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The Telescope
1824-1832 Articles

Sep 04 '24  |  Nov 13 '24  |  Mar 12 '25
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Apr 15 '26  |  May 06 '26  |  Nov 25 '26
Jan 26 '28  |  May 24 '28  |  Feb 20 '30
Apr 17 '30  |  Dec 11 '30  |  Feb 19 '31

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"Cast Ye Up, Cast Ye Up, Prepare the Way, Take Up the Stumbling-Block Out of the Way of My People."
Vol. I.                               New-York, September 4, 1824.                               No. 14.


(under construction)


Notes: (forthcoming)


"Cast Ye Up, Cast Ye Up, Prepare the Way, Take Up the Stumbling-Block Out of the Way of My People."
Vol. I.                               New-York, November 13, 1824.                               No. 14.

Proposed Restoration of the Jews.

Mr. Noah, Editor of the National Advocate, has given his sentiments on the "Proposed restoration of the Jews." HE has satisfactorily shown, that the present plans to restore that people, will prove abortive. "That the Jews," he says, "will be restored to their former country, and possess it in full sovereignty cannot be doubted; but to restore them under the present state of things, would be dangerous, if not impracticable." He thinks that their restoration depends upon some great political events.

Notes: (forthcoming)


"Cast Ye Up, Cast Ye Up, Prepare the Way, Take Up the Stumbling-Block Out of the Way of My People."
Vol. I.                               New-York, March 12, 1825.                               No. 41.

From the Philadelphia Reformer.


I am perfectly satisfied that the modern priesthood are the descendants in a "regular line of succession," of the Catholic clergy of the 11th and 12th centuries. For at least sixteen hundred years has this privileged order been preying on their fellow men. It is true that millions of them have been engaged in spreading what they call Christianity; but what is the result of these vast exertions? Figures are hardly able to compute the dollars spent in their labours...

It is flatly denied by the American clergy, that they are connected in principle or practice, with the clergy in Catholic countries, particularly in missionizing. They say the Jesuits have been of little or no benefit, while themselves are doing much good -- and the reason they give is, that the Catholics were much more avaricious than the Protestants.

That both Catholic and Protestant priests are actuated by the same motives, and both set in motion by money, needs no proof... It is ludicrous in the extreme to see the Catholics using their influence to make converts in the United States, by means of their missionaries -- while our missionaries are traversing countries under Catholic influence, also for the purpose of making proselytes.

Our clergy call the church of Rome "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth." "The beast with seven heads and ten horns," -- and still they leave our country "naked and destitute," to be attacked and overrun by this Catholic monster, this "Beast with ten horms." Why do our clergy leave Americans so "destitute," thousands being pronounced by them "Wholly destitute of the means of salvation?" Why leave us a prey to foreign Jesuits? Why not improve the western red-men, and stop robbing them? They have been a long time at work among the aborigines, and what have they done besides getting their land, cattle and money? WE know the Oneida priest has done something, by way of taking a small tithe. Lastly, if they cannot keep their itching fingers off heathen cash, stay at home and plunder Christians, and no longer abroad disgrace the religion of Jesus Christ our Lord.   LUKE.

Note: The Telescope began publication in 1824, in New York City, and continued until Aug. 28, 1830 under that name. Later issues carried various mastheads -- generally reading: "New York Telescope." The final number was perhaps printed late in 1831 or early in 1832. The Telescope was published by William Burnett and Company, and between June 1826 and May 1828 its editor was listed as: "W. Beach." This is the same Dr. Wooster Beach who made "botanic medicine" semi-respectible in American society, and who was in some ways the inspiration of the early Mormon "root doctors." See Andrew F. Smith's 1997 biography of Dr. John C. Bennett, The Saintly Scoundrel, and John Heinerman's on-line book, John Smith's Mormon Medicine. Despite being admired by some of the early Mormons, Dr. Beach does not seem to have sympathized with their religious tenets in any way. His little newspaper was primarily devoted to heterodox religious and moral subject matter, and maintained a frequent exchange of articles and news with the Philadelphia Reformer, the Canandaigua Plain Truth, the Lockport Priestcraft Exposed,and other periodicals critical of the mainstream American Christian denominations.


"Cast Ye Up, Cast Ye Up, Prepare the Way, Take Up the Stumbling-Block Out of the Way of My People."
Vol. II.                               New-York, June 4, 1825.                               No. 1.


"The other day, (says Noah's Advocate,) we had a formal application made to us, from a beautiful pious young lady, with blue eyes, and an air of sweet meekness altogether irresistible, to give her two dollars, to present to the Society for Ameliorating the condition of the Jews. It distressed us to the heart to refuse any thing to so fair an applicant, but we could not stand an appeal so very palpable. "My dear madam, our condition is perfectly good -- how can two dollars make it better? We live happily in this blessed land, God be praised, and our condition, not to be ungrateful, is as good as our neighbors." She gave us to understand that it was our eternal, not temporal condition, which she was so anxious to ameliorate; in short, the two dollars was to swell the fund created to convert the Jews to Christianity. And is money to be offered for such purposes? How! buy converts to Christianity? We admit no such sacrilegious traffic. Having managed to save the two dollars, a promise was extorted from me to attend the anniversary meeting on Friday, of the society for converting the Jews.

"The president, managers, and members, were all accomodated with chairs, tables, &c. The meeting was opened with prayer, and the report was read. This report was flattering; converts had been made (principally abroad) and a farm of 400 acres in Westchester, N. Y. had been purchased, to set them to work. Several clergymen addressed the meeting piously and benevolently; but I wanted to see and hear the converts; I desired to know the natives who had renounced the faith of their fathers. At length two made an appearance, both from Poland, sent on their travels by the London Society. One of them said he had been converted at eight years of age; Dr. Johnson would have said he had been caught young. He told an unfortunate secret, which was, that the London Society, with immense funds, had accomplished nothing, and all their hopes rested on America. Without those immense funds, the encouragement here, at least, is not flattering.

"Are we treating this subject lightly? Well then, we shall be serious.

"Let the Jews alone. It has pleased the Almighty to continue them a distinct people; and in the midst of captivity and oppression, persecution and cruelty, for four thousand years, his providential care has been extended in bountiful kindness to his chosen people -- there is no credit in making such people apostates. For every human law derives its origin from the Jews -- to them is the moral world indebted for the foundation of morality -- the knowledge of a God, of virtue, justice, and the hope of everlasting life.

"But suppose the Jews should become converts, it is likely they would be Catholics, for that is the primitive Christian faith, and withal is an imposing religion. Should they turn Catholics they will be branded as followers of the "Pope and the devil," and should they adopt Presbyterian or Episcopalian doctrines, the Catholics will call them heretics -- so that in this age of conversion, the Jews will be as unfortunate as they were in the early ages, when the Romans persecuted them as Christians, and the Christians oppressed them as Jews."

Note 1: The above article apparently was reprinted from a late May isue of Maj. Noah's New York City National Advocate. According to other accounts given by Mr. Noah, this was not the first meeting of the Society for Ameliorating the Condition of the Jews that he atteded.

Note 2: Although the society had a sizable amount of money to invest in its Jewish colony its officers were slow to make the final land purchase decision. Before 1823 ended they apparently had given up in their earlier quest to locate a suitable site of "20,000 cares of land" in western New York and were focusing their attention on making a purchase closer to Albany or New York City. A June 1823 news report in the Plattsburgh Republican indicated that the society might "purchase 20,000 acres... about 25 miles west of Plattsburgh" near the border of Clinton and Franklin counties. This speculative deal never materialized. In 1824 the society's officers finally decided to buy some land in New Paltz twp., Ulster Co., New York. Various events delayed progress on this decision and it was not until 1825 that the society finally decided to use its money to buy a 500 acre farm -- a far cry from the 4000 acres Elias Boudinot had originally intended be dedicated to the project. Boudinot's plan would have allowed for 80 farms of 50 acres each; while the land decided upon only allowed for 10 such family plots. As things turned out the farm only had 400 acres and minuscule colony was not located at New Platz, but in Harrison twp., Westchester Co., practically a rural suburb of White Plains. According to a report published in a mid-May, 1825 issue of the New York Observer, "the Board of Managers of the American Society for Meliorating the condition of the Jews, have purchased a tract of land embracing 409 acres, in Westchester county, about three miles from Sawpit landing, bordering on Connecticut, where a settlement of the Jewish converts will immediately be formed." By 1827 the Harrison colony was an admitted failure: the society could not even induce half a dozen converted Jews to take up residence there. The Westchester project may have led to one unexpected "conversion," however -- see the story of Robert Matthews (the impostor prophet "Matthias"), who in 1834 claimed that his "legal residence" was at "Zion Hill" in Sommers twp., Westchester Co. (two townships north of Harrison).


"Cast Ye Up, Cast Ye Up, Prepare the Way, Take Up the Stumbling-Block Out of the Way of My People."
Vol. II.                               New-York, January 14, 1826.                               No. 33.


Lost Tribes of Israel. -- In Mr. Noah's late address at Buffalo, a new and very curious hypothesis is started concerning the origin of the American Aborigines. He asserts that they are the descendants of the Israelites, who were carried into captivity by Psalmanazar, king of Assyria, in the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah. It has been supposed that they were spread over the East, and lost their national character by intermarriages with other nations. Mr. Noah, however, thinks they bent their course in a north-east direction, and finally reached the American continent. This opinion is founded in some resemblances between the Indians and Jews, in appearance, habits and religion. The Indians worship one Supreme Being; they are divided into tribes, having a chief and distinct symbols, some of which are said to be named after the figures of the Cherubim, that were carried on the four principal standards of Israel; they consider themselves as the beloved people of God; they compute time after the manner of the Hebrews; they have their prophets, high priests and holy of holies, which none may approach but the High Priest; they have their cities of refuge, sacrifices, fasts, abstain from unclean things; and their marriages, divorces, punishment of adultery, burial of the dead, are said to bear a striking analogy to the customs of the Jews; and their features and language are Hebrew.

Note: For Major Noah's later, more detailed arguments supporting the Israelite Indians theory, see his 1837 booklet entitled, Discourse on the Evidences of the American Indians being the descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel. While the Rev. Ethan Smith, in his 1823 book suggested sending the American Indians to Palestine (in order to help facilitate the onset of the Christian Millennium), Major Noah was content to either gather them to Grand Island, New York, or to simply broadcast their supposed Israelite ancestry. Prof. C. S. Rasfinesque of Philadelphia, on the other hand, was not favorably impressed with these sorts of arguments. See his "Americans Are Not Jews" response to Ethan Smith, in the Sept. 12, 1829 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.


"Cast Ye Up, Cast Ye Up, Prepare the Way, Take Up the Stumbling-Block Out of the Way of My People."
Vol. II.                               New-York, February 18, 1826.                               No. 38.

And other strange exercises which affected the subjects
of the great Kentucky Revival, including an account of
the first settlement of the Shakers in that country.

I have frequently thought that a history of the singular exercises, called the "Jirks," and other strange operations which affected the subjects of the great Kenticky Revival, would be interesting to my readers. I have therefore taken some pains to procure correct information on this subject, and now present it without comment in as brief a compass as possible.

The first extraordinary work began under the preaching of John Rankin, minister of the Presbyterian church at Gasper, Logan county; from thence it began in Christian county. In the spring of 1801, the same work appeared in Mason county, upper part of Kentucky, under the exhortation of those who had received the spirit of the work, and believed in a full and free salvation, and that it was attainable. From these small beginnings the work spread extensively. News circulated through the country of a marvellous nature, which brought many to see the novel scene. The assemblies soon became too numerous for the houses to contain them, and to avoid being crowded, they found it expedient to encamp in the open air, in convenient shady places.

Camp meetings one after another, were held in various places in the states of Kentucky and Ohio. To these meetings, people of both sexes resorted on foor, on horseback, and in carriages, with tents and camp equipage proportioned to the number, which was from three to twenty thousand. They generally continued from three to five or six days and nights. A great proportion of those who attended were distinguished from the rest by new and strange operations which were believed to be a special effect of divine power. Many fell and lay as if they were either dead or entranced, and were sometimes collected togetehr to secure them from danger, and laid out side by side like so many corpses. At once of these meetings, the number who fell were computed to be three thousand. Others discovered the most ardent zeal in the cause, and labored for the spread of what they called the spirit of the work, by their vociferations, prayers, and exhortations. They sang, shouted, clapped their hyands, and leap for joy; in short the scene was novel beyond description. The work spread through the whole country like a contagious distemper. -- Seven Presbyterian ministers attended one of these camp-meetings, four of whom were opposed to it, and spake against it about three days, when one of them addressed the assembly, acknowledged his convictions, and said that "that they had wickedly opposed the answer of their own prayers."

All these camp-meetings, and others in the revival, must have appeared to an unprejudiced spectator, like the greatest confusion, scarce to be described by human language. They usually commenced with a sermon, near the termination of which many would break out in an unusual outcry. Some vociferated their feelings in fervant ejaculations; others with the language of exhortation, would address their careless friends, beseeching them with the pathos of affection, to repent and forsake their sins. -- Some terrified at these awful proceedings, sought to extricate themselves from the group that surrounded them, and fled precipitately from the crowd. Some in the agony of conviction and poignancy of grief, deprecating the wrath and imploring the mercy of God, continued under these impressions till the symptoms of approaching dissolution appeared prominent in every feature: others cheering their almost expiring nature with prayer and praise. Some collected from these complicated masses, censoring and disputing, others applauding and defending; and although the meetings were held at so many different places, and the operations exhibited such a variegated scenery, yet one and the same spirit seemed to actuate the whole.

The Presbyterian New Lights having received the spitit of the revival, caused a separation from that church in 1803.

Not any thing among any people professing religion, has ever appeared more singular than those various operations and contortions of the body that now prevailed principally among those called schismatics.

Those exercises which were believed to have been of an involuntary kind, were rolling, jirking, and barking, and were thought by some who were much engaged in the cause, to be substituted by the spirit, in the room of the falling.

In the rolling exercise, as it was called, they appeared to be forcibly thrown down, and to roll over and over like a log, or in a kind of double posture to turn like a wheel. Sometimes they went in this manner through mud and dirt, which was considered very degrading. In the jirking exercise the head appeared to be violently moved towards one shoulder, then the other, and backwards and forwards. Here it may be observed, that during the time they were under these operations, though they were often exposed to imminent danger, yet few received any hurt. It also seemd to be out of the power of the persons thus affected to prevent it. One instance among many was related by Lorenzo Dow, a well known itinerant preacher; while he was preaching in Kentucky, one of his hearers appeared to be jirked about the house in a violent manner; after repeated attempts, he at last got out of the meeting-house, but his feet were jirked every way so that he could not get them in the stirrups. When all his efforts proved ineffectual, two men set him on his horse, but he was immediately jirked off on the ground, where he lay under the operations of violent twitches and jirks for some time, yet he escaped without any hurt. People of every age, sex, sect, and condition, appeared to be more or less affected with the disagreeable operations of these exercises, not only at their meetings, but in their daily employments.

Lorenzo Dow states, that about twenty Quakers in those parts who attended one of his meetings, were, just as he was beginning to preach, all taken with twitching and jirking, which to them was a great humiliation. The jirking exercise was sometimes accompanied, and often succeeded the barking. In this exercise both men and women personated and took the position of a dog, moved about in a horizontal posture upon their hands and feet, growled, snapped their teeth, and barked as if they were affected with the hydrophobia. But notwithstanding their suffering under these spasmodic or affected exercises, they had frequent intervals, in which they vociferated, that the blessed kingdom was about to appear. Sometimes they said they had been absent from the body, during which time they had visited their departed friends, and seen their situation in the invisible world. They professed to hear the music of the heavenly choir, and to be flung into rapturous extacies by the melodiousness of the sound. In short, the visions they professed to have had, and the strange operations they saw of things upon earth, would take up too much room to admit a particular relation. They firmly believed this was the time prophisied of by Joel ii. 28 to 31; and they were more confirmed in their faith from a number of signs which are recorded to have been seen; as the extraordinary phenomena of the shooting stars and trains of fire that illuminated the whole hemisphere as far as the extension of the horizon, accompanied by a hissing noise and several loud reports, particularly by the shower of blood that fell in the summer of 1804, seven miles from Turtle creek [Warren Co., Ohio] meeting-house.

Their exercises were often succeded, and sometimes relieved by dancing. -- The following singular instance of dancing, which is said to have first taken place, was at Turtle creek in 1804. J. Thompson, a preacher and a man of parts and education, danced above an hour at the close of a camp-meeting, in a regular manner, all the time repeating with a low voice, "This is the Holy Ghost -- Glory, this is the Holy Ghost -- Glory." Shortly after, dancing was discovered to be a remedy for the jirks and barks, and considered by many as a part of religious worship. About the beginning of the year 1805, praying, shouting, jirking, twiching, barking, rolling, dreaming, dancing, prophesying of the near approach of the millennium, accompanied with violent shaking hands, and sacred promises to continue in the work until their prayers were answered, pervaded many parts of the state of Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Information of these things being circulated in the public papers, many of which were taken by the Shakers and read by their leaders. Through this medium the Elders at Lebanon, state of New-York, received the intelligence. They took the matter into consideration, and the ministration came to the following conclusion, viz. That the minds of many of those who were thus wrought upon, were in a prepared state to receive their faith. Accordingly, on the 1st of January, 1805, the ministration at New Lebanon sent out three Shakers to visit the subjects of the revival.

They travelled all the way on foot and arrived in Kentucky about the 1st of March, and journeyed till they arrived at Turle creek near Lebanon, and opened their mission and testimony, by treating briefly on, and expressing their union with the work of God that had been among the people in those parts of the country, and informed them that the time was now come for them to enter into actual possession of that for which they had been praying. In order thereto, they informed them, that they must confess and forsake their sins by self-denial and taking up a full cross against the world, flesh, and all evil, and follow Christ by walking as he walked, and by becoming in all things confirmed to him as their pattern, &c. Great agitations of mind, and much inquiry commenced concerning them and their doctrines, by this means their faith was investigated at Turtle creek, and numbers who had been leading characters, and others, soon united with them. Malcham Worley, a man of liberal education, independent fortune, and of good character, was the first who confessed his sins.

The first meetings of the Shakers were kept in private houses, and that very secretly on account of persecution. After a few of these private meetings were held, they continued for some time to assemble at their old Presbyterian meeting house, to hear preaching after the old form. At a certain time after preaching, the Shakers commenced singing and dancing -- such a racket, perhaps, was never heard before; opposition was then high; some singing, dancing and shouting with all their might, because the day of redemption had come -- others cursing, swearing, threatening, laughing & mocking -- some praying and exhorting -- others yelling and screaming -- some weeping from conviction -- others crying from pity to see the people carried away with such awful delusions. From this some judgment may be formed what a scene and tumult there was; sometimes in houses, sometimes in the field, and sometimes in the woods. The first public place of meeting was built in the woods. It was a platformwithout cover, twenty-two feet by eighteen, and two feet from the ground, surrounded with bannisters; this was burnt by persecutors in September, 1805 after it had been used about two months. Another like building was afterwards erected between two houses, about thirty by twenty-five feet, under cover, which has continued in use to this day.

Mobs beset their hiuses in the night and broke their windows by flinging in clubs, stones and dirt; they then pulled down their fences, and turned their cattle to destroy their grain. They disfigured their horses, and beat and abused them. They disturbed them in their worship by throwing in sticks, dirt and stones, by pushing, laughing, mocking, threatening, railing, collaring, tearing and pulling them about.

At this place, (Turtle Creek) seven miles west of Lebanon, Ohio, where the first mission opened, the largest settlement of Shakers now exists. They have one or two large meeting houses and other fine buildings, with extensive tracts of land, fertile and highly cultivated. There are, it is computed, in this place about six hundred persons. There are a number of other settlements in various parts of the western states, originating principally in the Kentucky Revival, attended with the foregoing strange operations.

Note 1: For an account of the spread of the Kentucky Revival "bodily exercises" to northern Ohio, see the account drawn from the recollections of Rev. Joseph Badger, etc., beginning on page 36 of the 1878 History of Ashtabula County, Ohio. Rev. Badger dates the appearance of the falling down manifestation in northern Ohio to the year 1803. This phenomenon continued, at least, into the year 1805 -- the time when Solomon Spalding first visited the area.

Note 2: What had been the Turtle Creek Presbyterian church, became the nucleus for the Shaker colony in Warren Co., Ohio -- Union Village (today the Otterbein Retirement Community). It was from this place that the rapidly anti-clerical "Philotheos" wrote letters to the Philadelphia periodical, The Reformer (see a reprint of one of these letters in the Telescope of Nov. 25, 1826).


"Cast Ye Up, Cast Ye Up, Prepare the Way, Take Up the Stumbling-Block Out of the Way of My People."
Vol. II.                               New-York, April 15, 1826.                               No. 46.


Extract of a discourse, supposed to have been delivered
by the chief of the Pilgrims who traversed our country
some years since.

"The institutions of religion, as established in the world, partake of the same wisdom. Its ministers exhort to a contempt of riches, of glory, of pride, of pleasure, of personal decorations and indulgencies; and while they thus exhort, they are clad in purple and fine linens -- they ascend pulpits upon steps covered with carpets, and sustain themselves by winding mahogony handrails -- they kneel and rest their arms upon cushions covered with scarlet damask -- a vaulted roof is their canopy: the walls around them are festooned with wreaths of evergreens, and the music of the organ delighteth their senses. They cry aloud, riches are vain -- and demand contributions of money in silver vessels. They condemn personal decorations, and lift up their arms clad in rich vesture, with decorations of white linen around their necks. They denounce woe upon the harp and the violin while the dulcet sound of the organ still vibrates in their ears. They enlarge upon the vice of indulging appetites, and hasten to dine upon roast meats with gravies and spices!

"But we, my brethren, are living examples that the doctrines we preach are, as to ourselves, practical truths. We seek not wealth, nor power, nor pleasure, nor wisdom, -- We indulge not in vain attire, in useless attention to personal propriety, or in the consumption of delicious viands. Like Solomon, we look upon them all as And while I preach to you the wisdom of Solomon, in condemning all these things as vanity, my sordid garments, and my squalid visage, are in perfect consistency with my preaching, and the correspondent appearance of my disciples, evidences, at once, their faith and their works."

Note 1: The date of the c. March 1826 issue of the Cincinnati Gazette from which this "extract" was reprinted has not yet been determined. Probably the Gazette editor found this text published in an old issue of some other paper from that city. The Cincinnati Bee of April or May 1818 reportedly published an account of the "Prophet" Isaac Bullard and his "Pilgrams," as they passed through southern Ohio during the early spring of that year. See also the Telescope of May 6, 1826.

Note 2: Isaac Bullard's ranting against "rich vesture, with decorations of white linen around their necks" echoes the account given in Jan., 1818 by the Rev. Ira Chase, who thus quotes the filthy "Prophet's" denunciations upon him: "your first business is to repent, or you'll be damned...O rotten! rotten! you go about living on the best fare you can find, -- preaching pride -- with your white handkerchiefs, and black coats, as slick as a mole, -- Just as likely as not you spent half an hour brushing them, when they were cleaner before than your characters. Hell and damnation, hell and damnation is your portion, if you don't repent."

Note 3: Compare Bullard's denunciations of well clad Christian preachers, in their high pulpits, with the description given of the Zoramites in Alma XVI of the 1830 Book of Mormon (ch. 31 in modern LDS editions). The public professors among the Zoramites ascend just such a pulpit (or "holy stand") as Bullard mentions; the Zoramite speakers "cry with a loud voice," much like Bullard's mention of preachers who "cry aloud" from their pulpits; the Zoramite speakers are "ornamented" with "costly apparel," while Bullard's description tells of "rich vesture, with decorations." The correspendence between the Book of Mormon's Zoramites and Bullard's description of hypocritical Christian preachers is not exact, but it is interesting. In the Book of Mormon, the apostate Zoramites give up the Nephite practice of "continuing in prayer and supplication to God daily," and restrict their vain worship to a single day of the week, when they mock the "childishness" of their predecessors in Nephite Christianity, and glory in their own holy election. Bullard's 1817-18 "Pilgrims" engaged in daily prayer, purposely acted childish, and invited all who would repent to join them. Like the patriarch Lehi, in the Book of Mormon, Bullard was supposedly possessed of a magical item that directed his remnant band of believers onward to their "promised land;" and, like Lehi's magical compass, Bullard's magical staff, at one point in his travels, ceased to function. If the Book of Mormon writer did not base his fictional Zoramites specifically upon Isaac Bullard's sarcastic depiction of contemporary Christians, he at least drew upon the same anti-clerical, primitivist tradition underlying Bullard's criticisms. The odd similarity between Bullard's direction-ponting staff and Lehi's liahona may be merely a coincidence.


"Cast Ye Up, Cast Ye Up, Prepare the Way, Take Up the Stumbling-Block Out of the Way of My People."
Vol. II.                               New-York, May 6, 1826.                               No. 49.



In the Summer of 1818, a company of people, calling themselves Pilgrims, appeared descending the Mississippi, in a flat boat. By their own account they started from Lower Canada, in a company consisting of eight or ten. In Vermont they recruited twenty or thirty; in the state of New-York several more -- and when they reached Cincinnati, their numbers amounted to about sixty.

Their leader, a Canadian, by the name of Bullard, (called also by his followers, the Prophet Elijah,) was of a diminutive stature, with a club foot. Before he began his mission, he had a severe spell of sickness, when he fasted 40 days (as he said, and his disciples believed;) after which he recovered very suddenly, by the special interposition of the Divine Spirit, and being filled with enthusiasm, he declared that he was commanded to plant the church of the Redeemer in the wilderness, and among the heathen. From these notions, thus imbibed, and which he instilled into his followers, they believed themselves capable of fasting 40 days; accordingly when they committed themselves to the current, the Prophet enjoined a 40 days' fast. The people becoming sick and in great distress from hunger, this severe commander found it necessary to remit, in some degree, the rigor of his injunction, and he permitted the taking of flour broth through a quill, because he received his food in this way after his long sickness and fast, when he could not open his jaws; and which had the vivifying effect taken by him for supernatural power or inspiration. But as the gruel allowed was very meagre, being simply flour and cold water, debility, misery, and death attended the experiment. Yet with faith and hope they persisted.

In this wretched situation, they arrived at Pilgrim's island; which derives its name from this fact; at which place they were fallen in with by a barge belonging to Nashville, whose crew, detesting the conduct of the prophet and his seconds, who watched and governed the timorous multitude, gave two or three of the leaders a sound drubbing with the pliant cotton wood switch.

They next landed at the Little Prairie. The prophet's staff, which by the direction of its fall had hitherto pointed out the way, now stood still; and he declared that here he was commanded to settle and build a church: but Mr. Walker, who owned the soil, and resided in this solitary spot, forbid the undertaking. This was accounted persecution -- yet they continued seven days, during which, several died, among whom were children, which were placed on the beach by their parents, at the command of Elijah, when, exposed to the scorching sun, they wallowed holes in the sand, while they struggled away the agonies of death. -- While here laboring under sickness and persecution, it seems they began to suspect that they were forsaken by the divine spirit, and that no more miracles could be wrought for them. Hence they commenced the cry of "Oh, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" when, by assisting each other, the vociferating cry was not intermitted for three days and nights.

They stopped further down at a desert place, when six or eight more died, whose bones still lie on the shore uncovered; and all who remained, when they arrived at Helana, were objects of terror and compassion. The hospitable inhabitants furnished them a plentiful supply of milk and more nourishing gruel, for taking which every one was provided with a piece of reed cane.

Their boat next struck upon a sand-bar near the mouth of the Arkansas. The prophet, his brother, and other leaders being dead, the remnant dispersed into the settlements, and down the river in the passing boards.

From the time the party entered the Mississippi, their numbers decreased daily by death or desertion. And when they made their final landing, only about 15 remained. One disciple eloped at the Little Prairie, with all the cash belonging to the company. One child was rescued and here raised. Several individuals who were dispersed in various directions, are now comfortably settled, but it is supposed that more than half their number died on the pilgrimage.

This fete of folly and delusion, is perhaps worthy of notice, as furnishing a striking instance of the blindness of credulity -- the wilderness of fanaticism, and the miserable propensity of the mind, to believe itself possessed of powers which do not belong to humanity.

Note 1: The above article must have originally appeared in the Western Balance (Franklin, TN?), in about mid-May, 1826. See the Palmyra Wayne Sentinel of May, 26, 1826 for another reprint. For more on Isaac Bullard and his "Pilgrims" in retrospective accounts, see the articles, "The Pilgrims" in Oct. 5, 1822 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, "The Mormon Delusion" in June 24, 1831 issue of the Vermont Chronicle, and Zadock Thompson's "Fanatical Sects," in his 1842 History of Vermont, (summarized in the notes attached to this article.)

Note 2: For contemporary accounts about Isaac Bullard's "Pilgrims," see the Salem Register of Sept. 15, 1817, the Boston American Baptist Magazine of May 17, 1818, and the Chillicothe Weekly Recorder of Nov. 5, Nov. 12, and Nov 26, 1817.

Note 3: The story of Bullard and his followers' 1817 stop-over at Woodstock, Vermont is summarized in David M. Ludlum's 1939 book, Social Ferment in Vermont, pp. 242-244. Although the Joseph Smith, Sr. family had departed Vermont by the time the Bullard Pilgrims arrived on the scene, Oliver Cowdery's Grandfather, (William Cowdery, Sr.) then lived in Woodstock. It is not unlikely that members of the Cowdery family had some first-hand knowledge of this particular cult.

Note 2: In a 1997 article entitled "Joseph Smith's Testimony: The First Vision and Book of Mormon Evidence," Mark Stepherson has this to say about the cult and its possible influence on early Mormonism: "Isaac Bullard was noticed and had the public mind excited against him. He wore nothing but a bearskin girdle and a beard. He gathered his "pilgrims" into a community near the Smith's old home in Vermont. When the community moved west, they likely followed the same road the Smith family used when moving to New York. Isaac Bullard taught free love, but I wonder how many members were women willing to practice free love with their leader, a man who regarded washing as a sin and bragged that he had not changed clothes in seven years?"


"Cast Ye Up, Cast Ye Up, Prepare the Way, Take Up the Stumbling-Block Out of the Way of My People."
Vol. III.                               New-York, November 25, 1826.                               No. 26.

From The Reformer


Christ, in relation to his church or disciples, (who then constituted his church) said, "Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing." The disciples of Christ were truly the salt of the earth; and as salt possesses the quality of savouring or saving, so they were appointed for salvation or saving. But mark the latter clause of the text, "If the salt have lost his savour, It is thenceforth good for nothing."

Since the true church fell away -- since the true followers of Christ were persecuted to death, and driven from the earth, and their office and name presumptuously assumed by wicked priests, kings and emperors, by whose joint combination the power of the holy people has been scattered, and the holy city trodden under feet, it is certain that no new church which has arisen out of a false one, no reorganization, revolution of reformation which has taken place, has restored that savour which was lost. From that period Chistendom has been like a corruptible mass. The different religious societies which have sprung up one after another, instead of possessing that principle of life or salt, which would save them from the corruptions that are in the world, have carried those seeds of corruption along with with them, which as naturally caused them to fall back, and become blinded with the common dustoms and practices of Christendom, as that inherent principle in dead animal bodies causes them to putrefy.

But the prophet Daniel has declared that in the latter days the God of heaven would set up a kingdom. Now, it is evident if he had to set up a kingdom, he at the time had none. This, therefore, must take place when all the world are wondering after the beast. But the God of heaven will set up his kingdom on the earth, nor is the time far distant, and this kingdom will break in pieces and consume all the anti-christian and sectarian kingdoms, and fill the whole earth. It is of necessity, that whenever the salt, the power of saving, or the true gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation, is again witnessed on the earth, and the true kingdom of God set up, it must be by a special gift and power from heaven. And as certain as this kingdom is established, just so certain it will be distinct from, and in direct opposition to, all the high-sounding religious schemes of the day. No platform which has been laid in the dark night of anti-christ will constitute any part of the foundation. No stone shall be taken from any of them for a corner. And just [as] certain as the Scribes and Pharisees persecuted Christ in his first appearing, these anti-christians will persecute him in his second. They will be almost the only barrier to the progress of his kingdom, and will stand infinitely more in the way of the work of God than all the heathen and infidels on the earth. But they shall not stand; for God having erected a standard against them, and commenced that work represented by the stone cut out without hands, will go on until there is a full end of them; and in proportion as they are exposed and laid open to view, in the [same] proportion will the true kingdom of the God of heaven arise and flourish in the earth.   PHILOTHEOS.

Note 1: The communication of Philotheos (first published in The Reformer in 1824) deserves the special attention of students of Mormon origins. The religious beliefs set forth by "Philotheos" sound very much like incipient Mormonism -- or at least like the views of the sort of religiously dissatisfied person who might have been attracted to Mormon claims, when that sect appeared in Ohio seven years later. The anti-clerical professions expressed in the 1824 letter (emphasis on the original "disciples of Christ," the analogy of salt which has lost its savour, etc.) were probably much like those entertained by the Rev. Sidney Rigdon in the years just prior to his Mormon conversion. Two examples of what appear to be unsigned Sidney Rigdon communications to the Rev. Alexander Campbell's Christian Baptist may be seen in that paper's issues of Aug. 2, 1824 and Dec. 6, 1824. By the time that the second of these Rigdon letters was published (if that is what they are), Sidney Rigdon must have known that he and editor Alexander Campbell shared very little in the way of a common understanding of the restoration of apostolic spiritual gifts, communitarian living, scriptural authority, etc. Thus, it seems likely that Rigdon's continued ostensible support for Campbellism carried within it the seeds of hypocrisy or even of pious fraud. For more on the subject of religious fraud, see the comments accompanying the letter by "Luke," reprinted in the Sept. 9, 1825 issue of the Buffalo Gospel Advocate.

Note 2: Other "Philotheos" letters published in the Philadelphia paper, The Reformer indicate that the correspondent lived at or near the "Union Village" Shaker community, a few miles northeast of Cincinnati. That region of the country was the origin point for the Stoneite "New Light" movement and later saw significant Campbellite activity, but it appears unlikely that "Philotheos" had any direct connection with early northeastern Ohio Campbellite ministers, such as the Rev. Sidney Rigdon or the Rev. Adamson Bentley.


"Cast Ye Up, Cast Ye Up, Prepare the Way, Take Up the Stumbling-Block Out of the Way of My People."
Vol. IV.                               New-York, January 26, 1828.                               No. 35.

                        FROM  THE  SACO  PALLADIUM.


JACOB COCHRAN. -- This strange man, who a few years since, threw a part of New-England in commotion with fanaticism, and who in the midst of his supernatural power and light, found a check to his holy zeal, as he called it, by a few years contemplation in the State Prison at Charlestown, is still a wonder in the land of the living, with a few fanatics at his heels.

The subscriber, a few days since, paid a visit to his "Ark," as they call it, in Hollis, Me., and by the appearance of some of the family and the number of small children that I saw, I should suppose that they do have all things in common, as they profess to, to a greater extent than the shakers do; for their population increases without begging children from others; and I could not ascertain that any of the company were married, save Jacob and his wife, and he has a spiritual companion in addition to his natural one, who has added (I was informed) one if not more, natural child to the family since their spiritual union; and I fancy this is about the only way that their family will increase in the future, as they are not so fortunate with respect to worldly possessions as the shakers are; therefore food and houses will not at present tempt many to join them.

Two of the fraternity are State Prison convicts, and are lately from New-York, with a wife as it is supposed she is,

I should suppose the family consistyed of six or seven men with their spiritual wives, besides Jacob and his spiritual and natural wives.

I entered the building and inquired for Jacob -- he soon made his appearance, with three or four aids-de-camp, or talking disciples -- the women took their seats in a back room to listen to our conversation.

At length, as I would not admit Jacob to be infallible, and the apostle of God, to whom all his enemies must soon submit with a vengeance; he pronounced me to be a poor deluded servent of the devil. AT that moment his female disciples exclaiemd aloud -- Glory to God -- Glory to God, &c. to that degree that the whole house echoed. Jacob attempted to convince me that all professors save himself and company were hypocrites and deceivers, and said that they had all combined to bar the love of God out of his soul; but Glory to God, they cannot do it, for I now feel the love of God in my fingers -- stretching out his hands. I observed that he was mistaken, for I was a professor and I knew that I had not combined to bar the love of God out of his soul -- for I deswired that he and all mankind might enjoy it; and I knew that I enkoyed it myself -- upon which he pronounced me a liar, in saying that I enjoyed the love of God. I then told him my opinion of him, viz. that he was a poor deceived creature, if not a great imposter, and that he must repent of his abomination or never know the true love of God shed abroad in his heart; upon which he pronounced a curse upon me in a pontifical style; and his echoing women again said amen, with a loud acclamation of Glory to God, &c. or rather, broke out in mocking God and disgracing themselves.

He then told me he had got through with me, and wished me to leave his house as soon as convenient.

He then said to his disciples, "Come, let us go to our work;" and they all left the room in a moment, and followed this monster in human shape, as he appearewd to me; and I soon left the building, with a new proof, that there is a way that seemeth good to man, but the end thereof is death; and that ambitious, sinful men are deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, when under the influence of strong self-will and false zeal, which is fanaticism indeed -- and with a new stimulus to watch and pary, lest I enter into temptation.
HULL BARTON.        

Note 1: The issue of the Maine Saco Palldium from which this account was taken has not yet been located, but it was likely published in that paper's columns about the beginning of 1828. Jacob Cochran's "Ark" commune was then located in the hamlet of Hollis, in northeastern York Co., Maine, near the banks of the Saco River (and not in nearby Hollis, Hillsboro Co., New Hampshire, as some reports suggest). This religious commune is mentioned, in passing, by the editor of the St. Louis Western Examiner in his issue of Nov. 1, 1834, where he summarizes Cochran's "prophetic" ministrations, along with those of Joseph Smith, Jr., Matthias, etc.

Note 2: There is no record of Joseph Smith, Jr. having ever met or communicated with the cult leader, Rev. Jacob Cochran. However, some elements of the two men's respective religious careers run in parallel. See Gideon T. Ridlon's 1895 accounts regarding the appearance and development of Cochranism and Mormonism in Maine's Saco Valley. At the end of 1819 Cochran was sentenced to a four year term in the Maine State Prison, from which he was evidently released in 1823, if not before. Cochran seems to have left behind some detached "spiritual wives" and other polygamy-minded followers along the Saco River, when, in about 1826, he established the "Ark" at Hollis, and ended his more public "ministry." Cochran reportedly moved his commune to New York, in 1829, again leaving some of his followers stranded in New England.

Note 3: It is likely that a curious Joseph Smith sent his brother, Elder Samuel H. Smith, on an 1832 mission to New England, in order to convert and "gather in" the Cochranite remnant of Maine, Boston, etc. According to an account published in the Oct. 25, 1903 issue of the New York Times: "The imprisonment of Jacob Cochrane [sic] checked the spread of his dogma, but as the time of his release drew near his diciples grew rampant and received a new command to take "spiritual wives"... There were a few divorces, some marriages, and several elopements of spiritual partners, and finally emigration to Salt Lake City. Cochrane returned to his legal wife, broken in health and spirit, a "back number." One of Brigham Young's first "plurals," Augusta Adams Cobb (1802-1886) was a former Cochranite, or was influenced by the teachings of that sect, prior to her 1843 elopement with Brigham. Other prominent early Mormons who were possibly influenced by Cochranism include Mary Bailey (1808-1841) who married Elder Samuel H. Smith, and (even more likely) Agnes Moultin (1811-1876) who married Samuel's brother, Elder Don Carlos Smith.

Note 4: In their 2000 book, Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, authors Richard and Pamela Price attempt to show that "plural marriage" and "spiritual wifery" came into Mormonism by way of ex-Cochranite converts to the Latter Day Saint faith. At the end of their chapter 2 these writers provide a quote, stating: "Sometime about 1829 the clan removed from this place and left the State [of Maine], and their resting place is not sufficiently well known to state it. At length death overtook him.... After his death his wife, and such as still survived of his attachees came back to Saco, from New York State." -- To this bit of historical information, the Prices add their own comments: "Latter Day Saint missionaries arrived in southern Maine in 1832, only three years after Jacob Cochran moved from Maine to New York State. The Church missionaries visited the Cochranite communities, stayed in their homes, taught them the gospel, baptized some, and urged them to gather to Zion. As a result, many of his followers joined the Church and moved to Kirtland and Nauvoo. Some took their polygamous beliefs with them. They and their influence caused the "church of Christ ... (to be) reproached with the crime of ... polygamy" (see Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 Edition, 101:4." The Prices seem to believe that the early Mormon leaders' exposure to "Cochranite polygamy" only came after the 1832 missionary tour of elders Samuel H. Smith and Orson Hyde through Maine's Saco Valley. They do not question what impulse sent those missionaries to that remote region in the first place. However, the close correspondence between the structure of the Rev. Jacob Cochran's "Ark" commune, at Hollis, and the Rev. Sidney Rigdon's "Morley Farm" commune, at Kirtland, suggests that Cochranite influences may have touched Ohio's Rigdonites even before they converted to Mormonism at the end of 1830. Sidney Rigdon was obviously interested in the sort of religious communal living exhibted by the Rappites and Shakers -- it is not too far-fetched to postulated that his interest in this sort of communitarianism might have also extended to his examination of the Owenites, Cochranites, etc. Given his contact with the Cleveland Shakers, Rev. Rigdon might have easily become intrigued with news reports of any self-styled, latter day "apostle" whose followers had "all things in common, as they profess to, to a greater extent than the shakers."


"Cast Ye Up, Cast Ye Up, Prepare the Way, Take Up the Stumbling-Block Out of the Way of My People."
Vol. IV.                               New-York, May 24, 1828.                               No. 52.


INDIAN TRIBES IN OHIO. -- There are five Indian Tribes residing within the state of Ohio -- the Wyandots, Shawnees, Senecas, DElawares, and Ottowas. -- The tradition of these tribes claims nativity in the surrounding states and territories; and have resided in this state from fifty to two hundred years. No one of these tribes, we believe, can be called a native of Ohio. The tradition of each tribe, preserves the name of the country from which they originally emigrated to this state. The number of persons in each tribe has not increased for some years past. The population appears to be at a stand. The population of each tribe, and the number of acres of land claimed by each, may be stated as follows:

Wayandots,   842   163,000 acres
Shawnees,   800   117,000 acres
Senecas,   551   55,505 acres
Delawares,   80   5,750 acres
Ottowas,   367   40,581 acres

The total amount of population of these tribes, is 2,350. The land claimed by each tribe is secured to them respectively. Besides the land already stated, reservations to the amount of 16,200 acres are secured separately to individuals, thus making the whole amount of land secured to Indian tribes and individuals in this state, 401,401 acres. Considerable annuities are paid yearly by the National Government to each of these tribes.

Note: So far as history records, the "Mormon missionaries to the Lamanites" only bothered to visit one of these tribes, as they passed through Ohio at the end of 1830 -- the Wyandots. At that time the Wyandots had already agreed to move to the Indian territory was of the Missouri River, and they may have been in the process of departing for that new home when Oliver Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt encountered them, in Sandusky County. So far as is known, no member of the Ohio tribes ever converted to Mormonism.


"Cast Ye Up, Cast Ye Up, Prepare the Way, Take Up the Stumbling-Block Out of the Way of My People."

Vol. VI.                               New-York, Saturday, February 20, 1830.                               No. 38.

For the New-York Telescope.


The editor of the Palmyra Freeman declared in his paper of August 11th, as follows: -- "The Golden Bible is the greatest piece of superstition that has ever come within the sphere of our knowledge."

In the Investigator, No. 12, Dec. 11, I published, by way of caution, a letter of Oliver H. P. Cowdry, in answer to my letter to Joseph Smith, Jun. Martin Harris, and David Whitmore -- the believers in the said bible of gold plates -- which they affirm they have miraculously, or supernaturally beheld. I sought for evidences, and such as could not be disputed, of the existence of this bible of golden plates. But the answer was -- the world must take their words for its existence; and that the book would appear this month.

The editor of the Palmyra Freeman, their neighbour, adds to the above, that "in the fall of 1827, Joseph Smith, of Manchester, Ontario county, reported he had been visited in a dream by the spirit of the Almighty, and informed, that in a certain hill, in that town, was deposited this Golden Bible, containing an ancient record of [a] divine nature and origin. After being thrice visited thus, as he states, he proceeded to the spot, and found the bible, with a huge pair of spectacles. He had been directed, however, not to let any mortal being examine them (i.e. the plates and the stone-eyed spectacles) under no less penalty than instant death!! It was said that the leaves of the bible were plates of gold, about eight inches long, six inches wide, and one-eighth of an inch thick (i. e. 8 plates are one inch thick, 8 long and 6 wide.) On these plates were characters, or hieroglyphics, engraved." The whole of the plates are said to weigh about thirty pounds; which would be in gold near eight thousand dollars, beside the value of the engraving.

One of Joseph Smith's proselytes, is, continues the Palmyra Freeman, "Martin Harris, an honest and industrious farmer of Palmyra." He is said to have shown some of these characters to Professor Samuel L. Mitchell, of this city, who could not translate them. Martin Harris returned, and set Joseph Smith to the business of translating them: who, "by placing the spectacles in a hat and looking into them, Joseph Smith said he could interpret these characters."

The editor of the Palmyra Freeman describes Joseph Smith as not being very literate: and that his translation is pronounced, "by his proselytes, to be superior in style, and more advantageous to mankind, than our holy bible!"

I have this month received sixteen pages of this work, from page 353 to 368 inclusive. I cannot perceive any superiority of style in this specimen; nor any evidence that this bible is not a book of Joseph Smith's own manufacture. His title-page professed that he was the author of it; and this declaration is evidenced by its style. For in these sixteen pages, I noticed 'yea' was repeated 34 times; and even 21 times in two pages. The words, 'It came to pass,' is repeated 56 times in 16 pages, and even ten times on one page. 'Now' and 'behold,' are reiterated near the commencement of sentences, full thirty times apiece, and more, in these sixteen pages. Consequently these four things are repeated 162 times on the ear-drum, while speaking of the war of the Nephites and Lamanites, in the day of Moroni, and reign of the judges, according to the book of Alma.

Thus, in page 359, it is written -- "Yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni -- yea, the devil would never have no power over the hearts of the children of men: (never to have no power, is ever to have some power.) Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah; yea, and also, Alma and his sons." Whether this style is equal to our scripture style, the reader can judge.

Again, in pages 353 & 4, it reads thus: "And those who died in the faith of Christ are happy in him, as we must needs suppose." That a weak faith ends this sentence, is manifest.

Again, page 353, is written -- "And there was but a few which denied the covenant of freedom." Was should have been were. -- Again: "And there were some who died with fevers, which, at some some [sic] seasons of the year, was (were) very frequent."

Again, in the next page -- "And it came to pass that they would not, or the MORE part, would not obey," &c. The following is the title-page of the Golden Bible, as published in the Palmyra Freeman: --

"The Book of Mormon; an account, writted [sic] by the hand of Mormon upon plates, taken from the plates of Nephi: --

"Wherefore it is an abridgement of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, written to the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to the Jews and Gentiles; written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation; written and sealed and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed, -- to come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof -- sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of the Gentile, the interpretation thereof by the gift of God: an abridgement taken from the book of Ether.

"Also, which is a record of the people of Jared, which were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to Heaven; which is to shew unto the remnant Of the house of Israel how great things the Lord hath done for their fathers: and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, That they are not cast off forever; and also To the convincing of Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations. And now, If there be fault it be the mistake of men: wherefore condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of Christ. -- By JOSEPH SMITH, Junior, Author and Proprietor."

Thus we are informed that this book of Mormon was written (i. e. engraved) by the hand of Mormon, on plates taken from the plates of Nephi; -- wherefore it is (not a transcript, but what a strange conclusion) an abridgement of the record of Nephi, &c. If so, why is it not called the record of Nephi? But what is also strange, this record is "written by way of commandment, and also (and or also is here useless) by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation;" (what an uncommon record of past and known events to the Nephites!) "sealed and hid up unto the Lord; sealed up by the hand of Moroni -- an abridgement taken from the book of Ether." (Instead of being hid up, it was hid down in the earth of a hill, or in a stone reservoir. It was first said to be an abridgement of the record of Nephi, but it is now said to be an abridgement taken from the book of Ether.) "Also which is a record of the people of Jared, &c. to teach Jew and Gentile, that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God." But lastly, Joseph Smith, jun. declares he is the author of this book of Mormon, this record of Nephi, this book of Ether, this record of Jared's people, who were scattered at the building of the tower of Babel; this convincing work, which is to convert Jew and Gentile to believe that Jesus is the eternal God. Surely our missionaries should take notice of this! "Now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men," says J. S.

This title page is another specimen of superior style, in which one is soon lost -- and wonders what J. Smith means; or how can all that is written by the author be true!

These facts are given to caution people not to spend their money uselessly for a book, that is more probable a hoax -- or a money-making speculation -- or an enthusiastic delusion, than a revelation of facts by the Almighty.   C. C. BLATCHLY.

Note 1: The above letter of Dr. Cornelius C. Blatchly (1773-1831) is, no doubt, the first substantial report on the rise of Mormonism to have appeared in the New York City press. Unfortunately The Telescope was specialty paper with a small circulation and it appears that no other newspapers ever reprinted his communication to Editor W. Beach. Dr. Blatchly gives a mistaken impression, that Joseph Smith was claiming that he had found only eight golden plates, each of which was an inch thick. Other than his insertion of this odd error, Blatchly seems to have comprehended and summarized the "gold bible story" with commendable accuracy. For example, Blatchly's mention of the divine penalty of "instant death" for unauthorized viewers of the golden plates, was also recalled by an early resident of Palmyra, who never converted to Mormonism (see "William Hyde Interviews, 1888," in Dan Vogel's Early Mormon Documents 3).

Note 2: It is an unfortunate turn of historical events, that Oliver Cowdery's 1829 letter to Dr. Blatchly appears to have been lost or discarded, after only one printing in a very obscure periodical: The Investigator. Exactly which "Investigator" this was, the writer and editor do not make clear. No doubt it was an eastern New York or New England paper that the readers of Beach's Telescope needed no special introduction to. Among the three possibilities for this title are the following periodicals: (1) The Investigator and General Intelligencer, was begun in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1827, by the Rev. William Goodell -- At the end of 1829, he moved his operations to Boston, where the paper was continued under the title of the National Philanthropist and Investigator and Genius of Temperance, until late 1830. This paper was sometimes called the Boston Investigator, but it should not be confused with another (then defunct), paper by that name, founded in Boston in about 1830. Goodell's Boston edition was continued in that city, by Abner Kneeland in 1831, as the Boston Investigator. A cursory examination of this publication has not turned up an Oliver Cowdery letters; (2) The Gospel Advocate and Impartial Investigator, was started in Buffalo, New York, in about 1822, by L. S. Everett and G. Tuttle -- however citations of this paper are generally given as the Gospel Advocate; (3) "Hank's New York Investigator," (exact title uncertain) -- Two Gettysburg, Pennsylvania papers, the Republican Compiler of March 9, 1830, and the Anti Masonic Star of April 17, 1830, quote from this obscure periodical. It is perhaps the very sheet that Dr. Blatchly makes reference to, but no files of such a title are known to exist today. Happily there was a partial reprint of the Cowdery letter, published in the New York City Gospel Luminary of Dec. 10, 1829. From that reporting (also provided by Blatchly) the probable contents of The Investigator article can be reasonably guessed at.

Note 3: Oliver Cowdery, prior to the winter of 1830-31, generally signed his name as "Oliver H. P. Cowdery." For some unknown reason he dropped using his middle initials about the end of 1830. Perhaps he desired that any mention of his name by others, match exactly the form in which it was printed in the 1830 Book of Mormon. Also, the Palmyra Reflector's teasing him over the lengthy and seemingly pretentious moniker (in its issue of June 1, 1830) may have convinced Oliver that he should abandon the "H. P." addition -- which probably stood for "Hervy" and "Pliny," two of his father's relatives.

Note 4: Dr. Cornelius C. Blatchly [or "Blatchley"] (1773-1831) was a New York City physician who popularized the then new and controversial "Richardian socialist doctrines" in some early pamphlets. Their message was that the rich exploited common laborers by receiving an unearned income on real estate. Proper "equality" required the abolition of interest on borrowed money and the discontinuation rent upon borrowed land. Blatchly's writings also outlined the dangers of 'sinful' dietary overindulgence: the intemperate could expect to be "afflicted with the gout; racked with the stones; cramped with the colic; drowned with the dropsy; suffocated by asthma and hydrothorax; nauseated with gluttony; vomited with drunkenness; burnt, like Aetna, with lusts or fever; shaken like Sinai with hypochondriac and hysteric terrors and perturbations; or stretched as on a rack with tetanus." Dr. Blatchly graduated from the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons. He was active in the New York Society for Promoting Communities. He wrote a number of communications to the New York Telescope, in the years prior to his death (on Dec. 5, 1831).


"Cast Ye Up, Cast Ye Up, Prepare the Way, Take Up the Stumbling-Block Out of the Way of My People."

Vol. VI.                               New-York, Saturday, April 17, 1830.                               No. 46.


Palmyra, March 16, 1830.    
"I should never forgive myself, should I neglect to give you some account of a singular sect, that is springing up in this vicinity; not that there is so much consequence really attached to these speculating ignoramuses, as their undertaking, which appears to be entirely novel: I mean the 'Gold Bible Society.' An ignorant vagabond boy, under the sanction of the most marvellous illuminations, in conjunction with his father, brothers, and ten or fifteen other ragamuffins, pretends to have found a book, the leaves of which are plates of gold, giving an improved account of the incidents detailed in the scriptures, together with what they call an accurate history of the first settlement of America, by the lost "ten tribes," of Israel, written in "reformed Egyptian," as they pretend. No less than TEN of these geniuses (some of whose words would not be believed in a Court of Justice,) have come forward and declared in the presence of God, that an angel had appeared to them, and not only showed them the book; but gave them the translation. I have only time to remark, that the work in question, (which will be before the public in a few days,) is a most foul plagiarism from the Old and New-Testaments, altered in many particulars, to be sure, and always for the worse; and to cover their foolish deception, many chapters are copied backwards, without reference to chapter or verse, as the conjurers of old used to read the Lord's Prayer for the purpose of raising the Devil. -- Al. Mic.

Note 1: The "Al. Mic." cited above may have been the Albany Microscope. In turn, the Microscope's source was almost certainly the Palmyra Freeman, which published its weekly edition every Tuesday (and March 16, 1830 was a Tuesday). In other words, the unidentified "I" in the above text, was probably the editor of the Palmyra Freeman himself, Jonathan A. Hadley.

Note 2: The "ten or fifteen other ragamuffins" mentioned by the writer perhaps comprised the eleven witnesses to the Book of Mormon and the females of the Joseph Smith, Sr., family. The ten "geniuses" cited by the correspondent leaves out one of the published witnesses -- perhaps the only one whose words would have been believed in a "Court of Justice," Martin Harris (see "Oyer And Terminer Minutes No. 1 1824-1845: 9/8/1823-8/21/1843," p. 41 [on file in the Office of the Wayne County Historian, Lyons, New York], where Harris is listed as a witnesses in "People vs Norman Hewit," on 19 Jan. 1828).



NS Vol. I.                               New-York, Saturday, December 11, 1830.                               No. 15.


From the Painesville (Ohio) Gazette.

About a couple of weeks since, three men, calling themselves Oliver Cowdry, David Whitmar and Martin Harris, appeared in our village, laden with a new revelation, which they claim to be a codicil to the New Testament. They preached in the evening in the Methodist Chapel, and from certain indications, conceiving they might do more good otherwheres, departed for Kirtland, where is a "common stock family," under the charge of Elder Rigdon, a Campbelite leader of some notoriety. These men claim to act under a "commission written by the finger of God" -- they are very enthusiastic -- tolerably resolute -- but from what we can learn, need that steadfast, determined resolution, and popular talent, which are necessary to insure any considerable degree of success in a new project.

The account which they give is substantially as follows: -- at a recent period, an angel appeared to a poor ignorant man residing in or near Palmyra in Ontario County in the state of New York, directed him to open the earth at a place designated, where he would find the new revelation engraved on plates of metal. In obedience to the celestial messenger, Smith repaired to the spot, and on opening the ground discovered an oblong stone box tightly closed with cement. He opened the sacred depository and found enclosed a bundle of plates resembling gold, carefully united at one edge with three silver wires so that they opened like a book. The plates were about 7 inches long and 6 broad, and the whole pile was about 6 inches deep, each plate about the thickness of tin. They were engraved in a character unintelligible to the learned men of the United States, to many of whom it is said they have been presented. The angel afterwards appeared to the three individuals, and showed the plates. To Smith was given to translate the character which he was enabled to do by looking through two semi-transparent stones, but as he was ignorant of the art of writing, Cowdry and the other wrote as Smith interpreted. They say that part of the plates escaped from them in a supernatural manner, and are to be again revealed when the events of time shall require them.

The three individuals above named, have subscribed their names to an article in the book, in which they solemnly declare, that they saw the angel, and that he assured them that the book was a divine revelation. -- They say it was written by the prophets of God, during the period embracing the time for 600 years before and several hundred after the Christian era. It predicts, we understand, almost all events which have come to pass, such as the American Revolution, &c.

These men are believed by their followers to be prophets; and they say that the world is soon to come to and end -- within 15 years at the longest.

By the world coming to an end, they only mean, that the incorrigible will be cut off by a variety of means, leaving only the true believers. They have now gone west, for a country they know not where, west of the Mississippi, where they say is a Holy Spot, and there they are to establish a New Jerusalem, into which will be gathered all the natives, who they say are descendants of Manasseh. They are led by the spirit, and will know the ground when they place their feet on it.

Immediately on their arrival here, Elder Rigdon embraced the new doctrine and was baptized for the third -- once as a regular Baptist -- once as a Campbelite, and now as a disciple of the new revelation. He says he has hitherto, ignorantly preached heresy. His flock, we understand, have principally followed their shepherd, for the second time, have gone down into the water. We are told that the number baptised into the new order, is rising of one hundred.

Note: The above piece is copied from a November, 1830 issue of the Painesville Geauga Gazette, and reproduces the Ohio editor's confusion of Parley P. Pratt with "Martin Harris."



NS Vol. I.                               New-York, Saturday, February 19, 1831.                               No. 25.


We noticed some time since, the progress of a new religious order in the western part of Ohio. It would seem that good materials are found in that district for such a work. The Painsville (Ohio) Gazette contains the following additional particulars: --

The Golden Bible, or the Book of Mormon.

The believers in the sacred authenticity of this miserable production, are known by the name of "Mormonites." It is asserted by them that their number in this vicinity is four hundred. -- In a conversation a few days since with a gentleman from Kirtland, well informed, and every way concerned to give us the truth, we are assured, that their numbers in the family in that town were two hundred souls. -- We doubt not then that their whole number in this county and Cuyahoga are at least four hundred.

They have recently received an additional revelation from the prolific prophet, Smith, which is generally understood to say that Kirtland is within the precincts of the holy land; but by others is said to mean only, that in that town will be a gathering of mighty multitudes, preparatory to their westward general migration. They are therefore admonished to sell no more of their possessions but rather purchase, lest there shall not be room for the faithful. The admonition however arrived too late, as they have but fifty acres left, and the land holders refused to sell to them.

They profess to receive sensible demonstrations of the presence of the Deity. A few days since, a young man gave information to some of his brethren that he was about to receive a message from heaven. They repaired to the spot designated, and there, as they solemnly assert, a letter descended from the skies and fell into the hands of a [sic - the?] young man. The purport was to strengthen his faith and inform him that he would soon be called to the ministry. The style of writing was the round Italian, and the letters of gold. The favored youth immediately attempted to copy the communication, but as fast as he wrote, the letters of the original disappeared until it entirely vanished. It is alledged that some of them have received white stones promised in the 2d chapters of the Revelations. Such of them as have "the spirit" will declare that they see a white stone moving about the upper part of the room, and will jump and spring for it, until one more fortunate than the others catch it, but he alone can see it. Others however profess to hear it roll across the floor. These two stories, and others of a similar character, are told by them with solemn asseverations [sic] of their truth.

Among them is a man of color, a chief man, who is sometimes seized with strange vagaries and odd conceits. The other day he is said to have jumped twenty feet down a wash bank into a tree top without injury. -- He sometimes fancies he can fly.

In Chardon, one man has torn away all the partitions of the lower part of a good two story dwelling house. -- Here a large number live together. -- The food consisting of meat and vegetables, it is said, are placed on the table in a large pan, which is the whole table furniture. From this every inmate takes a piece of meat and a potatoe in his hand and devours them as he walks about the room, As to matters of apparel, and indeed other things, where any one wants what he has not, he takes it any where in the family where he can find it unoccupied. All things are common.

Our readers will probably smile at the miserable delusion of these ignorant creatures, and we know, indeed, nothing better than can be done in that respect. Let it, however, teach us humility; let it [check] our disposition to condemn a whole age in other countries, because it produced such visionaries. Ignorance is the same in all ages, though it may not show itself in exactly the same forms: the unballasted and unpiloted boat veers always from a direct course, but its aberrations are in conformity to the currents in which it drifts. -- U. S. Gaz.

Notes: (forthcoming)

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