Digging in Cumorah
by Mark D. Thomas

Chapter 10
The “Final Destruction” Form: Secret Combinations as the Sword of Social Destruction 

[p.189]… Canst thou translate? And I say unto thee again, Knowest thou of anyone that can translate? for I am desirous that these records should be translated into our language. For, perhaps they will give us a knowledge of a remnant of the people which have been destroyed, from whence these records came; or, perhaps they will give us a knowledge of this very people which have been destroyed; and I am desirous to know the cause of their destruction.

Mosiah 8:12

Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shewn unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain, and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you; yea, even the sword of the justice of the eternal God, shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction, if ye shall suffer these things to be; wherefore the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see things come among you, that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you, or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them which have been slain: for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who build it up. For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up, seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people; for it is built upon the devil. 

Ether 8:23-25 

[p.190]At the beginning of this book, I discussed the mythic qualities of the Book of Mormon narratives. (See Excursus 1.2.) The most fundamental function of Book of Mormon narratives is to create a world in which the reader can live. Yet ironically, within that world the Book of Mormon narrates the destruction of two civilizations. In fact, as the above quotation from Ether states, the Book of Mormon can be viewed as a tragic story of that which “bringeth to pass the destruction of all people.” Within the context of building a spiritual world, it portrays the vulnerability of all civilizations and societies.

While the topic of cultural destruction is universal, comprehending the Book of Mormon’s portrayal of the topic requires an analysis of its particular rhetorical mode and its narrative forms. This chapter will examine those final forms and how they symbolized social disintegration for the 1830s reader. That reader had access to a number of books that addressed the causes of cultural destruction, including Edward Gibbon’s monumental History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-88), the numerous nineteenth-century editions of Flavius Josephus (the first-century Jewish historian), various authors of conspiracy theories (including anti-Masonic literature), and sections of the Bible itself. I will examine some of these analogues to the Book of Mormon’s secret combinations later in this chapter. But first I will focus on the literary forms of the narratives warning against social destruction in the Book of Mormon. 

Secret Combination Narratives as Narrative Scenes

A careful analysis of the narrator commentary, symbolism, and formulaic plots relating to social destruction in the Book of Mormon will increase our ability to interpret the book’s messages about secret combinations. Such an interpretation can best begin by examining them as a coherent and independent whole, prior to any discussion of referents external to the narratives. When we understand the inner workings of the narrative itself, then the discussion takes on new interpretive perspectives.

When the Book of Mormon discusses secret combinations, it is not discussing an obscure narrative sidelight. The secret combination accounts are central to the Book of Mormon story, which traces the history of two nations from their origins in a divinely guided migration to their [p.191]final destruction. These national histories, as we have seen, are portrayed as containing the essential life story of every nation. Earlier chapters in this book have discussed the major narrative forms that constitute the parts of the Book of Mormon’s story. The narratives discussing secret societies, or secret combinations, mark the end of this national lifecycle. That is why they appear only in the second half of the Nephite and Jaredite histories.

Secret combinations occupy the most tragic position in the piety/prosperity cycle. We have seen the narrative form of the warning prophets who appear when the people become wicked. The people are chastised and usually, but not always, repent. When they reach a certain level of corruption without repenting, they risk societal destruction. The righteousness of the society is in direct proportion to its abhorrence of secret combinations. The story thus becomes exemplary for the reader.1 Secret combinations constitute both the foreshadowing of and the mechanism of destruction once a civilization becomes “ripened in iniquity.”

In addition to the final destruction of the Nephite and Jaredite nations, the Book of Mormon prophesies that its latter-day readers will stand on the verge of their own social upheaval and destruction just prior to the second coming of Christ. The secret combination narratives find their meaning in this triangle of destruction.

Secret combinations are nothing less than the institutionalization of evil in every civilization, more threatening than monarchy. As discussed in previous chapters, monarchy is closely associated with captivity. Going one step further, secret combinations are linked with the fate of social death. These combinations cause the “sword of justice” to hang over the civilizations of ancient America (Hel. 13:5-6; 3 Ne. 2: 18-19, 3:8-9; Morm. 8:40-41; Ether 8:23). The blood of the saints cries from the ground against this group, and their victims’ blood stain their skirts (Hel. 9:21-37; 3 Ne. 4:1-7; Morm. 8:27-41; Ether 8:22). Swords and blood symbolize their destructive power. These narratives relate the ultimate evils practiced by secret combinations: They kill prophets (3 Ne. 6:21-30; Ether 9:26-29, 8:25); steal, assassinate, cause war, and commit whoredoms and other abominations (Ether 8:15-16, 19; Hel. 1:9-13, 18; 6:21-24, 11:1-2; 3 Ne. 3-5). Any nation that allows their continued existence will eventually be destroyed (Ether 8:22; He!. 6:26-31). Secret combinations are alli-[p.192]ances against all righteousness; that is why the devil is identified as their source (2 Ne. 9:9, 26:22-23). Another key feature of secret combinations is that they originate in the upper class and among social elites. In both the Nephite and Jaredite records, leaders of secret combinations are the highest leaders (kings and judges) or the associates of those who aspire to thrones and judgment seats. They “did trample under their feet, and smite, and rend, and turn their backs upon the poor” (Hel. 6:39). In their positions as judges, they delivered “no justice unto the children of men; condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished, because of their money” (He1. 7:4-5).

To this point, we can say that secret combinations are a historical type, with a distinctive symbolism that points to evil as social destruction. This form warns latter-day readers that the “sword of vengeance hangeth over” their heads as it did for the ancient inhabitants of America because of secret conspiracies (Morm. 8:27, 41; Ether 8:23; 3 Ne. 2:18-19). The religious choice for the latter-day audience is not just personal but social as well. This audience learns that secret combinations and works of darkness already exist among them; murders motivated by greed have been committed “to get gain” (Morm. 8:27-41). The choice lies between power and social justice, order and disorder, social life and social death. The destruction of social evil in the latter days is portrayed as final because the end of the world is at hand (1 Ne. 14:7). It is not just one more historical cycle but the final choice before the winding-up scene.

This dire message is what the Book of Mormon explicitly communicates about secret combinations. Our purpose now is to examine the narrative patterns and forms, for the narratives about secret combinations are more specific and formulaic than the theological discussions of the subject.

Narrative scenes (see chap. 1) contain a motif or set of events that is repeated in each successive repetition of the plot. The secret combination narratives contain two basic motifs: the scene of the leader’s assassination, and the robber/warrior scene. Both Nephite and Jaredite secret combination narratives begin with the leader’s assassination and end with the robber/warrior scene. Both narratives contain narrator commentary with similar messages, after an initial introduction to the secret combinations that interprets the significance of the narratives that are to [p.193]follow. These parallel forms in the Nephite and Jaredite records indicate that we are dealing with a set of specific literary conventions associated with secret combinations.

As with the evil king form, the Jaredite record about secret combinations is an abbreviated version of the Nephite form. The assassination motif is quite simple. The Nephite chief judge is assassinated “as he sat upon the judgment seat.” Following each assassination is the narrator’s discussion of secret combinations and their oaths (Hel. 1: 1-13, 2: 1-14, 6:14-41,8:27-9:41; 3 Ne. 7:1-26). The only variation in the Jaredite account is that it is the king, not the chief judge, who is murdered as he sits “upon the throne.” The Jaredite assassination is also followed by the narrator’s explanation of secret oaths and combinatIons (Ether 8: 1-26, 9: 1-6, 26-27, 14:7-10).

It is clear that secret combinations did a great deal more than assassinate chief political leaders. Why start with such an assassination formula in both records? The goal of the group is to increase their political power so they can commit wickedness with impunity. So the first narratives introducing secret combinations in both the Nephite andJaredite records recount the combination’s origin with its collusion between just two peopleKishkumen and Gadianton among the Nephites, and Jared and Akish among the Jaredites. Killing the chief leader in the seat of political power evokes the threat and shock of destroying society itself on a small scale. The assassinations act as a metonymy in which the chief leader represents the nation itself. The alarm and shock of one man’s murder then epitomizes alarm and shock at the potential destruction of the civilization itself. The dramatic terror of secret combinations increases in size from this ominous beginning. Secret combinations are collusions to obtain power and wealth through the wickedest of means.2

After the chief judge’s assassination, four more attempts on the lives of his successors follow quickly. Each occurs as the judge sits “upon the judgment seat.” The motif is simple. Yet each Nephite assassination attempt builds on the last one, adding insight into the nature of secret combinations. In the first assassination, Kishkumen administers oaths of secrecy to hide his murder of Pahoran (Hel. 1:1-12). Thanks to the assassination, the Lamanites are able to capture the city of Zarahemla. In the second assassination attempt, Gadianton becomes the leader of Kishkumen’s band (Hel. 2:1-14). His goal is to assassinate Helaman and [p.194]replace him with a band member. Here the conspirators’ aims expand beyond a single murder to form a secret pact to gain political control and wealth, and to maintain secrecy by administering blood oaths. But on his way to the judgment seat to execute Helaman, Kishkumen is identified and fatally wounded by Helaman’s servant. When Kishkumen does not return, the band fears that its secret plans have been discovered and flees to the wilderness for safety.

After a historical interlude, Cezoram and his successor-son are slain in quick succession “while in the judgment seat” by an unknown assassin from Gadianton’s band (Hel. 6:15, 19). These assassinations are more threatening than the prior ones because their details are not recorded. The detail in the first two assassination narratives demonstrates the methods of the band. But once we know its dark techniques, the unseen crimes add a greater sense of threat to the wicked collusion. The band then takes control of the government (Hel. 7:4). In his sermon Nephi son of Helaman tells the Nephites that because they allow secret combinations to exist among them, they are ripe for destruction (Hel. 7:24-29). Along with the narrator commentary, these instructions place the secret combination narratives in the piety/prosperity cycle of social history. As the assassinations continue, they provide further details about the band:  Its oaths are accompanied by serious penalties, and secret combinations originate with Satan, rather than from historical tradition.

Once the band gains political control, one of its own members kills the chief judge on the judgment seat (Hel. 9:1-41). The band thus turns against its own. Up to this point, the repetition of the assassinations has built a crescendo-from the hiding of a single murder to the potential destruction of the nation. The Book of Mormon tells us that these conspirators have committed many other crimes.

After the assassination of the leader that introduces the secret combination narratives in both the Nephite and Jaredite histories, the second motif is introduced: The narrative of the robber/warrior. Here the evil conspirators stop being a hidden internal group and form a separate social class of robbers and warriors. At this point the Book of Mormon narrators frequently call them “bands of robbers,” “robbers of Gadianton,” etc. Robbery had been mentioned briefly as a feature of secret combinations in the assassination narrative scene, but crimes of greed become more prominent as these groups separate from the main society. This [p.195]robber/warrior motif is a dramatic escalation from the assassination narrative scene. Acquisition, in addition to political power, is revealed as their motive.

Amid rising wickedness, another warning prophet appears. Samuel the Lamanite predicts the signs of the impending birth and death of Christ. While these signs are being fulfilled, the Gadianton robbers increase along with the wickedness of the people (3 Ne. 2:18-19). The band becomes so large and powerful that it can present an ultimatum: the nation must either surrender to its rule or be destroyed. But by repentance and successful military strategies, the Nephites defeat the robber/warriors and hang their leader Zemnarihah. Those in the band are either converted or punished according to the law. Thus the band is eliminated (3 Ne.5:1-6).

Then the cycle begins all over again in 3 Nephi 6-7 with the assassination narrative scene. To hide their murders of the prophets, judges renew the secret combination “of old” under satanic direction. The conspirators then assassinate the chief judge “upon the judgment seat” and seize de facto control of the government. Secret combinations are destroyed with the coming of Christ, who establishes a righteous and egalitarian social system. But eventually social and class division arise again as the people become wicked and proud, seeking the vain adornments of the world. From this combination of class divisions and wickedness arise new secret combinations. As the Nephites approach their doom, these robber bands infest the entire land because of the people’s unchecked wickedness (4 Ne. 1:42-49; Morm. 1:18). The “day of grace is past” for the Nephites3 who are then destroyed.

In the abbreviated Jaredite history, the transition from assassination narrative scene to robber/ warrior motif to annihilation occurs in one unbroken chronology, without a repetition of destruction and renewal, as in the Nephite record. But the Jaredite pattern confirms the conventions in the secret combination form. The Jaredite army that opposed Coriantumr’s army was organized around secret combinations (Ether 13:17-19). The Jaredite nation was thus directly annihilated by the band. The Book of Mormon states that both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed by secret combinations; the Lamanites who destroyed the Nephites were themselves infested by secret combinations (Ether 8:20-[p.196]21; Hel. 2:13-14). In the Nephite narrative, the Book of Mormon combines the threat of secret combinations and threat from the Lamanites, thus echoing the apprehension 1830s readers would feel about both Native Americans and latter-day secret combinations.

What we find, in summary, in the secret combination narratives is the evolution from a single assassination to a systematic accumulation of power and wealth through wicked collusion to the destruction of a nation. The conspirators could be called in various stages a group of assassins, terrorists, bandits, or revolutionaries-all fitting under the category of “secret combinations.” The narrative follows a pattern from secret assassination to social annihilation. The Book of Mormon repeatedly expresses suspicion of social elites who are susceptible to conspiracy: the educated, the lawyers, paid clergy, and the wealthy. The narratives on secret combinations are not the celebrations of the conqueror but the liturgy of the dispossessed. Secret combinations are not peasant or proletariat uprisings. They represent political rather than social revolutions, the collusion of the already powerful who willingly break God’s law and man’s to obtain greater wealth and power. According to the Book of Mormon, societies are destroyed, not by Robin Hood, but by Machiavelli.

This attitude underscores the book’s countercultural nature. In Book of Mormon terms, class structures are evil. Social injustice combined with ruthless brutality is the core evil of secret combinations. 

Interpreting the Narratives 

A great deal has been written since the 1830s on secret combinations and the destruction of Book of Mormon societies. However, this interpretive interest has been focused almost exclusively on identifying latter-day secret combination(s) in an effort to defend or attack the book’s historical claims. This narrow focus has led to unfortunate interpretive results. Those who believe that the Book of Mormon is fiction often argue that the entire set of secret combination narratives are thinly veiled stories about nineteenth-century Masonry. Those who believe in the antiquity of the book generally argue that the book is referring to something else, such as guerrilla warfare, communism, the Mafia, etc. The rules of this debate are quite simple: Find as many parallels as possible between secret combination narratives and an ex-[p.197]ternal referent, while at the same time dismissing the other side’s referent as untenable.

In such a contest, apologetic theology is disguised as interpretation. Certainly every interpreter has a theological perspective that colors his other perspective. But in scholarship on secret combinations, theology is so prominent that it leads to flagrant misrepresentations of the text. Such a methodology separates the individual details of the narrative to use as weapons against opponents. Both sides interpret the secret combination narratives as quasi-allegories, even though such an interpretive model has been, in many cases, unintended.

In an allegory the main elements of a narrative both conceal and reveal some set of events outside the narrative. For example, we have seen how an angel interpreted each element in Lehi’s dream to refer to a particular historical event in a panorama from the time of the prophet until the end of the world. On the temporal level, Lehi’s dream is an allegory of apocalyptic history. But not all Book of Mormon narratives are allegories. To strip out narrative details and construct parallels without understanding the narrative as a whole violates its integrity.

The nonallegorical nature of these narratives can be demonstrated from the symbolism of the assassination narrative scene. We have reviewed how secret combination narratives begin with assassinating leaders on their judgment seats/thrones in both Nephite and Jaredite narratives. But should we look for assassination attempts on American presidents as they sit in the White House to identify secret combinations? Such literalism is absurd. Should we look for a person or event outside the narrative which corresponds to Kishkumen, the leader of the secret band among the Nephites? No one has attempted such blatant misreadings, but-though avoiding the excesses-still they have regularly used this methodology. In the excursus at the end of this chapter, I will outline some of the details in secret combination narratives that interpreters have incorrectly read as references to Masonry, for instance.

Others have countered this allegorical proof texting, only to produce their own version of quasi-allegorical proof texting. A representative example can be found in an oft-quoted passage from Richard Bushman who argues against seeing allusions to Masonry in Book of [p.198]Mormon secret societies. He asserts that early American anti-Masonic literature is different from Book of Mormon denunciations of secret combinations:

Only limited portions [of the Book of Mormon] were intelligible as expressions of American culture. Critics concentrated on selected proof texts and neglected the context. Their method necessarily obscures differences between American and Book of Mormon culture. In the supposed anti-Masonic passages in the Book of Mormon, nothing is said about Masonic degrees or elaborate initiation rituals. Anti-Masonic books went on endlessly with details of how one passed from degree to degree, while acceptance of a simple oath of secrecy and allegiance admitted a person to the Gadianton band nor did the Gadianton connect with Solomon’s temple, the Masonic craft, or Hiram, the builder of the great temple. Perhaps most important, the crucial event in the anti-Masonic campaign, the murder of the Masonic traitor William Morgan in 1826, had no equivalent in the Book of Mormon.4

However, Bushman’s argument is based on a historical error. A large portion, perhaps most, of anti-Masonic literature in the early nineteenth-century contains none of the details Bushman claims as essential to anti-Masonic literature.5 But for our purposes there is a more important interpretive problem with Bushman’s argument. He cites various narrative elements found in the history and ritual of early American Masonry and states that the Book of Mormon does not contain any allegorical elements that point to Masonry. Therefore, according to Bushman, we must look elsewhere to find a one-to-one correspondence with the details of Book of Mormon narratives.6 In refuting the arguments of his opponents, Bushman has unconsciously adopted their quasi-allegorical method.

The Book of Mormon narratives on secret combinations verbally warn the reader that secret combinations exist at his or her own time. But these allusions are certainly not allegorical. I agree with Bushman that most elements in the secret combination narratives have no direct relationship to Masonry. Nephite secret combinations are Nephite in character, and their narratives must be understood as a literary whole before we can appreciate their rhetorical claims. Daniel Peterson of Brigham Young University has conducted serious recent work into the nature of these narratives. He takes the position that [p.199]the term secret combinations represents a historical symbol for institutional evil, a symbol with more than one referent, and a phrase referring to a host of related organizations that cannot be reduced or confined to any one of them. One example of a secret combination mentioned by Peterson is guerrilla warfare.7 Peterson’s analysis is an extremely important contribution to the discussion of secret combinations.

The symbolism of social destruction (the sword of destruction hanging over societies and blood on the “skirts” of the guilty) and narrator commentary in the Book of Mormon support Peterson’s contention. They indicate that we are not dealing with an allegory (ancient or modern) but with some other sort of typical symbolic history. The narrator commentaries near the beginning of both the Nephite and Jaredite secret combination narratives, in particular, confirm Peterson’s argument. No sooner do we read the initial Nephite and Jaredite narrative scenes on secret combinations than the narrator interrupts to interpret their significance for the reader (Hel. 2:12-14; Ether 8:15-26).

The narrator’s commentary in the Jaredite secret combination narrative closely resembles the Nephite section. Both passages state that oaths of secrecy for the murderous secret combinations began with Cain and were handed down secredy from that time forth. Both commentaries also identify Satan as the ultimate source of secret combinations, thus identifying their supernatural source. The Jaredite commentary laments that secret combinations destroyed both the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations, while the Nephite narrator commentary states that these clandestine groups destroyed the Jaredites and proved to be the overthrow and almost the entire destruction of the Nephites. Both narrator commentaries state or imply that secret combinations can be found in any generation and any place where Satan can get a “hold” on the people’s hearts.

The interpretive logic of these commentaries is clear. The commentaries come after a specific account of the beginnings of secret combinations in ancient American civilizations. They then state that such treasonous conspiracies destroyed these nations and are universal among nations. These narrator commentaries, thus, make it explicit that secret combination narratives are not allegorical but are a universal historical symbol. Any institution that fits the basic religious and social charac-[p.200]teristics rather than the incidental narrative details may be called a secret combination. These characteristics include the collusion by political elites of gross wickedness and social destruction.

Early nineteenth-century opposition to Masonry shared with the Book of Mormon a broad conspiracy theory of history. In the early nineteenth century, “secret combinations” could refer to Masonry or any similar institution. This vocabulary supports Peterson’s thesis of “secret combinations” as a historical symbol.

The 1826 kidnapping and apparent murder of William Morgan for revealing Masonic secrets simply amplified anti-Masonic sentiment that had been building in the United States for several decades. “Secret combinations” and “secret societies” were common appellations for Masonry, but only as the most current manifestation of evil institutions that destroy nations. These phrases were also used for other institutions, even by anti-Masons themselves. Hence, in 1830 anti-Masons attacked not only Masonry itself but “all SECRET SOCIETIES. … They are of no public use, nor are they of any private use to honest men.” The National Anti-Masonic Convention of 1831 denounced Masons and “other secret combinations against the equal rights of mankind, and other free institutions.”8 In the 1830s Mormons referred to the Danites as secret combinations.9 These quotations make it clear that the Book of Mormon’s audience heard “secret combinations” and “secret societies” as referring to more organizations than Masonry.

This nineteenth-century concept included the idea that such societies had destroyed previous nations and that Masonry was only the latest example. The first American opposition to Masonry appeared after the French revolution. Several popular authors claimed that Masonry had overthrown the French government but that they were only the most recent successors of other anti-government, anti-religious combinations; they cited the Knights Templar and the followers of Peter Waldo as two medieval societies that used signs and secret murder as a means to power and social destruction. This conspiracy theory pointed to Masonry as the American secret society that threatened to overthrow the government. Discussions about these early nineteenth-century works continued into the 1820s.10 All of this evidence sup-[p.201]ports Peterson’s thesis that “secret combinations” were a general symbol in a broad conspiracy theory.

As important as it is, Peterson’s thesis has two serious problems. Peterson believes that guerrilla warfare is the best example of a secret combination. But as I have already pointed out, guerrilla warfare typically consists of a peasant revolution against an oppressive upper class. In the Book of Mormon, secret combinations are launched by powerful elites seeking more power at the exclusion of the poor. Book of Mormon combinations wage political rather than social revolutions.

Second, Peterson denies that the term “secret combination” refers to Masonry, seeing it rather as only a general symbol. This assertion is inconsistent with his own theory and with nineteenth-century rhetoric. If Masonry fits the historical type of a secret combination, then Masonry should not be excluded a priori as the latter-day example of secret combinations prophesied in the Book of Mormon. In fact, if William Morgan was killed by Masons in 1826 and a conspiracy to cover the murder did occur, then Masonry in this instance followed classic Book of Mormon (and early nineteenth-century views) of a secret combination. But the connection between secret combinations and Masonry is much more intimate than even this argument suggests.

The recent work of Dan Vogel provides the best connections to date between secret combinations and Masonry. Still, while Peterson eliminates Masonry from the discussion, I believe Vogel overemphasizes “secret combinations” as an exclusive allusion to Masonry. Anti-Masonic literature used the term broadly, seeing Masonry as part of a conspiracy theory that included other “secret combinations” in prior ages. With this caveat, however, Vogel is correct in showing that “secret combinations” was frequently a code name for Masonry in western New York in the 1820s.11

The translation of the Book of Mormon occurred during a period of intense anti-Masonic rhetoric in New York. Morgan’s murder for publishing Masonic secrets in 1826 intensified already-existing anti-Masonic excitement. Between December 1826 and September 1827, ten anti-Masonic conventions were held within a short distance of the Smiths’ home in New York. Joseph Smith was living at the family farm during at least part of this period and certainly was never far from the debate. Prior to 1836, half a dozen men took a public stance identifying Masonry with the [p.202]secret combination predicted by Book of Mormon prophets. For example, the March 1831 Geauga Gazette quoted Martin Harris as calling the Book of Mormon “the Anti-masonic Bible.”

The 29 March 1827 Morgan Investigator in Batavia, New York, editorialized: “BEWARE OF SECRET COMBINATIONS. These are the words of General George Washington. … Do not these words … point with an index that cannot be mistaken, to the society of Freemasons?” Washington was not referring to Masonry. He himself was a Mason. I am not certain what Washington meantperhaps the broad conspiracy theory of history. But the quotation makes it clear that this newspaper writer equated “secret combinations” with Masonry.

In Moses 5 (1830), “secret combination” seems to prophesy simultaneously of Masonry and see secret combinations as a universal historical symbol: “Truly I am … master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. … From the days of Cain, there was a secret combination … “ But in the Doctrine and Covenants and later LDS legal documents, the phrase is clearly used in the broader, non-Masonic sense, as Peterson has demonstrated.

In short, “secret combinations” had two related meanings in the early nineteenth century: a conspiracy theory involving many institutions, and a synonym or code word for Masonry as the primary extant example of such a conspiracy. Peterson’s argument that “secret combinations” was not a code word for Masonry is quite mistaken. (See Excursus 5 at the end of this chapter.)

The real issue in this study is to determine how the Book of Mormon uses the phrase. The narrator commentaries already summarized clearly indicate that this phrase evoked a conspiracy theory of history. Is there any evidence that the Book of Mormon used “secret combinations” as a narrower code for Masonry? Yes, two pieces of evidence support this restricted definition. The first is the Ether 8 prophecy quoted in the headnote that a single secret combination would be at work when the Book of Mormon appeared. Ether 8 seems to me to be a clear reference to Masonry. Second, 2 Nephi 26:22 asserts: “And there are also secret combinations [significantly, the reference here is to plural combinations], even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the Devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth [p.203]them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.” A number of authors point out the resemblance of this passage to an incident in the Masonic initiation in which the blindfolded candidate had a rope about ten feet long placed around his neck. As in anti-masonic literature, this Book of Mormon prophecy of the last days sees this cord as symbolic of the grasp of secret combinations.

The context thus supports a latter-day referent for this passage. The nineteenth-century Book of Mormon reader would almost certainly have seen this passage as an allusion to and prophecy of Masonry. In this same section, Nephi affirms that his words are so plain that the reader cannot err in understanding them (2 Ne. 25:20, 26:33).  Certainly there is a strong rhetorical argument supporting Masonic allusions in the Book of Mormon. Even Richard Bushman, who believes that secret combinations refer to guerrilla warfare, concedes that the early nineteenth-century reader read these Book of Mormon references as Masonic. My point is that the very wording of the Book of Mormon led its original audience to understand “secret combinations” as both a general, historical symbol referring to many organizations and to Masonry as a concrete referent or example of that symbol.

In addition to Masonry, I believe that the secret combination narratives in the Book of Mormon allude to a second group. They significantly resemble Josephus’ description of Jewish robber bands in Palestine. These parallels of plot and world view in these narratives should not be seen as an allegorical interpretation but rather as a subtle allusion by the Book of Mormon.

Josephus’s works were published fourteen times in the United States between 1800 and 1830. In his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus frequently refers to “bands of robbers” who, like the Nephite robber bands, lived in caves and mountains between the time of Herod the Great and the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. He asserts that between 52 and 60 C.E., the “country was again filled with robberies” and that the Roman leaders Felix and Florus protected the robbers and secretly paid them to assassinate Jewish leaders. On one occasion these paid assassins entered the temple in Jerusalem with daggers under their garments and, hiding in the throng of worshippers, mur-[p.204]dered Jonathan, the high priest. No one could detect who had done the deed, but the resulting Jewish revolt caused the Romans to destroy Jerusalem. These secret murders and robberies were, in the judgment of Josephus, “the reason why God, out of his haired of these men’s wickedness, rejected our city. … He … brought the Romans upon us, and threw a fire upon the city to purge it, and brought upon us, our wives, and children, slavery, as desirous to make us wiser by our calamities. These works, that were done by the robbers, filled the city with all sorts of impiety.”12

The Book of Mormon narrative scenes contain the same general elements and a similar theological perspective. With these parallels to Josephus, the Book of Mormon alludes to a Jewish example of how secret combinations caused social destruction. Secret combination narratives in the Book of Mormon resemble the tales of Jewish bandits who hastened the downfall of the Jewish nation far more than they resemble any events in accounts of Masonry. I am aware of almost no significant parallels between Masonic narratives and those in the Book of Mormon. The clear allusions to Masonry in the Book of Mormon are verbal and not part of the plot.

Thus we have a general historical symbol pointing to two concrete  examples outside of the Book of Mormon. This idea of a symbol that points to a specific object is not unique to the discussion of secret combinations. In Chapter 2 we saw how the Liahona was a historical symbol that referred to any small means through which God accomplished great things. Yet in the Zeniff narrative, the Liahona was linked to seer stones-a referent important to the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon (1 Ne. 16:29; Mosiah 8; note the echo of 1 Nephi in Mosiah 8:17-18). Another precedent can be found in warning prophets. God speaks his word to every nation and they write it (2 Ne. 29:12-14; Alma 29:8). In chapter 2, I argued that the Book of Mormon portrayed the warning prophet as a part of the history of every nation in its piety/prosperity cycle. So we have biblical and nineteenth-century allusions in 1 Nephi that both imply and explicitly state that prophets are a universal historical character type. Nevertheless, the Book of Mormon prophesies of a specific latter-day prophet named Joseph (2 Ne. 3). This technique is precisely how the Book of [p.205]Mormon treats secret combinationsas a historical type with allusions to two concrete examples in the reader’s experience. 

The Symbolism of Social Evil 

I have argued that “secret combinations” is a verbal symbol-a symbol with more than one referent. It is accompanied by visual symbols of blood-stained clothing and the sword. Paul Ricoeur’s discussion of the symbolism of evil is relevant at this point. In a “symbol,” the meaning is opaque, and we must erect a second level of meaning upon the first. Ricoeur’s example, defilement, points literally to staining or uncleanness but is also a symbol because it points to a level of meaning in which humans experience the sacred “which is precisely [the experience] of being defiled, impure.”13

This distinction is useful in discussing secret combinations. The term is, on the first level of meaning, a sign; it points to a specific institution that will be present when the Book of Mormon comes forth. But it is also a symbol because it represents the manifestation of social evil in all its forms and ages and, hence, cannot be exhausted by any single institution. In other words, it is doubly symbolic; it represents institutions first, and, secondarily, the deeper social manifestation of evil, as personified by the bloodstains, swords, and Satan. We do not experience evil directly in the Book of Mormon, only as it is manifest symbolically as social death. In the secret combination forms, social evil manifests itself among the elite echelons of society who seek to gain power by violence. It begins in hiding and escalates until it openly rivals its host societyand eventually destroys that society. This symbolism of social evil as destruction implies a concept of salvation as life. The narrative thus allows the reader to experience evil as it manifests itself through the symbolism of captivity in the king narratives and through that of destruction in the secret combination narratives.

Secret combinations have their own institutional qualitiestraditions are handed down, leadership arises, and so forth. But in one important respect the band is metahistorical. Evil has an ontological status which precedes historical tradition. As Helaman 6:26-30 informs us, secret combinations date back to the time of Cain, but the Gadianton band did not derive its oaths, techniques, and combinations from any historical tradition: 

[p.206]Now behold, those secret oaths and covenants did not come forth unto Gadianton from the records which were delivered unto Helaman; but behold, they were put into the heart of Gadianton, by that same being who did entice our first parents to partake of the forbidden fruit. … Yea, it is that same being who put it into the heart of Gadianton, to still carry on the work of darkness, and of secret murder; and he hath brought it forth from the beginning of man, even down to this time. And behold, it is he who is the author of all sin. And behold, he doth carry on his works of darkness and secret murder, and doth hand down their plots, and their oaths, and their covenants, and their plans of awful wickedness, from generation to generation, according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men.

Thus instead of each element in the narrative pointing to some spiritual truth, as in allegory, a single institution as a whole in the narratives points to and interprets other institutions in the experience or history of the reader.

Evil is presented symbolically as an exterior force that invades a society through collusion. The killing of the chief judges by a hidden hand portrays the hidden danger of evil. It points to evil as a taboo which evokes fear of retribution. Blood is used in this narrative scene and elsewhere in the Book of Mormon to represent the defilement of evil (blood upon garments, blood upon the sword, etc.). This defilement represents evil as an exterior force that shocks and stains. Defilement is perhaps the most primitive experience of evil. These narratives demonstrate how humans enter “the ethical world through fear, not love.”14

In summary, evil manifests itself symbolically in the Book of Mormon narratives because it is experienced indirectly, as something never fully revealed. These particular narrative scenes communicate the symbolism of evil as social destruction. This symbol is derived from the primitive phenomenology of evil as defilement awaiting judgment. The Nephite and Jaredite nations represent every nation in their struggle against disintegration.

For the Book of Mormon, a society is ontologically more than the individuals who form it. A society also consists of relationships. These relationships influence behavior. Hence, it is appropriate for the Book of Mormon to speak of groups as entities with moral responsibilities and moral attributes. But the Book of Monnon goes a step farther. Not only do societies have moral attributes, but certain social groups also embody [p.207]evil in every age. There is no ambiguity about this symbolism. If the symbols are taken literally, they lead to fascism or McCarthyism. For this reason, if I am mistaken in viewing the social concepts in the Book of Mormon as symbolic, its social message would need to be rejected as simplistic and dangerous.

There is no concept of a secular society in the Book of Mormon. The economy, the military, and politics are all based and function on religious principles. Social life reflects ultimate values. And if ultimate values are by definition one’s religion, the modern ideal of the separation of religion from society is logically contradictory. To deny the religious nature of social institutions is to ignore the social symbolism of evil as it is universally experienced. To disconnect ultimate values from social life is to either trivialize or destroy social being. The issue is not when to separate religion and state but whether such a separation is even possible. The Nephite concept of the religious base of society is thus at drastic odds with current views that public life has a secular basis. Book of Mormon narratives, in symbolic form, reveal the sacred in society. In this symbolic presentation, evil appears as the enslaving chains and the destructive sword of social being. 

The Final Destruction Form 

I have earlier pointed out how the Jaredite record uses a truncated literary form from the Nephite record in all the major “social” formsmigration narratives, warning prophet form, king form, and secret combination form. The narrative of the final destruction of the Jaredite nation likewise follows the same outline of events as the Nephite destruction. What is the purpose of two separate accounts that use the same formulaic plot? In this instance, the repetition manifests an understanding of universal social history. By providing a formulaic narrative of annihilation, the Book of Mormon is trying to say something universal about the nature of social destruction.

Nations are destroyed in times of extreme wickedness. The wicked are agents that destroy the nation, because they cause war (Morm. 4:5). Therefore, in the Book of Mormon, secret combinations and the Lamanites become the agents of destruction.

In this state of wickedness, prophetic warnings fail to cause the people to repent. The people become extremely wicked (Morm. 2:10-15, [p.208]4:12; Ether 15:19). This wickedness includes an increase in the power of secret combinations, as we have seen. This wickedness activates two curses that God had already evoked on the land: slippery possessions and social destruction. The curse of slippery possessions causes such items as tools and swords to disappear; buried money slips deep into the earth. This “slipperiness” is apparently caused by demonic power and witchcraft that are somehow unleashed upon the land because of the people’s unbridled wickedness (Hel. 13:19-39; Morm. 1:18-19, 2:10; Ether 14: 1-2). One purpose of this curse among Nephites and Jaredites is a teleology of lost property. A second purpose is rhetorical. Money diggers in Joseph Smith’s time believed that treasures hidden in the earth were slippery.15 This “slipperiness,” linked to the presence of a secret combination, would warn the book’s original readers of the proximity of their own social destruction-that the “sword of vengeance” hung over their own heads (Morm. 8:40-41). In addition, the narrators regularly break the frame of the narrations to exhort the reader to faith and righteousness. The narrative of final destruction thus serves a dual purpose: as a historical warning and as an exhortation to the reader.

The second curse upon the land manifest in this final destruction form is the destruction of the wicked (Alma 37:25-31; Ether 7:23). Jacob 5 and 1 Nephi 17 make it clear that God eventually destroys all nations that persist in wickedness. But the Americas are particularly vulnerable to such destruction because of the divine curse upon the land, a curse that stands in juxtaposition as the alternative to its divine blessing.

The character types are the same in the final destruction of the Nephites andJaredites. Both records sympathetically portray the main military leader as one who exerts futile efforts to save the “fair sons and daughters” of their respective nations (Morm. 3-5, 6: 16-22; Ether 15: 1-5, 13: 16-17). The counterpart of the righteous Nephite leader Mormon is the Jaredite Coriantumr. The site at which both peoples make their final stand is the same hill-known as Cumorah to the Nephites and Ramah to the Jaredites. Both records preserve the words of the lone witness of each destruction, Moroni and Ether.

To sum up, the narratives of the final destruction include these elements: slippery treasures, the leader’s futile efforts, the site of the final battle, mourning for the “fair ones,” and a lonely survivor. All of these [p.209]common features and characters in the final destruction of both peoples communicate a sensitive melancholy, and on this tone the narratives of the Book of Mormon end.

The destruction of a society was, for the original nineteenth-century Book of Mormon reader, and is for the current reader, a fundamental human issue. Today most of us work in religious, educational, and business institutions, even successful institutions, that necessarily and constantly struggle for survival. We have witnessed the destruction of Native American cultures, the elimination of much of pre-Nazi Judaism, and the truncated but devastating battle of Joseph McCarthy against Communism, just to name a few. We may not consciously analyze the subject of cultural destruction, but many of our actions eloquently bespeak our awareness of it as a primary source of our motivation. Fear of social destruction motivates many of the protective measures employed by corporate cultures, various schools of thought and practice, race, and religion.

What, if anything, is universal about this formulaic narrative of destruction of society in the Book of Mormon? It is to our unspoken yearning for social survival that the Book of Mormon speaks. The narrative form in which it is embodied is not the triumph of a powerful social climber or the glories of victory in battle. It speaks with the countercultural accent of the dispossessed. It is the solitary voice of a survivor who has witnessed utter destruction. The Book of Mormon is about victims of social evil who prevent it, if they can, or endure the inevitable and complete destruction surrounding them. The message is even more powerful for those of us who stand at Mormonism’s current crossroads. Even though the book was written from a white, male perspective, for all of those who possess any imagination, it can provide the countercultural models of diligence, martyrdom, miracle, and hope for the future as we stand on our own last Cumorahs. 

Excursus 10.1
A Test for the Presence of the Phrase
“Secret Combination” in Early Nineteenth-century Court Cases

I have argued in this chapter that the term “secret combinations” appealed to a general conspiracy theory of history and that it alluded to both the destruction of Jerusalem by assassin/bandits and to Masonry. Daniel Peterson takes the position that “secret combinations” in the Book of Mormon is a general symbol that does not allude to [p.210]Masonry as the latter-day referent. As his evidentiary base, he uses court cases and Mormon occurrences of the phrase that refer to something other than Masonry. However, all but one of his examples postdate the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. The court cases date from the 1890s. (He claims that these late examples are representative of nineteenth-century legal vocabulary because of the conservative nature of legal language.) The single example of “secret combinations” that he cites as being used before the publication of the Book of Mormon is in an 1827 political setting.16 He is convinced that a search of early nineteenth-century legal documents will reveal “secret combinations” referring to something broader than Masonry, therefore negating the claim that this is what the Book of Mormon means.

To support his position, he must find ample evidence that the term was used in non-Masonic contexts. In other words, if the discussion of conspiratorial organizations contains roughly the same frequency of usage of the term “secret combinations,” then we may be justified in saying that this phrase was a nonspecific symbol that did not contain any subtle allusion to Masonry. However, if this phrase is largely absent from general conspiratorial language in the early nineteenth century, then it would be reasonable to conclude that “secret combination” was generally understood as referring to Masonry, the thesis I advance and for which there is already substantial historical precedence.

Peterson has already hypothetically established the best location to find such language in early nineteenth-century legal documents. He is certain that an examination of precedent-setting cases of labor unions (“combinations”) will supp ort his broad interpretation that excludes Masonry. To test his hypothesis, I examined six of eleven known court cases involving “combinations” in labor disputes between 1806 and 1829. All involve strikes, are precedent-setting test cases in the history of American labor and law, and are widely known. They continued to be quoted in magazines and books well into the 1820s and, despite their urban location, generated rural concern as well. For example, farmers in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley held town meetings in 1813 to express concern that labor groups were “joining in combination” to raise wages.17 Each of these cases discusses what they call “combinations,” their alleged violence and extortion, and [p.211]their potential detriment to the larger society. Some cases refer to “oaths” taken by members of the labor groups. The 1806 case specifically discusses secrecy in price- and wage-setting mechanisms. The six cases are:

1. The Trial of the Boot and Shoemakers of Philadelphia, on an Indictment for a Combination and Conspiracy to Raise their Wages (Philadelphia, 1806). This publication calls the trial the most important event to occur since the American revolution.

2. Trial of the Journeymen Cordwainers, of the City of New York for a Conspiracy to Raise their Wages (New York, 1810).

3. Report of the Trial of the Journeymen Cordwainers, of the Burrough of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, 1816).

4. Trial of Twenty-Four Journeymen Taylors charged with a Conspiracy: Before the Mayor’s Court of the City of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1827).

5. The 1829 trial for “combinations and conspiracies” of the Philadelphia Cotton Spinners contained in Hazard’s Register of Philadelphia (17 Jan. 1829).

6. Report of a trial for the Baltimore Weavers contained in Banner of the Constitution (5 Dec. 1829).

All six cases analyze, discuss, and define the concept of combinations as derived from British common law. In the 1806 trial, the prosecution explicitly compared the journeymen’s strikes to Masonry, calling them “pernicious combinations, of misguided man, to effect purposes not only injurious to themselves, but mischievous to society.”18 Yet these six cases do not once use the phrase “secret combinations,” which, as I have already shown, appears in anti-Masonic literature of the same period to mean Masonry. Furthermore, defense attorneys frequently claimed that masters (management) had themselves formed price- or wage-fixing combinations and discuss the broader concepts of combinations in social groups and political conspiracies. Peterson correctly states that “combinations” referred to a wide variety of bands, conspiracies, and confederacies.

The 1827 trial quotes a definition of a combination, then comments: “‘A combination is a conspiracy in law, whenever the act to be done, has a necessary tendency to prejudice the public or oppress individuals, by unjustly subjecting them to the power of confederates, and giving effect to the purposes of the latter, whether by extortion or of mischief.’ These [p.212]are principles well settled; because plainly deducible from acknowledged authorities and approved decisions upon the subject.”19

In this commonly held definition, a combination is related to conspiracy. In fact, the phrase “conspire and combine” appears in all six cases. Yet even in the context of combinations plus secrecy, the phrase “secret combinations” is never used. Why is this phrase, then, so commonly used in the Book of Mormon and in discussions of Masonry? I suggest that “combination” was not equivalent to “secret combination” in the nineteenth century. The Book of Mormon makes the same distinction in Ether 8: 18: “And it came to pass that they formed a secret combination, even as they of old; which combination is a most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God.” Consequently, secret combinations are a special and wickedest subset of combinations,” evoking a conspiracy theory of history. The Book of Mormon and early nineteenth-century usage understand “secret combinations” as oath-taking, murderous societies that destroy nations. Hence, I conclude that it would be both inappropriate and uncommon in the 1820s to describe labor unions or similar movements as “secret combinations.” Peterson’s hypothesis that “secret combinations” is a vague, generalized symbol with no specific referent cannot be substantiated by the very legal documents where he suggests that evidence will be found. If the evidence presented here is representative of pre-1830 vocabularies, Peterson’s post-1850 legal examples of “secret combinations” are not typical of the 1830 language surrounding Joseph Smith.

We must remember that the Book of Mormon itself warns of a secret combination that will exist when the book first comes forth. This single secret combination must be understood as Masonry. The evidence presented here supports the thesis that the Book of Mormon identifies Masonry as one example of a symbol of the destructive nature of social evil in every age.

In our age Masonry is no longer a threatening group nor the incarnation of evil. Because we cannot understand a text until we can read ourselves into it, contemporary Mormon authors have interpreted “secret combinations” as communism, the Mafia, guerrilla warfare, and so forth. These interpretive attempts are certainly justified as part of the original intent of the text. But it is equally clear that Masonry cannot be automatically excluded from that list. 

[p.213]Excursus 10.2
The Refutation of Certain Claims to Allegorical Elements
in Secret Combination Narratives

In this concluding chapter I have laid out the case that the Book of Mormon alludes to Masonry in its secret combination narrative but that these allusions are fewer than are often claimed. Here is an analysis of three texts commonly believed to refer to Masonry, but which, in fact, probably are not: “For there was one Gadianton, who was exceeding expert in many words, and also in his craft, to carry on the secret work of murder and of robbery; therefore he became the leader of the band of Kishkumen” (Hel. 2:4).

In the early nineteenth century, Masonry was regularly referred to as “the Craft.”20 It has been suggested that Kishkumen’s “craft” is an allusion to Masonry. At first, this interpretation is not improbable, since the context is that of secret combinations. But a closer look reveals that the passage refers to the craftiness of Gadiantona personal characteristic-not to an organization. This non-Masonic interpretation is substantiated by the fact that the only other use of “craft” in the Book of Mormon cannot possibly be interpreted as a reference to Masonry. In Alma 35:3, the missionaries’ preaching destroyed the Zoramites’ “craft.”

In the second disputed passage, when the Gadianton robbers came to battle

they had a lamb-skin about their loins, and they were dyed in blood; and their heads were shorn; and they had head-plates upon them; and great and terrible was the appearance of the armies of Giddianhi, because of their armour, and because of their being dyed in blood (3 Ne. 4:7).

Publications about Masonry in the early nineteenth century describe a lambskin apron or white apron used in their ceremony. Some have seen the Gadianton use of lambskin loin cloths as a parallel to Masonry. However, in the context of Book of Mormon warfare, an alternative explanation must be considered. The Lamanites also wore skins about their loins when they went into battle (Alma 49:6, 43:20) as a token of savagery. Thus, the fact that the Gadianton robbers wore blood-stained lambskins communicates that they were even more savage. Symbolically, the bloodstained skin represents the group’s ter-[p.214]ribleness and destructiveness. Since, in context, this explanation is more reasonable and obvious than hypothesizing a subtle Masonic allusion, I believe that it must be considered the stronger explanation.

Another possible Masonic reference is: “Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false, and vain, and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark; and the blood of the Saints shall cry from the ground against them” (2 Ne. 28:9-10).

Blood crying from the ground is an allusion to Cain’s slaying of Abel and also the martyrdom of the saints (Gen. 4:10; Rev. 6:9-10). Nineteenth-century anti-Masons used the phrase to refer to Masonry; in fact, in describing the alleged murder of William Morgan, the renegade Mason who published a Masonic expose in western New York in 1826, one author calls blood crying from the ground “the Morgan cry.”21 The Book of Mormon also associates blood crying from the ground with secret combinations (3 Ne. 9:9-12; Morm. 8:4041), but these passages refer exclusively to murders (plural) and therefore cannot be direct allusions to Morgan. In 2 Nephi 28:9-10 above, blood crying out is associated with various wicked doctrines, not only clandestine organizations. In Alma 20:18, it simply refers to the divine vengeance against wicked acts. It is therefore inappropriate to see the phrase as an exclusive allusion to Masonry. It is rather a biblical allusion which is only sometimes connected to secret combinations in the Book of Mormon. The most one can say is that both anti-Masons and the Book of Mormon use the same biblical phrase in referring to wickedness and secret organizations.


1. For example, the story of Lachoneus (3 Ne. 3: 12-17) acts as an exemplary section for the reader.

2. Since political power is the constant aim of these combinations, Michael Quinn’s argument in Early Mormonism and the Magic World View (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1987) that secret combinations are magical arts cannot be supported.

3. For a discussion of the nineteenth-century meaning of this phrase, see Mark D. Thomas, “The Meaning of Revival Language in the Book of Mormon,” Sunstone 8 (May:June 1983): 23-24.

[p.215]4. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 131.

5. Furthermore, according to Alma 37:26-32, Book of Mormon writers knew details of the secret rituals which Bushman claimed must be part of an anti-Masonic form but declined to record them.

6. For example, he finds such an allegorical correspondence to the Book of Mormon in guerrilla warfare, but overlooks the fact that most guerrilla conflicts pit lower-class revolutionaries against their upper-class oppressors; in contrast, Book of Mormon secret combinations are initiated by wealthy and powerful elites against the poor.

7. Daniel C. Peterson, “The Gadiaton Robbers as Guerrilla Warriors” and “Notes on ‘Gadianton Masonry,’” in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, edited by Stephen D. Ricks and William J. Hamblin (Salt Lake City: Deseret Books /FARMS, 1990), 146-224.

8. Dan Vogel, “Mormonism’s ‘AntiMasonick Bible,’” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal  9 (1989): 17-30, quoting the Ontario Phoenix, 1830, and The Proceedings of the Second United States Anti-Masonic Convention, Held at Baltimore, September, 1831 (Boston, 1831), 61. I am indebted to Dan Vogel for these two references.

9. Peterson, “The Gadiaton Robbers as Guerrilla Warriors,” 193-208.

10. Abbe Barruel, The Anti-Christian and Anti-Social Conspiracy (Lancaster, PA: Joseph Ehrenfried, 1812); John Robinson, Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All the Religions and Governments of Europe, Carried On in the Meetings of Free Masons, Illuminati and Reading Societies (New York: G. Forman, 1798); Lebbeus Armstrong, Masonry Proved to be a Work of Darkness, Repugnant to the Christian Religion and Inimicalto a Republican Government (New York, 1830); Henry Brown, A Narrative of the Anti-Masonic Excitement in the Western Part of the State of New York, during the years 1826, ’7, ’8, and part of 1829 (Batavia, NY: Adams & M’Cleary, 1829).

11. Vogel, “Mormonism’s ‘AntiMasonick Bible.’”

12. Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, in The Genuine Works of Flavius Josephus, trans. by William Whiston (New York: David Huntington, 1815), 20:8.

13. Paul Ricoeur, The Symbolism of Evil (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967), 15.

14. Ibid., 30.

15. Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, 49, 154.

16. Daniel C. Peterson, “‘Secret Combinations’ Revisited,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 1 (Fall 1992): 184-88.

17. William Sullivan, The Industrial Worker in Pennsylvania 1800-1840 (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1955), 126.

18. Trial of the Boot and Shoemakers, 7.

19. Trial of Twenty-Four Journeymen Taylors.

[p.216]20. See, e.g., Peter Sanborn, Minutes of an Address Delivered before the Anti-Masonic Convention of Reading, Mass. Jan. 15, 1829 (Boston: Free Press, 1829), 5-6, 8, 9, 15, 18; Pliny Merrick, A Letter on Speculative Masonry (Worcester MA: Dorr & Howland, 1829), 8-9.

21. Sanborn, Minutes of an Address, 16; see also Brown, A Narrative of the Anti-Masonic Excitement, 153.