the thinker

Another Spalding Fragment

NOTE: This webpage taken entirely from mormonstudies

On 7 June 1841 Orson Hyde wrote to George J. Adams, giving his views on the Spalding theory: "I am confident that Mr. Rigdon never had access to the manuscript of Mr. Spaulding: but even allowing that he might (which my own thoughts will not allow for a moment) have seen the manuscript, he lacked the disposition to make the use of it which his enemies accuse him of; for all people know, who know any thing about Mr. Rigdon, and are willing to confess the truth, that he would conscientiously stand as far from such a base forgery, 'as Lot stood from Sodom in its evil day.'" Unfortunately for Mr. Hyde, there is clear and strong evidence that Rigdon did have access to Spalding's manuscript and made personal use of it. On 1 May 1843 the Times and Seasons began printing a biography of Sidney Rigdon. Scholars believe that Ridgon was himself the source of this biography and that he dictated it perhaps as early as 1838. By comparing a portion of this biography with passages from the Spalding manuscript, it will become evident that Rigdon incorporated Spalding material. The 1910 Millennial Star edition of the Spalding manuscript is used here. Sidney Rigdon's biography is included in Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith, vol. 1, Autobiographical and Historical Writings (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1989).

Spalding Manuscript Sidney Rigdon's Biography
(P. 74) Not content to represent facts as they existed -- & in their true colours - monstrous stories were fabricated & put in circulation -- calculated to excite prejudice & rouse the resentment of the people against Elseon . . . .

(P. 32) Baske was grave solemn and sedate -- reserved in his conversation -- but when he spoke wisdom proceded from his lips -- & all were astonished at his eloquence -- His fame spread rapidly thro, city & country -- & he was celibrated as a man of the most briliant & extraordinary Talents.

(Pp. 33-35) He never would converse long on trifling subjects -- had a wonderful facility to intermix some wise sayings & remarks & of turning with dignity & gracefulness the attention of the company to subjects that were important & interesting -- None could then withstand the energy of his reasoning -- & all were astonished at the inginuety of his arguments & the great knowledge & wisdom which he displayed -- His fame spread thro' the city & country & multitudes frequently assembled & importuned him to give them instruction -- Always cheerful to gratify the curiosity & comply with the reasonable requests of the multitude he entertained them by conversing with them familiarly -- & by exhibiting public Discourses -- All were charmed with his wisdom & eloquence -- & all united in pronouncing him to be the most extraordinary man in existence & generally believed that he held conversation with celestial beings -- & always acted under the influence of divine inspiration. -- The people were very liberal in their donations, which enabled him to support his family in affluence -- Having thus in a short time established a character superior with respect to wisdom & eloquence to any man who had ever appeared before him in the nation . . . . He still continued to associate among the people & was indefatigable in his labours to dispel their ignorance, correct their superstition & vices . . . . A great reformation had taken place in the morals & manners of the people . . . . But not willing to stop here the benevolent mind of the great Lobaska midetated a more important revolution -- now the propicious era had arived & the way was prepared for the introduction of that system of Theology which is comprised in the Sacred Roll -- In the first place he read & explained the whole system to the king & the cheifs of the nation, who cordially gave it their approbation & gave permission to propogate it among the people -- Under a pretence that this system was revealed to him in several interviews which he had been permitted to have with the second son of the great & good Being -- the people did not long hisitate, but received as sacred & divine truth every word which he taught them They forsook their old religion which was a confused medly of Idoletry & supersticious nonsence & embraced a religion more sublime & consistent -- & more fraught with sentiments which would promote the happiness of mankind in this world. . . .

(Pp. 46-47) Thus within the term of twelve years from the arival of Lobaska at Tolanga, he had the satisfaction of beholding the great & benevolent objects which he had in view accomplished -- He still continued his useful Labours -- & was the great Oricle of both empires -- His advise & sentiments were taken upon all important subjects -- & no one ventured to controvert his opinions -- He lived to behold the successful experiment of his institutions -- & to see them acquire that strength & firmness as not easily to be overthrown. Having acquired that renown & glory which are beyond the reach of envy & which aspiring ambition would dispair of attaining -- at the age of Eighty, he bade an affectionate adue to two empires & left them to lament in tears his exit.

(Pp. 334-39) But being a stranger, and many reports being put in circulation, of a character calculated to lessen him in the estimation of the people and consequently destroy his influence. Some persons were even wicked enough to retail those slanderous reports which were promulgated, and endeavored to stir up persecution against him . . . .
  The doctrines he advanced were new, but at the same time were elucidated with such clearness, and enforced with an eloquence altogether superior to what they had been accustomed to before, that those, whose sectarian prejudices were not too deeply rooted, who listened to the deep and searching discourses, which he delivered from time to time, could not fail of being greatly affected, and convinced that the principles he advanced were true, and in accordance with the scriptures.
  Nor were his labors and success confined to that Township alone, but calls were made in every direction for him to preach, which he complied with as much as he possibly could, until his labors became very extensive and spread over a vast extent of country.
  Wherever he went the same success attended his ministry, and he was every way received with kindness and welcomed by persons of all classes. Prejudice after prejudice gave way on every hand. Opposition after opposition was broken down, and bigotry was routed from its strong holds: The truths he advanced were received with gladness, and the doctrines he taught had a glorious ascendancy, wherever he had the opportunity of promulgating them.
  His fame as an orator, and deep reasoner in the scriptures continued to spread far and wide, and he soon gained a popularity, and an elevation, which has fallen to the lot of but few; consequently thousands flocked to hear his eloquent discourses. . . .
  Not only did the writings of the new testament occupy his attention, but occasionally those of the antient prophets; particularly their prophesies which had reference to the present, and to the future, were brought up to review, and treated in a manner entirely new and deeply interesting. No longer did he follow the old beaten track which had been travelled for ages by the religious world; but he dared to enter upon new grounds; called in question the opinions of uninspired men, shewed the foolish ideas of many commentators on the sacred scriptures -- exposed their ignorance and contradictions -- threw new light on the sacred volume, particularly those prophesies which so deeply interested this generation, and which had been entirely overlooked, or mystified by the religious world -- cleared up scriptures which had heretofore appeared inexplicable, and delighted his astonished audience with things "new and old" -- proved to a demonstration the litteral fulfilment of prophesy, the gathering of Israel in the last days to their antient inheritances, with their ultimate splendour and glory. -- The situation of the world at the coming of the son of man. -- The judgments which Almighty God would pour out upon the ungodly prior to that event, and the reign of Christ with his saints on the earth in the millenium.
  These important subjects could not fail to have their weight on the minds of his hearers, who clearly discerned the situation in which they were placed, by the sound and logical arguments which he adduced, and soon, numbers felt the importance of obeying, that form of doctrine, which had been delivered them, so that they might be accounted worthy to escape those things which were coming on the earth and many came forward desiring to be baptized for the remission of sins. He accordingly commenced to baptize, and like John of old, there flocked to him people from all the region round about, -- persons of all ranks and standings in society, -- the rich the poor, the noble and the brave, flocked to be baptized of him.
  Nor was this desire confined to individuals or families, but whole societies, threw away their creeds and articles of faith, and became obedient to the faith he promulgated; and he soon had large and flourishing societies throughout that whole region of country.
  He now was a welcome visitor wherever he travelled, his society was courted by the learned and intelligent, and the highest encomiums were bestowed upon him, for his biblical lore and his eloquence.
  The work of the ministry engaged all his time and attention; he felt deeply for the salvation of his fellow man and for the attainment of which, he labored with unceasing diligence. . . .
  After he had labored in that vicinity some time and having received but little pecuniary aid; the members of the churches, which he had built up, held a meeting, to take into consideration his circumstances, and provide for his wants and place him in a situation suitable to the high and important office which he sustained in the church. . . .
   . . . He being held in the highest respect by that people, they entered the work with pleasure, and seemed to vie with each other in their labor of love, believing it a duty to make their beloved pastor and his family comfortable.

It isn't merely the styles of these two accounts which are similar, but also the content and specific details. Both Lobaska and Rigdon were superior in their eloquence, wisdom, and reasoning powers. The fame of both men spread far and wide, and many people gathered to listen to their eloquent discourses. Both men taught new religious doctrines; their arguments cut through superstition and prejudice, and people forsook their old beliefs and embraced the new truths. Both men cared for the happiness and salvation of the people and were indefatigable in their labors. Both men were held in high esteem, and the people contributed generously to the support of each man and his family.

Other similar descriptions occur in the Spalding manuscript:

To follow this Poet in the description which he gives of Elseon, to whom he attaches a countenance & figure superior to other mortals -- & qualities, which produced universal esteem & admiration . . . . (p.57)

Numapon . . . Being very fond of study & of the mechanical arts his mind was replenished with knowledge & he took great pleasure in promoting works of inginuity. He was famed for [great] wisdom & [subtelty] penetration of mind, was capable of forming great plans & of prossecuting them with vigor & perseverance. (p.82)

His countenance was bold & resolute -- & such was his gracefulness & elocution, when He spoke, that all eyes were fixed upon him & all ears were attention. (p.85)

There can be no doubt that Rigdon knowingly and intentionally patterned his biography after an account in Spalding's manuscript.

At the time that Rigdon's biography was being patched together with Spalding material, the only copy of a Spalding manuscript known to exist was lying buried and forgotten among the papers of E. D. Howe. This proves that Rigdon had obtained possession of a second Spalding manuscript, which had been left at Patterson's print shop in Pittsburgh. After using Spalding material to pad his biography, Rigdon shamelessly claimed that he knew nothing about Solomon Spalding or his manuscript. Sidney Rigdon must have been supremely confident that no one would ever discover evidence to unmask his deception, but his own biography convicts him of plagiarizing the work of Solomon Spalding.

On Page 2, Dale Broadhurst gives his thoughts about a possible Spalding influence on Joseph Smith's "History."

For further evidence of parallels between the work of Solomon Spalding and Joseph Smith, see the following:

Book of Mormon Authorship
Spalding Authorship Page
Spalding Notes
Recent Defenses of the Book of Mormon