and fought terrible battles. There were schisms amongst the Nephites, and many deserted and joined the Lamanites. After many bloody battles the Nephites were gradually driven east beyond the Mississippi, and on the shores of Lake Erie they made a stand, and fought till "the whole land was covered with dead bodies," About A. D. 400 they made a final stand at the Hill Cumorah, in New York, where 20,000 were killed, and all the living captured, save Mormon and his son, Moroni. Mormon here collected the records of the kings and priests of the Nephites, added a book of his own, and gave the volume to his son, who finished it and
BURIED IT IN THE STONE CASKET
upon the hill, assured of God that it would be unearthed in 14 centuries from that date. And sure enough, along came Joseph Smith, the prophet, led by divine agencies, and found the casket containing the sacred records, and the Urim and Thummim by which the "reformed Egyptian" hieroglyphics might be deciphered, and translated them in the presence of David Whitmer, and David Whitmer has the original and only translation, and THE TIMES has from his own lips this truthful account of the same.
Appended to the original edition of the Book of Mormon, published in 1830, is
THE TESTIMONY OF THREE WITNESSES
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 marvelous 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 shall 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. Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris.
Cowdery was a brother-in-law of Whitmer, and for two decades has tested,
IN THE SPIRIT LAND
the truth of the faith espoused and adhered to in this; Harris has recently joined him, "gone to meet Oliver Cowdery," as Brother Childs would say, and Whitmer is still lingering on the shores of time to tell of the class to which he belonged. DAVID WHITMER
was born near Harrisburg, Pa., and when he was but four years old his parents removed to New York, settling at a point midway between the northern extremities of Lakes Cayuga and Seneca, two miles from Waterloo, two miles from Seneca river, four miles from Seneca Falls, seven miles from Geneva, and 22 miles from Palmyra. He is now 70 years of age, but as hale and hearty as most men at 60. In person he is above medium height, stoutly built through not corpulent, his shoulders inclining to stoop as if from so long supporting his massive head rather than from the weight of years, his frank, manly, and benevolent face closely shaven, and his whole exterior betokening him to be one of nature's gentlemen. The rudiments of education he learned in school and a life-time of thought and research have served to expand and store his mind with vast funds of information. The Times reporter found him at his pleasant two-story white frame residence near the centre of the town of Richmond, Mo., and in company with Hon. J. T. Child, editor of The Conservator, was admitted, introduced and received a cordial greeting. When the object of the call was made known, Mr. Whitmer smilingly and meditatively remarked that it was true he had in his possession the original records, and was conversant with the history of the Church of Christ from the beginning, but was under obligations to hold both history and records sacred until such time as the interests of truth and true religion might demand their aid to combat error. Presently he became quite animated, arose to his feet and with great earnestness and good nature spoke for half an hour on the harmony between the bible and the original Book of Mormon, showing how the finding of the plates had been predicted, referring to the innumerable evidence, in the shape of ruins of great cities existing on this continent, of its former occupation by a highly civilized race, reverently declared his solemn conviction of the authenticating of the records in his possession and closed by DENOUNCING THE LATTER DAY SAINTS OF UTAH
as an abomination in the sight of the Lord. While he believed implicitly in the original book, he protested against the Book of Covenants, which was simply a compilation of the special revelations that Smith and his successors had pretended to have received. Joe Smith, he said, was generally opposed to these revelations, but was frequently importuned by individuals to reveal their duty, and oftimes he was virtually compelled to yield, and in this way the original purity of the faith was tarnished by human invention, and the accepted records of to-day lumbered with a mass of worse than useless rubbish. Should Brigham Young, or any of his infatuated satellites, ever dare to declare any of their interpolations to be from the original tablets, or proclaim that their pernicious doctrines or practices were authorized by the true version, then he, David Whitmer, would bring forth the records and confound them. Until that time he alone would be the custodian of the sacred documents. When
THE QUESTION OF POLYGAMY
was broached, and it was asked if the original Book of Mormon justified the practice, Mr. Whitmer most emphatically replied: "No! It's is even much more antagonistic to both polygamy and concubinage than is the bible. Joe Smith never to my knowledge advocated it, though I have heard that he virtually sanctioned it as Nauvoo. However, as I cut loose from him in 1837 I can't speak intelligently of what transpired thereafter." David Whitmer believes in the bible as implicitly as any devotee alive; and he believes in the Book of Mormon as much as he does the bible. The one is but a supplement to the other, according to his idea, and neither would be complete were the other lacking. And no man can look at David Whitmer's face for a half-hour, while he charily and modestly speaks of what he has seen, and then boldly and earnestly confesses the faith that is in him, and say that he is a bigot or an enthusiast. While he shrinks from unnecessary public promulgation of creed, and keenly feels that the Brighamites and Danites and numerous other ites have disgraced it, yet he would not hesitate in emergency, to
STAKE HIS HONOR AND EVEN HIS LIFE
upon its reliability. His is the stern faith of the puritans, modified by half a century of benevolent thought and quiet observation. He might have been a martyr had he locked sense and shrewdness to escape the death sentence that was pronounced against him by the high priests of the church he had helped to build. As it is, he is perhaps the only living witness of the wondrous revelation made to Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism.
David Whitmer was married in Seneca county, New York, in 1830, and was for a number of years an elder in the Church of Christ. To-day he is the proprietor of a livery stable in Richmond, Mo., owns some real estate, has a handsome balance in the bank, is universally respected by all who know him, and surrounded by children and grandchildren, is pleasantly gliding toward the gates of sunset, confident that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was also the God of Nephi, whose faithful disciple he has been and is. He does not believe that all believing in the Book of Mormon or all adherents to any other faith will be found among the elect, but that the truly good of every faith will be gathered in fulfillment of prophecy. Neither does he believe that the Book of Mormon is the only record of the lost tribes hidden in the earth, but on the contrary, that the caves hold other records that will not come forth till all is peace and the lion shall eat straw with the lamb. Three times he has been at the Hill Cumorah and seen the casket that contained the tablets and seerstone. Eventually the casket has been washed down to the foot of the hill, but it was to be seen when he last visited the historic place. He declares that he has never been a Mormon, as the term is commonly interpreted, but is a firm believer in the book, in the faith of Christ, and the fulfillment of the prophecies in due time. Some of them have
ALREADY BEEN FULFILLED
for instance, that which declares that the saints shall be driven from city to city, and also the prediction that the twelve apostles shall lead them to the devil.
In 1837 David and his brother John, then living in far west, Missouri, were warned that they must make a confession of their apostacy or be killed, as the leaders of the church were conspiring against them. They determined to accept neither horn of the dilemma and arranged for flight. At an appointed time John emerged from the back door of his house, gave the preconcerted signal by raising his hat, and hastily mounted horses in waiting they rode away. John, as clerk of the church, had its records, and Oliver Cowdery bore off the original translation, and eventually transferred it to the keeping of David. Since that memorable day both John and David Whitmer have kept aloof from the so-called Latter-Day Saints, although firm as ever in the faith as taught by the Book of Mormon. John is a man of fine education, and abundantly able to defend his faith from assaults from any quarter.
THE THEORY COMMONLY ACCEPTED BY SCEPTICS
of the origin of the Book of Mormon differs materially from the account given by David Whitmer. They claim that it is a skillful perversion of a mass of manuscript written in 1812 by Reverend Solomon Spaulding, an invalid minister, which was called by him "Manuscript Found." At one time he had commenced negotiations for its publication by a Pittsburgh firm, in whose employ was Sidney Rigdon, but it never found its way into print, and eventually the manuscript was lost. It is said that those who had read Spaulding's production recognized in the Book of Mormon all its essential features, and their theory was that Sidney Rigdon, the young printer, had stolen the Spaulding manuscript, and he and Joe Smith and Cowdery had doctored it judiciously and worked it up into a grand salvation scheme, covering its origin with an air of mystery. Certain it is that Rigdon was one of the earliest and able converts, and has done as much to propagate the faith as any follower of Joseph Smith.
The first hegira of the Mormons was from New York to Kirtland, O., where they built a temple and flourished for many years. In 1831 Joe Smith received a revelation to the effect that Missouri was the land of Zion, and thither large numbers of the faithful removed, settling in Jackson county, in which Kansas City is located. Here also they acquired large tracts of land and flourished for two years, but jealousies sprung up between them and the Gentile settlers, which in 1833 culminated in open war, when the Gentiles rose en masse and drove them northward across the Missouri river into Clay county. The causes for this uprising were numerous, but doubtless the principal lay in the fact that the Mormons were coming from the free states, were supposed to be abolitionists. David Whitmer asserts that there is not a single instance on record of slave property having been interfered with by the Mormons, or of a slave having been admitted to the church without the consent of his or her owner. When the Mormons fled from Jackson county they left everything behind them, and found themselves destitute and among strangers. Among the citizens of Liberty, the county seat of Clay county, was a young lawyer named
A. W. DONIPHAN
then almost unknown to fame; but who has since distinguished himself as a soldier and statesman. He, in common with many others, sympathized with the fugitives, and endeavored to provide them with food and shelter. Nevertheless, coming as they did in the midst of winter, into a sparsely-settled county, their sufferings were great. Between the leading citizens of Clay county and the Mormon leaders there was an understanding that the latter should not regard the county as a section of Zion wherein they were to locate permanently, but should hold themselves in readiness to remove when the citizens might deem it best. For three years they remained and conducted themselves as law-abiding citizens. Meanwhile, Jackson county had not forgotten the unpleasantness, and delegations were sent over to urge the people of Clay to imitate Jackson county's example and drive the invaders from their soil. In 1835 young Doniphan was a representative to the general assembly, and succeeded with the advice and consent of the Mormon leaders in having a bill passed setting aside the county of Caldwell as a sort of Mormon reservation. The same year the faithful bade a friendly adieu to Clay county and settled in Caldwell, founding the historic town of Far West which soon became prosperous and populous. At this time Joe Smith was a banker at Kirtland, but in 1837 his bank suspended payment and Joe made good time to Far West where he again assumed the leadership of his flock. In their hegira to Caldwell county the saints were not accurate as to county boundaries, evidently thinking that the whole state was theirs by right and would be by title at no far distant day, and many of them located in Daviess county, adjoining Caldwell on the north. This was, as subsequent events proved,
A FATAL ERROR
and was the cause of their final expulsion from the state. In 1838 there was an exciting political contest, and as the Mormon vote was cast solid it virtually decided the election. There were individual rows and fights at the polls which were the signals for a general outbreak and open war. The Mormons entrenched themselves at Far West, and boldly defied the civil authorities. As a last resort, Gov. Boggs ordered out the militia of that district, commanded by Maj. Gen. D. R. Atchison, whose instructions were either to drive the Mormons from the state of exterminate them. Gen. Atchison collected several companies and marched toward the seat of war, being joined en route by Brig. Gen. A. W. Doniphan, who had also collected several companies. Before the column reached Far West, Gov. Boggs, suspecting that Gen. Atchison had been on too friendly terms with the Morons to vigorously carry out his instructions, ordered him to transfer his command to Gen. Doniphan and retire from the field. Gen. Doniphan, at the head of a thousand or twelve hundred men, advanced to within a short distance of Far West, and encamped for he night on a small creek rejoicing in the name of [Goose?]. Next morning, accompanied only by a staff officer, he rode toward the Mormon fortifications. A guard halted them and refused to let them pass. Gen. Doniphan informed him that he should pass at all hazards, and warned him against any further attempt to stop him, lest it should precipitate a bloody battle. The amateur soldier, more accustomed to arguments than bullets, was presently convinced, and the general rode directly up to the breastworks. Calling Joe Smith out, he showed him the governor's order, and added: "I am too much a lawyer and too little a soldier to obey that order literally, but I will compel you to lay down your arms and then the governor can deal with you according to law." Smith knew Gen. Doniphan well enough to know that he would do as he promised, and therefore asked permission to consult with his associates, promising to notify him at 3 o'clock that afternoon of their decision. Permission was granted, and at 3 o'clock Gen. Doniphan was on hand to receive the answer, but Joe was not ready, and begged to be given until evening to make up his mind. The general gave him till sundown to consider, and then, with two companies, again rode up to the fortifications, and called for Smith and his confederates to come out. Forming his troops in a hollow square, he invited Smith and his leading advisers within the inclosure, and as soon as they entered
THE GAP WAS CLOSED BEHIND THEM
They vigorously protested, asserting that they had come out under a flag of truce, and were entitled to the immunities accorded by all civilized nations under similar circumstances. Gen. Doniphan told them their protests would be of no avail. He had determined to take them to his camp, keep them overnight as his guests and deliver them safely at their fortifications the next morning. Seeing that the general had deliberately resolved upon his course, they reluctantly concluded to make the best of it and accompany him without further objections. In camp they were treated as guests rather than prisoners, and according to promise, were duly returned in the morning. Gen. Doniphan took this precaution because he did not recognize that the Mormons had any rights as belligerents, "but," said he, "my chief object was to avoid a surprise. My troops were all raw militia, and a night attack, even by a small force, might have thrown them into the wildest confusion. I didn't propose to be made the butt of ridicule by placing myself in a condition to be outwitted and routed by Joe Smith, and knowing that his men would never dare to molest my camp as long as he was in my possession, I resolved upon the course pursued, and I am satisfied to-day that I acted wisely."
During the next day the Mormons
LAID DOWN THEIR ARMS
and Gen. Doniphan reported accordingly to the civil authorities. He did not consider his work done, however, but maintained his camp, guarded the Mormons, and held his force in readiness to assist the authorities in serving processes. Judge King, of Ray county, issued warrants for the arrest of Joe Smith, and a number of his most prominent accomplices on various charges, and they were accordingly arrested and taken to Gallatin, Daviess county, for trial. After a few days five of them obtained a change of venue to the Boone county circuit, and were ordered thence under guard. They were Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Baldwin, Lyman Wight, whom Gen. Doniphan pronounces a military man and honorable, and Amasa Lyman. Knowing that the Caldwell county militia were intensely hostile to the Mormon leaders, and were liable to wreck summary vengeance upon them en route, Gen. Doniphan, as attorney for Smith, caused the guards who were to escort them to Columbia, Boone county, to be selected from the Clay county militia, who were generally well disposed toward them. This done, he called on Joe Smith, at Gallatin, and informed him what precautions he had taken. Contrary to his expectation Joe Smith cursed him for his interference, and asked him for God's sake and his sake to send his Clay county friends home and let the Caldwell guards escort him through. "General," said he, "you may be, and are a good lawyer, but you don;t understand human nature as I do. I have made it a study from boyhood, and it is the secret of my success. I am in for this thing, and by God I am going to get out of it
WITHOUT DISGRACE, DEAD OR ALIVE!
I would sooner die in my tracks than that the world should have it to say that Joe Smith, the prophet, the founder of the Church of Christ, was ignominiously convicted of crime and rotted in a common jail. Now your Clay county militia are generally honest, well-to-do citizens, who would spurn a bribe, and would, kindly, as they thought, guard me safely to Columbia and deliver me to the authorities. On the other hand, the Caldwell county militia is mostly composed of ignorant and poor men who have never had a hundred dollars in their lives. With such men money is all-powerful. I have money, and by God I intend to use it."
Finding that Smith was determined, and recognizing the force of his reasoning, Gen. Doniphan determined to let him manage his own case, especially as he was not relying upon the sinuosities of the law for success. The result was that Smith and his four companions soon afterward set out for Columbia in charge of Sheriff Morgan, of Gallatin, and four guards, three of whom, the sequel shows, were exactly the class Joe Smith had declared to Gen. Doniphan he desired to have as an escort. The fourth man was Wilson McKinney. He was not of the original draft, but having relatives in Columbia and business there which demanded his immediate presence, he solicited and obtained reluctant permission to make one of the party. McKinney was an honest man, of good family, and therefore the exact [man] that Smith wished to have nothing to do with. However, he managed to ignore McKinney altogether in his financial arrangements, and to accomplish his escape without his knowledge or consent. And, according to McKinney, for whose reliability Gen. Doniphan and many leading citizens of Richmond vouch, this is the way the [wily] prophet did it: They had marched quietly along two or three days, and neared the Mississippi. At night they went into camp as usual, the guards were divided into watches, and in due time all slept save those who were on duty. McKinney was to have been called to stand his watch at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. Being exhausted by long marches and nightly guard duty, he slept soundly, and awoke to see the brilliant rays of the sun streaming down into his face from an elevation above the horizon that could not have been attained in less than two hours. Springing up and glancing hastily around, he found the sheriff and his brother guards quietly disposing of their breakfast and chatting pleasantly on minor topics. The prisoners were
NOWHERE TO BE SEEN
He asked where they were, and was coolly informed that they had escaped during the night. The truth for the first time flashed upon him, and he prudently concluded to say no more about the matter until he was out of the clutches of his mercenary companions. Meanwhile the escaped prisoners proceeded to the Mississippi, crossed into Illinois, whither they were soon followed by large numbers of disheartened fugitives who had practically lost faith in the revelation to Joe Smith, that declared Missouri to be the land of Zion, and began the brilliant era in this state which was marked by the founding and rapid rise of the templed city of Nauvoo, and culminated in the shooting of Joe Smith at Carthage, and the subsequent sacking of the city and expulsion of the saints. These events are of so recent date , and transpired in such immediate proximity that it is not worth while to allude to them further or trace the pilgrims in their wearisome march from the Mississippi to the fastness of the Rocky mountains, where THE GREAT CITY OF SALT LAKE
arose as if called from the sands of the desert by a stroke of the enchanter's wand, and for many years enjoyed such unbounded prosperity that it would seem to have been the especial pet of Providence. History holds these events, The Times has published the records as they were made, and The Times, unlike history, does not repeat itself.
It is interesting to know just how much Joe Smith
HAD TO PAY SHERIFF MORGAN
and his three confederates to effect the escape of himself and his four companions. The Times is informed by seemingly good authority, that the exact amount was $1,100, and its information was derived from Gen. Doniphan. Several months after Joe and his friends had placed the Mississippi between them and their Missouri persecutors, Gen. Doniphan was in Gallatin on legal business. There was also in the same town a sharp, energetic, and reliable man named Ripley, a Mormon, to whom had been delegated by the bishops of the church full power to dispose of all property belonging to the Mormons which they had left behind them in their flight. In other words, he was their financial agent, with almost unlimited power to act. One day Gen. Doniphan met Ripley on the street, and knowing him quite well, invited him to accompany him to his room at the hotel. The invitation was accepted, and after some familiar conversation on various topics the general told him he had always had a curiosity to know how much it had cost Joe Smith to buy himself and friends out of limbo. Ripley replied that the exact sum was $1,100; that on the eve of Joe's departure from Gallatin, and at Joe's solicitation, he had given him $900 in money and permission to draw on him for more in case of emergency; that Joe bargained with the sheriff and guards for $1,1000, paid $700 down, reserving $200 for traveling expenses in their flight to Illinois, and gave Morgan an order on him (Ripley) for the remaining $400, which was duly [presented by Morgan [---- ---- --] [taken up] [--- ---- ----- -----] indorsed upon it, [when] Gen. Doniphan [----- ------ ----ed] some incredulity, [stating] that he could hardly [believe] that the sheriff would boldly [------ ---- ----] such [unquestionable evidence of his] guilt as his indorsement of the order would be, Ripley remarked that he had the document still in his possession and would dispel all doubt by submitting it to the general's inspection. Accordingly that evening he called again, and brought the original order, with Morgan's indorsement just as he had stated. The order was written in pencil, but Gen. Doniphan had for years been familiar with Joe's writing, and at once recognized it as genuine, as well as the sheriff's indorsement. History has stated that Smith and his party were, by order of the authorities, carelessly guarded, so that they might escape and flee from the state if they were so inclined, as the authorities had concluded that they had an elephant on their hands. The statement of Gen. Doniphan utterly disproves this theory. Joe Smith cheated the authorities by bribing his guards with Mormon gold, just as he had stated that he would from the beginning. The success of his prediction shows, if other evidence were lacking, that he was a shrewd and daring adventurer, quick to plan and bold to execute, lacking but education to have made him, from a temporal stand-point, the peer of the foremost man of his time. He was of the stuff of which heroes are made.
[Correspondent, Chicago Times, Chicago, Illinois, Saturday, August 7, 1875.]